Out of the Vault – Comics Greatest World: Golden City

Last week, we started discussing “Comics Greatest World,” Dark Horse’s 1993 four-month, 16-issue miniseries intended to launch their new superhero continuity. Month one had featured Arcadia, a grim’n’gritty corner of the universe with horror-themed heroes.

Month 2 went in the opposite direction. Set in the gleaming Golden City, the second month’s set of titles was Rebel, Mecha, Titan, and Catalyst: Agents of Change. Like the Arcadia stories, one author wrote all four issues–in this case, Barbara Kesel–and like the Arcadia stories, the issues generally had bigger name artists on the covers than the interiors. The covers were provided by–in order of appearance–Jerry Ordway, Dave Johnson and Karl Story, Walt Simonson, and George Perez.

In the first issue, Rebel, drawn by Tim Hamilton and Gary Martin, we’re introduced to both the title character and the city. Golden City is a controlled community, run by a mysterious superwoman named Grace. She has built Golden City to be a little corner of paradise. You must be invited to live there. Grace is building a select community with a handpicked group of supers.

One of those (or I should say, two of those) is Rebel, a flying strongman who can absorb energy from other supers. Rebel has a rather unique fashion sense.

The gimmick is that Rebel is actually twins–one serious, one happy-go-lucky–who trade the power back and forth between them. The action kicks off when a dangerous super-criminal named Warmaker escapes from Grace’s jail. Rebel tries to stop the escapee, but has little success.

Luckily, he’s not alone. First he’s joined by a woman with metallic purple skin whose touch is acidic or something and whose name we never learn, and then, in the next issue, he is joined by Mecha.

Mecha, drawn by Chuck Wojtkiewicz and John Lowe, is about Art Thomason, who has somehow acquired a unique piece of alien technology that he doesn’t quite understand. He’s using it to fight crime, anyway, though, and has come to Golden City (gasp) uninvited, because it’s where all the cool heroes hang out.

He joins in on the fight with Warmaker, who is so incredibly powerful that you kind of wonder how they ever managed to capture him in the first place. We discover that Mecha can actually change the shape of his armor depending on what he needs it to do (though he doesn’t know how he does it), and that the aliens from the previous storyline are very interested in him.

The heretic they speak of seems to be the alien scientist who continues to appear in the page one prologue in each issue (the first page of each issue forms its own parallel story).

The alien has built an experimental facility under White Sands, and BY INCREDIBLE COINCIDENCE, just happens to be conducting a delicate experiment at the same time that the Americans conduct a nuclear test just above. Disaster strikes.

In the next issue, Titan, drawn by Brian Apthorp and Jimmy Palmiotti, another of Golden City’s heroes joins in the fight. He is Titan, incredibly strong and incredibly arrogant. On the positive side, his vanity does not keep him from noticing all the little people. He seems sincerely devoted to keeping them safe.

However, as the fight goes on it seems as if even Titan’s mighty strength, combined with Rebel’s power, and Mecha’s, and Purple Girl’s, can’t seem to bring Warmaker down. Although maybe Titan would be more effective if Apthorp would concentrate nearly as much on rendering the fight as he does on rendering Titan’s buttocks.

I mean, those are some detailed cheeks.

Warmaker’s down, but not out, and the fight continues. Grace decides it’s time to take a personal hand in the battle, which leads to the last Golden City issue, Catalyst: Agents of Change, drawn by Jan Duursema, Damon Willis and Rick Magyar. Every different city in Comics’ Greatest World had one group title in it. Arcadia had Pit Bulls, and Golden City has Catalyst, which it appears will be the name of the select super-group Grace has surrounded herself with.

Should mention at this point that several characters have started to speculate on Grace’s motivations by now. A mysterious fellow named Madison, who seems to be Grace’s assistant or advisor or something, is suspicious about why Grace agreed to imprison Warmaker in Golden City in the first place, and also wonders if Grace might have arranged for his breakout. Rebel is also curious about how Warmaker broke out and finds himself questioning Grace’s intentions as well.

And well they should, because once Grace joins the fight, the first thing she does is offer Warmaker a job.

Warmaker refuses, so Grace takes him down. But he manages to last long enough to kill Grace’s ace-in-the-hole, a healer named Rhapsody. Grace then decides it’s time to move on to the next phase of her plan, which is to secede Golden City from the United States.

And that was it for Golden City. If you wanted to find out the ramifications of the secession, you would have to wait for the regular Catalyst book to come out. In the meantime, the next set of issues would introduce Steel Harbor, including what would the most famous character of the entire franchise.

Next week…

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