Friday, March 1, 2013

365 Comics...60: Blasters Special #1 (1989)

Invasion! still remains one of my all-time favourite event comics.  It was 3 80-page issues released over 3 months which kept the cross-over disruptions to a minimum. It was well conceived and well executed and once it was over it didn't change anything all that drastically... except spawning L.E.G.I.O.N. '89 and Justice League Europe , excellent books both.  The redheaded step-child of Invasion! was Blasters, the series that never happened.

Comics used to "backdoor pilot" series all the time, testing out heroes in team-up books and guest appearances and gauging reaction before deciding to give them their own series.  By the time the 90's ended event comics seemed almost solely designed to launch new series (or reboot entire universes).  Often now though new books pst appear, throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks, unsure whether or not it's ready.  For a brief time in the '80's it seemed that mini-series were the way to go, but the one-shot or Special seemed to be solely the domain of characters or concepts that couldn't sustain a series, pet projects of writers or editors put out to the public often in desperate hopes of gaining traction.  Pilots, like in television, only sadder in some ways.

Blasters was supposed to be an Invasion! spinoff, you could tell, as these characters were positioned in the miniseries somewhat prominently.  Alas, as Bob Greenberger explains in the editorial midway through the book, its biggest champion, Robert Loren Fleming, had a falling out with DC editorial and left their ranks for a while.This derailed plans and set the title back, but Bob Greenberger was still keen on the idea of exploring these misfit characters. 

Rather than letting a lot of time and effort go to waste, Blasters was allowed this pilot, now with Peter David on board as writer and James Fry on art.  It reads and looks like a now-or-never hastily constructed effort, very loose and playful.  It toys with breaking the fourth wall, ala Ambush Bug or She-Hulk and David seemed to enjoy dropping plenty of gags throughout, including a cheeky reference to the Hitchhikers Guide, spider-aliens eating Pop Tarts, naming spider alien after Spider-Man creative teams,  and playing with comic-book translation conventions.

Blasters obviously didn't make it beyond these pages and to be honest I dont think they ever appeared again.  David knows how to write fun comics but this was a little too light.  I could see the Snapper Carr as mental patient angle working on its own treated with more severity and making the humor a little darker, but here it's barely a thing, a throwaway character hurdle easily overcome.

As well Fry's art is pretty sloppy.  I've seen him do solid work elsewhere around the same tiue period so I kun he's not always as uneven and unappealing as this.

Ah Blasters, we hardly knew ye. Probably for the best.

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