Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artwork: Evan “Doc” Shaner, Steve “The Dude” Rude, Jordie Bellaire
Release Date: 18th May, 2016
While I may not be particularly familiar with many of the characters featured in this series, save from vaguely recognizing a few of the names or costumes, I am most definitely familiar with the work of Jeff Parker and Evan “Doc” Shaner. Whether it’s the rip-roaring adventure of Dynamite’s Flash Gordon series or their stellar work on DC’s two-part Convergence: Shazam, this particular creative partnership has displayed a Midas touch almost every time they’ve worked together – a trend I’m thrilled to report continues with this latest release.
Tonally, Future Quest has rather a lot in common with Parker and Shaner’s previous work, possessing an impressively old-school vibe while still remaining wonderfully affectionate towards the source material. Thankfully, unlike some of DC’s other divisive Hanna-Barbera reimaginings – Wacky Races, Scooby Doo, etc. – Parker and Shaner never feel the need to “update” or “reboot” anything here, with all of the characters presented in their original form. Hey, nobody wants to see a gritty, street punk Johnny Quest live Tweeting his adventures, right? Right?!
This first issue sees Parker striking a solid balance between action and exposition, introducing the familiar faces gradually rather than bombarding us with an onslaught of characters from the get-go. The back and forth chat between Johnny Quest and Hadji as they investigate the strange portals that keep appearing provides the undeniable highlight of the issue, with their wonderfully earnest banter adding an impressive sense of charm to the proceedings. The plot itself is undeniably straightforward for the time being, but has a sense of authenticity that makes it feel like it has been ripped straight from the classic cartoons.
Visually, the book looks absolutely fantastic, with Shaner’s distinctive style doing the bulk of the heavy lifting, working perfectly in partnership with frequent collaborator Jordie Bellaire, whose colours keep everything bright and lively without ever being too ‘in your face’. Steve “The Dude” Rude (Is it me or should more comic creators have WWE-esque nicknames? I would be so on board with that) takes over for an impressive sequence near the end of the issue, displaying a slightly rougher approach, but one which feels far more evocative of the Golden Age style of the series.
Overall, while there’s a feeling that we’ve only just scratched the surface, this first issue still has a lot of incredibly cool stuff going on, no doubt about it. Science fiction, adventure, humour, nefarious villains and bold, larger than life heroes. While it may not be as quote-unquote “edgy” as a lot of comics these days, that’s actually part of its overall charm. This is a wonderful throwback to some fantastic cartoons and a more innocent, un-cynical style of storytelling. Exciting, dramatic and just plain fun from start to finish, Future Quest is the Saturday morning cartoon you never knew you needed until right now
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