Thursday, May 23, 2013

It all started with the Big Bang! Part 3 (Issue #2)

Moving on with another issue of Big Bang Comics, this one is as interesting as the previous one for a few reasons.

That's one right there -- this issue features a team-up between the Knight Watchman and a fake Silver Age version of Image character Shadowhawk. Meaning, yes, Batman is teaming up with Batman. Incidentally, calling those aliens red is pretty charitable, and the Knight Watchman overdid it a little with the purple here.

So, Dick Sprang style places this in the fake 50s, and the story is about being invaded by angry reds. In case that's too subtle for you, the story opens at a US Senate hearing chaired by a Senator MacNamara. MacNamara is trying to crack down on costumed superheroes, and challenges any of them to come forward and speak in their defense. This challenge is heard both by the Knight Watchman in his Watchtower and Shadowhawk in his Shadowlair. They both decide to head for Washington immediately to give their testimony. 

As it happens, Shadowhawk also has a kid sidekick, Squirrel, who is also his son. I'm not especially familiar with Shadowhaw, so I don't know if that's based on anything from the character's history, but I would be surprised if it were.

Anyway, the Pentagon receives a message from one of the red aliens on the cover and title page, and the Knight Watchman and Shadowhawk both run into a flying saucer on their way to Washington. I just want to point out Shadowhawk's "Shadowcar" real quick, it's amazing.

They start tailing the saucer, and it starts to dive sharply until it crashes into the ground. They get out to take a look and introduce each other; apparently they know of one another but have never met before. Cut to a secret lair in Washington, where the mysterious hooded Agent X receives radio communication from some guy about their saucer.

J. Edgar Hoover puts the Knight Watchman and Shadowhawk on the saucer crash investigation, and the Knight Watchman soon realizes it's not an alien craft, but the creation of his old friend Dr. Igor Eisner, who has been missing for some months. The Knight Watchman says the saucer was wired to crash if it got close to the Flying Shield, and notices a clue hidden in the wiring, as well, and this is a perfect example of Silver Age silliness if I ever saw one. 

As you can imagine, Agent X has Eisner captive, but not for long, as the Knight Watchman and Shadowhawk burst into the room and start clobbering Agent X's fake alien goons. Agent X is about to get away when Dr. Eisner stops him by throwing his t-square ruler at him. Agent X is unmasked, revealing Senator MacNamara, who was trying to discredit masked heroes so nobody would be able to stop him. The story closes out with a hearty handshake between our heroes, who also have crazy huge smiles on their faces.

Moving on to the real money story this issue, starring the Badge.

The Badge (and the Rookies, Bobbie and Trooper) are the second interesting thing in this issue -- virtually everything in Big Bang Comics is based on DC material, and while this is partially true of the Badge by way of the Guardian, he's mostly Captain America, especially owing to his costumed kid sidekicks and their marching band uniforms. Note the credited names: Jack Simmons and Joe Kingler, mangled versions of Joe Simon and Jack "the King" Kirby.

So the Public Enemy #1 the newsboy is barking about is Louie "Scarface" Provolone, who is for all intents and purposes Al Capone, duh. As he's taken to the electric chair, the Badge and the Rookies wait atop a city rooftop for the telltale toll of midnight (wherever this is it has a huge clocktower with bells). The Badge is happy to be rid of Scarface, but knows that someone else will take his place sooner or later. 

A bank security guard tells them that he fired the shots, at thieves -- but bullets didn't slow these guys down! They wore gowns and had skin white as snow. As the Rookies follow some footprints they found, the Badge responds to a cry for help from a nearby apartment, where a woman claims her recently dead husband robbed her. Her description of him matches that of the bank robbers. Knowing that at least one of the culprits is supposed to be dead, the Badge does the logical thing and goes to the morgue, which is incidentally where the footprints led.

"A week's allowance" -- are these his kids? Anyway, Dr. Cadaver, who is clearly the most trustworthy, honest man in the world, laughs at the idea of bodies getting up and walking... until Bobbie points out fresh mud on Lieber's, and the Badge notes a man whose toe tag says he drowned has clearly been shot.

I'm just going to hope Cadaver would have disposed of that evidence had he the chance; these guys did kind of come minutes after the zombies returned, and all. So Cadaver confesses that he reanimates corpses to commit crimes, and calls himself the city's new crime boss. He also pulls a gun on them and makes it clear that they aren't leaving alive if he has anything to say about it. Jeez, the Badge was talking about a new bad guy filling the void left by Scarface, but the first known zombie crime was mere moments after Scarface's death. 

Cadaver uses comic book science and a big console with levers to control the zombies; he commands them to kill the Badge and the Rookies as a demonstration. While Trooper and the Badge contend with the zombies, control over them is wrested from Cadaver by Bobbie. However, Cadaver has a surprise in store: a resurrected Louie "Scarface" Provolone! Would Cadaver really have his body not half an hour after his execution? 

Scarface feels no pain and his body is hard as rock now, so he's more dangerous than ever. When the Badge resorts to using Cadaver's dropped gun, the bullets sink into Scarface's flesh harmlessly. At first, he's still not sure what happened to him; he doesn't seem to remember his execution. Cadaver tells him everything, including the "Dr. Cadaver is the new crime boss" thing, as he hands Scarface a tommy gun. Naturally, Scarface objects to being anybody's lackey and shoots Cadaver full of lead first thing.

I just realized that this story has gangsters, zombies, kid sidekicks, and lots of gunshots -- if the Phantom Lady were here, every Comics Code no-no would be represented. The gun jams, giving Bobbie the time to flip the switch on Cadaver's console, "turning off" the zombie crime boss -- for good this time, ideally. Is it me or did Bobbie do all the real work throughout the caper? The Badge and Trooper better step it up next time. Glad to be done with this, the heroes leave after taking note of Cadaver's body. However, a police medical examiner later discovers that Cadaver has been dead for months. DUN DUN DUUUUN.

No comments:

Post a Comment