Monday, August 4, 2014

I Reads You Review: JONNY QUEST #1

COMICO The Comic Company

WRITER: Doug Wildey; William Messner-Loebs
PENCILS: Doug Wildey; Steve Rude
INKS: Doug Wildey; Mike Royer
COLORS: Doug Wildey; Matt Wagner
LETTERS: Doug Wildey; Bob Pinaha
PIN-UPS: Steve Rude; Marc Hempel and Mark Wheatley; Bill Willingham and Terry Austin
32pp, Color, $1.50 U.S., $2.25 CAN (June 1986)

“Jonny Quest” was a science fiction and action-adventure animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions for Screen Gems.  The series was created and designed by comic book artist, Doug Wildey.  “Jonny Quest” was broadcast on ABC in prime time for one season in 1964–1965 for a total of 26 episodes.

“Jonny Quest” focused on Jonathan “Jonny” Quest, an 11-year-old boy who accompanies Dr. Benton C. Quest, his genius scientist father, on extraordinary adventures.  Roger T. “Race” Bannon was a special agent from the governmental agency, Intelligence One.  A pilot, Race was also Jonny’s tutor, as well as his bodyguard, as the (presumably) U.S. government feared that the boy could be kidnapped.  Jonny’s best friend was Hadji Singh, a streetwise, 11-year-old orphan from Calcutta whom Dr. Benton Quest adopted as his son.  Jonny has a pet, Bandit, a small white dog.

There have been comic book adaptations of “Jonny Quest.”  In 1964, Gold Key Comics published Jonny Quest #1 (cover dated: December 1964?), which retold the first TV episode, “Mystery of the Lizard Men.”  The Grand Comics Database lists a single-issue Jonny Quest comic book published in Australia in 1976.

Beginning in 1986, Pennsylvania-based comic book publisher, Comico The Comic Company (or just Comico), began publishing a Jonny Quest comic book with all-new stories, using the original TV series as a template.  Jonny Quest ran for 31 issues, with two issues of the Jonny Quest Special, and three issues of Jonny Quest Classic.  Drawn by Doug Wildey, the “Classic” series retold three “Jonny Quest” TV episodes:  “Shadow of the Condor,” “Calcutta Adventure,” and “Werewolf of the Timberland.”  There was also Jezebel Jade, a three-issue miniseries starring Jade, a female combination soldier-of-fortune, mercenary, spy, etc. who appeared in the 1965-65 series and had (has) some kind of romantic relationship with Race.

Some months ago, on eBay, I bought a bundle of 1980s comic books that were published by independent publishers.  What I really wanted were the issues of Wally Wood’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents included in this auction lot, but I was surprised to find the first issue of Comico’s ongoing Jonny Quest series.

Jonny Quest #1 contains two interconnected short stories.  The first is “The Sands of Khasa Tahid,” written and drawn by “Jonny Quest” designer/creator, Doug Wildey.  Jonny, Hadji, and Race are traveling across the desert of an unnamed North African country.  Their destination is the Chandarkin Oasis, which is the location of an ancient city buried beneath its sands… or so goes Dr. Quest’s theory.  The machinations of longtime Quest adversary, Dr. Zin, is about to put this trio in an explosive situation.

The second story is “City of Lost Time,” which is written by William Messner-Loebs and drawn by Steve Rude and Mike Royer.  Dr. Quest, Race, and the boys head towards the uncovered city of Khasa Tahid, with Jezebel Jade along for the ride.  They aren’t the only ones looking to discover the lost city’s secrets, which are about to reveal themselves to two curious boys.

I read this comic book around the time it was first released.  I liked it, but not enough to keep reading the series.  I’m not sure how many issues after the first issue I read, if I read any at all.  Looking back, Jonny Quest #1 is good, but not great.  I was a huge fan of the old TV series, and Doug Wildey’s opening story captures the graphic and visual sensibilities of the show, obviously, as Wildey created the show.  The second story has some nice ideas, especially about the unseen denizens of the Khasa Tahid, but it is truncated.  It needed to be a full-issue story, at least.

This time around, however, I do plan to try to read more of the series, especially the “specials” and Jonny Quest Classics.  Jonny Quest #1 turned out to be a nice “bonus” in that eBay lot I bought.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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