100 Page Giant: DC Primal Age // Review
Marketing has been a driving force in comics for decades. Recently, the movies from DC and Marvel have been the primary force behind any marketing when it comes to superheroes, with their animated shows being close behind. But what happens when a toy company launches a nostalgic toy line, and the comic company decides to make a tie-in comic? Hearkening back to the days of yore with the old Super Powers comics, DC Comics has launched a new 100-page giant comic to advertise Funko’s newest nostalgic (Target exclusive) toy line as a Target Exclusive release.
If you somehow missed the announcement (as this writer did), Funko’s newest line takes the trappings and styles of the old He-Man toys and blends in DC Comics to make a potent brew of a toyline. DC Primal Age features such things as Superman in red fur underwear over his tights, Wonder Woman in even more ornate armor, and Batman wielding a gigantic bat-shaped ax.
Realizing how utterly popular their 100 Page Giant comics are, DC has pushed themselves in a full blast of marketing. 100 pages of brand-new content from some of comicdom’s most recognized names and experienced hands with DC have come out of the woodwork to put their mark on this new line. Are these tales the next best thing to happen from DC, or are they some cheap schlock put out for a quick buck? The answer may surprise you.
100 Page Giant DC Primal Age takes the role of an anthology book, much like the Wal-Mart Exclusive 100 page giants.
The main story, The Primal Age, introduces the reader to the characters in a giant-sized story that thrills and baffles the reader equally. This tale was written by Marv Wolfman, with art by Scott Koblish, colors by Tony Avina, and letters by Wes Abbott. This 32-page epic relates the story of how the major players of the Primal Age gathered together. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and the Flash. Several DC villains have been converted into He-Man parodies of themselves, which makes the story feel like a solid Elseworlds tale from the 90s. The art is actually really great, looking both ridiculous and like something out of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World fever dreams. The action is fast and frenetic when it needs to be, but the battles are never hard to follow. It’s easy to see why this story was put first, frankly.
Born on a Monday was created by artist and writer Jerry Ordway. Joining him are colorist Wendy Broome and letterer Saida Temofonte. What results is a genuinely touching story featuring this world’s Solomon Grundy and Wonder Woman coming to blows. Ordway has worked some real magic here, and it’s worth picking up this volume for that alone.
Ice and Fire is a very different take on Mr. Freeze. Written by Louise Simonson, with art by Phil Winslade, colors by Carrie Strachan, and letters by Carlos M. Mangual, everyone seems to have a ton of fun playing with convention. A wizard from a desert land, this Freeze battles to save his lady love from a flame dragon. Much like Born on a Monday, this is a gem of a short that could really be a comic of its own. And deserves it.
Darkest Knight was also written by Louise Simonson. Brent Anderson joins her as the artist, while Wendy Broome provides colors, and Carlos M. Mangual works on the lettering. Simonson has taken a unique take on the Bat-mythos, as a lost king who fights against the oppression of a mad ruler. It’s actually really refreshing, but Batman as a techno-barbarian is downright bizarre.
The Joker’s Wild was also written by Jerry Ordway, with Chuck Patton taking the pencils. Karl Kessel inks the art, and Kelly Fitzpatrick provided the letters. Tom Derenick steps in for pages 7 through 9 on the pencils and inks as well. This story, while interesting, focuses on a barbarian Joker and his terrorizing of a town. This Joker is decidedly a PG creation, which is really refreshing compared to some of his darker incarnations. Throwing smile gas around and riding a monster for, the Joker’s story meanders slightly while tormenting everyone, but the story also feels incomplete.
Finally, Not a Bird focuses on Superman. Written by Marv Wolfman, with art by penciler Keith Pollard, inker Jose Marzan Jr, and colors by Carrie Strachan. Lettering is provided by Sal Cipriano as well. Not a Bird is a decidedly Batman-focused Superman tale, featuring Superman terrorizing a town mysteriously. What proceeds is a Batman vs. Superman that doesn’t end with the death of a Man of Steel.
The only thing that seems to hold back the comic, frankly, are the designs set by Funko. Over the top to the point of parody, what works for action figures invoking He-Man doesn’t always work for a comic design. If the artists had been allowed to let loose in their models, it’s very likely this comic would have become one of the best crazy experiences DC has come up with in decades.
As such, the result is just a fun romp with action figures smashing into one another in some He-Man kind of world. And sometimes, that’s all you really need.