"The Secret Origin of the Planetary Brigade"
Writers (and Creators): Keith Giffen & J.M. Dematteis
Artist: Julia Bax
Publisher: Boom Studios!
The Planetary Brigade is a sort of Boom Studios-ed version of DCís JLA. In place of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman we have Captain Valor, Grim Knight and the Earth Goddess with the Mauve Visitor standing in for the Martian Manhunter. There are two other characters (who I won't be dwelling on since for the purpose of this story (and review), they donít count): Fighting Man plays the part of Boom Studioís Uncle Sam and Veteran mix, and Mr. Brilliant is a Tony Stark style blowhard take on Bruce Banner (albeit without the whole HULK-ing out).
To comment first on the art, it is Good, with a capital G. Julia Baxís style, although not as crisp and polished (yet) as the best, does have a great deal of detail, both in the characters' physical and emotional expressions as well as the backgrounds. Moreover, with the semi-comedic feel of the Planetary Brigade, Bax (and Imaginary Friends Studiosí colors) do make for an engrossing visual experience.
With regards to the story, as this is an Origin of the Planetary Brigade story, it involves (in many cases) the first meeting of the Brigadiers as well as the first bricks of what they would come to be. It kicks off with a Batman-style Grim Knight (Stephan Chattwix III) visiting a secret government base to witness the first firing up of an invention that he sponsored. The inventor of the "Bohm Box" is Chattwixís semi-friend semi-employee Edison Kesla (nice mixing of the Edison and Tesla competition/rivalary), who also goes by the name of Mr. Brilliant. Also on the base are the Fighting Man as well as General George X. Shrub is a Boom Studiosí twin of General Ross (Bruce Bannerís father in law).
As expected, things go wrong, giving rise to a villain, Mister Master, and thus creating the emergency that gets the heroes to respond. Grim Knight changes into his costume, Earth Goddess shows up from, uh, somewhere, Captain Valor makes a change (from his "secret identity" as Janitorial Assistant Milo Stone) and the Mauve Visitor, well, his story is yet another funny take on (a possible) first meeting between the Martian Manhunter with the earth heroes. All together, the heroes battle and take down the villain, including his army of mutated prairie dogs.
The story, just as the characters, isnít big on core originality. What it is big on is the "fun factor." With the originals (i.e. the characters and teams who inspired the Planetary Brigade) becoming increasingly dark and serious, Boom Studiosí take comes across as a breath of fresh air, both for the newbie reader and for jaded veterans like yours truly.
Conclusion: Now if only Boom Studios! could get its act together on the main Planetary Brigade title, by which I mean publish more (and frequent) Planetary Brigade issues/stories.
You can find more reviews by Bruce Logan at www.xcave.net.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!