Saturday, February 22, 2014

Americomics Special #1: "Sentinels of Justice"

In 1983 Charlton Comics may have been in its waning years, but there was still some life in its heroes. Charlton licensed Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade and the Question to AC/Americomics who subsequently published "Americomics Special #1: Sentinels of Justice" teaming up the aforementioned characters. The story was by Dan St. John, with script and art by Greg Guler...and if you haven't guessed by now, it's the subject of today's post.

Reporter Vic Sage is live, on the air, with a story about a crime wave that's been sweeping Hub City. That sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it? Like the opening of "CharltonBullseye #1"? Anyway, Vic tells his viewers that the criminals have been identified as Iron-Arms and Fiery-Icer (Captain Atom villains), and the Madmen (foes of Blue Beetle). He implores the powers that be to admit they're outgunned and call in the cavalry. One viewer isn't too happy with the broadcast though. That viewer? The Manipulator! The man behind the attacks and the man who has brought this group of villains together. He is happy with the success of his squad though...and already has their next mission lined up. A page later and we learn that the Manipulator is in fact Jonathan Barrington Collingsworth Jr. A man who likes to wear a luchador mask with his business suit, and a man who has been planning heists targeting energy based technology in a quest to achieve "complete raw power!"

Back at the lab of Ted Kord, the Beetle phone rings. Ok, they don't call it that, but the person on the other end, Captain Fisher, is calling Blue Beetle and asking him to bring in the Sentinels of Justice. Ted leaves the lab in the hands of his assistant Tracy and heads for the BUG! Captain Atom is already on the scene when he arrives at the police station, and Nightshade and the Question arrive shortly after. The mayor isn't too thrilled about bringing in the costumed heroes, but the police want the help, and the governor does too. They all agree that Dr. Rockwell and his solar battery are probably the next target, especially considering he's planning a demonstration the next night at Whitter Hall. Good thing the Sentinels have a plan!

Captain Atom and Nightshade mingle inside (in civilian disguises) while BB and the Question watch the outside of the building. Things are pretty quiet though, but just when they think the night will be a bust a hover car full pulls up at the front door. Like a clown car at the circus, the doors open and dozens of Madmen spill out, followed by Fiery-Icer and Iron-Arms! Then the Manipulator swoops in riding a hover chair and it's time for our heroes to go to work. Cap takes Iron-Arms, while Beetle dives into a pile of Madmen.

When the colorful creeps seem to multiply their numbers it's the Question to the rescue. While all this is going on, Nightshade rushes to take out Fiery-Icer, who's heading toward the good doctor. She dodges an icy blast and tosses an ebony bomb turning Icer's lights out. Cap is just about to get the upper hand on Iron-Arms, but the Manipulator can't have that, so he hits Cap with a plasma blast from his hover chair. A furious Cap blasts right back taking down the chair and its passenger allowing our Sentinels to close in on the criminal mastermind. Manipulator has one more trick up his sleeve though...the Question's nemesis, the Banshee! Banshee blasts the approaching Blue Beetle with a stun bolt, before grabbing the Manipulator and flying him to safety. Cap and Nightshade tag team Iron-Arms, disabling his power pack and knocking him unconscious, but Fiery-Icer manages to blast a wall and escape into the night. And, as the police round up the Madmen and Iron-Arms, the Sentinels regroup and begin planning for the Manipulator's eventual return.

All in all, this was a fun bit of fluff. No deep story, just action, action, action...kind of like a cartoon. In fact, some of the art even put me in mind of an animated show from the 1980's...though the art here isn't always consistent. Americomics did have another go round with Blue Beetle, which I'll feature down the road, but it was shortly after this the Charlton "Action Heroes" became residents of DC Comics Earth-4, and then the DCU itself. More on that later!

See you next week!

1 comment:

  1. Weak artwork, mediocre story, but what a blast to see most of the Charlton Action Heroes together for the first time.