Longbox Junk Xenobrood Part 2 (Issues 4 6)

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"I have a lot of issues. . ."

I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!

July 2024




Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews even though nobody asked me to!

Let's keep this introduction sort of short.  What we have here is the second half of my review of the entire ill-fated and practically forgotten series featuring DC's version of a an X-treme 90s mutant superhero team meant to compete with Image and Marvel. . .Xenobrood.
In the first half ( ISSUES 0-3 ) I determined that the main reason this series is forgotten is ALSO the very reason it came to be.  As a potential competitor for 90s powerhouse Image, DC was barely on the playing field. 
Not that they didn't give it a decent try.  DC brought on a solid writer with some good fan credit in Doug Moench.  The team's origin had a pretty interesting hook in the "ancient astronaut" theory.  And the art. . .well. . .it was about as 90s as you can get without bringing in Liefeld on the job.  
Unfortunately, none of it was enough and Xenobrood turned out to be just okay.  And in the 90s when you're competing against the new bully on the playground named Image, okay wasn't going to cut it.
Worse, you can literally see DC giving up on Xenobrood.  It was originally supposed to be an ongoing series, spinning out of DC's soft 90s reboot, Zero Hour.  Instead it was quickly and quietly downgraded to a mini-series like that was how it was supposed to be the whole time. 
To make the slide even steeper, a new art team came in on just the THIRD issue, which ALSO featured a hail Mary Superman crossover sales stimulant (which apparently didn't work).
And now we're on issue four of this failed and forgotten experiment.  It's pretty clear that this thing is headed for disaster, and I COULD have just stopped with the first part of this review.  But I've said it before, and I'll say it again. . .I ain't a quitter, son!
Xenobrood Part Two. . .issues 4-6.  Let's do this!


ISSUES #4 - #6

DC (1995)

COVER: Chris Hunter
SCRIPT: Doug Moench
PENCILS: Chris Hunter
INKS: John Lowe
Picking up directly from the cliffhanger in the previous issue, Superman and the Xenobrood are wary of each other as Doctor Leight fills his team in on Superman's origins and also tells Superman about the Xenobrood. 
As tensions ease between Superman and the Xenobrood, we learn that Vimana has managed to quickly process a few crystals stolen from the ancient Babylonian dig site.  Unfortunately, their improper storage has tainted them.  They are powerful and capable of following orders, but are otherwise mindless crystalline husks.  Still useful, but not what Vimana was hoping for.
Back at the dig site, the Iraqi army discovers the entrance into the ruins and attacks!  Superman leaps to action, but Doctor Leight convinces the hero to stand down and observe as the Xenobrood takes care of the threat.
As Superman warily watches, the Xenobrood manages to hold their own against the massing troops, especially Astra, who uses her powers to possess multiple targets for the first time.  But it soon becomes clear that there's too many of them and Superman starts taking down the heavier targets as they approach.
But while Superman is distracted, Vimana sends his tainted crystal warriors into the battle!  A desperate fight breaks out between the crystal creatures and the Xenobrood.  Superman hears their struggle and returns to help, using sonic waves to destroy the crystal warriors and the ship that brought them to the battle.
The grateful Xenobrood and Doctor Leight agree with Superman that the secrets hidden in the prehistoric ruins are too dangerous and powerful to remain available to ANYONE.  And so the Xenobrood and Superman work together to close and hide the entrance forever.
Afterward, Superman leaves the Xenobrood after telling them that he can relate to their difficulty finding their way and their place. . .after all, he's an alien just like they are.  He tells them to keep up the good work and flies off into the sunset.
Doctor Leight decides to return home with the Xenobrood and face whatever comes next.
The End. . .To be continued.
Superman does NOT save the day, as far as this issue is concerned.
It just seems ridiculous that the Xenobrood don't know who Superman is when they've gained most of their knowledge of Earth through television.  This is a world where superheroes are ALSO superstars!  I expect better writing from Doug Moench.  At this point he seems like he's also giving up on the whole thing.  
This whole issue is pretty disappointing.  Superman's part is a pretty obvious attempt at propping up sales of this series.  The biggest thing he's there for besides a "You guys are great! No, really!" pep talk meant just as much for the reader as for the Xenobrood is to move this title away from attempting to be an "X" title entirely by making sure to firmly establish the Xenobrood as aliens, not mutants.  He also punches a few tanks. . .so there's that, too, I guess.
Setting the DC mutant angle aside is a move that makes DC giving up on this series painfully obvious.  It looks to ME like they figured out pretty quickly that they weren't going to be competing in the overcrowded mutant comic space after all.
And then there's the art.  I've already said that Hunter's art seems flat and that his heart wasn't in it (he left comics entirely not too long after this series) but this issue has some pretty bad. . .almost embarrassing. . . Superman illustrations.
One would THINK that if you were a practically unknown comic artist thrown onto a failing series to push it over a rapidly approaching finish line and you were given the opportunity to draw one of DC's biggest Superheroes. . .no. . .one of THE biggest Superheroes of all. . .you would put your best effort in.  You would think.  But no.  
Two more issues to go.  Let's do it!
COVER: Chris Hunter
SCRIPT: Doug Moench
PENCILS: Chris Hunter
INKS: John Lowe
Upon their return from the Middle East, Doctor Leight and the Xenobrood go into hiding while they try to figure out how to get the government off their back.  Leight enters into a secret deal with a television producer who is willing to pay Leight a million dollars for exclusive footage and interviews with the Xenobrood.  More than enough to find a new hidden base of operations.

