Graphic Novelty²


Dave Sharpe

The Flintstones

Yabba Dabba Doo! This satirical look at the iconic Flinstones is a treat.

I recently read Not All Robots by Mark Russell which had some social commentary about a futuristic society, and on Goodreads, I noticed several reviewers mentioned this earlier work, which goes back in time to offer more biting wit. We drop in on the town on Bedrock 100,000 years ago and meet Fred & Wilma with their tween Pebbles, along with their best friends Barney & Betty and their son Bamm-Bamm. While these Hanna-Barbera characters are similar to the cartoon, the creative team takes them in new directions.

Each chapter/issue is self-contained telling a new story, similar in a way to episodic television.  Russell ties in wry commentary on society, into what we remember about the Flintstones, with a not surprisingly liberal bent. In this narrative, Fred and Barney are veterans of the Paleolithic Wars and we get a look at how the Bedrock community came to be after soldiers destroyed the prior tree-living inhabitants, mirroring how America was colonized after killing off Native American tribes. This sad chapter also explains how Bamm-Bamm came to join Barney and Betty, as he is the last survivor of a tree-dwelling tribe after an unjustified raid. We also have chapters on materialistic society, with riffs on Flinstones vitamins and the animals that are used by the Bedrock community as appliances. These animals that serve as sight gags actually get some bittersweet dialogue about their lives as pawns. Religion and the sanctity of marriage are also addressed.

Artist Steve Pugh has created a clever universe, that honors the original, but has fun poking fun at it. The men aren’t drawn quite as crudely as their cartoon counterparts, giving them a slightly more realistic look. The women are still hotties, as many sitcoms from the Honeymooners to King of Queens, pair a buffoon with a beautiful woman. As I said earlier there are many sight gags, plus there are caricatures of famous people and situations. I’m sure the artist had fun creating many of the jokes found throughout.

For fans of satire and for those with fond memories of The Flintstones, this is an amusing book that will make you chuckle and as a bonus, think!

Dark Ark: Old Gods & The World That Waits

The first dark what-if tale of this series was fascinating. Many of us have heard the biblical story of Noah and the ark saving people and animals for the future, but this tale speculates that a sorcerer Shrae built an ark to save the unnatural animals. These next two volumes bring the Dark Ark to shore!

Old Gods- Volume Two

We get some backstory- showing Shrae’s parallel story to Noah’s, as he feverishly builds an ark, lying to the villagers that he will give them sanctuary. The few that he takes, are doomed to be fed to the monsters, and one horrible mother is very deserving of this fate. We find out how Janris and Khalee become friends, and we see how all of Shrae’s children are complicit in his dark deeds.

Shrae visits aquatic monsters Echidna and Typhon, children of the old Earth’s titans, who are the parents of the current monsters. These original Gods, have been all but forgotten, but demand tribute even as he tells them he is planning to save their monstrous children. He tells everyone what they want to hear, but backstabs everyone in his quest to keep the ark inhabitants alive. While this is based on a religious story, the narrative remains neutral, as you see Shrae balance duty vs morality.

The story ends with his ark safe, and the rain stopping. What awaits them now?

The World That Waits- Volume Three

Author Cullen Bunn has opened each volume with an introduction, and he immediately shares that there will be more of the story in a new series, called After The Flood. This is somewhat of a disservice to this story, which I thought would be the conclusion, as it then made the entire volume anti-climatic.

The story begins with two big events- Shrae’s first grandchild is born on the ark, and an island is sighted. Monsters and humans alike are eager to land and explore, but a surprise awaits them. Fallen angels, who survived the flood are there and immediately start hunting the ark inhabitants as they step off onto land. Khalee feels forced to take drastic measures and accepts her father’s dark magic herself to fight back against these new vicious foes. While the ark was certainly dangerous, they have now stepped out of the pan and into the fire, as landfall has just brought them more troubles. This, of course, sets up the next series that Cullen and the artist Juan Doe have planned.

The art in this volume was a big improvement from the previous two. While the humans remain blocky and indistinguishable from one another, the monsters get an upgrade. The purple-tinged pages of the monsters disembarking were drawn more precisely with some good action shots and interesting panel placement. The closeups of Nex, the vampire, definitely reminded me of the evil smile of DC’s Joker.

Overall, these three volumes told an interesting and sinister twist on the Biblical story of Noah, with Shrae’s parallel voyage. I’m also willing to check into the sequel, although on Goodreads I only see V1 of After The Flood, which was published in 2020, and none since then. Covid hit publishing hard, so I wonder if the entire scope of the story will eventually be wrapped up the way Bunn was hoping for.


Dark Ark: Forty Nights

Back in 2020, I read an issue of Dark Ark: Instinct through Free Comic Book Day, and I said, “This dark what-if tale was fascinating. Many of us have heard the biblical story of Noah and the ark saving people and animals for the future, but this tale speculates that a sorcerer Shrae builds an ark to save the unnatural animals.” I went back to the source material, as Instinct had been a one-off based on this first volume, and I am a fan of much of Cullen Bunn’s work.

Family man Shrae, known for his evil ways, has a parallel journey to Noah during the biblical flood but is trapped on board with gruesome monsters who are all bloodthirsty and not doing well with being confined in the ark alongside other creatures. Juxtaposed along with these monsters, are a pair of unicorns who bemoan that they should have been on Noah’s boat instead (and really are a sly wink to these mythical creatures’ fate). Humans are chained in a hold, obviously, they are to be used as feed for the creatures, and Shrae’s adult children struggle with this, as they all were fellow villagers at one time. When Naga, a serpentine creature is found killed, a murder mystery is established, with many suspects. Kruul, a manticore, who has odd and unhealthy shifting allegiances with the humans, is not to be trusted nor are the vampires. Angels visit this ark, mistaking it for Noah’s (I’m sorry- but come on! There are only two arks in this flooded world, and they go to the wrong one??) and tie Shrae and Noah’s fate together. If Noah’s ark doesn’t survive, neither will Shrae’s.

The art by Juan Doe was necessarily dark and sketchy with pink and red overtones. The various creatures were appropriately monstrous-looking, with many mystical creatures from legends and myths portrayed. I especially enjoyed two facing 9-panel pages that had Shrae interrogating the monsters about Naga’s death. However, the additional family members were hard to distinguish from one another, as all were drawn very blocky-like with no distinguishing characteristics.

There are two more volumes in this series, and I aim to read them too as I wish to find out how these monsters of yore fare on the ark and then upon landing in a new world.


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