Writer: Todd DeZago
Illustrator: Craig Rousseau
Additional Colors: Rico Renzi
Publisher: Scout Comics
WHAT IS IT?
An all-ages sci-fi adventure comic where a team of the professionally bizarre comes face-to-face with the unfiltered lunacy of the supernatural.
Think Doom Patrol meets Atomic Robo.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
The Perhapanauts are a crew of oddballs, monsters, and spirits that seek out adventures into the world of the weird. Featuring the talents of Big, a scientific sasquatch; Choopie, a trouble-making Chupacabra; Karl, an extra-dimensional mothman; and Molly, an optimistic ghost, the Perhapanauts seem to be anything but your run-of-the-mill adventure squad. Rounding out the cast and grounding it firm are their two human handlers, Arisa, action-girl extraordinaire and MG, 1960s action-scientist supreme.
Throughout three distinct stories, the team travels back in time to investigate the historic Flatwoods Monster incident of 1952, looks back on an early adventure starring Molly and Arisa before the team was formed, and shares a laugh as Choopie tries his best to impress his more intellectually competent teammates. Boredom is the enemy and adventure is always calling out to the crew of the Perhapanauts.
DeZago seamlessly threads pulp through the needle of 1960s B-movies. From mad science, weird creatures, the occult, scientific heroes, and a tangible sense of adventure, it’s a genuine effort to not smile while reading the exploits of this motley crew of misfits.
Rousseau’s illustrations capture the '60s Pulp aesthetic perfectly. Characters feature strong silhouettes, have a palpable sense of movement, and act with a sense of believability. The flat, muted color would be able to sell the mood even if the line-art was completely removed.
Renzi is a welcome addition to the colors of the final two stories. A brighter palette really sells the action of “Seven Months Earlier” and his choices in “Fiepick” have a Dave Stewart look that would make even the stingiest BPRD fan raise an eyebrow of appreciation.
The lettering does a nice job of contextualizing the story while staying out of the way. Balloons have an almost non-existent border around them that helps it blend into the world of the comic without being so light it becomes difficult to follow.
It’s nice to have a single issue tell three different stories between the covers. A diversity of content is hardly ever anything to complain about, and most of them contribute something great to the experience.
The lead story, “The Flatwoods Monster,” perfectly illustrates what the Perhapanauts is all about: weird adventures starring weird characters doing weird things while featuring engaging character interactions.
The final story, “Fiepick,” is a fantastic character piece that, while low on action, makes up for it in charming interactions between Big, MG, and Choopie.
The cast of characters are genuinely fun to read. While none are particularly deep, the traits presented offer tropes you can wrap your head around in a sort of shorthand that is deepened when you realize the brilliant scientist is also a seven-foot-tall sasquatch.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
The second story, “Seven Months Earlier,” sets up a past adventure that, as a first-time reader, one may not have the context to fully enjoy. There was a lot happening that didn’t seem to amount to much and the final scene carries no punch due to its prequel status.
Karl, the resident mothman, can literally travel through time, becoming their Magic School Bus of sorts. While this is a fantastic plot device that opens up a ton of story potential, it almost seems at odds with the tone presented.
The Perhapanauts don’t seem to be as wild a team as the Doom Patrol or Umbrella Academy, where time travel is just another powerset of the ludicrous. They rest in that fascinating valley of the grounded bizarre that works like Atomic Robo and Bone occupy, where there are actual rules. Something as monumentally tension-draining as time travel seems like it best belongs in a world where stakes might not matter as much.
Granted, this could be a case of not having the full context of a series that has been running on and off since 2005. A simple recap page or character bios might be helpful to bring a new reader up to speed without wasting pages.
It almost feels like either a page was missing from “The Flatwoods Monster” or that time was spent on setup that could have been used better in pay-off. The ending doesn’t exactly land due to unclear visual cues and lack of context that an extra page could have mitigated.
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
The Perhapanauts: Second Chances is a perfect example of Saturday Morning Cartoon distilled into twenty-two pages of four-color fun. It’s not the deepest piece of media you’ll consume this year, nor is it trying to be. This is pure, unadulterated imagination and fun with a set of characters that beg to be returned to time and time again.
As a first issue, it may not provide enough context to fully understand the world of the Perhapanauts, but it honestly doesn’t need to. This world lives or dies on its characters and concepts, not necessarily on how well they all fit together. '60s Pulp, sasquatch scientists, and unruly chupacabras make for an exciting read that would pair quite nicely with a side of sugary cereal.
The illustrations are energetic, emotive, and deceptively simple. The writing is fast-paced, snappy, and full of character. And these twenty-two pages are packed with three (count ‘em!) three stories for the price of one overly-priced twenty-pager from the distinguished competition. You’re not going to find a better deal on the spinner racks, especially one packed with this much childlike enthusiasm. So go ahead, join up with the crew of the Perhapanauts and prepare to enter a world of weird, wild fun. And tell ‘em the Yeti sent you.
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