But once he actually meets the producer, Leight gets uncomfortable with the level of exploitation he's agreeing to put the Xenobrood through for money and calls off the deal.  As they leave the studio, Leight is unaware that one of the crew has alerted the authorities and Leight and the Xenobrood are ambushed and captured by the mysterious heavily-armed government agency that has been hunting them!
Leight finds himself at Area 51, in the hands of "Project Aquarius".  The Xenobrood are prisoners, Lorna is nowhere to be found, and he is being interrogated.  In exchange for his life, Leight tells the government interrogator everything he knows about the Xenobrood. . .their powers, their prehistoric alien origin, the implications of their very existence on human history!
Unknown to Leight or Project Aquarius, the Xenobrood's capture was witnessed by agents of Vimana, who dispatches a strike team to Area 51 to release the Xenobrood and capture them for his slaves.
As alarms blare through Area 51 and Vimana's strike team penetrate security, the Xenobrood manage to free themselves and rescue Doctor Leight and Lorna.  Astra takes over the mind of the pilot of the strike team's aircraft and discovers that the ship has an autopilot that will take them back to it's home base.
Leight and the Xenobrood decide to escape in the craft and find out who their TRUE enemy is.
To be continued. . .
Surprisingly, this was actually one of the better issues of the run.  We get more of the Ancient Alien/ Annunaki background of the Xenobrood from Doug Moench, and I can also see a definite improvement in Chris Hunter's art, compared to the last issue.
It's still not great.  You can easily tell Moench is pretty much phoning it in and spinning the wheels waiting for the finale, despite a healthy dose of the concept that made this team at least a bit different than your average "X" team (Oops. . .sorry.  They're strictly aliens now).  It's too little, too late. . .and honestly, it's a rehash of small bits from other issues compiled into one place. 
Still, with the overwhelming mediocrity of this series as a whole, I'll take a halfway decent issue when I get one and give credit where credit is due. 
And FINALLY. . .
COVER:  Chris Hunter
SCRIPT: Doug Moench
PENCILS: Chris Hunter
INKS: John Lowe
Continuing directly from the previous issue, Doctor Leight, Lorna, and the Xenobrood manage to capture the ship used by Vimana's strike force and they use it to escape the hidden government "Project Aquarius" laboratory at Area 51.  
They are shocked to discover the ship's autopilot takes them deep under the sea to a high-tech hidden base.  Immediately after docking, and before they can even get their bearings, the base's guards attack!
As Doctor Leight and the Xenobrood fight their way through the alien base, they discover the lab where the rest of the crystals from the archeological dig in the ancient Sumerian temple are stored.  
There is a debate over whether or not they should destroy them, but the renewed attacks of the undersea base's guards decide it for them when a stray shot destroys the container the rest of the crystals are held in.
When the crystals are destroyed, Vimana himself finally steps in.  But instead of fighting, he uses his mental powers to open the minds of the Xenobrood and show them the fantastic, highly-advanced civilization of their homeworld.  As the Xenobrood marvel at the sights, Vimana offers them the chance to join him and leave Earth behind.
But the Xenobrood know from Leight's research that they were created as slaves and breeders, and that they would be used as such on their homeworld.  They would rather be free outcasts than slaves in a gilded cage.  They refuse Vimana's offer.
And with the Xenobrood's refusal, Vimana flies into a rage and an epic battle to the finish ensues!
Ha-Ha. . .just kidding.
Vimana gets depressed and decides that life in exile isn't worth living any longer.  He triggers the base's destruct sequence and tells Doctor Leight and the Xenobrood to get out before it explodes.
And so, while Vimana patiently waits for death, Doctor Leight, Lorna, and the Xenobrood run for the craft that brought them, barely escaping with their lives as the base explodes behind them!
After their craft also self-destructs, Leight, Lorna, and the Xenobrood find themselves washed ashore outside of New York City.  Now that the threat of Vimana is gone, and in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, Leight tells the Xenobrood that they are free.  It's not right for him to be their "master" any more than it was for Vimana.  
As the Xenobrood leave for parts unknown, Lorna tells Leight that she's rediscovered her feelings for him and wants to give their relationship another chance.  All's well that ends well.
In the months following Leight freeing the Xenobrood, he and Lorna move in together.  They have made a deal with a television producer, revealing the government's secret Project Aquarius in exchange for public protection for both them and the Xenobrood.
And then, one night, unexpected visitors arrive. . .the Xenobrood!  They have decided to remain with Doctor Leight of their own free will.  What will the future hold?  Who knows.  But for now. . .a happy ending.

