In Review: Rick and Morty #20

This will keep fans happy as they wait for new episodes.

The covers: A pair to find this month, with both sharing the common theme of basketball. The Regular cover might be by CJ Cannon and Ryan Hill. I say this hesitantly because I could find no cover credit on the inside of this book and had to go online to find who’s behind this. The image is of a school’s trophy case, focusing on the plaque the boys basketball team got for 1st place in State Class AAAA. If feature a close up of Marty grinning with more teeth than he normally shows, surrounded by the arms and shoulders of the players who are much taller than him. It’s a funny cover for the look on the protagonist’s face and the unlikely situation of him playing a sport. This is a great tease for a story. The Variant cover is by Kyle Starks and it has a monstrously muscular Morty pulling of his letterman jacket to reveal he’s wearing his sports jersey. He’s surrounded by an ocean of basketballs that go up to his waist. He looks overjoyed. This visual is also a solid tease. Though I do like the covers, I’m not a sports fan, so I can’t rave about these. Overall grades: Both B

The stories: The lead story is by Kyle Starks and it’s a riot. Morty is pining after Jessica, but she will only love a boy who plays basketball. That places a seed into Morty who broaches the subject with Rick while they’re in Dimension 437 collecting blergdite. Morty says he would be useful carrying things for his grandfather if he were bigger: “Maybe you could sort of like juice me up? I mean I bet you could make me real big, right, Rick? All swollen up and, you know, big and swollen up?” Rick doesn’t think it’s a good idea. I giggled at the quick gag on Page 3 and roared with laughter at Rick’s response to Morty’s action on 4. This story is full of fun stuff, with people’s reactions to Morty’s new body, Rick’s expected responses, and how the issue is resolved — which is science fiction inappropriateness that the television series is known for. Additionally, there’s a subplot with Jerry getting a friend that had me constantly smiling. I don’t like sports stories, but I really liked this R&M outing. The second story is by Marc Ellerby and it’s a four pager titled “‘Twas the Night Before Rickmas.” It begins with Jerry stealing cookies left out for Santa Claus and  it goes south quickly. This was flat out hilarious. Ellerby has really captured both characters’ voices, with the final panel impossible to read without hearing it in Justin Roiland’s voice. Both of these stories made me so happy. Overall grade: A+

The art: The first story is illustrated by its author, Kyle Starks. I’m not thrilled with this look. I expect a certain amount of differentiation between an animated series and a comic book, but if it’s too different I’m taken out of the reading experience trying to figure out what I’m looking at. That’s the case with Starks’s visuals. There’s a lot of thick line work that’s drastically different from the artwork on the show, plus Rick looks least like himself. The visuals are more akin to the style of Ed, Edd n Eddy. The style is constant throughout, so the book does become easier to look at it as it goes on, but the action that takes place on 14 and 15 is difficult to understand — too many characters and their sizes create this difficulty. When the story refocuses on the leads, the art improves. The final story is by Marc Ellerby and looks like the visuals of a television episode. Rick and Jerry’s reaction to the events are great, but it’s Santa that steals the show, having a great reveal on the final page. The visuals of the final panel were a perfect match for the text. Overall grades: First story C+ and second story A

The colors: Katy Farina colors both stories and she does two very different jobs, but both are outstanding. Bright, bold colors comprise the first tale. Dimension 437 is gorgeous with its purples and violets, allowing Rick and Morty to stand out against the setting. I really like how she gave Rick’s hair some cool blues to provide some depth to the artwork. Morty’s entrance with his new body is a showcase is gold and yellow, befitting the entrance of a god, which he now is, physically. Dark colors are used in backgrounds to have Morty’s flesh stand out in a panel. The second story starts in dark colors, to simulate the darkness that Jerry’s in, but every aspect of the visuals can still be seen; often I’ve seen colorists make a panel or page too dark, ruining the art, but Farina does not do that. When the lights come on, mustard colored walls allow the characters to pop on the page, while Santa is in dark, burnt reds, foreshadowing actions. A super job, through and through. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, yells, scene settings, sounds, screams and the beautiful font for the second story’s title come courtesy of Crank! Every bit of text is easy to read and the sounds provide the right punch to every graphic and surprising scene. Overall grade: A+

The final line: Basketball, babes, and bugs from another dimension create hilarity. The art on the first story didn’t work for me, but this will keep fans happy as they wait for new episodes. Riotous and recommended. Overall grade: B

To order this book go to http://oni-press.myshopify.com/products/rick-and-morty-20

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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