New Talent Showcase #1 (Class of 2064)
Script & Letters – Todd Klein
Art – Scott Hampton
Colors – Shelley Eiber
Edits – Marv Wolfman & Ernie Colon
Time for our fourth-and-final offering from the first issue of New Talent Showcase! So far, I gotta admit, I’ve been pleasantly surprised. We haven’t seen anything that’s likely to rock anyone’s socks… but, I’d say it’s been quite solid, especially considering the fact that we’re looking at “New Talent”.
When we looked at those Bonus Books (1988-1989) a few weeks ago… those featured plenty of New Talent… and, were at times, a bit of a muddled mess. Maybe it’s because they had more pages to fill in those instances? Who knows…
Anyhoo, let’s “take it home” with our first foray into the Class of 2064!
Our story opens on Mars… it’s March 19, 2064… which, doesn’t really feel like the far-flung future it probably did back in ye old 1984, does it? There’s this Martian Virus, see… and it looks as though it might just change the fate of human society. We begin with a man in a flying saucer type of vessel (with the words FREE EARTH crudely scrawled across it) attacking a much more refined-looking transport vehicle. He is threatened with destruction, should he decide not to back off. He continues nonetheless… resulting in, well… his destruction. Welp, can’t say they didn’t warn him!
We shift scenes to a darkened room, where a Doctor/Dignitary of sorts laments any loss of life in the name of procuring this Virus… so, we might assume that this “Free Earther” is a sort of Freedom Fighter, attempting to use this Virus for “good”? Well, we’ll get there. Anyhoo, this Doc-Dignitary expresses that he is sort of a double-agent… both smiling for the establishment (Lagrange) and wanting to get this Virus sent off to Earth. Ya see, he’s snuck a bit of it into the medication of a girl named Chryse Bantry… who is about to be rocketed off to Earth.
Okay, another scene-shift… to a residence in the Lagrange Colonies. Now it’s May 28… and a young student named “Pern” is woken by his parents, because today he’s to board a shuttle! Ya see, it’s the Class of 2064’s big trip… and, as luck would have it, they’re headed to Earth! Now, I’m not exactly sure if Lagrange is necessarily on Mars… or if it’s some sort of gigantic floating space station near Mars. I suppose if I were a betting man, I’d say it’s on Mars (maybe?). Whatever the case, “Pern” has a bit of a space-hangover, having partied a little too much the night before… but, he’s still quite looking forward to the adventure. Before heading out, Pern’s Pop warns of the “Free Earthers”.
We rejoin Pern out on the fields, where he meets up with his pal Tycho. Wow, lotsa “futury” names here. They talk a bit about the “Free Earthers”… who are apparently the “biggest threat” to their whole way of life. We learn that Tycho has been tapping into the Police Computer system to keep tabs on the Free Earthers… this makes Pern a bit uneasy.
Our boys make it on time to meet up with their friends… and it’s here that we meet a young woman named Maris. Pern thanks her for the party the night before and immediately begins to flirt. Tycho doesn’t know how Pern can be so outgoing.
Apologies (for near tardiness) are given, bags are stowed, seat-backs are returned to their yadda-yadda-yadda… and it’s two-minutes til take off. We learn that there’s going to be a “Martian Girl” on board… which, I don’t know if she’s just from a Colony on Mars… called Mars… or, whatever. Hmm… could this be that Martian Girl?! The folks in charge are not 100% certain she doesn’t have “it”… and by “it”, I’m pretty sure they’re talking about that Virus.
The shuttle takes off… and the Class of 2064 is finally headed to Earth. At this point, the students are introduced to, heyyyy, whattayaknow, Chryse Bantry… that Martian Girl. She apparently won a scholarship of some sort to get a seat on this here rig. She doesn’t look like your stereotypical “Martian”… she just looks like a gaudily-dressed human gal. Our boy Pern is immediately smitten…
… and so, he heads right on over to flirt. It’s here that we learn that “Pern” is short for Copernicus… which, yikes. They chat for a bit, with Chryse not appearing to be interested in the slightest… not that I can blame her. Anyhoo, we see here that this entire exchange is being observed by… the Free Earthers! They have a sneaking suspicion that this Martian Girl is in fact “carrying” (because they, like Tycho, have tapped into the Police Computers)… and they’re going to do whatever they can in order to confirm that… up to and including… killin’ her!
Wow… I really enjoyed this! This might be the strongest offering from this issue… just really solid stuff!
Only thing I’m kind of wonky on is the difference between Lagrange and Mars… though, I’ll concede that might just be a case of my being too dense… or thinking too hard. I know there are things called “Lagrange Points”… which, I sort of understand, but wouldn’t attempt to explain. Not sure if this has anything to do with that… or if anything I’ve typed into this here paragraph even matters!
The characters we’re introduced to are pretty relatable… the conflict has been established… the world(s) have been built… all in eight pages! You really can’t ask for much more from an opening chapter! Really fun stuff here… looking forward to seeing where this one goes!
Our writer, Todd Klein is probably a pretty familiar name to comic fans… though, maybe more as a Letterer. He is one mighty prolific fellow… who actually has a fair amount of writing credits to his name! He wrote (among other things) a bunch of back-up features in Green Lantern (vol.2) and had a decent run on Omega Men for DC Comics. I tell ya, if the DC Wiki is to be believed, he’s got credits doing just about anything one can do in the comics creation process. He maintains a blog that I really cannot recommend enough if you’re a fan of DC Comics History… there is an absolute wealth of information and ephemera to check out here!
Let’s talk art for a minute. I really dug the way this story looked… it evokes a little bit of Moebius, giving the characters both a familiar yet otherworldly feel. It comes to us from Scott Hampton, a heck of an artist… and a fella with a really interesting resume. He’s done a bunch of work in the industry, including (but not limited to) Simon Dark, Doc Savage, and Star-Spangled War Stories featuring G.I. Zombie for DC… some Sandmanny stuff for Vertigo… plenty of non-DC stuff, and even provided painted art for the Magic: The Gathering card game! Really excellent stuff!
Overall… yeah, I think Class of 2064 gets my vote for best story this time out… don’t worry, I won’t go throwing a poll up tomorrow!
Tomorrow: Wrapping up the first issue!
And Then: Something… kinda bizarre?