The L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons) #1 (1999)

The L.A.W. (Living Assault Weapons) #1 (September, 1999)
“Avatar Rising”
Writer & Inker – Bob Layton
Penciller – Dick Giordano
Letterer – John E. Workman, Jr.
Colorist – Tom Ziuko
Separator – Digital Chameleon
Special Thanks – David Michelinie
Assistant Editor – Frank Berrios
Editor – Joey Cavalieri
Cover Price: $2.50

Been in a real Charlton state of mind over the past few weeks.  If you follow my audio exploits, that won’t come as much of a surprise.  If you ain’t… well, in our latest (and next) episode of Weird Comics History, Reggie and I have been discussing the history of this interesting enterprise, including many of its notable creators… and creations.

It’s been an amazing education, and we’ve had a great time covering it.  If you haven’t checked it out and think you might be interested, you can find it right here (or the sidebar if you’re reading this the week of 8/21/2016).

We open with a GBS breaking news report (hosted by Vic Sage).  The Justice League of America (and their satellite) have vanished from the surface of the moon.  A handy flashback shows us what happened… a flaming man known as The Avatar shot a beam of light from his enchanted headband and caused it to disappear.

We return to the newsroom, and Vic’s next report is in regard to the European Space Agency coming under attack by… well, the same dude we saw in the flashback.  A small army of demons is covering the ground while Avatar gets all lightning-y.  

Luckily N. Christopher Adam just happens to be on the scene.  After some clumsy dialogue to explain his new costume, he launches into battle.  He blames his wife, Plastique for his new-blue duds… claiming she was tired of looking at his old gear… which, if I’m not mistaken… and I don’t think I am, was basically just his naked body covered in silver.  So, if his wife’s got a problem with all that, maybe a change of wardrobe should be the least of his worries.

He doesn’t get very far, as the Avatar… who reveals that he is in actuality the reincarnation of the Hindu God Parashrama… I thought I recognized him from somewhere… blasts Atom with his Ax of Shiva, and tosses him into a portal.  After the dust settles, Avatar finds a… young boy among the wreckage… well, that’s convenient.  He takes his hand and brings him through a different portal.

Back in the newsroom, Vic is ticked!  He thinks he’s gotten to the bottom of it… the Avatar attacks “anything military”… so, the Justice League are military now?  Okay, I’ll play along.  He stomps out despite his news director’s (?) pleas to the contrary.  I never knew Vic Sage to lose his cool so easily.

Meanwhile, at the White House… Sarge Steel is meeting with President Bill Clinton.  The dialogue here is a bit precious as well.  Steel really has no patience for the Prez, and engages in some embarrassing tough talk with the Commander in Chief.  Clinton hands over a card for the Peacemaker Project, and tells Steel to give them a call if he runs into any trouble.

We watch as Sage loads into a taxi.  He’s quite the man about town, everybody knows him.  He gets out in a seedy part of town and “faces” up.  His destination, Kord Industries.  We learned earlier that Ted had just sold an invention for a cool half-billion.  We also come to find that due to excessive web-surfing, he is now suffering with carpal tunnel.  Gotta wonder what kind of web-surfing ol’ Beetle was engaging in, if he injured his wrist so badly.  That was in poor taste, I apologize… Anyhoo, he (Ted) gets alerted by his silent alarm, and discovers the Question prowling.

And so, he meets him.  Question says he’s looking for info on the Avatar… and instead of asking why Vic didn’t just give him a call, Beetle brings him over to his super-computer, and shows off his newly designed Bug… that apparently cost him a great deal of his newly earned dosh.

Back with Sarge Steel… he lands in Geneva, Switzerland and meets with a fella called Salt.  They board a secret underground tram… which, much to their surprise isn’t nearly as “secret” as they’d thought.  A crew of Avatar’s demons attacks… with the Avatar himself hokily appearing via video monitor… During the fracas a man in gold and red armor enters the scene.  This is supposed to be the Peacemaker?  I’m not sure if this costume is better than that weird wide helmet or worse due to its generic look.  It feels like when Marvel gave U.S. Agent a costume that didn’t just look like a darker Captain America suit… totally generic and without any personality.  After the dust settles (a lot of dust settles this issue), they deduce that they will require an interdimensional ally if they are to meet Avatar head-on.

