Thursday, May 10, 2007

Blood Pack #1



Thrill as they sit around and bicker with confusing dialogue!

Just want to apologize first about not posting in three weeks – I admit I don’t have a set schedule on these, but when I first tried to write it, I really wasn’t feeling the funny with it. I needed time both for my personal life and just to get motivated to make fun of this.

What is it about the word “blood” that suddenly makes it seem “EXTREEEEEME!”?

Back in 1993, an intracompany crossover for DC called “Bloodlines” occurred. The idea was that a group of shapeshifting alien parasites came to Earth to feast off the spinal fluids of humans. However, in some humans it awakened the Metahuman gene, turning them into superheroes. The event was used as an excuse to start off a few new titles as well as give some “new blood” to the DC universe, hence why the new heroes were called New Bloods. The event ran through all of the Annuals at the time before culminating in a two-part finale.

I admit, I’ve never actually read any of the Annuals or parts of the crossover, but even for comic book science that excuse to give a bunch of people superpowers seems sketchy at best. Still, I suppose it fulfilled its purpose, but for DC, sadly, the only lasting effect the crossover had was the ongoing series Hitman, which lasted for about sixty issues. The other New Bloods haven’t appeared in very many titles, with some appearing in a recent JSA Classified and most of them being killed off in the Infinite Crisis event. I admit, I’m not shedding any tears for them, but as a proponent of the idea of every character being someone’s favorite, I always find it sad to see heroes getting discarded as nothing but cheap cannon fodder.

Still, they are quite worthy of ridicule, as we’ll see here.



The cover is just claustrophobic. The “blood pack” title is not capitalized and its color scheme matches most of the rest of the cover, so it’s barely noticeable. Furthermore, instead of having the standard team shot that would’ve been just fine, the normal shot is cramped down to the middle of the cover and showing monitors all around it featuring guys with Liefeld-like proportions and bizarre orange armor. The bottom screen features an odd image of the character Jade and two others whom I can only presume to be Charles Xavier and Quicksilver. Man, they’d shill out a Marvel/DC crossover for anything, wouldn’t they?

We start off with a scene of one of the titular New Bloods getting his organs sliced up by a purple alien with a cow skull head and orange butterfly wings. Well, that was a long issue! Let’s get- oh, wait – it’s not done yet. Figures. “They were a new breed of heroes-- empowered by band of feasting alien parasites. These New Bloods sent the aliens packing. But not this time.” This time it’ll be DC’s normal stable of heroes that does it. On the next page, the purple alien stands over the dead body of who we later learn is appropriately named Mongrel and talks to himself: “The revenge is sssweet... Yesss... And complete...” Apparently they hired the Beast Wars Megatron to play the part of the alien (well, they do have a similar color scheme)...

A caption box in purple informs us that “--here comes Loria. Get the whole steel morphing bit.” And, of course, the woman named Loria does come down and her skin transforms into steel. Colossus- erm, I mean Loria, charges at the alien as the caption box says nonchalantly, “Cool. We can’t buy effects like that.” Well, actually in 1995 you could buy effects like that and given the fact that metahumans actors wouldn’t be uncommon with so many- oh, wait, this is a badly written comic book. My mistake. Anyway, Loria gets her arms around the alien’s huge neck and somehow manages to snap it. How do we know it’s snapped? It makes a “sknch” sound while the neck and head remain perfectly straight-forward. Also, the thing seems to have chocolate milk for blood, since all the blood that comes from this thing is brown.



“Bra-vo(sic)” comes a voice from off-panel. We suddenly switch to a non-descript room where we see the two members of Blood Pack along with a third, the confusingly-attired Ballistic all wearing weird-looking visors and wires attached to various parts of their bodies. So it seems that entire thing was a virtual reality simulation. Yeah, you can’t buy effects like that! Before I return to the crappy dialogue, let’s just comment on Ballistic here. Ballistic is apparently a Korean-American according to Wikipedia who is an “armed and dangerous vigilante.” So, what, did the alien bite grant him the power to buy guns and choose ridiculous costumes? It’s an all-red ensemble with a head mask that opens up for his hair and face (which is also red, by the way). On his torso he has various grenades, pouches, and pointy multi-layered shoulder pads (on only one shoulder. EXTREME!). Honestly, I might as well just start calling him Shaft (Shut your mouth!).

