Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Countdown to Adventure #1: A Review

This was a pretty light week for comics, and although I enjoyed the relatively insubstantial first chapter of "Escape from Bizarro World" in Action Comics #855 and the Bart Allen memories from Teen Titans #50, the best comic I read today was one of the unlikeliest. Saddled with a text-heavy, crossover drenched cover, "The SPACE ADVENTURERS from 52 RETURN!," "The ORIGIN of FORERUNNER REVEALED!," Countdown to Adventure #1 turned out to be a nice, goofy opening to the eight-part series.

The lead story features the three characters from the "Odyssey" story that took place during 52. Since the end of that series, Adam Strange has been hanging out with his family, Buddy Baker, aka Animal Man, has been hanging out with his family (and doing some stunt work on a local movie set), and Princess Koriand'r, aka Starfire, has not been hanging out with anyone, really, since she's been strangely asleep in the Baker family's guest bedroom for basically the entire time. Ellen Baker insists that they call someone (like the Teen Titans) to let them know about Starfire's condition, but Buddy says that he knows Starfire would want to be left alone to heal. This doesn't really make much sense, and it's hard to believe that Buddy's year of hanging out with the girl somehow led him to believe that the best way to respond to a comatose space princess is to totally ignore the problem and assume it's what she would have wanted. If someone collapsed on your doorstep, would your first response be to pull them into your guest bedroom to sleep it off? And even if you did that, wouldn't you begin to worry after a few days of her not waking up? Buddy lets her sleep for WEEKS, and just smiles when his wife ridiculously complains that, geez, they might want to let the professionals handle this.

But the sleeping Koriand'r is a fun plot device, which allows writer Adam Beechen to include a scene where the once-and-hopefully-future-mullet-king Cliff Baker (young son of Buddy) tries to sneak a pervy picture of the sleeping Starfire to school so he can show off to his friends. The picture's confiscated before it can do any damage, but one can imagine the pre-pubescent sex comedy that might have erupted if Cliff's goal had been attained. Beechen wisely avoids letting the attractive high concept of Porky's meets Weekend at Bernie's meets Flash Gordon take over the book, and the entire hot-alien-princess-asleep-in-the-guest-room subplot gets derailed the moment Koriand'r wakes up (refreshed! and wearing short shorts!), confusing poor Ellen, who doesn't seem to know if she's more jealous of the vulnerable, sleeping Starfire or the flirty one who's awake in her kitchen.

But what about Adam Strange, you ask? He returns from his R&R, all jet-packed up and ready to go, only to receive an unexpected pink slip. In his absence, he's been replaced as Planetary Protector of Rann (that should probably be written in all caps--or at least you can say it in your head really, really loud) by, coincidentally, the star of the very movie Buddy Baker's doing the stunt work on. Talk about convergences! What are the odds? The best part is, this new guy sports the same jet-pack and head-fin style as Adam Strange, but his name is the oh-so-more extreme STEVEN "CHAMP" HAZARD. Imagine all those Carmine Infantino Silver Age Adam Strange stories, then add Rob Lefield and multiply it by the awesome, and you get Champ Hazard, Protector of Rann. Poor Adam doesn't stand a chance. The new guy's an American Movie Star. That carries a lot of cache on a planet billions of light years away from Earth.

When the two go at it like the alpha dogs they are, it's kind of hard to tell them apart, since they are wearing the same costume, but it doesn't really matter, because you know it's all a lead up to Adam Strange abandoning Rann to team back up with his ol' 52 pals (which will possibly happen, maybe, someday. But not in this issue). And with Rann protected by STEVEN "CHAMP" HAZARD, who needs the old sad sack anyway? (Whine, whine, whine...oh I lost my family but they came back to life, and then the planet disappeared and I thought I lost them again, and then I went blind for a year and didn't even get to see how hot Starfire was in person...and so on.)

As much as I'm mocking this book, I really did like it. Beechen knows what he's doing with these characters, and it's a fun, silly bit of comic book goodness. Ignore the fact that it's marketed as this uber-crossover title. It's not, really. The 52 stuff is backstory, but not necessary to understanding the characters, and the Coundown connection is irrelevant, because the second half of the book--the Forerunner story--is not very interesting. You don't need to read that part. Just stick to following the further adventures of Adam Strange, Animal Man, and Starfire. (My guess is that the next issue will feature all three characters getting kicked out of their houses--You can imagine the scene on Rann: Adam Strange comes home to find Steven Hazard's jetpack hanging on the coat rack as Alanna says, "sorry, honey, but he IS a movie star." While in the Baker residence, Ellen finally flips out and chases Buddy out of the house with a broom because he LET A HALF-NAKED ALIEN PRINCESS SLEEP IN THEIR GUEST ROOM FOR A MONTH.)

Good times.

And, maybe there's even hope for the Forerunner story. Next month she battles not just one Nazi but an entire Nazi Justice League! The fight we've all been waiting for.


Marc Caputo said...

I'm trying to adhere to a strict NO MINISERIES rule. There are exceptions - company crossovers (Civil War, Infinite Crisis), but for the most part, they don't pay off. Metal Men is the happy exception, but most of these can be found a cheaper prices after they wrap or you can get the collected version off Amazon or the like for much cheaper. Plus, minis read better when they're completed.

But you could convince me otherwise - I didn't even have Metal Men pulled until I saw your review.

Timothy Callahan said...

You are far wiser and more frugal than I, and your wait-for-the-cheap approach is superior to my buy-everything-when-it-comes-out-even-the-crap strategy, so I think it's safe to wait until you get can this whole series off of ebay or something.

Metal Men is a must buy. This, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Now this is what a comic is supposed to be like. I had my doubts concerning Beechen, but so's been awesome. I'm definitely going to pick up the rest of this mini.

Did anyone else notice an odd kind of sexual tension between Buddy and Kory, or maybe it was just me.