Monday, July 25, 2016

Detention Comics #1 (1996)


Detention Comics #1 (October, 1996)
"Mama's Boy"
"The Lesson"
"Home"
Writers - Denny O'Neil, Ron Marz, & Ruben Diaz
Pencils - Norm Breyfogle, Ron Lim, & Joe Phillips
Inks - Klaus Janson, Andrew Hennessy, & Dexter Vines
Colors - Jason Wright & Scott Baumann
Letters - Chris Eliopoulos
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.50

It's the end of July, and despite the thermometer reading 109°F... summer vacation in Arizona is over.  Today is the day when many teachers report back to school to put their classrooms together before the tikes make their triumphant return next Monday.  Folks who know me, know that my wife is one of those educators who is officially "back to work" today... and in honor of that I decided to cover this mid-90's school-themed oddity.

We've got three stories here to cover... don't worry though, none of this will be on the test.

--


Our first story features Robin.  It opens with the Boy Wonder tangling with a pipe-wielding geek on an upper level of a construction site.  Tim's not trying to hurt his drug-addled aggressor, just defend himself from his blows.  He takes one step backwards... onto a loose board, and begins his plummet to the street below.


As he falls, he ponders recent events and gets us up to speed on just what in the world is going on.  He flashes back to one-week earlier... student Ray Ferdinand has just gotten the news that he did not make the school's track team.  Unfortunately, he finds this out when his mommy's shown up to pick him up for the day.  She's quite protective of Ray, calling him "sweetums" and giving him a smooch in full view of everybody.  To make matters even worse, we learn that the Coach's own son is a member of the track team.  Mrs. Ferdinand absolutely lays into the Coach, even going so far as to threaten to have him fired for preferential treatment.  Nearby, Tim Drake and a pair of his goofball buddies look on in discomfort and disgust.  Tim shows a bit of sympathy for Ray... but is quickly "peer-pressured" out of it.


We now check in with Ray as he overhears his parents arguing about sending their boy to a private school.  Mr. Ferdinand claims that it would be a financial impossibility for them at this time.  Mrs. Ferdinand ain't having it... she tells her husband in no uncertain terms, he'd best figure it out... by hook or by crook.  Ray's dad, the chemist, trudges down to the basement to figure out a way to raise funds... 


The next day at school, we meet teenage junkie Bob Bridgely.  He stumbles through the halls threatening anybody and everybody who dares get in his way.  As luck would have it, Tim witnesses the entire event.  He knows this just might be a job for Robin.


He follows Bridgely to a nearby kiddie park, where he meets up with a group of drug-dealin' scumbags.  Robin watches the transaction, and leaps outta the shadows for a little "citizen's arrest" action.  These geeks won't go quietly, so Tim's gotta twist their arms just a tad.


After taking them all out, Tim shoos Bobby away to the nearest rehab center and takes a look at the drugs.  The baggie the powder is in has a certain chemist's logo stamped on it... that's pretty sloppy slingin', no?


At that very moment, Ray Ferdinand is high on his daddy's supply and goes hunting through the house for a gun.  Doesn't take him long to find it... and he heads out to his Coach's house... but tells Mommy before he leaves.


Ray's parents realize their boy is high as a kite, and console each other on the front porch as he pulls away... in their car.  That's some great parenting... Tim runs up and asks if Ray is okay, and gets the skinny.  Robin's on the hunt.


Robin finds the Raymobile, and finds that the lad is trying to race the Coach's son to find out who's truly faster (at gunpoint).  Point a gun at me, and I promise I'll be pretty damn fast.  We're now right back where we started.


Robin manages to pull out some killer aerial moves to avoid becoming street pizza, and ascends the structure once more.  He finds Ray sobbing, thinking himself a murderer.  Robin tells him to turn himself in... and so he does.  Oh, and he tells off his Mommy too.  The End.


Our next story features the Kid himself, Superboy!  


He's showing off in front of a bunch of college co-eds on the beach.  Bragging about his accolades while checking out their assets.  When suddenly, the mood is completely spoiled by the appearance of Mack Harlin, Truant Officer from Hell (sounds like something DC would've published in the 70's!)


He drags Kon off by the ear and begins reading him the riot act.  Superboy tells Harlin to settle his tea kettle, and states that he don't need no education.


Harlin gets all "oh yeah?", and walks over to the bathing beauties.  The heavyset bookish man rapidly wraps them all around his little finger by quoting Shakespeare.  These ladies are English Lit Majors... and Shakespeare drives them all cray-zee.


