"The Bobo the Kitten Gambit"
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Tom Grummett(p), Prentis Rollins, Al Vey, Wade von Grawbadger(i), Rob Ro(c)
Kurt Busiek characterizes the Controller into an intriguing individual that surpasses this alien's pre-Crisis beginnings. I like also that a nice bit of science is worked in through the dialogue. The Controllers and Guardians evolved from a common ancestor, and the Controller's easy acceptance suits his intelligence. He seems further to acknowledge that his races while ancient are not deities. This makes his capture much easier to accept and gives the character a kind of elegance.
Mr. Busiek and Mr. Grummett outdo themselves when presenting Firestorm. Polaris' recognition of the hero very quietly alludes to his encounters with the Justice League as well as Firestorm's time serving in the group. The Nuclear Man's powers boil off the pages, and his discomfort with the business side of the Power Company is a nice piece of subtle characterization reliant upon his history as a traditional super-hero who expects no reward for his or her good deeds.
The brief scene with the Justice League will interest any fan of The Super-Friends or the more potent Cartoon Network incarnations. I was admittedly lost as to who the two heroes accompanying the League were, but Superman sounds like a baritone and takes the lead like the pro-hero he is. Perhaps if Kurt Busiek wrote the DCU Superman, the titles would start to make sense and become entertaining to read.
The deficits of this issue are unfortunately many. Mr. Busiek portrays Christine St. Clair, the companion of the original Manhunter, as rabid in her mistrust of Kirk LePaul, the last surviving clone of the original. She is not the cool, careful Interpol agent created by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson. We also have no history of her personality change. Asano Nitobe never was her sensei, yet this is the role in which Mr. Busiek casts him.
Witchfire comes off as far too bitchy. If the only thing of which she is currently capable is to provide communication, she really should not carp about it, or she express her frustration neutrally rather than blame everybody else for misusing her power. If such an opinion is really an expression of her frustration, Mr. Busiek needs to make this clearer: perhaps contrast her dialogue with her thoughts.
The conclusion of the story recalls the sixth season finale of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where Xander reaches the good Willow tormented at the core of her corruption. The problem regarding the Power Company lies in the execution. Buffy established the history through six seasons of character interaction. This gives Buffy's finale meaning and heart-wrenching depth. Mr. Busiek creates an instant history that makes the ending seem contrived.
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