With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Retro-Reader!
Publisher: King Hell
Number of Issues: 5
First Issue: September 1990 ($2.95)
Last Issue: May 1991 ($2.95)
Writer: Rick Veitch
Artist: Rick Veitch
When True-Man, the almighty super-hero maximortal, disappeared, a few vigilantes stepped in to keep the streets of Slumburg safe. But, even though they were inspired by the righteous True-Man, it turns out that these heroes have their own dark sides. The main four vigilantes consist of the racist Judge Jury, Midnight Mink the sodomite, the feminist Moon Mistress and the junkie King Rad. Each of these vigilantes has their own kid sidekick: Kid Vicious, Chippy, Luna and Wild Boy, respectively. And, it seems the sidekicks, collectively known as the Brat Pack, are even less-liked by the public than the heroes they serve under. In fact, the series opens up with the public calling for their heads. But, when Doctor Blasphemy kills them all with a car-bomb, the Brat Pack ironically earns the public’s favor.
Now, devoid of their sidekicks, the heroes have to find and train all-new sidekicks. Months of training lead up to an explosive battle between the new sidekicks and Doctor Blasphemy. Meanwhile, the heroes all get thrown into a meltdown as they fear that True-Man has returned and will be unhappy about the way they’ve warped his memory and inspiration. And, by the way, who is Doctor Blasphemy, anyway?
The Good: Brat Pack is considered one of the most important comics works dissecting the super-hero genre. Often listed right behind Frank Miller’s Dark Knight and Alan Moore’s Watchmen.
The Verdict: Continuing the deconstructionist look at super-heroes that began in Dark Knight and Watchmen, Rick Veitch clues us in that not all super heroes are goody-goodies. Some of them have some dark pasts … and even worse, dark presents. Foregoing the Watchmen approach, Veitch emulates the Dark Knight style of storytelling by bringing us into this world of superheroics through the eyes of the newbie-sidekicks. It helps us wrap our minds around the twisted people that the heroes have become. So, when they get their come-uppance in the end, you can’t help but root against them. I’m always impressed when a writer can make you root for the villain (in this case Doctor Blasphemy – more famously, Alan Moore made you root for the terrorist in V For Vendetta) – and this is certainly one of those rare instances.