As of the date we post this, Rick and Morty won’t be back for a good two weeks. Which you think fans would be used to after having the never-ending saga that was asking “when will it return” and not accepting the fate that the show will probably slowly become like The Venture Bros. and come back once every few years when they decide it’s good. So aside from watching reruns on Hulu, how do you go about filling the void? Through comics! I’m still shocked that die-hard viewers don’t even know that Oni Press has been producing a comic book series based on the show since April 2015. Oni managed to hook a few new readers during Free Comic Book Day this year by releasing the first issue to entice people to check it out. But how does the series hold up so far? We snagged the first five volumes and decided to see what they had to offer.
First, let’s get to the two primary basics: No, Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland are not writing this series. A few different people have been tackling the primary writing duties including Zac Gorman, Pamela Ribon, Tom Fowler, Kyle Starks, and Marc Ellerby. Second, while the art style emulates Rick and Morty, it isn’t what you would call an exact copy. The artists were given a lot of liberties with this series and while the characters do look like their animated counterparts, you can tell they’re just a little bit off. Now if these two things ruin a comic book for you before you’ve even taken it off the shelf, you’re doing yourself a disservice. A lot of TV/comics don’t share the same vision but both turn out perfectly fine.
Storyline wise, these are a combination of awesome story telling and weird comic book tropes. Much like the show, the comic has no issue poking fun at pop-culture, as seen with their version of Doctor Who called Professor Tock, or the return of Scary Terry, or the “evil” universe where the family is all deformed and killing people. The comic also takes risks the show wouldn’t, which is saying something considering how often they break the fourth wall. But nowhere else in their universe would I get an entire issue dedicated to an “episode” of Ball Fondlers, or the return of Dumb Rick, or exploring Summer as an absolute badass beyond her Mad Max experience.
Subtle storylines like turning Morty into an Emporer or dealing with the careless Peacock Jones shows that the writers are determined to give you an experience beyond the show that could feel like it belongs on TV. Sometimes it doesn’t work, like the return of Tiny Rick or having a Jerry who is the dominant male in the family. While those sound cool in theory, they don’t come off well on paper and turn into the comics that you kind of want to skip over. Even the return of Mister Meeseeks feels a little out of place in a universe where the out of place is common. That being said, the good outweighs the bad, especially when you’re looking at the series in bulk.
Overall, if you need a Rick and Morty fix, you can’t really go wrong with this series. Of the five volumes currently out by Oni, Volume Four is probably the weakest while Volume One is the strongest. You can see where the series both picks up and loses it’s stride as writers swap out, and it would probably be more beneficial to Oni if they picked a single writer to run through the series for a year rather than every couple of issues. That being said, there are great stories in this series that are worth your time to explore and make for great reading if you absolutely need more Rick and Morty in your life.
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