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Joyners #1: What If George Jetson Was a Real Asshole?

Written by Mike Ambrose on Friday, June 17 2016 and posted in Reviews

Joyners #1:  What If George Jetson Was a Real Asshole?

I mean, George Jetson was still kind of a jerk though, right? Kind of a loud mouth, he slacked off at work and then complained when his boss gave him a hard time about it. He also had serious road rage issues.

Source: BOOM! Studios

Written by: R.J. Ryan
Illustrated by: David Marquez
Colored by: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Lettered by: Jon Adams
Designer: Scott Newman

The world of RJ Ryan and David Marquez's The Joyners is a lot like the world of TV's The Jetsons, including raised sky cities, flying cars, pneumatic tube elevators, robot maids, and Googie architecture. It's rare that the elevator pitch for a comic becomes as obvious as this one must have been: It's a dysfunctional Jetsons. But does it work?

It's a neat premise. The Jetsons presented a very idealized future, and that is somewhat reflected in The Joyners. Like The Jetsons, the life of the people in The Joyners seems very similar to life today. People still go to work, live as families, play sports, and all that.

Ryan isn't shying away from the parallels to The Jetsons. He does title the issue "Meet George Joyner" after all. The main difference, however, is that while the world may be somewhat of a Utopia, people are still people. And it seems that George Joyner isn't a particularly good person.

Not to say that he's a monster (although he might actually be). It could be that his biggest fault is being in a relationship he no longer wants to be in. But he's narcissistic and driven, which leads to distance from his family. He doesn't spend much time with his children and is unfaithful to and controlling of his wife. His terminally ill father-in-law lives with the family, and although the two don't interact in this issue, there is clear tension between them (likely due to how George treats Sonya, his wife).

Originally published by Boom's Archaia imprint as a graphic novel in 2014 (in 3D, no less), The Joyners has dropped the 3D for full color by Kelly Fitzpatrick and four-part serialization. I haven't read the original, but the serialization works well so far. The issue opens with the big hook (the divorce and prison sentence), and ends on a moment of tension. It's a great story structure, especially considering that nearly every comic ends in a cliffhanger to get the reader back. An ending on a quiet moment is a nice change of pace.

The story opens with Sonya meeting with her divorce lawyer. In the sequence, we learn that her about-to-be ex-husband is going to jail for life, and also very wealthy. The dialogue in the scene comes off as a bit stilted. Could be what Ryan was going for, I'd imagine a meeting like that would be difficult, but parts seem to be a little unnatural.

Ryan also uses the scene as a framing sequence. Sonya gets George's confession and begins reading it, leading to a flashback from George's perspective. We learn that George is a narcissistic, unfaithful husband, but also a brilliant inventor, putting his work ahead of everything else in his life.

A lengthy conversation between George and his brother lays it all out. It's a long conversation that likely works better in the longer book - it's a bit too much for a single issue. However, Ryan has a great handle on the pacing and flow of this story, so the rest off the issue works very well.

The conversation stands to demonstrate George's personalty failings, but those are better shown through his interactions with his family. His teenage son Rochester just wants to hang out with his dad, shoot some hoops or do some pushups. He's so desperate for it that he'll just hang out and watch his dad eat. Meanwhile, George is only concerned with the baby sitter and the new therapist, objects of his sexual desire. He later works out on his own, locked in the bathroom, rather than with his son. He then goes on to get in an argument with Sonya, telling her she needs to be more of a wife and a mother. She obviously doesn't like hearing that - who would? As successful as George is as an inventor and businessman, he's a failure of a husband and father.

Marquez's art is a great fit for this story. He's worked with Ryan on a previous project and they appear to have developed a great chemistry to their collaboration. Marquez does an admirable job of translating that Jetsons aesthetic for modern sensibilities. So while the full force of his creativity isn't on display, his clean, detailed style works well for a sci-fi utopia.

Marquez's best work comes from the characters themselves and how they interact with each other. As the focus of the issue, George gets the most panel time, and Marquez illustrates him with a great range of emotion. One thing Ryan and Marquez use is an infographic of George's sliced up brain to let the reader know what he's thinking. It's a cool technique and a clever alternative to thought balloons or narration boxes.

The Joyners #1 gives us an interesting take on a familiar concept. So far, we haven't gotten to the meat of the story, but a few hints to something dark tease that there's much more to the story. Clever story structure and sharp art are more than enough reason to see where this goes.


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About the Author - Mike Ambrose

Mike Ambrose isn't slow, he's just Canadian. Mike began collecting comics in 1991 with an allowance earned by doing chores on the family farm, snapping up anything that said "#1 Collector's Item" on the cover, including X-Men, Sleepwalker, and NFL Superpro. That is to say, Mike knows bullshit. These skills were further developed and finally acknowledged when he graduated from a well-regarded journalism and public relations college program. Mike lives in a surprisingly nice house in a pretty good neighbourhood with his loving girlfriend. Aside from comic books of all types, Mike enjoys cooking, rap music, and the rule of threes.
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