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Traded Up: ‘Future Quest’ V. 1 & 2 (review)

Future Quest
Written by Jeff Parker
Illustrated by Evan “Doc” Shaner,
Ron Randall,
Craig Rousseau, Steve Rude
Volume 1 (collecting issues #1-6) is available now
Volume 2 (collecting issues #7-12) arrives 10/3
All issues available digitally via Comixology
Published by DC Comics

 

Future Quest is a cross over extravaganza that brings together a bevy of Hanna-Barbara characters across twelve issues.

The series, which was originally published throughout 2016, was most recently teased in the crossover comic, Adam Strange/Future Quest Special #1. There a haggard Adam is zapped to the present where Johnny and the gang are waiting with woolly mammoths. Yup, it gets a bit wacky.

The series focuses on the Jonny Quest crew and everyone that Hanna-Barbara can throw at it including The Herculoids, Birdman, Space Ghost, Mightor and Ug, Frankenstein Jr., and The Impossibles. It’s collected in two volumes, each containing half (six books) of the series.

Gonna Go Back and Forth In Time

Mysterious vortexes begin to open around Earth, bringing together creatures from the past and future. As if dinosaurs tromping around the planet isn’t bad enough, robots, space ships and super powered people start crashing down as well.

The main baddies early in the series are the evil super-smart scientist Dr. Zin, the sexy Jezebel Jade (yes, that’s her name), and the fearsome and appropriately named conglomerate of nasties known simply as F.E.A.R.

Behind these vortexes are a mysterious power that, naturally, an evil scientist would love to harness.

As it turns out, Space Ghost has been battling a creature called Omnikron across the Universe until he and his cohorts are smacked around in time and space.

This puts the Quest team at odds with a lot including dinosaurs, numbered black-clad minions and killer spider robots.

Luckily, as each band of heroes materializes, they get a decent chunk of story that gives a bit of background as to their abilities and origins. (This also lends itself well to multiple covers for each comic.)

Sometimes, such as Birdman and Herculoids, their stories take up an entire comic while others, like The Impossibles, get smaller stories peppered through multiple books.

As the story progresses, an amorphous, globulous nasty creature called Omnikron becomes the true evil, trying to consume everyone and everything on the planet. This forces all the teams – and even a villain, of course – to combine their powers and abilities to try and save the world.

Nostalgic Good Times for All

While Jonny Quest is quite the namesake,  Space Ghost and Birdman are likely the most recognizable of the bunch for many, thanks primarily to the wacky cartoon treatments they received in the past few years (Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law). Wisely, they sparingly show Space Ghost in the early books, using him more of a tease to the larger story. Instead, teenage sidekicks Jan and Jace, along with space monkey Blip, play more vital parts early on.

Even hokier elements of the H-B franchise were handled well across these books.

Take The Impossibles, for example. The original shorts were complete silliness with puns, poor jokes and really wacked-out villains (Paper Doll man?!). Here they get an all-new origin story as teenagers making a superhero TV series and also add a new, female character to their troop.

Even Frankenstein Jr. gets an upgrade here, steering clear of the robot-as-dumb-wisecracking-smash-a-lot-superbot cliché. This also adds yet another kid hero to the lot with Buzz Conroy, making this possible the biggest band of under-age heroing this side of Teen Titans.

Mightor the mighty club-wielding warrior gets an update as well with a bit of a Shazam twist.

Simply put, this is one fun mashup.

Not only does it appeal to older readers like myself who actually recall looking forward to watching many Hanna-Barbara cartoons on Saturday mornings, but it also has enough energy and story elements to keep new young readers interested as well.


A. Strange Diversion

As mentioned earlier, Adam Strange is crossed into the Questverse for one book (Part of DC’s Hanna-Barbera crossover specials, but not included in these collections). This makes complete sense as the modus operandi for the Strange stories is that he is forcibly pulled across space by a mysterious beam.  Space-time vortexes, Zeta-beams, pretty much the same thing.

Long-time fans of Green Lantern will recognize Adam Strange from his periodic inserts into the Hal Jordan-era comics. Others might recall his prime placement in Mystery in Space for about 50 issues.

He was introduced in the Showcase series – as was the original Green Lantern – as an archeologist tossed into space (and maybe time) by a Zeta beam that forced him to onto another planet where he was called upon to help with whatever nastiness was going on.

His stories were always packed with action and highly reminiscent of Buck Rogers with a hint of Rocketeer.

In later incarnations, Strange became a STAR Labs scientist and… blah, blah, blah. What it all comes down to is he’s a smart dude who wears a jet-pack and wields a laser gun. He’s cool and gets stuff done.

All this would otherwise place him quite nicely within the Future Quest story as smarty-pants scientists who can deal with oddly mixed creatures using their brains and arse-kicking action are key to the Quests’ quest in Future Quest. I suppose adding one more to the series would have come dangerously close to tipping the fun factor into jumpy-shark waters.

 

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