Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bratpack Review

King Hell Press
Softcover Trade Paperback
176 pages
$19.95 (2009)
ISBN 9780980020618

Contributors: Rick Veitch, Gary Fields and introduction by Neil Gaiman

Reprints: Bratpack #1-5 (of 5)

Synopsis: Slumburg, Pennsylvania is a dirty, industrial city with its own group of vigilante protectors.  The urban citizens of Slumburg love their 'superheroes', but hate the petty, cling-on sidekicks following them around like lovesick puppies.  A popular radio show presents the question: "What should happen to the sidekicks?".  Everyone thinks they should eat $#!t and die! Well, guess what? They do. 

Now the 'heroes' must recruit (exploit) a new generation of eager youth willing to put themselves in harm's way in order to make a difference, including:
  • Midnight Mink (Batman) - literally a millionaire playboy by day (he publishes a men's magazine and is surrounded by beautiful half-naked centerfolds) and a masked vigilante by night with a penchant for young boys.  His sidekick is Chippy (Robin) - typically recruited from the altar boys at Saint Bingham's and clad in a pair of speedos, fishnet shirt and leather choker
  • King Rad (Green Arrow) - anti-war weapons dealer with a hankering for mood-altering drugs and free speech.  His sidekick is Wild Boy (Speedy) - skater punk riding a hover sled and the life of the party with no shortage of brews, reefer, pills, or smack
  • Moon Mistress (Wonder Woman) - a burnt-out, man-hating slut who transforms herself into an S&M bondage queen to lash out at the male-dominated world.  Her sidekick is Luna (Wonder Girl) - jailbait minx with a skintight suit and proper technique
  • Judge Jury (Captain America) - white supremacist hate-monger crushing the guilty (who just happen to be minorities).  His sidekick is Kid Vicious (Bucky) - steroid-pumped rhinestone cowboy sporting American flag pants, steel-toed sh*tkickers, and raging mood swings
  • True Man (Superman) - the real deal superhero who disappeared without a trace one day leaving the other heroes to their millions of dollars in licensing proceeds from both themselves and their sidekicks.  The other heroes have some major secrets concerning him 

Pros: Merciless deconstruction of the hero-sidekick relationship in comic books, drips bile, spits venom

Cons: Black and white, art is murky, corruption of the innocent

Mike Tells It Straight: I've never read a more twisted, cynical or grotesque comic book story in my life - and I loved every godforsaken minute.  No one can vilify the superhero genre better than Rick Veitch and this story is required reading for any supposedly 'mature' comic book reader.  Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman elevated the superhero to godlike status with Miracleman, but Veitch tears it all down and shows the heroes for the youth-corrupting, life-sucking hypocrites they really are! 

When I first read this story (back in the '90s) it felt like Veitch's 176 page f*ck you to DC Comics and their pantheon of golden age heroes with sidekicks (plus Captain America) after getting booted off Swamp Thing.  Today it reads like the ultimate dissection of the superhero genre.  Don't be afraid to swim in the deep end of the pool - check it out!

TO BUY and Recommendations: