Monday, January 20, 2014

It All Started with the Big Bang! Part 18! (Issue #34)

This is the second-to-last issue of Big Bang Comics, and the last one with actual Big Bang talent behind it; #35 is a crossover with Alan Moore's 1963 by Jim Valentino, and while it sort of reads like a "JLA vs Champions of Angor/Avengers vs. Squadron Supreme" story, I don't think it's really in the same spirit as other Big Bang fare. Especially not this one.

See, Wonder Woman's Silver Age material is not so fondly remembered as Superman's or Batman's. Among other things, she had the most pitiable rogue's gallery imaginable, with luminaries like Mouse Man and Dr. Domino. The solution to that was to make Silver Age Venus more of an ersatz Silver Age Thor; this makes her, along with the Badge, one of only two recurring Big Bang characters based partially on a Marvel hero. There's also some New Gods smatterings -- Venus's sidekick Cupid, seen tangling with Venus above, is clearly modeled after Mr. Miracle's sidekick Oberon.

The story turns out to be a pretty standard origin deal, though since Silver Age Venus' adventures in the Golden Age are still in-continuity, it's a rare re-origin. The Roman Gods have long abandoned Earth after they stopped being worshiped, and now live in a new Olympus on Jupiter. Well, most of them -- apparently Jupiter's brothers Neptune and Pluto, as well as his son Mars, live elsewhere (but not on their own namesake planets/dwarf planet, oddly). 

For the goddess of love and laughter, for some reason we're introduced to Venus in a sparring match with her stepson Cupid, who is hilariously envisioned as a balding, white-haired, musclebound dwarf. Yes, her stepson; he was born to some magic double of her by her ex-husband Mars. I don't really know why she hangs out with him, though. Or why he would look so much older than her.

Mercury is so tight-lipped he doesn't even deliver the message, he just directs them to Juno, who reveals that Jupiter is ailing. Venus goes to her father, who tells her that the gods are all in peril of dying as he is, because man's belief in them has waned so. Neptune, Pluto, and Mars remain strong, as they are still revered by many, and they will seek to take over the Earth once more upon Jupiter's passing -- thus Venus is to head to Earth to raise the good gods' stature in the human consciousness. 

The scene cuts to Pluto and Mars, who are spying on Jupiter and see this whole exchange. Like I said, Venus is a little Thor and a little New Gods -- rather than a god acting the part of Loki, Pluto and Mars play the roles of Darkseid and Kalibak, the fiendish overlord and his brutish aide-de-camp. Although, looking at the cover again, you'd think the roles were the reverse of how they are in the comic -- check out Mars' confident arm-fold vs Pluto's primal rage face.

They exposit about how actively they've been manipulating the world of late -- spreading hatred, prejudice, racial tension, etc, and are firm in their belief that Venus cannot drive mankind to love and laugh again. Also Mars has a grudge against her for spurning him. You know, if he can just spy on her whenever, I think that's the solution to his problem right there.

The human she rejected Mars for was Jason Proudhawk, an American GI. She was heartbroken when he was shot down in Korea, and retreated to Olympus, where she's been moping about it ever since. Gee, I wonder if he's still alive?

 Despite Jupiter not really mentioning him being part of the plan, Cupid tags along on the journey -- partially to watch out for Venus, partially for beer and pizza. I'm almost buying Cupid as a cute comic-relief sidekick, except he's not nearly as annoying as a real Silver Age comic-relief sidekick.

If you're like me, you'd think "hey, so the story can finally start for real now!" at this page... but it ends on the next one (or two, it's a spread), as Venus and Cupid land in the middle of a Vietnam War protest, between angry protesters and riot police. Man, she never got to meet her Funky Flashman!

Still, it was a pretty cool story. The Kirby impression was fairly convincing, and you can't argue with how straightforward the plot was. You'd be surprised the kind of stuff I have to leave out or gloss over when I cover most of these stories.

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