Friday, December 29, 2017

REVIEW: Future Quest Presents #5 (2017)

Regular cover by Steve Rude
©DC Comics
DC Comics, $3.99, 32pgs.
On-sale December 20, 2017

“Invisible Sun!”
20 pages, Read Time – 11:45

by Phil Hester (story), Steve Rude (art), John Kalisz (colors), AW’s Dave Lanphear (letters). Edited by Marie Javins.

 BOTTOM LINE: A simply gorgeous book that expands on what has hitherto been a paper-thin character. Is it wrong of me to want Birdman in the JLA now?

Up until now, FQP has had a kind of running sub-plot, with Space Ghost working to rebuild the roster of the now-decimated Space Patrol. This issue, however, appears to be kind of it’s own thing. That’s probably because a new writer, Phil Hester, steps in for regular scribe Jeff Parker, who will return for #8, following Hester’s three-part tale.

This issue is super-fun. Sure, working in Birdman’s battle call feels a little forced, but the tale of Birdman and Inter-Nation working to resolve who is bringing to life avatars of forgotten gods, and why, is a good one. The original Birdman cartoon shorts were wafer thin, of course, so Hester gets to add a lot of layers here, and does do quite expertly. I’m trying to recall which elements, if any, were part of BM’s appearance in the previous FUTURE QUEST series, but that was months and months ago. At any rate, Avengers cranky-wiseacre personality, the obvious crush on Falcon 7, and the memory loss regarding any life before the accident that made Birdman . . . well, Birdman, are all intriguing enough here that I find myself suddenly willing to follow a regular ongoing Birdman series.

At least if drawn by Steve Rude. 

And let’s not mince words. No slight to Hester intended, but The Dude is the main draw here. His storytelling is excellent, and his draftsmanship superb. According to the interwebs, Steve has had some personal issues the last few years, but if any of that is true it has not affected his drawing one whit. Seriously, when DC finally accepts my Legion of Super-Heroes pitch, Steve Rude is my first, last, and only pick for artist. Why he is not on a main DCU title full time I can't begin to fathom. 

It’s worth mentioning that Hester’s choice to have the mud god appear during a native reenactment ceremony was a good one, as it gave Rude a chance to draw a rampaging-natives sequence straight out of classic Jonny Quest. My only nitpick is that, but for one line in a single balloon, after the scene was over, I would not have guessed these were not aboriginal natives in a real primordial village.

But I should take pains to point out one other thing I truly do appreciate — Steve’s Falcon 7 is amazingly sexy, without being one inch of slutty. That’s not something very many comic book artists can manage. So, kudos!

Sadly, FQP has not been selling that well, and one has to wonder how long this title will last. If it were me, I’d go ahead and cancel it and revive DC COMICS PRESENTS as a kind of DC version of Dell’s old FOUR COLOR series, featuring a different licensed property every issue or three. Not just the Hanna-Barbera super-heroes, but its other characters in DCs NuHB line, plus properties from other companies. Can you imagine LAND OF THE LOST by Frank Cho, SIGMUND AND THE SEA MONSTERS by Eric Powell, THE BUGALOOS by Mike Allred, or H.R. PUFNSTUF by Skottie Young?

But really, just keep giving me anything by Steve Rude and I’m happy. 

I do wish this series was $2.99, though, and would happily accept a lower grade of paper to facilitate that. Heck, I actually feel this issue would have worked better without so many gradient coloring tricks on the backgrounds. But even done exactly as is, this series would be perfect for younger readers, which is the niche I think this series can fill. Sadly, the price point assures it's only moving to collectors, and the nostalgia factor can only ingratiate itself just so far into the pull lists of zombie fanboys.



COVER: 8.50 | PLOT: 7.50 | SCRIPT: 8.25 | LAYOUT: 9.75 | ART: 9.50 | EDITS: 7.00

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