It’s Clicking when You Can Hear the Voice Actors: “Dexter’s Laboratory #1”

Steven Michael Scott

Dexter and perpetual thorn in his side, Dee Dee, are back—with their personalities intact.

Dexter's Laboratory #1

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Derek Fridolfs, Ryan Jampole
Price: $2.99
Publication Date: 2014-06

Dexter’s Laboratory is the latest Cartoon Network series to be dusted off and receive the comic book treatment, courtesy of IDW. Although BOOM! Studios recently inked a first-look deal with Cartoon Network and is enjoying the success of adapting current hit shows such as Adventure Time and Regular Show, IDW is playing the nostalgia card by reviving now classic cartoons including Samurai Jack and The Powerpuff Girls, a move that is bound to payoff if they can capture the wit and comedic sensibilities those cartoons brought to the small screen. As it turns out, I’m happy to say that Dexter’s Laboratory is off to a running start.

Plot-wise, writer Derek Fridolfs doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel here. It’s a pretty standard storyline that you would expect of Dexter’s Laboratory, but it works. Dexter and perpetual thorn in his side, Dee Dee, are back with their personalities intact. Dexter schemes to rid himself of his meddlesome sister once-and-for-all, so he can get on with his inventions, sabotage-free. The relationship they share is ripe for comedy and even if you’ve never seen the show (in which case I pity you), you immediately get from page one what they’re about and how this brother/sister duo relate to each other as the familiar trope of squabbling siblings is ubiquitous.

Fridolfs, fresh off the success of Li’l Gotham, showcases his affection for the characters by nailing their individual voices. You know it’s clicking when you can hear the voice actors in your head when reading. While the majority of this issue is setting the stage for what’s to come (it’s Part 1 of a 4-part mini-series), Fridolfs manages to inject the story with fun dialog while re-establishing who these characters are without hitting us over the head with it. The characters’ lines and actions are so familiar to longtime fans, it’s like we pick right up where the show left off.

The art by Ryan Jampole is 100% on-model to the point that you could be fooled into thinking you’re looking at cells from the show itself. Jampole is no stranger to working with licensed properties, having illustrated for the Mega Man comics (and was that a Quickman helmet I spotted amongst Dexter’s failed experiments?), and so his unique style is hard to pin down, but there’s no denying his skills as an illustrator. Anyone who is familiar with Jampole’s work knows he has a sweet spot for Mega Man’s sister Roll, and he injects that same energy into Dexter’s sis Dee Dee, exemplifying her off-the-wall nature to its fullest. The art screams pure animation, as there is always a sense of movement, propelling the characters from scene to scene. The expressions are so lively that even if this were a “silent” issue devoid of speech balloons, the visuals are strong enough to carry the story on their own. Colorist Jeremy Colwell’s contributions do the art justice, matching the show’s color pallet spot on.

As a whole, it’s not deep or sophisticated but it’s not supposed to be. If for whatever reason you were expecting the comic to go off in a totally different direction, that’s not the case. This is all familiar territory and is as authentic as licensed comics get in terms of the look and tone of the material. In that sense, it doesn’t take many risks. That’s not to suggest that it should have blazed a foreign trail that betrayed its roots, but this is not a cartoon and I would have liked to see something that takes more advantage over the fact that it’s being presented in a new medium. However, it’s fair to say when working with licensed properties, creators can’t experiment with the recipe too drastically before it starts to fall apart. It’s a very safe bet that it won’t alienate previous fans while also serving as a solid introduction for newbies.

The most obvious break in tradition here is that, true to comics, the story is serialized. As opposed to various stand-alone stories within one episode of the show, readers are in for a multi-part tale. It makes sense from a financial standpoint as these issues will undoubtedly be collected as a trade, but only after we reach this story’s conclusion will we know if it needed to be told over several issues or if it could have achieved that in just one or two. Until then, I’ll put my faith in this creative team that they know what they’re doing.

Fans of the show will not be disappointed as the comic is true to the characters, looks fantastic and is in good hands.


The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.

20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta

Keep reading... Show less

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

Keep reading... Show less

Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

In a staid city like Washington, D.C., too many concert programs still stick to the basics. An endless litany of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky concerti clog the schedules and parades of overeager virtuosi seem unwilling to vary their repertoire for blasé D.C. concertgoers. But occasionally you encounter a concert that refreshes your perspective of the familiar. The works presented at The Kennedy Center on 25 October 2017 might be stalwarts of 20th century repertoire, but guest conductor Antonio Pappano, leading the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, reminded us how galvanizing the canonical can still be. Though grandiose executions of Respighi's The Fountains of Rome and The Pines of Rome were the main event, the sold-out crowd gathered to see Martha Argerich perform one of her showpieces, Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto. Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.