IDW has a new Back to the Future spinoff out this week and it’s all about Biff. Specifically, the journey Biff went on after getting the infamous sports almanac. Witness the rise of Biff and all his power…
Back To The Future: Biff To The Future #1 (Of 6) (IDW)
So what’s it about? The summary reads:
When Old Biff Tannen travels to the past to give his younger self the Grays Sports Almanac, he opens a lethal Pandora’s Box that drastically changes the course of history. In the BTTF movies, Doc and Marty save the day — but what happens in Biff Tannen’s dystopia before they do? Find out in BIFF TO THE FUTURE, the alternate life story of Biff Tannen detailing his diabolical rise to power, his dangerous relationship with the McFly family and Doc Brown, and his ultimate demise. The apocalypse has got nothing on the kinds of trouble a Tannen can make! Written by BTTF co-creator Bob Gale with Derek Fridolfs (Batman) and illustrated by Alan Robinson (BTTF: Citizen Brown).
Why does this book matter?
Since this story takes place in a version of time that was erased anything can happen. We know where Biff ends up: rich beyond measure, owner of a casino and married to Marty’s mom, but how did he get there? It may seem like a no-brainer (becoming super rich always helps in cases like this), but I’m actually interested in seeing how Marty’s mom ended up with the meat bag.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This looks familiar.
This issue opens with old man Biff handing his younger self the sports almanac, though Marty isn’t in the back seat this time, as this is the first time they actually met. Writers Bob Gale and Derek Fridolfs then show us the events that take place in the next 48 or so hours — which involve Biff taking his mother to a casino, murders, and Biff interacting with the school principal. The events seem to suggest it gets very bad for Biff before it gets good and may have influenced Biff which might explain why the future we see in Back to the Future 2 gets so bad.
The grandmother character, who to my knowledge is brand new in this series, does a lot to explain why Biff is such a mean kid. She’s a bully, and clearly has an addictive personality that’s made her very uncaring for her grandson. Biff certainly isn’t shown in a way to explain why he’s such a jerk, but you can put two and two together.
The art by Alan Robinson, who drew the great Citizen Brown series, is solid with a cartoony vibe and plenty of detail in the characters’ faces. Biff looks a lot more attractive than he does in the movies, which maybe is on purpose to make him more sympathetic. The colors by Maria Santaolalla are bright and very rich with a lot of purples used throughout. There’s a nice sense of depth added by the colors and Robinson doesn’t skimp on backgrounds either. It’s 1955 and the cars and environments are spot on.
Something should be said for the logo on this book which is a nice play on the Back to the Future logo — only it’s a fist. Cheers to whoever thought up that little touch.
It can’t be perfect can it?
There’s a missed opportunity here to make Biff sympathetic and given he’s the protagonist it makes rooting for him impossible. Unfortunately, he’s still the obnoxious bully from the films made worse when he acts coldly with his grandmother and how he deals with her too. You’re never rooting for him, especially since we know he’s going to turn into a real monster later in this timeline.
The general plot of this issue is rather ho-hum without much of any revelation beyond reasons as to why he goes out on his own. It doesn’t help a mysterious man who attempts to help Biff ends up being a pointless character. Much of this issue feels like filler from Biff interacting with the principal to having his grandmother make two bets to get his point across. It’s repetitive and rather boring. That said, I’m still intrigued to see any wrinkles they can add to this, especially how he ends up with Marty’s mom.
What a nasty woman.
Is It Good?
Back To The Future: Biff To The Future #1 has an intriguing premise that has plenty of opportunity to show us how Back to the Future 2 ended up where it does. That said, it misses an opportunity to make Biff a sympathetic character and instead continues to show him as the dumb jerk who doesn’t deserve anything good coming his way.