He wants to be the very best, like no Rick ever was.
It’s shaping up to be a very good month for Rick and Morty fans. Not only is the animated series finally returning on July 30, but Oni Press is launching a new Rick and Morty spinoff comic book this week. And not just any spinoff, but one that adapts the mobile game Pocket Mortys. This may be an adaptation of an adaptation, but it also works as a legitimately entertaining adventure in its own right, one that should help fill the wait until the show returns.
Thankfully, writer Tini Howard doesn’t attempt a straightforward adaptation of the game (which is basically a parody of the Pokemon series). Instead, Howard frames the comic from the perspective of one of the many Mortys who have become pawns in Rick’s quest to complete his collection. This issue could probably have benefited from offering a little more background on the Pocket Mortys concept rather than opening in media res two weeks into Morty’s captivity, but there’s something to be said for just skipping to the good stuff.
What follows is a goofy but bleak little misadventure that feels worthy of the source material. It’s basically Lord of the Flies mixed with the bizarre, nihilistic sense of humor the show is known for. Howard and artist Marc Ellerby get plenty of mileage out of showcasing all the strange, varied Morty permutations Rick has assembled for his collection. There’s Mer-Morty, a half-boy, half-fish who doesn’t take well to living in dry captivity. There’s Ants-In-My-Eyes Morty, a character who capitalizes on an amusing gag from the show without wearing out said gag. Even vanilla Morty makes of an amusing protagonist, one who’s laughably pathetic yet rendered just well enough that the reader can’t help but root for him.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this series is the way that Rick is painted as such an overt villain. Rick is a crass, self-absorbed, thoughtless person on his best day, but here we see what the Rick/Morty dynamic is like when the former shows absolutely no sense of attachment or affection towards the latter. Hopefully that angle is something the series will emphasize going forward. As entertaining as Morty’s struggle is, it’s hard to imagine that alone keeping the momentum going for five straight issues.
Ellerby is a veteran of the Rick and Morty comics, so it goes without saying that his style captures the look and feel of the show while bringing its own flavor to the table. This issue is crammed with memorable sight gags and little touches that enhance the off-kilter nature of this universe. Colorist Katy Farina brings a welcome sense of depth to Ellerby’s work thanks to her use of lighting.
The art has some weak moments, however, generally revolving around wonky perspective shots. An early scene stands out particularly in this regard, with each panel offering a completely different sense of how far above the ground a particular object is resting. In general, the art quality doesn’t quite hold steady when the action heats up.