A Meditation on Brother Power
There are always some comic characters that we all feel didn’t get the shot they really deserved. The comic characters that we think only need a new direction to really pop and become something special. These can range from already well-known, mainstream, characters to the obscure and z-list. This semi-rant is about the latter, for a character better known as “Brother Power”.
Now, as one of the most infamous Joe Simon DC-creations, Brother Power has had a long streak of being something of an industry in-joke. A gag character not really worth that much salt outside of references, or in the case of Vertigo/Sandman
- a few appearances and one decent one-shot under the Vertigo Visions
banner. Simon’s original series only ran for two issues, and they were some unexpected stuff from someone hailed as a master.
There was really no clear objective in the series, as it was really just focused on the episodic adventures of a walking, talking, dummy and not much else. Of course, that sort of construction was more common back then but there wasn’t anything to really grasp onto either in terms of a sub-arc either. Coupled with the kooky plots and Brother Power, The Geek
was a series that befuddled more than it entertained.
All of this I find a shame because at the very least the first issue is something that could have been something really magnificent. There is simply something incredibly primal about it all, as the cover just oozes passion and mystery. The very first page creates a playful Rocky Horror
-esque tone and atmosphere, making sure the reader knows that the events should be taken with tongue in cheek. A sort of Phantom of the Paradise
sense of menace and flair.
This isn’t even reaching the sublime premise of it all: a dummy struck by lightning comes to life and protects the downtrodden hippies who discovered it. It’s a classic Proto-Urban Fable, and that is where the heart of it all lies, in terms of how it should be rebooted. After such a energy infused start it was really a damn shame that it fell into plots like “Brother Power goes to school” and the like. Note - this is not me saying that comics shouldn’t be fun.
It’s just that the way it was set up really does pop when played with a bit more cynicism, a bit more grit, and probably a little darker. The closest analogue that I can think of, and where a reboot should inspiration, is The Crow
. They’re both about protective spirits that reside with the cast aside, or the ignored reaches of society. While Brother Power was “a man” as the series constantly reminded readers, and the Crow itself was a spirit of vengeance - the end result is similar.
Giving Brother Power aspects like his flower insignia shirt, or dopey smiley face weaken the original raw power the series promises with the covers. They call this the story for the fight of the soul of a man, but the fights never seem to add up to anything with weight to it. With a few cuts and revisions the first issue could have been a great one-shot about a flawed, but determined, Frankenstein’s Monster for the counter-culture era. A protective spirit seeking humanity.
The end of the first issue introduces the notion of a tragedy, but the events leading up to it are too goofy for the necessary impact. The Vertigo Visions
one shot tries something like this but ends up too Swamp Thing
and it doesn’t gel together. Brother Power has a lot of potential as a character and with Prez
on the horizon, this could end up with it’s own title - and I hope it’s something along these lines.