Writer: Mark Russell
Art: Steve Lieber, Dave Stewart, and Dave Sharpe
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: January 5th, 2022
The bizarre hero Minute Man is the focus of this issue of One-Star Squadron #2, where writer Mark Russell once again offers his unique slant on the superhero genre.
The One-Star Squadron series is an edgier version of the Keith Giffen/J.M. Dematteis Justice League from the 1980’s, with Red Tornado the manager of a Heroz4u office. Heroz4u provides work to those heroes who have been forgotten or never got the acclaim of heroes such as Superman. It’s like Luke Cage and Danny Rand’s Heroes for Hire, except Heroz4u does Bar Mitzvah appearances, birthday parties and Cameo videos.
Minute Man is a character I’d never heard of, but researching him, I discovered he resided on Earth-S (Shazam’s world) in pre-Crisis days. Here, he’s kind of Hourman-lite. He takes Miraclo Pills to get his powers, but they only last a minute instead of an hour.
He’s both comical and tragic, the Miraclo Pills turning him and his need to have them making him no different from any other drug addict. In one scene, low on cash, he buys second-hand Miraclo Pills from a street hustler, then finds out in brutal fashion that the pills only give powers for 45 seconds, not a minute.
The story is fascinating, because it shows the flip-side of being a hero. For every Superman and Wonder Woman, there’s a Minute Man or Gangbuster. Last issue, we saw the equally tragic circumstances of Gangbuster. It’s painful to see how in the DC Universe, these heroes have been tossed aside. In this issue, we follow Miracle Man through a “day in the life”, and it’s both hilarious and heart-breaking.
Red Tornado’s Assistant Manager is Power Girl. This is the most disappointing aspect of this series, because Power Girl, who was always one of my favorite heroes, has now been turned all money-hungry and power-hungry, complaining about everything around her. I know her real name is Kara, but she’s more like a Karen, and she has a doozy of a surprise at the end of this issue.
Back in the JLI days, Giffen and Dematteis gave Kara a tough, no-holds-barred personality too, but she cared about people then, and cared about protecting the world. Mark Russell’s version couldn’t care less about anything other than what she can do to make more money, and to me, that’s pretty sad, but everything else in the book is so interesting, I’ll just hang on for the ride.
Steve Lieber’s art for One-Star Squadron #2 is very much like Kevin Maguire’s artwork, with characters sporting a million varieties of facial expressions and body language. His style is perfect for this book, which is more a parody of superheroes than a straight superhero action comic.
He adds background details that make the book richer. In one panel of the issue, set in a “holding tank” at a comic convention (where offenders are held until the police arrive), the Adam West version of Batman, dressed in the full glorious 60’s costume, sits in the background, holding his head like he just came off an all-night bender, while characters in the foreground argue on the phone. It’s hilarious and adds another layer to the visuals.
Mark Russell is a master of taking long-existing characters and concepts and breathing new life into them (like The Wonder Twins, The Flintstones, etc.). The Heroz4u concept, and having Red Tornado and Power Girl running it, gives the book a sitcom-like feel, except deeper.
Despite what Russell’s done to my beloved Power Girl, I’m enjoying this mini-series so far, and this was another strong issue.