As it was foretold in the comments section, today we get a commissioned sideways comic cover. And whadda ya know? The Subterranean looks like if you ripped the spikes off of Doomsday. Or dipped The Hulk in concrete. Or shaved Solomon Grundy and had him running around nude.
Past comments by numerous commenters have been harsh on the Atomik Komix lineup.
There’s not a single AK title that would have sparked my interest back when I was reading comic books. Not a thing. Back then they would have bored me just as much as they do now.
“No new comics to read? Just these Atomix Komix things? Sheesh, I think I’ll go home and do schoolwork.”Beckoning Chasm
And I would agree. Though I thought the concept and first cover of Stardusters did show some promise with a cast of differentiated characters, a Star Wars-esque grungy space look, and an action heavy tableau. So props to Rick Burchett and Rob Ro on that tip of the Funky Felttip.
But for the rest, all we have is a dumb name, a dumb costume, and maybe a gimmick or a gimmicky backstory. They have to be terrible, right?
Well, yes; because they’re being written by Funky Winkerbean characters, who–in turn–were written by Tom Batiuk. A man who seems stuck in the era of “Why is Superman Forcing Jimmy Olsen to Marry a Gorilla! Twice!”
But if we’re just going off the names, the gimmicks, and facts, the covers…
As we exit this weirdly awful comics arc, and brace ourselves for the blandly awful Les arc that will follow, let me tell you a little story.
Two of my best friends were at a local comic shop picking up Batman, Nightwing, and Transformers comics, when one of my friends saw this.
And I mean LOOK at this! Some kind of smarmy, cocky, swaggering douchebro with a giant star on his chest and a MONEY SIGN in his name.
My friend said. “Who the f**k is Booster Gold?!” And became very offended, (mostly facetiously,) that a character like this: some kind of boring-looking, stupid character, would be worthy of his own DC omnibus collection.
So it was a running joke for us for months that Booster Gold was our friend’s arch nemesis. And to further the joke, I bought her a copy of the first issue of the 2007 relaunch of Booster Gold’s solo title for her birthday.
And we read it. And then the next. And then the series. And you know what? It was great.
Written by Geoff Johns, Jeff Katz, and drawn by Dan Jurgens, it told the story of a time travelling superhero who wasn’t respected by other superheroes. Because for most of his career he’d tried to use his super-heroics to accumulate fame and fortune . But Booster Gold now was a superhero who had recently gone through the most traumatic experience of his life. An experience that spurred growth in him. The death of his best friend, Blue Beetle.
The first major arc involved Booster Gold going back in time to try to prevent his friend’s murder, only for the new future they create to be a terrible dystopia. Eventually Ted Kord (Blue Beetle) decides that the only way to put things right is to go back in time to die again.
Look at Blue Beetle, that’s a weird looking costume if I’d ever seen one! And the thing was packed with a million references to old nonsense that we hardly understood, and a dozen weird characters with wacky gimmicks. But that didn’t matter, because the book was funny, the characters were crisp and distinct, and the story was heartfelt, and we ate it up. And then we went back, and read Booster Gold and Blue Beetle’s old adventures in the Justice League International. We started reading ANYTHING with these two. Because their friendship was one of the best things ever in a universe that included BATMAN. One of my friends and I went to a convention dressed as them.
And all because my friend thought that a cover looked stupid.
What I’m saying is that, in the right hands, ANYTHING can work, any name, any costume, any gimmick, any backstory. That fact is born out in comics history again and again and again. Some of the most critically acclaimed books were made up of D-list characters cobbled together from the Scrappy Doo heap. The New Suicide Squad movie is hoping to make a billion dollars on this premise.
But in the wrong hands the tearful reunion of two elderly men and former friends after literal decades apart can be as emotionally thrilling and meaningful as watching paint dry.
It’s called writing.