|A whole two bits!|
Bemoan the existence of the big annual crossover “Event Comics” as much as you’d like – seriously, go for it, I won’t stop you – but DC’s Invasion (or is that “Invasion!”) is mostly one of the good ones. Besides keeping the main story confined to three dense but otherwise coherent giant-sized issues, it came up with a pretty reasonable excuse to collect all the Earth’s superheroes for a singular mission, introduced a concept (The “metagene”) which persisted in its titles for a good twenty years, and kept the crossover issues relatively unjammed with content you’d have to read the main series to understand. After all, “aliens are invading the Earth” is a plot which would have happened in most superheroes’ comics four times a year anyway.
Of the direct spin-offs from Invasion!, there was the fairly long-running L.E.G.I.O.N. series, an then of course there were The Blasters.
Originally prisoners of the Invasion! Fleet’s scientific wing, the Blasters were a group of human beings whose possession of the “metagene” – a component of human DNA which allowed otherwise normal human beings to gain superpowers from situations which probably should have left them smoldering masses of protoplasm – allowed them to survive brutal testing at the hands of the extraterrestrial Dominators. Returning to Earth after their incarceration on the alien prison, the yet-unnamed and not-yet-united group of individuals struggled to come to grips with their newfound super-powers.
|There's also this great scene where the German|
robot beats a Jewish child.
Blasters had its tongue firmly planted in cheek from the git-go, opening on a splash panel featuring the adventures of Ben Steel and his Bear Hans (say it out loud), and loaded with nods and references to other comics and media. Snapper Carr - former sidekick to the Justice League of America and now the Blasters’ resident teleporter and probably team leader – makes reference to his counterpart Rick Jones (also famously scripted by Blasters scribe Peter David) over in the competitors’ mags, for instance, before running afoul of the work of a Vogon Contructor Fleet (which I’m not explaining because I know you know what it is), and so on.
It’s hard to say if the light tone being taken with the book was a reaction to what might arguably be a bit of a bum assignment, or if the Blasters was meant as a response to overly serious, similar products, like the equally space-faring Omega Men or the even-spawned and so-serious-it-hurts New Guardians. The comic elements serve it well, though, since the emotional crux of the book involves the human Blasters coming to terms with powers which makes their lives difficult and even unlivable.
The Blasters are:
- Snapper Carr, the aforementioned former “mascot” of the JLA (before human rights organization intervened) and now a teleporter. Carr had previously been notorious for his characters’ obnoxious tendency to snap his fingers obsessively. Granted super-powers, he uses them … by snapping his fingers obsessively. No joke, later on? Later on someone cut his hands off. Hooray!
- Churlijenkins, a sexy cat alien lady with an attitude, because I guess she was a strong female character? I gathered as much from how she didn’t wear a lot of clothes and made sarcastic observations in lieu of having motivation.
- Carlotta Rivera (aka Jolt, the superheroine with twice the caffeine) whose power to wibbly-wobbly the joobly-poobly seems very scientific at first. Her powers go wild unless she’s exhibiting immense concentration, and while it’s great that the book has one female character who isn’t an unrelenting scold, pretty much her only scene has her confront a bunch of potential rapists. Check that one off on your Bingo cards, if you got ‘em.
- Moshe Levy is Dust Devil, an Israeli kid who could generate tornadoes, and unfortunately for my juvenile sense of humor is not called “The Kosher Tornado.” His real super-power is his overbearing mother, which is true for a lot of Jewish kids, really. I kid, I kid …
- The Blasters was evidently meant to be one of those mutli-ethnic superteams which upends stereotypes and breaks the white hegemony, but the only black guy on the roster was nonetheless a career criminal. Amos Monroe, aka Crackpot is a professional con man with the power to make people believe anything, and yet he lets people call him that.
- There’s an Austrian guy who becomes an exploding mass of jagged metal and goes by the name of “Frag”, which is pretty hilarious to imagine being said in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s accent. Try it, hours of fun, I guarantee you.
- And lastly a British storybook writer who can turn into a full-length mirror, which just seems pervy.
Plus an alien with a rubber light bulb for a head and I don’t remember his name or care.
In all, the Blasters wasn’t at all a bad or unenjoyable book, focusing as it did on how normal people might react to abnormal situations, and in its way providing something of a metaphor for how unexpected crisis can both open new vistas and render normal life impossible, while never completely abandoning a deliberate silliness. Mind you, put all of these people on a spaceship and having them go fight space crime is dumb bunk, and yet that’s what they ended up doing. Oh well, it was a fun forty-whatever pages while it lasted…
|Peter David invented Krumping.|