Sunday, May 7, 2023




Writer: Pedro Angosto

Artists: Jorge Santamaría (penciller)/Juan Moreno (inker)/Ulises Kuroshima (colors)/Adam Pruett (letters)

Editor: Gary Carlson  

Publisher: Big Bang Comics


Order print or digital directly from Indyplanet 

"Sometimes you have to walk right into the abyss and HOPE for the best." — Pedro Angosto

The end has finally come.  

It was January 2022 when I first shared my thoughts on THE LAST WHIZ KIDS STORY! PART 1 and we are on the cusp of Summer 2023 and PART 3 is almost available through IndyPlanet and your local comic book stores.  A huge thanks to Big Bang Comics for making a digital review copy available in advance.

I could just sit here and grab my thesaurus and just keep looking up more creative superlatives to lavish praise on this story.  But my first thing to say is that I think it is deserving of Big Bang Comics to consider repackaging this 3-parter into a stand-alone graphic novel collection because I believe it is a perfect intro book for the modern reader to the expansive Big Bang Universe of characters.  But before I go into some of the meat of the plot and execution of this comic, let me get personal for a moment.

I've reflected a bit recently on comics in general, super-heroes more specifically, and the influence of my own age and nostalgia to grasp exactly what it is that draws me in or pushes me out as a reader. Honestly, at this point in my life, I don't read much in terms of regular monthly comics.  And that is not intended to be a dig at the comics of today but it almost can't help but be taken that way.  There is a demonstrable difference in mainstream comics today versus those I grew up reading and collecting.  Because of technology and the vast influence of nerd culture in today's world, comics today are increasingly dense in detail and production value and more organic writing styles.  But what is lost so often is the thrill of new discovery and the simplicity of story-telling that kept a more narrow focus but took advantage of the elements that make up a larger shared universe of characters.  That hint of more to learn about was a draw for readers then but can be a deterrent these days as the larger shared universe looms large and heavy over everything in this world of "content" creation as paramount driving force in entertainment, including comics.  There was a naivete to the comics publishing world of those decades past as they were still the bastard step-children of their corporate owners plugging along as a fairly cheap entertainment option and building libraries of potential trademark options to license.  

As a kid, though?  All you knew was it was weekly soap and space opera with colorful tights and cosmic concepts triggering a dopamine rush of vicarious thrills that could only be found in those cheap little newsprint pamphlets.  Now that the technology has caught up and we have super-heroes driving our entire entertainment culture through TV, film, games, and every possible toy and knick-knack, it's an entirely different global context for any comic book published today.  The competition for sales and fans is exceedingly harsh.

So, what does all this have to do with THE LAST WHIZ KIDS STORY?  This comic, in 3 parts (BBA 14,17, and 22), is one of those rare moments in comics that captures that earlier time period in comics perfectly by creating something new but with the same flavor.  Inspired most clearly by the 1980s run of DC Comics' NEW TEEN TITANS by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, it is a sprawling story best read all together.  And this is why I wanted to write a little about Part 3 now that we have the complete story to digest.

Writer Pedro Angosto has his own approach that continues his previous narrative patterns.  The story hits the ground running and it never lets up until the end.  And in the course of 44 pages, he fulfills the promise of Big Bang Comics past by completing Galahad's transformation to the White Knight and resolving a number of lost or dangling plotlines AND introducing the NEW Round Table of America AND an all-new group drawing inspiration from DC's INFINITY INC.  I'll let you look them up if you're unfamiliar.

I'm just incredibly impressed by how solid this massive story held together and stuck the landing.  Jorge Santamaría's pencils with Juan Moreno's inking is a sublime accomplishment.  Gorgeous work and brilliant visual storytelling.  You can see the Pérez inspiration in the way he crafts the flow of the page and uses those larger canvases for incredible action sequences but reserving the smaller panels for the more intimate moments.  It's just such a good job capturing and evoking the emotions of the moments.

Angosto and Santamaría pepper the pages with Big Bang "Easter Eggs" a'plenty including glimpses of new characters and the unexpected returns of old.  In fact, when and if they do collect this story into a trade paperback, I hope there will be a guide to all of the Easter Eggs and characters.  Any new reader should be intrigued by the larger Big Bang Universe from this story and from this issue.  There are hints of things that have gone before, there are hints of things to come, there's new surprising complications that are set up.  

I know I could just sit here and do a plot retelling, but I honestly don't want to spoil the experience.  The comics aren't that expensive and they're completely worth your time and money to give them a try.  If you haven't read Parts 1 and 2, then order all 3.  If you've already read Parts 1 and 2, then I don't expect you need any convincing from me to pick up Part 3. 

THE LAST WHIZ KIDS STORY! is a comic to make longtime comics fans feel like they are kids again!  And that's a rare thing these days.

It should be noted here now that Part 3 is available, I so thoroughly enjoyed Part 1 that I wound up contributing pin-ups to both Parts 2 and 3.  These were done months before actually having the chance to read the comics themselves.  And as I prefer to focus on the positives in my write-ups, had the comics not been something I could recommend, then I would have just stayed silent.  As it turned out, I'm quite proud to have my art associated with such quality comics. 



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