Connect with us
Uncanny Valley #2
BOOM! Studios

Comic Books

‘Uncanny Valley’ #2 expertly turns up the big emotions and cartoon hijinks

‘Uncanny Valley’ is a multimedia-referencing experience that grows increasingly layered and robust.

Yes, Tony Fleecs did have a tried and true formula going in, but even I was a touch hesitant about Uncanny Valley. I mean, it was basically set up as (to quote myself) “Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but with a latchkey kid.” And yet Fleecs (alongside artist Dave Wachter and letterer Pat Brosseau) delivered a really powerful first issue, one where that uber wacky premise gave way to a potent story about family and second chances.

Now, the question begs, if this extra gimmicky story has the power to go the distance, or if this show might be better being axed from the Saturday morning lineup.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

The story itself remains as emotionally resonant as you’d want it to with this second chapter. After our hero, Oliver, found out in issue #1 that he’s part cartoon — and his grandpa is basically Yosemite Sam — he was set upon a path to discover his weird, wacky roots. And as that journey continues with a road trip, Oliver and his grandpa, Pecos Peet, get lots of time to connect and bond. While his grandpa is the most cartoon-y cartoon, everything he facilitates is deeply, deeply poignant, exploring how families break apart for no good reason and how it’s often kids who are often left to sort through the rubble.

It’s a wholly strange but wonderful experience to see a cheesy 1940s cartoon-looking cowboy/miner getting so profoundly real, but then that’s the realization of the larger gimmick: it’s about finding new ways to disarm the reader and get them thinking about their own family and experiences. To approach old ideas and memories in a new and novel way, and invite the  reader to reexamine these big emotions when maybe they thought they’d have another experience entirely. It works really well to hit you in the heart no matter the nature of your own family situation.

Uncanny Valley #2

BOOM! Studios

At the same time, though, I think this second issue reveals another important layer. It’s not just about broken families and a new chance for fresh starts, but also very much about how families speak to something larger about the world itself. More specifically, there’s moments in this issue where Oliver gets to explore his cartoon lineage to make it out of sticky situations, and Peet has to explain to him that none of it makes sense because it’s all just toon logic. And I think that’s an idea we’re all decidedly more familiar with in recent years: the rules of the world are stupid and/or silly, and it’s often less about knowing what to do then believing the path forward is one of value, virtuosity, etc.

That if you’re going to make amends and rebuild your life/family, sometimes you’ve got to just believe in something outside your own purview. It’s not about blind faith or whatever, but rather recognizing that you don’t know or control the world, and you have to just hope and work toward a resolution that makes the most sense. And that takes trusting your loved ones, and recognizing that the role of family isn’t some mushy trope but a living, breathing organism that’s evolving in front of our very eyes under the weight of some rather massive socio-cultural shifts. It adds whole new layers to this book, and furthers surprises me with a wit and depth that you don’t find every day.

Uncanny Valley #2

BOOM! Studios

And so much of those added layers — facilitating some level or tinge of magic — was accomplished via the art. In issue #1, we got some decent moments about how the cartoon “world” works, and how that leaned into Looney Tunes-ian visuals and ideas to facilitate something really whimsical. In issue #2, then, we get far more evidence that demonstrates just how interesting and effective the cartoon stuff truly is in achieving the book’s end goals.

I continue to love the balance between the “real” world and the cartoon world — there’s some clear distinction, for sure, but just enough interplay to align things in a way that makes it all feel wholly more believable and organic process. The stuff with Oliver’s mom — who is busy trying to track down her son and father — is deeply serious and yet undercut with exaggerated sound effects for a process that typifies the way this back-and-forth or balancing act does so much for the book at-large. There’s also some other moments in the book, including a big-ish one with Oliver and Peet that I dare not spoil, that further blurs real and cartoon in some hugely effective ways. I think it speaks to a few different things — the story itself, of course — but also our own relationship with cartoons and even comics, the nature of collaboration in these visual mediums, and even the way we engage with the world and how that changes over time. (That last point is another vital plot point that’s explored in the early part of this issue.)

Uncanny Valley #2

BOOM! Studios

Regardless of what this approach is trying to facilitate, I think it’s done similar to how Fleecs’ storyline handles it — with a commitment and intensity that brings you deeper into the world. From there, you feel like you’re really teetering between these worlds as you’re trying to make heads or tails of it all (in the very best way, of course). That’s when all the big swings and other narrative surprises really land with their intended heft. The issue’s ending, especially, has such a powerful visual gag that proves this point, and it’s a tense but also silly moment that pulled me in like very few stories and scenes can because it commits to everything and maintains such a sturdy and powerful level of authorial intent and even curation. You can’t believe your eyes with Uncanny Valley, and that’s sort of the wonderful, wonderful point.

The end of issue #2 promises some big reveals for the rest of Uncanny Valley, including a possible antagonist and some more insight into just who wants Oliver (and why). Could it have anything to do with his dad? Are there going to be even more over-the-top dingo bad guys? And just why did Peet abandon his family only to come back now? I’m sure you’ll ponder those same questions (and likely more), but one thing is already pretty clear: Uncanny Valley is already a proper accomplishment and maybe my new favorite cartoon (that’s not SWAT Kats).

Uncanny Valley #2
‘Uncanny Valley’ #2 expertly turns up the big emotions and cartoon hijinks
Uncanny Valley #2
With new layers and a continued commitment, 'Uncanny Valley' is becoming a wonderful, reality-smashing family drama.
Reader Rating0 Votes
The art team expertly balances worlds and aesthetics to bring us into this unique tale.
There's new threads and ideas to explore as the book further grows and develops.
There's real heart and soul poured into the portrayal of this weird but relatable family.
If you can't fully lean into the gimmick, maybe this book ain't for you.
Buy Now

Join the AIPT Patreon

Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:

  • ❌ Remove all ads on the website
  • 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
  • 📗 Access to our monthly book club
  • 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
  • 💥 And more!
Sign up today

In Case You Missed It

Gotham by Gaslight: The Kryptonian Age #1's cover Gotham by Gaslight: The Kryptonian Age #1's cover

‘Gotham by Gaslight: The Kryptonian Age’ #1 veers away from Gotham

Comic Books

X-Men Monday #255 - The Jordan D. White X-It Interview X-Men Monday #255 - The Jordan D. White X-It Interview

X-Men Monday #255 – The Jordan D. White X-It Interview

Comic Books

EXCLUSIVE: 'Epitaphs from the Abyss' #3 and 'Cruel Universe' #2 scares up impressive creatives EXCLUSIVE: 'Epitaphs from the Abyss' #3 and 'Cruel Universe' #2 scares up impressive creatives

EXCLUSIVE: ‘Epitaphs from the Abyss’ #3 and ‘Cruel Universe’ #2 scares up impressive creatives

Comic Books

X-Men Monday Call for Questions: Jed MacKay & Ryan Stegman for 'X-Men' #1 X-Men Monday Call for Questions: Jed MacKay & Ryan Stegman for 'X-Men' #1

X-Men Monday Call for Questions: Jed MacKay & Ryan Stegman for ‘X-Men’ #1

Comic Books

Newsletter Signup