Deadshirt is Reading: Booster Gold/The Flintstones and Suicide Squad/Banana Splits!

Deadshirt is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more.

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Max Robinson is reading…

Booster Gold/The Flintstones #1

Written by Mark Russell
Art by Rick Leonardi
Inked by Scott Hanna
Colored by Steve Buccellato
“The Jetsons” backup by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Pier Brito
DC Comics

“Rest in peace, sweet moles”

The Hanna-Barbera/DC crossovers that dropped this week have been extremely weird fun and this was my favorite of the bunch by far. The premise of throwing Booster Gold back in time to team up with Fred and Barney so he can prevent an alien invasion in the future is solid enough on its own, but it’s Russell’s ability to deliver on the concept that makes this one shot such a homerun. If you dug the sharp satire Russell’s brought to the main Flintstones book (and especially the late, great Prez), he brings all of that to his version of Booster Gold. From tourists posing in the Crime Alley of a far-future Gotham to the character find of the 25th century that is Crabulon, this issue is packed with the kind of genius little gags you’d expect from a Mark Russell-written DC story.

The straightforward pencils of veteran cape comic artist Rick Leonardi are an uneasy fit for this story—or at least the hyper-cartoony Flintstones era portions of it—but there are some terrific designs here (especially the invading aliens). The artist choices for many of these crossovers have felt a little off to me but it may be that Hanna-Barbera designs just naturally look weird presented as semi-photorealistic humans. However, the issue hinges on one of the best extended gags I’ve ever seen in a DC book and it’s testament to both Russell and Leonardi that the bit is as hilarious as it ends up being. A Booster Gold/Flintstones crossover is a really screwball premise and it’s nice to see it realized with such aplomb.

The “added value” content of the issue is a quick Jetsons back-up that sets up a new ongoing series that is almost fascinatingly bleak. If you ever wanted to read a comic about end of life options in the far out future of The Jetsons with art reminiscent of Frank Quitely, this is the fulfillment of that very insane, very specific wish. It’s a decent advertisement for the ongoing if you truck with a VERY serious take on the origin of the wisecracking robot maid from a 57-year-old cartoon.

Andrew Niemann is reading…

Suicide Squad/The Banana Splits #1

Written by Tony Bedard
Penciled by Ben Caldwell
Inked by Mark Morales
Colored by Jeremy Lawson
Lettered by Troy ‘N’ Dave
“Snagglepuss” backup by Mark Russell and Howard Porter
DC Comics

“Straight outta Belle Reve”

Has there even been a crossover more bizarrely sublime as when the Suicide Squad met the Banana Splits? It’s certainly fitting that one of Hanna-Barbera’s more obscure properties runs aground of DC’s formerly obscure one. Tonally, the Banana Splits couldn’t be farther apart from the usually gritty Suicide Squad, but there’s something to be said about how both teams match in pure zaniness. The comic starts out with the Splits getting pulled over by some cops…and then being immediately fired upon. There’s some very real biting commentary presented here right off the bat with one of the band remarking that it’s “open season on Animal-Americans” and also advising Snorky the elephant not to “curbstomp” some cops. The band surrender peacefully, but not before Amanda Waller has them arrested and sent to Belle Reve where they are signed up as ringers to help rescue the Suicide Squad on a botched mission.

It’s actually pretty fun getting reacquainted with all these forgotten cartoon characters from the 70s, especially Snorky who talks in onomatopoeia and emojis and Droopy (not THAT Droopy) who has a pronounced lisp. The Splits gets a Big Damn Heroes montage moment where they suit up and walk down a hallway in slow motion. You can almost hear the dulcet tones of “Superfreak” until one of the members trips and falls on his face. The book then plunges into some insane dialogue exchanges between the Splits and the rest of the Squad. The teams put their useful skills together in destroying some creepy girl robots and then rescue Rick Flagg from an evil robot factory. I think the best part of the book is probably its payoff where the Banana Splits rebrand into the Banana Splitz and become basically an NWA-style group.

This book was a ton of fun for a one-shot and is non-stop insanity on every page. The art is sufficiently cartoonish and I love how exaggerated all the characters look on the page, especially their heads and facial expressions. I’d definitely like to see more adventures with the Banana Splits going forward whether in the DC Universe or in their own wacky world.

Also, whatever you do, DO NOT miss out on Mark Russell’s Snagglepuss back-up comic which acts as a preview for his upcoming solo title. It’s a truly touching tale that offers important advice for how to deal with these hellish times we live in. Plus, the art is simply delightful.

Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!

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Deadshirt's writing staff is dedicated to bringing you thoughtful and entertaining media commentary. We're mostly indentured, which means we can pass the savings on to you!

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