Monday, January 21, 2013

365 Comics...#21: Firearm #1 (1993)

I go through these obsessive phases where I think that just because I love one thing an artist does, I'm going to love everything they've done (or, sometimes, I think I need to love everything they've done as a form of validation of the love I have).  James Robinson was one of the many, many objets d'amour I had in the thick of the 1990's, thanks largely to his run on Starman, but bolstered by the amazing mini-series The Golden Age.  I started making it my mission to track down everything he had written, although with limited means, and a lack of presence of  e-commerce, I didn't get too far, and by 1998, despite Leave It To Chance, Vigilante, a Batman Legends of the Dark Knight tale and some other brief stories, Robinson had fallen out of my favour.  The dwindling quality of Starman in its second half, and his quickly abandoned stints on JSA and Hawkman in the late 90's... I dunno, all left a sour taste of him as a writer in my mouth.

I gave him a second chance when he re-emerged in the mid-aughts, with his Batman/Detective Comics run and his Superman run, but none of it worked for me.  Recently his mini-series The Shade actually managed to recapture the admiration I felt for him when Starman first started, but little else of his work in recent years has even remotely come close to feeling like Robinson in his mid-90's heyday.

Firearm #1 I picked up shortly before I turned on Robinson in '98.  It was one of those works of his I had been meaning to read for some time.  I never bothered to read it.  I recall hearing that, of the Ultraverse line, it was one of the best.  I never read many of the other titles (I had burned out on "new universes" at that point), so I can't truly judge that statement.  I think I always hoped it was another of Robinson's mid-90's triumphs, especially paired with Cully Hamner.  Alas.

Firearm is, well, it's not good.  The title character is a private detective, a British ex-patriot establishing himself in Pasadena.  He seems to specialize in dealing with "Ultras", and in many respects he seems more like a bounty hunter than a PI.  Robinson's character has a few nuances substituting for character.  He says "Streuth" a lot, which... do Brits really say that?  He likes the L.A. Kings, and seems fixated on Wayne Gretzky.  He also likes his gun.  

He takes a case, and winds up in a ridiculous high-speed chase with gunfire and car-hopping.  It's an illogical and indecipherable action sequence, which is followed by an encounter with a snake man disguised as a police officer (it's not as cool as it sounds).  I dunno, I can't blame Robinson for all of the mess here.  Hamner's art is not terrific.  It's not as stylized as it was back on Green Lantern Mosaic, nor is it as clean as it is today.  It's very dated in the '90's, seemingly taking a stab towards "Image"-style: lots of useless lines, sparse backgrounds... but that might be John Lowe's inks as well giving off that impression.

The big thing about Firearm was that it was had a "zero" issue that was, actually, a 30 minute film, released on VHS and limited to 30,000 copies.  Amazingly, it's not on YouTube.  I have to wonder what the retail price was on the video (edit: $15 apparently). as limited to only 30,000 copies, they can't have any budget for that movie, not if they were expecting to make any money anyway.  Even if it was on YouTube, I'm not sure I'd watch it... probably not the whole thing anyway, if it's as bad as I envision it only can be.  I mean, look at this:

This was back in the 90's when everything was EXTREME!  Notice they don't even show the comics in the commercial.  Back in the 90's around this time there was a lot of discussion about how to grow the industry, to bring more people to comics, and "advertising on TV" was constantly brought up.  Well, Malibu/Ultraverse did it, and now you know why it's never been done again.

No comments: