Lifetime reader of comics and fan of Planet of the Apes. When the two combine I can barely contain myself. Image, Boom and Titan comics fight for shelf space with Doctor Who DVDs.
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Having had an excellent adventure and a bogus journey, Bill and Ted Go To Hell. ComiConverse contributor Darryll Robson takes a look at the latest issue of this Boom! Studios franchise comic.
The stairway to Heaven might not be as easy to find as the road to Hell but Bill and Ted are not going to give up easily. They’re on a mission to save their friends, their family, and the fate of the Universe itself.
After the Grim Reaper gave away the secret to Heaven’s entrance last month, Napoleon and the demons have deserted Hell. Bill and Ted watch in horror as the mighty, hellish, army march, or rather slide, up to Heaven to wreak disorder. Our heroes attempt to follow but to no avail. The Grim Reaper can surely help as he travels between the two afterlives all the time? Unfortunately not, he’s been frozen out. Add to that the fact that the Phone Booth has been disconnected and you’re left with a stranded group of bickering heroes.
There’s only one option, to seek help from one very unlikely source: Satan himself.
In a dubious but desperate move, Bill and Ted make a deal with the devil and release the ‘big red dude’ from his chains. In return Satan shows them a backdoor to Heaven and even gives them a guide in the form of Genghis Khan.
Meanwhile, on Earth, Missy is having problems of her own when a ghostly waterslide appears in her beautifully decorated front room. As quickly as it arrives, it disappears along with the occupants of the room which include Little Bill and Ted. There is only one place the magic slide could have originated and it does not bode well for what comes next.
Bill and Ted’s entourage make it to Heaven but the place is in ruins and falling apart at the seams. In fact, one collapsing structure leads to the destruction of something very close to Bill, Ted and Rufus. It’s a sad moment in deed but not as worrying as finding the remains of the Robot Us’ and that the only person with a plan is Chuck; one time potential killer of Bill and Ted.
There are more surprises in store for the team and the return of a few familiar faces but the ending is a shocker and a cliff hanger too jaw dropping to share here.
At what point in a franchise is it okay to stop dropping in ‘favourite’ characters from previous chapters? This narrative tactic for drawing readers in works really well to start with or if it’s used sparsely for longer running titles. However when it’s the main story surprise or twist that is used over and over, it’s a tactic that pulls the reader out of the story. Napoleon revealed as the villain was a true surprise but in this issue it’s obvious the team will track down Station when the Phone Booth becomes damaged and there’s no surprise to Genghis Khan turning up. Having said that, the cliff-hanger to this issue is a wonderfully enjoyable twist that not many readers will see coming.
Other than that one narrative grumble, the rest of the story and the script is pure Bill and Ted. There are plenty of ‘No Way’s and ‘non heinous’ with clever plays on each to subvert the repetitiveness of the original movie script.
The lead characters behave how any reader would expect them too but this doesn’t mean that Brian Joines doesn’t attempt development. The entire Purgatory sequence in the story is there simply to expand the 2 dimensions of several characters. Chuck gets several panels of self-doubt and several others get a single panel that speaks volumes about who they are and where they’ve come from. A single image of Billy The Kid on the back of a horse with a noose around his neck tells the reader so much about him, where he’s been and how he has changed since meeting the Excellent Duo. Although superfluous to the actual plot of the story, there are a hundred and one ways they could have got the heroes to Heaven, the Purgatory sequence serves a different purpose and is one of the most interesting parts of an otherwise comedic romp.
As this is mostly a comedy with verbal witticisms and play on words, the Artist has to work extra hard to stop the comic becoming nothing more than a script book for an unmade film. Bachan manages to capture the reader’s eye enough to linger on particular panels or pages without detracting from the speech. He uses an over exaggerated style for most of his character work but sets them in very sturdy backgrounds which gives them a sense of reality. He is a master of facial expressions and his work with the Grim Reaper is divinely funny; Death is a character that shines through in both script and art.
There are moments when the panels are cramped with speech bubbles but these are always framed with larger, roomier, panels. On a page per page viewing Bachan is able to balance the text heavy script with wonderfully entertaining illustration.
This Bill and Ted adventure is turning out to be much more entertaining than their previous outing which fizzled towards the end. With only one issue to come, Joines and Bachan are giving readers a truly non-heinous addition to the Bill and Ted franchise.
Darryll Robson is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Occasionally he might use his Twitter account: @DarryllRobson
An excellent adventure but the constant references and in jokes may grate on some readers