Divine Right #1 (1997)

Divine Right #1 (September, 1997)
“Blaze of Glory”
Writer/Penciller – Jim Lee
Inker – Scott Williams
Colorist – Joe Chiodo
Letterers – Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne
Computer Colors – Nick Bell, Laura Depuy, Tad Ehrlich & Alex Sinclair
Assistant Editor – Michelle Upchurch
Editor – Rachelle Brissenden
Cover Price: $2.50

Been taking some inventory of my longboxes, and came across some WildStorm oddities.  I don’t often talk WildStorm here… it’s kinda “iffy” as DC material… and my readership always seems to take a dive when I do.  It’s weird, Flash and WildStorm discussions never do all that well… I wonder why.

Anyhoo… despite all of that, I really wanted to discuss Divine Right… and so, here we be!

We open… after an “In Case You’re Just Joining Us” blurb on the inside front cover (isn’t this the first issue?!  Not like there was a Divine Right #0!)… in New York City, where a pair of sharp-dressed ne’er-do-wells are on the hunt for a woman named Christine Blaze.  We immediately shift to Ms. Blaze being attacked by some anatomically incorrect beasties.  Man, maybe that “In Case You’re Just Joining Us” blurb wasn’t long enough!

She fires at them with her blasters… which doesn’t seem to do all that much.  Instead, one of the beasties… er, vomits maggots in Blaze’s direction?  Yeah, that’ll get ‘er!

We shift scenes to Pacific Beach, San Diego, and the home of our hero, Max Faraday.  He’s in the middle of an online chat with a lady-friend, all the while his buddy Dev razzes him for being a virgin.  This dialog… man, it’s… gotta be seen.

Max, tired of being ribbed, decides to tell the story of this one time he “made it” with a girl.  I guess even though he and Dev are tight, he just never got around to telling him about it.  Ya see, Max is a pizza delivery boy for.. sigh… Phatboy Phizza (Fatboy Feetza?), and this one time (at band camp) he delivered to a naked woman (who isn’t depicted as naked in panel).  She offered our lad a $20 tip… or, ya know… sex.  Max claims he took the twenty… which begs the question, why did we just sit through this story?!

He goes back to chatting with his lady-friend Susanna… while at that very moment on the other side of the country, Blaze heads into an internet cafe (remember those?) to try and get in touch with “Lynch” (that Lynch?).

Inside the cafe, the Patrons become distracted by the pretty blue light from the outside… likely hopeful of a surprise sale at K-Mart.  No such luck, however… it’s just more bad guys.

Bad guys who… kill everybody!  Even, it seems, Christine Blaze!

As the dust settles, the bad dudes are joined by a Lord Jesthra… who’s just an ordinary-looking fella with a bad comb-over.  He’s not pleased with the sit-rep, as they weren’t able to procure a particular disk.  Jesthra invites the lead baddie to “talk to the hand”… seriously… and kills him.  I mean, just look at it…

Then… Jesthra just leaves, ignorant to the fact that the only remaining active computer is in the middle of an upload.  C’mon… really?

Back at Faraday’s, Dev has taken to doing some deep-web stuff.  He finds an interesting file (you’ll never guess which one!), and despite Max’s concerns, clicks the link anyway!

Enter: Max’s sister Jenn.  I’m assuming she’s at least 8′ tall, because she kinda has to slump to the side just to fit into the… well, page.  Dev is clearly smitten and leaves Max to make time with his sister.  She seems less than pleased to be stuck talking to this fool.

Their flirtation is interrupted by a shout… followed by an explosion (figure the boom would come first, but whattayagonnado?).  Anyhoo, Max’s computer explodes… and all of the power in the house goes out.

Back in New York, we meet a low-rent Jim Gordon named Mike.  He’s filled in on everything that went down at the internet cafe… to which, he makes a fairly purple monologue.  We can see that he’s being watched by some shady-looking folks.

We hop over to Jerusalem where our comb-over pal is checking in with his boss… who looks pretty much like every “big bad” in the WildStorm universe.  He reports that they were unsuccessful in their search for the disk with the “Creation Equation” on it.

We close out back in San Diego, where Max has recovered… and is headed out to deliver some phizzas.  He claims to have never felt better… which is probably code for “I now have superpowers”.  Anyhoo, as he hops into his hooptie, we can see he’s being watched by some creepy crawlies.

Not sure what I was expecting here… 

This wasn’t a bad time or anything… just a bit underwhelming… and certainly a little confusing.  Ya see, I knew this was part of the WildStorm Universe (the end of the series has Wildcats and Gen13 chapters), but I wasn’t ready for it to spin out from any WildStorm ongoing storylines.

I’d never heard of this Christine Blaze before (hell, the DC Wikia can’t even be bothered to figure out what her first appearance is!)… and couldn’t pick her out of a crowd if my life depended on it.  I think the opening here was a poor choice, and assumed that everybody reading this would already be familiar with her.  The only way I was able to deduce that she was an “established” character, was by her mention of Lynch… who, if it’s that Lynch, has been something of a mover and shaker in the WildStorm U since day one.

I definitely think there were better (and less confusing for the uninitiated) ways to start this.  I joked about it earlier… but maybe this series would’ve done well to have a “zero” issue just to set the stage!

Let’s talk about Max.  He’s… I guess, a likable enough fella.  His buddy Dev I could do without… but, ya take the bad with the… not-as-bad.  Gotta say it… the dialog here was painfully awkward.  I mean, cringe city.  Forced masturbation jokes, exaggerated Ebonics, I mean… it was a long time ago, but I was their age.  Hell!  I was likely their age when this book came out!  Instead of this resonating with me, I’m sitting here tugging my collar like I’m Rodney Dangerfield.  It’s just so awkward!

And that’s not even mentioning Lord “Talk to the Hand” Jesthra!  Wow… he’s like a parody!  I mean, I look at this and think… there’s no way we’re supposed to take this guy seriously!  I mean… “Talk to the hand”?  Talk.  To.  The.  Hand?!

The art here is, as you might imagine, really good.  There were some instances of hyper-posing (Hello, Jenn!), but that comes with the territory when we look at a Jim Lee joint.  For the most part, however, this was plenty dynamic.  The scene at the internet cafe was especially fun.  The fella photocopying Sandra Bullock’s head on a nudie picture getting his head slammed into the photocopier was pretty funny… and brutal way to go.  Blaze getting harpooned multiple times was also really well done.  Great composition there!

Overall… I can’t suggest you rush out to track this down, however, if you do… I think you’ll have a good time with it.  It’s pretty light… and it’s nice to look at.  It looks like DC Comics collected the entire series in trade back in 2014, and the run is also available digitally (for a buck a pop!).

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