Written by Angelo Gingerelli
Adult Swim’s “Rick & Morty” combines the family dynamic of The Simpsons with the social commentary of South Park and the interplanetary adventures of Futurama told through the relationship of a boy and his grandfather that’s reminiscent of the duo in Back to the Future if Marty McFly was an awkward middle-schooler and Doc Brown was an alcoholic lunatic with absolutely no moral boundaries whatsoever. If the show will be remembered as fondly as its’ classic influences remains to be seen, but with two acclaimed seasons on Cartoon Network and over a year of well-received monthly comic books, it’s off to a good start.
The main story of Issue 18 involves Morty being held for ransom by alien drug dealers because Rick has started selling “Pinp Juice” in their territory and Rick and Morty’s bumbling father trying to break Morty free from his alien kidnappers. The issue contains everything that makes a typical episode great: Rick’s deranged antics, Morty being the perpetual voice of reason, snide comments between his parents, cool character designs and hints of existentialism (the universe is meaningless and absurd, so why wouldn’t Rick sell drugs to alien beings?). Overall, it’s a solid Rick & Morty story that includes most of what makes the show so entertaining.
The two shortcomings of the comic are not necessarily knocks on the book as much as points that highlight what makes the show great. The action is somewhat stunted compared to the fluid animation of the show and the character voices are missed when they are read as opposed to watched/heard. Again, the book in inarguably entertaining, but compared to an episode of the show, these things are obviously missing from the equation. In this sense Rick & Morty is unique because it was an animated series before a comic book and most series are developed in the opposite order.
Issue #18 ends with a mini-comic focusing on “Pocket Morty’s” the Pokemon spoof where Rick collects hundreds of versions of Morty and forces them to fight to the death. This story line can be entertaining at times, but feels like a clear attempt to promote the mobile game of the same name. While it would be easy to dismiss this obvious cash grab, like Rick told Morty about the drug trade in the main story “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”
Overall, Rick & Morty #18 is another quality installment for the space traveling duo and while it doesn’t offer a ton for hardcore comic readers, it will absolutely keep fans of the “Ricktaverse” happy until the start of Season 3.