Wednesday, October 27, 2004

PS238 #8 - A Review

Written by: Aaron Williams
Penciled by: Aaron Williams
Inked by: Aaron Williams
Colored by: N/A
Lettered by: Aaron Williams
Editor: Aaron Williams
Publisher: Dorkstorm Press

You ever notice how even though they it was a school, that until recently we never actually saw any classes being taught at Charles Xavier’s School For Gifted Children in all the X-Men books? Aside from all those real-world combat exercised in the Danger Room, of course.

We never got to see Scott Summers sweating it out over mid-terms. We never got to see Professor X having to get the school inspected for meeting all the state standards as an independent educational facility. And, seeing as how most of the students were practically adults or orphans, we never got to witness any parent/teacher conferences regarding little Billy’s failure to correctly use his powers when he snuck inside the girl’s locker-room while invisible. And while X-Men has usually been a fine comic in other respects, it has never accurately portrayed what a real school for super-powered youths might really be like.

For those of us who have ever seriously wondered what such a school WOULD be like, there is PS238. Taken from the imagination of writer/artist Aaron Williams, the comic offers up lots of laughs along with the occasional spoonful of sentiment.

This issue continues a theme from last issue, in which the students of the PS238 secret school for superhuman children had to do a group report upon a great historical superhero. While this might be an ordinary assignment, it is made extraordinarily easy when one of your classmates has the power to walk backwards in time and interview the subject of your report. This time, we get to see the report of a student named Lyle. Lyle has the rather unusual superpower of being a super-detective - able to see the synchronic connections between seemingly unrelated events.

Lyle is one of a handful of students registered in what is called The Rainmaker Program; a part of the PS238 school designed to educate and train children with super-powers that might not readily lend themselves to crime-fighting, such as being able to dig through the earth super-quickly or change inorganic material into food. Lyle’s report is upon the first subject of the very first Project Rainmaker: a young man who had the power to control the rain, and how he would wind up changing the course of history for superheroes everywhere.

Sadly, this issue of PS238 is nowhere near as enjoyable as the last few have been. The revelations about original Rainmaker Project are rather muted compared to the rather dramatic story told in the last issue. And the comedic moments are few and far between, with this issue apparently being the founding moment of some greater story to be told later on. So the usual elements that make me recommend this book - the humor, the sweetness and the satire - are sorely lacking this time around.

This is not to say that the book is not up to the usual high standard of quality. William’s art is as good as ever, perfectly capturing the cuteness of a bunch of eight-year-old superheroes but still capable of being serious enough when needed. And what few jokes there are in this issue are pretty good. In fact, that sums up the entire issue - it is pretty good. But when one is used to greatness, pretty good isn’t good enough.

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