In 2016, DC has been writing reboot comics for many of its Hanna Barbera titles, with varying levels of success. Scooby Doo Apocalypse, for instance, is both fun and clever, while The Flintstones hasn’t quite become a must-read yet. Rebooting franchises like Scooby Doo and the characters in Future Quest (including Birdman, Space Ghost, and Johnny Quest) has the capacity to be successful, because all of those properties have been satirized and used in intelligent, dark animated series in the past few years. Scooby Doo has seen multiple self-aware remakes, including the 2002 film, and Adult Swim used Birdman and Space Ghost in their beloved series, Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law and Space Ghost: Coast to Coast. The Venture Bros., of course, is a send-up of Johnny Quest which grew into a show with its own complex mythology.
Because audiences are already familiar with these characters being manipulated and twisted under contemporary lenses, reading DC’s new, straight-forward take on Birdman feels like walking on ice. He leaves a disappointed Avenger in his cave to go fight crime, and reading that particular panel feels like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Avenger, after all, was one of the funniest characters in Attorney At Law, all while not speaking.
Adult Swim once posited that these characters were worth following if their adventures were made into comical, low-stakes office disputes. DC Comics now suggests that the same personalities will retain their appeal when placed in their original environments. So far, it actually seems to be working.
Check out an exclusive preview of Birdman’s adventures in Future Quest #3: