Future Quest Presents #7 – Phil Hester, Writer; Steve Rude, Artist; John Kalisz, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: There’s Life In This Concept Yet
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: The conclusion of the first arc not written by Jeff Parker, in Future Quest Presents #7, delivers in the closing act, turning into a compelling story about memory, illusion, and the choices we all make that forge our destiny. Birdman was the focus of the first chapter, as his past came back to haunt him in the form of an ex-lover and a potential son who was very sick. The second chapter brought a darker tone as villain Mentok emerged, with a plot to brainwash the entire world and hints that Birdman’s entire history may be a lie. Now, with Mentok placing the entire hospital under psychic attack and Birdman off his game, the entire world is in danger. The opening faceoff shows Mentok’s cruelty, as he turns people against each other and engages in sadistic power games just to show he can. However, the cavalry soon arrives, and the issue turns into one of the most exciting yet.
However, the most compelling part of this issue is Birdman’s inner conflict, as he realizes that everything he thought about himself was a lie. Before he was transformed into Birdman, he was far from a decent person and certainly not a hero. After his transformation, the organization he works for now manipulated him using his belief he was a hero, to keep him acting like one. So he’s become something better than what he was, but it’s not who he truly is. That internal battle is a lot deeper than you usually see in a Hanna-Barbera comic. Combined with Mentok’s flashback segment last issue, which made him, if not a sympathetic villain, then at least a human one, we’ve got a comic that has a lot more ambitions than one might expect. Birdman started out this arc as the Future Quest character I was least interested in, but Hester and Rude turned that around. This series continues to impress all around.
Corrina: I knew nothing about Birdman save what I’d seen in the Future Quest comics before this arc. I can’t tell you what was pulled from the cartoon and what the creative team invented. In the end, it doesn’t matter, because, bottom line, this is a very good story.
At the beginning of this arc, Birdman seemed a slightly generic hero who could talk to birds and fly. But what we discover in this issue is that his personality used to be far different, darker, and selfish, and he took the opportunity of gaining powers to remake himself. Sorta, as he doesn’t quite remember who he was or the bad choices he made. But, in this story, he decides that doesn’t matter, and he consciously chooses to be a hero.
Mentok is similarly given depth, as a former bullied child with a power he didn’t understand and used too soon, and a mother’s grief over her sick child is excellent motivation for betraying Birdman. I’d love to see more of this character from this creative team.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.