The previous Dirk Gently story arc, "The Fundamental Interconnectedness of All Kings," had a myriad plot threads that ranged from Egyptian gods to haunted cell phones to serial killers, and more. They resolved everything as best they could, but with so much going on, it was virtually impossible to do so without a bit of confusion. "A Spoon Too Short," on the other hand, is much more focused. It’s not as big and grandiose as "All Kings," but it’s also much easier to follow and get invested in. As a result, the conclusion, though smaller, is a lot more satisfying.
Of course, the issue is peppered with fun references to Douglas Adams’ other works, including a subtle one to The Salmon of Doubt, Adams’ final, unfinished Dirk Gently novel. More than just references, though, this issue—indeed, the whole arc, as it turns out—captures Adams’ spirit in a different way. One of the main characters of this story has been Madluck Biggun, a conservationist trying to protect rhinos from poachers in Africa. In fact, this cause was very close to Douglas Adams’ heart, as well, and there’s a message at the end from Save the Rhino International about the problem of poaching and what can be done about it.
The other major element throughout this story has been flashbacks to Dirk’s childhood. Drawn in a distinctly different style, we’ve seen young Svlad Cjelli getting into all sorts of odd situations that seemed to have little or nothing to do with the rest of the story. This issue finally brings all of that home, as well, though not in the way you might think. The whole thing has an odd, almost Twilight Zone-type feel to it, that I’m not entirely sure I understand. Still, it’s pretty interesting.
I’ve been pretty hard on this series from the beginning, mainly because I’m such a fan of Douglas Adams, and no matter how many references they include, this is not the work of Douglas Adams. That doesn’t mean it’s not still a good story, though. It’s strange and funny and weird, and I must admit that it’s been fun to read. I may not watch the upcoming Dirk Gently TV series that they’re promoting. I may not read the Dirk Gently stage play that’s advertised at the end. Still, all things considered, this is a solid comic and worth reading, both for Douglas Adams fans and non-fans alike.