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Review: Wall-E, No. 00

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.

Katherine Dacey About Katherine Dacey

Katherine Dacey has been reviewing comics since 2006. From 2007 to 2008, she was the Senior Manga Editor at PopCultureShock, a site covering all aspects of the entertainment industry from comics to video games. In 2009, she launched The Manga Critic, where she focuses primarily on Japanese comics and novels in translation. Katherine lives and works in the Greater Boston area, and is a musicologist by training.

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