3 out of 5
So after reading a couple issues of Rock Candy Mountain, I was like, Who is this Kyle Starks cat?, which led me to these recent Rick and Morty issues.
I love R and M, but like a few TV properties I dig – Star Vs. the Forces of Evil, Amazing Gumball – the qualities that work on the show don’t always translate to print, even when there are shared creative teams across the platforms. When it’s combined with talent who will break from some of the established convention to do their own thing, though, it can definitely work – thereby staying true to my generalism that you have to truly adapt something appropriately to its medium; you can’t just port it.
So anyway, with issue 25, I thought my Starks interest was off to a great start: a wackadoo roundabout tale concerning visible cool points, Tiny Rick, and Morty assassinations nailed the part spazz, part linear nature of the show while injecting Mr. Starks unique energy and harsh-edged humor into things via his art and writing double duty. The backup by Marc Ellerby – about a (sorta) Jerry worshipping planet – was more in line with what I expect from these licensed properties (i.e. looks like it, sounds like it, so I guess I’m supposed to like it), but it’s fine as a supplement to Starks’ feature.
Issue 26 sorta left me dry, though. The main story has the same plotline mash-up of 25 (Rick creates a science blob; prevents Jerry from inciting a planetary takeover from oddly awkward aliens), but it lacked the previous issue’s zip. Not bad, but not notable. I didn’t really laugh. Or chortle. Or grin. And this blasé effect carried over to Ellerby’s backup (Beth imagines a perfect family in a VR rig), even though it was basically on par with the prior one.
So what’s the deal? And maybe… maybe it comes down to Starks knowing how to script for himself, but – CJ Cannon drew 26, sticking much more closely to a “traditional” R and M look – maybe his comic timing isn’t explicit in his scripts for others. Looking back, Starks worked on an Invader Zim issue I read to which I had a similar shruggy response, so I’m gonna save my wallet buckos from here on out in pursuit of written AND drawn by Kyle, and see how it goes from there.