Retro Review: The Black Condor By Augustyn, Morales & Others For DC Comics

Black Condor #1-12 (June 1992 – May 1993)

Written by Brian Augustyn

Pencils by Rags Morales (#1-6, 9-12), Cooper Smith (#7), Mike Gustovich (#8)

Inks by Rags Morales (#1-2), Richard Space (#3-6, 8-12), John Lowe (#7), Romeo Tanghal (#7), Charles Barnett (#7)

Coloured by Eric Kachelhofer (#1-11), Stuart Chaifetz (#12)

Spoilers (from twenty-four to twenty-five years ago)

When I decided to start working my way back through my longboxes to reread titles I haven’t read in ages, this title was one of the ones that I thought of as a good candidate.  I remember enjoying the off-beatness of this book, especially in light of the excessive “extreme-ness” of most of the other books being published at the time.  I remember Black Condor as a quiet book, with wonderfully detailed art, and a connection to an almost completely forgotten Golden Age character I cared little for.  This book came out before Starman made legacy characters all the rage, and I’ve always remembered it as being pretty special.

As I was rereading The Ray, and working to satisfy my desire to work through Christopher Priest’s entire back catalogue, I was surprised to see the Black Condor show up.  I’d forgotten that he had a guest appearance in that title (two, actually, although one was really just a cameo), and it made me want to get back into this title.  Let’s see how it stands up…

These are the characters who filled this comic, other than the Black Condor, of course.

Villains

  • Creighton Kendall (Condor’s grandfather; #1-3, 5-6)
  • Massey (#1, 8)
  • Sky Pirate (#2-3)
  • The Shark (#4)
  • Society of the Golden Eagle troops (#6)

Guest Stars

  • Ray (Ray Terrill; #9-10)
  • Ray (Happy Terrill; #9-10)
  • Batman (Bruce Wayne; #12)
  • Commissioner James Gordon (#12)

Supporting Characters

  • Ned Smith (Park Ranger; #1, 3-12)
  • Bonnie Robinson (#1, 8-10, 12)
  • Black Condor (original, Golden Age character; #4, 10)
  • Karin Webster (#4-6)
  • Father Gamble (#5-6)
  • Pine Barrens Bear Man Monster (#7, 9)

Let’s take a look at what happened in these books, with some commentary as we go:

