Toy Story #4

Since I enjoyed the movie, one of the big success stories of this summer’s cinema, I was looking forward to the new issue of Toy Story.

Toy Story #4

Toy Story #4
Cover by Nathan Watson

I found myself missing a few things. It was great to see Bo Peep again, but in the opening scene, I wondered where Mrs. Potato Head, so big a part of the movie, was. She appears soon, although her relationship with Mr. PH is a bit different. That’s one of the challenges of doing a licensed adaptation with original stories, of course. Keeping up with the main branch of development isn’t always possible. A bigger loss was Jessie and Bullseye, who are completely absent.

Like the film, the story opens with one of Andy’s fanciful play scenarios. Unlike the film, he’s still a little kid, in the fantasy land of comics where no one has to age. Like the film, there’s plenty of teamwork on view — only in a cartoony art style that is a pleasant difference from the computerized shine of the movie. The exaggeration suits the imagination on display.

The toys end up having a competition to decide who gets a kiss from Bo. Shame, that such retrograde gender roles are foregrounded. She’s the prize, after being the girl to be rescued, while all the boy toys fight over her. In contrast, Mrs. Potato Head (the only other female in sight) is a joke, there to be laughed at because she’s not blonde and conventionally shaped.

Weirdest of all, Bo starts to call Woody on the problems with this idea — but ends up telling him he has to win to keep her affection. There are some very mixed messages here, when they aren’t outright bad, so I can’t recommend this for kids. Of course, it’s all just a way to get the toys into action scenes, and I know that can’t be easy, but by spotlighting the biggest problem with the Toy Story franchise (and many other Pixar films, to be fair) — the gender imbalance and the lack of leadership roles for female characters — this comic winds up perpetuating it. I’m disappointed.

One Response to “Toy Story #4”

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