Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Retro Review: ANIMA #1

Story by Paul Witcover and Elizabeth Hand
Art by Malcolm Davis and Chris Ivy

Anima first appeared in the 90s during DC's big crossover called BLOODLINES. It happened in their annuals. All of them. Each one introduced a new character who received their powers after being infected with an alien parasite left behind when said aliens attacked them with the purpose of draining their spinal fluid. One such character was Courtney Mason, a usually homeless grunge rocker. Out of all the new characters, Courtney/Anima was my favorite, and I can say I didn't really like most of the others, to be honest. But I found Anima interesting because she was a bit unconventional. She was the epitome of grunge. She and her band wandered from place to place, seemingly never truly having any sort of home. And her powers were intriguing. Thanks to the parasite, Courtney was given the power to tap into something called the Animus, an archetype of sentient energy that embodied mankind's rage and masculine drive. With this power, Courtney could leech the spirit essences of the living and the dead to grant her great strength and other physical powers.

The first issue of her series finds her sleeping under newspapers in front of a church, only to be awakened by a police officer and instructed to move along. She is a runaway. Her family remain unaware of her whereabouts, and Courtney herself remains unaware her mother is institutionalized at the Tellus Institute in California, tinkered upon by the cruel Dr. Maxilla Yale. Her father, meanwhile, has hired a member of the ODD to locate his daughter and bring her home.

Courtney needs food, so she attends a rave, and this is where she meets her future band mates Slam, Alison, Judy, and Liv, of the band they call Boojam. They offer her a place to crash, but Courtney refuses and leaves, only to be assaulted by a gang called the Scorpions. She drains the essence of one member, but she is outnumbered and needs to be rescued by Slam and his friends. She then agrees to squat with them at some abandoned tenement. The Animus within taunts Courtney continuously as she rests, adding to the disgust she feels being connected to such a creature.

However, the Scorpions track the group down and attack them, concentrating on Liv, who used to be a member of the gang until they raped her. With the help of the Animus, Courtney defeats the gang, nearly killing one member after sending him out a window, and then she agrees to go on tour with the band.

And so starts the adventures of Anima, a.k.a. Courtney Mason, a most unconventional heroine for certain. The art by Malcolm Davis looks a bit messy, but it fits with the type of story being told here. Back streets, grunge rockers, gangbangers, and teenage runaways litter this series. But it won't be long before the rest of the DC Universe comes knocking. And the Animus isn't the only archetype that will appear as this series marches on. He has family, and they are mean.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Retro Review: INFINITY INC. #1

Story by Roy & Dann
Art by Jerry Ordway and Mike Maclan

Ah, the children (and other relatives) of the Justice Society (and friends). Brainwave. Jade. Obsidian. Northwind. Silver Scarab. Fury.  Power Girl. Huntress. Star-Spangled Kid.  Remember them? DC doesn't...or at least some of them, anyway. Perhaps, for now.

This issue mostly introduces everyone, with a minor skirmish with the Justice Society of America. Brainwave doesn't show up until the end. And at this point, the JSA thinks he's the original guy, with a new look. But the first part of "Generations" is a nice look-see at family on Earth-2, where they all live. The Infinity Inc. team wants to fight crime like their parents, but the JSA think the kids need more experience. And Green Lantern Alan Scott doesn't seem to even remember Jade and Obsidian, who claim to be his children.

This is a classic comic. The creative team really love these guys, and it shows. Even when the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS fouls things up later on. And what's not to love. These are all interesting characters, as I will explore as the reviews continue on.

Unfortunately, at this time, these characters have been wiped out of continuity in one way or another. Huntress was erased thanks to the Crisis. Jade was killed later on during INFINITE CRISIS. Star-Spangled Kid is killed later towards the end of this very series. And Power Girl's history was altered...multiple times during multiple Crisis events.

Currently, in the New 52 DC Universe (counting Rebirth), Power Girl and Huntress live on Earth-2, but both the characters and the planet are not the same as before. Brainwave was also around, but he was killed during EARTH 2: WORLD'S END after trying to take control of the refugees attempting to escape destruction of the planet. Obsidian was with him, but he was killed when Earth-2 exploded (the first time). And at this point, both he and Jade (who doesn't exist...yet) are not the same as before. In the current continuity, Alan Scott is younger...and gay, so he cannot be their father. The New 52 Obsidian wasn't given any kind of history, so his connection to Alan Scott remains unrevealed...and unlikely.

But this is the story of the original Infinity Inc. team. And it starts here.