Future Quest Presents #11: the Herculoids - Review. A Long Summer's Night
Future Quest #11: the Herculoids
Writer: Rob Williams
Penciller: Aaron Lopresti
Inker: Matt Ryan
There isn't too much out there that I will steer away from when it comes to comic book styles and content target. Maybe some very specific children's stuff; although I am ok with All-ages stuff. And I have not jumped into anime yet, really. I've read a couple of these bends of Hanna Barbara content properties. And I've heard a lot about what was going on over in Snagglepuss. I was kind of interested in see more of that in a Herculoids tale, so I jumped in.
Dorno has long suffered and chaffed under the role of the only human child on the Herculoids. Often being told what to do, even by some of the stone animal team members who somehow broke out ahead of him in the pecking order. In classic "what if?" style, we get to see an issue analyzing what would a prodigal son do if given the power of a god? I never regarded Dorno as hating his parents, so the overall plot felt a bit forced to me. But it's ok; these DC modernizations of the Hanna Barbara properties have definitely take large and sweeping license to tell tales that depart from the previous establishments.
If there is anything that did not work that well for me in this, it was the story. It wasn't bad, it's just that it didn't do much. And it was pretty much single-tone all the way through. It was pretty lively for what could have been a pretty dark tale. I would have liked some peaks and valleys, and some more keying in on crititical family moments among the Herculoids. You know? Those scenes where in a television show there would have been a big sweeping moment of crescendo music? There were points in the story where I was feeling that, but it seemed like there was a refusal to just write it. The story reads very much like the plot of the Lost in Space movie of 1998, in a lot of ways. With some of the action taking place with Dorno as a grown man. Mechanically, there is nothing wrong with this issue from a plot standpoint. It's just that Williams' storytelling did not pick me up and sweep me off to any destination that I wasn't expecting. This is a pretty steady drumbeat "What if?" tale and while some of the setups are smart, there is not much done with them to make this one a notable issue. There were also no points that felt decidedly 1970s Herculoids (yes, I know that Herculoids was technically 1960s and then 1980s; I picked the average) that I could hook onto and pulled at the nostalgia strings at least.
Lopresti and Ryan also do some pretty neat tricks with the art. Panel arrangements are smart, if not revolutionary. And there is a lot of meticulous detail here where the panel events are something cosmic. Like when you are looking at a dying planet's surface, there's tons of lines in the lava, the fires, the cracking sub-strate of the planet's crust. What is missing here for me, though, is a level of acting and emoting in the character faces. Williams provides some windows for family moments, but I feel like the artists did not ride those crescendos and provide us with epic imagery that would have conveyed the sense of scope of this story both physically and emotionally.
Bringing these characters from my childhood into comics, and especially into DC Comics, has provided some heartfelt moments. Just seeing those characters' names in print, and seeing them go through entirely less-cartoony scenarios...it's something to be commended. This issue is deserving of levels of praise, as well. There is a solid plot and the reveals are given solid setups. There is smart, well done craft in art shown here in scenes where the artists clearly knew how they wanted it laid out and went for it. It just lacked some of the pizzazz and sharp punctuation I was looking for.