One-Star Squadron #1 review

If you’re Superman, you get to save the universe every other week. If you’re Minute Man, you get… ‘Who?’

Red Tornado is running the Metropolis branch of Heroz4U, a hero hotline which puts low-powered metahumans in touch with people who need help. The thing is, Reddy was a longtime Justice League member, what’s he doing working in the gig economy?

The same question could be asked about second-in-command Power Girl.

What does she mean? Why is Reddy a desk jockey? Who is the hero who’s fallen on hard times, not just economically, but mentally?

And what happened to the stripes on Reddy’s tights?

Writer Mark Russell answers most of these questions in an entertaining debut issue that brings back such obscure DCU characters as the Heckler, Black Condor and Flying Fox. Steve Lieber’s cheery cover emphasises cash, but what this first issue is really about is the cost of heroism. ‘Herotunities’ isn’t anywhere near as cynical as it might be, with heart very much to the fore – there’s a devastatingly emotional moment towards the close, followed by an ending that will surely have everyone coming back for the second issue of this six-parter.

Illustrator Steve Lieber, who made a big impression with the recent Jimmy Olsen maxi-series, is back with more clear compositions, nuanced expressions and body language, and generally great comic art. There are no showy action scenes, but plenty to enjoy as we see what life in the DCU is like for the little guys, the ones who don’t get the Justice League call. Details such as the Heckler’s cool new look and Reddy’s cape draped across his chair back reward close attention, while background Easter eggs in Russell’s script, such as a mention of a very little-known Lois Lane character, put a big smile on my face.

The colours of Dave Stewart add extra interest, while the letters of Dave Sharpe are clearly good.

I’ve no idea where Russell and Lieber are heading with this series, but the first issue promises a story that’s as thoughtful as it is amusing.

6 thoughts on “One-Star Squadron #1 review

  1. I’ve been looking forward to this one, always loved the low-key Hero Hotline and hoped DC would give them something apart from the odd character cameo every couple of years.
    Most of my questions come from not knowing which current DC continuity counts or not. Black Condor is no longer dead & Max is no longer a dead super villain? Power Girl no longer a successful company owner? Honestly it was all much easier to keep straight when they came from different Earths.
    Maybe her pointed use of the ‘reality’ or the apparently ex (and very 90s) villain Folding Man will offer some clues.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I expected to really like this one, and I did. (With talents like Russell and Lieber at the helm, you can’t go wrong.)

    Mart, I agree — it was great to see that byline!

    This isn’t a book I’ll worry too much about how (or if) it fits in continuity. It’ll use what serves to make its point (this isn’t the first bout of bad luck Reddy’s had; it was nice to see Traya mentioned), and ignore things like Black Condor and Max Lord’s deaths (those were in another reality, anyway). As for Power Girl, I suspect there’s more to her behavior than is on the surface… for good or ill. Max Lord is a slippery one, after all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that either Power Girl is out to con the Board, or someone is impersonating her. Does she have a Lesla-Lar?

      Talking of the Board, I wonder if they’re supervillains in civvies. But who? WHO?!?


  3. I read this despite my general dislike of Russel stories. I like that Red Tornado is back and Kathy and Traya were remembered. That’s about it. I know I wanted Power Girl back but I wanted the genius company owner (Mister Terrific bought her company when a version of her left for the New Earth 2) and the brassy combatant but here we get a dumbed down Karen who’s someone else’s pawn. Love of Pee Gee and Reddy will likely bring me back for at least another issue. Considering I dropped Wonder Twins because I found it increasingly dopey every issue means Russel probably needs to not be Russel to keep me on board for all six issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d forgotten about that Mr Terrific business, I doubt that’ll ever be followed up on. Who knows where this fits/if this fits in continuity. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it either way.


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