“Working to Dig You Out”
Writer: J. Torres
Artist/Cover artist: Morgan Luthi
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Jose Macasocol, Jr.
Editor: Aaron Sparrow
Publisher: Boom! Studios/Boom Kids! imprint
Price: $2.99 US
While I enjoyed Mark Waid’s take on The Incredibles for Boom! Studios, I found it paled in comparison with the movie that inspired it (which happens to be my favorite Pixar flick). Boom’s Toy Story comics were cute but clearly aimed the younger set and therefore lacked the all-ages appeal of the movies. And as for the publisher’s take on Cars, well, I didn’t care for the movie and therefore had no interest in the comic-book spinoff. So it was with some hesitation that I approached this latest Pixar-inspired comic book from Boom! Studios, especially given the fact that the premise imposes severe limitations as far as characters and dialogue are concerned. To my amazement, writer J. Torres has done for a Pixar comic book what Roger Langridge did for a Muppet comic book. Torres overcomes the challenges inherent in adapting what one could view as essentially silent film and captures the same kind of cuteness, curiosity and innocence that allowed a computer-generated robot character to mesmerize millions.
On a barren, post-apocalyptic landscape, a truck unloads a group of little robots designed to clean up the debris left behind by a civilization that’s been all but decimated. One of those little robots, though, rather than following his programming, becomes curious about the world around him and the little glimmers of beauty that it perceives in the rubble. Instead of cleaning up the garbage, it begins to filter through it, seeking hidden treasures. Unfortunately, it soon discovers its robotic brethren are far from indestructible, and Wall-E begins to face the prospect of a solitary existence and comes to grip with his responsibilities.
Morgan Luthi employs a conventional cartooning style in that it’s clearly not computer-generated. I was surprised Boom opted for that route rather than tap one of many artists who work exclusively through digital means, but Luthi does a good job with the subject matter. Wall-E remains as cute and oddly emotive as ever. Furthermore, the looser qualities in Luthi’s art work well with the devastated landscape in which the title character exists. There are fleeting moments of confusion in the issue that stem from the fact that all of the other characters are identical to Wall-E, as they’re just other models of the same robot. It’s a shame that the artist didn’t (or wasn’t able to) incorporate some kind of visual cue that could have distinguished the Wall-E we know from the other automatons.
Torres does an incredible job of not only working around the limited opportunities for dialogue but in emulating the simple robot speak we heard from Wall-E in theatres. I was particularly impressed with the use of single letters to convey meaning and emotions. I also appreciated that we catch glimmers of personality from the other Wall-E robots, so that it’s not his emotion that makes him a bit different, but rather his willingness to connect with others and with things. Torres is to be commended for his inventive approach to replicating the silver-screen incarnation of the title character for a radically different format. Furthermore, I think it’s a testament to his storytelling that this story would work well even if one were unaware of the context from which it sprung. In other words, Wall-E the comic would’ve worked even if Wall-E the movie never existed (though marketing might have been more of a challenge for the folks at Boom! Studios in that circumstance).
While Torres’s script captured the magic and charm of the Wall-E movie in the same way that Roger Langridge successfully manages to translate the televised variety entertainment of The Muppet Show to the printed page, I’m not necessarily as excited about forthcoming issues of this Pixar comic. While Langridge had a diverse array of weird characters and circumstances to mine for future stories, the premise of Wall-E is far more limiting. This story is set before the events of the movie, so the audience knows where the story lead eventually lead. I don’t know if Boom! Studios plans an ongoing Wall-E title or a series of limited series a la The Muppet Show; I’m not sure anyone could pull it off. Mind you, that doesn’t detract from the strength of this issue, which stays true to the source material while exploring the title character’s “origin,” of sorts. 8/10
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