Incepted into three different public domain comics by Kinga Forrester’s Bubbulat-R, the heroes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 struggle to riff themselves free.
When we last left our…heroes, Jonah, Crow, and Tom Servo were sent into the world of pulp comics courtesy of the new bubble technology developed by the somewhat evil Dr. Forrester. What dastardly deeds are in store for our…protagonists? Will the concept of MST3K continue to translate to the 4-color funny pages? Can they keep up the jokes while still having a secondary comic plot happening underneath? Will I be confused again by the extra bubble on the text bubbles, indicating the snarky comments of the cast? Find out in this review of Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Comic: #2!
Like its predecessor and the current version of the mocking show, MST3K The Comic works hard to be snarky while also presenting a bit of a plot outside the medium they skewer. This issue, Jonah and Crow are tossed into “Black Cat,” a pulp-era, scantily clad crime fighter. The big change, however, is the inclusion of Dr. Forrester and TV’s Son of TV’s Frank and a Tostino’s Pizza Roll Rocket, dropping product placement anachronistically right in the middle of the story. Honestly, as much as I’m enjoying the madcap tear-down of the golden age of comics, it gets a bit crowded before the actual “Black Cat” issue begins.
Props to the writing team for one joke in particular, the shout-out to now retired Muppeteer, Carrol Spinney. As with most MST3K episodes, the commentary is hit and miss, going for the shotgun approach to comedy. While it does fill the time in a show, it crowds the field in the limited panels of a comic book. Some panels work better for commentary than others. “In-Comic” artist Jack Pollock has completely captured the feel of the pulp age, building in not only the basic look of the early comic era, but also the feel of the characters and action.
For its ups and downs, MST3K The Comic has chosen the right era to lampoon. Much as classic, insane films work best for their brand of commentary, going back to comic styles from so long ago gives the writers a chance to tear into the tropes of the past, skimpy costumes included. With the addition of a third comic type – the schlock horror genre – MST3K The Comic shows that the concept, much like the show and unlike Tom Servo, has legs. The question is, how far can the writing team push the concept before it becomes too unwieldy and needs to be reigned back in? Maybe we’ll find out next time in Mystery Science Theater 3000 the Comic!