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Comic Book / Dastardly & Muttley

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Dastardly & Muttley is a DC Comics publication, written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Mauricet based on the Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines cartoon series, featuring U.S. Air Force officers Lieutenant Colonel Richard "Dick" Atcherly and his navigator Captain Dudley "Mutt" Muller. When Unliklistan is doomed by its leader's attempt to use the unstable radioactive element Unstabilium 239 to power a reactor, (someone pushed the wrong button) the General sends Atcherly and Muller to retrieve it before the wrong hands reach it. However, things go horribly wrong.

Dastardly & Muttley provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: The Senate committee chairman calls Senator Gruber "Goober" at one point.
  • Ace Pilot: Supposedly both Dick and Zee, through we don't get to see much of it before they both start getting affected by Unstabilium.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Dick Dastardly and Muttley are renamed Richard "Dick" Atcherly and Dudley "Mutt" Muller. Zilly became Captain L. Zabarnowski a.k.a. Zee and Klunk became Lieutenant K. Longman a.k.a. Uncle.
  • Adaptational Badass: Even at their very worst, the protagonists are leagues more competent than the original Vulture Squadron.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Dastardly and Muttley are American heroes this time instead of villains with no specified nationality.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Dick treats the crew, especially Muller, with a lot more respect and kindness than Dastardly did in the show. At first anyway.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Agent Perkins says "This lagomorphic lout has eaten his last lettuce!".
    • This is also used as a sign that Dick is becoming more of a cartoon character. He can't stop alliterating!
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: Exposure to Unstabilium is slowly turning Dick from a by-the-book heroic pilot into a cartoon supervillain and make a competent, stoic Zee randomly screams in terror. In other words, they're transforming into Dick and Zilly from the cartoon.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The War Pig is destroyed, and the world starts to return to normal. But Dick, Zee, Mutt, and Uncle are caught up in the explosion of the War Pig's death, transformed completely into cartoon characters and forgetting who they used to be, disappearing. Mutt's family has forgotten him completely, his eldest son remembering him only vaguely after watching Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines
  • Body Horror: As the world becomes more and more cartoony, Toon Physics starts creeping in, but incomplete, resulting in things that wouldn't look out of place in a Junji Ito manga.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Related to Body Horror above, as people affected by Toon Physics get hurt in a way that should be gory, but there is no blood. One guy gets a hole shot through his head and not only it's perfectly clean, with no blood, bones or brain matter visible, but he somehow is still alive.
  • Brown Note Being / Walking Wasteland: Non-lethally, but the characters eventually realize that not only is the Pig One spreading the Unstabilium wave, but those affected by it can also spread it just by proximity - Dick and Mutt most of of all due to being hit directly. At least some of the disasters they walked into happened just because they were nearby, which the General is able to use this to, at first, pin the blame for everything on them. While Zee was exposed directly to War Pig One at some point offscreen, Uncle is eventually affected just from being around her, Dick and Mutt for too long.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Professor Dubious, formerly "Dubois", went from an average-looking, elderly academic, to a Ming the Merciless-style Mad Scientist, complete with robes and Fu Manchu moustache.
  • Composite Character: Zee's Girliness Upgrade, and the accent with which she cries "Hayulp!" means her cartoon persona seems as much Penelope Pitstop as Zilly.
  • Curse Cut Short: Captain Dudley Muller while explaining how Lieutenant Colonel Atcherly changed after the unstable element incident.
    Dudley: I mean I know you always used to talk like you had a stick up your—
    Richard: Balderdash! Complete and utter codswallop!
    Dudley: Yeah, you see?
  • Darker and Edgier: The quest to stop a spectacularly persistent carrier pigeon becomes the quest to stop an Attack Drone that is spewing out a mysterious element that is applying Cartoon Physics on the world at the cost of mankind's sanity and body integrity.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: The Unstabilium is making Richard Atcherly more like one of these. By Issue #3, he even gets the iconic mustache.
  • Decomposite Character: Based on the notion that all Hanna-Barbera Beyond comics belong in the same verse, Dick Dastardly was decomposed into Richard D'Astardlieu, a pianist-turned-racer; and Richard Atcherly, a Lieutenant Colonel flying for the U.S. Air Force. Muttley was decomposed into D'Astardlieu's dog sidekick and a radioactive mix-up of Captain Dudley Muller and his pet dog.
  • Disappeared Dad: After the end Mutt is this to his son, and as a side effect of the explosion nearly all memories of him vanish from his family to.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Muttley attempts to sabotage the capture and neutralization of Pig One at the very last minute because he's afraid that he'll die and leave his family to fend for themselves without him.
  • Girliness Upgrade: Due to the effects of Unstabilium, Zee not only starts randomly screaming in fear but also develops an exaggerated hourglass figure.
  • Gender Flip: Zilly's counterpart is a woman.
