Pop Culture Gadabout
Sunday, March 19, 2006
      ( 3/19/2006 09:11:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"WE'RE BRIGADIERS! 'IMPOSSIBLE' ISN'T IN OUR VOCABULARIES!" "THEN HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT IT MEANS?" - The second half of Giffen & DeMatteis' two-part Hero Squared spin-off, Planetary Brigade, was released this week, and as with the first, the guys have fun playing with their alternate universe supergroup. This time out, we get introduced to the one character missing from ish one, the chair-bound super-genius Mister Brilliant, a fat and rather cravenly type who (of course) owns and operates a comic book shop. The story opens on Mister B. as he's harassed by some skeptical kids who came looking for his autograph ("Look, fat-boy . . .We don't even read comic books!" one of 'em states, adding injury to insult,) but it quickly turns deadly as a horde of winged demons with very Wally Wood-like heads conveniently start appearing down the street. They're coming from the human portal we met in the first issue, and though we're never given a full accounting of his origin, it's somehow connected to a larger malevolent force known as the Entirety. It's up to sorceress supreme, the Third Eye, to finally shut Henry O' Brien, the living inter-dimensional doorway, down – at a cost to the unfortunate Henry.

Giffen & DeMatteis turn more serious with Third Eye's intervention, though some of the emotion that they attempt to wring from the situation appears to contradict what's already occurred. The guy who was so diligently attempting to kill himself in issue one is suddenly horrified by the fact that he may need to be destroyed to keep demons from entering our world? I know (as this season's Sopranos debut so memorably dramatized) that would-be suicides often change their mind at the last minute, but some acknowledgement of this dynamic would've been nice. As it stands, the scene 'tween Henry and the sorceress reads wee bit contrived.

But the main reason for reading Brigade, the sharp sitcom-ish interplay of disparate super-types, still holds, though I miss Mauve Visitor, who's left behind this time to hold down the super-fortress. (New story addition Mister Brilliant is just too obvious a type – he's obese and he doesn't bathe regularly! – to make up for the purple alien's absence.) Sharpest art this time comes courtesy of Fabio Moon in the opening pages, particularly in the teasing dialog scenes between Mister Brilliant and the provocative "trollop" Purring Pussycat. Moon has the most sustained page run in the book. The remaining three artists (Zid of IFS, Joe Abraham, and Alfa of IFS – no, I don't get the credits either) frequently swap chores on a page-by-page basis; I'd have to seen how that was logistically managed.

So any chance for an MV solo one-shot, guys?
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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