And there it is, folks. . .the big ending to the short-lived adventures of the Xenobrood! 
The end of Vimana's threat actually came as a big surprise to me.  Doug Moench shows that he wasn't entirely phoning it in with a most unusual end for the main villain.  Just giving up and killing himself was something I was NOT expecting.  It's either one of the laziest final boss battles I've seen in comics, or one of the most brilliant.  I don't even know what to think!  Thumbs up to Mr. Moench for taking this last issue down a most unexpected path.
Other than that, this final issue was. . .well, it was okay.  Not bad, not great.  Just like every other issue in the series.  Except for the unusual end for the villain, pretty much forgettable.  The sort of thing you don't even really remember the next day. . .or maybe even the next hour.  
Everything is wrapped up nicely, with the only loose end being the Xenobrood themselves, who are never seen again or even mentioned beyond one single lousy sentence in JLA #4 a few years later in 1997.  All's well that ends well?  I guess so.


After reading and reviewing the seven issues of this forgotten attempt by DC to jump on the mutant bandwagon, I think I can sum it up in two words: Wasted Potential.
There WAS potential here.  Doug Moench is a good comic writer, and the "Ancient alien/ Annunaki" hook for the team's origin set it apart a little bit.  This SHOULD have been better than it was.  Doug Moench ALONE should have been the key here.
But no.  
What we GOT was an utterly forgettable and borderline bad comic series that flopped so hard that it's practically forgotten today.  How did this happen?  As I said above, in MY humble opinion this series was doomed from the start. . .just like almost anything else written for a specific purpose or to fill a specific pigeonhole. 
DC wanted in on that sweet, SWEET mutant money.  So instead of letting Doug Moench write in his usual introspective style, we got a pretty weak attempt at an X-Treme Action comic.  Kind reader, if you know anything about Moench's writing, it's pretty plain to see that he's not really an X-Treme Action writer.
He's not my favorite comic writer, but he's a modern comic legend.  When you think of Doug Moench, you think of Moon Knight. . .Batman. . .Master of Kung Fu. . .brooding, introspective character pieces crafted in a unique style.  NOT what we find here in Xenobrood.  
A lot of what I'm writing here is just my OWN speculation (because there is amazingly little information to be found on this series), but it seems to me like DC took a good writer with a good idea and interfered enough trying to grab a piece of the mutant comic pie to make it fail.
Consider this. . .A dark series about an archeologist who discovers a shattering secret, hidden for thousands of years.  A secret that redefines human history itself.  Part of the secret is a group of human-like creatures from another world. . . powerful, but childlike and obedient.  Created as slaves and breeders for an alien race, they have the potential to become heroes or to become dangerous.  Hunted by a secret government agency, they are forced into hiding while they try to make sense of the world around them.
See that?  Now THERE'S a comic I want to read!  That's the idea underlying Xenobrood.  THAT'S the potential.  That's the WASTED potential.  This was an idea, a concept, that could have worked on its own instead of trying to cram it into the "X-Book" craze. 
Can I recommend Xenobrood?  
Honestly, it's not a great series.  It was a bit of a grind to make myself finish reviewing these last three issues.  Like I said above, there's a LOT of wasted potential here, and what we get is pretty forgettable and right on the edge of bad.  
I wouldn't recommend Xenobrood as anything other than a strange and somewhat interesting little relic of the time when Image stomped onto the comic scene and everyone was scrambling to keep up.  To ME it's a master class in how to waste the potential of a good writer with a good idea on a blatant cash grab.
Up Next. . .
Longbox Junk 2024!  How about we start off the new year with a little something you can find in just about ANY bargain bin you find yourself digging through?  I'm talking about ARAK, SON OF THUNDER!
Be there or be square.
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