Friday, May 25, 2012


Whispering Death!
Credits: Len Strazewski (writer), Mike Parobeck (penciler), Mike Machlan (inker), Bob Pinaha (letterer), Glenn Whitmore (colorist)

Summary: Hourman visits his son in the hospital, joined by Johnny and Jesse Quick, and Sandman, who’s recovering from a stroke. Outside, a group of white supremacists are protesting anti-Apartheid leader Bishop Tumutuu, who’s receiving gall bladder surgery. When the protesters turn violent, Johnny and Jesse Quick try to contain them. Hourman also miraculously regains his powers and joins the action. When a protester invades Bishop Tumutuu’s room, he’s stopped by Sandman. Meanwhile, Hawkman and Hawkgirl discover Kulak the Sorcerer in Egypt.

Irrelevant Continuity: Sandman and Bishop Tumutuu have been good friends since the 1950s. Jesse Quick remarks that Sandman seems to know everybody.

I Love the ‘90s: The story ends with Green Lantern watching television in bed. He comments that he never believed Johnny Carson would hang up his microphone, shortly before Kulak's infomercial begins.

Total N00B: Kulak is a three-eyed purple-skinned humanoid that apparently brainwashes Hawkman into hosting an infomercial that introduces him to the public. The story acts as if we should already know whom Kulak is, which is a stretch. I initially wondered if he was supposed to be the dying alien in Green Lantern’s origin story.

Review: An issue dedicated to the unofficial JSA members, even though we’re still not sure what exactly the JSA’s role is supposed to be in the modern DC Universe. Strazewski does handle the Hourman material quite well, as the hero deals with the guilt that’s consumed him since his son was diagnosed with cancer. Obviously, Strazewski is eager to have Hourman back in action, so he’s given what appears to be the third non-drug related return of his powers, conveniently when the story needs him to be repowered, of course. This isn’t quite as cheap as it sounds, since Strazewski is playing off Johnny Quick’s earlier discovery that his powers existed in his genes all along (the story opens with Johnny Quick unsuccessfully coaching Hourman). If Johnny Quick can be super-fast without his formula, Hourman doesn’t need his Miraclo drug either, which I guess is fair enough.

Now, are white supremacists the best opponents for the JSA to be fighting? They do seem an odd match for the book’s tone, but I suppose Nazis and bigots were standard foes in the Golden Age. Strazewski hints that some outside force is driving them into a murderous rage, and they do have a giant eye drawn on their hoods, so perhaps this is somehow tying into the Kulak subplot. I wonder why the book doesn’t identify the bigots as Klansmen, even though Parobeck is drawing them in KKK garb (with that added eye…and boy is it strange to see Parobeck-style Klansmen). Was DC afraid of a lawsuit?


Adam Farrar said...

All I really remember about Johnny Quick is that he for a long time refused to believe in "The Speed Force" as the source of most DC speedsters. But just before he gave his life in a battle he decided that he would trust in it and not his equation and was surprised how well it worked. When he died he wound up a part of the Speed Force and it has brought him back for a few appearances.

wwk5d said...

Yeah, I think Mark Waid and some other writers hated the idea of any speedster not having their powers derived from "The Speed Force" or something like they folded him into the Flash family. Cause heaven forbid somebody in the DCU can have superspeed powered and not have it be related to the Flash dynasty or whatever.

Based on your reviews of this series, it seems the writing, while not bad, never quite reaches the high level of the artwork...

G. Kendall said...

Yes, in terms of story, I think the book's already peaked.

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