Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Bill and Ted Are Doomed by Evan Dorkin and Roger Langridge

This is another one of those cases where I'm a fan of the other thing in the mix, and so will probably not be that good at reviewing how good the final product is at achieving its end. Just a warning up front.

What I mean is: I've been following Evan Dorkin (especially the comics he both wrote and drew, which are rare this last decade or two) and, to a an only slightly lesser extent, Roger Langridge, for years and years. They're both comics creators whose work I'll try to read almost no matter what it is.

Even if it's a sharecropped story deliberately constructed to fit in between two movies that I have never seen, for example.

Bill and Ted Are Doomed was a four-issue miniseries, collected into a single book a little later - that's how I read it - designed to help bridge the gap between the 1991 movie Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey and Bill & Ted Face the Music, which came out last year in some way. (Movie releases were a bit disjointed and weird in 2020, like so much else in the world.)

Now, I did see the first movie, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, so I'm not completely unaware of the thing. But that was a long time ago, and is filed in my brain more under "'80s surfer stereotypes" than "the Bill & Ted universe."

So this book, which has their robot duplicates - who were evil in the second movie, I thought, but aren't evil here - and some little hairy naked inventor-types who only say "Station!" and I presume are also from that movie, because it would be really weird otherwise,...anyway, this book has a lot of stuff that I assume is fan-service for the actual fans, but I am not really one of them, so it's just weird details.

This is also handicapped by its mid-quel nature: it was seemingly designed to show Bill & Ted (and their families) roughly halfway between the youthful slackers of Bogus and the middle-aged losers of Music. And it can't solve the problem the later movie will, which is the core problem of the series (such as it is): Bill & Ted will, eventually, write the one song that brings the world together in peace and harmony and forms a global utopia.

Which is a fun conceit, but if they actually do it, all of the stories are over. So, unless they do in Music (I hope they do), they haven't done it yet.

Doomed is thus a book of failure. Bill & Ted are nearly broke, their band is forgotten, and they spend all their time trying to write the One Song and getting nowhere. Everyone around them is more sensible and normal than they are - that would pretty much have to be the case, honestly - so the band (Bill, Ted, their wives, and Death on bass) set off on a tour to refill their bank accounts.

And if you've ever seen any story about a band setting off on tour, you know it will not go well.

It does not.

There's a band that hates Bill & Ted for mostly inexplicable reasons - they're not metal enough, which is fair since Wyld Stallyns never stuck me as particularly metal, but I may be biased - and that of course leads to a disastrous festival somewhere frozen in Scandinavia where Our Heroes are once again in danger of dying.

It all does end, somewhat mutedly, since they can't actually write The Song or change their slacker/loser future or resolve their money problems. Again, this is a story set between two already-defined points, and exists mostly as a line extension to shake more money out of fans' pockets. It's a fun entertaining story, with the loose-limbed appeal of the other Bill & Ted stories, so it's almost certainly worth the few dollars it does shake out. But that doesn't change the pointlessness of it all.

Then again, I'm generally of the opinion that all sharecropped stories are deeply pointless, so you may not want to listen to me. This one is harmless at worst, goofy fun at best.

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