[24 May 2006]
BOOM! Studios, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis recently announced that “BWAH-HA-HA” has become exclusive to BOOM!. No, neither Giffen, who is working at DC on the weekly 52 and at Marvel on the Annihilation storyline, nor DeMatteis, who has Abadazad in the works at Hyperion Books, are exclusive. “BWAH-HA-HA” refers to the writing style Giffen and DeMatteis made famous on DC’s Justice League series. A style which relies heavily humor, hence the term “BWAH-HA-HA”.
It only makes sense that Giffen and DeMatteis would move this style to BOOM!. After all, DC has been busy killing off a bunch of characters they used in the Justice League, so it’s not like they can go back there. Planetary Brigade stakes claim to this style from the get go, starting with the covers. Issue one’s cover is a take-off of the famous cover to Justice League #1 and the cover for issue two parodies the one found on Justice League of America #28, one of the silliest covers of the Silver Age.
So, we know what we are getting with Planetary Brigade before we even crack open the cover: a not-so-serious story featuring costumed super-heroes, which in today’s day and age is a welcome change from the norm.
While Planetary Brigade might not hold up as well as those old Justice League‘s you have in the closet, that’s only because that title had the extra naughtiness of featuring decades old characters acting foolish. Planetary Brigade features brand new characters, and stands on its own as an entertaining story.
The plot revolves around a man who is being used as a portal so that extra-dimensional demons can enter “our” universe. The team works together to stop it. That’s the plot in a nutshell. It is simple, yes, but also very effective.
The fact that Giffen and DeMatteis are able to tell a complete story with seven, well-defined, main characters in just two issues stands as proof of their skill and experience in the comic field. The expertly use dialogue to flesh out their characters and make each one individual. Many other creators should take note.
Giffen and DeMatteis are also masters of tone, knowing how much humor is enough and when the story should take a more serious turn. This has always been a strong point in their writing, and I am glad that nothing has changed.
The books feature an artist-by-committee. This is a bit distracting, but not so much as to take away from the story. The one exception would be the art work of Mark Badger. Badger works in a much more sketch-like style, which doesn’t fit well with the rest of his cohorts. And since his style doesn’t allow for much detail, it is hard to discern which characters he is actually drawing. I thought these were two new characters being introduced before I read the dialogue. Badger wasn’t helped much by the fact that the heroes were mis-colored either. His section caused confusion which took the reader out of the story. Overall, though, the art was strong, with veterans Barreto and Martin and newcomer Abraham coming out the best.
Planetary Brigade is recommended for any fans of Giffen & DeMatteis or to anyone who would like a change from the bleakness of comics currently on the market.