DC’s adaptation of a number of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons has been an interesting experiment. Some of the books, like the Flintstones have been great, adapting the basic story to contemporary issues and finding new humor while keeping the characters true to themselves. Future Quest brought together many of the sci-fi adventure characters into a crossover series that provided character depth and action. Scooby Apocalypse was more of a mixed bag as it’s updates were interesting, but not as smoothly done as the Flintstones.
And that leads us to the Jetsons…
As a cartoon, The Jetsons were basically The Flintstones set in the future. Since, The Flintstones were essentially The Honeymooners set in the distant past, we are already running low on originality here. Despite this, the cartoon managed to separate itself from its predecessors while dealing with issues like teenage rebellion and the threat of Rock ‘n Roll.
Jimmy Palmiotti and Pier Brito have done a complete revamp of the Jetsons. Instead of a light-hearted future sit-com, we have an adventure story of a post-climate change Earth now under threat from both a long dormant buried threat and an external comet that might not only destroy the cities floating above the oceans but the orbital habitats when most of humanity lives as well.
All of the characters have been updated, George is an experienced engineer, whose boss keeps threatening to replace him with a robot if he doesn’t keep working overtime hours. Jane is a scientist who’s made an alarming discovery. Judy is a party girl teen who would rather spend time with her friends than her parents. Elroy is the smart kid who is always getting into trouble.
And rounding out the family is Rosey, the robot maid who gets quite the upgrade here. In the cartoon she was just an older model robot with a Queens accent. Here she is George’s mother who has had her mind transferred to a robotic body instead of opting to die.
And this is also where we run into a big problem with this book. There are a lot of places where this issue is doing a lot of telling rather than showing. What is it like to live forever as a robot instead of dying as a human takes up several pages of dialogue.
Similarly, when Jane has to present the threats this world is facing we again get many pages of dialogue walking the readings through how their world was created from the remnants of ours. She stands in front of swirly screens and a crowd of people, but we don’t see the history she is talking about.
Palmiotti (Jonah Hex, Harley Quinn) keeps those speech bubbles piling up and really leaves little room for Brito’s (Booster Gold/Flintstones Special, Daredevil) art in these scenes. Which is a shame because in the few places he is given room to draw, like Elroy’s deep sea grave robbing scene, he shows that he has a great command of the characters and how to draw adventure.
The downside of the art, is that it all looks like it has been done before. If you put any of these pages in a Legion of Super Heroes book from the 80s or 90s, nobody would blink an eye. The floating cities, the flying cars and the space stations all have the feeling of something you’ve seen before.
It is an interesting world that Palmiotti and Brito are building. I just wish they felt more confident that people could catch on with less spoon-feeding. There are a number of books looking at similar issues and doing it with better grace. If you find ideas they present interesting, check out books like Magnus where they are carried out in a more subtle way.
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Pier Brito
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Dave Sharpe