New Comics Week 6/7/16: In Which We Say Goodbye to Comics’ Best Reboot

If it hasn’t been especially clear, we’re big fans of writer Don Cates here (and not just because he’s a Texan). After the hilarious meta superhero romp of The Paybacks, the epic but brutally personal God Country, and the southern-fried vampire grit of Redneck, what would he gift us with next? Why, the antichrist of course. Cates and artist Garry Brown’s Babyteeth #1 is a downright brilliant take on one of the horror genre’s most beloved tropes. Cates’ now-trademarked style of finding the intimate in a large scale story is in full effect here as we’re introduced to Sadie, a quiet high school student hiding her pregnancy from everyone but her tough-as-nails older sister. Once a confrontation with some jerks launches Sadie into labor, it’s clear that something is amiss. The story is framed with an older Sadie recording a message for her son (Clark) from a location I won’t spoil, but it certainly adds to scope of the story. Having gotten to read the second issue as well, I can say that once the setup is out of the way, the story kicks into full gear and doesn’t slow down, making this another notch in the win column for Cates.

It’s obvious from both its title and cover that Howard Chaykin’s Divided States of Hysteria #1 is aiming to push buttons. What I didn’t expect was that Chaykin seems interested in pushing everyone’s buttons no matter which end of the political spectrum you fall on. This book left an impression on me, not because of anything Chaykin is saying, but more in how he says it. The book reads like a fever dream, jumping from one incendiary situation to the next with almost no feeling of cohesion. While that may not necessarily make for a great reading experience, it pretty succinctly captures the experience of being on social media these days with breaking news happening three or four times a day with no respite in a way that nothing else recently has. So while what I really wanted out of this book was a spiritual sequel to Chaykin’s brilliant American Flagg, I think that this’ll do in a pinch.

When DC first announced Rebirth, they also announced reboots for some of the Hanna Barbera properties. The initial lineup was Future Quest, Wacky Racers, Scooby Apocalypse, and the Flintstones. People were excited about Future Quest, ambivalent towards Wacky Racers and Flintstones, and actively hostile towards Scooby. So once the books finally launched, I was genuinely shocked to find that the Flintstones was one the absolute best comics I’ve seen come out of the big two in the last 20 years. For 12 delightful issues, writer Mark Russell (who also wrote the equally brilliant and criminally under-appreciated Prez reboot) and artist Steve Pugh re-imagined Bedrock and its inhabitants for modern day America and nailed it on every level. Whether it was the struggle for Bedrock’s church to find a believable deity to worship (which gets wrapped up nicely in the last issue), Wilma’s journey towards fulfillment with art, Fred and Barney’s experiences as veterans (which made for a much more depressing use of the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalo), or the sentient animal appliances dealing with their station in life, this series always managed to find a way to cut to very core of whatever issue it was tackling. Even MORE impressive than the deftness of the social commentary was the way that it managed to do that without sacrificing the puns, both verbal and visual, that have defined the property from the start. Hopefully DC has more work lined up for this brilliant creative team, especially now that they’ve decided to take the Looney Toons characters out of the toy box for their upcoming crossovers with the DC characters. You know, no one seems to be doing anything with Tiny Toons and Animaniacs these days…

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