DC Comics is committed to reviving Hanna-Barbera properties, and this fall brings a variety of new series reimagining classic (and not-so-classic) cartoon characters on the comics page. Dastardly & Muttley is the first of these new series to debut, teaming writer Grant Ennis with artist Mauricet and colorist John Kalisz for a new take on the central villain of Wacky Races and his canine companion. The book isn’t connected to the Mad Max-inspired Wacky Raceland series that debuted last year, instead reimagining Dick Dastardly and Muttley as Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Atcherly and Captain Dudley “Mutt” Muller, two Air Force pilots whose lives are changed when they’re exposed to a gas that drastically alters their perception of the world. The book is an action thriller with a government conspiracy angle, but that gas introduces a rush of zany comedy as cartoon story elements begin to bleed into reality.
This week’s new Garth Ennis releases showcase the versatility of the famed writer, with Punisher: The Platoon stretching his dramatic muscles with a tense wartime story while Dastardly & Muttley highlights his sense of humor and bold imagination. This exclusive preview of this week’s Dastardly & Muttley #2 has the central pair making their escape from a military hospital, but before they can break free, they’re stopped by soldiers who have been ordered to kill them. The cartoon world bleeds through via the crazed Agent Perkins, who conjures a bright orange gun that fires a gigantic bullet straight through one of the soldiers.
Mauricet’s work on DC’s Harley Quinn comics has sharpened his skills for madcap comedy, and this series allows him to go even bigger as he channels the exaggerated spirit of old-school cartoons. Kalisz’s coloring intensifies the contrast between reality and fantasy by using vibrant colors for the cartoon elements, and Agent Perkins’ gun pops against the more subdued palette for the rest of the images. Dastardly & Muttley is a surprising choice to lead the charge for this second wave of Hanna-Barbera comics, but this creative team’s skill and ingenuity has made it a fascinating new title.