The Flintstones: Volume 1
- Writer: Mark Russell Artist: Steve Pugh
- Published by: DC Comics Publish Date: March 28, 2017
- Notes: Collects the original monthly issues of The Flintstones mini-series #1-6.
“Fred and Barney reunite for Mark Russell’s modern take on Hanna-Barbera’s most famous stone-age family! This new series starring the first family of Bedrock (and civilization, really) tells the story of who we are and why we do what we do as if it all began with Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty, and the rest of the citizens of Bedrock. Shining a light on humanity’s ancient customs and institutions in a funny origin story of human civilization, Mark Russell (PREZ) blends modern interpretations with Hanna-Barbera’s classic character’s, bringing a breath of fresh stone-age air.”
The Flintstones, as well as other Hanna-Barbera properties that aren’t Scooby-Doo, are one of many properties to fall into nostalgic obscurity, almost at a love-it or hate-it caliber. Personally, I’m closer to the negative end of the spectrum – simply remembering the show as a Honeymooners knock-off with rock puns. I was skeptical of Mark Russell’s reprisal, but quickly found myself pleasantly surprised.
Despite its stone-age setting, Flintstones is a raucous parody of modern culture: from religion to capitalism, nothing is safe. Additionally, key parts of the original reference material are revived with considerable weight and significance. Nothing breaks your heart more to learn that Fred’s iconic “Yabba-dabba-doo” was really a silly phrase taught in his veteran’s therapy group as something to say when things are just too hard to handle. Even the furniture – known to readers as Vacuum Cleaner and Bowling Ball – have an arc that could easily bring a tear to the reader’s eye.
The artwork is consistently vibrant and playful despite dreary topics. Additionally, there are plenty of hidden jokes and references scattered throughout the pages – a veritable Where’s Waldo of rock puns. (Much like the show, but less obnoxious.) On the other hand, I felt that Steve Pugh’s art style isn’t entirely all that definable; it does the job, but fails to pop.
The largest issue with the series is, well, why The Flintstones? With the amount of liberties at hand, it’s hardly comparable to the source material, apart from sharing character names and basic relationships. Arguably, the intent could be a warning towards how history repeats itself: people then were dealing with what we’re dealing with now, just a little differently. A warning wrapped in a cuddly blanket of nostalgia and familiarity. This being said, is it a story of listless futility or of hope in the human condition? From the heartfelt family dynamic, I lean towards the latter.