Review – Rugrats #1 (BOOM! Studios)

Publisher: KaBOOM, an imprint of BOOM! Studios
Writer: Box Brown
Artist: Lisa Dubois
Release Date: 18th October 2017

KaBOOM are teaming up with Nickelodeon for an all-new comicbook series based on the fan-favourite cartoon TV show Rugrats, and the first issue goes on sale this Wednesday.

However, while other comicbooks based on classic cartoon properties have opted to provide an unexpected twist on the source material, this is, for all intents and purposes, a straight-down-the-middle Rugrats story.  No post-apocalyptic babies providing nuanced insights into the intricacies of human society here, folks.   And therein lies the most puzzling aspect of this new series.

As we know, Rugrats is a well-loved children’s series from the early ’90s, so this release is clearly steeped in nostalgia for a lot readers who grew up with the adventures of Tommy, Chucky, Phil and Lil.  However, the comicbook version is unquestionably aimed at younger readers, leaving the target demographic for this series a little unclear.  Readers in their early thirties aren’t really likely to want to read a straight-up kids comic, and modern day children have a lot of (dare I say) better options comics-wise, a huge amount of which are published by BOOM! Studios themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, writer Box Brown gives us an enjoyable enough tale where the babies gradually realise that their parents are keeping tabs on them using various technological devices.  It’s funny in places, with some familiar Rugrats-esque dialogue and plenty of a’scared’s and a’pposeds” thrown in for good measure.  It just all feels a little familiar.  That in itself isn’t a bad thing, of course, but BOOM! Studios have proved time and time again that kids comics can manage to be fun and still have something to say, and with the exception of an incredibly thin swipe at our ‘grown up’ reliance on technology, there’s just not a lot going on here.

The artwork, provided here by Lisa Dubois, is solid and lively throughout. It feels faithful enough to the show without coming across as an out-and-out copy, and while there’s the occasional moment of roughness along the way there are also some enjoyable visual beats employed when the babies frequently slip into their ‘fantasy land’ experience of what’s happening.  The colours, courtesy of Eleonora Bruni,  also really help to give the book its lively aesthetic, also also feel familiar enough for the series to feel like a quote-unqoute “proper” Rugrats comic

Ultimately though, when you strip away the nostalgia and the fact that you’ll likely be humming the theme tune in your head all the way through this first issue, there really isn’t much more here than an enjoyable, inoffensive, middle-of-the-road children’s comic.  It’s not bad by any means, but nor is it particularly memorable.  Plus there’s no Angelica (for the time being at least), and I think we can all agree she was pretty much the best thing about the show, right?  It’s still worth a look for a dose of nostalgia, or to give to a younger reader who has already blown through the rest of BOOM!’s stellar all-ages back catalogue, but that’s about all, sadly.

Rating: 2.5/5.

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ceejThe writer of this piece was: Craig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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