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FOG! Reviews The DC/Hanna-Barbera Specials: Back-Up Stories!

This week, DC teams several of it’s biggest icons with several of the most beloved Hanna-Barbera characters in a series on one-shots. In addition to the main stories, each issue features a back-up story reimagining various Hanna-Barbera characters.

We got an early look at the back-up stories in stores this Wednesday.

 

THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES
Written by Mark Russell
Art by Howard Porter
In Suicide Squad/Banana Splits Special #1
Review by Lenny Schwartz

Well, there’s nothing like beating a dead horse.

And man, these Hanna-Barbera Comics are horses all right…beaten, bloody, and medium rare.

I have a hard time reading them…even when they have a creator as good as Howard Porter drawing them. They just ride up my butt sideways.

Mark Russell has updated Snagglepuss as a gay playwright traversing 1950s America. I know this has received a lot of attention for being “brave” and “shocking.”

And truly, it is very brave and good for Russell for having the guts to try it.

It just doesn’t seem very well thought out beyond the initial concept.

The Archie Universe knows how to update old characters and make them fresh. DC does not.

The artwork by Porter is top notch…but put him somewhere else (Green Lantern??)

I wanted to like this…but I just couldn’t. Maybe they should have another Rebirth for this line.

Over at Archie Comics.

 

TOP CAT
Written by Dan DiDio
Art by Phil Winslade
In Adam Strange/Future Quest Special #1
Review by PJ Hruschak

Oh, Hanna-Barbera, what have you done?

Taking a cue from the grittier Archie titles and a few very short-lived Harvey Comics trials (see Casper and Richie Rich), Hanna-Barbara has gone a bit darker with the help of DC Comics.

Top Cat (also known simply as “TC” to his close friends), usually wears a purple vest with a matching flat-top hat, demonstrating that he has slightly more style than other clothes-wearing cats.

He is a shady cat, really more akin to a villain than a hero so placing him in a comic with Batman kinda makes sense.

The entire teaser story is all about getting TC to the DC universe, so there isn’t too much room for the usual comedic TC tale.

In most of the Top Cat TV episodes and comic books, his main nemesis is a cop named Charlie Dibble. TC is part of a small band of alley cats that hang in – you guessed it – an alley, trying to come up with crafty schemes often to earn a bit of extra cash. It usually ends with the either the cats helping the police or them having to some small community service to make up for their foiled plan.

In the DC world, however, TC has landed in jail, where his friends crafted a small, clam-shaped device that lets him portal away, escaping from Planet of the Cats into a dark, DC alley.

There, TC bumps into Batman (Dibble possibly gets a cameo but it is unclear) where he slightly mistells his tale so he seems more a hero than shady, admitting to losing Benny. Batman, after hearing the tainted tale, offers help which TC refuses. Likewise, Catwoman tries to recruit him, but he apparently has ideas of his own.

The weirdest part for Top Cat fans will be getting over the sketchy, more human-ified version of talking cats. Much like the other Hanna-Barbara characters in the DC crossovers, the look will be a bit jarring for long-term fans, although this rendering is a bit more true to the original and not quite as over-the-top as the others (eg. Snagglepuss and all the Flintstones characters). The sketchy style they use with the inking, however, does create an awkward contrast between Batman/Catwoman and TC. (And, yeah, Top Cat naturally has to chat with the DC cat herself. It only makes sense.)

Therein lies the issue: Fans of Top Cat will miss the wisecracking, shady-cat-with-a-heart-of-bronze anti-hero from the cartoon and I’m not convinced this will really appeal to new (especially Batman) readers. The comic takes the funny animals-meets gritty heroes a little too seriously and almost completely tosses out the Top Cat house style from decades ago.

Granted, this is a little too short to fully capture the semi-dark-yet-lighthearted, wacky humor of the original and way too updated to appeal to much, much older fans (sorry, Mom). Maybe a full-length Top Cat book can better embrace the original ideas and its updated look with a longer form story.

(BTW: Look for an awkward Howard the Duck nod on a billboard as “Howard and Buck: The Musical”).

 

RUFF ‘N’ REDDY
Written and Illustrated by Howard Chaykin
In Green Lantern/Space Ghost Special #1
Review by Benn Robbins

When I was asked to review the new Ruff ‘n’ Reddy 8-page backup story in The DC Comics Green Lantern/Space Ghost crossover comic, I had no idea what to expect. I know it was done by Howard Chaykin and that they were characters created by Hanna-Barbera.

