This entry covers “Brass” volume one issues 1 through 3 by Richard Bennett and Aron Wiesenfeld.
Hershel Goldstein has a lot of problems. First, he’s working a job he hates scrubbing toilets in a dance club. The upside is that this job, and a good friend, is what helped him out of homelessness. Second, he had a cat that I’m not sure if he likes or not. Such is the way with kitties. Finally, Hershel Goldstein is dying of cancer. A soon to be hero unsure of life because he is dying of cancer? That sounds a little familiar…
After getting the bad news Hershel is riding the city bus back home. Coincidentally there’s another guy on the bus with similar build, longish hair and a trench coat similar to Hershel’s. This doppelganger first exposes himself to a child and then shoots and kills the bus driver. The bad guy gets away and Hershel ambles on home, once again bemoaning his fate as a reason why he shouldn’t care about what just went down. The world sucks, so why should I try, an edgy teenager who just read Nietzsche kinda thing.
Due to a murder in a public place, there are police questioning witnesses to the crime. Not sure how they got ole Hersh’s info, but they show up at his doorstep. As mentioned, Hershel has long hair as well as a trench coat. The cops see this, as well as some blood on Hershel’s shirt, and they like him for the murderer. Hershel smartly notices this, and then not-so-wisely runs. Hershel tries to lose the police by running down a subway tunnel. As he’s booking through the subway he falls down into a strange room full of highly advanced tech. He touches some and becomes a kick-ass robot bastard!
How did this hidden room full of tech come to be? Well, if it walks like crazy fringe science and talks like questionable super-powered human upgrades, it’s gotta be Miles Craven. It seems as if I/O found the Brass Virus, of course, and that means Miles wants them to use it to see if they can create some superhumans to do his bidding for the government. So the I/O scientists injected it into a fly as well as 4 humans. They all got teched out, but then went on a rampage. It took I/O and some pre-superpowered Team 7 members to calm this new species down. In the end, I/O decided to hide all the Brass experiments as well as the virus in the sewers and tunnels under the NYC subway. Not a bad place I guess, it’s been the hideout of everything from ninja turtles to a beastly Ron Pearlman.
Back to the Present: Just as Hershel is getting used to his big brassy body, the Brass virus also infects the cops that were after Hershel. These others start to cause destruction in New York City. Hershel tries his best to stop them and is helped out by not only I/O’s jet fighters but also an electromagnetic pulse from the goddamned MIR space station. That last one takes out the final member of the Police Brass, but it takes down Hershel along with it.
While Hershel is down for the count he enters a dreamlike state while his body is hauled away by I/O. In this dream, he meets a representation of the Brass Virus. The virus tells Hershel that I/O has implanted a retrovirus into him to control the Brass Virus, and thus control each of them. The virus suggests that they merge together which will destroy I/O’s retrovirus and also keep I/O from being able to control either of them. Hershel pulls an “Invisibles” move and becomes friends with the virus and manages to survive it, beating I/O at their own game.
I/O and Craven send him home figuring their retrovirus beat out the Brass Virus. I guess they figure they can activate Hershel at will and he’d do their bidding to have them shut down his Brass body. This could’ve been a cool idea, but hey, it’s also cool that Hershel is in control and I/O doesn’t even know it. This may’ve come to a head if Craven was around longer to do anything about it. By the way, seems Hershel’s cat got loose, but I/O finds him and Craven personally returns the cat. It seems lil Micho has managed to become to be Brassed up as well!
- I always liked “Brass” volume one placed here because we see Roxy and Grunge in issue 3 trying to sneak into a bar in NYC. I figure it’s after they got to NYC, but before they meet up with Team 7. Grunge’s short hair point to this being a solid placement. The only problem with that is the “Weeks later” caption we see when Craven comes to return Hershel’s cat. I doubt the Gen13 kids spent a week in NYC waiting to raid the I/O Towers, and due to the events of their raid (Craven’s death) we can’t assume this “Weeks later” event took place weeks after the next batch of books we’re about to read. So we have to ignore the “Weeks later” caption because even if we ignore Grunge’s short hair, I can’t place the Gen13 team in NYC at all. Their trip to Coda Island didn’t have a layover there (it flew from San Diego to Puerto Rico) and their flight back from Rome was direct to San Diego (Roxy mentions it was 16hrs straight, and that flight would indeed be 16 without layovers.)
- Pretty sure the reason we see Craven with this woman Sharon by his side is that all his other lackeys are busy. It’s telling that we never see her again, once Craven was gone she high-tailed it out of I/O. She was probably as dirty as he was. Also, it is nice that by using Sharon we can’t come across any other continuity errors like we could’ve if had been one of the Brethren, Alicia Turner or Frank Colby in that role.
- All the Brass Virus experiments are going on in an I/O underground bunker in Arizona. We know that I/O has Sector 52, which is a vast underground bunker in the Mojave Desert, and part of the Mojave Desert is in Arizona, so I’m going to figure this is the same place we see later on as Sector 52 starting in “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 37.
- The initial 4 Brass Virus victims must move fastly, as they’ve gone from Arizona all the way to a tropical island in the Gulf of Mexico. Also, Craven and Lynch seem to get to the Gulf of Mexico pretty quickly from wherever they’re at… it looks like somewhere in the Rockies.
- Craven is drawn in 1967 as looking pretty much the same as modern-day Craven, we’ll see later in “WildC.A.T.s” volume one issue 39 that young Craven had blond curly hair. I’ll admit, it helps us here track who he is and how it relates to this story, even if we’ll encounter a slight continuity wrinkle later.
- The Team 7 scenes take place back in 1967 and we already see John Lynch working with Miles. We know that Lynch had his little adventure in the “Lynch” one-shot in 1968. In that story, the narrator states that after the ’68 adventure Lynch went on to great things in the military. For me that doesn’t mean he wasn’t already in the military and wasn’t in Team 7 yet, he had just yet to attain the greatness that the narrator spoke of.
- In “Brass” volume two we find out that the Brass Virus is from another dimension that unloaded it to our dimension because it was too dangerous to be near and they couldn’t destroy it. So that’s some crazy alien robo-tech that Hershel has going on up in his bloodstream.
NEXT: the rest of “Deathblow” volume one issue 24 and then all of issue 25 by Brandon Choi, Tom Joyner, Jeff Mariotte, Scott Kolins, Geof Isherwood, Trevor Scott and Rick Bryant