Saturday, May 21, 2016

Future Quest #1 - A Review

I was just young enough to catch the reruns of many of the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons on the USA Channel back in the 1980s. My favorites, unsurprisingly, were the superheroes - Birdman and Space Ghost! Naturally, when I heard DC Comics was planning to do a massive Crisis On Infinite Earths style comic book crossover between all these series, I was curious if it would hold up.

Future Quest does more than hold up. What might have turned into a written transcript of a group of kids fighting a war between all their action figures instead starts as a sprawling epic worthy of the legacy of Alex Toth. It was Toth's designs and character backstories (most barely referenced in the original cartoons) that made up the brunt of Hanna--Barbera's classic adventure cartoons. And the designs for this comic (overseen by the recently departed Darwyn Cooke) are slightly streamlined but still recognizable from the original cartoons.

The script by Jeff Parker perfectly captures the high-action content of these cartoons After an opening prologue in which we see all but one Captain from a Space Force unit destroyed battling a cosmic being called Omnikron (possibly the origin of Space Ghost?), we cut to Earth where Dr. Benton Quest is investigating a series of strange vortexes. His arch-rival, Dr. Zin, is also investigating this phenomena and has apparently begun working for the terrorist group, F.E.A.R..

This discovery leads Dr. Quest to contact the top-secret security agency Inter-Nation and their sending top agent Ray Randall, a.k.a. Birdman to help with the investigation. The issue ends with Jonny and Hadji - in the wrong place at the wrong time, as usual - discovering that the vortexes lead to other worlds beyond Earth's solar system and one famous face threatening to kill them.

The artwork has a decidedly retro feel, with a blend of 1960s comic elements throughout. The Tothian influence is obvious in the designs but some of the character posing is reminiscent of Jack Kirby. And the scenes with Dr. Zinn inspire favorable comparison to the work of Jim Steranko.

Bottom Line: If you enjoy classic comics and adventure cartoons, you'll love this book!

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