As Bill, Ted, Death and the Princesses wend their way through a most horrifying European tour, they find themselves pursued by angry metal bands, demonic forest trolls…and their destiny. But there’s a lot of human feeling packed in between the jokes.
Bill and Ted are Doomed #2-4
Tyler Crook (Cover); Benjamin Dewey (Cover); Evan Dorkin (Script and Cover Art); Sarah Dyer (Cover); Veronica Fish (Cover); Roger Langridge (Letters, Cover and Art)
Dark Horse Comics
October-December 9, 2020
It’s winter, snow is about to fall and Bill and Ted are Doomed continues to be an adorable expansion of the franchise, adding important layers and fun new adventures to the pot.
When last we left Bill, Ted, their daughters, The Grim Reaper and the Princesses, Bill and Ted had decided to plan an entire world tour without the input of their wives, to keep the stress off them, renew their flagging careers, and hopefully write a world-saving song that will fulfill their destinies. Unfortunately, the tour gets off to a poor start when both boys show up to the show jet-lagged and cause the audience to snore, and then pelt them with bottles. They proceed to play to hostile or indifferent audiences and then have to face a broken-down van. Then they discover that the death metal festival they’ve been booked to play at is run by dour music purists who immediately mark them for death the moment they arrive on stage. Soon the boys and Death are in a fight for their lives (and afterlife) against snowmobiling death metal-loving hordes who want their blood and souls on a platter, while the Princesses try to get the boys some help from a nearby town.
Meanwhile, back at home, both Stations have built Robot Bill and Ted a couple of Princess robots of their own, but their constant demands for further improvements and acquisitions leave both Stations overwhelmed. Billie and Thea must save the day, and show the Stations they’re appreciated. Elsewhere, the multiverse threatens to collapse in on itself when the events at the metal festival threaten to have a cascading effect across the universes, and Rufus and the team must stabilize the holographic turntable that allows them to peer into (and thus keep smooth the runnings of the universe) every permutation of reality before it’s too late.
The writing of Bill and Ted are Doomed is so enthralling and fun, and really the best part of each issue. Its small throwaway jokes are particularly charming – there is a terrific scene where, while the whole band is on a plane flying to their tour’s first destination, The Grim Reaper replies to the flight-based anxiety of a fellow passenger by telling him not to be frightened of dying in a plane crash – he should be on the lookout for a double-decker bus instead.
The whole series in general has a good grasp on Bill and Ted’s friendship – with each other and with Death. The dialogue is so spot-on you’ll feel like you’re watching deleted scenes. Station and the robots also receive their due, as their loneliness and yearning for more in their lives – and different surroundings – pays off. Naturally, the comic has to shuffle them off to parts unknown because they don’t appear in Face the Music, and it does a good job of making their leaving feel natural. Billie and Thea have a shared dry wit that’s quite amusing, but they don’t get a whole lot to do in the narrative.
Best of all is the way Bill, Ted, Elizabeth and Joanna’s marriages grow and develop during the length of the book. One of the series’ biggest weaknesses is that the princesses never really grow as characters, and it’s hard to understand what keeps the four of them bound in wedlock from their youthful first date to a loving middle age. In Bill and Ted are Doomed, their shared tenderness is made authentic and totally believable, and the princesses get to do so much more, feel so much more, than they do in the films.
The plot is bright and engaging and suspenseful, as well as funny. The Evil Metal genre parody is clearly a gentle poke in the ribs for Metalocalypse and Dethklock, between the design of the characters and the notion of Nordic black metal gods trying to slay their enemies. The storyline does such a great job splitting the difference between domestic tenderness and this adventure plot that it’s a fascinating balancing act.
The art, too, keeps an underground comic flavor and keeps things bright and cartoony. The design for the brand-new characters – like the evil metal band – is very well-done and carefully built.
Bill and Ted are Doomed is a terrific series and a great extension for the cinematic Bill and Ted universe, slotting itself well into the space between Bogus Journey and Face the Music. It’s the best Bill and Ted comic spin-off I’ve read thus far.