In 2008, Boom! Studios announced that it would be teaming up with Disney to produce kid-friendly comics based on Pixar properties such as Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., and Toy Story. The line debuted earlier this year with a four-issue sequel to The Incredibles penned by industry veteran Mark Waid (The Amazing Spiderman, Captain America, The Flash, Superman: Birthright) and illustrated by newcomer Marcio Takara. The latest Boom!/Pixar collaboration is Wall-E: Working to Dig You Out, a prequel to the 2008 film from the writer-illustrator team of J. Torres (Teen Titans Go!) and Morgan Luthi (Snow).
Wall-E: Working to Dig You Out, No. 00
By J. Torres and Morgan Luthi
Ages: 6 and up
Boom! Studios, 2009
24 pp, $2.99
Of all the Pixar properties, Wall-E seems best and least suited to a comic-book adaptation — best, because Wall-E is silent, his personality established exclusively through facial expressions and habits; and least, because a wordless cartoon often demands music, sound effects, and motion to hold the audience’s interest. I’m pleased to report that Torres and Luthi successfully adapt Wall-E for the printed page, wisely introducing more characters and focusing on the behavior that endeared Wall-E to audiences: his penchant for salvaging "treasures" from the garbage. As Torres and Luthi portray Wall-E, he’s a dreamer who’d rather play with the items he finds — egg beaters, rubber duckies — than perform the job he was created to do. He’s surrounded by other robots who diligently gather and compact trash into neat bricks, ignoring the very items that attract Wall-E’s eye.
Not much happens in the first issue; the primary purpose seems to be drawing a contrast between Wall-E and his cohorts. Torres and Luthi do a good job of establishing Wall-E’s curiosity and playfulness, as he uses a string of Christmas lights as a zipline and transforms a traffic cone into a hat. (Is there a kid among us who hasn’t, at one point, done something similar?) Though the story features many light-hearted moments, there’s a strong undercurrent of melancholy as well; Wall-E’s fellow robots are beginning to break down, leaving him to fend for himself. Thanks to Luthi’s excellent draftsmanship, the confusion and sadness that Wall-E experiences registers in his eyes, making the little robot seem even more vulnerable and child-like than he did in the movie. It’s that unexpected level of depth that makes Working to Dig You Out a winner, and proves once again that less can really be more when it comes to comic-book dialogue. Highly recommended.
This review is based on a complimentary copy provided by the publisher.