Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Comic #1
Creator: Joel Hodgson
Developers: Joel Hodson and Harold Buchholz
Writers: Harold Buchholz, Joel Hodgson, Matt McGinnis, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe, Mary Robinson
Host Segment Artist: Todd Nauck
“In-Comics” Artist: Mike Manley
Colorists: Web Dzioba, Mike Manley
Letterer: Michael Heisler
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Review by Stacy Dooks
If you’ve been around the proverbial Internet block a time or two, chances are pretty solid that you’ve heard of Mystery Science Theater 3000. The television series spoofing cheesy movies has become practically the ur-example of a cult classic, and the recent revival on Netflix has been well-received on all accounts (present company included). So I feel fairly confident that those who know about the series, and have heard the news of Mystery Science Theater The Comic #1‘s impending release, have probably added it to their pull lists and will have fun with it. But for those who haven’t watched the series, is there anything here for you? Let’s dig in and find out if what works on the small screen translates to the comics page.
In the not too distant future (approximately Next Sunday, AD), there lives a fellow named Jonah. Not too different from you or me, he works for the Gizmonic Institute as another schlub in a yellow jumpsuit. But when a mad scientist traps him on the dark side of the moon, he’s sent cheesy movies, the worst she can find. She gauges his responses and monitors his mind. The intent of the experiement is to drive Jonah mad, but thankfully he gets by mocking the movies in question with the help of his robot friends: Cambot, Gypsy, Tom Servo, and Crow. As Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Comic #1 opens, Kinga Forrester (the aforementioned mad scientist) has developed a new form of torture for our hero: the Bubblat-R, a device which will allow her to transport Jonah and his robot pals into the most horrible comics in the collection of her assistant: TV’s Son of TV’s Frank (Max, everyone calls him Max). The first issue finds Tom Servo thrown into the world of Johnny Jason, Teen Reporter! Can he survive this cheesy issue from the Silver Age of Comics? Will his sanity endure? But most importantly, will he be the toast of a swingin’ sixties party?
I have to admit I had some reservations about the release of this comic. Certainly the source material is fun as all get-out, but translating the comedic timing and wordplay of a television series into a comic book is no easy feat. Thankfully the team behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Comic #1 realizes you can’t really do what the television show does, and so they adapted their approach to suit the medium rather than try to shoehorn movie riffs into a comic book. The result is a solid, entertaining read that evokes the feel of the original series quite well, with a number of the jokes landing quite nicely. The art from Nauck and Manley evokes the modern era and the Silver Age in note-perfect fashion, and the references and jokes from the writing team are entertaining. Of course, much like the show, some jokes land and some. . .do not. But humor is subjective, so what didn’t work for me may well leave you in stitches. Thankfully the hits outweigh the misses and the book sticks the landing nicely. Extensive knowledge of the TV series isn’t a requirement, as the comic is essentially a “pilot episode” for new readers (and potential new viewers).
The Verdict: Buy It.
As I mentioned earlier, if you’re a fan of the source material, Mystery Science Theater 3000 The Comic #1 is right up your alley, just the thing to tide you over as you await the release of the second season on Netflix. Overall, it’s a fun time and a welcome addition to the collection for fans old and new. Recommended.