By Mark Russell, Steve Pugh, Chris Chuckry, Dave Sharpe
It’s very rare for a series to ride an endless wave of excellence and praise. Monthly deadlines and writer’s block can cripple the latest issue of your favorite series, with the next one hopefully returning to form. So it happens that the fifth issue of The Flintstones falls short of the standard I’ve been holding it to.
Election fever has hit Bedrock, from their school to the leadership of the city. Naturally, this is meant to coincide with the 2016 Presidential Race. This alone would make for some compelling story fodder, but Russell also contrasts it to Fred and Barney’s time in the army and the killing of the Tree People who previously lived on where Bedrock would be built. Fred and Barney’s Meatballs time in the army provides a few chuckles, even some heart, along with a reminder of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2011. Meanwhile, in the Bedrock school system voters have a choice between a nerd and a bully. With the bully becoming the sole candidate, Pebbles steps up to becoming the class President. It occurs to me this is a satire of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton, but that doesn’t gel story-wise. Pebbles becoming the class President seems to come out of nowhere, whereas Bam-Bam has been shown standing up for his weaker classmates repeatedly but never tries to compete against the one running for class President.
Steve Pugh and Chris Chuckry’s art is as charming as usual, with a somewhat muted color for the flashbacks scenes. Pugh doesn’t get too outrageous with the art here, but instead gets some choice moments for the couples to debate going off to war while their families wait for them to come home. Barney finding Baby Bam-Bam in the ashes of the Tree People’s village has all the feels and parallels well with Fred and Velma’s impending nugget.
It’s unfortunate that neither story feels like it pays off fully. They don’t connect like the Alien Invasion issue and the moral of the story feels more like a shoulder shrug unless Pebbles wins the election and changes the system. Russell wants to say that our change is leadership is both hopeless but there’s a chance down the road, and it’s not biting or very deep. That’s almost every election, and for a year as politicized as this one, Russell had a lot of material that’s left untouched. Depending on who wins Tuesday, his whole point could be rendered mute before the next issue. While I would’ve pegged this issue to be TWF before reading it, Moon Knight was a far more compelling story. Hopefully, Russell and Pugh can turn out a superior comic next month.
Rating: Poor, Fair, Good, Great, Excellent