Mystery Science Theater 3000 #1 Review

by Olivier Roth on September 12, 2018

Created for comics by: Joel Hodgson

Developed for comics by: Joel Hodgson and Harold Buchholz

Written by: Harold Buchholz, Joel Hodgson, Matt McGinnis, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe, Mary Robinson

Host segment art by: Todd Nauck

“In-Comics” art by: Mike Manley

Colorists: Wes Dzioba and Mike Manley

Lettering by: Michael Heisler

Published by: Dark Horse


That is one hell of a list of creators for just one comic, is it not? And it’s not like this is an anthology or anything, this is ONE issue! Amazing! Or is it?


Well, yes, it is actually amazing that this gamut of creators were able to create such a fun read that truly does capture the essence of what Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) is and also keep the level of humour of the show.


For those who may be unfamiliar, MST3K is a long running (celebrating a 30th anniversary this year) TV show where a cast of characters, in this iteration Jonah, Tom Servo, Crow, Waverly, Gypsy and Growler, watch some utterly bad movies and crack jokes as they do so. All this is thrust upon them by a character named Kinga and her sidekick TV’s son of TV’s Frank… or just Max who operate the Satellite of Love on the Dark Side of the Moon.


That’s pretty much the back story for those who have never heard of this show now comic. The translation from TV to the comic is done in a way that actually fits within the TV narrative, as it is one of the many inventions that allow our main characters to travel within a comic book, while also giving them the opportunity to have a laugh.


As you may have noticed by the art credits, the comic is split in two: the “real world” where the reader is given a quick rundown of what MST3K is, how the characters are going to end up in the comic, and also gives you some of the dynamic and some of the personality of each character within.


The second part of the issue is reserved for the actual comic that they’ll be making fun of, called Teen Reporter which I believe is based on Johnny Jason Teen Reporter from Dell Comics back in the day. I don’t think this is an actual issue of the comic, but it definitely captures the feel of a comic from the 1950s.


So, what about the jokes? Well, first, it is very clever how they made it so we the reader could differentiate between the actual word balloons and captions within the comic and what are the “jokes” - they add a small little circle to each word balloon that belongs to the cast making the joke. What’s even better, they explain this directly in the comic so there is no guessing on the reader's part.


The jokes themselves range from pretty clever to “I’m not really sure what the reference is?” but this is typical MST3K. I recently watched the new season and some jokes, just like this issue, would go completely over my head.


Todd Nauck is tasked with illustrating the “Host segment” of the issue, and he does a fantastic job. I’ve been a fan of Nauck ever since his Young Justice days (in the 90s) so whenever he graces the pages of a comic I’m reading, it already helps me enjoy it more.  


For the “in-comic” segments, they were handled by Mike Manley who I am not that familiar with, but as a first introduction, it’s pretty solid in my eyes. Being tasked with drawing in a style that is not used as often these days could have been a challenge for Manley, but clearly stepped up because the latter half of the comic is really well done. And he captures the proper esthetic of a comic published in the 1950s really well. I believe he even coloured his own art, which makes doubly-amazing.


This issue is a fantastic opener to this new mini-series and MST3K’s entry into the comic world. I’ll be interested to see what they have planned for this six-issue run. I’m hoping they keep this comic split between the host and comic segments and that they keep the comic they are making fun of to two issues each.

Our Score:


A Look Inside