So, I don’t know anything about Rick and Morty other than what Stephen has told me and the ‘Pickle Rick’ episode, but I’m always down for a superhero parody… Your Major Spoilers review of Rick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators #1 awaits!
Writer: J. Torres
Artist: CJ Cannon
Colorist: Nick Filardi
Editor: Ari Yarwood
Publisher: Oni Press
Cover Price: $4.99
Previously in Rick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators: “Learn the secret stories and hidden pasts of your favorite Rick and Morty characters in Oni Press’s new quarterly series of one-shots: RICK AND MORTY™ PRESENTS! In this first issue, J. Torres (Teen Titans Go!, The Mighty Zodiac) teams up with Rick and Morty™ series artist CJ Cannon to explore the twisted and bombastic history of THE VINDICATORS in an all-out superhero comics extravaganza. Read in amazement as the superhero team travels through dimensions to recruit other heroes to defeat a villain of their own making. Gasp in shock and awe as the plot twists and previously irrelevant characters revive from the dead! Frown in frustration as you forget the complicated backstory of suddenly important mythic items! And most of all… WUBBA LUBBA DUB DUB!”
WRITERS OF THEIR OWN PRESS RELEASES!
So, as we often discuss, the matter of comic adaptations usually assumes familiarity with the material, but this one is a cut above: We find Rick and Morty in the garage when SUDDENLY, A PORTAL OPENS! Through it come the All-New, All-Different Vindicators, which apparently means a different haircut, some pouches for Crocubot and a robot hand for Supernova. The Vindicators have come for Rick’s help in dealing with a giant universal threat by the name of Boon, a name which Rick immediately mocks as stupid. Actually, Rick mocks pretty much everything as stupid, as Vance Maximus teleports them directly into the path of the Death Stalkers, who want to kill Rick. There’s a bit of parody for the Infinity Stones, and the Vindicators all die one by one (which is, apparently, their deal on television as well) while Rick assembles his own recruits, including a version of Pickle Rick, someone named Scary Terry and… the very villain that they’re actually out to stop?
SOME HEAVY SATIRE, BUT DOES IT HAVE ENOUGH BITE?
This issue is clearly meant to be a pastiche of Crisis crossovers, but aside from a few throwaway jokes (instead of Infinity Gems, the villain is collecting balls, which leads to a few juvenile testicle jokes), it’s really not targeted enough to say much more than “these people are idiots.” During my reading of the issue, I spent some time looking up the Rick and Morty characters that pop up here, and I have come to the realization that this is literally a big R&M crossover madness story featuring villains, heroes and supporting characters from various episodes, each showing up just long enough to be recognized and then move on, completely embracing the very tropes that the story seems to want to mock. Worse still, it doesn’t feel like an intentional or post-ironic use of these tools, making it feel like the creators want to make fun of other people’s crossovers while reveling in their own. I do enjoy Cannon’s art in this issue, though, as it feels like an expansion of the designs seen in the animated series without going ‘off-model’ or taking too many liberties, and the storytelling is clear throughout the issue…
BOTTOM LINE: NOT REALLY MY CUP OF TEA
In the final analysis, nothing much really happens in these pages other than a lot of characters appearing, dying and moving aside for the next recognizable character to take their place, making it feel more like a slasher movie at times than a cosmic adventure story. Rick and Morty Presents: The Vindicators #1 is very much written for the hardcore R&M fans with a narrative that defies cohesion but doesn’t seem intentionally written to do so, with okay art and a lot of fanservice bonus, earning a slightly disappointing 2 out of 5 stars overall. If it is designed to be entirely subversive, it’s not totally successful in doing so, and the parodic elements aren’t strong enough for it to serve as a dressing-down for the comic stories it’s mocking…