Grim_Noir: Does Wacky Raceland Take the Checkered Flag or Just Crash?

Wacky-Raceland-Cover 1

Title: Wacky Raceland #1

Writer: Ken Pontac

Art: Leonardo Manco

Colors: Mariana Sanzone

Letterer: Sal Cipriano

Main Cover: Leonardo Manco

Variant Covers: Dave Johnson, Tommy Lee Edwards, and Ivan Reis with Marcelo Maiolo

Published by DC Comics

Reviewed by Grim_Noir

Like most of the protagonists in DC Comics’ revival/reboot of Hanna-Barbera’s Wacky Races, the plot of Wacky Raceland #1 is a drunkard; and a mean drunk at that.

In the beginning, there was a slapstick cartoon about a never-ending series of car races. There were no limitations on the designs of the cars and no pattern to the terrain the races would cover. Twenty-three human and/or mammal racers entered the race in eleven cars. The cast was massive and the “Tom-and-Jerry”-esque humor was non-stop.

The awesome, impractical and insane automobiles of the old 1960s series suddenly become much more practical as the new series shifts from the present to a post-apocalyptic future. The designs are fiercely gorgeous and they have added the more contemporary sci-fi feature of talking A.I. to the vehicles. Trouble is, everything else about this series slides off the blacktop and bounces around in the weeds…

Wacky-Raceland-redesigns

Former videogame writer Ken Pontac is having some trouble working in the sequential art medium: His script flashes back and forth between the story’s present (our future) and the past of some of the racers (closer to our present). A mysterious and unseen “Announcer” catches each racer at their most despondent and makes a Faustian deal with each: Compete in The Announcer’s race across the post-apocalyptic wasteland and he will save their lives and upgrade their cars. The ultimate winner will be awarded entrance to “Utopia,” the only unspoiled area in their entire world. That sounds fairly straight ahead, but reading all the flashbacks and flash-forwards is whiplash-inducing. Pontac cannot keep any two pages in the same time period. By the end of the issue, it will all make some sense, but the ride is NOT smooth.

The book wants to be Mad Max, but the “humor” hies closer to the old 1980s British 2000 AD comics. A puke joke that would have occurred in the corner of a Tank Girl panel (while other verbal jousting took place in the foreground) completely misfires when placed in the center of a page.

Characterization could also use a tune-up. Peter Perfect snarls more than Dick Dastardly. Blubber Bear is just a brain-damaged human with a bear head on his noggin. It is unclear whether Muttley is a dog with enhanced intelligence or just a dog. A character in the “Army Surplus Special” has been made transgender simply so the series can make jokes about the Army. And the Red Max (who is so named because he is obsessed with WWI biplanes and the Kaiser) has been converted into a full-blown Nazi. (For those who failed high school history, the Nazi Party did not rise to power until AFTER World War One.)

Wacky-Raceland-2016-Double Truck

Artist Leonardo Manco (Hellstorm, Hellblazer) gets an “A” for effort. His gritty style suits the tone of the book, but he has a tendency to over-ink himself, muddying action scenes. His sense of composition crams more onto a page than the writer has any right to ask and his page design is very dynamic. Sadly, so far, I cannot tell if he can make an issue flow, due mostly to Pontac’s storytelling in this issue.

Honestly, I am uncertain who the target audience is for Wacky Raceland. It is too mature for the kids who would have seen Wacky Racers on the old Boomerang Channel. Yet, it is too immature for the parents of those same kids. The cover says “Teens +,” however any teen who reads this would find the initial series impenetrable and the reboot’s concepts a poor second to Mad Max: Fury Road.

Wacky Raceland is definitely stuck in third gear and occasionally blowing dark black smoke. While the book is sometimes interesting, it is clearly not working to its potential and should be flagged back into the garage for further repairs.

Wacky-Raceland-1-4

 

grim_noir_3_t

* GRIM_NOIR suggests you check out the 2006 busted pilot for Wacky Races Forever. Please comment below and/or follow @Grim_Noir on Twitter or “Friend” on Facebook or Good Reads.

Posted in : Comics, Pop Culture, TV
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply