Over 30 years ago Bill and Ted discovered that strange things were afoot at the Circle K and a Legend was born. Despite mixed reactions to the second movie in 1991, Bill and Ted found an audience that have followed them through numerous comic book series. Therefore it comes as no surprise that a new comic is being released to tie in with the new movie. As Bill and Ted Face The Music in limited cinema releases and streaming services, on paper Bill and Ted Are Doomed.
Comic writer/artists Evan Dorkin and Roger Langridge bring their own anarchic humour to the new series from Dark Horse Comics. Drawing on references from the franchise and the greater world around us, the new comic offers something for everyone. New and old fans alike will find something in these pages to keep them amused.
All We Are Is Dust In The Wind
The award winning creator Evan Dorkin has created some bizarre comics in his time, Milk and Cheese being one of this reviewer’s favourites. As such, he is a perfect fit for the farcical adventures of the time travelling musicians. His tale begins in the future where Rufus, the guiding hand for the heroes, is informed of yet another looming disaster. The opening is a clever introduction to this series as well as the franchise as a whole. Dorkin clearly assumes that new fans will be jumping on board so he brings everyone up to speed by referencing the plots of the original movies. This ushers in some hilarious gags, or cheesy one-liners, depending on your sense of humour.
Dorkin uses the opening to kick off the plot but also to set the tone of the comic. Chances are if you pull a face at Rufus’ quipping you’ll not make it through the rest of this first issue. The jokes come thick and fast with most reliant on the way the heroes speak. Very little extends beyond one liners or slap stick. The intention of this first issue appears to be the re-introduction of all of the main characters from each movie. All the favourites are there; the musically talented members of the band Joanna and Elizabeth; the alien duo Station; the bass obsessed Death; and the lonely metal side-kicks, The Robot Us’. The comic also includes younger versions of Bill and Ted’s daughters who feature prominently in the new movie.
To cut a long story short, it’s a massive assembly of characters. The drawback to this is that the narrative reads like a collection of short comic strips rather than a cohesive story. Dorkin moves the action from one introduction to another, playing a short comical scene in-between, and after a while the lack of significant plot becomes tiresome. It does begin to pick up towards the end but then new problems surface. Bill and Ted isn’t known for sensible, linear, storytelling however there is usually an element of comprehension present at each major narrative beat. Dorkin’s script lacks this.
We Got Totally Lied To By Our Album Covers
The Art is cartoony in style, favouring humour over realism. This has been the case for the majority of the Bill and Ted franchise. With the large cast of characters, especially the otherworldly members, the premise lends itself perfectly to this style of storytelling. For older readers it will invoke childhood memories of comic strips such as The Bash Street Kids from the weekly Beano comic*. For younger readers it will be familiar and friendly; an easy to access comic.
Roger Langridge’s style is fluid and direct. He captures the essence of a character and then is free to play with the visuals, sometimes to absurd levels. Langridge often over simplifies the panels allowing for straight forward storytelling. There is a clear emphasis on character and humour on the page that builds a tone for the book. It’s fun and frivolity to the extreme. There is little to take seriously, something that is elevated by the coloring and lettering.
The colors are bold and brash, designed to increase the ease of the storytelling. Each page is clearly set out with a clear reading line from panel to panel. Again this illustrates the accessibility of the comic and the wider public that it is aimed at.
Langridge’s lettering is a high point of Bill and Ted Are Doomed. It blends into the surrounding artwork becoming part of the page and brings the characters to life. The sarcastic inflections within the majority of the speech is picked out beautifully within the speech balloons. You can almost hear the voices of Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter speaking the scripted lines. This is especially true of Death because Langridge gives the Grim Reaper a singular look that stands out on the page.
*I’m from the UK where the Beano is familiar to everyone
There is a lot of enjoyment to be had with Bill and Ted Are Doomed. The extent of that enjoyment will completely depend on how much you love and cherish the franchise. Past Bill and Ted comic tie-ins have ranged from the superb to the merely bland, Are Doomed falls somewhere in-between. The creators have made a conscious decision to use a specific style that is both accessible and fitting for the comic, aimed, as it is, at a wide audience. It will not appease the uber-fan, and may actually put some people off: but not too many.
The long and short of it is, Bill and Ted Are Doomed is a cartoon frolic set to capitalise on the release of the new film. It’s not a bad comic but the familiarity and simplicity of the plot stop it being a great comic.