  • The series opens to Black Condor, our hero, being placed in a chamber of some sort by his grandfather, who is talking about how a “Society” is proud of him, and how he will be able to fly.  From there, we see the Black Condor flying over some woods, ruminating about how he refuses to follow his grandfather’s society’s orders, and that he intends to destroy them.  He also thinks about how much he likes the New Jersey Pine Barrens, although he will soon have to go to Philadelphia.  We cut to a van full of guys who have just robbed the payroll from a steel plant (why would that be cash?) and who are driving through the Barrens as a way of avoiding detection.  Their leader, Massey, is arguing with everyone in the van when the driver hits something in the road and loses control, crashing the van.  As they try to figure out what to do, a forest ranger pulls up on the scene, having just heard an alert about the robbery.  The take was $210 000, which split five ways, probably wasn’t that impressive even in 1992.  The ranger offers help, but when he sees that a woman is being held at gunpoint, the robbers pull their guns on him and load everyone into his jeep.  The Black Condor, flying above the woods, hears trouble, but it is the lost couple that the ranger was out looking for.  He flies them to the ranger station, and goes to check in on his friend Ned.  There, he learns that Ned’s been gone for a while, and hasn’t been answering his radio, worrying his fellow ranger Eileen.  The Condor uses his senses to look for him.  In the woods, Massey beats on Ned because they ran out of gas, and when one of the robbers decides he wants to walk out and leave this mess behind, Massey shoots him.  The gunshots catch the Condor’s attention, and as he moves towards the sound, he thinks about how it was Ned that gave him the name Black Condor, which serves as a counterpoint to his grandfather’s desire to make him into a Golden Eagle, and a champion for his society.  The Condor takes out some of the robbers, and when Massey pulls a gun on him, Condor uses his telekinesis to make the gun explode.  Soon, everything is resolved, but Ned points out that now the world will know about the Black Condor.  In a big office building, Ryan’s grandfather learns of the story, and orders his associate, Mr. Scott, to “start the wheels turning.”
  • Ryan’s grandfather, Creighton, speaks to other members of the Society of the Golden Wing about his grandson.  He is upset that Ryan turned his back on the Society, and wants him back dead or alive, since the procedure he went through was more successful on him than on the rest of them (Creighton shows off a strangely deformed arm).  The Condor is flying past their building, but can’t hear what they are saying through the stone walls of their building.  He reiterates to himself that he won’t work for them, and then commits himself to protecting Philadelphia from people like the Society.  In a closeby building, a man named Miles Lydecker narrates his story into a tape recorder.  He was a scientist who developed technology that used hyper-sonics to lift and move things.  He fell in with some anti-war protestors in the late 60s, a group called the Merry Men, and began using his tech to hijack airplanes and secure large ransoms so he could fund the work the Merry Men were doing.  They convinced him to go underground in Chile, and after years of living quietly there, he discovered that the group’s leader had gotten rich off his work.  He has now come to Philly to exact revenge, and has resurrected his guise as the Sky Pirate, complete with silly suit.  He uses a flying sled and his technology to break into his enemy’s corporate offices.  Still flying around, the Condor is affected emotionally by the hyper-sonic vibrations the tech is putting out.  The Sky Pirate sends a message to his enemy, Larry Carbo, demanding one million dollars or he will erase his company’s records.  The Black Condor confronts him, coming through the wall the Pirate blew in the wall, but the Pirate blows him off and flies away.  When the Condor gives pursuit, the Pirate shoots him with the technology, and sends him plummeting.  
  • With the device messing with his ability to concentrate and fly, Condor, smashing into buildings along the way, manages to drop himself into the river.  It takes a lot of effort, as he begins to drown, and as he flashes back to his treatment at his grandfather’s hands, to expel the device using his telekinesis. He flies out of the water, and decides that he should figure out what is up with the Sky Pirate, but only after getting some rest.  The Pirate, meanwhile, calls up Carbo, the man he’s come to get money from.  Condor spends some time with Ranger Ned, who convinces him to look into the Sky Pirate situation.  We see that Carbo is still hanging out with a couple of people from his revolutionary days, and that he’s made them wealthy as well.  Carbo does not trust the Sky Pirate, so he wants a woman, Ariel, to talk to him.  After she leaves the room, he tells his other associate that he wants the Pirate killed.  The Sky Pirate returns to the cheap hotel room he’s renting, and finds the Black Condor there.  The Condor tracked him based on his technology’s vibrations, and then read his journal.  He tells him he understands him and leaves.  Later, the Condor follows the Sky Pirate to his meeting with Carbo.  Ariel talks to him, and then a helicopter shows up with a gunman aiming at the Pirate, just as Carbo also comes to the roof where this is taking place, threatening the Pirate.  The Condor is watching.  The Pirate and Carbo argue for a bit, and the guy in the copter takes a shot, hitting Ariel.  The Condor flies in, disarming the gunman and chasing away the chopper, while the Sky Pirate punches out Carbo.  Telling him that Ariel is still alive, the Condor flies off with her, while the Pirate ties Carbo to his sky cycle.  The next day, Ned shows the Condor that he caught some poachers, and Ned refers to the Pirate as the Black Condor’s archenemy.
