- Rick & Morty vs Cthulhu #1
- Oni Press
- Written by Jim Zub
- Illustrated by Troy Little
- Colors by Leonardo Ito
- Letters by Crank!
- Ricky & Morty created by Justin Roiland & Dan Harmon
What’s always amazed me about the runaway hit cartoon show Rick & Morty is how completely misunderstood Rick Sanchez is by many of his fans. Sure, he’s a callous, short-tempered ass who gives his family no shortage of grief and anxiety, but there’s heart behind the subversion. He’s the mad scientist who knows his place in the universe… all the universes… and he understands how that would affect the people he loves. From a fictional character standpoint, Rick’s self-awareness and willingness to say the wrong thing at the right time make him a perfect mirror from which to examine the foundations on which many of our tropes are built.
There can be no doubt that H.P Lovecraft was a creative genius whose DNA can be found in much of our modern fiction and horror. There can also be no doubt that he was a racist ass, and that attitude lurks behind many of his core works like a creeping shadow ready to infest the soul. It’s that dual nature into which Rick Sanchez- and writer Jim Zub- sinks his sharp-tongued wit.
Jim Zub gets it. Approaching his work as a fan first and foremost, the result is a fantastic understanding of what his readers love, what they hate, & the pillars they want to see shaken to their core. Rick and his acerbic wit are back at it and more than happy to let the arrogant disdain flow. In the first issue, Rick & Morty are just returning from a spectacularly unsuccessful adventure when Rick starts to suspect something is amiss. The obvious symptoms- Beth eating shrimp fettuccine while Jerry reads… a BOOK- lead him to the obvious answer: a “pulp horror infection” is imminent. With that reveal, Zub takes the Sanchez Family (and Jerry) on a ride through a few of Lovecraft’s famous tales of eldritch horror, while Rick rips each down to its component parts. Snide comments and barbed commentary abound.
This being a Rick & Morty story, the artwork has to fit for it all to work. The beauty is in artist Troy Little’s ability to slip into the recognizable style like a comfortable pair of shoes. Or maybe a lab coat, just to make the metaphors fit. Little brings an unconventional, cartoony style into this world of mayhem and mischief, and nails the look of the show. His spin on the character designs fits perfectly, no small thing with a property as loved as this one, where trying to “make it your own” could bring a fan backlash of epic proportions. The visual flair of the book is rounded out with the work of colorist Leonardo Ito. As he fleshes out Little’s lines, adding color and depth, he keeps to the established design of Roiland and Harmon’s world, while blending in the Lovecraftian vibes with splashes of eldritch green.
Finally, I can’t step away without mentioning the great work of Crank! on letters. With a comic like this, full of sound effects and otherworldly voices, there’s plenty of room to play around and get creative. Crank! handles all of it without letting dialogue get in the way of the art or getting so outrageous that it gets tough to read and induces a migraine. It’s a fine balancing act, and the kind of thing that doesn’t get recognized enough in comics.
Without a doubt, I’ve got Jim Zub down as a writer I’d follow no matter what he was working on. If I found out that he was writing for the phone book, I’d give it a shot. That Zub is a part of this well-oiled collaborative team kinda makes this one a no brainer. Rick & Morty vs Cthulhu is the kind of crossover that gets into your brain and festers until the only way to exorcise it is to let it run its course.
Final Score: 12/13