[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Steve Pugh
Inker: Chris Chuckry
Fred and Wilma leave Pebbles with the Rubbles while they go on a marriage retreat. Carl Sargon is back to explain the history of the universe. The “appliances” have a revolt. Dino talks (sort of). We learn the history of marriage and relationships. An angry mob forms. Bedrock is a hot mess.
I laughed out loud first on the second page and I did not stop until I was done. There are so many jokes and barbs. Some of them are totally obvious and some are just a bit in the background. Pebbles eats Fruity Pebbles and wears a Nick Caveman shirt. There is a billboard that reads, “Agriculture, the food just pops right out of the ground!” HA! Mark Russell has this book back on the rails and it is humming along. Each issue has dealt with some modern American problem through the lens of the Modern Stone-Age Family. One would not really expect such biting and brilliant social commentary from The Flintstones, but it is here; so we all just need to deal with it.
Speaking of “dealing with it,” marriage is the issue du jour. It turns out that sex caves are still the norm and that the Rubbles and the Flintstones are actually a bit freaky for having decided to marry. The crazy old guy newscaster proclaims that marriage is “an immoral threat to our way of life,” because “it wasn’t around when I was a kid.” Fred and Wilma clearly disagree, but to gain perspective, they decide to go on a marriage retreat. Along the way, the run into two of Fred’s oldest friends, Adam and Steve (I was drinking coffee when I got to this page. I have never been that close to a spit take in real life before) who think the idea of a marriage retreat is “kinky.” There is a discussion about whether or not Adam and Steve should get married. Fred invites them to the retreat. Foreshadowing is evident. You will need to read the book to find out how that turns out. I have given enough spoilers.
There are two side stories in this issue. While they are not as strong as the marriage story, they are pretty good. Pebbles learns from Carl Sargon that the universe was created “Billions of days ago.” He goes into a deep dive explanation of how everything comes together and when Pebbles asks why his answer is equal parts hysterical and tragic. The third story involves appliances and Dino. They all talk to each other and decide that the humans must be gone so they revolt. Logic prevails and they stay put. There are some touching moments and some clever dialogue.
The only real negative I could come up with was that the appliance story was not as sharp as everything else. It seems unfair, like I am saying the Buffalo Bills of the 90s were terrible because they lost four straight Super Bowls. We forget they made it to the Big Game four times in a row. The C story is good, but not nearly as amazing as the rest.
After a bit of a step back with issue three, this issue is strong. While there is often some idea as to what is coming next with the titles of the next story, each issue, much like the show upon which it is based, is self-contained. Characters come in and out, but one could pick up anywhere and be okay. If you are a fan of excellent art and pitch-perfect, clever and intelligent writing, The Flintstones is a must.