“Human Bomb” #1 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Jerry Ordway, Hi-Fi and Taylor Esposito brings former Marine Sergeant Michael Taylor to the adventure-filled landscape that the writing duo of Gray and Palmiotti have constructed around the classic Quality Comics’ character brands. Following the Ray and Phantom Lady (with Doll Man in tow), Human Bomb explodes (had to be done, sorry) onto the scene with the opening page of this four-issue miniseries.
Gray and Palmiotti focus on the man first, sharing Taylor’s dreams with the readers and building up a supporting cast as real as the folks you stood next to at the store the other day. The writing duo drops in a mystery, ties it to Taylor’s military service and brings it full-bore into the lives of millions of Americans. That all leads to an appearance of S.H.A.D.E. (Super Human Advanced Defense Executive) that bears very little resemblance to the one in DC’s “Frankenstein” title. All of the S.H.A.D.E. staffers are clothed in black jumpsuits with red piping down the side, carrying virtual cubes that project images. The visuals this creates are almost cool, but more retro-cool, something that would have looked awesome back in the 1980s, say around “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
That’s not to say that Jerry Ordway isn’t delivering solid artwork. Quite the contrary, the artist who has drawn “All-Star Squadron,” Adventures of Superman,” “The Power of Shazam!” and issues of “Justice Society of America” is predictably solid. The art is, as I mentioned, retro-cool. This is how straightforward superhero comics should look. Ordway is absolutely the best artist suited for this book. His knack for strong storytelling, dynamic character acting, and consistency truly help draw the reader in, visually tying the reader to this story. Ordway takes a twenty-page issue filled with ordinary people and delivers an extraordinary looking comic book that Hi-Fi fills with heat and emotion.
Of the Quality characters (or at least the latest versions of the namesakes of the Quality characters) being re-imagined in these miniseries scripted by Gray and Palmiotti, this one surprised me the most as Human Bomb is the Freedom Fighter character I’ve always been least interested in. His best appearance, in my opinion, was in “Kingdom Come” when he had some no-name character pull his finger with explosive results. In this issue, Gray, Palmiotti and Ordway don’t just re-invigorate the Human Bomb; they redefine him and the world around him where human suicide bombers are commonplace in our daily or nightly news. That world, it occurs to me, might not be the same Earth as the majority of the relaunched “New 52” titles, given the fact that we haven’t seen any other non-Quality heroes in the Gray and Palmiotti-penned pages of the two previous series nor the first issue of this one. That supposition became clear to me when I turned the page to find a S.H.A.D.E. I didn’t recognize. Whether or not I’m right, I know I’m correct when I say, “Human Bomb” #1 is a fun comic that delivers realistic characters and a solid mystery. I’ll definitely be seeing this one all the way through.