One-Star Squadron #2 review

Minute Man isn’t a big name among superheroes. A legacy hero, he depends upon the Miraclo drug created by Rex Mason for his vigour, but unlike the original Hourman he doesn’t get 60 minutes of strength – the clue’s in the name. A minute of super powers isn’t going to get you into the Justice League. And if you lose access to the drug by legal means, you may feel pushed to try other routes.

Minute Man gets his grail, but not the bodyguard gig he wants from Heroz4U – again, it’s the 60-second thing. After a row with manager Red Tornado, he agrees to take on a birthday party.

More powerful metahumans are needed to escort an app developer to a meeting with shady businessman Lex Luthor, and Firehawk and Plastic Man get the gig. They have their eyes opened when they see that Heroz4U isn’t the only game in town.

And all the while, Heroz4U second-in-command Power Girl is briefing against Red Tornado.

After the debut issue’s rather depressing spotlight on Gangbuster, we get a rather depressing focus on Minute Man. Mark Russell’s story thread is very readable, and his pops at government and the fleeting nature of fame seem fair. Still, a little more light along with the shade would be appreciated.

It could be that these first two issues are simply getting the gloomy stuff out of the way, showing us the miserable lives of people Heroz4U attracts before letting some light in. The title, ‘Rock bottom’, certainly hints at that… maybe these Super Sad Sacks are going to save the world. I do hope so,

I did enjoy this issue, Russell’s script is entertaining, with an unexpected character cameo and the promise of more from the severely underused Firehawk. Bonkers villain Sportsmaster is always welcome, and I’m glad to see the return of the Hench app which, if memory serves, Russell debuted in his Wonder Twins series.

Steve Lieber’s expressive artwork ensures every nuance is right there, whether we see it on first reading or not; the body language, the facial expressions, are masterful. Within a couple of panels I was feeling Minute Man’s pain, and that takes real talent. His Plastic Man is the best I’ve seen in years. Plus, he gives us a puppy in a party hat. Daves Stewart and Sharpe lend support with clever colouring and precise lettering.

Lieber and Stewart’s striking cover will surely shift some copies, who wouldn’t want to know what’s going on here?

With so many Batman books it’s great to see the wider DC Universe, so whatever Russell and Lieber, two brilliant craftsmen, do before the end of this six-part mini-series, I’ll be there.

12 thoughts on “One-Star Squadron #2 review

  1. I wanna like this book. But, as you said, it’s a big downer. It’s all just too depressing. This isn’t what I wanna see in my funnybooks. Which isn’t to say I don’t appreciate a well-told serious story or character from time to time in my comics. But this series is *dripping* in gloominess. There’s not a single moment of light. It’s actually uncomfortable reading this book. Maybe that’s the point? If so… it’s uncomfortable enough that I don’t care to see how it ends.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Huh for some reason my subscription didn’t go through, thanks for the reminder. There does seem right now to be a tension between the tragic origins, comedy and office politics. Like you say hopefully things are going to turn around now things have been set up, the same way I hope we get an explanation of why Kara is so out of character.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A) Power Girl as C lister, backstabber, or possibly mind controlled is a turn off for me. She’s been bigger than the entire rest of the cast put together so why is she in this book?

    2) I vaguely recalled Gangbuster but I’ve never heard of any Minute an. The script also gave me zero reason to give a hoot about him. Bad person having bad things happen to him. Yeah, not a good call for the featured character this issue.

    III) Lieber as he drew Jimmy Olson could have saved this but the script calls for zero lunacy and dead serious, depressing, and gloomy don’t play to Lieber’s strengths.

    D) I’ve never finished a Russell mini before and I have a feeling the streak will continue here. There’s no agendas being pushed this time and it’s stupid but not Wonder Twins stupid so I guess I just flat don’t like his writing style.


    1. Power Girl’s role is indeed very odd, but we don’t yet know what she’s doing there – if it is her, there has to be a reason Russell has chosen her, and not, say, someone recognisable but not a big name. Jesse Quick, say, or indeed, Firehawk.


      1. There has to be something more there. NO WAY she would be using a self help book from MAX LORD of all people, considering that history, unless there is something more going on..


  4. I am not enjoying this mini, for the reasons stated (generally a bummer + misuse of Power Girl) and would drop it except that I have been such a huge fan of Russell’s other work (Flintstones is brilliant, Second Coming and Billionaire Island were fun, as was Wonder Twins, and I really enjoyed his Red Sonja run. I’ve decided to stick with it, at least for now as an act of trust in the writer to bring the thing together.

    I do have to say, I’m finding myself turned off by writers misusing a character to suit their story idea. While I loved what Matt Fraction did with Hawkeye … a decade ago now? … Tom King comes up with interesting stories that simply don’t fit (or rather, boldly betray) Adam Strange or, as we all know, Supergirl. And this. Why make Power Girl or even Red Tornado such off-brand jokes? I get that they’re just comic book characters, but the whole point of flogging the same IP for decades is that you build a readership that CARES about those characters.

    Anyway. Mark Russell is generally a complete breath of fresh air in any comic, so I’m hoping these two issues have just been a rough patch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with you, I’m not a big fan of personalities changing to fit a story… when was the first time it happened, with Green Arrow in that Sixties Brave and Bold? That worked out pretty well, mind. I do like Fraction’s Hawkeye, but I prefer the original. I’m definitely not believing this is Peege, she is so well established, and loved, that it would take a lot of evil soda pop to change her to this.


      1. I think it was Soule in secret avengers that later established that Barton’s dumbed down characterization was a strategic move to lower people’s expectations. Smart move when your schtick is shooting pointy sticks at people.


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