Bedrock Pounds the Cultural Criticism – “Flintstones” #2 (Review)
Written by: Mark Russell
Art by: Steve Pugh
Mark Russell’s Flintstones #2 is an issue that fails to move the modern stone age family forward. Yes, the reader does witness the new interpretations of Bam-Bam and Pebbles, but little is done with them as characters. Unfortunately, little is done with any of the characters in this issue. Issue #1 introduced Fred, his workplace with Mr. Slate, his home life with Wilma, and his social life with Barney. The issue served up cultural and social criticism in a smart and savvy way that challenged the reader to consider the world around them (read our full review for more detail). Issue #2 beats the reader over the head with criticism on consumerism and organization religion. Consumerism was skewered in the first issue, but Russell was more subtle about it weaving it into the narrative and using Steve Pugh’s artwork to make some critique.
Russell’s relentless criticism of consumerism and religion is used too many times to be effective. While his commentary may be valid, the reader is hit with it continually. Russell ends up creating a numbing effect to the issues he is trying to raise. This criticism would have been more effective integrated into a larger narrative or treated as a vignette.
Issue #1 contained a touching moment when Wilma describes a sense of belonging and family. Wilma again delivers the only emotional moment of this issue when she describes the message of the value of human interaction and the uselessness of the consumerist “crap” that fills the Flintstone home and fills most of this issue. Wilma again is used as the emotional compass for this issue and is the strongest character in the series because of it. Unlike last issue, Fred is given no character development. He does has a moment when he admits to Wilma that he can’t make enough money on the side to buy things to make her happy. This small plot thread is right out of the 1950’s sitcoms that gave birth to the Flintstones originally. It is not enough of a plot to carry the issue.
Russell is a smart writer though and there is room to bounce back. He continues to pull in a lot of small touches that demonstrate someone who has considered the world he is trying to create. The god in the series is “Morph” which stems from morphology. Morphology is a branch of biology that deals with the relationship of the structures of living organisms. The church describes itself as the “first church of animism.” Animism is belief of souls in animals, plants, and other organisms. These are intelligent touches that show a creative team that care for the world he is creating. Even throwaway illustrations have a teenager at a record store wearing a Devo-like flower pot hat with a “devo-nian” t-shirt. Devonian is a geologic period in the Paleozoic Era. Russell and Pugh care about the world they are creating, now they need to care about the story they are telling.
Even though Flintstones #2 is a flop, do not give up on this series. Feel free to skip this issue, but don’t give up on the world that Russell and Pugh are trying to create.