Hello and welcome to A Mind Occasionally Voyaging, where bad comics… Well, actually, I don’t know what happens to bad comics on A Mind Occasionally Voyaging, because I’ve never reviewed a comic before.
I don’t have a whole lot of experience with comics. I grew up in an exurb that didn’t have a comic book store, and even if it had, it was six miles to town, so I was pretty much at the mercy of my parents for anything that had to be bought, and comic book stores weren’t high on their list of places to take me. Oh, I accumulated a few over the years. A Star Trek comic from the period between The Search for Spock and The Voyage Home when it was widely assumed in fandom that Kirk would be rewarded for stealing the Enterprise by being given command of the Excelcior (which he would just call “Enterprise” anyway) without being demoted. A crossover between Transformers and Spider-Man which had a note in the back explaining why Spider-Man was wearing a black suit. I still have this creepy image stuck in my head of Shockwave standing in front of a brick wall in which he’s burned the words “All Are Dead” (the cover of Transformers number 5). A reprint of an old Tales From the Crypt.
But I’m not widely read. I’ve got the trades of Star Trek: Countdown and Watchmen, and a book by Scott McCloud about how to read comics, but most of what I know comes from Wikipedia and Atop the Fourth Wall. Nonetheless, when I found out that Continuity Comics very briefly produced a Captain Power series, well, there was no way I was passing that up. Remember, this was literally weeks ago, and for all I knew, this was the only Captain Power-related narrative that would ever exist beyond what I’d already seen twenty-five years ago.
You may well be a bit afraid. Comic tie-ins to existing franchises generally mean one of two things: either a labor of love trying to expand and ressurrect a beloved franchise in a new form, or… a cheaply-made attempt to spend as little effort as possible in order to milk the name-recognition for a few bucks. Which is this? Hey, let’s be honest here: we’re talking about a show that got green-lit purely on the condition that it could serve as a half-hour long toy commercial. So with all that in mind, let’s dig into Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future #1.
Oh, and if I’m going to do this, let’s do it properly, shall we?
There are two covers available for this issue. I don’t know which one is the canonical cover and which is the alternate, and they were cheap so I bought both. I’m going to guess that this one is the earlier version, since the logo style on the other one is repeated on issue #2, which only has the one cover.
As you can see, the cover is a group shot. Not terrible, though the ground at the bottom belies the forced perspective in the rest of the frame, which is to say that Tank and Pilot look tiny, because they’re supposed to be further back, but if you look at Pilot’s feet, it looks like she’s standing directly across from Scout, who is twice her size.
The costumes are pretty show-accurate, rather than staying close to the art from the toy boxes, which is a nice touch. Some of the laser blasts are coming from funny angles, but from a technical standpoint, that’s also show-accurate. If I’m going to lodge one complaint, it’s that Cap’s facial expression is kind of weird. I assume we’re supposed to have caught him in a fierce war-cry, but he just looks goofy, like he’s about to take a bite out of something. If this were coming out today, I would fully expect this to be all over the internet with dongs photoshopped in.
The alternate cover has a redrawn logo. The colors are brighter and the logo itself is cleaner, though I’m not crazy about the “And the soldiers of the future” text; it looks sort of stamped-on. They also look to have made a real effort to imitate the look of computer-rendered text with the Gourad shading and the forced perspective; the other cover’s text has a more “natural” metallic look, while this one looks computer-drawn.
This is also a group shot, though Cap’s pose is more dynamic. For Cap himself, this cover gives you much more of an impression that we’re watching real action going on, rather than a posed publicity shot. For Cap. Unfortunately, everyone else is just sort of shooting off in random directions, making it very clear that they’re just here for demonstration purposes, and aren’t really part of the scene with Cap and the scared civilian in the corner. Oh, him? Well, I assume that’s Professor Karl Malenkov, but I can’t really tell you much about him; he’s pretty much a MacGuffin that they were presumably setting up for later in the run, but they never get around to actually doing much with him before the comic was cancelled.
Now, if you thought Cap’s expression on the last one was goofy, look at this. He looks like he’s about to ask a Bio-Dread if he feels lucky. Or perhaps he’s just uncomfortable, as he apparently just crapped molten lava.
By the way, I’m going to forgo my usual tack of inserting punchlines and sight-gags into the images. Between the word balloons and the general density of the image compositions, it’ll just make it too hard to work out what’s going on.
Issue 1 is “freely adapted” from the episode “A Summoning of Thunder”, which we won’t get to in my regular reviews for some timeBy my estimates, at the rate we’re going, June 2347, but the adaptation is loose enough that it’s really not spoiling anything. Just like an episode of the series, we open on a fight scene that won’t have anything to do with the rest of the story. Cap is pursuing a Dread scientist who’s trying to defect. We’re told that Professor Malenkov is the “holder of the key to the salvation of mankind… or its destruction,” though we will never be told how exactly. We’re also told that he “Runs like a broken-legged dog.” So, um… Not at all because it’s too busy laying on the ground whimpering about its leg? Of course not! It means that he’s panting and puffing, which is to say, he’s saying “Pant” and “Puff”, and the occasional “Huff”. Also, is it just me, or does he look like his jaw is broken?
We cut over to some Dread troopers, called “commandos” here, who are preparing a trap to attack Cap, but to their shock and awe, he touches the emblem on his chest, shouts his contractually obligated catchphrase, and…
A two-page spread shows us the results, along with a title card. So, the Power On transformation was one of the big visual effects things of the show, a sensory overload with strobing lights and complex crossfades and the best visual effects a Commodore Amiga could produce, so how does that translate to serial art?