Not-Shaft berates Loria: “You killed it but it killed us -- thanks to your showboating.” What showboating? She just leapt down from somewhere and hugged the damn thing! Seriously, is this a prerequisite for any team book – one member must be yelled at by the leader, be it for legitimate reasons or not? Loria tries to defend her attempt at hugging the creature who killed her loser teammates: “My objective was to...” But Ballistic interrupts her: “...Cover your teammates, Loria!!” And yet she was the one who managed to subdue the big monster. So the one who actually managed to beat it in ten seconds flat gets reduced to “covering duty” while you and Alice Cooper over there get your entrails spilled across the floor. Good job, Patton.

Something else of notice is the fact that there are round, golden cameras floating around recording everything. Yes, it seems that this is a superhero reality show, in a similar vein as volume III of New Warriors. Would anyone be surprised if these guys accidentally started a superhero civil war? Anyway, Loria says she’ll take his orders under advisement and walks off. Ballistic laughs it off and says he’s got her “eating out of my hand. Only took six weeks.” Mongrel, the erstwhile long-haired guy is not impressed by his attempts at being macho and suggests that Ballistic is only interested in Loria for a relationship. “Like your freakself[!!] got a chance with her.” “Freakself?!” Not since the 1960s Teen Titans series has a group of superheroes failed so miserably to try to talk ‘like those young people today.’

Ballistic continues to talk ‘the street’: “Same chance as you, homeboy -- none. You down for some pool?” He puts his arm around Mongrel and even pinches his cheek [!!] after Mongrel tells him not to touch him. Mongrel, in a completely legitimate move after Ballistic’s manhandling, shoots an energy burst at Ballistic and knocks him away.



Cut to a different camera feed, where apparently three more members of the Blood Pack are emerging from a dimensional portal that is so clearly NOT a Boom Tube. The first two come out include a guy in a mask resembling that of Grifter from the Wildstorm universe named Geist and a guy with a Pop-o-matic on his chest named Nightblade. They talk about how excited they are about the show and Nightblade pops in with this philosophical gem: “Y’Know, Geist, after you help guys like Superman save the world -- how can you go back to a normal life?” Oh come on, this is the DC Universe – the end of the world isn’t even an excuse to get off of work anymore there.

Geist’s thought bubble shows off his own deep thoughts about life as a New Blood: “Not many options for a guy who turns invisible in bright light.” So, be a superhero by day or by night, big deal! If you want to be a hero during the day, you can take night classes or something. If you want to be a hero by night, you’ve got darkness on your side and bright light’s just going to make you invisible anyway, so you’re covered there! Nightblade interjects with some character development: “I’m doing this for my dad, I guess. A damn good NASCAR driver... died makin’ his comeback.” It’s a pity that Captain America knows nothing about him, then.

It seems that the third person who emerged from the not a-Boom Tube was actually the director, since he yells “Cut!!” He tells them that it was “Bor-Ring!” but Nightblade is upset by this turn of events: “Rot you, man! My father meant a lot to me!” Okay, first of all “Rot you?!” You know, at least when Battlestar Galatica made up the work ‘Frak,’ it at least sounded like the word they wanted to get past the censors. “Rot” isn’t exactly the kind of curse word I expect grown adults to be throwing at each other. The director, obviously showing his experience in such matters, tells the two: “Television is a visual medium! But hey – I’m “only” the director! You and the Invisible Man try the entrance again!” A visual medium? No, it can’t be! And here I thought it was a smelling medium! Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Director-pants!

So Nightblade cuts off his own hand and- wait, HUH?! But it’s okay, since apparently his arm regenerates right after that. Steven Spielberg here loves it, but says it’ll never make it past the censors (obviously he’s never seen HBO’s Elizabeth). Geist asks, “Uh... Mr. Zapruder[!!]... Adrian...? Uh... Redoing the entrance... isn’t that dishonest?” It’s good to know that the guy you trust to do your superhero reality TV show is the guy who had the most complete filming of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Apparently the producers of this little escapade didn’t invest much money in this, did they?



Cut to women in their underwear. Ladies and gentlemen – the reason this comic was made, as even the camera’s narration caption tells us: “Check this out. Cool cheesecake shot in Razorsharp and Sparx’s bedroom.” Yes, because when you want a character to be EXTREME!, you’ve got to put an ‘x’ in their name. Razorsharp complains about the outfit that they want her to wear, which is clearly a bathing suit in the same vein as Sultry Teenage Super-Foxes. Sparx is laying on her side on the bed, obviously in a pose designed to imitate a swimsuit model as she giggles, “I can’t wear this one. My costume’s built-in. But what’d you expect, Razor? This is a show about superheroes.” Tee-hee, it’s funny when we’re objectified!

Razorsharp’s own superpower is demonstrated as her arm forms into a blade and she rips apart her costume- hey, wait a second! The costume she’s holding changes between the panels! Subsequently, upon looking back at the credits page, I notice no credit for an editor. That explains a lot. The women exchange confusing banter next:

“A documentary, Sparx. You know... Reality?”
“Granny used to say, “super-heroes are part actors...””
““...part boxers.” Good ol’ Granny. Can’t hear enough about her.” Hey, I love to hear about Mr. T!
“Hey! Just because we’ve got identities to protect doesn’t mean we can’t get to know each other!” What secret identity? You’re pale with long, electrical blue hair and you glow.

Razorsharp grabs Sparx and leads her into the closet to get away from the cameras. Razorsharp talks about how she doesn’t want to broadcast her background, which Sparx instantly translates as meaning she’s on the run from the law, but Razorsharp puts that theory down. She says that, “the only reason I’m here is my friends thought it’d be cool.” Well, at least we didn’t have a tag-line across the top of the comic that said, "The Next Generation of Heroes.” The camera somehow moves the closet door to the side, despite lacking any kind of arm or enough mass to move a folding closet door and Razorsharp naturally gets upset about it.



Switch back over to Ballistic and Mongrel and they’re still fighting! And then over to a room with lots of computer screens tinted green, along with some bald guy in a business suit. He talks to a woman and some guy in a keffiyeh, indicating he’s an Arab. The bald guy states that “Early feedback is great. The Blood Pack’s in all the trades.” Hmm... I don’t see the Blood Pack in any of my trade paper-backs... The woman responds, “No great feat, Baxter, considering our resources -- which you’ve taken for granted! All we’ve got so far is a TV show!” Seems to me a TV show is actually a good way to replenish those resources, but then again I’m not an eeeeevil Capitalist. Baxter tells them to trust him since it was his idea to take advantage of the goodwill they generated during the New Blood crossover. Ah, so we’re looking at the DC offices!

“Now you’ve got New Blood bodies for your little science fair project -- plus a kickin’ team that oozes Q-ratings!” Okay, bald men in their forties shouldn’t be using the word “kickin’.” The Arab man complains about Geist’s powers being minimal and about how no one knows anything about Razorsharp or Sparx (nor will anyone know anything about them once this miniseries is over, but...). He’s even angrier about Mongrel: “This boy went on a well-publicized rampage through Chicago! He’s a criminal!” To which Baxter waves his hand and responds, “A known fact -- teenage girls love rebels.” It’s a well-known fact, eh? No wonder I never got a date in high school.

The woman just wants Baxter’s assurance that the Blood Pack will be under control when “the time comes.” Meanwhile, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever goes on the prowl for Mongrel: “I’m on your tail, boy – with my new dual-chambered tridium tazer...” ...Explain to me why he’s the leader, again? Ballistic wanders into a room with catwalks and technology all over it. All of a sudden, Ballistic sees a group of heavily-armored goons attacking Mongrel. One of the men confusingly shouts, “We’re losing stasis!” So there’s a stasis... leak, then? Bahahahahaha! Oh, I love Red Dwarf jokes...

Ballistic orders them to let him go. “I didn’t hear a “please” -- but you can have him.” The compliant guards – sure, we’ll take orders from you! The armored man, identified as Devlin, releases Mongrel and says, “You were told this area’s off limits, Ballistic.” So what exactly is the plot of this show, anyway? A bunch of superpowered losers hang around a facility in a limited amount of space and don’t actually do anything but train? Yeah, I can see Neilson Boxes lighting up with this winner... or they’re just waiting for Sweeps for them to actually act like superheroes.



Ballistic and Mongrel walk off with Mongrel once again uttering, “Just don’t touch me.” Yeah, three guesses as to what his origin probably entails? Flip to the next page and here we see Ballistic being chewed out by Jennie-Lynn Haden, AKA Jade, daughter of the very first Green Lantern. She reminds him that it’s in his contract that he’s not allowed beyond the training and living areas. I can just imagine the promotional posters for this show – Thrill as the Blood Pack spends a rainy day watching TV! Gasp as they don’t fight any supervillains and just yell at the cameras! Watch their bone-chillingly predictable lives; completely censored for your protection!

Ballistic, horrifyingly enough, has discarded his ‘costume,’ and is now wearing a tank top and shorts, yet he’s still as red as a Washington football team. Jade tells him that the reactor that powers the building might’ve been damaged in their brawl while in the next room the rest of the Blood Pack are all confusingly in the same room together. Geist is just leaning against a table and staring at a wall while Mongrel hits on Loria, who is meditating even though Sparx and Razorsharp are flipping through TV channels. Razorsharp reflects our own feelings about the comic: “Boring, boring, boring.” Oh, wait, she’s talking about the TV.

Jade offers them help as both an actress and a superhero: “So I can guide you through this... if you let me.” Mongrel responds for no apparent reason, “Like a freakin’ prison!” Jade lets him know he can leave at any time and that there are other New Bloods who’d be interested in the show. But here comes the really laughable part, since Jade suggests this wonderful purpose for the show: “With this show, the Blood Pack can influence a whole new generation of metahumans.” I mean, yeah, who would want to be influenced by dorks like Superman or Wonder Woman who can juggle planets with their pinkies when we’ve got Ballistic and his dual-chambered tridium tazer, right? Eh? Eh? Am I right, folks?

Ballistic and Nightblade are just as unimpressed by this talk of inspiration as Ballistic proclaims, “God bless America” and Nightblade starts singing, “We are the World[!].” Mongrel tries to hit on Sparx, who just zaps him lightly. Geist asks, “Uh... Jade... exactly what am I supposed to be doing?” Oh, jeez, nobody read the script, did they? Jade walks off, telling him to meet with her later since she has to “talk Adrian out of quitting[?].” Razorsharp complains for a brief moment about her predicament before she proclaims, “Holy spit! We’re on TV!!” Holy lame swearing censorship, Batman! Furthermore, isn’t the entire purpose of being there to be on TV?



The team crowds around the television set, which starts its advert: “What happens when you thrust together seven young masks from different walks of life?” Find out on Camp Loser: The Blood Pack show!This ongoing documentary about a real-life super team is the latest project from wunderkind Jeremy Baxter.” Yeah, when I think wunderkind, I think of short, bald guys who come up with an idea that Stan Lee thought up first. Either that or Alanis Morisette, but I digress. Baxter himself appears on screen, proclaiming, “It’s time for something new. We wanted only New Bloods -- kids with no preconceived notions about being a hero.” Yeah, that fills me with confidence about their likeability.

Next we have some reactions from people, including Superman. Superman here is depicted in his mullet stage, but I still have to laugh since the way his hair is drawn – with every separate strand like it’s been freshly washed; it just makes me think he’s going to shake his head and shout, ‘Pantene Pro-V!’ “What’s my opinion on exploiting powers for personal gain? What do you think?” Gee, you’re right, Superman! By the way, how’s that cushy job at the Daily Planet working for you? You know, the one where you write up articles at the speed of light about Superman that you’re only able to write BECAUSE you’re Superman? What a dick.

