The Human Bomb has a long history with superhero comics. Debuting in the 1940s under the Quality Comics brand, he was a member of the Freedom Fighters. Able to detonate objects he touched, he became an obscure superhero in the DC universe, often associated by his team rather than an individual hero. With the new 52, this classic World War II character gets a cool, modern revamp. With a new secret identity and mini-series, the Human Bomb is ready to take on evil once again.
Previously in Human Bomb: The first Human Bomb a.k.a. Roy Lincoln, was a scientist, who gained his powers when he ingested chemicals from his father’s laboratory. He was killed by Bizarro during Infinite Crisis when he and the Freedom Fighters were ambushed by several members of the Secret Society of Super Villains. A new Human Bomb a.k.a. Andy Franklin appeared in the Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters mini-series before the new 52. He was also a scientist when a freak explosion gave him similar detonation powers to the original Human Bomb. However with the new 52 and a new Human Bomb character, all this comic history goes out the window.
WAR HERO, CONSTRUCTION WORKER, HUMAN BOMB
The new 52 version of Human Bomb is very different from his predecessors. Although the origin of his powers is not revealed in this issue, he is not a scientist. Instead, the Human Bomb, a.k.a. Michael Taylor, is a war veteran working as a construction worker in Ground Zero. Through the narrative, the reader gets an in-depth look into the main character. He is a hard working, blue-collar man who is down to earth. Michael Taylor represents an All-American war hero in the vein of Captain America. He is a likable character caught in a web of mystery. This comic also tackles and embraces a post 9/11 climate that other DC titles simply ignore. However, one thing not established is whether this series takes place in the canon universe or in its own separate world. DC Comics has already created a different world outside of the main universe with Earth 2. Since there is no mention of other superheroes or fictional settings, does Human Bomb take place in a separate universe or is it in the same world as Earth 2 or the Justice League? The organization S.H.A.D.E., as well as an African-American version of Uncle Sam, make a cameo at the end of the story. However, this only adds to the confusion since the only mention of S.H.A.D.E. was in the Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. series and the organization was run by Father Time, not Uncle Sam. Without an established history, many titles, like Human Bomb, will be met with broadening inconsistencies.
Jerry Ordway does a great job giving life to these new characters and setting up the scenes that are familiar with the reader. From the explosions (and there are many) to the facial expressions, everything is very clean and organized. There is little confusion with what is happening in each panel. Also, his depictions of the Ground Zero site and New York City are spot on. The comic art went above and beyond my expectations for a mini-series.
BOTTOM LINE: OLD HERO, NEW LOOK
With this character, and the previous mini-series Phantom Lady, DC Comics is trying to showcase old properties in a new light. Human Bomb is a surprisingly good start to reintroducing old heroes back into the DC Universe. If the miniseries are successful, we may see other old heroes revamped for a new audience, perhaps another Freedom Fighters series.
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