Friday, July 10, 2015

Finally, a Big Bang Theory I don't hate!


No, not that dumb show: from 1994, Icon #20, "The Big Bang Theory" Written by Dwayne McDuffie, art by M.D. Bright and Mike Gustovich, with guest-artists ChrisCross, John Paul Leon, and Prentis Rollins.

There's a few things going on at once this issue: the cover proclaims "Celebrating Our 100th Milestone Issue!" even though this was issue #20; it was the 100th issue of the Milestone line. 100 straight on time, too. This was part three of "the Mothership Connection" which would run another issue, but lend its title to a larger collection. And Milestone's other big heroes--namely Static, Hardwire, and if you're feeling generous Wise Son--guest-star, as Icon breaks the conspiracy behind the so-called "Big Bang." When the gangs of Paris Island agreed to settle once and for all with a massive shootout, it was an open secret; and the mayor wanted to use the opportunity to shake her "soft-on-crime" image. Her plan revolved around a secret weapon, a tear gas that would contain a radioactive marker so any gang members that might get away could be rounded up later.

Instead, the tear gas contained a substance called "quantum-juice," that killed 90% of anyone it touched, while the rest became "Bang Babies," either horrible monsters or superhumans. The cops weren't actually even there, but involved in the cover-up; and now Icon is putting together the last of the pieces with honest cop Detective MacCullum. Icon consults with the Shadow Cabinet's Dharma, who had been accused of being responsible for the gas: Dharma, whose motives are mysterious, is an utter drama queen about it. His power is to see the future, so he admits he could've stopped it; but knows the bang babies are all too necessary for the future.

In his civilian identity of Augustus Freeman, Icon confronts the mayor--who he had been dating, for some years--and confronts her; along with a secret identity reveal that makes Clark Kent to Superman look plausible. That has to be super-awkward for the detective still in the room there.

Next, Icon brings in the Blood Syndicate's Wise Son, the monsterish Payback, and Static, to track down the real culprit behind the big bang: Doctor Nemo. As typical, everyone's looking for Nemo, but his power was making that difficult: unless he concentrated, no one realizes he's there. He had been staying at a hotel in Paris, simply unnoticed by anyone, until Icon and everyone show up, with Icon revealing a little secret: bang babies bathed in positrons glow!

Nemo attempts to crank up his power to become unnoticeable again, but burns himself out, reducing himself to a pile of bones. It's not a lot of closure for the guys, even though Icon also visits Edwin Alva, the megalomaniac industrialist villain of Hardware. (It's often left open if Alva is a genuine monster, or merely a supremely self-centered capitalist dickhole.) Icon makes one final stop, to his sidekick, Rocket. She was on maternity leave, but Icon gives her a new costume and gear...since he won't be around to give it to her later; he would be leaving earth.

Icon, like Superman, was an alien visitor to earth; but unlike Supes Icon was an adult when he arrived...in the 18th century. The escape pod he arrived in had tech to mimic the local inhabitants, and the first person he saw was a black woman, so he'd been living as a black man for over a century and a half. So kind of not surprising he wouldn't have the same warm feelings towards humans Superman does (or at least all of them) or that he'd want to get out as soon as he could!

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

You know, I never really had that much of an interest in Milestone comics or characters, but I probabaly should. I do remember back in '06/'07 DC bringing them back briefly, only to job to the JL at the time, ands that's even with Dwayne McDuffie at the helm.
NO wonder they got pissed and left DC.