  • A shark-man, later referred to as The Shark, flies to Philadelphia, looking for the “Condor Man”.  The Condor, meanwhile, flies to Ranger Ned’s place for a visit.  Ned tells him that this Shark is tearing apart Philadelphia looking for him, but the Condor feels no responsibility.  Ned convinces him to go deal with things, and after the Condor leaves, he is joined by the holographic or psychic projection of the original Golden Age Black Condor (GA BC).  Through their conversation, it becomes clear that the GABC is part of a group, other than the Society, who is watching the Condor, expecting him to become a great hero.  It’s also made clear that they have Ned working for them to push him towards heroism, which is not going so well.  As the Shark continues to rip up Philly, a pair from an asylum or something drop a woman with a massive amount of red hair off on the street.  This is being done because the Society demands it, although one of the men doesn’t feel good about it.  The Condor arrives to speak to the Shark, who wants to bond with him and make friends, but also to rule regular people together.  When the Condor rejects this plan, the Shark attacks him, and they begin to fight.  The Condor is surprised to see that the Shark has the same abilities he has, and wonders if he is connected to the Society, although the Shark denies this.  When the Condor’s blood is drawn, the Shark goes into a frenzy.  The released mental patient watches this, and recognizing him, calls to him telepathically, which distracts the Condor in his fight.  The woman wanders away, and the Condor is able to gain the upper hand in the fight.  He wonders why the voice he heard is so familiar.  A couple of plainclothes cops watch the woman walk by, and from their conversation we learn that a priest has set up a homeless shelter in Sherwood (which is a park in Philly?).  The cops get a call to respond to a shark attack, while the woman continues to wander.  Four men follow her and attempt to gang rape her.  She pushes them all away telepathically, and the Condor hears her voice again, and tells the Shark he is not going to keep fighting.  He uses his mental powers to knock the Shark out, and flies towards the park.  The Shark escapes the cops and flies back to the water, while the Condor, arriving at the park, finds the four rapists killed horribly.  He wonders who did this.
  • Issue five opens on a wholesale drug transaction that gets interrupted by a group of guys in ski masks with guns.  They grab the money and torch the drugs in a barrel, before pistol whipping the dealers and taking off.  They reveal themselves to be college age kids who are taking the money to give it away.  Black Condor meets Ned at a park, and doesn’t care that people are staring at his appearance.  He wants to know about the woman he saw last issue.  Ned used his contacts to discover that her name is Karin Webster and that she was a patient at the Franklyn Care Center who had reportedly escaped.  He also tells the Condor that she is autistic.  The Condor reveals that he was also at the Center, which is where he met her, and that she was also a victim of the Society of the Golden Wing.  Flying off, the Condor remembers being trapped in his own body after the Society’s procedure, and that he began to mentally communicate with Karin at that time.  He is worried about how she killed those men, and begins to search for her.  He goes to the Sherwood Homeless Camp in Fairmont Park, and wears an old suit and floppy hat as a disguise.  Inside the camp, he listens to Father Gamble, the man that runs the camp, speak to a potential donor.  The priest is distracted by the appearance of four men who he goes to talk to privately.  They are the guys who robbed the drug dealers, and the Father does not want to accept their money.  Elsewhere, the leader of the drug gang, Ernesto Soto, tells his men that he’s arranging a surprise for his next buy, so that if they get robbed again, he’ll be able to stop the college kids.  Their source, the only white guy in the group, is there.  The Condor flies around looking for Karin.  The source has arranged a meeting with his friends, and as he waits, Karin walks past him.  After that, the Condor swoops down wanting to know where Karin just went.  At this point, some of Soto’s men pull up and grab the informant, Herbie, and start beating on him.  The Condor stops them from killing him, and gives the dealers a beatdown.  He picks up Herbie, who is unconscious, and flies off with him.  The four college kids drive up, but can’t find Herbie and don’t see the unconscious dealers, so decide to go ahead with their plan for the night.  The Condor, later, flies around some more.  The drug buy goes ahead, but when the college kids show up to rob the dealers, a bunch more heavily armed dealers show up, including Soto.  The kids shoot him in the leg and run, but they are chased by more dealers.  Their car chase rolls through Philly, and the kids get the idea that Father Gamble can save them.  The Condor is back in his disguise in the Sherwood Camp, but just as he finds Karin, three vehicles full of men shooting at the college kids roll through the camp, creating mayhem.  Father Gamble pleads for them to stop as the Condor protects Karin, and then pulls Gamble out of the path of a bullet.  Karin, confused, wanders through the crossfire, and when she sees one of the kids shot, starts shouting and makes the Earth shake violently.
  • Creighton Kendall is furious that his people let Karin free as bait to catch the Condor.  They assure him that they have shock troops looking for her, and Creighton insists that the Society donate some money to the destroyed homeless shelter.  There, Father Gamble works to manage all the damage, and speaks to the potential donor, from the Faulkner Foundation.  The Father mentions the donation he received from Kendall, which bothers the donor, and he quickly leaves.  Ned shows up, looking for the Condor.  He starts digging through some of the wreckage, while we see his hand sticking out from under some other debris.  Ryan’s mind, however, is communing with Karin in a mental fantasyland.  He wants to spend time with her but hears Ned calling him, which brings him back to his body, trapped and being crushed.  He uses his telekinesis to clear the rubble off of him, and ignores Ned’s demands that he rest.  He wants to find Karin and make the Society pay for what they’ve done.  Karin, walking down a street, is approached by armored Society troops.  She begins to fight back, but they blast her with some sort of electrical weapon.  Just as they are going to apprehend her, the Condor shows up and begins to fight them.  One of them gets the drop on the Condor, and is about to shoot him when Karin comes to and uses her powers to cause him to convulse to death.  Ryan flies away with her, and they chat in her mindscape.  She wants Ryan to stay there forever with her, and while he also wants that, his sense of duty doesn’t allow it.  He thinks she should return to the institute where she was living before, to protect her.  They make plans to deal with the Society.  Later, at Creighton’s office, he continues to rant at his subordinates about how poorly they’ve handled this situation.  Just then, Karin walks into his office and causes an explosion which ruins Creighton’s office but doesn’t appear to kill anyone.  Karin says goodbye to Ryan psychically.
