(WARNING: This really should go without saying, but this article contains SPOILERS for Future Quest #1. DO NOT READ if you haven’t already read the book)
When it was announced that DC would devote a new publishing line centered around comics creators spinning new takes on Hanna-Barbera properties, DC co-publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee were of the mindset that Scooby Apocalypse was going to be the flagship title of the line. With all due respect, I personally disagree. While Scooby Apocalypse might be the face of Hanna-Barbera Beyond, it’s not really a ‘flagship’ title. That honor goes to Future Quest, and it does so for two reasons. One, it was technically the first book from the line to be released in comic book stores (May 18), about a week before Scooby Apocalypse (May 25). Two, of all the books in the Hanna-Barbera Beyond line, Future Quest puts in a genuine effort to create a plausibly inter-connected universe featuring all of the characters (well, the ‘action’ characters anyway).
If you’ve already read Future Quest #1 and read my review, than this is my spoiler review/discussion article on the issue. Here and hopefully in the comments section with other readers, we will dissect the various plot elements of Future Quest, including the biggest reveals, the biggest surprises, the biggest changes from the original cartoons, and much more.
(FINAL WARNING! DO NOT PROCEED FROM HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T READ FUTURE QUEST #1!)
First off, let’s start with the characters themselves. I already mentioned that there’s no radical modernization going on in Future Quest, save for some character redesigns like Frankenstein Jr’s mech-ed out appearance, the addition of a female member of the Impossibles, and the fact that Mightor has a full costume now as opposed to his classic barbarian loincloth. But what we do have are new origin stories and new backgrounds that accomplish half the task of connecting these characters and their worlds together (emphasis on ‘worlds’, as I’ll explain later). This list won’t just be limited to the characters in issue #1, as we’ll also talk about other characters and their new origins/backgrounds as revealed or teased by the creators.
For starters, we learn that Space Ghost is a humanoid alien named Kyr. As we find out in the opening pages of issue #1, Kyr was a Captain and member of the aptly-named Space Force, who appeared to be an army of intergalactic space cops (for comic book fans, think Green Lantern Corps but with powerbands instead of lantern rings). His superior, General Orxis, dies after Kyr carries out his final request, but not before entrusting his own powerband to Kyr (who now has two). We learn afterwards that Kyr, along with what’s left of the Space Force, is mounting a last-ditch effort to destroy the Omnikron, a monstrous, alien entity that serves as the main big-bad of Future Quest‘s opening arc. They succeed in (temporarily) destroying the Omnikron, but the resulting blast from overheating its core kills everyone…except Kyr, who’s saved by a force shield generated from Orxis’ powerband.
So that’s his basic origin story, or at least part of it. We still don’t know how he went from being the last of the Space Force to the cosmic superhero lawman that we know him to be. It’s worth noting that the above takes place several years before we pick up the story in present day with Team Quest in Florida, so future issues in the series might fill in that time frame. There are other things we don’t yet know about, like where Kyr/Space Ghost comes from (Ghost Planet?) and how the Space Force operated prior to issue #1. So there’s definitely a lot of unanswered questions (a running theme throughout this article.
When we first meet Team Quest in this issue, the group is already fully-formed. Jonny Quest is sailing through the Florida swampland with his adoptive brother Hadji via ‘flight packs’, all while Race Bannon, the Quest family bodyguard, keeps watch in a helicopter with Bandit. Dr. Benton Quest is found where he usually is: his laboratory. His background, as explained by a couple of other characters, will be roughly familiar to anyone who watched the original series. Years before, Benton worked with NASA and the defense department until he lost his wife to a ‘saboteur’s bomb’. Now he works as a private contractor, using the resources and funds derived from said contracts to fuel his research. Fearing that one of the top three minds in defense and areospace technology would fall under enemy control, Intelligence One assigned one of their best operatives to protect the family: Roger T. ‘Race’ Bannon.
So that’s pretty much it, but there’s a twist. Writer Jeff Parker hinted during an interview with Comic Book Resources that Jonny’s mother may actually be alive. If this potential story thread does pan out, than it would certainly be an interesting subplot to follow (on top of subverting the ‘dead moms’ trope, prevalent in many of Hanna-Barbera shows).
Also appearing in issue #1 is the winged superhero Birdman. Just like in the original TV show, Birdman (real name: Ray Randall) is an ordinary human granted superpowers by the Egyptian sun god Ra. With his pet bird Avenger at his side, he fights crime as a full-time member of Inter-Nation, a secret government agency. Only this time, he’s not hanging out in a large volcano and occasionally speaking to his superior (Falcon 7) on a giant TV screen. In Future Quest, he’s a ‘special mission’ agent of Inter-Nation, brought in for assignments that require extra talents (read: superpowers).
