Best Shots Review: JETSONS #1 'Lost In Space & At War With Its Own Tone' (4/10)

DC Comics November 2017 solicitations
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: Dave Johnson (DC Comics)

The Jetsons #1
Written by Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Pier Brito and Alex Sinclair
Lettering by Dave Sharpe
Published by DC Comics
‘Rama Rating: 4 out of 10

Credit: Pier Brito (DC Comics/Hanna-Barbera)

Big ideas and an average family drama define the debut of DC’s The Jetsons. While DC’s other Hanna-Barbera title The Flintstones took a sharply satirical look at the “modern Stone Age family,” writer Jimmy Palmiotti takes a more idea-heavy approach to his futuristic nuclear family, front-loading this debut with big sci-fi ideas and not much else. While their TV counterparts starred in a run-of-the-mill sitcom that just happened to take place in the far future, Palmiotti’s Jetsons are dealing with a latent, Black Mirror-esque darkness that permeates through the whole story. But at the same time, Palmiotti also wants to deliver a sweet family-focused story, thus clashing the tones wildly. Though artists Pier Brito and Alex Sinclair do their best to marry the emotion and ideas found in this debut’s script, The Jetsons #1 unfortunately finds itself lost in space and at war with its own tone.

Credit: Pier Brito (DC Comics/Hanna-Barbera)

Meet George Jetson, loyal Spacely’s Sprockets employee who is facing down his 40th birthday. Though we are all familiar with the Jetsons thanks to syndicated reruns and the show’s earworm of a theme song, the family of The Jetsons #1 is a strange amalgam of the original characterizations and Palmiotti’s new, more cynical take on them. This mixture makes the characters come across wooden and artificial, especially when the script calls for them to make emotional connections with one another.

Credit: Pier Brito (DC Comics/Hanna-Barbera)

But the tonal clashes don’t stop with the characters. While I respect Palmiotti’s willingness to try new things with a well-known property, his eyes are often bigger than his stomach - every three or so pages, the script introduces another huge, twist-like reveal into the story, making this first issue feel like one long info-dump at the expense of it’s characters, who if I’m honest, weren’t that well defined to start with. Starting with a trip below the surface of a now-drowned Earth, Palmiotti stretches several ideas that would be worth just one episode of Black Mirror across a whole first issue, and none of them really land the way he wants them to. Instead of making this issue feel important or clever, these constant reveals make this story feel cluttered with side plots that, at the moment, don’t seem to have much to do with one another. While the wry darkness of The Flintstones felt organic, The Jetsons #1 hasn’t earned it’s cynicism quite yet.

Credit: Pier Brito (DC Comics/Hanna-Barbera)

Artists Pier Brito and Alex Sinclair do a much better job melding the family drama with the sleek futuristic setting, but even their best efforts isn’t enough to fully save this debut. Brito brings a lithe, almost Nick Pitarra-like emotionality to the characters, but given the sterility of the script, that woodenness also radiates into the artwork in group scenes. Though Brito’s establishing scenes like a claustrophobic trip through the ruins of Earth underwater, given a ghostly glow from the colors of Sinclair, and a stirring vista of the story’s International Space Station are consistently great, it is disappointing to know that these scenes are filled with nearly lifeless characters.

There is possibly a great story to be found in The Jetsons #1. In fact, there could be several, and that may very well be the problem. Overstuffed with ideas and populated with undercooked characters, Jimmy Palmiotti’s script shoots for the stars but ends up getting scrubbed thanks to his near-constant twists and lack of any real heart. Pier Brito and Alex Sinclair do their level best to keep this debut in orbit, but lacking the fuel of characters and engaging action their work can only comfortably be called “manageable.” All these space metaphors aside, it is hard not to be disappointed by The Jetsons #1. DC’s Hanna-Barbera experiment has thus far produced some pretty fun and thoughtful comics, and it is a real bummer not being able to count the debut of pop culture’s premiere family of the future among them. Armed with almost weaponized averageness, The Jetsons #1 is a sprocket that not even George Jetson can fix.

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