One of the biggest surprises from DC comics in recent years was its modern-age reboot of Hanna-Barbera’s The Flintstones. On Nov. 1, DC’s updated take on The Jetsons – the futuristic counterpart to the Stone Age-era Flintstones – arrives in comic shops, with The Jetsons #1, the first issue of a six-part series. How does it measure up to the achievement of The Flintsones? And, even if it falls short of that lofty bar, is it any good? Our more or less spoiler-free review follows.
The Jetsons #1 is written by Jimmy Palmiotti (writer on many DC books, notably Harley Quinn), with art by Pier Brito and colors by Alex Sinclair (the cover, pictured, is by Amanda Conner). While it is the first issue of the series, it’s not our first look at some of the characters. Specifically, in last spring’s Booster Gold/The Flintstones Special, there was a backup story featuring George and his aging mother, which basically served as the origin story for Rosie the robot. So here’s the only minor spoiler we’re indulging in since it happened in that book, not this new one. In the classic cartoon, Rosie is the computerized maid; here in the new comic, she’s actually George’s mom and Elroy and Judy’s grandma, having had her psyche transported into this electronic vessel.
Does this make for some awkward family interactions? Yeah, a bit. But it’s a good jumping off point for some classic sci-fi tropes. You know, the application of technology to prolong life; what we may be missing by sticking around rather than moving on; how you define quality of life when it’s been so transformed. The good part? These issues exist. The less great part? George and Rosie actually get explicit about this in conversation rather than show the challenges through interacting. It’s a little tell versus show. Which doesn’t mean it’s poor, just means it’s not executed in a manner we would find more compelling.
In this rejiggered world, Jane Jetson is no housewife; rather, she seems to be a top-level scientist, working with peers to try to fix a deeply endangered world. Perhaps she’s more isolated in this position than seemingly was in the classic role, since she’s not allowed to discuss her high-level work with her family, including sad-sack mechanic George.
Yeah, he’s pretty much the same – works for Spacely, who’s kind of a jerk; seems a little too wrapped up in his own business to take a hint from his wife that there might be real issues to address.
We probably most enjoyed the sequence with Elroy, who accompanies Lake Cogswell (the daughter of Spacely’s no. 1 competitor), on an exploration mission of sorts. Not only was this compelling to meet a new character and see her and Elroy interact in a charming manner, but the backdrop of their quest really did more for world-building in this book than any of the text expositions of the other storylines do.
Judy is given a little bit of the short shrift, but she seems to hew as close to her classic interpretation as George does his. She’s very social, and a little dismissive of her dad thus far, yet respectful at least to Grandma Rosie.
(Oh, yes, and Astro, the family dog, is there too – he just hasn’t done much yet).
We’ll say confidently that this is nowhere near as funny as The Flintstones, but perhaps that’s not what the goal is. What we end up with is a pretty neat sci-fi setting with both relatable smaller stakes (George’s birthday; other family and job stuff) and high stakes (the survival of the human race) on the docket. How a low-level Spacely mechanic will factor into the larger narrative, mostly revealed by Jane’s story, remains to be seen. But the scene has been set nicely – the players are on the board, and we think a reader should be inclined to care about their stories, some little clunky exposition notwithstanding. And perhaps a bit heavy-handed in the environmental/climate change parables. But, all in all, it’s a good start – and for any sci-fi fans, or Hanna-Barbera completists, definitely worth your time.
GEEK Grade: B
Images: DC Comics