That’s about all we know of this version of Birdman, apart from the fact that Parker re-jigs his character as being less stoic in order to differentiate him from another stoic superhero we talked about earlier.
Frakenstein Jr./The Impossibles/Mightor/etc.
In Future Quest, Buzz Conroy is Asian-American, and his mom is the highly-regarded robotics engineer. Impacted by the death of his father, Buzz begins drawing up an idea for an imaginary friend: Frankenstein Jr. To help him feel the void in his life, his mom takes his ideas and builds a giant robot to serve as Buzz’s actual friend and protector. (Fun fact: these characters pre-date Big Hero 6 by at least several decades).
The Impossibles will mostly appear as they were in the original cartoons, but with a few notable changes. Their superior, Big D, may or may not be involved with Inter-Nation as this mysterious character tries to groom this young team of superheroes – who are posing as a novelty band – as world-class operatives. Also, as I’ve mentioned above, they have a female member on the team now.
Issue #2 will also see us getting into the origin story of Mightor, a prehistoric superhero with a magical club and a pet dinosaur named Tog.
It’s not exactly clear how these other characters will become involved, although we are given a good idea as to how.
The main crux of issue #1 (and the opening arc as a whole) is the mystery surrounding the vortexes that have been appearing on-and-off for over a decade prior to the main story. In the issue, Benton Quest’s latest findings are major enough to where Ray Randall/Birdman and his fellow Inter-Nation agent Deva Sumadi are sent down to Florida by their superior Falcon 7 to examine the evidence.
But now, why would Benton Quest need Inter-Nation’s assistance? Because Dr. Zin (a regular Jonny Quest villain) and his evil organization F.E.A.R., have been racing Team Quest to track down the samples left in the wake of the vortexes.
Now, why are these vortexes appearing? As it turns out, the vortexes are the result of the re-formed Omnikron trying to break through a “limbo state of time and space” to invade earth. But in order to do that, the entity is breaking off pieces of itself in an attempt to pass through as opposed to invading earth as one mass. But a certain someone is fighting it back….
As we see through Dr. Zin’s watch, the Omnikron and Space Ghost are locked in a heated battle that is reverberating across the universe and (possibly) rupturing time and space. It could be why, as shown several times, we see what could be conceived as ‘glimpses’ into other worlds/planets (Space Ghost and The Herculoids) and perhaps other places and events in time (in the case of Mightor). This is the other big way that Jeff Parker is putting all of these characters together. Even in a big, crazy crossover such as Future Quest, you still have to have a sound reason for all of those characters being there together, as well as giving them a major threat that’s cataclysmic enough to where everyone has to get involved. Issue #1 does this in spades by kicking off of mega-story that spans the cosmos and setting up a threat that will soon require all hands on deck.
The Arrival of Team Ghost?
The event that kicks off the second half of issue #1 is the arrival of a spaceship, emitting a distress signal in the form of ion bursts. As we’ll find out in issue #2, the inhabitants are none other than Jan, Space Ghost’s female sidekick, and her pet monkey Blip. Why is she in that spaceship and where is Jace, her twin brother and Space Ghost’s male sidekick? Well, judging by the plot synopsis for issue #2, we can venture a guess that Jan was possibly fleeing from the Omnikron. So could that mean that Jace was fighting the Omnikron with Space Ghost? The ending (which we’ll talk about later) doesn’t give us any definite answers, but the confirmation of Jan, Jace, and Blip does tell us that Team Ghost (like Team Quest) has already been active for quite some time.
The First Death?
Yep, it’s only the first issue and already we have what appears to be the first casualty in the fight against Omnikron. In the final pages, Jonny and Hadji come across the dead corpse of Tundro, a rhino/triceratops hybrid who hails from Azmot/Quasar, the home planet of The Herculoids. According to Jeff Parker, the Omnikron has a tendency to show up on planets and cause chaos really quick. Well, now, that chaos is spewing out into earth, as it seems the Omnikron has now gotten around to invading the planetary homes of some of these characters (Herculoids included). As Jonny and Hadji flee the scene, we see Dr. Zin’s battle drones collect Trundro’s body.
While death isn’t really a huge deal in comics (it goes back and forth in animation a little bit), seeing a character already perished in the first issue does raise the stakes for the battles that follow.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg for all the cool things to come in Future Quest. Whether or not you are a longtime fan of the characters or you only know them from watching Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, Future Quest just might be the best comic book based on an animated property being published right now. So what are you waiting for? Go to your local comics shop (or to an online retailer) and snatch this up now!
Future Quest #1 is currently available in comic shops and digital retailers. Future Quest #2 hits shelves everywhere on June 29.
What do you think? Any thoughts on Future Quest #1? Are you looking forward to Issue #2?