This is a special issue to me because it's the first Big Bang I ever saw. I didn't read it, I just saw an ad for it in Previews magazine. I was sort of like 11 or 8 or somewhere around there at the time, I doubt I really got the 'joke', but it interested me nonetheless.
I don't recall if this is the debut of the Knight Watchman's archenemy, the Pink Flamingo, but it's a great showcase of the character. Essentially the Pink Flamingo is a combination of the Joker and the Penguin -- a gaunt, manic, and flamboyant man obsessed with birds. I'm also reminded of Jack A'Dandy, the dapper Joker-alike Professor Night fought in Alan Moore's Supreme. I know Grant Morrison created a Batman villain called the Flamingo, and being that he gave Ultiman a cameo in Final Crisis I almost think that's an intentional reference.
The story in earnest begins with the Pink Flamingo tinkering with a huge contraption, putting the finishing touches on his latest evil plan. He's created a machine that extracts the 'essence' of an animal, which a human can then drink to gain attributes of that animal.
I'm almost getting tired of these little winks to the characters' inspirations. That's not even the last one in this story, either. Still, at least it's not "Jordan Stuart". Anyway, the Flamingo starts his airborne crimewave by stealing a priceless bird statue from a charity auction that Reid and Jerry Randall happen to be attending.
In a move that surprised me, the Randalls don't have their costumes on them or anything and simply resolve to get him next time. Alas, 'tis not to be, as he constantly evades capture with his new flying powers. And (no-prize attempt) I imagine cops aren't shooting at him for fear of what will happen to the precious stuff he's carrying when he drops it.
They end up tracking down his hideout and lying in wait for him, drinking the essences of a stray cat and a sparrow to fight fire with fire and match the Flamingo's new animal powers.
The machine is destroyed in the battle, and an enraged Pink Flamingo commands his birds to attack. only they just fly away (except the ostrich and penguin I guess). Idiot, only alien hummingbird-man suits allow you to talk to and command birds. Knowing when he's beat, he tries to follow suit, only for sparrow-powered Kid Galahad to intercept him, knocking him out cold mid-air with a wing punch.
Luckily, it appears the effects of animal essence simply wear off over time.
Probably one of my favorite Big Bang stories like ever. It's a perfect 50s Dick Sprang Batman story, not a hair out of place in recreating the comics of that era.
After the Knight Watchman story, there's one starring the Dimensioneer. Who's the Dimensioneer? He's got the power to warp space, which he uses to teleport and not much else. He's not really based on any one character, but his stories are very much in the style of 70s Marvel fare. I don't like him that much, gonna skip it. It's not really 'Big Bang' enough, by my estimate. And, no offense, but I'm like the only person who cares about that.
An editor's note mentions that the missing story from BB #18 is still missing, but they're offering up an alternate take on Dragon's run-in with the Badge (and BADGE) from #14 to compensate. The story follows the same beats, but uses a different art style and has different dialogue. Art's a little shakier and there's character stuff with BADGE's elites that I don't think had a place in the "Dragon lost in time" story, but it's still cool to see.
BADGE agents clearly receive advanced training for quips and consternation.
We learn a little more about Trooper, Bobby, and BADGE here; the director and his top field agent are really Rick and Roberta (hence "Bobby") Ryan, and they think Dragon may be a rogue government clone, or "Accidental".
And Rick/Trooper seems to have some connection to the Badge, whom we all know is a robot from the events of #14. I don't really get it. Anyway, as before Bobby goes after Dragon and gets creamed, only for backup to arrive in the form of the Badge himself.
That's the same dialogue from the Badge reveal panel in #14, with added Dragon thought bubbles. Seeing the same scene from a different angle is kind of giving me Metal Men flashbacks. And just like before the Time Being steals the Infinity Orb, causing Dragon and the Badge to give chase to the end of time. The... well, not the end, not even of this story, but that's where it stops. Eh, it was alright, not a winner like the Knight Watchman story