Just so you know, I’m now unable to read this comic without hearing the theme to the ‘Barry Gibb Talk Show.’  And, if you know your 70s funk, neither will you!  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Knights On Broadway #1 awaits!

knightsonbroadway1coverKNIGHTS ON BROADWAY #1
Writer: Jim Shooter, Janet Jackson, Joseph A. James, Pauline Weiss
Penciler: Geof Isherwood
Inker: Paul Autio
Colorist: David Montoya, Dennis Calero, Cynthia Morris, Janet Jackson
Letterer: Rod Ollerenshaw, Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Debbie Fix, Janet Jackson, Joseph A. James, Pauline Weiss, Jim Shooter
Publisher: Broadway Comics
Cover Price: $2.95
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00

Previously in Knights On Broadway: After a long stint as editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics, Jim Shooter was let go from his duties in 1987.  A comics professional since the age of 13, Shooter quickly regrouped and founded Valiant Comics, which was successful critically and financially for several years, launching the career of many notable professionals (including Joe Quesada, reigning Marvel E-I-C.)  Jim was once again unceremoniously removed from his position at Valiant, going on to found Defiant Comics, but was unable to capitalize on the uncertain comics speculator market that had helped make Valiant a player.  In 1995, Shooter teamed up with Broadway Video, the production company behind Saturday Night Live, to once again catch lightning in a comic book bottle.

This issue begins with an extended sequence on an alien planet, showing an alien commander using a singularity to destroy his foes, but miscalculating and destroying their entire world in a massive collapsar.  Then, we get what is perhaps the best narrative caption of all time…

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“Six hundred million years later….”  Beats the hell out of a “Meanwhile”, doesn’t it?  Broadway Comics debuted in the middle of a dark time for comics.  The ‘Bad Girl Comics’ trend was in full swing, and comic racks were full of comic racks, with varying degrees of skill and characterization to be found.  Broadway intentionally subverted that trend, and while it was clear that one of these characters is going to be our central figure, I remember clearly thinking “We can’t be about to follow the life of this baby as our main narrative… Can we?”

We can, Faithful Spoilerites.  We can and we are…

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Of course, baby Tammy is clearly not just a normal child, and as she ages, her parents are forced to come to terms with this this.  Mother Jenn Neil is terribly confused and frightened by the strange behavior of her baby, but her husband Dan isn’t buying it, because apparently this story takes place in the same world as most TV commercials, with a smart, exasperated wifey forced to deal with her mansplaining idiot spouse.  The thing here is, Jenn isn’t wrong about their offspring…

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Things progress awkwardly, until Tammy’s first birthday, where the true scope of how unusual a child she is finally comes to light…

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Dan and Jenn immediately try to enroll her in a special school for gifted children (too bad about Shooter’s Marvel firing, because Xavier’s Academy seems right up Tam’s alley) but the child intentionally feigns baby talk, refusing to reveal her intellect to anyone outside the family.  She explains the truth to her mystified parents: Not only does she have the mind of a very gifted adult, she can see glimpses of the future and she is certain that the world will soon end.  Unless she finds a way to save it all, that is…

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Tammy may have a genius-level brain, but her emotions are still those of a toddler, prone to selfish and nigh-evil moments of wrath.  When a nanny hired by the family to take care of her (a compromise about the schooling issue) doesn’t conform to her wishes, Tammy drugs her and gets her fired for “excessive drinking.”  Worse still, her single-minded pursuit of science to stave off the apocalypse strains Jennifer’s patience, making their relationship antagonistic…

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Yes, folks.  We just witnessed our hero threatening to kill her own mother over a perceived slight.  Shooter’s comic plotting style has always emphasized realism, but it should be noted that his brand of realism usually means “terrible people making terrible decisions.”  It does the job of subverting the tropes of comic-book storytelling, but it’s not always easy to read about overt jackassery every month.  (Remind me to tell you about ‘Star Brand’ sometime.)  Fortunately for Tammy, she gets a moral compass in the form of a new nanny, Ms. Hopkins, who has little use for headstrong children, last-hope-for-humanity or not…

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Ms. Hopkins is also mighty clever herself, seeing through several attempts by the child to get rid of her, and being perceptive enough to catch on to the Armageddon undertones of Tammy’s laser-focused mind.  Then, she overhears the most important monologue of either of their lives…

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Tammy’s clueless daddy and increasingly distrusting mother still arent’ on board with the idea that Tammy really sees the future, so when a precious pair of Jenn’s gold earrings go missing, Ms. Hopkins steps in to cover for the child, who stole them.  She not only keeps Tammy from getting a beating, she earns the child’s trust…

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Ms. Hopkins becomes Tammy’s assistant, helping her not only with materials but with the necessary physics to create the power source she’ll need to save the world.  Unfortunately, it bears a strong resemblance to the singularity device from the beginning of the issue.  You remember, the one that destroyed an entire world?

Cue the ominous music!

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Tammy is ecstatic, having finally conquered the unified field, which will allow her to save the world from certain doom.  Shifting through the rubble, she is suddenly given another of her visions, this one of a better future…

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She sees herself, ten years hence, in command of a coterie of Knights… on Broadway.  (WE HAVE A TITLE!!!!)  Manhattan is the last bastion of civilization, the last bastion of civilization in a Mad Max future-world-gone-mad scenario.  Her power source has not only provided transportation (the flying Corvette is pretty stylish) but has allowed her to create a metaphorical round table of defenders of humanity!

