Beek's Books - an ongoing collection of comic book reviews
 Powers That Be (a.k.a. Star Seed)
(Broadway) $2.50 each
issues #1-4, "Because I Can" featuring Star Seed
by Jim Shooter et al, Andrew Wendel, Art Nichols
issue #1, b/w "White Wedding" featuring Fatale
by Jim Shooter et al, J.G. Jones, Frank McLaughlin
Rating: OK, Content: [super] [sci-fi]

This series was printed in color, but I sold my copies before I got access to a color scanner. Hence, the b&w art samples.

 You can be sure that I didn't buy Powers That Be #1 to look at the pictures of Ms "Actual Size" Breasts (aka Fatale). {wry grin} She has 11 pages in it, and all I got from them was: 1) puffed-up breasts and a prominent butt, 2) lots of fighting, and 3) she steals energy and abilities from any man she touches. I'll pass.

 Star Seed is a bit more interesting. He's Xolus Cor, kind of a low-power version of Superman (as in Action #1): the son of an alien (long missing), born on Earth, with above-human strength and the ability to leap tall buildings (or to fly, with the help of his alien-tech costume). We also learn that he's likely to die soon, when/if he runs out of the medicine his father left with him. That's Major Plot Element #1 in this story, called "Because I Can".

 M.P.E.#2 is a mysterious, obnoxious, amoral guy named Pauly with similar strength. Cor runs into him by accident, and immediately wonders if he might be related. (I'm not sure I'd want him to be.) Cor must decide whether to help him, stop him, or leave him alone. I'll give you a hint: He doesn't opt for the last one. {smile}

 I like the limits on Cor's abilities. He can lift a car. He can fly. But he can't fly with a car. He can't even throw it more than 600 meters or so. And I like the fact that he has an aversion to any food that shows evidence of having been alive. (I like veggies and grains, but I can't stand meat that looks like... body parts.) He has an tiny computer pal "Snoopy" which provides opportunities for exposition and to advance the plot. He also talks on the phone with Mom (as in ABC's Lois & Clark).

 The art is nice, basically classic (i.e. pre-cross-hatching, anatomically plausible) superhero style with fairly understated computer coloring and effects. The paper is only moderately glossy. Think of old Valiants, but with computers instead of watercolors.

 Rather than being dedicated to Star Seed, Powers That Be (and at least one other Broadway title) looks like it will be left open to publish stories about various characters. Clever innovation? Homage to the format of Golden Age titles? Hedging in case the character of Star Seed doesn't, um, fly? You decide. {grin} [note: Broadway have since ditched this idea, renaming all of their books after their star characters. So Powers That Be is now Star Seed.]

 One thing that annoyed me with the Powers That Be #4 was the "story so far" section. What's wrong with that? It was 10 pages, of panels reproduced, rearranged, and recolored (not as well) from the previous 3 issues! It's a nice thought, but, um, Mr Shooter... I already bought those 10 pages. At least in Powers That Be #1, we got a boring (but new) Fatale story instead. Even Shooter's "My Word" editorial in #4 is a rather pointless reprint from a preview edition of Powers That Be #3.

 All in all, Powers That Be is... pretty good. But in his editorial, Shooter declares that "Broadway exists to publish /really/good/ comics" (his italics). Well, there's a gap here between "pretty good" and "really good".

 I hesitate to call this "more of the same", because Shooter & co do have some fresh ideas here. But it's not really all that innovative, which is what I was hoping for. So far, Broadway have an updated 1938 Superman analog, a bad girl power-vampire, and an Image ripoff/satire (hard to tell which) called Blood S.C.R.E.A.M., and (just solicited) a girlie book called Babes Of Broadway (I'm not making this up).

 Shooter says (in large, bold type) in his intro essay, "We want to be different" ...but makes it clear that he does not mean that they're particularly interested in new genres; he's counting on simply doing "really good" superheroes. Um... Been there. Done that. (Some people are even still doing it.) Powers That Be is worth picking up if one of the other decent superhero books you read has suffered the axe. I'd recommend it over most of the stuff on the racks, in fact. But I wouldn't drop anything for it.

 Especially not a car. {grin}

In recent news, Broadway Comics, which was bought out a while back, is going "on hiatus" due to a corporate restructuring. Given the fact that dead publishers' books usually have less market value than those with an ongoing presence, you may be able to find some of the Broadway books at bargain prices soon.

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