Which brings us to Nightshade… and Fate.  Ya know, Fate… the young, hip, and cool take on Dr. Fate… he’s got the anch tattooed over his right eye… kinda looks like he should be hanging out with Ravage 2099… yeah that guy.  Anyhoo… he claims he can help Nightshade by “repairing her reality”… he references K-Mart and flannel for some reason before yanking… well, Nightshade’s “reality” off of her.  Unfortunately, this leaves her as some sort of incorporeal entity.  Fate’s all “whoops… gotta go!” before swiping a bottle of wine and heading for the nearest Taco Bell… and no, I’m not kidding.

We rejoin Blue Beetle and the Question as they fly toward Nanda Parbat…. which unfortunately tells me that we’ll likely see Fate again before this is done.  Anyway… on the ground, a man called Rip Jagger is meeting with… well, if I didn’t know any better I’d say Angie Thriller… it’s really Rama Kushna.  She reminds him that he is a warrior… and the time has come where a warrior is needed.

And so… he dons his gear and heads out into the world as Judomaster.  To be continued…

Yeah, didn’t like this… like, at all.

I read this earlier today… and hated it.  So I did what I usually do when I decide to review something I don’t dig… I put it down for a few hours, and then gave it a second look.  Well this time, I still hated it.  Hell, I might have liked it even less the second time…

The story was ehh, the dialogue was clunky… and the art was uninspired, flat, and lifeless.  It almost felt as though they were affecting the flat look of the old “printed on a press made for cereal boxes” Charlton books.  If that was the case, I’d give it points… but, I think the blame is more on the in-between paper stock we’ve got here.  We’re in that time when DC (and Marvel) dropped the glossy paper for a spell.  I usually see that as a net-positive, because I like how the art translates to this grittier paper… but here, it’s super dull.

Captain Atom’s dialogue… I know I gave it some grief during my spoilery synopsis… but man, it’s bad.  I keep having to check the cover to make sure I got the year right.  This really doesn’t feel like something that came out at the turn of the century.  It just feels so “canned”.  The Avatar finding a young boy among the wreckage at a launch site?  That’s weird… though, I suppose if we’re suspending our disbelief for the rest, I gotta allow it.  Still kinda ehhh.

I can’t claim to be an expert on the Question… I’ve only really read some of the Denny O’Neil run and his bits in 52.  I don’t recall him ever being this hot-headed.  I always assumed he was a bit more cool and collected, though I will concede that I could very easily be wrong.  He just felt “off” here.  Also, it’s clear that Ted considers Vic a pal… why didn’t Vic just ask him for help?  Did we really need him infiltrating Kord Industries?  Seems silly…

Sarge Steel… another fella who I wouldn’t recognize if he delivered a pizza to my house came off as just unlikable here… not so unlikable that I would care much either way… at least if I hated him I’d have a vested interest in seeing more than his mechanical hand get mangled.  Instead, he’s just taking up too many pages in a book already crammed with cameos.

The Fate scene?  Do we gotta?  This was not good at all.  Well, before we do, I’ll answer the question on the tips of all of our tongues… according to Yahoo! a 2012 Chateau De Segries Cotes du Rhone goes best with Taco Bell.  Back to the man… wow, what an ass!  I mean, again… gotta check the cover to make sure I got the right year here… this scene was painful… almost embarrassing.

The Judomaster scene was the only one that I didn’t really have any problems with… and I don’t even care for the character.  It felt pretty samey… like I could easily see Iron Fist in the same scene, but it wasn’t bad.

I had originally planned to cover this entire six-issue miniseries… however, after this one… it ain’t looking all that good.  I don’t want to fall into that trap where I purposely review books I don’t like… that shtick gets old fast.  It’s too bad as I really wanted to like this.  I figure I’ll give the second issue a shot tomorrow and hope it picks up… though, I’m not hopeful.

I paid a quarter for this, and while I’m not going to say I feel like I was ripped off… I still don’t think it was money well spent.  There’s far better cheap-o bin fodder out there featuring the Charlton Action Heroes available… I’d say seek those out before checking out The L.A.W.

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