  • Issue seven is a pretty terrible comic.  It reads from start to finish like a filler, despite being written by Augustyn.  The guest artist, Cooper Smith, seems better suited to drawing scenes on the cardboard box of D-list toys.  Anyway, in this issue, the Black Condor is watching the rangers try to collect rabid animals while a huge forest fire cuts through the Pine Barrens.  The animals are all nuts because of toxic dumping that maybe started the fire.  After fighting and killing a raccoon (real talk), the Condor is kidnapped by a lava monster thing and taken into the burned land.  Some off-brand firefighters show up to test a new fire retardant spray, but really they are there to make sure that proof that their company was dumping toxic chemicals, and maybe started the blaze, is destroyed.  Ned finds the Condor, who is with the lava monster thing that is really the outcome of a man and a bear being doused with chemicals and burned (or something like that).  The bear man lava thing wants revenge on the firefighters and kills them, and then gives the Condor the briefcase full of proof of illegal dumping (what the hell would be in that briefcase?) before wandering off into the burned up part of the forest.  Stupid, and ugly, this whole issue.
  • Mike Gustovich drew issue eight, and it looks better but nowhere near as good as it did with Rags Morales drawing.  This issue is set during the trial of Massey, the robber and murderer from the first issue.  The Condor’s testimony is blocked because he refuses to identify himself by any name other than Black Condor.  The female hostage, Bonnie, provides little useful testimony, claiming she doesn’t remember what happened.  Ned testifies, giving a full recap of the first issue, but it’s not enough to secure a conviction, and the judge dismisses the charges against Massey.  The Condor protests, and is arrested for contempt of court.  As he leaves the court, it becomes clear that Massey has had a cop working for him, and that’s how he managed to kill some of the witnesses who robbed the payroll with him. This cop goes to pay the Condor a visit and attacks him, but the Condor is able to subdue him.  He tells the Condor that Massey is planning on killing Bonnie and Ned.  The Condor uses his powers to escape his cell (before he decided to stay out of respect for Ned’s faith in the system).  Bonnie is at home, afraid, and when she hear someone knocking on her door, she shoots a gun at the person, who is actually Ned.  He falls, and as she begins to freak out, Massey walks in to her house.  He has a bomb that he begins to set.  He also decides that he should rape Bonnie, but Ned, who is bleeding, pulls a gun on him.  Massey belittles Ned, and Ned shoots him.  As Massey falls, he hits the bomb, starting its timer.  The Condor arrives, having taken out the two men Massey posted outside as guards, and grabs the bomb, flying as high as he can before it explodes.  It explodes, and Bonnie and Ned watch as parts of the Condor’s costume come falling out of the sky.
  • The Black Condor, almost completely naked and bleeding, is brought into the hospital in Philly, having been found on a roof.  The narrator tells us that “an unguessed at regeneration system” begins to work as he’s brought into the OR.  The cops that came in with him are the same ones we saw earlier in the book.  They come across Ned and Bonnie, who are also at the hospital dealing with Ned’s gunshot wounds.  He identifies his friend to them, and tells them what happened with Massey, and how they didn’t know where the Condor went.  Screams draw them into the OR, where they see that the Condor is going through some kind of transformation into a scaly, almost mindless Black Lagoon style creature.  He runs out of the hospital and disappears.  A truck driving past the hospital, owned by Solar Chem, the bad guys from the horrible issue seven, is revealed as having the bear-man beast thing on board.  When the truck arrives at the Solar Chem plant, the monster goes on a rampage.  The cops, Ned, and Bonnie are driving around looking for the Condor when they hear about the Solar Chem situation and assume that’s where the Condor went.  At a Scotty’s Burger, Ray Terrill is getting chewed out by his manager.  He goes to sit in the break room, where his father, Happy Terrill appears to try to get him to go deal with the Solar Chem monster.  Ray gets yelled at by his boss again, and quits, and then decides to go to Solar Chem to shut his dad up.  Black Condor also moves towards the Solar Chem plant, where the monster keeps rampaging.  Ned, who is hurting from his injuries, goes to talk to the monster, but then realizes that it’s not the Condor.  The cops shoot at the creature and he runs away.  The cops all give chase, leaving Ned and Bonnie behind.  Just then, the Condor appears.  Ned goes to him, but collapses in pain.  Bonnie tries to communicate with the Condor, and gets through to him.  He reaches for Ned just as Ray arrives and starts blasting him, thinking he’s the monster that was causing problems.  They fight (Ray is surprised he can fly), and Ray is knocked into a store.  Happy gives him grief and he gets back into the fight.  The Condor is carrying Ned gently, but Ray grabs him out of his arms, and starts blasting again.  Ned tries to stop him, but it’s no good; Ray blasts the Condor into a crater he creates.  Bonnie and Ned explain what’s going on to Ray, and just then, a much larger and angrier transformed Black Condor comes out of the hole.
