By: Scott Lobdell (writer), Brett Booth (penciller), Norm Rapmund (inker), Andrew Dalhouse (colorist)

The Story: Presenting the fabulous entrance of Bunker!

The Review: It sure seems like Lobdell attracts more than the usual share of controversy on his titles.  After the whole outcry over Starfire and sexism on Red Hood and the Outlaws, he almost immediately had to answer for his creation of Bunker, an openly gay (“flamboyant” is the word used by Comic Book Resources) teen with all the superficial signs of flamboyance: hipster clothes, funky colors, preening hairdo.

Here I’d like to apply a point I made about strippers in Voodoo #1: the flamboyantly gay are facts of life; they don’t just exist as hilarious sidemen in sitcoms or reality TV.  So fiction shouldn’t have to be shy about portraying these people, so long as they stick to the principles of good writing and avoid clichés, flat characterization, or lazy research.

On that note, what can we make of Bunker?  He certainly has a cheerful, go-with-the-flow personality, even if the flow leads him to sparring with a silver-haired transient on a train car (“I don’t know how you’re going to [kick my ass] from—a—hospital bed.”).  But also proves that extreme narcissism, wherever your sexual preference may lie, is an highly irritating quality in a person: “Look at me!  You think something this exquisite—this perfect—happened by chance?”

While Bunker himself steers clear of campy stereotypes, there’s no shortage of camp in the issue, as the entire showdown between him and Red Robin is just full of it.  Let’s allow the dialogue to speak for itself, shall we?  Bunker: “Maybe my papi owns this railroad and I want to look firsthand at my inheritance.”  Red Robin: “That’s an awful lot of maybes.”  “Maybe I just like maybes.”  “Maybe so.  Maybe not.”

At least the scene has purpose in the context of the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. storyline; the introduction of a completely different villain literally in the middle of nowhere does not.  He confronts Tim for no reason other than to reveal his entire origin in one go: “I named myself Detritus—as I was nothing more than cybernetic scrap en route to a recycling bin when I generated spontaneous intelligence…I will make more of myself and wipe out what you call humanity.”

The most entertaining moments of the issue feature Bart Allen, who’s clearly channeling the ingratiating (and oft-annoying) hyperactivity of his Impulse days.  His and Solstice’s escape from their Antarctic prison offers some classic slapstick (“Trust me, I’m a profession—ulp!”) and it actually advances the plot somewhat.

Booth does fine work, but he can’t offer much complexity to the characters.  Their expressions always verge on the extremes of emotions, whether it’s anger, joy, surprise, or distrust.  While acceptable for a series featuring teens, it does emphasize you shouldn’t expect much depth from this title.

Conclusion: I’m willing to stick it out for another issue or two, at least to see if the gathering of the actual team will shake off the blandness and get the plot moving, but so far, the title feels soundly run-of-the-mill.

Grade: C

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I have to commend Lobdell on one thing: fewer angsty teens.  With Solstice as selfless as ever, Bart as shortsightedly confident, and Bunker practically bubbling over with enthusiasm, the team is officially half-full in the optimism department.

– And for those of you looking for a bit of fan service, Wonder Girl gets herself into an old-timey nurse’s uniform, complete with red-cross headgear.  Enjoy!