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365 Reasons to Love Comics #223

I have finally seen Hot Fuzz, my most anticipated movie of the year, and it definitely lived up to my lofty expectations. Since I’m now mildly obsessed with the police action genre, let’s take a look at the best cops in comics. (I hope that someone gets my archive in a bottle)

8/11/07

223. Code: BLUE

Code Blue 1.JPG

Yeah, Marvel’s relatively obscure team of elite super-SWAT cops are the best bobbies in the comics business. Forget the Metropolis SCU or the Powers gang or even the Gotham Central crew, as much as I love ‘em– Code: BLUE rules all.

The Code: BLUE team– Marcus Stone! Rigger Ruiz! Mad Dog Rassitano! Fireworks Fielstein! Jock Jackson! Mother Majowski!– were created by Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz during their great Thor run, and carried over into their Thunderstrike run. The elite squadron of New York’s Finest was put together in order to combat menaces that regular cops couldn’t handle– so yeah, these boys (and lady) in blue drove around in an A-Team van and battled super-villains and monsters from other worlds.

DeFalco and Frenz introduced Lieutenant Marcus Stone first. He was a regular, world-weary cop who became entangled in several Thor adventures. Little did we readers know at the time that he would soon become the Marvel Universe’s greatest badass, like Samuel L. Jackson and Sarge from the Halo video games put together. Mostly, though, he was a nod to Dan Turpin from Kirby‘s New Gods, who would join DC’s Special Crimes Unit, the Code: BLUE of Metropolis. On Stone’s last day before retirement (a golden cop cliché) he crossed paths with the evil troll Ulik, and they underwent a battle quite similar to Kirby’s own Turpin/Kalibak match. Stone and the rock troll would have a feud that’d stretch over another few dozen issues. Here are Stone’s finest moments against Ulik:

Code Blue 5.JPGCode Blue 3.JPG

The rest of the team was cool, though, don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed Mad Dog’s constant flirting with more-woman-than-he-could-handle Rigger along with the general team camaraderie. Mother was a a mix of Mick and Paulie from Rocky, with some Hannibal from A-Team and Jack Kirby and Sgt. Rock and others mixed in. Mad Dog was the quip-cracker, Fireworks was the family man, Jock was the rookie and the nice guy, Captain Conklin was the tough-but-caring boss, etc. Standard tropes, but DeFalco gave them a lot of heart. Yeah, they were his pet characters throughout the run, but dangit, I liked ‘em.

The team really grew on you, and that continued over into Thunderstrike, where they even took the spotlight away from the title character quite often. Jock Jackson heroically sacrificed himself to save Thunderstrike, the team faced off against a new robot member, and they even got their own little mini-series, presented as a flipbook with Thunderstrike. Can’t find any decent cover scans online, though, and the issue I have is too beat up to show you all, sorry. Roy Thomas scripted it; it wasn’t so hot, but it gave ‘em more page-time.

Code Blue 6.JPG

Outside of DeFalco, not too many creators have used Code: BLUE, especially to any great effect. Most recently, Fabian Nicieza brought them back in New Thunderbolts, and DeFalco and Frenz stuck a few of ‘em into Spider-Girl, revamping Mad Dog as a “Dog the Bounty Hunter” sort of figure.

I would love to see them again, and think they could definitely carry their own mini-series. Stone and the gang could easily return in a high-octane hot-lead-flying action/adventure epic: a rock and roll shoot-’em-up, blow-’em-up, punch-’em-up cops-and-super-robbers extravaganza. And why not? These are the guys who took down Uroc, a troll made of uru, fought a rogue Doombot, wiped the floor with the Wrecking Crew, and invaded Asgard. They’re humans who have proven that they can hold their own against villains and gods and monsters. They are truly the hottest fuzz in comics.

Code Blue 4.JPGCode Blue 2.JPG

For a surprisingly detailed history of the Code: BLUE team, check out their profile on Marvel’s website. And for an issue-by-issue breakdown of appearances, you’ve got the Marvel Appendix.

What do you think about Code: BLUE? Great cops or greatest cops?

24 Comments

All I can say is: :)!

I thought Hot Fuzz was pretty hit or miss… until officer Angel jump kicked that old lady in the head. Damn, that was just cinematic gold.

What? This article was actually about Code BLUE? Sorry, never heard of em.

“The team really grew on you”

Well it grew on YOU at least, apparently no one else.

How much longer is this DeFalco kick going to last? Before you know it we’ll be praising Spider-Girl or MC2.

Ian – I hope he praises Spider-Girl soon. It’s the only current Marvel book I read. Fun stuff.

Bill – I hope Powers makes your list of the best cops in comics.

Is this “Reasons to Love Comics” or “Comics that Suck Cosmic Ass?” Just asking.

You have to be pretty badass to read a suicidal rock troll his rights -as he’s falling off a cliff-… :>

For those of you who think this sucks– too bad. If you can’t find the fun in something like this, I don’t know why you bother to read comics or come to this website. And if you won’t even sign your name to a disparaging comment– let alone a pseudonym– then you might as well give up now.

I don’t mind negative comments, and I leave them up. But I’d prefer if you attempt to come up with a constructive criticism, or at least something mildly amusing, rather than just troll the site. Thanks.

The line “Anyone can keep fighting when the odds are in his favor!” sounds very similar to a line from the famous machinery-lifting sequence in Amazing Spider-Man #33.

I think the problem that some of us are having, Bill, is how often we see reasons where we need to “find the fun” in the piece. And yet, there are all these wonderful, inherently fun things in comics that we could be talking about!

And yet, there are all these wonderful, inherently fun things in comics that we could be talking about!

Yes. Like Code: BLUE. Heh.

The Code: Blue team do sound like fun; just not terribly imaginative. I can see where they’d be a reason to like comics an awful lot…they same way I find the A-Team a reason to like TV a lot. But *love* them? Ehhh…

Well it grew on YOU at least, apparently no one else.

You’d be wrong. In case my first post was too obtuse, allow me to clarify: seeing Bill list Code: BLUE as a Reason to Love Comics brought a huge smile to my face. Why? Because the concept is utterly fantastic. They’re normal people fighting against superhuman/otherworldly injustice, and they’re doing it not as superheroes in fanciful costumes but as law enforcement officers. The odds are always stacked against them, and they don’t always make it out unscathed — or even alive. They’re the MU’s ultimate underdogs, and who doesn’t dig an underdog?

Code: BLUE is SWAT. It’s the A-Team. It could be Marvel’s Stormwatch: PHD. It could be NYPD Blue. It could be The Shield. The team’s got a killer concept, potential to spare, and a guy who’s so secure in his masculinity that he goes by the call-sign “Mother.” What’s not to like?

How much longer is this DeFalco kick going to last?

Er…what kick? This was the first time Bill’s even mentioned DeFalco’s name since Thunderstrike’s entry on July 25th, two and a half weeks ago.

So, it’s a great concept because it’s ripped off of other well-liked concepts?

They’re normal people fighting against superhuman/otherworldly injustice, and they’re doing it not as superheroes in fanciful costumes but as law enforcement officers.

I can see the possibilities – but I’m seeing them from more of an Incredibles angle; the adventures of human law officers trying doggedly to impose some kind of societal order on superhumans. That, I’d buy as a reason to love comics, same way as I buy the movie as one.

But from the pages Bill posted, the actual execution seems to boil down to Cops With Bigger Guns Than Usual, which, y’know, whatever. There’s a reason why superhuman/otherworldly injustices are usually left to the superheroes. :)

I’m never read any of the comics featuring Code: BLUE so I don’t know anything about them. But why is it Code: BLUE and not Code:Blue?
On another note, what is the rational for their existence. I mean it isn’t as if the 616 New York is somehow lacking in superpowered people to deal with superpowered villains or something. The team might make sense in a comic book city with few or no heroes but it doesn’t seem to work in Marvel’s NYC.

“For those of you who think this sucks– too bad. If you can’t find the fun in something like this, I don’t know why you bother to read comics or come to this website.”

Bill, this saddens me. Obviously I disagree with you on some of your tastes and choices but to say that there is no reason for me to read comics because I think Code: BLUE is contrived and unoriginal? In the words of Job Blute; “COME ON!”

“Er…what kick? This was the first time Bill’s even mentioned DeFalco’s name since Thunderstrike’s entry on July 25th, two and a half weeks ago. ”
My mistake. I guess that horrible day is still in scorched in my brain. There were a couple of other DeFalco related days though were there not?

Look, obviously Bill has a lot of love for the 90s, including love for books I had (and have) no real interest in. Many people don’t love this particular era, but so what? This is Bill’s column: HIS reasons to love comics. Everyone’s entitled to his own opinion, but if you don’t like his choices, write your own column.

Personally, I’d agree with about half of his reasons, but I was reading horrible Image crap through most of the 90s and not much besides Essentials and kids’ books now. So what do I know?

Except that Power Pack and Spider-Girl are awesome, according to my 5yr-old daughter.

Ian: It’s G.O.B. Bluth.

I’ve never heard of Code:BLUE but if they can take down trolls that sometimes give Thor a hard time, they’re badass in my book.

How can you not like Code:BLUE? One of the nice touches I liked was that DeFalco connected it with the kid Yancy Street Gang he introduced in FF. One of the kids was the younger brother of Rigger, I think.

One reason why I’ve come to love Tom DeFalco comics: He actually does something with the supporting casts of his books, and reminds us why we should care about these so-called heroes, by showing us the civilians they are protecting.

I’ll admit, I probably would have put Code: BLUE under my hypothetical “365 Reasons to Hate Comics”, but hey, it’s nice to know somebody liked ‘em. Me, I liked the Washington DC Special Crimes Unit, from ‘Hawk and Dove’, led by Captain Brian “Sal” Arsala, but that’s probably too obscure for even comics fans to remember.

(I never did a “365 Reasons to Hate Comics” for three reasons. One, it seemed mean-spirited; two, I’m too lazy to do 365 entries; and three, reasons 18-97 inclusive would all have been ‘Rob Liefeld’.)

But can you give us 79 different reasons to hate Liefeld?
That’s a challenge, I would think.
PS I’m not actually asking for the reasons, just curious if he has that many offences.

Sad to say, I think I could. Onslaught Reborn is three in and of itself (the bringing back of lame 90s characters he created, the fact that he’s been doing comics for almost two decades and his art hasn’t gotten any better, and the fact that his art is that bad, and he still can’t deliver it in a timely fashion.) So yes, I think if I went through his career year by year, I could in fact find 79 specific reasons to hate him. (Deathmate: Red, his overuse of the word “Extreme”, Roman the Reniram-Bus…oh, easily.)

Heck, you could just count all of his books with “Blood” in the title and have something like 49 reasons.

Or the books he promised, advertised, and solicited but never actually got around to producing …

Or his legion of equally bad imitators that he lovingly nurtured throughout the 90s …

Or my personal favorite: that he makes a lot of noise about being a Christian while putting out exploitative, gratuitously violent crap and building a reputation for dishonesty.

Like we Christians need the bad publicity …

Never heard of ‘em, but that scene were Stone reads Ulik his rights looks like pure gold.

And I know this reaction is pretty late, but I just got back from vacation and I’m catching up on reasons now.

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