Has Yogi Bear stolen his last pic-a-nic basket now that Deathstroke’s been hired to take him out?
“Sweet Saturday Morning Cartoons…”
There’s something seriously wrong with the animals in Jellystone National Park, and, no, it isn’t that the talking bears pilfer pic-a-nic baskets. Between the rash of missing animals as well as the fanged bunnies and Franken-deer terrorizing the park, tourists are fleeing for their lives. It is only after his best buddy Boo Boo vanishes into thin air that Yogi seeks out the only man who can help: Deathstroke. With Deathstroke/Yogi Bear Special #1, do Frank Tieri and Mark Texeira create an issue that is smarter than the average bear, or are readers left with a steaming pile of spoiled liverwurst?
“Who the Hell Eats Liverwurst Anymore?”
Deathstroke and Yogi Bear are about as opposite as two characters can get. As a result, much of the enjoyment from this issue comes from reading how the characters’ worlds are merged together. Frank Tieri makes an excellent story-telling choice by grounding the story in comedy. Although some of the humorous dialogue may push the boundaries of traditional Saturday Morning Cartoons, it ultimately remains true to Yogi Bear’s character. This is largely because Frank Tieri nails Yogi’s dialect in scripting.
Deathstroke’s dialogue also feels true to the character while also retaining the issue’s comedic tone. Much of this is the result of the mercenary’s impatience with the bumbling bear and subsequent tendency to lean into violent coping mechanisms. Slade’s violence never feels out of place as much of it is played against Yogi’s humorous reactions. Deathstroke/Yogi Bear Special #1 never takes itself too seriously. This is to the story’s benefit as a darker take on the cartoon bear would feel dishonest to his character.
In addition to the character interactions between Deathstroke and Yogi, some of the best moments in the issue are twists revealing HIVE’s involvement in the experimentation of Hanna Barbera’s cartoon characters. This helps to establish these characters within the DC Universe through providing a conflict with a group of villains. At the end, as with the best Saturday morning cartoons, Frank Tieri gives a less likely character the opportunity to prove his mettle and save the day.
Mark Texeira’s art does an excellent job of meshing two worlds together by giving Hanna Barbera’s characters sense of realism that doesn’t betray their original designs. Additionally, his pencils adeptly convey the action as well as the comedic conversations. One of my favorite images from the issue is Yogi and Deathstroke riding on a motorcycle together with the background a complete blur. The absurdity of this image perfectly summarizes the tone for the entire issue.
“You Disappoint Me, Sir…”
Although Frank Tieri makes a point to ground the issue in comedy, it is hard not to feel as though something is missing. Many of the greatest cartoons are not only able to make the audience laugh but also imbue the viewers with a poignant lesson. Overall, the issue is quite enjoyable, as I found myself smiling throughout the entire issue. Unfortunately, the comic feels as though it may be missing something by ignoring subtext.
Smarter than the Average Bear or Steaming Pile of Spoiled Liverwurst?
Ultimately, Deathstroke/Yogi Bear Special #1 serves as a great Saturday Morning Cartoon crossover. Frank Tieri and Mark Texeira balance the humor of the Hanna Barbera cartoons with Deathstroke’s action by grounding everything in comedy. Thankfully, the straightforward nature of the story is elevated by some of the reveals at the issue’s end.