Saturday, August 2, 2008

It's All Been Done Before(Or At The Same Time)

Remember how Deep Impact and Armageddon came out around the same time? It was weird.

Even weirder, there are four series this year about Golden Age(World War II era) superheroes finding themselves in the present. Even if the same guy is on two of the books(not Dynamic Man, though he, too, is in two of the series), it is still kind of overkill to have four books sharing the same premise. The only saving grace is that all four are actually interesting and worthy of being rated on a rarely updated blog. So here we go:

4. There has to be one in last place, but don't let that mislead you. I have rededicated myself to cutting the chaff out of my pull list so I no longer keep with a series to the end even if it reaches Countdown level of crap.

Avengers/Invaders is at the bottom because it has yet to wow me, even though it has such potential with a timeslipped Captain America in a world after Cap was assassinated. Everyone comments on Cap's "return", but no one has yet confronted Cap with the revelation that he is now deceased and the circumstances behind it. A fight between Namors aside, the only other thing I truly loved about the series is commando Bucky hiding explosives in his leg. Hardcore.

3. Project Superpowers is a great story about superhero The Fighting Yank getting duped into trapping his comrades in a mystical urn to prevent the spread of evil, only to (surprise!) leave the US unprotected against the former hero D(ynamic)-Man and his Dynamic Family subverting the government and pretty much turning things to shit. He finally releases his former colleagues when he's in his nineties and they are all slightly annoyed about being trapped for sixty years and missing out on the lives of their love ones.

Not only does this series bring back the awesomely costumed Black Terror, but the superheroes are not awakening to the modern 'real' world, but one where the bodies of dead soldiers are used as zombie troopers and the Dynamic Family have become the ruling class of the United States. It's more action-oriented and seems to be the setup for future books, because they have a lot of work ahead of them.

2. I was surprised at how much I liked Number of the Beast. Having read Wildstorm Armageddon and Dark Revelations, I was prepared for another setup miniseries but the story of the Golden Age Wildstorm heroes who went missing after the bombing of Hiroshima is not only messed up, but also well-paced and intriguing.

The return of The High is what hooked me into this series, but just the personality and background details put into these characters who pretty much debuted in this series is amazing. It is still a setup series, but a well written one, and if more crossover tie-ins were as good as NOTB, we probably wouldn't complain about them as much. Just a wee less.

1. J. Michael Stracynski's The Twelve is the top dog of reawakened WWII heroes stories because (1) it's just a better story and (2) it's the B-league of heroes, the guys people outside their city of operations wouldn't recognize. While Captain America and the Invaders were storming Nazi headquarters, these guys raided some Count's laboratory and were put into suspended animation for their troubles. Upon waking up, they're recruited by the military to promote government-sponsored heroes and have to deal with the lives they slept through.

The best thing, to me, about the series is the way Stracynski incorporates the original Golden Age stories of these characters, especially when some of them don't make a lick of sense, and drama pulled from life in the 40's. Again, it's the complexity of the characters that makes this such a good series. Add to that a murder mystery and another Dynamic Man appearance(who must have been a real asshole in his original series) and you get the Best Golden Age Heroes Reawakening Series.


Drew said...

Hey Jon!
Nice wrap-up of these four series. NUMBER OF THE BEAST is the only one of the four that I followed, so I'm glad to see it wasn't lowest-ranked on your list.
Some things seem to go in cycles. Why are we having some WWII nostalgia now? Maybe it's because it was the last "good war"?
see ya!

John Foley said...

As confusing as this may be, I believe that we're seeing two different Dynamic Men. Both are arrogant androids with the "traditional" set of powers, but they come from different superhero continuities.