From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.193
Hello, and welcome back to our all-ages comics column, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! This week we review DC’s Future Quest as promised, but instead of the new Netflix Kong, King of the Apes, I actually have a slight change in plans. I got an e-mail from a long time reader asking that since I brought back the “Something To Watch” section, if I’d bring back the “From the Back Bins” section where I dig through classic all-age titles to recommend. And so this week, with the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film coming out at theaters, I thought I’d bring up one of my favorite TMNT comics of all time, which is…well, you will have to wait until the end to see! And yes, Kong will be with us next week, won’t go back on that promise.
Something To Read:
Future Quest #1
Publisher: DC Comics
Written By: Jeff Parker
Art By: Evan Shaner and Steve Rude
As wonderfully pleased as I have been with DC’s Rebirth launch thus far, there is something I am much more pleased with from them, and it’s right here: Future Quest! Here is a title that I literally feared more than any other going into. As a life long hardcore fan of the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons, I was ready to just rip this title apart no matter what was handed to me, and seeing what DC is doing with some of their other Hanna-Barbera reboot titles, I think that fear was justified. However, I came, I read, and man, am I glad I was wrong.
Future Quest does everything right, treating the classic characters with a mountain of respect, and carefully crafting this great cross-over story without either rushing or missing a beat.
The story opens some place in space and time with a Space Force fighting what seems like a suicide mission against a giant monstrous plant creature, however, just in its hour of despair before we can find out the fate of its lone surviving member, it cuts to…Earth! There we find the Quest family – Jonny, Hadji, Bandit, and Race – exploring, and just when all seems fine, Dr. Zinn’s Battle-Drones show up! In the meantime, Dr. Quest has some visitors sent by the government to his lab, where Dr. Quest explains they’ve been following these sort-of-portals that have been appearing, in which sometimes these monstrous plant creatures appear. Before we know it, Race calls in the danger, and before even Dr. Quest can react, one of the agents does, and he just happens to be: Birdman! Suddenly things start coming together, and before I can give away more (I like to keep it somewhat spoiler free here in the column) we hit the issue’s end.
On the art side, things looks amazing from Shaner and Rude. They treat the classic character designs with respect, yet they are presented in a clean, refreshing tone. From Jonny to Birdman, it looks how it should. The other thing I have to commend them on, and in part I guess credit should also be given to the color choices by Jordie Bellaire, is that the whole issue looked the same for having two different folks draw it. In fact, I didn’t even know two different folks worked on it until I had to write up the review! Now that says something about artistic synergy and collaboration right there.
Writing wise, a big thanks to Parker, who made this a non-stop exciting read. Everything laid out carefully, not rushed, but consistently mixing it up and keeping enough action on the pages. Parker isn’t rushing to get to the answer on how these folks get together, he does it organically, all the pieces slowly fitting into place. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me if the whole team isn’t together for a chunk of issues, but you know what, that doesn’t matter, because Parker is flexing his master craft muscles on this title for the better.
Future Quest issue one is out now!
From The Back Bins:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Presents: Merdude, #1-3
Publisher: Archie Comics
Writer: Dan Berger
Artist: Michael Gaydos
That’s right, for your TMNT pick of the week, I chose the three issue Merdude mini-series! Have you ever read it? Well, maybe you should.
I admit as an adult, Merdude was probably pushed as a mini-series by Playmates to sell the toys and make him cooler, but if my memory serves me, Merdude wasn’t a big part of Archie’s TMNT Adventure series outside of a few minor appearances, and then suddenly this! That said, as a kid, it didn’t stop me from loving every single page of it! It was like some kind of Marvel or DC team-up comic, only it wasn’t! It was the friggin’ TMNT universe, with this crazy mutant-Aquaman with a French accent!
The three issue mini focuses on Merdude and his interactions around the oceans that surround the Mutanimals island base. In issue one he teams up with Michelangelo, in issue two with Mondo Gecko, and issue three with Ray Fillet. If you remember Armageddon, the mutant killer shark from the future, he’s the over arcing bad guy all three issues, tying into the trouble (and honestly being disposed of way too easy in issue three, one of the few weaknesses critically with this mini). But each issue basically sets up the classic team-up plot of a new main baddie, and Merdude, and whomever he’s hanging out with that day, take care of it and save the oceans.
Issue one is a great template set up, issue two is my personal favorite by default because Mondo Gecko was awesome, but issue three is really where it shines. We not only get a clever parody of DC Comics’ Lobo, as well as nods to Marvel’s writing style in their team-up books, but also an awesome fight between Ray Fillet and Merdude that spans pages and pages; and well, it’s a good chunk of the issue.
Archie did a good chunk of TMNT spin-off mini-series and giant sized specials, and honestly the Archie TMNT Adventure universe as whole is fondly remembered, because it was absolute quality in terms of imagination and writing in those days. The Merdude mini-series is a shining example of chances and creativity on the staff that was employed across all these books, and is worth digging up out of your back bins and taking a look!
That’s it for this week! See you next!