The Flintstones has always been a title focused on drawing out very human and modern issues in a satiric yet heartfelt manner. The newest issue, however, doubles down on this, by utilizing a classic Hanna-Barbera character to observe humanity. Is it good?
The Flintstones #7 (DC Comics)
Mark Russell’s script for The Flintstones #7 starts off in silly fashion as Fred rolls his eyes at an arriving alien envoy. The envoy attempts to buy a large portion of Earth’s water from Fred for a number of beads before being interrupted by Officer Gazoo. No longer the alien that only Fred and Barney can see, Gazoo is now in charge of observing the natural evolution of human beings and preventing other aliens from interfering.
However, while the issue opens with Gazoo, he is largely a background figure in this issue which offers a biting satire to the way religion influences society. The star of The Flintstones #7 is Reverend Tom, who struggles with how to get the citizens of Bedrock to behave in a morally good manner, while also struggling with his own greed and desire for profit. Russell’s biting script calls into question the influx of money into a religious institution, both in the way that Reverend Tom happily accepts the money in spite of his initial misgivings, as well as how quickly the citizens of Bedrock try to buy their way out of the consequences of their sins.
This plot is supplemented by one of the new hires in Slate Quarry going against the advice of Fred and using dynamite in their work. When the rookie is trapped under the rubble, Fred and his coworkers defy Mr. Slate’s orders to stop the search and continue into the night. Russell’s script cleverly uses Gazoo’s distant narration to juxtapose the complicated nature of humanity. Fred’s selfless heroism contrasts nicely with the rest of the Bedrock citizenry becoming a consumer society.
Taking up the reins from series artist Steve Pugh are illustrator Rick Leonardi and inker Scott Hanna. Leonardi’s pencils keep to the book’s established style. While Fred’s proportions are a little less ape-like compared to Pugh’s rendering, the change in artist isn’t a distraction. Leonardi’s work is very expressive–a great fit for the human story. The story here involves a number intimate settings, from Slate’s confession to the Reverend, to Fred and Wilma contemplating civilization’s place in the universe while huddled together on the couch, and Rick Leonardi uses tight framing and an emphasis on human body language and expressions to keep the reader invested. Hanna’s inks are also key to drawing out the expressiveness of Leonardi’s linework. Even in an overhead shot as Fred and his workers try to rescue the newbie from under the rubble, Hanna makes sure that the concern on Fred’s face is given enough weight in comparison to the thick rubble.
That being said, Leonardi doesn’t focus only on the dramatic in the artwork. The Flintstones #7 contains tons of artistic humor–the names of the stores in the Bedrock Mall (my personal favorite is Brontos’r’us) are creative puns. And while the majority of these are one-off sight gags, a drawing on Reverend Tom’s wall comes back into play in a very satisfying way by the end of the issue. Colorist Chris Chuckry is phenomenal here, utilizing a slightly darker palette to complement Hanna’s inks and creating a more dramatic feel to the story.
Is It Good?
The Flintstones #7 continues the excellence that has been the series’ defining quality. While some readers may miss the more fantastical asides from previous issues, Mark Russell utilizes one of the weirder characters in the mythos to tell a story of the human experience. Rick Leonardi and Scott Hanna bring a different feel to the artwork, while still maintaining an aesthetic consistency with the previous issues within the series. Their work here is perfect for such a human story.