There are two comics coming out this week that I could write about at some length, The Rise Of Ultraman and Bill & Ted Are Doomed. Both of these properties are sentimental favorites, and while the previews I've seen have really made me want to read The Rise Of Ultraman, I've kind of got to go with Bill & Ted Are Doomed, written by Evan Dorkin and drawn by Roger Langridge (The Muppet Show, Popeye), which serves as a prequel to the just-released film Bill & Ted Face The Music (see “Dark Horse Comics Announces Prequel Miniseries To ‘Bill And Ted Face The Music’”).
I've always been fond of the franchise and while there have been plenty of permutations of the property, I've always believed that Evan Dorkins' Bill & Ted's Excellent Comic Book, published by Marvel during the early 90s, did the best to capture the characters. It’s certainly superior to both their short-lived animated series, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures (plural) or Bill & Ted's Excellent Cereal. You can judge for yourself because Dorkins’ run has been collected in Bill & Ted's Excellent Comic Book Archive, which along with (hopefully) being at your comic shop is available at both comiXology and Amazon. And you can compare it to collections of two more recent Bill &Ted series, Bill & Ted's Most Triumphant Return, and Bill & Ted Go to Hell.
The strangest thing about Face The Music might be how the new characters and ideas often outshine the old ones. Like Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine as the boys' daughters Thea and Billie, and the always great Kristen Schaal playing Kelly, daughter of B&T's mentor Rufus, played by the late George Carlin (her character was named ‘Kelly’ in tribute to Carlin’s daughter Kelly). Long-time Bill & Ted fan Anthony Carrigan (Victor Zsasz in the series Gotham) plays the robot Dennis Caleb McCoy (who bears a striking resemblance to Dragon Ball Z’s Frieza. And rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor Kid Cudi is a delight as himself.
Excellent Adventure and Bogus Journey are both available for free (with ads) on YouTube. In my opinion, Adventure is a lower case ‘c’ classic, and originally I was so disappointed in Journey, up until a couple of days ago when I saw it again. But now, having finally re-watched it, I find it’s not so much ‘bad’ as deafeningly dull. Which is strange, given it’s loaded with strange new ideas, like the guys forging a friendship with Death (the film lurches itself awake every time William Sadler is on the screen), or a pair of Martian geniuses collectively known as “Station!” It’s both their name and the only word they speak (predating Groot by decades) which is usually used in the form of an all-purpose affirmation/exaltation. Sadly, they don’t appear in Face The Music, but there is one literal shout out to them that true fans will really appreciate.
I hope the success of the movie means there’ll be more comics, sort of Bill & Ted: The Next Generation which would hopefully feature Thea and Billie (as well as Kid Cuti) who would take Bill and Ted’s message to a whole new generation. Given the times, it seems like a message that "kid’s today" could really use.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.