Dastardly and Muttley #6 – Garth Ennis, Writer; Mauricet, Artist; John Kalisz, Colorist
Ray – 6/10
Ray: Unlike the other Hanna-Barbera books this week, Dastardly and Muttley by Garth Ennis attempts to fuse darkness with comedy – but with very mixed results. In Dastardly and Muttley #6, the mysterious plane War Pig One continues to spread its gas all over the world, slowly transforming all of planet Earth into a cartoon and the four pilots left in the sky wage a desperate battle to bring it down.
On Earth, the new President – now a fox who may have previously been George Clooney – tries to figure out the situation without much success, even as one of his advisors randomly transforms into a dinosaur in the middle of a briefing. The concept of cartoon physics as body horror is one that has some potential, but it’s too thin a concept to hang an entire series on, and it showed particularly in the back half of the miniseries.
Meanwhile, the team of Dastardly, Muttley, and the hapless pilots originally sent to shoot them down are in pursuit of the plane, and they spend most of their time arguing, as Muttley’s mental state continues to degrade and he sinks further into animal behavior. Aside from Dick’s mustache, he seems mostly unchanged, but the chase segment has some strong art and exciting action sequences. The ending is very ambiguous, with them potentially sacrificing themselves and Dick transforming into his classic cartoon self right before the end, but it leaves their ultimate fates and the fate of the world ambiguous.
Then it dovetails into an oddball, cynical epilogue involving what I assume is Muttley’s kid and a fairly dark outcome for everyone involved. In the end, it just doesn’t click as a coherent narrative, even if it is a lot better than Wacky Raceland ever was.