Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Brave Old World Mini-Series Review

Brave Old World
DC Comics
Comic Book Mini-Series
32/ea. = 128 pages (2000)
$2.50/ea. = $10.00

Published: Brave Old World #1-4 (of 4)

Contributors: William Messner-Loebs, Phil Hester, Guy Davis, Kevin Somers, John Costanza, and covers by Paul Rivoche

Synopsis: It's the year 1999 and as the millennium approaches a group of computer scientists and former hackers work to solve the Y2K problem (caused by the abbreviation of four digit to two digit years in computer and mechanical systems).  They discover a planetary alignment in the solar system is converging at the same time as the turn of the millennium, interacting with the Earth's electromagnetic communications web, and causing a 'harmonic convergence' or feedback loop affecting space-time. 

They work to counter the effect by creating an area of stable time and then using the internet to spread the effects worldwide.  Their plans don't quite work and the group is hurtled back in time exactly 100 years to 1900.  Now they must use the primitive resources of the industrial age to fix the feedback loop, return to their time, and avoid changing the future. 

Unfortunately the limited health resources and stark social inequality of the time (racism, sexism) claim the lives and sanity of several members.  Add in periodic attacks from polluted techno-humans who have travelled to the past from a post-apocalyptic future caused by the group's tampering with the past. 

So that's what a steam-powered computer looks like!
Note: Above image is black and white, actual series is in color
The only thing going for the scientists is their keen knowledge of future technology - can they possibly cobble together a working computer to save the time-stream?  Can they persevere the backwards thinking of the past and avoid a fiery death aimed at them from the future?  Don't bet on a happy ending.

Pros: Some interesting steampunk ideas as the hackers try to build modern equipment with primitive machinery, mildly realistic events with historical references

Cons: Ending felt rushed, art didn't really jive with story (Hester's style), use of profanity felt out of place and just added in to make the story more 'hip' or 'Vertigo'

Mike Tells It Straight: This was part of the V2K (play on Y2K as Vertigo 2K) storylines put out in 2000 (along with Four Horsemen, I Die at Midnight, Totems, and Pulp Fantastic).  None of these books were major hits and will likely never be collected into trade format. 

The plot premise is ridiculously complicated and didn't make much sense.  Putting that aside I enjoyed some minor parts of the story, but overall it was a miss.  Hester's art didn't mesh and Messner-Loebs' scripting was off (especially the narrator).  I liked Rivoche's covers, but the interiors didn't match their grittiness.  The promise of cool steampunk fell short and you can leave this one in the quarter bins.