Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Big Bang Presents: The Whiz Kids

After the end of the monthly Big Bang title, Big Bang characters continued to appear in a series of one-shots. There were only a handful of these: two each starring Ultiman and the Round Table of America, one Summer Special featuring the Knights of Justice, and this right here, the Whiz Kids. The Whiz Kids, as you might remember, are the Big Bang equivalent of the Teen Titans, and this issue has stories featuring both an Original-Titans style story and a New-Teen-Titans style one.

Starting with the Titans Classic, the Whiz Kids are chilling at their swingin' pad. The writing is intentionally hokey, with the Whiz Kids mostly talking in song lyrics. The art is shaky, and this is clearly not intentional, sad to say.

Anyway, the Whiz Kids head to Florida to Moray's beach house on her invitation, with Moray having retired to attend school full-time. She also has an asshole boyfriend that Cyclone doesn't get along with, a former Navy SEAL and underwater demolitions expert called the Aquamarine. Oh and there's been a rash of shark attacks featuring a huge black shark.

Cyclone survives an encounter with the beast, and the Whiz Kids soon divine that it's actually a robot that looks like a shark. Moreover, it doesn't eat people, it takes them to an underwater plantation where they slave away under the tyranny of a creep called the Great Black Shark. It's a Black Manta thing, and they really go the whole hog here with that theme.

I don't think Manta was ever a black supremacist, at least not to this degree, but let's all agree that enslaving whites isn't the way to make the world better for black people. GBS is one of very few black characters in all of Big Bang, incidentally, but that's a byproduct of BB's focus on adapting the notoriously whitebread Silver Age. Anyway, the action-packed conclusion is a little muddled and clumsily-excecuted, but they trick the GBS into blowing up his own underwater city and get all the prisoners out by way of the mechanical sharks. Moving on...

Above are the new Whiz Kids, or as the team would come to be known with their membership, the Whizzards (I know, awful). In this story, drawn by none other than Chris Samnee (!), the Whizzards face down a threat from Captain Nemo. This guy's backstory is boring enough to not bother you with, but as minor as his role in the story is I think he's one of the more interesting parts.

Gargoyla, Sheborg, Black Power, and (not pictured) Hot Pink join Cyclone in foiling his evil plot. Totem is somewhere else for all this. We get a look at these new characters, their powers, their personalities. They're all basically what you'd expect - Gargoyla is a shrinking violet, Hot Pink is a flighty showoff, Sheborg is cold and rational, etc. 

Yeah, "pep pills", sure. Black Power is half the Cyborg of the team based on appearance and demeanor alone, but his powers seems to come from that alpha-belt he wears, with which he can punch in various combinations to get different powers -- sort of like a voluntary Hero Dial. This strikes me as making him a little overpowered, but whatever. The Nemo plot thread is resolved fairly quickly, but internal strife (and the death of founding member Bubbles the chimp) take a toll on the team's veterans. Ultimately, this causes leader Cyclone to tender his resignation. This is the real "meat" of the whole issue, Cyclone talking about how stupid and awful he feels; I certainly care more about this than the Great Black Shark's white slavery ring.

Around this point it's revealed that, in case you were wondering, the founding Whiz Kids (and Thunder Girl) are nearing 30, though Thunder Girl's powered form still looks like the idealized version of her old teenage self. Cycolne nominates Sheborg replace him as leader, and after saying his goodbyes (and lamenting the missing Moray), Cyclone takes his leave. On that melodramatic note, the issue ends, but not without promise -- Thunder Girl and Cyclone leave together, though TG remains with the team

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