The Flintstones #4
Written by: Mark Russell
Art by: Steve Pugh
Finally this series finds its’ voice. Finally The Flintstones finds the sweet spot of social satire and cultural critique. Mark Russell’s new spin on the Flintstones has been full of potential and cultural satire, but inconsistent in the implementation. The first issue was full of promise. It deftly held a mirror to our society and questioned cultural norms and priorities. But it also didn’t trust it’s own subtle satire and directly stated some cultural commentary. Issue #2 became even more heavy handed in the storytelling, throwing subtly out the window and hitting readers over the head with cultural criticism. Issue #3 started to find a comment on our society without being over the top, but it still couldn’t find a balance between humor of satire. Issue #4 finds that sweet spot and the series as a whole is better for it.
Previous issues have tried multiple themes including consumerism and religion or science and military service, but by trying to comment on multiple topics, the critiques resulted in extremes, either feeling shallow or over the top. By trying to do a lot, Russell accomplished little. In issue #4, he slows narrative down and allows it to focus on one topic, marriage. Russell’s criticism skewers liberals and conservative viewpoints by framing marriage at time when monogamy is new and unheard of for “modern stone aged family” and their society. This setting allows the characters to question social norms and expectations in a way that doesn’t push one political agenda over the other. Russell finds that balance of good satire and challenges ideals from multiple perspectives.
There are still some odd inconsistencies in the world, like the animals talking. But here the conversations are with other animals and used to tie into the larger theme of the issue, loneliness, rather than humorous one-liners from previous issues. The characterization of Fred provides some emotional weight to the discussion of marriage, companionship, and support. Unlike previous issues, where side characters were often used as humor, here they are also part of the overall theme and help diversify the commentary.
Russell finally gets it right and finds a home for the satire and critique he has been trying to build over these first four issues. If this focus and balance can be maintained, this stone aged society will have a lot to say about our current society.
If you were interested in this new version of the Flintstones, but haven’t picked up an issue, now is the time. If you drifted away from the series, now is the time to come back. If you been reading all along, be glad that Russell has finally found the emotional voice for the series.