A Back to the Future #6 Review – Give It Time

Back to the Future #6, 2016TITLE: Back to the Future #6
AUTHOR: Bob Gale, John Barber
PENCILLER: Marcelo Ferreira
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: March 30, 2016

***WARNING: Minor spoiler ahead for Back to the Future #6.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Now that IDW’s Back to the Future is an ongoing series (it was originally supposed to be a four issue mini), we’ve officially transitioned into the era after the movies. It’s not 1985 anymore, folks. Back to the Future is moving…well, into the future!

Several months after his last time-travel adventure with Doc Brown (it’s unclear whether the Telltale game is in canon), Marty McFly finds ordinary life to be rather boring. Even his girlfriend Jennifer, who travelled to the future with him, is losing her patience. But once again, a note from the past changes everything. Only this time, it’s not from Doc. It’s from his wife Clara. Once again, Marty’s old friend is in trouble. But how does can he come to the rescue without a time machine?

Back to the Future #6 opens up some interesting doors. But for the first time since the series began, I have some nitpicks…

Back to the Future #6, page 6, IDW PublishingFirst, a question. This goes beyond the comic book, obviously, but why is Doc time traveling again? In the second and third movies he repeatedly talks about destroying the DeLorean, wishing he’d never invented the time machine, the dangers of time travel, etc. He invents the train we see at the end of the Back to the Future, Part III so he can get his dog from 1985, and let Marty know he’s okay. But when we see him pop up at the end of the third movie, he’s already gotten the train modified with flying equipment. So at some point, Doc decides he’s going to start time traveling again. So why? This would be a good question for the series to address, at least briefly. (In any event, the obvious answer is: He’s time traveling again so we can tell more stories!)

Marty comes off a little too whiney in this issue for my taste. It’s like he’s a boxer begrudgingly coming to grips with having to hang up his gloves. At one point he actually asks Biff: “You ever feel like all the best stuff already happened? Like your best days are behind you?” Jeez, kid. You’re 17 years old. Quite your whining. You’ll live again…

Late in the issue, we find out Doc Brown had…wait for it…more than one laboratory! And it just happens to have another DeLorean in it (minus the Flux Capacitor)! Far fetched? Maybe. But maybe not. From previous issues, we know Doc has worked for the government, and has reason to keep secrets. And it looks like this other lab is essentially a glorified storage space. Marty and Jennifer even say there’s nothing of use to them there.

Back to the Future #6, page 7, 2016On the subject of Jennifer, my only major critique with this issue’s art has to do with, of all things, her hair. Early in the issue, it appears to be a light brown. As we get further into the issue, she becomes a blonde. What’s the deal?

That being said, Marcelo Ferreira’s animated style definitely fits this world. Dependent Marty isn’t much fun to look at. But loud, exclaiming Marty definitely feels like what Michael J. Fox did on screen. Once we get into the more dynamic stuff I think this series will be a lot of fun visually.

IDW set the bar pretty high for movie-continuity stories with GhostbustersBack to the Future has a chance to capture some of that same magic. It doesn’t have it quite yet. But if this series is half as good as its Ghostbusters equivalent, it’ll be better than a Back to the Future, Part IV movie could ever have been. Those are big words, but give it time…

Get it? Give it time. HA!

Images from comicbookresoures.com.

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A Back to the Future #4 Review – Questions and Answers

Back to the Future #4, Dan SchoeningTITLE: Back to the Future #4
AUTHORS: Bob Gale, John Barber, Erik Burnham
PENCILLERS: Ryan Browne, Erik Evensen. Cover by Dan Schoening.
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 13, 2016

***Check out where we started in Back to the Future #1.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

When you get right down to it, IDW’s Back to the Future series is about answering questions most people wouldn’t think to ask. For instance, in this issue we learn how Marty and Jennifer got together, and what Doc Brown did when he got to the year 2015. Still, if you’re a Back to the Future fan the answers are pretty cool.

Our first story, “Peer Pressure,” takes place about a year before the events of the first film. We see how Marty got involved with Jennifer, and how both Doc and Needles factored into their romance blossoming. Then, in “Emmett Brown Visits the Future,” we pick up with Doc after he travels to 2015 for the first time. To say the very least, Doc is in a strange new world. But how does he grow accustomed to the future? What does a time-traveling scientist from 1985 do for money in 2015? Chances are it’s not what you think it is.

Back to the Future #4, Ryan BrowneWhat this Back to the Future series has opened my eyes to more than anything is just how similar Marty and George McFly are. In the movies, particularly the original, Marty seemed like the black sheep of his bloodline. George was cowardly, and so was Marty Jr in Part II. While Marty did share George’s self consciousness about his creative outlet, he always seemed cool and confident. But as we see in “Peer Pressure,” before we met him in the first movie, he wasn’t so confident. He has a similar dynamic with Needles that his father had with Biff Tannen. But he has a father figure of sorts in Doc Brown, who helps him become the young man he is in 1985.

