The first time I watched Buckaroo Banzai, I did not like it. A friend professed it to be his second favorite movie and at the end, I was baffled. I questioned whether I knew my friend at all (actually, I might have been right about that, but I digress). Some time later, I saw a VHS copy in a discount bin and was convinced to buy it despite my misgivings about the movie. That gave me the opportunity to watch it again. And again.
The movie has a scene where the main character, Buckaroo Banzai, is given an ability to see Lectroids for who they really are, instead of their human form. In much the same way, years later, I saw the movie for what it really was. An absolute piece of celluloid genius. Read the novelization and it becomes ten times better.
Shortly after I met PLee, there was talk of a TV series based on the movie. And the two of us were on the jazz about that. Sadly, that did not materialize. Until recently when instead of TV form, it took the form of a comic book from Moonstone Books.
I finished reading Buckaroo Banzai: Return of the Screw trade paperback over the weekend. I wanted to like this. I really did. But sadly, I did not. Maybe I just don’t see it for what it is yet. But there’s a lot more to work through here than there was with the movie.
After waiting 25 years for a sequel entitled “Buckaroo Banzai vs. The World Crime League” I was disappointed to see this turn into pretty much a rehash of the first movie. Lectroids and John Whorfin…again? A very limited amount of Hanoi Xan and newer villains. The plot itself is nothing terribly exciting, and the story comes off truncated, like maybe it could have been another issue or two longer. I was really glad that Rauch was returning to write this, but he could have used some help translating the story into comic form.
When you read an adaptation of characters in live action media, it’s natural to simply allow the voice of the actors to fill the roles in your head. When Buckaroo spoke, I heard Peter Weller. When Reno spoke, I heard Pepe Serna. But, there are enough new characters that I had a hard time meshing the two sets of characters together. I didn’t want accept Lady Gillette into the fold because I really wasn’t sure who she was.
Also, when dealing with licensed properties in a comic like this, it’s important that the characters look consistent. Plain clothes characters are tough because you can’t rely on the big red “S” on the chest to help the reader tell who’s the main character. The artwork in this book was disappointing and confusing.
The extras in the book were nice. Good behind the scenes info on the history of the woes of bringing Buckaroo Banzai back, some cool concept art for the never-launched series, and most importantly, three full pages of painted art by my buddy Bill Wiist. Bill had pitched some cover concepts that were sadly rejected, but they ran three of them in this book. And if you don’t know who Bill Wiist is, check out the bio pic on the upper right side of the blog and click on his name found under that drawing.
As I think about it, I wonder if anything could measure up to the wait. Could anything be as good as the feeling I get thinking about what Buckaroo Banzai II could have been? For that matter, would Buckaroo Banzai II have been good, or is it only the idea of it that is good?
Either way, I’ve been here before. Maybe I just need to read it again enough times for me to be able to see this story for what it really is…if I don’t already.