Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Strangers #1

The Strangers #1 (June 1993)

Writer: Steve Englehart
Pencils: Rick Hoberg
Inks: Tim Burgard
Letters: Tim Eldred
Color Design: Paul Mounts
Editor: Chris Ulm

Cover Art: Rick Hoberg

Variants: Ultra 5000 (same cover art as standard issue) Silver hologram (alternate cover art featuring Yrial fighting Atom Bob and Grenade), Gold hologram (alternate cover art featuring Yrial fighting Atom Bob and Grenade)

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

A cable car in San Fransisco is going along its normal route with an assortment of passengers.  Among them are Bob Hardin (an art student), Hugh Fox (Bobs friend and fellow student), Elena La Brava ( a fashion designer), Dave Castiglone (works at or owns a bakery), Mr. G. Lawrence Bushnell and his Nurse Henrietta Hawkins, Leon Balford (street punk), as well as J.D. Hunt and his friend Candy.  There are 59 in total on the cable car, but these are the main ones we are introduced to J.D. and Candy are 'making out' on the cable car, and enjoying the attention.  They are asked to stop by the gripman, but refuse.  Hugh, Bob and Dave step in and throw J.D. off the car...seconds before the cable car is hit by lightning.  The car then hits a Miata, driven by Johnny Domino, who is seriously wounded by a piece of metal that lodges itself into his forehead.

It is then revealed that J.D. Hint is a powerful businessman who threatens to sue the city and anyone involved in him being thrown off the cable car.  He demands Candy to come to him, and she freaks out and runs away...much to his surprise.

We are then treated to little vignettes of each of the people we were introduced to...Elena goes to her studio and is inspired to create outfits (that will eventually become their costumes.

Hugh and Bob go to their College, adn discover that they each have a power now.  Bob can change matter on a atomic level.  Hugh can fire out shrapnel out of his body.

At his Bakery, Dave bursts into Green flame.
Leon discovers he has super speed while quitting his 'job' with an apparent drug dealer.

Candy is still walking around in some sskimpy clothing and notices that her arm is cut and there is circutry underneath,  It is then revealed by Hunt that she is a machine that is programmed for giving men pleasure.

Mr. G. Lawrence Bushnell and his Nurse Henrietta Hawkins are shown to be reversing theoir conditions.  She feels worse than ever, and he feels better.  He had been dying of cancer, and by the end of the issue, we learn that he believes the he is being talked to by that cancer.

Johnny Domino is in surgery, and it is not looking good for him.

Dave visits a Doctor and there s nothing that he can see wrong with him.  There is talk of unprotected sex and Dave not wanting to get Aids.

A large cloud appears over the city and Yrial appears on the streets of San Francisco.  Six of the people on the cable car show up thinking that she may have had something to do with the lightning, and of course they tussle.  Yrail takes off, but not before Dave turns into Orange and Yellow flame.  Leon gets the six of them out of there when the police start asking questions.  The six of them decide to follow Yrail and the cloud.

This book does suffer a bit from the fact that it introduces an entire team of characters and has their origin and discovery of powers all in 28 pages.  That being said, there is more story here than in any current trade paperback on the shelf at your local comic store shelf today.  It feels a bit rushed in places, and I think that this could have actually been drawn out to two issues to give us a better chance to meet each of the characters.  The information here is surface, with a few minor deeper glimpses into a few of the characters.

The art is good and easy to follow.  Rick Hoberg has a pretty good resume of work to his portfolio for both Marvel and DC. 

The characters do not appear in costume here (except on the cover...which also telegraphs that Yrail will end up as part of the team, making their fight seem like a waste of time) which is a good thing in my mind, and hearkens back to the early Fantastic Four issues where they didn't apppear in costume either.

Another good entry to the Ultraverse line of books.  Definately a book  featuring diverse characters, something that the big two still cannot seem to get correct.

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

Summary from the other Ultraverse comics Published that month:

59 people on a cable car, some are friends, some are lovers, but most are strangers.  When all 59 gain powers, six decde to form the strangest ultrateam of all.

From the Collectors Guide to the Ultraverse:

After being struck by the 'Jumpstart Effect,' six strangers decide to form a crime fighting team.  They find a seventh member in Yrail, a woman who lives in the sky.

From the Ultraverse Year One issue:

On a clear day in June, a bolt of energy strikes a cable car in San Francisco and somehow grants all 59 passengers ultrahuman powers.  Six passengers (Leon Balford, Candy Dave Castiglone, Hugh Fox, Bob Hardin, Elena La Brava) are barely discovering the new-found abilities when the mysterious woman Yrail suddenly appears in downtown San Fransisco.  All six passengers are drawn to this area, hoping that this woman is somehow responsible for their abilities.  Using their powers, these six strangers are able to drive Yrail away.  Still believing that Yrail has the answers they are looking for, they decide to follow Yrail to an unseasonal clouad in the sky.


  1. I've always been a sucker for super-teams, so I was really looking forward to Strangers. Plus, it was written by Steve Englehart, one of my favorite Marvel and DC writers.

    But I think you're right: the story is rushed and tries to accomplish too much in one issue. The cover also gives away too much.

    But Strangers had a very interesting premise: six strangers who randomly get powers by being in the right place at the right time. Like Prime, it was an original take on a tried and true super-hero concept.

    Another great review, Dave.

  2. One of the thing about the Ultraverse that I liked was that they didn't try to reinvent the wheel, they just made it look different from the wheels that had gone before.

    They also havd a fun way of planting story ideas/characters in one book for use later on. Prototype was shown in Prime, Solitaire was shown in Hardcase, and Nightman gets his beginnings here in The Strangers. It gave the Ultraverse a cohesive feel that kept paying off as they went along.

    One thing I wonder though, while this issue does feel rushed, is it really so much that...or that we have gotten accustomed to decompressed storytelling over the last decade with Brian Michael Bendis and Geoff Johns. Not sure I can really answer that, but it is a thought. That being said, Prime and Hardcase did not feel as rushed as The Strangers maybe it was that they simply tried to do too much in one issue.

  3. And thanks for the kind words Greg.

  4. The Pilgrim Conundrum was one of the best stories told; the fall of a hero and its effect on the team.