Saturday, July 9, 2011

Freex #1

Freex #1 (July 1993)

Writer: Gerard Jones
Pencils: Ben Herrera
Inks: Mike Christian
Letters: Time Eldred
Color Designer: Paul Mounts
Editor: Chris Ulm

Cover Art: Walter Simonson

Variants: Ultra 5000 (same cover art as standard issue), Silver hologram (different cover art than standard issue by Herrera and Christian), Gold hologram (different cover art than standard issue by Herrera and Christian), Also a Polybagged issue that came with a trading card.

My summary/review (Just as a note of warning, there are all kinds of spoilers in this review):

Title: Freaked

We open with a young man running from the police.  He seems afraid of something other than the Officer however.  He turns down an alley and the Officer follows, to run into a giant stone looking individual.  The Officer opens fire and Ray (as he is called by the initial young man) lifts him off the ground.  Ray refers to the young man as Huck, but is corrected and told that this is reality.

Ray then calls the young man Lewis, and they run from the alley into a couple police cruisers.  A young woman named Val appears and powers her light/heat powers up to fire at the police.  Lewis yells for her to stop and then turns into a goopy like substance to take the brunt of her blast.  On Lewis’ urging, Ray grabs Val and they run off, and Lewis escapes down the sewer.

We get a brief flashback of Lewis turning into a puddle of goop during a high school football game.  This is him remembering when his powers first manifested themselves, and is what led him to sitting naked in the sewers running from the police.

The police are puzzled and Val is really pissed off at Ray and Lewis.  Ray tells her that Lewis saved him from the basement.  This gives us his back story.  His parents kept him in the basement with only a copy of ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’ to keep him occupied.  He finally gets tired of being kept in the basement and runs away, after swatting his mom and probably destroying most of their house.  He is found by Lewis and taken in.

He says that Lewis saved Val as well…she sees it a little differently and kicks out a door revealing a young lady in the hall.  Val tries to take her down, but the girl gets away (after saying that she was told to come there).  Ray helps her get away by stopping Val.

Val rants at Ray again and we see that she was in jail and being taken advantage of by a guard.  She says that Lewis found her in a Laundromat and invited her to join them.

The scene shifts to outside on the Fire escape where Angela (the girl that was just attacked by Val) is sitting.  Lewis approaches her and we see that she has some tentacles or something around her torso that she feels he should be repulsed by.  As they talk the police show up and Lewis hides them against the building using his power.

Ray spray paints the word FREEX on the wall of the motel room.  Lewis says that someone has been giving him information on where to find them,.

A television and some other mechanical junk is thrown through the window, and it comes to life and a image of a young man in a baseball cap introduces himself as Michael and says that he is the one that brought them together.

A great introductory team issue.  For some reason this one does not seem too rushed like The Strangers did.  There are a few less characters, and their origins are not interlinked.  Three origins of a sort are covered to give us an idea of who these characters are.  A lot happens again in the issue, and it does not seem rushed at all.  It ends with the team assembled for the first time, and again, the cover gives away the members before we have a chance to meet them.

The cover is by the outstanding Walt Simonson.  It’s a thing of beauty.  The interiors are by Herrera and Christian and fit the mood of the book well.

I will say that this is the ‘X-Men’ book of the Ultraverse.  It deals with characters that have powers, just like others that are celebrated as heroes, but are treated as outcasts in society.  Never quite understood how Mutants can be persecuted while others that get their powers through artificial means are celebrated.  Here in the Ultraverse, they all seem to get their powers through artificial means of some sort…yet there are differences in treatment as well.  The only explanation here is that they resort to theft to survive, whereas the X-Men lived on a secluded mansion estate of their leader.

A few other blurbs about this issue from various Ultraverse publications follow...

Summary from the other Ultraverse comics Published that month:

None.  Only creator information iis given.

From the Collectors Guide to the Ultraverse:

A band of five teenage ultra ‘freaks’ are brought together to form a team.  They protect each other from a society that wants them dead.

From the Ultraverse Year One issue:

The Freex are teenagers with ultrahuman abilities Ray Golic, Lewis Phillips, Angela Salazar, Valerie Sharp).  They are brought together by another teenager (Michael Rafani) because he feels that together, they can discover the origins of their powers which have recently manifested.  They are being pursued by the police because, as runaways, they often have to steal to survive.  Ray suggests that they call themselves the “Freex” and all adopt “gang names.”  Ray calls himself “Boom Boy,” because of his size and strength, Lewis is called “Anything,” because he can morph his form into anything he wants, Valerie becomes “Pressure,” because she can fire plasma-heated steam and she has a bad temper, Michael is called “Plug,” because he can ‘plug’ into any electrical system, Angela is called “Sweet Face.”  Ironically, Angela is the prettiest, but has a hideous body with tendrils growing from it.

1 comment:

  1. I think I was looking forward to Freex the least of all the Ultraverse titles because, as you said, it's an obvious take-off of X-Men. In spite of that, it became one of my favorite titles because the writing was so good. (Kudos to Gerard Jones, who, IIRC, had been a columnist for Amazing Heroes.)