Work from an original mind like Bob Gale, especially to the seminal “Back To The Future” series comes with a lot of expectation. What he makes clear is that this is not “Back To The Future IV”. “Back To The Future: The Heavy Collection” [Bob Gale & John Barber/IDW/312pgs] is simply supplementary stories to explain external structure of events that have already happened within the films. Without giving too much away which would spoil the surprise, Gale focuses on certain aspects and motivations that fuel many of the characters including Doc, Marty, Jennifer, Needles and others. Biff and his family structure are more related to the wayside interestingly enough but that is the structure of the villains in this world. Needles is the only one (as played by “Flea” in “BTTF II”) that seems to be an unneeded foil. He is just like any other bully whose extreme mess doesn’t match the brutish texture of Biff. Biff seemed like he always has ulterior forces pushing him into this life of the failed conqueror but he had ambition. Needles comes off as being just jealous instead of having anything more of a mythic structure. Doc, who was always a rich character anyway despite any eccentricities, benefits the most from this backstory since there is so much time with him unaccounted for. The story of the aspect behind why his house burned down, His infrastructure base with the government and the political incurrence of what time travel could mean brings together a moral question that Doc Brown has always debated. The other is the aspect of the fact that he found fulfillment in life in the Old West but also the ideal of getting back into the time travel game at Clara’s request. This shows a different motivation through and through with the scientist. Like all scientific progressions, it didn’t end up in the train we saw at the end of “BTTF III”. The full implementation of that story is actually still left in the ether though an adventure which reflects into the 2030s is actually shown and explained. The aspect that is reflective in “BTTF” and Gale’s writing is that events are cyclical and certain metaphors and family structures recur which definitely gives the stories the sense of the mythic. Some of the stories work without question. Some, even though they are brief, like Doc having to mend a momentary lapse between Lorraine and George is interesting though their story doesn’t figure as much into these volumes. “Back To The Future: The Heavy Collection” is an interesting continuation of a story from the creator himself which is interesting since the agreement between both Robert Zemeckis and Gale is that the films cannot be rebooted or remade until they are gone and buried. It is will be interesting to see if a “BTTF IV” ever comes to pass but until then we have these stories within the canon.
By Tim Wassberg