Wednesday, January 23, 2019

DC Primal Age #1 Review

A Primal Letdown

Writer: Marv Wolfman
Art Team: Scott Koblish, Tony Avina, Wes Abbott
Cover Price: $9.99
Release Date: January 22, 2019

You may have walked down your local Target aisles and seen a strange mash up, packaged much like the classic He-Man and Masters of the Universe toy-line from the 80's, only with DC Characters in the iconic poses of He-Man, Skeletor, and the rest of the merry crew. That my friends is what the folks over at DC are calling the DC Primal Age. Being the huge He-Man and DC fan that I am, I was pumped when this was all announced, mostly because the inner 5 year old inside me screamed with anticipation of yesteryear again. The most recent announcement of a 100 page Target exclusive comic book only added to my excitement. So with that being said lets see what we have on our hands here shall we.

The DC Primal Age, as I already stated, draws obvious parallels to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. While I was too young to really critique the comic when I was a kid, I did look through them, and assumed this would follow closely in those footsteps of swords and sorcery. Things certainly start that way, and are setup interestingly enough with mysterious woman breaching a castle wall, in attempts to steal a glowing orb. Pretty standard fare until our thief in the night is confronted by a Primal Age Batman, riding Ace his giant Hound. I was actually partially sold at this point, however what follows after these few brief moments, make this feel like a cool concept in name alone, and only that.

The interesting beginning leads to Batman and the mystery woman mixing it up after the attempts to steal this orb, and should really showcase and setup what these characters can do, especially how they would be different from the modern day counterparts. However all we really get in this initial fight sequence is a very crowded battle scene, where by page six,  the progression of things had me wondering what the hell exactly happened, and how. 

The mystery woman seemingly gets away, quickly revealed to be Wonder Woman, who in the matter of a page turn runs into the Primal Age Joker. The Joker is also after the orb Wonder Woman just stole from Batman, and in possession of some of his own orbs as well, resulting in another quick fight ensuing. Batman spoils that party chasing Joker off, who gets in maybe the issues best one liner, before another quick skirmish between Batman and Wonder Woman, leads them into a team up to find Aquaman.

Get the drift yet? We're just bouncing around to different fights, which not only don't give you any info about whats going on with these orbs yet, but also dont do a great job establishing the differences between our modern day heroes, and these Primal Age versions, outside the first couple panels. It's just business as usual here, similar weapons, similar characteristics, even the costumes truly don't look all that different here.  All that really stands out as unique right now is that this is all called the Primal Age, and it at times shifts to a castle type setting. Its just far from unique, except the toys, those are some beauties. Buy the toys people, that's all this is here to remind you to do. 

Next is a hysterical trip to Atlantis, where Wonder Woman and Batman must wear enchanted Puffer-Fish on their faces, to recruit Aquaman. It might be the silliest thing I've ever seen, not worth the price of admission mind you, but if you see this panel it's going to give you a belly laugh. Anyway, from there its off to check in on Joker's plan to "collect them all" at the Ha-Hacienda, and by that I mean our story's McGuffin, the orbs.

Once we understand Joker's Pokemon-esque plan, the heroes begin to put together one of their own, as they gather in Themyscira. We get a bunch more characters thrown into the mix as Superman joins the party, with Green Lantern, and the Flash. About all we get out of this scene, before another fight, is that the distrust levels between Superman and Batman immediately reach BvsS levels of angst, while also coming off as quite silly. You almost want them to say "Martha" and be done with it. All that fun is quickly broken up by another Joker attack, who's now accompanied by a gaggle of other DC villains, all doing what they do best, causing chaos. The villains all have their own unique look, more so than the heroes, and while none are really spotlighted to great effect in this first story, some of the stronger back-ups come from the roster of bad guys at play here.

From this point forward the quality of story really takes a dip, getting especially wonky, taking time to follow three individual heroes, in quick one page displays. The problem here isn't squeezing these scenes in, its that instead of showcase the three heroes we haven't had much time with yet, Primal Age Flash, Green Lantern, and Superman, we watch them be awful at being heroes, as they're quickly taken down one by one, and turned to the Jokers side of the battle, via Scarecrow gas.

Things wind down in this first story, which is about 27 pages long, with Superman revealing he was tricking everyone the whole time, and not under scarecrow gas. This turns the tide of battle, as the heroes save Themyscira together from sinking into the sea, and the day is won in the process ... but don't you dare bring up a Justice League around Batman, he's not ready.

The End? For me it was, YES!

This first story, and even the rest of the book as a whole, leave a lot to be desired. My initial impression after reading the entire thing was that it comes off as something very rushed, that resembles more of a poorly done parody, than a true new DC Universe, say for example like the Injustice video game world. Injustice was much more fully fleshed out, adding the ability to tell stories in that world, and really open things up for some fun.  This is just about cool looking toys, with not much thought put into it outside of that, which feels like a missed opportunity if you ask me. For a product requesting $10 of your consumer money, you would be better off spending that towards one of the throwback Primal Age toys, which at least have an appealing look, and can be at the minimum a conversation starter. Unless you want to show your friends the panel of Batman sticking a puffer-fish to his face willingly, that is about all the fun you'll find here.

Once you get this book home and start reading it buyer remorse will almost immediately set in, not because it's aimed at kids either, it just poor storytelling, kids wouldn't even enjoy this. It just has the feel of a product rushed to market, all to capitalize on some internet hype currently happening with the toy line. I know these comics are likely supplemental material to these toys that have been released. My argument to that is Injustice and its sequel are simply a tie-in to a video game too, but Tom Taylor turned that into something interesting, making an excellent book out of it. That's what I wanted here and was a bit let down I didn't get it.

There's a splattering of one shots that make up the remaining 75 pages of the stories in this title. They vary in quality from laughably bad, to barely passable, to pretty alright, you can make your pick of which is which if you get this. What is cool is each story represents a different individual character, shedding some light on their background, and arcs so far in this new universe. As I mentioned earlier this is where the book seems to have a bit more fun with the bad guys, as the heroes tend to get standard treatment type stuff, Wonder Woman being the worst offender.  When the writer takes a little time to make things just different enough these work out okay, when its just a retelling of a story that wouldn't change if told in a modern day setting, things tend to fall apart and become uninteresting.  Its a large problem with a good chunk of the content in this 100 page giant to be honest making it seem just superfluous, especially for the price tag.

There is a very large creative team involved here, it's not just the Marv Wolfman and art team above on the show for all 100 pages, so the art will be mixed up as the stories change. It too is a bit hit and miss, but there is some good stuff here, and for the most part, the art works better as an experience just flipping through the book if you avoid the words, and don't think too much about things.

Bits and Pieces:

For a product requesting $10 of your consumer money, you would be better off spending that towards one of the throwback Primal Age toys, which at least have an appealing look, and can be at the minimum a conversation starter. Unless you want to show your friends the panel of Batman sticking a puffer-fish to his face willingly, because that was about all the fun I find in here. A few decent short stories, with some good are mixed in among the muck, but don't rush to spend the cash as a whole at your local Target during the next errand run.


No comments:

Post a Comment