I saw the theatrical release of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension in 1984 and loved it. Shortly thereafter, I purchased Earl Mac Rauch's novelization and remember thinking that it was a very smart book; unfortunately, I must have loaned it to someone and it disappeared. Recently I decided to purchase and reread the book, and during my search, "Return of the Screw" came up. Thinking it was a new novel, I pre-ordered it immediately. When the package finally arrived, I was taken aback. A comic book?
Just a few days earlier I'd become aware of Moonstone Books' Buckaroo Banzai comics, but it didn't occur to me that the comics/graphic novels advertised on their site were what I had pre-ordered on Amazon. Why would they be? Moonstone was already selling the book but the Amazon release kept getting pushed back. It had to be a novel, right? Wrong. I'm not a big comic fan, but I do own a few graphic novels, so I won't dismiss this out of hand just because it's not what I expected.
Frankly, I was disappointed--partly with the story, and partly with the execution of the book itself. The Buckaroo Banzai mythology constantly hints at numerous adventures undertaken by Buckaroo and his ever-changing team, yet for the first new published adventure since 1984, the creators (Richter and Mac Rauch) retcon both the movie and the novel (which were slightly different) and bring back...Emilio Lizardo/John Whorfin and his lectroids. Seriously? In 20 years you guys couldn't come up with something new? It's a total Hollywood move and the antithesis of the BB ethos. In fact, the Whorfin/Hanoi Xan partnership was covered in the movie novelization but not used in the movie itself, so we've already been over this. Another peeve is that suddenly Lizardo/Whorfin talks like a wannabe gangsta rapper. Huh?
In terms of graphic novels, it's on par with other quality products, with thick, glossy covers and reasonably thick pages. The artwork is better than your standard monthly comic, but I couldn't help but think, "Isn't the art in a graphic novel supposed to be way beyond your typical comic book?" Finally, the typos were numerous and annoying (the first mention of Lizardo misspells his first name as "Emilia"). I speak from experience when I say that there are a lot of English-proficient BB fans who would be willing to do some proofreading gratis.
For me, the best part of the whole book is the bonus features, including a brief history of the movie and the failed TV series, and the interview with Earl Mac Rauch. Overall, it's a mildly interesting diversion and return to Buckaroo's world, but I can't honestly say it was worth waiting 20 years for.
Blue Blaze Irregular Durango, OUT.