  • Green Rocks: Unstabilium-239 is the linchpin of this series. It's a strange, glowy material that warps anything (or anyone) nearby into a wacky caricature of itself and makes Toon Physics possible. It is revealed to be connected to mysterious Elder Gods that happen to look like classic cartoon characters. Most of the main characters suffer from its effects:
    • Dick becomes a stereotypical mustache-twirling villain.
    • Mutt becomes a dog/man hybrid.
    • Zee becomes both more feminine and more of a scaredy cat.
    • Uncle becomes an unintelligible genius mechanic who goes from being the most compassionate member of the team to the one who ultimately puts the mission first as Zee was want to do.
    • General Harrier ends up turning into a cartoon raccoon, the senators on a hearing he attended into horde of angry monkeys and the vice-president into a fox.
  • Groin Attack: Richard receives one from Zee in Issue #5.
  • Hauled Before A Senate Sub Committee: General Harrier is pulled before a Senate committee in order to explain the entire mess around the Unstabilium-239.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: General Harrier is ultimately killed by his own mercenaries after they're offered better pay by the President.
  • Idiot Savant: The effects of Pig One seem to turn Uncle into a moron, but once he takes up his role as Klunk, he becomes the team's designated inventor/engineer like he was in the original show.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: This is the best defense Harrier can offer to taking the substance out of its mountain in the first place, and for failing to provide proper security afterwards, althoguh it's made clear this wasn't entirely his fault due to the Green Rocks nature of it all.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to other Garth Ennis works, this is far less profane and gory, though it still has elements of black comedy.
  • Madness Mantra: As they crash into the War Pig, Dick's repeated cries of "Stop the Pig One!" slowly morph into "Stop the pigeon".
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The fifth issue has the characters musing as to whether Unstabilium-239 is really a corrupted isotope created by eldritch gods or if it just drove its original discoverers mad to the point that they imagined it was the case.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Zee asks this after shooting, Uncle, Dick and Mutt. Fortunately, the gun had just changed to firing suction-cup darts.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In Issue #1, while trying to maneuver his jet plane, Atcherly makes a "klunk" sound. Klunk is one of the pilots under Dastardly's command in the cartoon.
    • Also in the first issue, Muller gives the famous Muttley laugh.
    • The cover for Issue #2 features the two main characters and a pigeon. Dastardly's goal in the cartoon was to stop a pigeon. Furthermore, "War Pig One" might seem like a random name... until one realizes "Pig One" is an anagram for pigeon. Atcherly completes his transformation into Dastardly when his chant of "Stop the Pig One", morphs into "Stop the pigeon".
    • In Issue #2, the General punches Dick through the phone, as he often did in the cartoon.
  • Named by the Adaptation: While nameless in the cartoon, the General is known in this comic as T. W. Harrier.
  • No Historical Figures Were Harmed: This version of Dick Dastardly is named Richard "Dick" Atcherly, after Air Marshal Sir Richard Llewellyn Roger Atcherley, who died in 1970.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Dick describes himself and "an officer and a gentleman".
  • Only Sane Man: While Pig One altered his body, Muller's mind is relatively intact whereas Atcherly, who looks normal on the surface, slowly descends into cartoon supervillainy.
    • Senator Gruber is the first to point out that a reactor powered by "Unstabilium-239", built by "Professor Dubious", in a country called "Unliklistan", under the patronage of "King Ahuk-Ahuk-Harem", doesn't make a whole lot of sense, causing the rest of the Senate to realise that there is a larger problem than a single rogue drone.
  • Our Presidents Are Different: The original President becomes a President Lunatic who kills a senator with a giant mallet and ends up dying when he runs into his daughter's harp. His successor is far more collected despite being a cartoon fox.
  • Private Military Contractor: General Harrier keeps some on standby, and tries to use them to kill Atcherly, Mutt, Zee and Uncle when they uncover all the evidence linking him to the Unstabilium. Unfortunately for him, the Vice-President (recently become the President) made the mercenaries a better offer, and they kill Harrier instead.
  • Qurac: Unliklistan, which gets blown up at the start of the story. According to the Senate, the country seemingly sprouted out of nowhere overnight and was likely created due to the effects of Unstabilium-239 (which would also justify the goofy name and offensive sterotypes).
  • Race Lift: Klunk's counterpart is an African-American Lieutenant named K. Longman and nicknamed "Uncle".
  • Reaching Between the Lines: General Harrier punches Dick through the telephone. While it's not unusual in the cartoon this comic is based on, the comic portrays it as an effect of the Unstabilium 239 and General Harrier is horrified.
  • Reality Warper: Dick displays a limited ability to "embrace the horror" and control the effects of the Unstabilium around him, at the cost of slipping into the "Dastardly" persona.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Despite being transformed into a cartoon fox, vice-president Clooney after becoming the president is still the most level-headed member of the government and military in the story - he puts to work a plan to save the day, stating he has no desire to live in a world where international politics mean chasing a chicken named Vladimir around a barnyard..
