Tuesday, April 5, 2022

One-Star Squadron #5 Review

It's Like The Office... With Depression And Misery

Written by: Mark Russell
Art by: Steve Lieber
Colors by: Dave Stewart
Letters by: Dave Sharpe
Cover art by: Steve Lieber, Dave Stewart
Cover price $3.99
Release date: April 5, 2022
One-Star Squadron #5 deals with the aftermath of the fire that burned the HEROZ4U branch office to the ground. As suspicions build towards everyone with a motive, the culprit is revealed, and the consequences are more devastating than first thought.

Was It Good? 
How's that for an intentionally vague blurb. The entire issue is a buildup to the big reveal and truly has no value or purpose until you get to the reveal, so if you don't want spoilers, avert your eyes now.

[Spoilers Ahead]

This issue is what a typical reader would call "filler." Its value lies in the last half—the reveal and the decision immediately after it could have been handled in a 2-page issue. In short, only the last half matters. If you skip the rest of the issue, you miss nothing.

For you, maybe that's okay. But, perhaps I'm being too hasty because some plot developments are peppered throughout the book. We learn the office was burned down by way of arson and not an accident (not a surprise). All suspicion immediately points to the hero with motivation (also, not a surprise). And, we learn HQ has no intentions of rebuilding, opting instead to pocket the insurance money. When you spell it out like this, the list may seem rather mundane. You would be right.

It all leads up to the last half of the issue where we learn... (BIG Spoilers Ahead)

Minute Man started the fire. Lex Luthor recently recruited him to spy on the heroes, but after some time, his guilt got the better of him, and he burned down the office to destroy the records rather than Lex get them, thinking the office would be rebuilt later. MinuteMan didn't know that Gangbuster was in the building when it was torched, and he died in the fire. Responsible for Arson and Manslaughter, Red Tornado takes pity on MinuteMan by giving him money, and a head start to flee.

You have to ask yourself, "Is this entertainment? Is it worth $3.99 and 20 minutes of my time in exchange for whatever Russell is trying to say?". For this reviewer, the answer is an emphatic "no." This is depressing dreck utterly devoid of entertainment value. You get the impression Russell is trying to mimic Tom King's misery porn style but lacks the commitment to sink to King's level of character destruction. Someday, someone may examine this series to find a reason for its existence. The answer, however, may take years beyond my lifetime to figure out.

The art is generally okay. Since most of this issue is dedicated to talking and various levels of character angst, Lieber's photo references look more apparent here. It's not bad art, but nothing is exciting, which makes it a good match for the writing.

Make sure to listen to our Weekly DC Comics Recap and Review Podcast to hear us talk more about this book.  Just look up "Weird Science DC Comics" anywhere you listen to podcasts, and make sure to rate, review, and subscribe!

Bits and Pieces

One-Star Squadron #5 is a sad, depressing take on tragedy befalling the lives of hapless (and hopeless) office workers. Despite the eclectic collection of colorful heroes, this issue is devoid of life, excitement, energy, or engagement. If your idea of entertainment is watching people standing around and being depressed and miserable for 22 pages, this one is for you.


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