Rick and Morty #32
Pamela Ribon (Writer), Erica Hayes (Artist), Katy Farina (Colorist)
November 29, 2017
The first episode I ever watched of Rick and Morty was “Raising Gazorpazorp.” While the show has since become one of my favorites my initial impression based on that episode was … not great. The main storyline where Morty’s sex robot gives birth to an alien that grows up within the span of a day with a biological imperative to conquer the Earth (despite Morty’s best efforts to be a good dad) is all in good fun. On the other hand, the B-plot where Rick and Summer go to the robot’s home planet and find a segregated society run by stereotypical female aliens who greet everyone with “I am here if you need to talk” and broadcast intercom warnings about the location of spiders seemed to indulge in sexism rather than parody it a bit too often for my taste.
Despite that, the episode was one of the first to really develop the older grandchild in the Smith family from a stereotypical texting teenage girl to a full and unique character in her own right. And it left one burning question — what the heck happened to the pink space-car that Summer got at the end of the episode?
The story “Summer’s Eve” in Rick and Morty #32, (which unlike that first season sports an all-woman creative team), answers that question and it’s as sick as it is delightful. Literally opening after the closing credits of “Raising Gazorpazorp,” Summer uses the space car to pick up her current guy to “go make out and be irresponsible,” but he soon admits that he fell for another girl even though Summer was only gone one day. Still determined to “have it all,” Summer swears to Beyoncé, rides off into the night, then accidentally activates her car’s A.I. One personality test later, the car is taking Summer out for selfies with Saturn, drag racing on Planet Japanese Footloose, and romantic sunsets in zero gravity. While Rick warns Summer against falling in love with an A.I. program, she instead installs full-language functionality in her car and things start to move very, very fast …
Honestly, there’s a part of me that just wants to write down “I love this comic because Summer falls in love with and eventually boinks her space-car,” but that’s not exactly something you can just put out there. Plus, the comic isn’t perfect. In my few forays into reading Rick and Morty tie-in comics, they always seem to have a bit of a watered-down quality when it comes to imitating the tone and scale of the show. Also, while I enjoy Rick here, I think the comic could have done more than just make him “the one who was right all along,” especially since the best plotlines tend to at least wobble his pedestal of arrogance, if not completely knock him off it.
Yet like many of the episodes, it takes a pretty standard sci-fi plotline (“falling in love with an A.I.”) to a humorous place with a helping of shock value. It also highlights why I’ve really grown to love Summer Smith. “Stereotypically feminine older sister who stands in contrast to the dorky younger brother” has become a pretty standard cartoon character trope, so it’s always a delight how Summer easily transitions over to the highly-capable action girl when the plot requires it. And while “girl who is obsessed with fashion can pick up a gun” isn’t exactly a new revelation either (in the past I’ve called Summer “Buffy if she had a really, really terrible Watcher”), I don’t think most characters who could appear on a “weaponized femininity” moodboard have her level of sadism. There are a lot of pretty girls who can punch a bad guy. Few have their faces twist into a maniacal grin before ripping apart a gang of A Clockwork Orange aliens.
All in all, the comic is a fun lark for fans of the show and must-have for fans of Summer Smith. “Raising Gazorpazorp” may have initially made me wonder if Rick and Morty wasn’t for me, but the sequel assured me that it is … even if they did it with space car-boinking.