The next reaction is from two members of the super team The Conglomerate! “Get your own shtick, Blood Pack! The Conglomerate was here first!” Yeah, and you were forgotten first, too. Seriously, I had never heard of them until this comic and their Wikipedia page is smaller than Blood Pack’s, surprisingly. Next is some random General, who’s worried about the connection between the New Bloods and the space parasites. “Yes, they saved the planet months ago – but what have they done for us lately?” Wow, with such positive reviews before Blood Pack’s pilot episode has even aired, this show will be just as successful as the CW’s Aquaman pilot!



The camera caption brings us over to Germany, where a group of yellow-armored individuals called the Demolition Team attack a nuclear power plant. They talk for a bit about why they’re attacking the place: “You forget seein’ Coast City wiped out? Seein’ your family -- your past -- obliterated?” For those unaware, during the end of the Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen arcs, Green Lantern’s home town of Coast City was destroyed by the alien despot Mongul. “Makin’ you want to wipe out all the other things that destroy the earth...”

Okay, let’s count just how many things wrong there are with that statement, shall we? Just for starters – nuclear power plants on their own are actually just fine in the environment, with the biggest risks only occurring with spent fuel rods that need to be stored for several hundred years before they’re considered safe (albeit newer technologies, including the recent developments in fusion power, have started to make this seem like less of a problem). Otherwise, the plants themselves do nothing – it’s only when there’s an accident like the one you’re attempting to perpetrate that something bad happens! Furthermore, it’s been shown that nuclear power in France not only provides the CLEANEST air of any industrialized nation with the lowest amount of carbon dioxide produced. So, please tell me, what exactly do they intend to accomplish here?

“You wanna(sic) protect the earth--?” calls a voice from off-panel. “Recycle!” Sparx finishes as the Blood Pack arrives on the scene (wow, they’re actually DOING something!). Ballistic echoes my own sentiments about recycling: “Why recycle? Just waste ‘em!” Why my own sentiments? Because with the exception of recycling metals, recycling does not actually help improve the environment. In fact, it causes a detriment to the environment when one considers especially the problem to recycling paper. You see, recycling is a manufacturing process and- huh? Oh, right, the comic. Sorry, I find my ranting about nuclear power and recycling more entertaining than this tripe.

Pop-O-Nightblade yells, “The Demolition Team?!? Figures these losers survived Coast City’s destruction!” Well, you’d know losers, wouldn’t you, Nightblade? And here we actually see what Nightblade’s other superpower is (besides for having a neat way of rolling dice) – he can toss multiple throwing knives in a single arc. That’s it. He throws a bunch of knives at a group of armored terrorists. Yeah, metahumans across the world are just so inspired right now.



Loria jumps into combat while Mongrel comments on his dating prospects with her: “Too psycho for me! Lights on and nobody’s home!” Yeah, I’m sure that’s why she was the one who won the holodeck simulation while you got your intestines ripped out. “Me? I like you saucy farmgirls.” He says to Sparx. Okay, I hate him about as much as I possibly can right now. Sparx replies, “You’re just saying that ‘cause she blew you off.” Never mind, I hate him even more now.

The cameras switch over to Razorsharp and Geist, who are inside of the power plant. However, everything seems to have been transformed into a green biological system, with vein-like coverings everywhere. The hallway they’re in starts to rumble as Razorsharp worries about whether or not it’s being staged for the camera. Outside, the ground begins to rumble and one of the Demolion team shouts, “Huh? Earthquake?!” Shut up already, damn! The Blood Pack fall into a cavern that’s opened up and Loria grabs hold of Sparx’s leg, asking for help. Spark says she’ll try, but before she can, a rock hits her right in the coconut and she starts falling. Loria manages to grab hold of a rock and Nightblade for some stupid reason thinks, “Loria left her to die!” No, she saved herself as quickly as she could since there was no way she could’ve helped the falling woman who had a concussion. “This is getting too real.” Then Nightblade starts falling, and again his thoughts reveal his utter stupidity as he thinks for no particular reason: “Real--!

