Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Brian Joines
Release Date: 25th May, 2016
[REVIEW CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS]
Bill and Ted is a film series that has been rumored for a sequel for at least a decade now, but do we really want that? But at the same time, don’t we want more of those characters? But what if it sucks? Oh the troubles of sequels to beloved franchises. However, thanks to writer Brian Joines, we can now get the best of both worlds. We get to revisit our beloved heroes without any Hollywood interference, in the form of BOOM! Studios’ Bill and Ted Go to Hell.
In the final issue of Bill and Ted Go to Hell, we join our heroes during their final battle against Napoleon Bonaparte, who has dismantled God to become the ruler of heaven—and the whole universe—himself. Not just that, he has brought in angry, grown up versions of Bill and Ted’s sons who now fight for Napoleon and want to kill their fathers. The tension and wild antics run high as the duo, along with their time traveling crew, seek to bring order back to the heavens.
Leading up to this finale issue, this run has been a lot of fun. It has really captured the heart of the original films as well as introduced a genuinely solid continuation of the story. That being said, after finishing the third issue I just didn’t feel like the conclusion was coming up. The fact that the next issue was the final one almost felt rushed to me. But I have to say, I was completely wrong. This issue actually feels like a lesson in how to successfully wrap up a story. Character arcs come full circle, exciting battles about, and we’re treated to a resolution that fits so perfectly.
The characters in this issue are what impressed me the most. I’ve had a lot of fun with Bill, Ted, Joan of Arc, Abraham Lincoln, Billy the Kid, and their whole gang of returning characters. What surprised me about this so much was not only that were they constantly funny, but also that they never felt like “Oh they’re just back because they were in the first movie.” What really hammers in that point is how satisfying some of the character arcs become in this issue. Missy’s new husband–the villainous Chuck–has been fun, but one of the lesser players in the past issues, but in this issue he has an arc that comes to fruition in a way that feels both natural and satisfying, adding some genuine layer to the character. There are also very small, but heavy character moments. For instance, during a battle in Heaven, as Joan of Arc fights an angel, she begins to cry and proclaim “None of this is right…none of it! I gave my life, my soul, over to God…and now I’m fighting against an angel in Heaven!” It gives the story some genuine weight, showing that this comic doesn’t only have heart in its storytelling, but also heart in its characters.
I really dug the fact that I wasn’t attached to these characters because they were historic figures (Joan of Arc, Lincoln, Billy the Kid, Genghis Khan, etc.) but because they were interesting characters in the realm of this story. They build on these historic characters in really fun ways, feeling natural the whole way through.
You also feel like you have a satisfying conclusion to the arc of Bill and Ted, with them as fathers. I won’t give away too much about where that goes, but it leads to a moment that’s not too sappy, but it’s the right amount of fun and heartfelt.
Aside from a lot of the character-based stuff, this story goes exactly where a Bill and Ted story should go without having to deal with a film budget. Since they have a bit more creative freedom as a comic book, the series goes to some really bizarrely awesome places. You have a lightsaber-wielding Abraham Lincoln fighting a fire sword-wielding John Wilkes Booth, a giant man-eating Easter bunny, and Bill and Ted being granted divine powers, and this is only a small fraction of the awesomeness that ensues in this issue (God and Satan have a minor exchange near the end that STILL has me cracking up). All of the madness and fun in the storytelling is only enhanced by the art of Bachan and the coloring by Jeremy Lawson. The art and design is very bright and vibrant, feeling similar to a Saturday Morning cartoon, but it never feels to kiddie. It totally fits right into the tone of the storytelling, as well as the mind of our protagonists.
I completely commend writer Brian Joines for bringing this mini-series to a completely satisfying conclusion. The actual story resolution is very small and quick, but is executed in a way that works. It feels exactly how a Bill and Ted story should wrap up. This issue has a lot of heart; it’s funny, but we actually have characters that go on their own journeys and have fully realized arcs.
This doesn’t feel like the product of brand recognition. This feels more like someone wanted to tell a Bill and Ted story and put all of their heart and soul into it. Even if you’re not familiar with the source material, this whole mini-series is a very quick read, great for passing the time in an entertaining way, so I’d definitely recommend it. It may not be something as methodical or deep as V for Vendetta, but I smiled the whole way through and it left me with a warm, satisfied feeling afterwards.
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The writer of this piece was: Mike Annerino
Mike Tweets from @MikeAnnerino