Rocko may have his own eccentricities, but he comes through for his friends. When his best buddy Heffer is bit by zombies, he leaps into action to bring him to Hook Labs to hopefully cure him before the plague takes over. Will they be able to find a cure? Or will corporate greed turn Heffer into a brain-dead…errr…more of a brain-dead cow?
You’d think with a comic based on a popular Nickelodeon cartoon, that it would be more fun and games. Rocko’s Modern Afterlife definitely has its fair share of those, but it works on another level, showing the absurdity of a number of modern day issues such as affordable medication, the game-streaming lifestyle, and incels. These messages aren’t beat over your head either. Instead, they’re shown in such a way that you only have one logical conclusion, which is that these ideas are pretty dumb.
Filburt is a great example of this as he tries desperately to woo Dr. Hutchison, but to no avail. Instead of accepting her answer, Filburt seeks the advice of the other idiots on Real Men Dot Biz and learns all about men’s rights. This is infuriating to watch, but shown through the lens of these cartoon characters, it works. Obviously Filburt’s actions are stupid and he looks and sounds ridiculous.
You can feel Filburt’s unwarranted frustration in his dialogue, not just in what he says, but how he says it. Letterer Jim Campbell emphasizes this rage in such a way that you can practically hear Filburt’s annoyed and annoying voice in your head.
Writer Anthony Burch uses Filburt as a bubbling cauldron in the background as Dr. Hutchison experiments on Heffer. His outbursts are split up throughout this scene, getting more heated as time goes on. It’s a nice way to continually increase the tension while moving the main plot forward.
Artist Mattia Di Meo recreates the look and feel of Rocko’s Modern Life with just the right balance of cartoony flair and gross displays. For example, Dr. Hutchison’s boss is a sniveling jerk with his finger constantly up his nose. He’s in charge and he knows it, lording his power over the nice doctor. From the first moment he appears on the page, you just want to punch him right in the face.
There are numerous laugh-out-loud moments in Rocko’s Modern Afterlife #3, particularly with the facial expressions of the characters. They’re often contorted into uncomfortable looks, whether that comes from physical pain or the super awkward situations they find themselves in. This also gets to the heart of some of the characters. Heffer is clueless. Rocko is on edge. Filburt is stressed and ready to mansplain everything.
This issue takes place mostly at night. Colorist Francesco Segala casts the scenes in a cool, yet dreary evening, playing up the dark nature of the zombie apocalypse. This contrasts well with the sterile fluorescent lighting of Hook Labs where everything looks washed out. Of course, this changes when the zombies emerge, shifting the tone from quiet experiments to all out chaos with some bright reds.
Rocko’s Modern Afterlife delivers great gags and hilarious antics while also showing a thoughtful examination of some pressing issues facing society today. It’s stands out as much more than just a children’s cartoon. Yes, it does justice to these characters that are near and dear to the hearts of an entire generation, but it also has a dynamite story with a message coupled with some fantastic artwork. It’s a win all around.