Johns & Frank Aim for 'Surprising and New' in Latest "Batman: Earth One" Volume
Here is the latest in our year-long look at one cool comic (whether it be a self-contained work, an ongoing comic or a run on a long-running title that featured multiple creative teams on it over the years) a day (in no particular order whatsoever)! Here‘s the archive of the moments posted so far!
Today we look at D. Curtis Johnson’s Chase!
Chase was a short-lived DC Comic from the late 1990s written by D. Curtis Johnson with art by JH Williams and Mick Gray (back when Williams was simply a great artist and not the greatest artist in mainstream comics).
The series followed the adventures of Cameron Chase, newly hired agent for the Department of Extranormal Operations. Chase would investigate possible superhuman sightings plus go on various other superhero-related missions.
The breadth of the DEO canvas was vast.
What Johnson did best with the series was both create a strong, vibrant lead character in Cameron Chase, then surround her with people that she could play off of, all the while giving the book a realistic touch, making the superheroics in the book seem all that much more grander.
And, of course, he had JH freakin’ Williams on pencils, which doesn’t hurt when you want to do some strong character-based storytelling!
Here’s a bit from issue #2, where we intercut Chase’s arguments with her boyfriend (who moved to New York with Chase when she got her new job at the DEO) with her current mission, working with the Suicide Squad…
In #3, we see Chase on the mission – Williams really shines here with the re-designs he does of the Rocket Red Brigade. He takes the approach that the Rocket Reds, post-USSR, would be a good deal less impressive-looking, and it really works.
A striking aspect of Johnson’s work was how well he used DC continuity – he was actually pretty darn respectful of the toys he was using, and he used some characters that had been in limbo for some time (the Suicide Squad and, in this issue #4, Booster Gold…)….
Chase’s background hides a story of a father who was a superhero himself, and was murdered by a supervillain.
In issue #6, Chase breaks the news to her sister when they’re forced to talk to each other after the elevator they’re riding in stalls during a blackout…
Man, Williams tells stories so well. What a great artist.
Finally, in issues #7-8, Chase is tasked on finding out Batman’s secret identity. Speaking of continuity nods, look at how Johnson acknowledges how there is ANOTHER notable DC hero in Gotham City…
As you can tell, the book looked AMAZING, and Johnson had a James Robinson on Starman approach to both DC history but also character-based work. All wrapped in one of the few strong, independent female leads out there.
This was a very good series, and it sadly lasted only 10 issues (#1-9 plus a #1,000,000 issue).
With Williams being such a famous artist nowadays, DC might actually be able to sell enough Chase TPBs for it to be worth their while to put them out! I hope they do some day!
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