The new crew of the Satellite of Love has survived some bad, public domain movies, but can they survive bad. Public domain comics? The Mads of Moon Base 13 intends to find out in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Comic #1, from Dark Horse Comics!
Writers: Harold Buchholz, Joel Hodgson, Matt Mcginnis, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe, Mary Robinson
Artists: Todd Nauck & Mike Manley
Cover: Todd Nauck
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: September 15, 2018
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in MST3K: The Comic: There was no comic. I was a streaming live action series which is a revival of a cable television series which was an homage to the late night horror host phenomenon and spawned a movie of the same. The premise was simple, they air an old movie and riff on the awesome badness of it. If you remember when Comedy Central was actually funny or subscribe to a big major streaming service that rhymes with Wet Tricks, you’ve probably heard of it, it’s kinda a big deal.
A NEW RIFF ON AN OLD SONG
Space, the final front… oops, sorry, wrong fandom. Our story begins with a space-suited figure, Ardy, as he reports back to Moon Base 13 that he had set the liquid explosives along the word THEATER, which makes up part of the logo for the series. Ordered back to base, right after his dog Bonesy finishes their business, we shift to the bone shaped space stations known as the Satellite of Love, where Jonah Heston, the test subject in an attempt to drive men mad, and his cast of robots are inspecting an odd vent which they just happen to notice. Kinga Forrester, the mad scientist in charge of the experiment to drive Jonah insane with bad movies, breaks in. She and her assistant, Max, have come up with a new experiment, one that will be a major game changer, once she verifies that it works by testing it on Max. It seems that Kinga and her team have developed the Bubbulat-R, a machine designed to allow a human being to become part of the comic book story, and have a physical copy of their interaction to enjoy, and probably slab later. Crammed into a classic science experiment clear chamber, they start up the experiment. As the chamber fills with pink bubbles, Max is transported into the golden age comic book, Fawcett’s Funny Animals #9. While there, Max successfully interacts with the comic residents and comes out with only a few bumps and bruises for his trouble. As he is hauled away strapped to a gurney, Kinga declares that the time for tests is over, she is planning on sending Jonah and the robots into a comic next. The comic they will inhabit, Johnny Jason Teen Reporter! Issue #2, from Dell Comics to be exact. As the Satellite of Love is suddenly flooded with green bubbles, Jonah and the robots attempt to escape, well almost all of them. Who will be the star of this forgotten comic? What is the next comic the crew will be subjected to? Will Kinga succeed in driving a human mad?
How should I know? We’re only on the first issue.
FEATURING A CAST OF… NOT QUITE DOZENS!?
Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a cult classic which has influenced pop culture like few other series. It not only has served as an introduction to a whole different type of movie genre to an audience who may have never seen such movies before, it showed that movies which had long been relegated to the dustbin of time still had entertainment value left. It has a rather long and detailed production history and has recently seen a revival thanks to fans and a successful Kickstarter. The live action series can be seen on Netflix and other streaming services, but here we get the crew into a new medium, comics.
The comic version has the read of the live action series. This is due in part to the talents of Joel Hodgson, Harold Buchholz, Matt Mcginnis, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe & Mary Robinson. Joel Hodgson was the original creator of the live series, and along with Harold Buchholz, developed it for this new comic book release. All of the writers have been writers for the live series in one incarnation or another, and many of the jokes and dialogue attempt to recreate the snappy pattern which the series is known for. It reads like an episode, but that reading is off from the series. Some of the jokes seem forced, and at times it reads like a contest to see who could deliver the most relevant, or irrelevant, joke the quickest. But, at times the jokes on the original series feel flat as well, and that happens some here also. The concept, a machine which interjects you into the comic book, is a reworking of the live action concept and fits the world in which it occurs well.
The artwork is provided by Todd Nauck (Young Justice, Wildguard), and lives up to his excellent standard of quality. Nauck handles all of the host scenes and has an expressive style which serves well for this style of over the top book. As a licensed book, many of the characters likenesses are taken from real life. In most cases, it works, and he draws some fare approximations of the actors, with a few exceptions. It’s an instance of when it works, it work, and when it doesn’t, it still looks nice.
In the sequences where the character is injected into a comic, we have a different artist. Mike Manly (Power of Shazam, Alpha Flight) is a comic veteran who also works in the field of newspaper comic strips. His work there can be seen in the long-running Judge Parker strip as well as The Phantom. It is perhaps that experience which allowed him to ape the style of the original comics our heroes are injected into. It was so close in style reproduction, I wonder at first if the issues of Funny Animals and Johnny Jason, Teen Reporter had not be created whole cloth. Surprisingly they had not and are actual comics published back in the fifties and sixties. It was amazing to see the style adapted so well as to make me doubt if it was original or not.
BOTTOM LINE: WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE MIGHT KILL THE DUCK.
I may have mentioned it before, but I am a fan of the horror host genre. Those curators of b-movie goodness hold a special place in my heart, but Mystery Science Theater has always been a little different. It appeared at a time when it should not have worked as well as it did, but managed to garner a following that thrives even today. On television, it has a humor that is irreverent, but you feel the jokes are made out of love for the subject. There is always a twinkle in the actor’s eye when they deliver a particularly groan-worthy zinger, and you are let in on the joke. Here, many of the jokes feel flat. It tries to tickle so many different funny bones at once that it seems to forget that less is sometimes more. At the same time, it still possesses that over-the-top style which has made MST3K a much-loved part of so many people’s lives.
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: THE COMIC #1 is a book that fans of the live-action series will love, but those new to the license may find confusing. I suggest fans of the original television series or the streaming reboot check it out. New readers might like to delve into the source material to see if the fit it right.