Superboy goes all homina-homina, and decides... hey, maybe there's something to all this book-learnin' after all.


Our final tale concerns Guy Gardner, during his Warrior phase.


Guy's back at his old stomping grounds of Hamilton High School.  Before becoming a Green Lantern he taught P.E. here.  Now, he's back doing some emergency substitute work.  As he walks past a classroom, he is surprised to see a teacher get thrown through a window!


Guy decides he'll be teaching Global Studies today, and introduces himself to the class.  This is where we meet perhaps the Amazing Character Find of 1996... Hardcore.  He's a very 90's meta-powered punk kid.  Gardner's tough talk doesn't impress him all that much.  After all, if Guy even dares raise a hand to him, the Board of Education will swarm like so many buzzards.


We meet teacher Elsie Borjas, who pops her head in to check on the proceedings.  She tells Hardcore to cut the crap, and tells Guy that their school is currently at risk of being re-purposed into a mini-mall.  I didn't know that was something that could happen...


Next period is lunch... and we meet a few more of the more prominent student body.  Guy breaks up a fight between a girl called Juicer, and a girl who is able to multiply... her name is, and I'm not making this up... Gang Bang.  We get the distinct impression that Juicer is the sympathetic party here.  She stands up for the oppressed students... and at one point was confined in a wheelchair.


Outside, Hardcore and his buddies Drive-By and Hole (ugh) are wrecking havoc.  Gang Bang reports in about her recent rumble with Juicer, and the crew decides it's time to take her out for good.  In order to do so... they're gonna just burn the whole damn place to the ground.


Next period, Guy's conducting a lesson on the Golden Age of Heroes.  Here we get some wonky math... the Justice Society disbands in 1951... and Superman hits the scene just 10 years later.  Are we talking Golden-Age Superman?  Is this Hypertime?  Am I just thinking too-hard about this?


Anyhoo... there's a fire drill during the lesson, and not one of those fake ones either... there's really a fire going on!  Guy heads out and Warrior-izes before entering the flames.  I don't remember the transformation being so disturbing.  He rescues the lovely Elsie, and they escape the inferno together.


Elsewhere, Juicer is crucified?  Jeez, Hardcore is really hardco... ohhh!  The Crew has her tied up in an American flag while Gang Bang repeatedly punches her in the gut.


Warrior shows up... and he ain't gonna sweat the Board of Ed.  Over the next several pages, he beats the garbage out of the crew... ending with Hardcore begging off like a wimp.


Guy and Juicer head out and she is loaded into an ambulance.  He promises that he'll make sure the school is repaired, and he will be there to see Juicer graduate.


The story wraps up with Guy promising Elsie that he will make a donation to renovate the school.  The students all gather 'round and cheer... and we are out.


--

Well, that was something... some-things... ehh...

Not all that great.  It felt like this wanted to be a PSA, but at the same time wanted to hide the fact that it was a PSA... and for all I know, that's exactly what it was.  What I do know is that it was a fairly middling affair.  These stories feel like the kind of filler that would be used in the Annuals.  Ultimately, they don't matter... and quality may not be the priority.

Going story by story... 

The Robin bit was... alright.  Characters felt a touch archetypal, and didn't really deviate into anything interesting or novel.  The overall story felt very "been there, done that", and sadly Norm Breyfogle's usually top notch pencils appeared to me to be kind of rushed.  I can't remember if Robin was referring himself to as an "apprentice" a lot during this era... but in this story alone, he says it a handful of times.  It reminds me of reading my own academic writing when I use the word "insofar" like I owned it!

The Superboy story, though silly, is probably the highlight of this issue for me.  Very lighthearted, with a simple message... don't be a fool, stay in school.  Art here is very nice as well.  Reading stories with this version of Superboy really makes me feel homesick for the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe.

Guy Gardner's story... while also silly, dealt with much more serious subject manner.  It handled that serious stuff in a humorous way, but still felt kind of off.  The theme here is meta-gang violence in high schools... and features a crew of very... very nineties characters.  Now, that's not a negative... quite the opposite in fact.  I always dig seeing the 90's teen cliche.  Just so much wonderfully dated lingo, spewed out by such wonderfully punchable faces... and thankfully Warrior does punch.


Overall package?  Certainly wouldn't pay (or recommend paying) anywhere near full-price for it.  If you come across it in the cheap-o's, you could do far worse... the novelty of the thing is definitely worth two-bits... hell, even four-bits.

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