  • The monstrous new form of Black Condor, which is bigger than before, comes at Ray, brushes him aside, and walks away.  Ned gets Ray to back down, but when the Condor starts rampaging a little, Ray has to try to stop him.  The Condor hits him with a mindblast, so Ray starts to blast back.  The Condor grows some new growths where Ray has hit him, and continues to walk away.  Ned and Bonnie try to follow in a cab, but traffic is bad.  The Golden Age Black Condor appears, but only to Ned, and tells him that he’ll figure out what’s going on.  The Condor has walked to the edge of the river, and Ray works to keep the growing crowd away from him.  Ray tries to communicate with him telepathically, but the Condor hits him across the park.  The Golden Age Ray appears to try to direct his son, but Ray ignores him and attacks the Condor again.  They fly into the air, and Ray hits him with a massive blast.  The Condor falls to the ground, and when Ray flies close, hits him with another mindblast before collapsing completley.  Ned and Bonnie arrive, Ray argues with his dad some more, and Ned yells at Ray too.  The Golden Age Black Condor arrives (but only Ned can see him) to explain that this monstrous state is just the way that the Condor’s body heals.  Bonnie is worried to see both Ray and Ned arguing with people who she can’t see.  Ned explains that the Condor needs to be left alone for a while.  The GA Condor tells him that Ray is talking to his old friend, but that GA Ray can’t see him.  As the Golden Age invisible heroes leave, the Condor gets up again and explodes.  Left standing is the naked Condor, in his human form.  Ned gives him his shirt, and the Condor starts to fly home.  Ray goes after him, suggesting that they become friends, but when the Condor tells him “not now” and Ray ignores him, the Condor hits him with another mindblast and they part ways.
  • The cover of issue eleven promises to reveal “The Legend of the Condor” but that’s not really what happens here.  The Condor is in the Pine Barrens with Ned, practicing with his new wing assembly (since the last one was blown up).  While they talk and make adjustments, a reporter shows up, wanting to interview the Condor about his past, and whether or not he’s related to Black Canary or flies with Hawkman.  The Condor tells him that he’s an alien from the planet of the “Condor People” and then flies off, telling Ned he’d be gone for a few hours.  Ned explains that the alien angle was a lie, but promises to tell the reporter the true story.  As they drive off to get coffee, they pass another car coming into the Barrens.  In it, a man tries to make his ten-year-old son more masculine by taking him camping.  They are watched by the Condor, who thinks about his relationship with his grandfather.  Ned tells the reporter about a couple with a baby who were arguing, attacked by a flock of condors, and driven off a cliff.  The birds rescued the baby.  The man from earlier sends his son to gather wood, and the boy comes across the Black Condor in the dark.  Ned continues to tell the reporter about how the condors took the boy to their secret mountain home, where the flock’s patriarch welcomed him as a promised one.  The Black Condor and the boy talk about how the boy’s father is trying too hard to teach him to be a man, to make up for his divorce from the boy’s mother, and how the boy wishes that the man had faith in him.  The Condor gets an idea, and goes to frighten the man, almost flying into him many times in the dark.  The boy comes to the rescue, scaring the Condor off and earning his father’s respect.  Ned finishes telling the reporter about how the condors raised the boy they rescued to be the Black Condor and sent him into the world to do good.  The man and his boy come into the same restaurant, and the man tells everyone there that his son saved him from the Jersey Devil.  The reporter decides that’s a better story, while Ned laughs.
  • Issue twelve, the last issue of the series, opens with the Black Condor flying over Gotham City.  He thinks back to what brought him there – Bonnie’s little sister Debby ran away to the big city to become a star, and Ned asks for Condor’s help in finding her.  He flies straight to the city, hoping to get there ahead of Debby’s bus, but has missed her.  A woman at a ticket window remembers seeing her leave with a man in black, but has no more information.  The Condor gets angry and starts a scene that leads to him assaulting a security guard, and then being arrested by GCPD.  He’s put in a holding room, where he meets a man named Joey Marchese, who says he can help him find the girl, assuming she’s with a criminal named Frank Vincent.  Condor breaks them out of the prison, straight past another big guy who was also being detained.  That guy follows them out, having recognized both the Condor and Marchese.  He ducks into an alley, and comes out in his usual outfit – it’s Batman!  Marchese takes Condor to see a man named Carmi Lupo, who supposedly knows where Vincent is going to be.  The Condor messes with his head a little, and Lupo tells them that there’s a big transaction happening that night at the pier.  Condor flies Marchese off, and they decide they need to wait until midnight somewhere.  Batman talks to Commissioner Gordon, and we learn that Vincent is planning to sell a number of military weapons from Desert Storm to local gangs, and that he was going to use Marchese to find out where.  He is confused by the Condor’s presence.  Marchese takes the Condor to Vincent’s house, since they know he’s not home.  As Condor rests on the roof, Marchese answers Vincent’s phone and learns that Lupo lied to him; the meeting is happening elsewhere.  Lupo runs into Batman.  The gang called the Skulls show up early for the meeting, planning on robbing Vincent of all the weapons.  As they prepare to surprise Vincent’s men, Marchese and Condor arrive, and Marchese realizes that the Skulls were planning something.  Vincent and his men also show up, and there are a lot of guns drawn.  Batman also appears, wearing some huge tank of sleeping gas and putting them all to sleep (which seems like a cop out, story-wise).  It turns out that the Condor swept Vincent away in the chaos, and has learned that he doesn’t traffic in runaways.  He hands him over to the cops, and after an explanation of what all’s been going on, Batman gives him an address to check for Debby.  When he gets there, it’s a church, and Bonnie and Ned have already been reunited with Debby, who was in the company of the priest.

