The Boys Are Back In Town: Reviewing ‘Bill And Ted Are Doomed’ TPB
by Brendan M. Allen
‘After defeating the evil dictator De Nomolos in Bogus Journey in 1995, things aren’t looking as excellent as they should for either Bill and Ted or Wyld Stallyns. There’s tension in the band and worry at home. Bill and Ted’s obsessiveness with writing the one song to bring peace to the world is affecting their playing and their relationships with their families.
The princesses are overwhelmed, Death threatens to quit the band as his growing ego has opened a rift. Desperate for a solution Bill and Ted burst in to announce their great idea to revive the band’s fortunes: A world tour to spread the love, and the rock, and the love of the rock to the world.’
If you remember the plot of 1991’s Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, the titular characters’ band Wyld Stallyns were destined to write a song that changed the course of mankind. That one song would be so powerful, it would result in the founding of a global utopian society. Trouble is, several years after winning the San Dimas Battle of The Bands, the song hasn’t been written and the band is washed up and all but forgotten.
The guys are feeling the drag, and obviously the only thing for it is to hit the road and to reclaim some of that mojo that brought them the title at the Battle of the Bands. Along the way, they’ll pretty much hit up every band movie trope. Dumpy little venues, cold crowd reception, misspelled marquees…
Evan Dorkin is no stranger to the Bill and Ted mythos, having also penned the B&T series that was nominated for an Eisner in 1992 for Best Humor Comic. The dialogue and cadence feel natural for the characters. The humor is there, and very much in the style of the films, without retreading too many of the original jokes.
This book comes out of the gate reasonably strong, leaning hard into the nostalgia that has kept this franchise alive for more than three decades. There’s only so far nostalgia will take you on its own, though. Dorkin starts heading down some odd little rabbit trails about halfway through that detract from the main thread, without really having any chance to resolve before the thing blows off.
The art is fun. Roger Langridge employs a stripped down caricatured style that fits really well with the goofiness of the franchise. Most of the likenesses are spot on. Alex Winter, Keanu Reeves, and George Carlin are instantly recognizable. William Sadler is a little off, but no one will notice under the white grease paint.
Bill and Ted are Doomed starts stronger than it finishes. Mostly because it kicks off in a very comfortable and familiar place. Once that first setup transitions, though, it goes off the rails a little. It hits plenty of the nostalgic beats, but doesn’t do much to build on the established mythos.
This whole mini was just the four chapters and they really could have done with one or two more. At the very least, the first chapter could have been condensed to get the action started sooner. While the dialogue and interactions are honest and true to established canon, there just aren’t many opportunities for the story to open up and take us anywhere terribly interesting.
Bill and Ted are Doomed, collects issues #1–#4, Dark Horse Comics, 07 April 2021. Script by Evan Dorkin, art and letters by Roger Langridge.
Bill and Ted are Doomed is a bit of a disappointment for me. I really wanted to like this series. The pacing seems off from the opening chapter, and it never had a chance to sort itself before blowing off. The whole thing fits right into canon. It just isn’t terribly unique or interesting.