In case you haven’t heard, October 21st saw the release of a new Back to the Future comic co-written and overseen by series co-creator Bob Gale. I wrote about that first issue here, but three more issues are planned with more possible if the series sells well. Last week saw the drop of issue #2, so just how was it?
I’ll start by praising the art. As in the first issue, the art seen here is very much in the spirit of the films and captures the characters well. In a Back to the Future comic, I think the two biggest styles that would need to be avoided are “gritty” or “cutesy” looks, since neither fully embrace what the franchise is all about.
Since the films are fairly lively, and already quite visual and vibrant, capturing that fun vibe is essential. The artists the series has thus far utilized have done this very well, giving the images the needed zip.
Art aside, I found things to enjoy in the previous issue but was ultimately underwhelmed, finding the stories to be somewhat weak and half-baked. I’m glad to say this issue, while not perfect, saw some improvement, so I’m hopeful for the overall series.
Sticking with the two-stories-per-issue format, this month’s tales include exploring how Doc Brown’s mansion burned down between the ‘50s and the ’80s (something mentioned in the original film), and a brief piece about Doc and Marty working in Doc’s lab.
The first story was really quite good, and is the main reason for my hope for the series. Not only do we discover the reason for Doc’s destroyed home (which I won’t spoil here), we also find out that by the ‘60s Doc had a working time machine prototype, which was much more cumbersome and limited than the familiar DeLorean would prove to be.
This is a great place to take the series, because of course ‘50s Doc would get directly to work on the time travel process after meeting Marty. And little touches, like the device’s shape being a giant flux capacitor, and that the machine “goes out hot” and “comes in cold” like the DeLorean (along with Doc saying he’s still working on that) are really fun.
There are some other surprises along the way, including a familiar face or two popping up, but again, I won’t spoil that here. All in all, this was the best and most satisfying story the series has produced thus far.
The second story wasn’t up to the same level, but it was still pleasant enough. The plot focused on Marty looking for something to use for a science project and Doc surreptitiously helping him, which was a pretty good premise.
However, similar to the tales of the first issue, it felt a little thin, and to do the story justice I think it needed to be longer. The format of the series certainly creates limitations in this regard, but the piece did have some nice bits throughout and it was interesting to see the various gadgets in Doc’s lab, along with a few Easter eggs of past and future events.
That is one thing that’s improved between the issues: better fan service. While the first issue had a lot of distracting and unnecessarily repeated dialogue from the films being thrown around, this issue is cleverer with its references.
There was still one bit of weirdly repeated dialogue, though. In the first tale we’re being told the story by 1885 Doc and the issue opens with some of the cowboys from the saloon riding with Marshall Strickland. For some reason, these two characters repeat the exact dialogue they said to Marty in Part III, even though the statements don’t really line up with the situation.
That oddness aside, though, Back to the Future: Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines #2 was an improvement over the first and shows what the series can be capable of when care is put into the tales.
I’m hoping for a lot more. Hit up your local comic shop.