Substitutes and Inferiors

The Brave and the Bold #35

I’d pretty much given up on this title — J. Michael Straczynski’s storytelling skills lately have ranged from incompetent to downright insulting. But I’ve got a weakness for both the Inferior Five and the Legion of Substitute Heroes, so I shelled out the dough to check it out.

This story is closely related to a previous “Brave and the Bold” story where the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Doom Patrol teamed up to save the future Earth from a black hole. Now in the aftermath, the Legion of Substitute Heroes have decided they’d like to get some of that Saving-the-World glory for themselves, so they steal a Time Bubble to try to team up with the Doom Patrol before the Legion can. But they arrive too late, the Legion and the Doom Patrol have already left, and they have to go look for a new team to join with — in this case, the Inferior Five. So in between various time travel mishaps, trying to explain advanced quantum theory to everyone, and losing Dumb Bunny’s tail in the Time Bubble’s machinery… the Legion of Super-Heroes and Doom Patrol still save the world by themselves. Oh, well, at least the Substitutes and the Inferior Five are still friends, right?

Verdict: I think I’ll actually give this a thumbs up. The main thing a story starring the Substitute Heroes and the Inferior Five needs to have is a nice big dollop of silly, and this was a pretty darn silly story. Sure, some of the jokes get hammered just a bit too hard, but it could’ve been a heck of a lot worse.

Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine #2

Well, Spider-Man and Wolverine have gone time-traveling, getting stuck in a future where the human race has been wiped out by Doctor Doom, after uploading his intellect into a planet, but the cavemen who Wolverine trained in the distant past have managed to survive and (barely) thrive. While Spidey does what he can to teach them science and try to find a way to defeat Doom the Living Planet if it ever comes back, Wolverine has locked himself away from the world to avoid the former cavemen who now worship him. Finally, Spidey finds the one weapon that could save everyone — the Phoenix Force — and manages to forge it into a single bullet. But when it’s fired, it’s guaranteed to kill whoever pulls the trigger. When Doom makes his return, is Spidey going to be able to fire that fateful bullet?

Verdict: Thumbs up. Lots of great stuff here, including Doom, the Phoenix Bullet, and Spidey’s replacement costume. The dialogue is nice, the artwork is great, and I’m loving the crazy ideas that are getting tossed around here.

Booster Gold #34

Rip Hunter tells Booster that since he rescued Rani from the future, he now has to take responsibility for her as her surrogate father. Booster isn’t ready for that responsibility, but his sister Michelle takes up the challenge. Still trying to figure out a way to stop Maxwell Lord in the past when he was a good guy, Booster takes another trip to the Justice League International days and runs into Ted Kord, who drags him along on one of his get-rich-quick schemes. Soon, Booster and Blue Beetle are on the trail of some strange thieves who stole a mystic book from the Vatican. Needing to track the thieves off-planet, they turn to Mister Miracle and Big Barda, who aren’t very enthusiastic about helping. After riding a Boom Tube to a quasi-fantasy world, they fight a dragon and come to the attention of a fairly unambitious-but-still-villainous wizard called Hieronymous the Under-Achiever. Can the heroes survive against his magical minions and enslaved subjects?

Verdict: A narrow thumbs up. I like the Bwa-Ha-Ha days of the Justice League just fine, but this doesn’t feel like one of the adventures of the new, more competent Booster Gold — it just feels like an old ’80s JLI tale. On the other hand, it is pretty funny, particularly the geeky Hieronymous.

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