    • Senator Gruber, both for Spotting the Thread about Unliklistan and for his attitude towards Harrier's role in the whole mess.
  • Ret-Gone: The fate of the protagonists - they end completely forgotten by the world and seem to have been sent to the world of the original cartoon, becoming fully their counterparts.
  • Setting Update: Rather than transform into 1:1 versions of their television counterparts during the last issue, Dastardly, Muttley, Zilly, and Klunk retain their modern-day air force gear, respective genders, and ethnicities.
  • Shared Universe: Word of God says the comic's events take place in the same verse as the other Hanna-Barbera Beyond comic series. By extension, this would mean that there are two versions of Dick Dastardly existing in it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Mutt points out that Dick has "started talkin' like Buck Rogers just foiled [Dick's] cunnin' schemes yet again".
    • While under the effect of Unstabilium, Captain L. "Zee" Zabarnowski screams "Hayulp" like Penelope Pitstop does.
    • The Vice-President's name is "Clooney", who ends up looking like a cartoon fox. He even ordered his staff to call him "Fantastic Mr. President".
    • The beings responsible for Unstabilium-239 are various Looney Tunes and Disney characters combined with Lovecraft entities, such as "Buggoth", "Scoob-Niggurath" and "Cthluto".
    • The President starts talking like Foghorn Leghorn, with an occasional dash of Yosemite Sam. Agent Perkins completes the reference as he starts to sound like Elmer Fudd.
    • In Issue #3, a coyote chases a roadrunner through the Oval Office.
    • In Issue #4, a dog, duck and two mice stroll past Capitol Hill.
    • When the Unstabilium starts really messing with the world, a scene in a zoo shows a bear and a snake having grabbed a toddler, and a panda leaping into the air and kicking its keeper.
    • In the final issue when the effects of the Unstabilium begin wearing off, a news report shows a dead red-haired mermaid being fished out of the Potomac.
    • Mutt's eldest son has a Superman costume.
    • After Professor Dubois is corrupted by the Unstabilium, he ends up looking like Ming the Merciless, something the Senators investigating him reference.
    • A great white shark caught in War Pig One's contrail of Unstabilium ends up looking decidedly familiar to Hanna-Barbera fans.
  • Significant Anagram: If you rearrange "Pig One", you get "Pigeon", as in the objective of the original cartoon.
  • The Speechless: Over the course of the series, Mutt gradually loses his ability to speak, until at the very end, he can only communicate in barks, tearfully barking at Dick and holding up a picture of his family to try to get him to turn back.
  • Speech Bubbles: Mostly played straight. That is, until "Dick" attempts to drop a Precision F-Strike, whereupon "Mutt" physically grabs his speech bubble to obscure the swear!
  • Spotting the Thread: Senator Gruber is the first one to notice the oddities of all the names involved (Professor Dubious etc.) not to mention how he can't remember ever hearing of the country of Unliklistan in the past.
  • Talkative Loon: One of the things that can happen with Unstabilium exposure. Agent Perkins spends much of his appearances increasingly deranged and spouting nonsense that nobody around him can figure out. This eventually starts happening to Dick, especially towards the end where his dedication to his big plan to save the world is stymied by the fact that nothing he says makes sense to anyone any more.
  • Tempting Fate: Richard Atcherly and Dudley Muller find themselves surrounded by cops right after Atcherly declares "There's no stopping us now!".
  • Title Drop: During an escape, Richard screams "Dastardly and Muttley, coming through." Dudley wonders who Dastardly and Muttley are.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Dick becomes ruder and meaner under the effects of the Unstabilium, but retains enough of his original morality for Mutt's desperate pleas to turn back to affect him.
  • Unusual Euphemism: When Atcherly first calls the General, he reminds him of a time that he and Muller beat up a paparazzo who caught the General with two prostitutes in his stars and stripes boxers. He couches it in euphemisms to make it sound like they saved his life in an air battle, while the General sweats bullets and Muller snickers.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Each chapter's title is a song lyric.
    • Chapter 1: And I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues—"I Guess That's Why They Call It the Blues" by Elton John.
    • Chapter 2: And You Ain't No Friend Of Mine—"Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley.
    • Chapter 3: I'll Be Gone When the Morning Comes—"Bat Out Of Hell" by Meatloaf.
    • Chapter 4: Highway to the Danger Zone—"Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins.
    • Chapter 5: In an Octopus's Garden, in the Shade—"Octopus's Garden" by The Beatles.
    • Chapter 6: You Build Me A Thingumabob—The Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines theme song.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The senators, who are last seen chasing Harrier out of the Capitol building after they're turned into monkeys.