In their reboot of the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Jetsons, writer Jimmy Palmiotti, artist Pier Brito, and colorist Alex Sinclair add philosophical and post-apocalyptic elements and expose the dark underbelly of the family sitcom flying car utopia. George, Jane, Judy, and Elroy Jetson plus their grandmother/robot maid Rosie seem to have the average overworked, on-edge, sci-fi equivalent of an upper middle class life, but Palmiotti and Brito make this comic far from a breezy, funny read. Judy doesn’t appear in the comic much, but Elroy’s plot line is centered around taking dangerous risks and returning to a contaminated Earth to find a piece of memorabilia for his dad’s birthday. While this is going on, Jane deals with a threat that could destroy life on all the space stations and has to find a solution for this problem in a world where all weapons are banned.
The dark, philosophical highlight of The Jetsons #1 is George and his mom having an intense discussion about the nature of humanity and reality over a laidback breakfast of bacon that isn’t actually bacon. I love how it starts as banal small talk and ends with his mom and him really getting know each other in a deep conversation that definitely is influenced by the works of Philip K. Dick, The Matrix, and the metaphysics unit of your local university’s Philosophy 101 course. However, what keeps it fresh is that Palmiotti and Brito ground the conversation in the complex, kind of sort codependent relationship between a mother and son. There is also a big picture discussion about some of the downsides of transhumanism and downloading your consciousness into a computer or robot like being able to experience basic things like showers or food and knowing deep down that it’s just an illusion. Warren Ellis was probably angrily typing during that part of the comic.
However, this scene also shows some of the limitations of Pier Brito’s art work as well as the strength of Alex Sinclair, who has been one of DC’s most consistent colorists for quite some time. Brito frames most of the chat from long or middle distance, which hinders the opportunity for readers to connect to George and Rosie through their eyes or body movements. In fact, the faces and dialogue don’t match up for a lot of comic even though Brito has a distinct design and body type for each Jetson. Palmiotti’s writing is insightful enough to make this less of a problem than it could be, but during a long exposition scene where Jane tells (The reader, basically.) what exactly happened to Earth in the Jetsons universe, it contributes to the story dragging along.
Sinclair’s colors are gorgeous though as he switches gears from blurry, dystopian Earth to the shadows of Jane’s secret conference that she is presenting at to the flame of possible destruction and a sunny palette that will make viewers of the Jetsons cartoon smile with recognition. Also, taking a page out of Moebius and Jean-Claude Mezieres’ playbook, Pier Brito excels at drawing futuristic vehicles, establishing shots, and his waterlogged Earth rotting with the last remains of civilization reminded me of a minimalist version of the first Valerian and Laureline story. Brito’s bande desinee influences for setting and technology along with Jimmy Palmiotti putting family relationships and philosophical questions at the forefront and disaster movie type hijinks in the background show that The Jetsons has the seed of a dark, sci-fi art comic in it. However, it stumbles at times with poor facial work and long monologues that make it feel like Scooby Apocalypse in space. At times, it seems that Brito is trying hard to be Jim Lee when he could put a unique stamp on the book like Evan Shaner on Future Quest or Mark Russell on Flintstones.
The Jetsons #1 is a fairly smart exploration of utopians and transhumanism through the appealing lens of the family drama genre courtesy of writer Jimmy Palmiotti. Pier Brito’s art is a mixed bag, but colorist Alex Sinclair is more than game for the ideas, influences, and tone shifts slung out throughout this book.
Story: Jimmy Palmiotti Art: Pier Brito Colors: Alex Sinclair
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review