Review by Frank Plowright
There’s a lot of love for Bill & Ted (never Bill and Ted), the good-natured stupidity of their 1989 and 1991 movies surprisingly influential and proving lastingly popular to the point of a 2020 sequel. Boom Studios were ahead of the curve in commissioning new comics material, starting, naturally enough with Bill & Ted’s Most Triumphant Return.
They are Bill S. Preston Esq and Ted “Theodore” Logan, and together they are Wyld Stallyns. Excellent! Both are high school students in the Californian city of San Dimas, failing their exams as they dream of being rock stars, little aware that in the future their music and hollow phrases have become the entire basis of society. Most Triumphant Return picks up just after the end of Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Wyld Stallyns have won the Battle of the Bands, and they now need a second song.
Brian Lynch’s plot delivers what fans will want from a Bill & Ted adventure. He captures the themes, the genial idiocy of the title characters and features all the supporting cast we want to see, yet isn’t just copying old plots. He sends Bll & Ted to the future San Dimas of 2645 when they’re revered, as they try to cheat in discovering what their second song will be, only to discover the pressure placed on their arch enemy Chuck De Nomolos. As a teenager he’s isolated and damned by what history has revealed him to be, but Bill & Ted see a chance for redemption if he can find a girlfriend. Lynch is inventive in creating the world of the future, with the new characters supplied to flesh it out, and the plot develops nicely from Bill & Ted’s interference.
Bill & Ted’s world has to be bright and ever changing. Colourist Whitney Cogar manages the first and cartoonist Jerry Gaylord the second, but his pages otherwise aren’t all they could be. The basic style is a good fit, but the frequent use of viewpoints from odd angles is unsuitable, distracting rather than conveying the fast pace as intended. The further into the six chapters we go, the more irritating this becomes as there’s little variation, eventually dragging Lynch’s input down.
Another minor criticism is that there’s no concessions made for any curious reader who might pick this up without having seen any of the films. Pretty well the entire significant cast from the second movie appear in the opening pages, and any explanations as to who Bill & Ted are and what they do have to be picked up as Most Triumphant Return continues. Worth pointing out are the clever little references Lynch scatters through the script, reconfiguring items from the films, dissing Doctor Who and his time travelling phone booth, and the seven outlawed words riffing on the famous George Carlin sketch.
The supporting characters during the films were equally imaginative, and feature in back-up strips by a variety of creators, opening with the robot Bill & Ted upgrading with heinous results. Thereafter we see Missy, young Bill & Ted, and while Christopher Hastings’ tale of Dante and Death is smart, the best of them spotlights Elizabeth and Joanna. It’s written by Brian Joines, with some most excellent cartooning from Bachan, the creative team continuing the most triumphant return of Bill & Ted in Bill & Ted Go to Hell.