Pros: The political and societal satire throughout the book is handled perfectly. The book in ways that are sometimes obvious and sometimes more nuanced.
Cons: The structure of the book makes certain issues feel rushed and cramped.
Overall: This is a bold reimagining of classic characters that ushers in complex political themes and biting satire into the small town of Bedrock. It is complex yet approachable in a way that will allow any reader to appreciate what it is trying to say. The only real problem is that the structure can occasionally make portions of the story feel rushed. Overall though, The Flintstones is an unexpected triumph in nearly every way.
In The Flintstones Vol. 1, Mark Russell’s writing turns the lovable cartoon family into an equally lovable commentary on civilization. By filtering modern day society through the lens of these ancient, yet contemporary, peoples, issues like corporate greed, materialism, war, and marriage are presented in an entertaining and easy to understand manner. Plus, the series keeps the television show’s comedic tendencies and has more than a few laugh out loud moments. The only problem with the book as a whole is that its structure can make the individual issues feel rushed at times. Overall though, this is a fantastic representation of a true “modern stone age family.”
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The book as a whole does not contain a singular narrative threading each of the issues together. Instead, each issue tackles a separate aspect of modern society and lampoons it through its unique setting. Subjects like corporate greed, materialism, war, and marriage are dealt with wonderfully and in a way that is approachable for everyone. By setting each issue in such a way, it creates a situation ripe for parody and easy to grasp.
Take, for instance, the issue about the legalization of gay marriage. The book parallels this with the legalization of marriage in general, a strange concept for the people of Bedrock. They hate marriage and attack it in ways similar to the way gay marriage is attacked in modern society. The reader is subsequently confused by this as most readers don’t see anything wrong with marriage and thus think the people of Bedrock are just silly. This is the point and the sign that the parody has landed successfully.
The book is not just parody though, it still retains the comedy that made The Flintstones what it is today. The comedy is not as overt and slapstick as it was in the television series, which is a nice evolution to see. Instead the comedy relies on smart dialogue and clever juxtaposition of political themes. Don’t let this throw you off though, it is still potent enough to make readers laugh out loud.
The book is not without fault though, as its structure forces it to feel rushed in many places. Setting each topic as a separate issue in the book makes them all a little shorter than one would prefer. It forces complex topic of discussion to be diluted into bite sized and easily digestible messages. In some cases this works and the topics of corporate greed, materialism, war, marriage, and politics are done very well. However, with topics like religion and PTSD the overall message is lessened because of how quickly they are dealt with.
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The challenge with rebooting a series like The Flintstones is that the original art style is so recognizable that it becomes intertwined with the material. People are not used to seeing Fred and Wilma presented in any more detail than there were on television. However, mirroring this exact style would not work with the new direction the series is taking. This is a different Bedrock than the one people know and thus it has to look different too.
In this way Steve Pugh’s artwork is a huge success. It presents the classic cast of characters in a way where they are instantly recognizable, yet also distinctly different. Their design is not too realistic and not too cartoonish, but instead in a nice middle ground. This compromise works wonderfully and makes the series approachable to both new and old fans.
In addition, Pugh’s detailed artwork serves to lampoon modern society almost as much as the writing does. The second page of the book gives a view of Bedrock that is chalk full of hidden jokes and funny references; where “Tar Pit” replaces Target and “Outback Snakehouse” replaces Outback Steakhouse. These little jokes are strew about the entire series and significantly contribute to the book’s comedic value.
This comic series is based on The Flintstones, an animated Hanna-Barbera television shows. Though this comic is based on this show, it does not share a continued continuity from it. Rather, it is simply a different avenue for these character’s to appear.
The new Hanna-Barbera universe has yet to do anything with continuity. This means that, though there may be a connected universe, nothing has been done with it so far.