Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Son Of Vulcan Reports - DC Part 2

Let me be clear. I'm not against reboots at all. In fact I'm rather a fan of them, when they work.

So it doesn't bother me that DC decided to lift the name of "Son of Vulcan" and attach it to a new hero in 2005. It has been done before, specifically the birth of the Silver Age of comics with the birth of new heroes like Flash, Green Lantern, and Atom. All three of these heroes look different and have different costumes from their original Golden Age sources, and only later were connected to them in any real way other than similarity of powers, and in the case of Atom not even that.

DC has a long history of this sort of thing. So the question becomes, how good is the reboot. In the case of Miquel Devante, the new Son of Vulcan, not bad really.

Lots of spoilers follow so tread carefully.

The story begins with the Floronic Man committing a murder and then deciding that salad bars are slaughterhouses. At the resturant in the town of Charlton's Point he decides to attack is sitting Miguel Devante and his friend Sienna. The Floronic Man is stopped by the sudden appearance of a superhero named "Vulcan", with the help of Miguel who slices off Floronic Man's arm. This creates a bond between the hero and the boy. Their heroism becomes the subject of news media, in particular a reporter named Josey Masulli. Miguel returns to the Derby Youth Home where he it is revealed he is an orphan. Vulcan returns to his secret base in Still Space and in conversation with his companion Pandora speaks highly of Miguel. Miguel is being punished by the headmaster of the orphanage. He is sent to his room after a beating. Meanwhile a mysterious villain with a mad on for Vulcan attacks the captured Floronic Man. Vulcan returns to tell Miguel that he wants him to become his superhero sidekick and together they face the threat they believe to be Floronic Man but is not and as the story closes Vulcan suffers a fatal wound to his torso.

The fatally wounded Vulcan transfers his powers to Miguel by branding his face with the imprint of his hand and Miguel, the "Son of Vulcan" erupts with fire destroying a large building and sending the assailant away. Without training and with the corpse of Vulcan having vanished, Miguel is left to explain things to the authorities, who arrest him. Pandora appears and frees him from custody and transports him to the Forge where he is supposed to be trained for his new role. Meanwhile the villain's mate moans about her absence. Praetor reveals himself aboard the Forge as Miguel's mentor and asks for the "First Law" which Miguel does not know. Praetor gives Miguel a tour of the Forge and introduces him to the heritage of heroes he has become part of, while Pandora goes to collect the remains of Vulcan. After the tour, and having asked Miguel to name the Law two more times, Praetor following programming tries to eject Miguel from the Forge and into space.

Pandora grieves for Vulcan while Miguel holds onto the door of the Forge for dear life. While the JLA talks of having a funeral for the hero Vulcan, Pandora arrives back at the Forge in time to save Miguel from space by removing her arm and sending it to retrieve him. It is revealed she is an artificial being and she and Miguel then try to leave the Forge which is destroying itself per its programming having assumed the line of Vulcans is broken, since Miguel could not recite the Laws. They are just about to escape in Vulcan's "Justi-Flyer" with the Encyclopeiae Vulcanus when Praetor corrupts Pandora's programming and Miguel is just able to fly away with her as the Forge destroys itself. Meanwhile the villain who killed Vulcan returns to her mate and it is revealed that they are Pale Martians and the surviving male seeks renewed revenge on the Son of Vulcan.

Miguel tries to hock his Vulcan sword to get enough money to return home and goes to an establishment run by Funky Flashman. He has to stop a robbery and is able to get some money to boot. Meanwhile at the Twilight Assisted Living complex a man hears news reports of Vulcan and is reminded of a time when he was called into service as part of the Vulcan tradition. Funky Flashman is fascinated by the sword his employee took in and contacts the Pale Martian who arrives immediately with deadly results for the help. At the funeral for Vulcan trouble is brewing when assorted villains show up in particular a gang dubbed the "Coalition of Crime". Miguel who showed up at Vulcan's grave is attacked and battles the offbeat collection of baddies until the old man shows up and teleports them away to relative safety.

Barney Blaine, the man who rescued Miguel tells him some of his history. Meanwhile the Coalition of Crime made up of a sorceress named Witchhazel, a little and smart dinosaur named Dino-Mite, a cowboy-themed centaur dubbed Charliehorse, a man-monkey-robot combo named Monkey-In-The-Middle, who are joined later by Scramjet and Fishmonger wonder what happened to Son of Vulcan and his rescuer. They seek them out and attack until Miguel is able to activate his fire powers and and repels them until he and Barney once again teleport away leaving the Coalition to deal with some heat-seeking missles fired by Scramjet. Barney and Miguel try to get Miguel's sword back from Funky Flashman but fail. Then Barney tells Miguel at long last about his heritage. In a story titled "The Martian Chronicles" we learn that the Pale Martians had been invading Earth for millions of years. Eventually they activate mankind's Meta-gene capacity. Men discover fire and drive the Pale Martians away. To remind themselves of the threat they create messages and through history man then fights and repels this enemy who pretend at times to be gods. Until finally during the time of the Romans, a hero is uses the technology of the "gods" from Mars creates the weapons of Vulcan and begins the tradition which has at last come down to Miguel. This saga is related by Barney to a disguised Martian who then telepathically gives him a heart attack.

The Pale Martian has captured Miguel, the Son of Vulcan and using DNA gotten from Funky Flashman derived from the Secret Society of Super-Villains injects his unborn children. When Miguel revives and attempts to escape he is confronted by the shape-shfiter but fights back and is successful as the brutal battle rages. Miguel seeking escape is confronted by the Children who look like ersatz versions of the Secret Society, but Miguel able to repel them. Furious the Pale Martian attacks a final time before Miguel finally burns him down. As the Laws of Vulcan are recited, Miguel visits his friend Sienna in Charlton Point, his friend Barney at the hospital, retrieves the Justi-Flyer and Pandora, and approaches Titans Tower where he confronts his destiny as a hero.

Later it is shown that Son of Vulcan did indeed join the Titans, becoming a member of Titan's East.

This is a tasty update. I actually like the premise and the eventually blending of sci-fi and mythic elements. Scott Beatty, the writer name checks the original creators of Son of Vulcan (reporter Masulli and two cops named Fracchio and Tallarico) and the whole story begins in Charlton Point and at the Derby Home. That kind of nominal respect for what has come before buys a lot of tolerance from me as a reader. I rather liked the story.

But the artwork is a whole other deal. Keron Grant creates lovely artwork, but dang if his storytelling doesn't downright confuse me at times. And it's not so much his panel arrangement which is reasonably standard, but the lack of real shadows and depth in the images making many things incomprehensible to my eye. I literally just cannot make out what is going on even as I look at it. This is a classic instance of style overwhelming functionality.

There is one section in the fifth issue, the "Chronicles" section which is drawn by Al Milgrom and things get less stylized and much clearer. In this section too, the original Vulcan looks remarkably like the classic Johnny Mann character. So while it is common for most to say there is no connection between this series and the original, I'd imagine that over time a connection was going to be made.

As a reboot this is as solid as any I've seen and we have a good hero at the end able to take on the world, with a little more training. While I wish that DC had given the original a spin in a storyline all his own, I have to confess this 2005 limited ain't all that bad a substitute.

And I'm very surprised at myself for saying that.

That wraps up my look at Son of Vulcan. I've learned a lot about this misfit hero, especially his brief turns at DC. I hope you have too.

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