In Review: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Comic #1

This was just fun and when was the last time you read a comic that was fun?

The covers: A pair to pick up if you’re needed a fix from the Satellite of Love. The A cover is by Todd Nauck and features Kinga holding a comic whose cover features the imagery of this book! Ooooh! An Infinity cover first issue! Behind her is a giant screen that shows Jonah Ray and the bots about to be overwhelmed by the bubbles of the machine she is using to pull the hapless trio into a comic book. Below the screen is Max and Pearl, also holding up comics that the threesome will, hopefully, be pulled into. The evil machine being employed is between Kinga and her minions, filled with colorful bubbles. Below the logo is a window that shows the iconic Satellite of Love. This is a highly detailed and incredibly colorful cover. The B is by Steve Vance and it’s the cover I picked up because it focuses on the world’s famous twosome of robot friends: Crow and Tom Servo. Crow is reading a copy of Tom Servo: Teen Reporter and behind him Tom looks on shocked. I love the simple, classic elements of this cover and the lines of shock that emanate around the image are wonderful. The orange background really makes Tom stand out strongly. Plus, having the comic on the cover that the characters are going to be riffing on is neat to see. Overall grades: Both A 

The story: Harold Buchholz, Joel Hodgson, Matt McGinnis, Seth Robinson, Sharly Volpe, Mary Robinson have taken an old, forgotten comic and inserted one of MST3K‘s characters into it, while others periodically appear with funny comments. This is a very smart way to get the show’s hilarious send ups into other forms of entertainment. The book opens with Ardy taking Bonesy outside the moon for “walkies.” Kinga wants him back inside so that she can proceed with her newest nefarious scheme to torture Jonah. She’s created the Bubbulart-r. “With this amazing new invention, combined with Max’s dorky comic book collection, you’ll be able to experience comics like never before! By becoming a part of them!” She puts Max into a funny animals comic and he’s able to interact with the characters, even changing the dialogue, which is shown to the reader by the addition of a small bubble. This is all that’s needed to show readers what to expect and Jonah and the bots are sucked into the machine, with one character overjoyed to partake: Tom. As a result, Tom becomes the teen reporter of the story and he’s in the tale. This was a lot of fun. I’ve been a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 for decades, so having a comic riffed was terrific. The jokes occur when odd art shows up (such as an opening whistle) or the original dialogue leaves itself for a funny comment, and as with the films that MST3K shows, there are several opportunities. I especially like Tom’s comments as a participant in the story. The best line in the book is when Tom realizes, “This adventure is gonna be off the chain.” There are also some groan worthy jokes, but there are on the show, so these should be expected. This was just fun and when was the last time you read a comic that was fun? Overall grade: A

The art: Todd Nauck has created the “Host Segment” art with Mike Manley doing the “In-Comics” art. What’s the difference? The “Host Segments” are all the scenes on the moon and the Satellite of Love, while the “In-Comics” art occurs when Tom’s head is shown attached to the teen reporter’s body and other characters pop up with commentary. Nauck’s art is really detailed, with tons of neat things to see in every panel. The expressions of the characters are also really well done with Kinga being delightfully, over-the-top evil and Max looking lost. When Jonah is engulfed by the effects of the Bubbulart-r it’s a very exciting sequence of panels that would fare as well as in a serious super-hero book as they do here. Manley also does a good job with his contributions, as Tom and other bots match the art of the original book fairly seamlessly. What Manley gets to do to Tom at a party is a hilarious visual. Who the artist is on the regular comic I couldn’t find online, but it’s the typical 1960’s “serious” art style of comic books that is telling a serious story. This book looks great, whether in space on within the pages of a dated drama. Overall grade: A

The colors: Also receiving dual credits are the colors which are by Wes Dzioba and Mike Manley. The former does the “Host Segments” and the latter is responsible for the “In-Comics” scenes. I was taken with Dzioba’s work right from the get-go because he’s having to color the moon gray against the black void of space. To get such an object to stand out against an ebony background is impressive and Dzioba’s work most definitely is. The shades on characters’ flesh, hair, and clothes is also very well done, giving them some good depth on the page. The greens used for the bubbles of the Bubbulart-r is a good choice since it makes them look alien and slightly disturbing. Manley’s work perfectly blends in with the Teen Reporter’s original colors, with Tom having his classic coloring, but is just slightly lightened to exist in this old book. Overall grade: A 

The letters: Michael Heisler creates the book’s narration, transmissions, dialogue, music, sounds, and a song sung. Heisler, like the artists and colorists, has to create text that looks appropriate for a modern book and match the fonts of Johnny Jason Teen Reporter. He also is very successful. Everything is easy to read and the sounds in the “Host Segments” are terrific. Overall grade: A 

The final line: This book made me laugh consistently. The dialogue in the original story is funny and the jokes that have been inserted into it are wonderfully silly. It’s rare to find a book that just intends to make you laugh. This book does so and succeeds wonderfully. This is a delightfully fun book in a medium that’s come to cherish the grim and the serious. I was happy and grateful to read this book. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find some Totino’s Pizza Rolls. Recommended. Overall grade: A 

To order a digital copy go to https://digital.darkhorse.com/books/4bc99f6e20d4497fbfd8b94552b3d188/mystery-science-theater-3000-1

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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