Open Mike Night - The Flintstones #5

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The Flintstones #5

Written by: Mark Russell
Art by: Steve Pugh
Colored by: Chris Chuckry
Lettered by: Dave Sharpe

Published by: DC
Cover Price:  $3.99

Mike Maillaro: It’s weird how much time can shift perception.  Flintstones has basically become a beloved children’s icon at this point (known for selling cereal and vitamins), but when it aired back in the 60’s, it was intended as a prime time more adult cartoon. Hanna-Barbera was trying to shed the idea that their cartoons were purely for kids.  So when you look at the new Flintstones comic series through that light, it makes a lot more sense.

In DC’s version of the Flintstones, Fred and Barney are middle class grunts and veterans of a terrible war with the “Tree Folk.”  The series has had a lot of social commentary, including issue 4’s brilliant take on marriage.  Issue 5 came out the week before the election, and focused on a wide variety of issues. We see Fred and Barney’s reasons for becoming soldiers in the first place, a pretty disturbing view of the war against the Tree People, we see a messed up school election at Pebble and Bamm Bamm’s school (Vote for me, or I’ll punch you in the beef!), and we see what a more national election looks like in Flintstones era with Clod the Destroyer’s great slogan, “HISTORY IS WRITTEN IN THE BLOOD OF YOUR ENEMIES!”  
 
And the ending of this issue is surprisingly beautiful (though dark) when we find out how Bamm Bamm came into Barney and Betty’s life (he was an orphan and the only survivor of the Tree People).  There was a lot going on here, and I thought it was all balanced very well.  
 
Mike Weaver: Flintstones was the Simpsons of its time, basically.  Another interesting fact is that they were initially sponsored by cigarettes.  Even in the 60’s, people didn’t typically stick cigarette ads onto kids shows.
 
I’m not sure where to dig into this.  There’s a lot going on here, and it has decent laughs while still being pretty dark.  Each election, we saw someone relatively reasonable just get shouted down with some pro-war rhetoric and bullying tactics.  It usually worked, except for when Pebbles accidentally gets elected just because she’s willing to stand up to Ralph.  It kind of bums me out all over again about the recent election, but I’m not going to switch us to real world here.
 
One thing I liked about this issue was that a lot was going on visually.  At Bedrock High, we see that the sports teams are called the “Fighting Tree People”, I assume a reference to various “Indian” sports teams in real life.  I like how Bam Bam basically just comes in, grabs someone who’s being a jerk, and walks off.  The elaborate Tree People mock-up that exists just to get burned down.  I felt pretty absorbed in both the art and the writing, this was a pretty good example of how they can work together really well.
 
Maillaro: Yeah, I also love all the quick little “prehistorizied” signs like Starbricks and Prayo Clinic.  Everything about this comic is definitely thought out and pieced together real well.
 
I do have one major complaint though.  When we talked about Scooby Apocalypse, we talked about how well they took the characters and managed to keep a lot of their core, even setting them in a very different version of Scooby Doo than we were used to.  I really miss a more joyful version of Fred and Barney. That has been the one major drag down of the series for me.  
 
Weaver: On the same note, one thing that repeatedly happened in the cartoon was that Fred and Barney would constantly make the same wrong choices. This time, a major plot point is that regret sets in quickly, and stays with them through the next iteration.  I wanted the philosophizing to come more from Wilma and Betty, their long suffering wives.  I think the kids were the only ones that really “felt” like the classic characters to me.
 
I feel like if it didn’t keep the characters particularly well, it still kept the feel of Bedrock, where everything is a hypermodern version of a stereotypical stone age village.  Plus dinosaurs.  The playground net idea was hilarious too...when the character first pitches a safety net for the playground, I was thinking like a trapeze net.  Then it takes that prehistoric left turn to be instead a pteradon proof net to keep kids from being carried off.  A real well executed comedic turn there.
 
Then again, as far as Bedrock, I’m not sure they ever had an explanation for why Bedrock existed, plus it feels like it’s way too big to have really been created the way this story suggests.
 
Maillaro: Yeah, you do kind of have to just accept some of this as comic book logic.  Which is par for the course with Flintstones, come to think about it.
 
They announced they will being a Jetsons series in a similar spirit in the coming months.  I am not quite sure we need both, but I will admit I am actually looking forward to that.  I was always more of a Jetsons fan than a Flintstones fan growing up.  And if you don’t like that, I will punch you in the beef.
 
So scores?
 
Weaver: I think I need to give the story a 4.5 because it got a little heavy handed at times, and a 5 on art.
 
Maillaro: Art definitely deserves a 5.  Just an absolutely gorgeous book.  Yeah, I think a 4.5 is fair for the writing.  It’s still a very good book, but there are definitely times that it feels like a little bit much.  
 
Personally, I am not sure Fred and Barney could manage to be productive members of society considering the horrific things they went through.  Granted, there are people who do it every day in the real world.  But for fiction, it does feel slightly hard to swallow.  This doesn’t ruin the comic at all, but it did stick out for me.

Summary: The Flintstones continues to be one of the best social commentaries I've ever seen in a comic book. It does depart wildly from the original cartoon, but it does feel like what The Flintstones would be like if they were created today.  And the art and attention to detail is incredible.

 


Final Scores

 

Maillaro – Story (out of 5)

Weaver – Story (out of 5)

Maillaro – Art (out of 5)

Weaver – Art (out of 5)

Flintstones #5

4.5

4.5

5

5

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0