DC Comics (October, 1994)
WRITER/CO-CREATOR: Doug Moench
PENCILER/CO-CREATOR: Tomm Coker
INKER: Keith Aiken
COLORIST: Tom Luth
LETTERER: Dan Nakrosis
EDITOR: Kevin Dooley
During an archaeological dig in Kuwait, Zecharia Leight was hoping to find evidence of ancient Sumeria. While his team uncovered clay tablets they also found a strange metal cylinder. Everybody he takes it too fails to figure out what it is, but one test has it protect a formula that may be tied to four crystals that fell off of it. Going to his ex-girlfriend, Lorna Copley, a scientist with her own company, they figure out the formula and the crystals slowly turn into humanoids. One night, when ninjas break into the lab (the same that tried to get the cylinder from him back in Kuwait) he is rescued by the four full-formed beings, each with superhuman powers…and declaring their loyalty to Zecharia!
What they got right: The 90s had a bad habit of starting something but not really explaining anything until the next issue. Here it works though. Zecharia and Lorna are in the dark as to what’s going on but that’s the point. We learn along with the characters and it’s interesting when the Xenobrood is finally revealed. I’m assuming next issue explained who and what they are, but it’s an organic learning rather than the usual “here’s a bunch of stuff with no context to follow and just assume you’ll care” approach.
What they got wrong: The 90s art, although not as bad as usual. There is one scene where a girl’s shirt changes color between panels. Also, think about Zecharia and Lorna’s approach here. There’s no thought about whether or not they’re unleashing some deadly horror that even the Justice League can’t stop (especially with the League currently not as strong as it used to be) or any other moral concerns or whether this is some world-killing poison. There’s no attempt to contain or properly study anything. They just throw all four crystals into various liquids until they finally think about it and come up with seawater and sunlight, then toss them into basins of seawater under a skylight and not think about what a bad idea this could be. They may be right because the story says so, but they’re kind of stupid that way.
Recommendation: Maybe it’s me but this didn’t feel a lot like a DC story but something better served outside of continuity. Still, I may look more into this series to see if it’s any good.