It feels pretty obvious that it was never intended for this title to end after twelve issues.  Way too many plot points were left unresolved.  The early issues had the Condor plotting to overturn his grandfather’s Society, but we never got back to that.  Likewise, it was very unclear as to what the original Black Condor wanted from Ned or the new Condor.  This all got picked up on in The Ray later on (when the editor of this series, Jim Owsley, now called Christopher Priest, was writing for the writer of this series, Augustyn, who edited The Ray).  Even there, this story was advanced a little ways, but left unresolved.  I wonder if this got addressed in Primal Force, the team book that launched out of Zero Hour and featured the Black Condor?  I think I might need to start hunting that series down, as I only ever got the first two issues…

Anyway, there are other plot points that were not satisfactorily resolved, such as the fate of the monster formed out of the man and bear in the toxic forest fire.  How could we have lived for this many years never knowing what happened to that guy?  It’s not fair!

This was a deeply strange series, especially coming out at the same time as Knightquest, the death of Superman, and all sorts of extreme-ness at Marvel.  This was such a quiet and introspective title, featuring an unknown character and very few ties to the DC Universe.  I’m not surprised it didn’t do very well, sales-wise.

Did it achieve its goals though?  I’m not so sure.  The idea of the Condor being a guy who flies around and has stuff happen to him is a compelling one, but really, his character feels very shallow after a whole year of storytelling.  We are told that he doesn’t want to be a hero, but then what does he do with his days?  Does he live with Ned?  For a book that is supposed to be very character-driven, the plot of each issue really took over and kept us from a lot of effective character development.

Art-wise, aside from the two guest artists, this book looks fantastic.  Rags Morales had a very unique style, which was pretty much wiped away into a very competent DC house style by the time he worked on Identity Crisis, which remains his highest-profile title.  This early work conveyed a lot of character, and he did wonderful things with facial expressions.   

The early 90s were a strange time at DC.  It seems they really were willing to try just about anything, and see what worked.  You can draw a straight line from this title through the more successful Ray title to James Robinson’s Starman, as they began to repurpose Golden Age characters for a new audience.  For that alone, I imagine we owe this title quite a debt.

Next time I want to get back to my original goal of working through more work by the great Christopher Priest, although that necessitates (in my completist, OCD way) reading a run he didn’t work on first, on a team book that probably didn’t ever need to exist.

If you’d like to see the archives of all of my retro review columns, click here.

If you’d like to read any of the stories I talk about here, you are going to have to hit up some longboxes.  They aren’t even on Comixology.

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