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freak brothers 10 1st
 
excellent writing
exceptional art
historical bonus 4
total score 9
The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers #10
The Idiots Abroad, Part Three
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1st Printing / 1987 / 36 pages / Rip Off Press
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REVIEW SCORE 10
The Idiots Abroad saga concludes with part three in Freak Brothers #10. If you want to avoid the spoilers that follow, don't read the next six paragraphs of this review!

Part three picks up right where part two left off, with Freddy and Franklin hauling Phineas around the Sahara desert on his auto/throne. They all pause for a worldwide TV broadcast of Phineas' daily evangelism before proceeding on to Phineas' castle on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. At the castle, Franklin and Freddy are forced to complete a grueling educational and physical fitness curriculum to earn their citizenship in the new era world government.

Even after gaining citizenship and being awarded their freedom from slavery, Franklin and Freddy continue to be controlled by the power of Phineas' enormous wealth. Halfway around the world, Colonel Cornbelt, military leader of the new world government, recognizes Phineas' immense influence on society and offers to appoint him as the Emperor of Earth; an offer that Phineas self-righteously accepts. That's the last straw for Franklin and Freddy, who escape that very night and journey to Barcelona to visit Freddy's old pal, Pablo Pegaso.

Pablo explains his elaborate plan to protect himself and his crew from the nuclear war that he is certain will soon begin, which involves a high-tech platform that will float above the ongoing war below. He offers Franklin and Freddy jobs on his crew, but the two are dead set on exacting revenge upon Phineas during his coronation ceremony, which will take place on the banks of Loch Ness in Scotland.

Just as the coronation ceremony is about to begin, Franklin and Freddy are swimming across Loch Ness to get past security for the event and accidentally dredge up the nuclear bomb that Freddy stole from the terrorists six months ago. At the same time, Colonel Cornbelt and his partner in crime, Andre the Hyena, corner Phineas on stage and threaten his life, attempting to force Phineas to use his power over the common people for their own ambitions. At the last minute, Phineas bravely refutes them and confesses his sham religion to a crowd of millions, who storm the stage in anger. Amidst the confusion, the Freak Brothers escape in a plane and fly to Central America, where they bail out and land in the middle of Pablo Pegaso's base station for his floating platform.

Happy to be alive, the boys accept positions as maintenance workers for the platform, and for the next several weeks adapt to a simple way of life, including smoking as much pot as they can, which leads them all to revert back to their slovenly personas and burned-out intellects. Their toking unwittingly exposes the floating platform to detection by the military, who quickly surround Pablo's base station. A huge conflict erupts, leading to gunshots, mayhem, an exploding bomb, an erupting volcano, and a last-second escape from a death-trap for our heroes.

The epic saga ends with the Freak Brothers returning home to their old apartment in the slums, where they will no doubt resume their previous drug-soaked lives and never wish to travel again.

The Idiots Abroad, despite being anomalous to the rest of the Freak Brothers canon, is an entertaining tale that manages to take the characters full circle through an absurd and fantastic adventure. The story received mostly positive critical acclaim upon its conclusion, including being named by The Comics Journal in 1999 as one of the top 100 comic stories of the 20th century.

The story was certainly an enjoyable read for me, and I admire the ambition Shelton and Mavrides demonstrated by crafting such long-form comic fiction. In essence, The Idiots Abroad is a graphic novel, (it was later compiled into a separate book), but the original books came out when graphic novels were still in their infancy. The story is quite cinematic in its scope, which comes as no surprise from Shelton, who has always had the movie producer bug in his creative spirit.

Sometimes I question whether it was advisable to take the Freak Brothers so far out of character to pursue such broad ambitions, especially with Phineas, who went mad with power upon getting filthy rich. But I don't want to bitch about underground blasphemy when the story itself is so richly detailed and entertaining. And its not like Phineas was a stranger to going mad.

After The Idiots Abroad was completed, Shelton and Mavrides did not return to such fanciful storytelling with future Freak Brothers comic books. Of course, the production of new Freak Brothers comics was nearing the end anyway, with only one-and-a-half books of new material released over the next five years and then a reprint of older stories for the final issue of the title in 1997. But those one-and-a-half books of new material were like a healing salve for this Freak Brothers fan; a return to normalcy after the temporary insanity of The Idiots Abroad.

But I don't begrudge Shelton and Mavrides a few years of insanity when it provided such an entertaining diversion.
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keyline
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HISTORICAL FOOTNOTES:
There are six printings of this comic book, all by Rip Off Press. It is currently unknown how many copies were produced during any of the printings. The first three printings of the comic book (up to the printing with a $2.95 cover price) featured full-color interior artwork. For the last two printings, the color artwork was converted and printed in black-and-white. The first two printings both had $2.25 cover prices and can only be distinguished by the back cover, as noted below. The other print editions are easy to tell apart, since each one has a distinct cover price as identified below:
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1st printing: $2.25 cover price, ROP address on back cover in black and white.
2nd printing: $2.25 cover price, ROP address on back cover in color.
3rd printing: $2.95 cover price.
4th printing: $3.25 cover price.
5th printing: $3.95 cover price.
6th printing: $4.95 cover price.
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COMIC CREATORS:

Gilbert Shelton - 1-36 (collaboration)
Paul Mavrides - 1-36 (collaboration)
Guy Colwell - 3-9 (color collaboration with Mavrides)