I’m wondering how new this concept is. Was it created for the comic, or did Bob Gale and Robert Zebecks have it in the back of their minds as they were making the movies? It’s pretty logical, if you think about it. As far as we know, George didn’t have many (if any) friends when he was Marty’s age. It makes sense that having Doc in his life would make Marty braver and more outgoing than his father was. And as such, he wins Jennifer over.

When I got to “Emmett Brown Visits the Future,” I wondered if this was actually an adaptation of the short film Doc Brown Saves the World from the series Blu-rays. Rather, it’s a simple look at what Doc did when he visited 2015 for the first time. This one has it’s tongue firmly planted in its cheek, but that’s fine. The resolution to Doc’s money problem is funny, but not necessarily worth the trip. It’s one of the few times this series has disappointed thus far.

Back to the Future #4, Doc BrownFrom an art standpoint, it’s pretty tough to beat Dan Schoening’s cover. His art is tailor made for a series like this. But I can only assume he’s busy with the upcoming Ghostbusters International, and I’d rather have him there. As for our artists here, they both have their strengths. Erik Evensen has a more of a sleek, clean style. But he also has less to work with in terms of character and story. Browne has most of the main characters, and Marty’s struggle is very relatable. So if we look at this as a competition, the edge goes to Browne by virtue of the subject matter.

IDW’s Back to the Future was originally supposed to be a four-issue miniseries, but is now an ongoing title. Given what we’ve seen so far, I’m okay with that. They’ve got enough fertile ground to keep this going for at least a little while longer. I’m still waiting for our introduction to Marty from the alternate 1985. And how did Biff end up working for the McFlys? For children of the ’80s and ’90s, these kind of questions make Back to the Future a worthy pick-up.

Image 1 from majorspoilers.com, Image 2 from bleedingcool.com.

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A Back to the Future #1 Review – Like It Was Yesterday…

Back to the Future #1, 2015TITLE: Back to the Future #1
AUTHORS: Bob Gale, John Barber, Erik Burnham
PENCILLERS: Brent Schoonover, Dan Schoening
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: October 21, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This was the hidden gem of “Back to the Future Day,” right here. While other people were watching Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd (God bless ’em) on Kimmel, and making stupid 2015 memes, comic book fans got a special treat: New Back to the Future content spearheaded by film writer Bob Gale.

Plus, it’s a chance for Dan Schoening to draw more ’80s stuff. Frankly, that was all it took to hook me in.

Under the banner of “Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines,” IDW’s first venture into the Back to the Future universe shows us how Marty McFly and Doc Brown met for the first time, and ultimately began to forge the partnership we see in the film. Also, we learn that a younger Emmett Brown was part of the Manhattan Project during World War II. Readers get to see what the inventor of the Flux Capacitor was like as a young adult, and how he was recruited for the war.

Back to the Future, Brent SchoonoverBrent Schoonover’s style is a fine fit for the first story, “When Marty Met Emmett,” in which Marty is bullied into stealing something from Doc’s lab. Schoonover’s take on Doc is excellent, but it takes some time to get used to seeing a younger Marty. Schoonover is in an unenviable position, here. The issue has a Dan Schoening cover, and the second story is drawn by Schoening, but Schoonover’s work is sandwiched between them. At first it feels like a let-down, but he wins you over.

Via a time stamp (October 2, 1982), we know that Marty is about 14 in this story. What’s interesting is that when confronted by the bullies, he behaves a lot like his father originally would have. I suspect we see Gale’s influence here, as this somewhat infers that Marty’s relationship with Doc is what turns him into the character we meet in the movie, as opposed to the coward that George was.

Marty’s presence is missed in the second story, “Looking For a Few Good Scientists.” But it’s so damn cool to see Schoening draw Doc that you get over that quickly. If you’ve played Back to the Future: The Game, it’s actually quite easy to hear James Arnold Taylor’s voice coming from the figure of young Emmett Brown. Schoening’s rendering of Emmett is fun to look at, as it’s every bit as animated as Christopher Lloyd’s performance.

Back to the Future #1, Dan SchoeningIn truth, there’s not much to say about this story right now, as we have yet to get to the ins and outs of Doc’s involvement in the Manhattan Project. What I did enjoy, however, is how the seeds are planted early for the character’s reputation as a crackpot scientist. He initially isn’t put forth for the project because of his unorthodox nature. I can only assume that same unorthodox nature will lead to interesting results next issue.

This issue also contains a nice little afterward from Bob Gale about the initial creative process for a Back to the Future comic series, and what ground they did and didn’t want to cover. For die-hard fans, that’s definitely worth a read.

At this stage, 30 years after the original film’s release, it’s tough not to be happy with new Back to the Future content of any kind. But the fact that it’s coming from such talented creators, with backing from Bob Gale nonetheless, makes it that much sweeter. Thus far, this series has me locked in for the long haul.

Image 1 from comicvine.com. Image 2 from planetcritico.com.

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