Other than that I had no idea what Ruff n’ Reddy was.

Somehow in the lexicon of H-B characters these two, an orange tomcat (Ruff) and a white bull dog (Reddy), these two were passed over and missed by myself. I watched a lot of cartoons as a kid. as one who grew up and was reared by a steady diet of Saturday morning cartoons and reruns of all the great 50’s and 60’s American cartoons I can honestly tell you I had no idea what or who they were until about an hour ago.

So I did what most people in my situation would do. I went to YouTube and watched about an hour of Ruff ‘n’ Reddy. What I have gathered is that they were two vagrant slightly mentally challenged friends that got into  hijinks and situations due to one or the others ineptitude and in serial style segments running about a little under 4 minutes would be a continuing story that usually ended in some sort of cliffhanger.

That being said, With this “all-new” take on all the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters, DC Comics was not satisfied to mess up their own characters with the “New-52” (which they subsequently kind of retconned back sort of, but not really) They have turned their eyes on the H-B universe now that they have those.

So, If you have read The Flintstones review I wrote a while back, I DO NOT ENJOY THIS TAKE ON MY BELOVED CHARACTERS. This holds for this Ruff n’ Reddy duo I am now introduced to. AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO THEY REALLY WERE BEFORE. I DO know they were NOT this. I do know that Howard Chaykin is the absolute incorrect person to be taking on this story. I think that what is supposed to pass for a “gritty” ironic twist to the pair, making their bumbling ineptitude into gritty 1950’s style film noir stereotypical gangsters wannabes, is misguided.

Ruff is now a down and out comedian who’s partner died, taking Ruff’s career with him and Reddy is the misunderstood raunchy comedian ahead of his time. They meet in a bar, and after seeing two other comedians stealing their respective schticks, kick the crap out of them in a back alley and then decide to have a go at it themselves thus creating “RUFF N’ REDDY”!

Lame.

This whole story comes off like a bad Quentin Tarantino goof. Like something he would put on a TV running in the background of one of his movies that like two people would get and even less would like.

Except Ruff would be Tim Roth and Reddy would be Brian Dennehy.

It just doesn’t make sense. I am sure people will love it. I am sure there will be people who will think this is so cutting edge and witty. But to me, like the previous Flintstones comic I was tortured to read, it seems forced and totally out of place and unfortunate.

Howard Chaykin was definitely wasted and the incorrect choice for this as he was totally wasted and this literally could have been written by anyone and the art was so no descript and “phoned in” That I honestly forgot I was reading a Chaykin book and thought “Man, whoever did this did a really mediocre Howard Chaykin… Oh right… Shit”

Like I said, this is definitely not for me. I don’t know who it is for but if it is for you I hope you enjoy it and it brings you great joy.

I think I now remember why my comic book subscription went form a little over 100 books a month to about 5.

“Get set, get ready… Here Comes Ruff n’ Reddy!”

Whether you’re ready or not…

 

THE JETSONS
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner
Art by Pier Brito
In Booster Gold/The Flintstones Special #1
Review by Atlee Greene

New and wild takes on beloved cartoons of the past are becoming a new entertainment genre. DC Comics is going all in on this trend and they even gave it a name, Hanna-Barbara Beyond.

So, it’s only fitting that a bonus feature involving Hanna-Barbera’s futuristic family would follow the era spanning narrative of Booster Gold and The Flintstones.

How does one make The Jetsons edgier and darker compared to its comedic and fun loving predecessor?

I’m sure every creator whose tackled these projects asked themselves the same question at first. Then,the gears start turning and imaginations run wild.

Eternal Upgrade opens with a cautiously optimistic Judy Jetson entering a facility to meet her grandmother. The narrative does a really good job of building suspense while going back and forth between Judy’s predicament and her family’s increasing concern about her whereabouts.

Jane Jetson’s worry for her daughter is a little too convenient because it comes out of nowhere unless you chalk it up to a mother’s intuition. The dialog could use some work and the character illustrations succeed in some moments while failing in others. The art direction, however, it the story’s biggest strength.

We get enough of the future aesthetic that is a hallmark of this property while page layouts and panels do the heavy lifting as story elements convey a creepy sense of “What the hell is going on?” Rediscovering this world revealed several elements while answering one particular question that no one ever thought to ask.

If The Jetsons is to become a full-fledged ongoing series, it needs a little bit of work before full commitment goes to print. The look and feel are off to a good start. More detailed artwork with the characters and the script will go a long way in making this crazy reimagining stand out.

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