Monday, May 1, 2023

Book Review: One-Star Squadron

Meet DC’s superhero team where heroism meets capitalism. This ragtag group of heroes led by Red Tornado is here to provide service with a smile. All you must do is send a request via their on-demand hero app and they’ll answer any call. Whether it’s a children’s birthday party or an alien invasion, no job is too small or too big!

Brought to you by Eisner nominee Mark Russell (The Flintstones, Wonder Twins, Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles) and Eisner winner Steve Lieber (Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen), you’ll want to invest in this one-of-a-kind collection that promises a story filled with heart, heroism, and humor.

One-Star Squadron, published by DC Comics in November 2022, collects the six issue mini-series of the same title.

Heroz4U is business in the DCU where some of the lesser name heroes make a living. In several ways this concept reminds me of the Hero Hotline mini-series from 1989. But where that one utilized brand-new creations, here we are given a line-up of Red Tornado, Powergirl, the Heckler, G.I. Robot and more. The series also has a bit of a sitcom vibe ala The Office (not a show I've actually watched any of).

I'll admit that I am likely not the target audience for this one. I grew up on many of these characters from the Bronze Age and the post-Crisis era. The versions here are clearly more of the newer continuity (the 52 era and beyond). They are not taken as seriously as the A-list big guns. I am not sure if that sits so well with me.

It is really smaller details that threw me off too. Everyone called Red Tornado "Red" - kind of like "Fred". That does not sit right. He's John Smith. His home mailbox should say "The Smiths", not "The Tornados". Being an android, it also seems odd to see him eating and drinking so much (he doesn't need that). Power Girl is also drawn "normal". She's not "normal"; her ample endowments are a signature aspect of the character (ignoring them is just wrong). Even when she does finally appear in costume, she would not be recognizable without the costume.

I felt better about characters like The Minute Man, who seems to be more like a bargain-basement version of Hourman (thanks to his using Miraclo to get his powers - but only for a minute) rather than the old Fawcett hero of the same name. I think I accepted those elements of the series more because they were not going against my pre-established notions of characters, their personalities and their histories. I did feel bad for how the Gangbuster faired (again, it felt like just wrecking a character for the sake of a plot). This could have been better served with a new character as well.

All in all, this is not a bad comic by any stretch. The story is told well, and the art is clean and consistent. I just think it needs the right audience - of which I am most definitely not.

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