DC’s Flintstones Comics Put the Modern

DC’s Flintstones comic is a shockingly dark adaptation of the source material – and perhaps even more shocking is the fact that the end result is surprisingly good. Expectations are low (or perhaps nonexistent) whenever a comic adaptation of an old property is released. But the 2016 Flintstones comic has acquired a reputation on the Internet for being a horrifically dark, bleak and modern take on the modern Stone-Age family, complete with such subjects like PTSD, wage theft, religion and even genocide. The Flintstones was not fondly received when it debuted in 1960, but it was nevertheless one of the first primetime animated series in America. Fred Flintstone became an icon of middle America and the series was one of the first to show a married couple sharing a bed, something not done at the time. While not as viable over time as other franchises such as Scooby-Doo and Captain Planet, the Flintstones nevertheless gained a reputation as a popular, albeit lighthearted, family TV show. The DC Comics adaptation does away with most of the levity in favor of a darker, realistic approach.

Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble are veterans of a bloody war in which the happy-go-lucky characters on TV participated in a genocide. A soldier in Fred’s unit is suffering from PTSD and even calls a suicide hotline (and is put on hold). Flintstone’s boss exploits the local Neanderthal population for cheap labor, and constantly overworks and underpays his employees. Fred’s marriage to Wilma (itself seen as a new development in society, and is looked down upon) is fraught with doubt; though the two are in a loving relationship, Fred often wonders if he can provide for her. In an eye-opening monologue (that no one expected to be delivered by Fred Flintstone, of all people), Fred wonders if marriage is simply a glorified insurance policy. “Is it just my attempt to keep her from finding someone better? Is marriage really a sacred bond, or just the illusion of security?”

Bedrock are constantly reinventing the idea of religion: they tell citizens to pray to animals and eventually decide to pray to an invisible God instead (whom they spontaneously call “Gerald”). Rampant consumerism is taking over society and Fred feels pressured to buy appliances he doesn’t need. True to the source material, those appliances take the form of animals – but unlike the show, these animals decry the society that uses them and locks them away, forgetting they even exist. The entire series is tremendously dark, sardonic, cynical – and despite everything, has plenty of heart. Fred and his family live lives much like our own, despite existing in the Stone Age. The Flintstones comic is beloved across the Internet for this reason – even if it paints a 1960s family in a tremendously dark light.