Bill & Ted’s Most Triumphant Return, written by Bryan Lynch and illustrated by Jerry Gaylord, is the latest installment in the Bill & Ted franchise. Most Triumphant Return begins right after the end of Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (an underrated film, I must add). Five seconds after, to be exact. Wyld Stallyns has won the battle of the bands, and they have set in motion the glorious future we’ve seen bits and pieces of in the films. The story is set in motion when our heroes realize they can’t save the world with one song; Wyld Stallyns needs to release a full album. As Bill puts it, it was easier becoming saviors of society when it was a future thing, rather than a present thing.
The great thing about Bill and Ted, from their films, is that they were genuine, good dudes. That certainly continues here. They go to the future to learn the secret of their next song, but instead find that Chuck De Nomolos, the man who tried to kill them in Bogus Journey, is having a terrible time in high school. He is unpopular, particularly because he is already being blamed for his future actions. In an effort to turn things around, they try to befriend him and teach him how to talk to girls. But it turns out teen De Nomolos is also out to kill them because of what the world has been telling him he is. Totally bogus!
After some twists and turns, the adventure changes to a rescue mission with Bill and Ted trying to save their kids, Little Ted and Little Bill. De Nomolos, after learning the power of rock from Bill and Ted, changes the past and makes a timeline where he is the supreme leader and the kids never exist. In this timeline, Princesses Elizabeth and Joanna have to return to their own time and never marry Bill and Ted. Unfortunately, this means that they remain woefully underdeveloped here. Thankfully, the back-issue mini adventure “Going Medieval” offers some insight in their roles in the overall Bill and Ted story. (The other back-issue mini adventures feature several recognizable names, including Ryan North, Ian McGinty, and Christopher Hastings.) In the end, all is set right and the excellent future we’ve been waiting for is on track again.
Compared to the two films (I can’t speak for the other installments in the franchise nor the breakfast cereal), the humor is a bit cleaner and sweeter, making it appropriate for a younger audience. There is, of course, a “69” joke thrown in there and mild references to “making babies,” and some parents may not like that the jokes are similar to the movies, but these will likely go right over the heads of the younger readers anyway.
All in all, this is a solid addition to the Bill & Ted franchise. It hits the right mix of humor, sweetness, and time travel adventure. The book should appeal to folks who are already familiar with the franchise regardless of age, and particularly with preteens who like a goofy adventure, regardless of whether or not they have seen the movies. Best of all, Most Triumphant Return stays true to the original sentiments of the Bill & Ted ethos: Be excellent to each other, and party on dudes!
Bill and Ted’s Most Triumphant Return
by Brian Lynch
Art by Jerry Gaylord
Publisher Age Rating: 9+