I became aware of this book through a good high school friend. Her nephew, David Crosby, won a Scholastic Regional Gold Key for this graphic novel; he ended up having it published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) service. I bought a copy a few days ago; here’s the Origin Story of “Fro Man” and “Dub Step Boy”!
We start in the year 1987 – September 3rd, to be exact.
Sitting at a row of monitors is our main character, Alexander Monroe (“Alex”): a 25-year-old Power Plant Maintenance worker, currently watching TV and slacking off. His boss, Mr. Roff, is pretty sure that Alex is slacking on the job, but doesn’t have the evidence to back it up… until he hears the audience’s laughter from the show that Alex shouldn’t be watching. Result: Mr. Roff sends him to the North Tower. The North Tower is not in good shape, which is why Alex was sent there. His job is to fix the tower but he gets an unexpected ally. Rodney, a co-worker, offers to accompany him there, out of restlessness, it seems.
The two arrive at the tower, assuming that their work will be a quick patch job. They were wrong. There is a big hole in the side and base of the tower, with a flow of radioactive sludge at the bottom. Rodney runs off to get the sludge flow stopped while Alex stays by the hole. The flow is stopped almost immediately, to the surprise of Alex. He turns around to see… someone standing behind him, also in a Haz-Mat suit.
No. It’s a woman, and she shoves Alex into the pit!
This is an Origin Story, so Alex has to survive.
He does. Barely.
His fall is stopped by his radiation suit, as it snagged on a broken pipe. His head dips into the sludge, scalding his hair off, and the suit slingshots him back up the hole….
… face first into a pipe. The last thing Alex sees is Rodney, telling him to not do something, before he loses consciousness.
Alex wakes up in some kind of metal room or container, wearing nothing but socks. A worker is outside, observing. The worker makes a weird claim: “You shouldn’t have woken up for another decade!”. Suddenly, the little container fills up with freezing gas, and Alex blacks out again. When he wakes up again, he is totally encased in ice. Still naked. And somehow, outside on a sidewalk.
What’s even weirder: passersby don’t seem phased by the fact that there’s a naked frozen black man on the sidewalk; one person even thinks that he’s a street performer and throws him a few coins.
A kid in a green hoodie finally stops and helps Alex out of the ice in the most logical way: he pushes him over, shattering the ice. Alex, now wearing the kid’s hoodie as makeshift underwear (thanks, kid!), realizes that the kid forgot his “walkman”; the kid, confused, told him that it’s a phone. Alex thinks he’s in the 1980’s; the kid laughs and comments that he was cryogenically frozen and probably has superpowers, like “the comic books”.
Alex just got his first taste of “The Future”!
First impressions and thoughts: I like what I’ve read so far. I wonder who pushed Alex into the sludge: at first, I thought it was Rodney. On a second look, it looks like a woman. Why did they push Alex?
I also like that this book reads “fast”: it’s not bogged down with needless dialogue or overly wordy scene-setting. It’s simple and straight to the point. Cool!
Later that day, Alex goes home with the Green Hoodie kid for the night; we find out that his name is Solomon, an Electronic Music maker. We are also introduced to his family, the Wescotts: Lucy (Mom; a talker), Harold (Dad; fighting his impending baldness… and also possibly borderline racist/prejudiced), and Sophie (Younger Sister; robot-builder). Harold and Lucy debate Alex’s arrival, while Solomon shows him his room.
Alex is woken up that night to the delighted exclamations of Solomon; he is convinced that Alex DOES have superpowers. When Solomon turns the lights back off, Alex’s hair starts glowing green, leading credence to Solomon’s claims! But Solomon also has glowing parts: his ears and his hands!
Naturally, the kid Solomon is ecstatic.
Naturally, the adult-who-is-at-least-30-years-into-the-future Alexander is not ecstatic. They decide to investigate this whatever-it-is in the morning.
It’s now the next morning and Harold, Solomon’s dad, is all a-ragin’.
I wasn’t aware that Tranq Darts were a common household item in The Future until now. Nevertheless, Solomon is glad that Lucy KO’d their dad but is wondering if Alex is ok.
Alex is not ok – he is freaking out on a street corner. Wouldn’t you freak out if you found out that you woke up at least 30 years into future, with glowing hair? I don’t have hair, but that’s besides the point.
A passerby stops and he and Alex have a brief conversation about the neighborhood: why this store isn’t here (‘closed’), why that landmark isn’t here (‘moved 20 years ago’) or “How do you ‘ask a phone’ for directions?” (the guy points to a phone on a wall, tells Alex this, and walks away). The phone is of no use because Alex doesn’t know how to use it… and that’s the final straw for him. He punches the phone in a fit of frustration and rage… and something weird happens:
The kid who was talking to him saw that feat and offers to take him to his dad, in a nearby park, who might have some answers for Alex. Off the two of them zip, on a Hover board!
At this point in the story, I still don’t know how far into the future Alex is. There are cell phones but there are Hover boards and phones that look like old payphones. If I had to guess, I would say that he’s in “our” time: the late 2010’s.
We return to the Westcotts, where Solomon and Lucy are singing a goofy Muffin Baking song; the muffins are a peace-offering to Harold for Tranq Darting him earlier. The muffins are ready…. in 2 minutes(!), thanks to Lucy’s tinkering with the blender and mixer. The parents are impressed with that and the quality of the muffins.
