Friday, July 1, 2011

Prime #1

Prime #1 (June 1993)

(created by Bob Jacob, Gerard Jones and Len Strazewski)

Writers Len Strazewski & Gerard Jones; Len Strazewski
Pencils: Norm Breyfogle
Inks: Norm Breyfogle
Letters: Tim Eldred
Colors: Paul Mounts
Editor: Chris Ulm

Cover Art: Norm Breyfogle

Variants: Ultra 5000 (same cover art as standard issue), Printer’s Proof with Ultraverse certificate (same cover art as standard issue), Silver hologram (alternate cover art that is an homage to Action Comics #1), Gold hologram (alternate cover art that is an homage to Action Comics #1)

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

It's been well over a decade since I've read this book, or even pulled it out of it's box and bag, and it actually holds up rather well.  Prime is a hero that we meet as he is attacking a gym coach at JFK Junior High School.  He accuses the Coach of touching the girls in his gym class.  He messes the Coach up pretty good, some of which is not intentional.  The Coach is next seen being interviewed by some mysterious group that has an interest in Prime...although they do something to the Coach as well before he leaves.

Before I go on, I have to say that this was a pretty ballsy way to start a comic series.  Accusations of child molestation.  The hero beating up a "regular" guy, whether a pervert or not.  Breaking bones, and throwing him around the gym.  I read this and the next few issues together in one shot back in the day, as I got into the Ultraverse a few months late...but I was always impressed by the risks they took.

The next scene we see is that of a drug dealer being interviewed by that same "mystery group."  He recounts Prime breaking into and eventually destroying his drug lab.  He tells of Prime taking bullets at pretty much point blank range, and surviving a kick to the groin, as well as being blasted by a flamethrower.  The drug dealer did manage to obtain some "goop" off of Prime and is carrying it around in a vial.  The Mystery men want it, and the drug dealers greed gets him killed.

Prime is shown here battling some more bad guys (drug dealers in this case) and again shows that this is not your standard super hero character.  Prime is shown so far as being very impulsive, and simply doing things...without really giving much thought to what he is doing.  He has a surprised look on his face when he survives a hail of gunfire.  This suggests that this guy is new at this and really does not know his own powers that also is all explained by the end of the issue.

Next up is a show called GNS Special Report.  It is a talk/news show that is featuring Ultras.  Ultras being this universes tern for heroes/villains.

They talk about Hardcase, Prototype and then Prime.  The Men that were interviewing the Coach and the drug dealer are watching the show and say that they will have to move quicker than they thought.  While they speak of Prime and his "instability" that is already showing, the broadcast is interrupted by news of Prime in Somalia helping the U.N. Troops there.  He leads the battle and his body really starts to break down at that point.  He flies off to get home.

Prime crashes into a building, and his body turns into a gelatinous mass that looks like something from the old Blob movie that I used to watch on Saturday afternoon.  Inside is a naked young man, seemingly drowning in the goop that was Primes body.  He breaks out of the shell, and promptly pukes all over the floor.

Well, for a first issue, that was a whole lot of story.  In today's day and age, this issue would have been spread out over six issues and collected in a trade a few months later.  I miss the days that comics left a little to the imagination, and let the story dictate how long an arc was.  For a Captain Marvel/Billy Batson themed character, this is quite a different take on the concept.  Kevin Green, whose name we never see in this issue, is a boy in a man's body...quite literally...and then that body deteriorates right around him, in true horrific fashion.  This is a story of wish fulfillment on a teenage boys level.  Every teenager has dreamed of being the protector to the girl that they have a crush on, and Kevin gets to do that here...with a creepy factor dialed up to 11, until you see the biy behind the hero.  How this appears however to the general populace is a topic addressed in the series if I remember correctly.  He also changes his appearance for a while to a more extreme look.

This was (and is) a great first issue to a good series.  Norm Breyfogle's art is great here.  His Prime is an exagerated bodybuilder...on steroids.  Every young teenagers idea of what a hero should look like.  I was most familiar with Norm's work from his Batman run.  It was nice to see some of those touches shown here, as well as seeing him really cut loose with the over the top antics of Prime.

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

Summary from the other Ultraverse comics Published that month: His name is Prime.  He's America's newest and hottest ultrahero.  He's one of the most powerful beings on the planet, but there's more to Prime than meets the eye.

From the Collectors Guide to the Ultraverse: Prime bursts on the scene to stop a child-molesting gym coach.  Doctor Vincent Gross takes a special interest in Prime.

From the Ultraverse Year One issue: Prime makes his first appearance at JFK Junior High School.  He grabs the Gym teacher, Coach Meyer, and tells him to confess that he was touching some of the girls.  Kelley, a girl in Coach Meyers class, watches in awe.  Coach Meyer tells his story to an unknown party interested in Prime.  After he leaves, a drug dealer tells the story of Prime destroying his drug lab.  He then pulls out a vial of Prime's body fluid.  Vincent Gross and his assistants then kill him and retrieve the vial.  Gross watches a television report on Ultras.As they report on Prime, they cut to Somalia.  Prime is there helping the U.N. Forces.  Soon, Prime's body begins to break down from abuse and he heads home.  He doesn't make it and crashes through a window of a building.  While there, he tears out of his body, revealing a young boy, Kevin Green, inside.

1 comment:

  1. I remember thinking that I wouldn't like Prime at all because I don't care for overly musclebound heroes -- and then being blown away by the first issue (or it may have been the second issue I picked up first).

    You're right, David. Prime was a take on Captain Marvel that went further than any previous variation of the character had dared to go. It was one of those series that made me proud to be a comic book reader in those days.

    Thanks for the review.