REVIEW: Back to the Future #12

The future is now. At least that’s the case for fans of the Back to the Future franchise. It’s been almost a year in real-time since October 21st, 2015; the date that Marty and Doc Brown traveled to the future in “Back to the Future 2”. Fans of the films enjoyed a highly publicized renaissance throughout pop culture as the date became synonymous with THE FUTURE! (Cue the spooky synth-pop music)

While here in the real future we may not have flying cars or hover boards that don’t burst into flames, we do have a fun BTTF comic series brought to you by IDW. This is a fine addition to the film trilogy’s cannon. Much like the expanded universe that is used in the Star Wars, BTTF uses this comic series as a way to flesh out side characters and take the main characters on adventures that might not work on the silver screen.

In issue twelve we are taken back to the year 1979. It is here that we watch as a young Marty Mcfly meets his eventual antagonist Needles. While we’ve seen how Needles is a punk and a bully in the film universe, here we see how a young transfer student begins his downward spiral into a life of petty crime.

It’s hard not to feel bad for the young Dougie Needles. His parents have divorced. He has been thrown into a new school, and to top it off his shy nature causes him to vomit in front of the entire class (and on Marty) the first time he is introduced. From here things only get worse as Needles continues to try too hard to impress everyone around him in a bid to gain acceptance; from trying to buy his way into a friendship with Marty, which involves purchasing new instruments for Marty’s band, “The Pinheads”, to mocking Marty to make himself look cool in the eyes of the girls at school.

The climax of the issue hinges on Marty facing off with Needles about his rude and careless behavior. By the end of the story we see Needles’ transformation into bully and antagonist complete itself as he whips off his hat to reveal his trademark Mohawk.

As a fan of the films I never gave a character like Needles a second thought. After reading this comic it will be impossible not think about this story line and how Needles became Needles. I think that’s the real measure of a tie-in comic book. It bolsters the source material without undercutting the traits or plot that made the original enjoyable. I think a number of writers could take a good lesson away from this issue on how to add to the value of an intellectual property without damaging your source material.

The story was well written. The characterization was strong. The plot moved at a satisfying clip. The art was decent. All of these things are usually enough to add up to a great grade, the one thing that is working against this title is that I don’t think the BTTF hype is strong enough to garner this book much attention, which is a disservice to the creative team involved. This was a really good origin issue, that if you plug-in any other comic franchise, people would be talking about. Unfortunately, this creative team is going to have to continue toiling away unnoticed.

Final Thought: A great issue for a weak comic series.

Final Grade:  3 ½ stars.

Story: John Barber and Bob Gale
Script: John Barber
Art: Emma Vieceli
Colors: Jose Luis Rio
Publisher: IDW

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