When I heard about this series, I asked “Why make a book about a third string character little known outside of Justice Society of America?” Now I’m asking, “What happens next?”
Michael Holt is an Olympic athlete with a genius IQ and a billion dollar company. But that’s of no comfort when his wife dies in an accident. Holt is about to kill himself when he’s visited by a young man claiming to be his son. He reminds Holt of his wife’s dying words: “Educate the world.” So Holt uses his company to promote scientific education and progress. And he fights crime with flying balls.
This comic is the mirror-opposite of Green Arrow. Both issues have billionaire CEOs who use their resources to secretly fight crime. Unlike Green Arrow, we learn why Michel Holt does this. We learn about his personal life. We meet his friends and would-be lovers. We see the tragedy that changed him. We learn who Michael Holt is as a person and a crime fighter. Can’t say that about Oliver Queen. And that’s what a first issue should do.
The comic also has appearances by two other members of the JSA. Jamaal, aka J.J. Thunder, is now working for Holt as the standard boy genius. Power Girl is re-imagined as Karen Starr, head of a successful software firm and unwilling corner in a love triangle. So a one-time leader of the JSA with the powers of Superman is changed into a rich genius who’s a supporting player in someone else’s life. And she has normal-sized breasts. I’m not sure that’s an equal trade.
I got a real kick out of Holt’s super-science. He works out of the ninth dimension, has magic flying pinballs, and an earthquake prevention machine that he turns into a earthquake-making machine. The story moves at a quick pace rushing from fight scene to character drama to weird menace to fight scene. This felt like a Golden Age comic book. A billionaire philanthropist fighting crime with super-science, and he has a platonic girlfriend? There’s even a last-minute twist of Holt being possessed by an evil force that compels him to kill a senator with an earthquake machine. Old school, baby.
The art could be better. The overall style has a loose, fluid feeling. People tend to shift and alter between panels. Face tend to look like lumpy potatoes. There’s also some confusion about what’s happening in the panels. The opening two-page spread implies Holt is jumping through a hole in the wall before it was made by the villain’s weapon. We later see a victim of possession walk past a homeless man. In his next panel, he’s teleported behind the homeless man. And Karen Starr’s neck suddenly grows four inches while arguing with a romantic rival. Loose and fluid is fine for fight scenes, but everything else suffers. I think a book about a science-powered hero ought to have a tighter, cleaner style, like Dan Jurgens’ and George Perez’s in Green Arrow!
One more thing: Remember that “purple woman” who’s appearing in all the #1 issues? She appears here looking like a man. With a mustache. And “she’s” seemed a little masculine in other comics I’ve read. Is this one of her powers? Or are artists just coloring background characters purple at the last minute?
I enjoyed this comic more than I thought I would. It’s fun and fast-paced, with an intelligent character motivated to help the world. I’ll be buying this next month, along with Action Comics, Mean at War and OMAC. And that’s good company.
Michael Deeley is proudly serving in the US Air Force while inoculating his fellow airmen with his liberal views. He’s currently struggling to balance a life that includes family, career advancement, video games, and Mystery Science Theater 3000 in addition to comic books. He currently buys only three monthly series: Irredeemable, Incorruptible and Dark Horse Presents. The rest are minis, specials, trades and back issues.