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Sadly, they fall prey to a common problem with Shooter characters: Cutesy Naming Syndrome.  The Knight of Flame seen above is called “Sizz”, the flying knight ‘Flapper’, the blade-knight “Ron-Ko.”  The one truly good name in the bunch is also the one who stands out as different, the defiant and merciless Blackwhite…

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“I’d hate to see that anger turned against us…”

Foreshadowing: Your Key To Quality Literature!  (Future issues would explain why Blackwhite’s armor differs: He’s the prototype, and the man under the helmet is nearly as brilliant as Tammy herself.  He also ends up dating her mother, so… Eww?)  Led by the powerful Choo-Choo, who has the worst name of all, the Knights are more than capable of defending their world against threats large and small, doing so with ease and some really goofy dialogue…

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Visually, they’re incredible, though.  I’ve never been sure if Geof Isherwood actually drew the grid lines by hand or if there was some sort of CAD software involved, but all the knights look really amazing in action.  They are so successful in their defense that the enemies are forced to retreat, but not before exercising their own last-ditch option, discovered by Tammy’s spy, Shady The Knight Of Nought.  (Ugh.)

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Shady is also a deaf-mute, which makes for some interesting storytelling challenges.  Indeed, diversity is always the strength of a Shooter-led book, although the depictions of such are problematic.  (Sizz is literally a “fiery Latina”, f’rinstance, while African-American knight Ron-Ko actually raps while in action.)  The Knights find their efforts are successful, the mutants are routed, the bomb destroyed, and 12-year-old Tammy rejoices, before we remember that this is all a flash-forward…

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Unfortunately for Tammy, while the discovery of her unlimited power source may have saved the world that’s coming, it destroyed her home, and discovered the exact limits of an angry mother’s patience for her child’s shenanigans…

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Yes, folks.  This comic-book just ended with a grown woman physically assaulting our four-year-old hero.  It’s an awkward moment, one that is made even more awkward in future issues, where Ms. Hopkins and Tammy run away (or, as it’s called by the authorities, ‘kidnapping’) and mom is poised to become a recurring villain in Tammy’s heroic story.

Most problematic, though, is the fact that this arc, titled “I Remember The Future’ was planned and promoted as four issues long, but clearly expanded out of control.  Issue #3, the last KoB to actually get published, admitted as much, implying that it had expanded to a 6 or possibly 10 issue arc to tell all the story that they wanted to.  (I attribute that to the editors also being the writers of the book,  always a difficult balance to maintain.)  Either way, Knights On Broadway #1 follows the pattern of most Shooter work post-Valiant, making great promises that the demise of Broadway Comics meant it didn’t get to keep, with excellent art, well-written character work, but problematic dialogue and plotting, earning a  still-full-of-potential 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s a book that made such a point to distinguish itself from the competition that it went too far in the other direction, alienating potential readers (though, to be honest, the same can be said of the entire Broadway publishing line.)

Just so you know, I'm now unable to read this comic without hearing the theme to the 'Barry Gibb Talk Show.'  And, if you know your 70s funk, neither will you!  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Knights On Broadway #1 awaits! KNIGHTS ON BROADWAY #1 Writer: Jim Shooter, Janet Jackson, Joseph A. James, Pauline Weiss Penciler: Geof Isherwood Inker: Paul Autio Colorist: David Montoya, Dennis Calero, Cynthia Morris, Janet Jackson Letterer: Rod Ollerenshaw, Chris Eliopoulos Editor: Debbie Fix, Janet Jackson, Joseph A. James, Pauline Weiss, Jim Shooter Publisher: Broadway Comics Cover Price: $2.95 Current Near-Mint Pricing: $3.00 Previously in…
Unusual storytelling from Shooter and company, with really excellent character designs, but some weird plotting...

KNIGHTS ON BROADWAY #1

Writing
Art
Coloring

Unusual storytelling from Shooter and company, with really excellent character designs, but some weird plotting...

User Rating: 3.7 ( 1 votes)

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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5 Comments

  1. OverMaster
    September 11, 2016 at 3:46 pm — Reply

    “Issue #3, the last KoB to actually get published, admitted as much, implying that it had expanded to a 6 or possibly 10 issue arc to tell all the story that they wanted to.”

    So… this means the story was left unfinished, right? Or could they conclude it elsewhere?

    It seems a concept better suited to a prose novel.

    • September 11, 2016 at 4:41 pm — Reply

      In theory, it probably could have continued somewhere else, but yes, it’s unfinished. If memory serves, the end of Broadway Comics came because the properties were sold to another company. Whether that company wanted to leverage them into other media or what actually happened is unclear…

  2. OverMaster
    September 11, 2016 at 4:53 pm — Reply

    Oh well. Thanks for answering.

  3. September 11, 2016 at 10:25 pm — Reply

    I’m calling you on that promise: tell us about “Star Brand” sometime. I want to know whether you are referring to Shooter’s run (which context indicates) or Byrne’s (which logic dictates, since you talk about how hard it is to read about major jackassery every month).

  4. Patrick
    September 12, 2016 at 2:30 am — Reply

    I LOVE that Matthew is hitting some of the more obscure titles and publishers…especially the random Shooter ones. <3 <3

    Now just a little bit from the Defiant line… :)

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