Human Bomb #1 review

Former marine Mike Taylor has a recurring nightmare: he's at the White House, receiving the Medal of Honor, when energy seeping from him blows everyone up. In his day job as a construction worker at Ground Zero, he's idolised by colleagues, who are impressed that he's due to meet the President in a couple of weeks following heroism in Afghanistan. When a member of his unit shows up unexpectely on-site, as reports hit of suicide bombs throughout New York - including one killing the Mayor - Mike is understandably alarmed. Soon the guy is dead and Mike's fighting a man in black who says he's an experiment gone wrong, and must be terminated ...

Writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti provide an efficient introduction to their latest Quality Comics revival, following recent mini-series starring new versions of The Ray, Phantom Lady and Doll Man. As in those books, head of super-human monitoring organisation group SHADE, Uncle Sam, appears. There's also someone named Joan who must be the superheroine known as Miss America. So we meet Mike, learn something of his past, and see how he reacts to a terrifying situation just as he's settling into civilian life. A flashback teases the encounter that led to his gaining super-power, and shows us that this isn't a man to be thrown for too long by the unexpected. Mike's in reaction mode for most of the issue, so it's a pleasure to see him cut loose towards the end.

Jerry Ordway is one of the strongest artists in superhero comics, with superb storytelling skills, a mastery of figurework and an understanding of how to compose a dramatic page. He never stints. working to give us a wide variety of people, getting backgrounds right and generally making the ride from first page to last smooth, but never boring. A couple of things I especially like are Mike's protective mask, a nod to the Forties Human Bomb, and the design of the antagonist - simple, but very effective.

It's an ongoing complaint in these parts, but I do wish comics companies would take more time to proofread; there's at least one typo in here, and one missing word. If I can spot them as a reader, why not editor Harvey Richards?

This doesn't feel like an unmissable comic, but it's very solid, entertaining and as a DC book, $2.99. If you have that spare, give it a shot.


  1. I had no idea Jerry Ordway was drawing a new book. Thanks for the posting this review. I probably would have missed finding out about this one if you hadn't. Now I will be buying this, if only because I love Da Ordster's artwork. I've been a huge fan of his since he was doing The Power of Shazam. He really is an amazing artist.

  2. I hope you enjoy it Ben. And I hope DC gives Jerry an ongoing gig, it's their loss as much as ours.

  3. Hi Martin, good review. I picked this one up and I think your conclusion of not unmissable but solid is right on. I know you reviewed the Phantom Lady and Doll Man series back in August, did you follow that one through and if so how did it pan out? Thanks

  4. Also, I'm of mixed mind about having Uncle Sam be African-American. On the one hand, given how comics excluded black heroes for so long it's neat to re-imagine what were originally white characters as minorities, but on the other hand given that both words in the character's name are associated with historically derogatory terms directed towards African-Americans perhaps another character should have been chosen in this case...

  5. Hiya, I did stick with Phantom Lady, and it was decent. I enjoyed seeing Funerella from the last Freedom Fighters series show up, but the final issue was a tad nothingy.

    As for Uncle Sam, being British I'm missing out on part of the cultural referents. The 'Uncle' part I see, but 'Sam', that's over my head (a lot of us Brits were confused when the BBC started calling spy drama Spooks, MI5 in the US). So I really don't know. My gut reaction is that a character called Uncle Sam should look like the classic poster.

  6. Deliberately been avoiding this review until I read the issue and yep, agree that it's a good, solid read. With a bit of luck we'll get a Firebrand and Black Condor mini-series to follow and then a full blown Freedom Fighters series again.

    OH, and I agree - Joan's got to be Joan Dale; whether she'll be Miss America by the end of the series is another question.

    1. I'd love Black Condor and Firebrand to get new series - original costumes please!


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