Rocko’s Modern Life was by far one of the best things on TV in the 1990s, but then, as if by magic, it all but vanished from sight. Then, in 2017, a one-off revival episode was announced, that offered a glimmer of hope that we’d be reunited with the titular wallaby and his eccentric chums once more.
Well, if you’ve been hankering for some Heffer or frothing at the mouth for Filburt (sorry, we couldn’t think of anything better than this) then you’ll probably be excited to hear the gang are finally all back together, courtesy of those nice people over at Boom! Studios.
Rocko’s Modern Afterlife gives the classic Nickelodeon characters a horrifying makeover as the not-so-sleepy residents of O-Town find themselves at the mercy of an unstoppable zombie virus which leaves them to wander the streets like it was Night of the Living Braindead.
Issue #1 opens with Rocko’s antagonistic neighbour, Mr. Bighead shooting off at the mouth about some article he’d just read on the internet. Paying no attention to anyone but himself, Bighead soon finds himself on the receiving end of a bite from a random stranger, which only causes him to rant on some more. The story jumps forward a few days, and we find Rocko holed up in his house, as his former townsfolk wander the streets looking for something – or someone – to sink their teeth into – including Mr. Bighead.
This life of solitude is doing great things for Rocko. He’s practising Yoga, is growing vegetables in his living room and has his trusted dog Spunky for company. Who needs to go outside when you have everything you need inside? Quickly though, Rocko realises he’s quickly running out of food, and so enlists the help of his best friend, and newly anointed streamer extraordinaire, Heffer to keep him alive. True to form though, Heffer’s best efforts only serve to make things worse, and it isn’t long before Rocko’s living room is swarming with the undead. Will Rocko and Spunky make it out alive?
Look closely and you might just notice that at the very start of the issue everyone except Rocko is completely consumed by their mobile phone. In fact, Rocko is the only person without a smartphone in the entire comic, even going so far as to say his classic handset is way better than everyone else’s because his phone has “Snake built-in”. This might seem like nothing at first glance, but is clearly a statement on how everyone has become a mindless zombie because of technology. Heck, you’re probably even reading this on your phone right now! Although this isn’t stated at any point throughout Issue 1, the foreshadowing is there and will no doubt play a big part in the conclusion of the story.
Rocko’s Modern Afterlife is a collaboration between writer Anthony Burch and artist Mattia Di Meo – and they couldn’t have done the fanbase any prouder. You find yourself reading the comic in the voices we used to hear each week on TV, which is a testament to Burch’s ability to give these beloved characters new life. In fact, the whole thing feels like an extended episode of the mighty NickToon and has us longing for a much-needed television revival.
Likewise, Di Meo’s and Segala’s artwork is incredible. It’s as if someone took an episode of the show right off the screen and dropped it into these very pages – kudos to the inking of Francesco Segala. Di Meo’s work on the issue cover and various pieces of promotional art are a sight to behold as well, and we’re excited to see what he can bring to the remaining 3 issues.
We were immediately excited when we heard Boom! Studios were reviving the Rocko franchise, and we have not been disappointed. Whether you spent your evenings and weekends watching the show or not you’ll find something to love in this unique spin on a classic character that only goes to show if handled correctly there’s still life in the old dog yet… er, wallaby even.