Here is something that I always find amusing: both Lucy and Solomon break The Fourth Wall. Solomon does it to simplify Lucy’s explanation of her tinkering, plus did it earlier when likening Alex’s ice block to comic book stories: he side-eyes the camera for 2 panels. Lucy does it to warn some of the readers: “Don’t try this at home, kids”. A nice touch!
Solomon demonstrates the power of the blender-mixer by pouring a lot of flour into the mixing bowl and turning the machine on.
The sneeze blows Solomon back through the house. There is now a large, green-burning hole in the Westcott’s home… and in the fence separating their home from the forest or park… and what looks like a path of destruction through said forest. There are no signs of the rest of the Westcott family; Solomon rushes off into the forest to find them.
A few hours later, we see Alex, presumably still waiting on the kid and his dad, sitting on a bench. Suddenly, Solomon, definitely still searching, stumbles out of the trees. Solomon tearfully explains what happened earlier (he’s worried that his family members are all dead), bringing tears to Alex’s eyes. Alex promises that if he’s going to be stuck in The Future, he will be ‘chill’ for Alex, reflecting something that Solomon told him after getting him out of that ice block.
They pool their resources together – a little over a dollar and some gum – and head towards a nearby pop machine, where Alex thinks he can get a couple for a dollar.
He then uses the old “1980’s trick” of elbowing the machine hard enough to knock a pop loose; it works, but his arm again turns black. Solomon then tries commanding that ‘blackness’ (… tee hee!) to change into nearly anything. The experiment works!… as a cry for help comes from Game Swamp, down the street. The duo rush off to investigate!
The Game Swamp is being robbed! And we meet our first villain:
We gete pages of bad taffy puns and bad hand-based puns. I like it! 😉 There is a brief fight – where you see that the ‘blackness’ on Alex’s arm is actually his hair; it’s never explicitly explained, though – and Wacky Tacky, via an unintentional assist from a Solomon belch, is defeated and arrested. The Game Swamp owner gives the duo everything that Wacky Taffy stole, plus money, as a reward. Solomon sees this as an opportunity to solve a lot of their problems: fighting bad guys and getting paid for it! Alex agrees.
If you get the comic, turn to page 47. It shows newspaper articles, screenshots, and even hand drawn cards about the duo’s exploits… and a lawsuit where Alex had to change his superhero name became because “Afroman” was already trademarked. You’ll enjoy it!
Using their earnings from their crime-fighting, the duo rent an apartment together, find out that they just stopped Crime #100, and decide to celebrate with a music mix from Solomon – now known as “Dub Step Boy”.
One of the neighbors is not a fan of the music and files a Noise Complaint. They also have metal hands. And saw blade attachments. And a Haz-Mat suit.
Solomon wakes up at 9 AM, but realizes that he slept through 2 alarms. He gets up…. and trips over one of Alex’s “Hair Arms”. Why that hair isn’t attached to Alex is a very disturbing question. One that the little guy that popped up on Solomon’s shoulder could answer.
Yes, a guy is now sitting on Solomon’s shoulder and he doesn’t have time for lengthy introductions or explanations, if Alex is to be saved. All that he would say is that his name is Nitro and he also has powers, including flight. They fly off.
We finally see the fate of Alex: tied up in a chair, in what looks like some kind of warehouse. The figure that had the saw blades is standing a few feet away, partially in the shadows. It’s an older woman. Alex doesn’t have a clue who she is, but she knows who he is. She blames Alex for spending 50 years in prison “for your murder, Alex!”, plus blames him for losing her hands in a prison riot; meanwhile, a tendril of hair is slowly loosening the knots that are binding him. Alex puts 2 and 2 together: she is the person that pushed him down the hole, back in the ’80s!
We now know how far into the future Alex is. It’s somewhere in the 2030’s.
She gave no motive for pushing Alex but now wants to finish the job. Alex breaks free… and we have our final fight!
If you can call it that. Alex gets his butt handed to him, including nearly getting scalped.
To Alex’s rescue comes Dub Step Boy (and Nitro, I assume)! Dub Step lands with a shockwave, knocking the sawblade woman into a wall and a pile of containers. She recovers and charges the duo; Dub Step is ready to go but Fro Man is Fro-less. As the three combatants charge towards each other, a trap door in the floor suddenly springs open, knocking out the saw-woman.
It’s the Hoverboard kid (one month later!!), who calls himself Warp! And his dad (who looks like Robocop) is right behind him, named General Manager, who “knows everything”. For example, he ID’s the woman who tried to kill Alex:
Alex still doesn’t remember what he did to anger her but “it doesn’t matter”, according to General Manager. “What What’s really important is what you can do now… as Fro Man and Dub Step Boy!” That is the end of the issue.
This was a very fun book, especially for a 1st issue! The heroes and (some of) their powers were introduced, and they got to use them on at least one villain. There was a good amount of humor and silliness, but not so much that you can’t take the characters seriously. And one of the vest parts? There are enough questions left over that make you want to pick up the next issue, such as:
- Where are the rest of the Westcotts?
- Why did Razor push Alex into that sludge in 1987?
- Are there more heroes (like Viper and General Manager) in town?
- Who/what is Nitro?
I am a novice comic reader but I would suggest that you go check this book out. David Crosby did a really good job introducing Fro Man and Dub Step Boy. Now let’s see what The Future has in store for the crime-fighting duo. Consider issue #2 already purchased!