WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Deathstroke/Yogi Bear #1 by Frank Tieri and Mark Texeria, on sale now.
The latest slew of DC/Hanna-Barbera crossovers have been released, giving readers the chance to see oddities like Huckleberry Hound fighting racist cops alongside John Stewart, or Tom Cat teaming up with Superman to stop aliens. But the wildest of the bunch is definitely Deathstroke/Yogi Bear #1. The issue is bonkers in the best way possible in that it doesn’t shy away from the cartoonish elements of the original cartoon source material, but manages to seamlessly incorporate it into the DC Universe.
The issue primarily focuses on Yogi Bear and his attempts to find his best buddy, Boo Boo. After a typical day of stealing picnic baskets and running from Ranger Smith, Yogi is shocked to find that Boo Boo has gone missing. To find him, Yogi decides to go with the most obvious solution: Hire Deathstroke the Terminator. It's such an escalation, but it works because everyone just rolls with it, including Deathstroke.
The story, titled “Jellystone Dark,” grounds the ridiculous and strange elements of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons into the DC Universe as just a matter of fact. After all, this is a world where an alien immigrant with every superpower, a ninja detective dressed as a bat and an immortal magical warrior descended from Greek mythology aren’t just pieces of the world, but the foundation of it. By making Slade comment on, but simultaneously embrace, the fact that Grape Ape is just a thing everyone has to deal with now keeps things moving. He's dealt with plenty of weird over the years, so a talking bear isn't that surprising.
Unlike some of the other entries in these crossovers, Yogi isn’t recast fully into the DC Universe. In the last batch of issues, Blue Falcon was a member of Batman Inc. and Speed Buggy was the result of a failed attempt to tap into the Speed Force. Even some of the other issues released alongside Deathroke/Yogi Bear choose to tweak their cartoon character of choice to make them fit more comfortably into the world of DC. This uses up precious time explaining the story instead instead of just embracing the weirdness inherent to the concept.
Yogi Bear is very much Yogi Bear. By making him just a part of a greater whole, the creators are able to expand not just the cartoon universe, but the DC Universe as well. They don’t need to justify Yogi, he’s just a talking animal in a world full of them. Writer Frank Tieri and artist Mark Texeira are able to spend more time on the story instead of just the setup. It opens up avenues and storytelling potential for the comic, and that’s how we get to the two of them on a motorcycle together fighting zombie animals.
Upon arriving at Jellystone Park and fighting off the horde of zombified woodland creatures, the duo (along with a liberated Ranger Smith) make their way to a secret lab run by the Creepleys, another pair of Hanna-Barbera characters who primarily appeared on The Flintstones and Laff-A-Lympics. As it turns out, the Creepleys are in the middle of converting hundreds of animals into a monstrous army for H.I.V.E., making this even more of a DC story.
Deathstroke/Yogi Bear #1 is reminiscent of stories like “Zombie Night At The Gotham Aquarium” from Hitman, an unabashedly fun and ridiculous issue. That’s the beauty of the DC Universe -- because so much has happened before, practically anything can happen going forward. Pieces of the universe can be used in different ways, whether that’s H.I.V.E. being utilized as the Creepleys' benefactors or their use of Orful Octopus as a monster to fight Deathstroke.
It’s over the top and zany, but the issue never feels forced or without weight. Yogi is a well-meaning bumbler who manages to drag the best out of a reluctant Deathstroke. At the end of the story, when Yogi pays him for his services with a massive supply of picnic baskets (because what else would Yogi Bear have?), Slade Wilson doesn’t vow revenge. He opens a basket and enjoys a sandwich.
It's true to both universes. It doesn’t twist one of them to fit the other, instead just presenting them as part of the same cloth, with all the same potential. It’s DC letting the constant continuity fixes go to rest for a moment so that Yogi Bear can team up with Deathstroke to fight zombie animals.
DC has completely lost it, and we’ve never been happier.