the Little Red Reviewer

Buckaroo Banzai in Return of the Screw

Posted on: November 23, 2010

 Graphic Novel November continues with something action packed, laugh out loud funny, and just plain bizarre. It’s like the 80’s are happening all over again!! 

One of the strangest movies ever to hit the silver screen in the 80’s, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension was a science fiction action comedy romance featuring a rock star surgeon (seriously, he had a rock band, and was a neurosurgeon. Often on the same day) battling aliens and saving the earth. I’d like to think if this movie was made today, mainstream audiences would be a little more accepting. The movie tanked, but to this day has a rabid cult following. And really, do Buckaroo Banzai fans come in any flavor other than rabid? 

After years of failed sequel plans, and bouncing tv show ideas from network to network, Moonstone Books released Return of the Screw, written by Buckaroo’s original creator, Earl Mac Rauch. The plot of the graphic novel, blessfully, is simpler than the overly complex plot of the 1984 film. 

When Lady Gilette pays the Banzai Institute for Biomedical Research a visit, everyone warns Buckaroo it’s probably a trap. He knows she’s no good, but Buckaroo can’t ignore the information she gives him about Lizardo still being alive and how he plans to hijack the planet. Lizardo is a Lectroid, and  locked in a Cold War-esque speech pattern, he goes by the name John Whorfin. All Lectroids on Earth always have the first name of John, like nearly everything, it’s part of the joke. 

I spent most of Return of the Screw  randomly shouting out “John Big-booty!” and giggling, but no, John it’s-big-boo-TAY doesn’t make an appearance.

 As Lizardo’s powers grow, Buckaroo and his team of Hong Kong Cavaliers know they are running out of time if they are going to save the planet. They might have a jet car and some of the best brains on the planet, but is it enough to defeat Lezardo’s alien technology? 

Fans of Buckaroo Banzai will instantly recognize some of their favorite characters, and should get a kick out of the newest Cavalier, the gunslinging, trenchcoat wearing Happy, who looks exactly like Jack White. 

The plot starts out pretty tight, but about half way through it loses focus and eventually just falls apart. Anyone who enjoyed the Buckaroo Banzai movie will get a kick out of Return of the Screw, but if you’ve said “what the hell is she talking about?” more than once during this article, this might not be comic book for you. 

The best part of the graphic novel is all the “stuff” at the end. Artwork,alternate endings interviews, the story behind attempts to get a Buckaroo Banzai TV show going. Is Return of the Screw a must have? Certainly not. Was I thrilled to see a copy at the library? Fo sho.

4 Responses to "Buckaroo Banzai in Return of the Screw"

I’m one of those people that actually liked the Buckaroo Banzai movie. I won’t say I understood everything that was going on or was even able to follow the plot but, hey, it was fun.

Now I’m going to wander over to my library’s web page and see if they have this book. Then I can relive the 80’s for a bit!


the first time I saw it, my response was WTF?? but after the 2nd or 3rd watching, i really got into it! just don’t ask me to explain anything that happened in the movie.


The dude on the front cover you feature looks very like Adam Ant. Do you suppose that was intentional?


“Character is what you are in the dark!” I love “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension”!!


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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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