The heart of “Rick and Morty” is the bond between the titular characters and their reliance on one another to survive. This issue, the opening chapter of a new story, aims right at that heart by tearing them apart before using the rest of the story to bring them back together to avert that very destiny. It’s convoluted in a fun way, as the plot folds in on itself and writer Zac Gorman balances the action and the relationship with dialogue that has a few clunky moments but captures the voices of the characters well overall. CJ Cannon and Ryan Hill do an excellent job of maintaining visual continuity with the show with clean designs and just enough detail to draw in the reader’s eye.
The issue embraces the anything-can-happen nature of the show, opening with an ominous plot by a helmeted villain before jumping to the present and murdering one of the main cast members by page five. Gorman really ups the schmaltz factor on Rick and Morty, which is fun and serves to enhance the awful nature of Rick’s death and Morty’s tear-filled exit through Rick’s dimensional portal. Cannon and Hill give the villain a hideous, malformed design and deeper color saturation, which makes the violence feel as foreign as its presence in their dimension. This is backed up when Rick and Morty arrive in the Rick-less dimension; their bright color schemes seem out of place in the autumnal and rusted tones of their surroundings.
Gorman has fun with Rick and Morty’s character games, which is where a lot of the series’ comedy comes from. Rick is appropriately self-absorbed and snarky and fans can hear Morty’s pleading, reedy voice in each panel. There are a few moments in the issue where the writer spends too many panels on a single reference or joke, which can feel like padding or treading water. This may also be a result of the panel designs, which are very large and minimal. This is great but does strip away traction from the word balloons. Part of this may also be because these are reference jokes instead of comedy evolving from the characters’ personalities, so it feels a little out of sorts for the series.
Rick seems to have an idea of what is happening but no idea how to fix it. Rick and Morty work best when they are forced to react to their surroundings, and putting them on the run is a great way to deliver in that category. The villain’s reveal at the end of the issue uses the multiversal concept of the series to tease fans toward the next installment. With the pair stuck in a Rick-less dimension (which happens to be the source of their reason for flight), they’ll have to face familiar people who — judging from appearances — might have a good reason for seeing Rick dead. It’s a reveal that shows Gorman’s understanding of the “Rick and Morty” universe and how the close relationships between Rick, Morty and the family can make the impact of the action much greater.
Fans of the show should definitely pick up “Rick and Morty” #7, which is the opening chapter of a new story that has a deft understanding of what makes the series great and delivers the type of fun that is found every week on Adult Swim.