The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1
Written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker
Art by M.J. Erickson and Brittany Peer
Lettering by Mike Fiorentino
Published by BOOM! Studios
Review by C.K. Stewart
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
After a short-lived run at Image Comics, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker’s long-running podcast The Thrilling Adventure Hour has found a new home for its eponymous comic series at BOOM! Studios — and with luck, this one will stick for a good long while. The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1 is an absolute delight, with a fresh look and the same old timey radio charm that made the podcast a smash hit for 10 years. The series follows Frank and Sadie Doyle, a pair of charming, boozy socialites who spend their days almost exclusively with the things and people they love: themselves, strong drinks, and their friends, who occasionally bring with them supernatural problems that only the Doyles can solve. (Oh, yes: they see ghosts.)
Acker and Blacker haven’t missed a beat with the Doyles; even in a visual medium, they manage to convey Frank and Sadie’s particular rhythm of speaking, and gags that work best in audio form — pour, poor — still pack a humorous punch. The Thrilling Adventure Hour sometimes has a rapid-fire, almost Sorkin-esque pace to its dialogue (particularly the Doyles), and The Thrilling Adventure Hour #1 is no different, but Acker and Blacker manage not to overwhelm any particular page with dialogue, and letterer Mike Fiorentino does an excellent job working with the space artist M.J. Erickson’s art to maintain the script’s pace while keeping the visual conversations easy to follow.
Erickson and colorist Brittany Peer do an absolutely stellar job bringing the Doyles and their friends to life; Frank and Sadie Doyle are glamorous but approachable, their love for each other evident in the warmth Peer brings to their faces, and together they create an eerie noir vibe that still jives with the series’ comical roots. The Thrilling Adventure Hour walks a fine line between spooky and slapstick, and it would be easy for an artist to err too far one way or the other. Frank and Sadie would be desperately out of place in anything too ghastly, but something that relied too heavily on caricatures or visual gags runs the risk of undercutting the very real emotional core of the series — Frank and Sadie’s love for each other and their friends (though that may be mostly Sadie).
It’s also nice to see the comic make an effort to diversify the cast a bit — the most frustrating part of The Thrilling Adventure Hour’s podcast run was stumbling into episodes about African gods voiced by actors like uh, Patton Oswald, where it felt like the show was leaning so hard into parodying “old-timey” radio racism that it leaned past parody into uncomfortable. With luck, Acker and Blacker won’t wind up revisiting those particular stories. There are more than enough supernatural friends and foes out in the world for Frank and Sadie to face, and this creative team is more than skilled enough to keep their adventures going for a very long time.