Future Quest #1
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Evan "Doc" Shaner, Steve "The Dude" Rude and Jordie Bellaire
Lettering by Dave Lanphear
Published by DC Comics
Review by Lan Pitts
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
The Jeff Parker and Evan "Doc" Shaner dynamic has been a proven success with Dynamite's recent Flash Gordon book and last year's Convergence: Shazam title. Throw in Jordie Bellaire in the mix, and you've got one of the best three-person tag-teams in all of comic books with Future Quest. When DC originally announced this Hanna-Barbera shared universe concept, it might seemed like a daunting task to make a cohesive story out of all these properties, but Future Quest ties it all together in a delightful package with the coolest bow imaginable.
This debut issue opens at a relentless pace, as we witness the last stand of the intergalactic Space Force as they square off against the series' big bad, the Omnikron, before briskly bringing us back to Earth with boy adventurer Jonny Quest, his friend Hadji, and ace pilot Race Bannon, as they undertake a reconnaissance mission, trying to find out the cause of a series of strange lights. Add in Ray Randall and Deva Sumadi, the former harboring a secret alter ego as the high-flying Birdman, and some evil scientist action with Quest's archnemesis Dr. Zin, and you've got some really good action going on that embraces the spirit of the old cartoons. For the younger fans out there that might have missed the animated shows growing up, fear not, it's highly accessible for newer fans, and longtime will appreciate the nods all that much more. Parker takes these characters from original roots and adds a level of depth to flesh them out.
It's fitting that Shaner handles a good portion of the art here, as his Alex Toth influences shine through with the designs of each character. Johnny is bright-eyed but mischievous, Race is cunning and the best quasi-uncle a kid adventurer could want. Shaner and Bellaire create magic and bring these much-beloved characters to life in a way that only they could. There's a chemistry to Shaner's line art and Bellaire's palette that give the pages a look that's equal parts old-school cool and new-school sensibilities. From Jonny whizzing around on his jetpack, you can almost feel the wind rushing through his hair. Simply put, it's sophisticated grade-A cartooning.
Shaner's partner on illustration duties is none other than Steve "The Dude" Rude. A veteran and icon that has experience with some of the Hanna-Barbera universe under his already titanic resume. Rude brings out his best here, channeling some Jim Steranko and some 1960s aesthetics with Dr. Zin's scene. That said, it's slightly jarring in comparison to Shaner's style, as Rude is more complex with compositions, but the coolest thing has to be how Bellaire treats Rude's linework. Since Rude's lines have a bit more weight, they're colored darker and flatter, almost in the same vein as the Quest cartoon. It's really cool to see that type of visual being presented to the page.
There's immense talent floating around these pages. Parker bringing ration and reason to former one-dimensional characters and having an art team that is a force all their own. Parker, Shaner, Rude and Bellaire are more than qualified in handling such a feat and it's a delight to see how this all comes together. DC has been needing some all-ages books that don't just cater to the elementary school crowd and Future Quest is that golden combination of story, skill, and heart that makes for a perfect read.