“Treasure Quest” (part 1)
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Dan Jurgens, Jesse Delperdang
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: The standard one, for DC Silver Age.
Comments: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, I suppose. Reading this issue is like checking out the recent Showcase: Metamorpho all over again. With minimal nods to the changing world of culture and fashion (spoiled heiresses, reality television) Jurgens and Delperdang proceed to tell an old-fashioned action adventure yarn relying on the dated spookiness of ancient Egypt and a fallen asteroid to spin things off into super-land.
Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon are credited as creators of this concept, and they should be, because Jurgens and Delperdang recapture a bit of that Fradon magic. Jurgens’ solid layout and construction skills meet expressive inks from Delperdang, creating a sort of Tim Sale-like level of cartoonish realism that makes the characters, at least visually, unique and indelible. Sapphire Stagg is a bit smarter than the airhead she once was, perhaps, but she’s still a beautiful spoiled princess used to the perks her wheeling and dealing daddy can provide. Rex Mason is every inch the glistening shiny adventurer in a leather bomber jacket, far tougher than he is smart.
And Stagg himself, with his luxurious grey locks and his bushy black eyebrows, is an unforgettable bad guy, a scruples-free scourge whose love for his daughter doesn’t mean he’ll treat anyone else right, ever.
The other major player is Java, a revived cave man whose personality development and loyalties are something of a mystery. There’s nothing new at all here, really, but it’s competently done and may be the best approach to take to a character whose colorful body is made up of a combination of shape-changing elements in an uneasy but interesting patchwork. Jurgens is playing it as straight as possible and the basic competence shown so far reads as more interesting than any fancy postmodern retcons on the concept would. What remains to be seen is if Metamorpho has a different resonance in the 21st century than he did in the 20th, where his freakish but trippy nature had a niche-level entertainment value.
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