Thursday, January 3, 2013

365 Comics...3: WALL-E: Out There tpb (2010)

A few years ago when Boom Studios got the license to make comics of Disney/Pixar properties, I dismissed them and generally ignored them.  As a longtime comics reader I know that comic book spin-offs rarely live up to the quality of the source material, and by and large, they're usually insignificant to the development of the characters or capable of expanding upon the world in any meaningful way.  Considering how amazingly well developed the worlds of most of the Pixar films are, not to mention how brilliantly self-contained they tend to be as stories, I had little desire to see them expanded upon in other forms.  But then I had a daughter who, before even turning 2, was obsessed with Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Up, A Bug's Life, Cars and as she would watch the films over and over again, I understood why comic book continuations made so much sense... they're for the kids (duh-doii).

In the past 2 years I've managed to collect the bulk of Boom's Pixar output, and it's all quite good.  Oh, none of it measures up to the films, but they all manage to play in the tub without splashing on the floor.  WALL-E: Out There, the second WALL-E story from Boom (and the last as Disney bought Marvel and moved their comics in-house), has some great moments, expanding upon the WALL-E mythos in cute little ways.  For instance, set only 7 years after the evacuation of Earth, all the little WALL-E bots are hard at work, but more than a handful have developed a penchant for playing.  But there's a big BULL-E robot, a sort of fun-killing foreman, who keeps taking their new toys and putting them back on their task.   As well, writer Bryce Carlson shows why the WALL-Es stack their trash cubes into big towers... they are  built upon large incinerators that deconstruct the waste once the tower is complete.  Kind of ingenious.

The bulk of "Out There" revolves around a spaceman named Andy (is this supposed to be Andy from Toy Story?  The Boom team seemed to enjoy building upon the very tangential continuity of the Pixar films... Sid the mean kid from Toy Story turns up in the Monsters Inc.:Laugh Factor mini-series for instance) returning home to find it an abandoned trash wasteland.  What's missing is any sense of gravitas as Andy seems so totally optimistic about his situation, as he searches for a way to the Axiom to find his family.  I realize it's a kids book, but the films never shy away from darker emotions, and Andy should totally feel...something... about the status of his planet and his own sense of abandonment.  Something the book also doesn't feel fit to convey with any weight is how unlikely it will be for Andy to actually find his family upon his return to space.  But, there's otherwise no implication that he knows how to locate the ship, so it's potentially implied that it's a needle-in-a-haystack endeavor.  It's the unspoken darkness and dire warning of our damaging lifestyle that I love about WALL-E the movie (one of my all-time favourites) that this book seems to unfortunately avoid.  It's good for the kids, but just doesn't excel much beyond that.

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