[Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers.]
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Steve Pugh
Inker: Chris Chuckry
Things are looking up in Bedrock. There is a mall. There is a Panda Excess that gives away Panda head samples. Yum? Hmmm. Fred seems excited. There is an airline called Trans-Pangea. Sure, it is just a box on the back of a pterodactyl, but still. Brain-clubbings are down, Grant Theft Wheel is down and Witchery is down. What more could a burgeoning civilization need? Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm get a job interning with Professor Sargon at the science cave in the Mothodone Clinic after he picks up an Applecus computer but unfortunately Professor Sargon has made a calculation that earth will be struck by an asteroid and the world will be destroyed. Well, things are maybe not looking up.
Once again, Pugh and Russell have taken this book to another level. Let’s begin with artist Steve Pugh. Each month, as Bedrock builds up, Pugh has to give us more while reminding us of what came before. A lot of Pugh’s greatness happens in the background. Because this issue takes place all around Bedrock during an expected apocalypse, Pugh has a lot of material. At one point, while we focus on Fred, Wilma, Pebbles and the priest, there are people jumping off buildings a la War of the Worlds. There is a guy on fire, the employees of Footlicker are stealing veggie toe bulls and there are snakes escaping from Outback Snakehouse. This book has so much going on that it takes a lot of time to take it all in. Pugh knows just where to draw the reader’s eye and where to let the reader find some nuggets of awesome.
Russell’s scathing satire continues. His dialogue is so smart. Normally, he gives all the best lines to Pebbles. This month, some minor characters get to drop some knowledge. Rock Stone, newscaster and anonymous pundit, and his guest explain that “The people of Bedrock are simply better than everyone else.” Right before they burn the city to the ground. Of course, the timing of this story is perfect. We live in a knee-jerk reactionary world where fake news on social media gets more people into a tizzy and real newspapers close up shop every day. Mr. Russell holds up the mirror and we see ourselves.
When we learn that Sargon’s calculations were wrong and humanity will survive, we hear some words of wisdom, from the leader of the Church of Gerald as he tells us, “I only hope we can all just go back to pretending we are good people…[because of] life being a series of mutually agreed-upon delusions designed to keep us from becoming ongoing accumulations of regret.” Those words bring home the B-story where we see the vacuum cleaner express sadness and loneliness to the bowling ball who just wants Fred to not be so angry all the time and the C-story where we see Mr. Slate, alone in his mansion realizing that everything he has ever done is meaningless. Both stories are heartbreaking and real. Well done.
How does one criticize excellence? One does not.
The only concern I have for this book is that it has to eventually stop because all good things come to an end and eventually, the stories will repeat themselves. For now, we must bask in the glory of The Flintstones.