Published on December 20th, 2017 | by Dena Burnett0
This is not The Jetsons from your childhood! DC has re-imagined the Hanna-Barbera Flintstony nuclear family from the future and the results are surprisingly great.
Remember The Jetsons? The animated space-aged parallel to the stone-aged The Flintstones? They were the familiar, nuclear, white bread family of the future, with flying cars and that all-too-familiar futuristic bubbling noise, easily viewed with rose-coloured glasses. Well, remember this optimistic 1960’s (and later ever-so-slightly update to reflect the early 80’s) vision, because it’s about to be turned on it’s head with a much-needed update in DC’s latest 6-issue series adaptation of our favourite Hanna-Barbara classic in The Jetsons by Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn, Power Girl, Jonah Hex), with art by Pier Brito (Booster Gold/The Flintstones Special, Daredevil) and colours by Alex Sinclair (Harley Quinn, Batman: Hush, Infinite Crisis).
George, Jane, Judy, and Elroy are still living the good life, but a good life that came after globally disastrous events. They’re still in the floating city, above the clouds, but more by the way of necessity as opposed to desire. In this updated futuristic rendition, the Earth we know today is deep underwater, partly due to climate change, partly due to the disastrous collision of a meteor composed mostly of ice and water.
This world is utopia-like at its very core—they’ve ceased all military and weapons development—which would come in handy given the current crisis-at-hand. There’s a meteor hurling towards earth…again…and Jane’s the only one who can save the day. Yes, Jane Jetson is called off-planet to meet with diplomats in an effort to save the world from impending cosmic doom.
There’s also trouble lurking from the leftover depths below. Elroy and his friend Lake commandeer her father’s submersible ship to find a preserved piece of art as a birthday gift for George. On their frantic rise back to the surface, they over-steer and manage to knock over a weakened building, which begins a domino effect knocking long forgotten torpedoes loose, and eventually setting them off in the New York City remains below.
Meanwhile, George Jetson starts his day like any other, with a hot shower then off to work, where he’s one of the last skilled human spaceship repairmen. The other positions at Spacely Sprockets Repair have slowly and eventually been mechanized, automated, or delegated to robots. Through all this, Mr. Spacely hasn’t changed. He still threatens to fire or replace George at every possible instance.
Oh, and remember Rosie, the household robot-maid? Yeah, well, George’s mother recently transferred her consciousness to Rosie’s robotic processor, so she could be with her family forever. She’s around to help Judy apply for art school, to help Elroy navigate his teen years, and to help her son George navigate life while Jane is off-world dealing with cosmic impending doom.
I really love how this unassuming title takes some current speculative issues and intelligently presents them in a way that can be mass consumed, yet thoughtful. Based on my childhood perception of The Jetsons, I would not expect them to be a platform for moral, technological, and controversial ideas and be able to present them through a speculative lens.
One of the most poignant conversations I’ve seen in comics this year is in issue #1, where George is asking his mother about how she senses her surrounding world in her new disembodied state. She says she can “smell” things, but she’s aware that they’re simply simulations, much like George’s bacon is simulated bacon, but there’s another layer of robotics and controls telling her the bacon’s there. She’s still not quite able to fully immerse herself in the world around her…and she’s surprisingly ok with all of this, even on a spiritual level. I’m interested to see where and if this idea is further developed.
This modernization of The Jetsons further emphasizes that our perspective and speculation about the future is very much framed on our present and perceived limitations. In the 1960’s animated series, the future was based on the nuclear family and extrapolated off technology of the time. In this adaptation, our current issues concerning climate change, conflict, artificial intelligence, and mechanization are all brought together into a setting that may seem little kooky (it is The Jetsons afterall), but not altogether implausible, based on extrapolating current advances and ideals. Palmiotti, Brito, and Sinclair have made this seemingly bleak speculation interesting and easily accessible for the casual comics reader.
DC’s recent experimentation with Hanna-Barbera properties has been interesting, with their previous revamping The Flintstones, Future Quest, and Scooby-Doo earlier in 2017, and with a Snagglepuss series to launch in January 2018. Issue #3 of six of The Jetsons is scheduled for release on January 3, 2018.