The Back to the Future movie franchise is a beloved part of popular culture. Marty McFly, Doc Brown, the flux capacitor, and a time travelling DeLorean are loved by those who lived in the 1980s but also by the generations that followed. Handed down on VHS, and eventually arriving on DVD and online streaming, the films continue to entertain. With the story never fading away into memory, IDW has capitalized on this and released a 5 issue limited comic series simply titled Back to the Future. Due to the comics’ popularity, the series will resume beyond its limited run and continue to delight old and possibly new fans of the franchise.
One of the delights of the Back to the Future miniseries is the involvement of Bob Gale. Gale was the scriptwriter on all three Back to the Future films. His hands-on approach to writing these comic scripts serves as a direct link to the original movies and provides a level of comfort for the reader. These stories aren’t coming from another writer. They are generated from the original writer who, along with screenwriter and director Robert Zemeckis, came up with the original storylines.
The comic series begins where the first Back to the Future story started, taking us into the past. This little vignette brings Marty and Doc Brown together for the first time. Narrated by Doc Brown—who still lives in the Wild West—he reminisces on his life in the 1980’s with his wife Clara Clayton and their two children. The first issue also explores Doc Brown’s life as a young scientist being wooed by government agencies to work for them. In issue #1, the short stories not only wet the appetite for upcoming issues but also provide the reader with the storytelling template. Using short stories throughout the miniseries was a smart move. It not only allows multiple storylines to run concurrently, but also opens the door for more creative voices to further the Back to the Future canon. Beyond Bob Gale, a number of comic writers have worked on the series. As well, multiple artists have been used, giving their own style and interpretation of the story and characters. With each short story having a different illustrator, this adds to the freshness of the series.
Another positive for the comic series is how it expands the roster by beloved secondary characters like George McFly, Lorraine, Biff, and Marty’s love interest Jennifer their own time in the sun. Aside from Biff, the other three have the benefit of being in stories with either Doc Brown or Marty. They don’t need a side story completely on their own. Biff, however, gets his own memorable tale. Time travelling in the DeLorean, an elderly Biff heads centuries into the past and has a run in with a dinosaur resembling a Jurassic Park style Velociraptor. The story is a real treat; we see how Biff will fight with anything, even a curious dinosaur.
In short, IDW’s Back to the Future miniseries is worth your while. The only caveat being you need to have seen the film trilogy first. Picking up issue #1 cold would be confusing beyond belief for those unfamiliar with the films. There is no origin story here; readers need to know their Back to the Future facts right from the get-go. But if you are one of those people, it is a recommendable read.