Rally-Ho, comics fans! It’s 4CB time again, and I’ve picked the best out of my buy pile this week. This week was a tough one. I was going to do a Best/Worst, but there really wasn’t a Worst. Only a “I liked this one less than that one.” A quick nod to Marvel’s Champions #1. Written by Mark Waid, this is Marvel’s newest attempt at a teen hero team. For whatever reason, teen heroes don’t seem to last long in the Marvel U., and I’m a big fan of teen heroes. The danger and the stakes seem to be higher with teen heroes, and let’s face it. Adult super-villains who have no qualms about killing kids, even the super-powered variety, are bad news. In a nutshell, Ms. Marvel is the last to leave the Avengers, and she’s tired of the super community making the mess but not hanging around to clean up. So she finds Nova and Spider-Man, who recruit Amadeus Cho as the Hulk, and form a team to take on all the injustices plaguing us today, from human trafficking to sometimes-excessive police violence. I think it’ll be good with Waid at the helm, but Marvel has had a tendency lately to get overly political with their books, one reason I’ve dropped a lot of their titles.
Yes, I know comics mirror our world, and yes I know that good stories reflect that. I was a huge fan of the X-Men in the ’80s, when racism was still plenty active, and the Green Lantern/Green Arrow books, which were entirely political driven. But Marvel seems to have gone out of its way to focus on one side, casting the other as the enemy, subtlety be damned. Both sides of the political spectrum read comics. This wholly conservative comics reader is proof of that. So if Marvel wants to alienate one group of readers to appease another, it’s their game and they can play as they will. But I don’t have to hang around for it.
Anyhoo, Champions will hopefully be an entertaining book. I dig Mark Waid and have high hopes for it. But if it goes sideways, I’ve still got DC Comics and …
The best part about Future Quest is that it’s completely reader friendly. You don’t have to know a thing about Jonny Quest, or Space Ghost, or Birdman, or Inter-Nation, or any of the other Hanna-Barbera properties that are showing up in the series. But if you do, oh man, it’s like a delicious dessert. DC is truly turning the Hanna-Barbera Universe into a shared one, and writer Jeff Parker is pulling threads and tweaking tweaks to connect everything. It’s beautiful. It’s doubtful that all of the HB properties will show up, as Scooby-Doo, the Flintstones, and still others are being handled in their own books. But if you’re thinking of checking this thing out, let me give you some background.
A galactic threat called Omnikron is devastating worlds across the galaxy, hopping to planet to planet in its mission of destruction. Space Ghost, the Galaxy Trio, the Space Rangers, and the Herculoids have done everything they can to slow it down, but not before parts of it begin arriving on Earth via vortices. Its goal is to reform itself into its bigger and complete self, and destroy Earth, but standing in their way, at least thus far, are Team Quest, Birdman, Inter-Nation, Frankenstein Jr., and in this issue, two more heroes join the fray. And the terrorist organization F.E.A.R has its evil thumbs in the pie, hoping to control a creature that may not be able to be controlled.
THE FOLLOWING MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Shared universes are becoming all the rage in comics. Check out IDW’s Revolution event that completely reimagines the Hasbro properties, and brings them under one sky for further proof. Future Quest led the way, and the series keeps getting better with each issue as Parker continues to update the original material. Parker pulls off the daunting task of being able to keep the premise of the old shows without having to alter anything so radically that it strayed away from the classic Hanna-Barbera innocence. It was great to see a modernization of those series with new ideas for the current generation without poisoning them with racial and gender prejudices from the sixties. I’m talking about two new heroes into the Mightor and The Impossibles universes, namely Ty, a friend of Jonny and Hadji that they met in issue one who takes up the role of Mightor in this issue, and Esme Santos, reporter of Timeatron Online. Ty’s appearance to the story seemed out of place at first, but in this issue we see the seeds that Parker has planted bear fruit, and how this adventure with Team Quest has changed him. As for Esme, the use of having her at ground zero further connects the properties, as we discover through her that F.E.A.R. was responsible for the accident that created the Impossibles, and that she is one herself.
And if you thought the story itself was great, then what more can be said for the amazing work of Evan Shaner and Craig Rousseau when they are highlighted by the fantastic color palettes of Hi-Fi & Jeremy Lawson? Granted, I’m missing Jordie Bellaire’s work in this issue, but Hi-Fi and Shaner preserve the classic animation with incredible realism, reminiscent of cliffhanger thrillers from that era, all surrounded within a cinematic panorama that Jonny Quest gave to an unexpected audience. While it does tone down as the story progresses, the brightness of those tones serve to maintain the history but at the same, allows for a progression for new readers. Then they end the issue with a cliffhanger. What better than this to tempt us with more brilliance – a classic end to a great story.
One final note. Jeff Parker is playing the long game here. The reader needs to exercise patience as Parker weaves his web. If the story seems long or drawn out, Parker has a plan, seen by the extra stories in each issue where he brings in other Hanna-Barbera characters to play in his ever-expanding sandbox. All will be revealed, and when it hits the fan, it will be glorious.
This is one of three books I wait for with bated breath every month. Next month cannot come soon enough, so let us burst into battle with a spirited Mightor! and be ready to greet it with a rousing “Rally-ho!”
And that’s a wrap, Gang! Thanks for checking in. Seriously, if you’re not reading Future Quest, go have a look. It’s one of those books that reminds us why we read comics in the first place. See ya next week!