Razorsharp tries to contact the others as the tremors stop and she looks at some unseen computer, stating, “This computer... no binary code I’ve ever seen -- almost alien!” Geist says, “And the reactor-- near as we can tell -- is a big mother!” MY MOTHER WAS A SAINT! Erm- sorry about that. It’s unclear who’s talking after that, but one of them says, “Ballistic... I’m picking up some readings that are hard to miss...” Readings from what, exactly? It’s not like they’re carrying tricorders or anything. “The reactor’s opening... You get the feeling this wasn’t staged?” Oh great, so it turns out that the only reason the Blood Pack actually did something other than sit on their asses at their base was because it was a staged battle? Yeah, this’ll really sell well to the metahuman demographic. And thus our story ends on a shot of the alien... thingie, I don’t know what exactly, opening up with members of Blood Pack unconscious before it and the camera feed dying out.

Suddenly I long for the proactive “heroics” of Youngblood.

8 comments:

Chaltab said...

Wow. As much as we complain about DiDio, it was clearly much worse in the early 90s. :(

Christopher said...

Binary means two digits... how alien can it be?

Do they have 10 where they should have 01?

And why would there be a binary display anyway? Who the hell can read binary, and why on earth would it be worthwhile to display it even if you could read it?

Lewis Lovhaug said...

I considered commenting on that, but actually there ARE different binary languages, so I didn't want to act superior if it was unjustified. ^_~

Still, at no point in the artwork do we actually see her LOOKING at a computer screen or operating one.

As for Didio, frankly with this kind of trash it's understandable why he'd want to kill everything that came from it.

Paul S. said...

Wow... I'm kinda torn.

On one hand we have a clear-cut example of typical 90s crap, but on the other hand the concept of a made for reality TV superhero team was pretty ahead of it's time when you consider the success of X-Statix and Wildguard.

Still why would mass-market media friendly super-team call themselves "Blood Pack."

Oh wait I forgot it's 1995.

km said...

***Nightblade interjects with some character development: “I’m doing this for my dad, I guess. A damn good NASCAR driver... died makin’ his comeback.” It’s a pity that Captain America knows nothing about him, then.***

Your decision to wait for the funny - defined here as 'nearly made me snort Mountain Dew out of my nose' - was the right one. Bravo.

There's probably a great satire somewhere in the competing teams of lameoid heroes that seem to infest the DC universe...hey, why not stick them all on a reality show and let them battle to last-man-standing, maybe...

...and boy, when I can come up with a better concept than pro comics writers, we're in big trouble.

Ing said...

Actually while resource wise there isn't much net gain from recyling paper there is an economic and spacial reasoning behind it as it reduces land cleared for wood pulp and energy expended to lumber and prepare lumber roads. Furthermore it limits the externalities that come from erosion and soil run off due to...what, comic forum...my studies in resource management mean nothing there....well played

Flint Paper said...

I had a similar reaction to Evil Tony Stark (no, the other one) in the collection of Marvel Team-Up that I picked up a while ago. You know, the one Robert Kirkman was doing? That had the chunky energy-absorbing high school kid who killed his parents and a bunch of homeless people yet still went to school every day until Wolverine stabbed him and made him pop? And then a Tony Stark from another dimension wearing an old Iron Man suit with a green cloak comes through and fights the Fantastic Four and starts being evil all over the joint, and eventually winds up scanning the planet -- he's conquered his own and is generally a gigantic dink bragging to himself about how very very evil he is along the way. Anyway, he checks to see what he can use for power sources to fire up his get-back-home machine and is openly shocked and horrified when he realizes Earth-616 uses nuclear power in some places. He stumbles around for a couple of panels saying stuff like, "Even I'm not that depraved!" I think I hurt my eye muscles rolling them after reading that. I had to put the book down for a few minutes.
Just thought I'd share that.

Ing said...

Nuclear power itself is a truly wondrous source of near free energy and power


Nuclear WASTE on the other hand is a big damn problem. The goal of course is to achieve a form of waste that is livable...hence the desire for cold fusion (waste=Helium)