By Koppy McFad
March 24, 2012 - 23:51
This is a collection of a short-lived series that developed a cult following in the 1990s. It is thoroughly steeped in the DC continuity of the time, featuring all sorts of DC characters, both great and small so it is fitting that this compilation should be released just after the old continuity is done away with.
The main character is a female agent of a shadowy government institution tasked with monitoring metahumans. Cameron Chase is an ex-private detective who has some family background with superheroes and who apparently has some superpowers herself, although she seems to be suppressing both her past and her abilities. She is tough, smart, good with a gun and runs around in a trench coat, very much like a stereotyped P.I. She expresses disdain for superheroes but in the course of her misadventures, she gradually warms to them as she learns more about them (and they learn about her.)
The one thing that really stands out about this series is how complex-- and rich-- the DC universe had become at that point. While Cameron Chase prowls around on the fringes of the superhero community, we see the different layers of that world, from the god-like Justice League up in the stars to the Checkmate troops cleaning up the villains' leftovers on the ground to crackpot cultists who worship ATM machines.
Old fans will get a kick out of seeing both big names like Batman and Hal Jordan but also the lesser lights like Airwave, Hitman, Resurrection Man and the Teen Titans version with Risk, Argent and a teenaged Ray Palmer. DC Comics was trying very VERY hard back in the 1990s to show their universe was even more inter-connected than Marvel was and that even minor characters could shine, however briefly.
Chase herself is certainly unique. She starts out as the typical, angry heroine but as the story progresses, we see how sensitive she is and learn what really lies behind her motivations and her feelings toward superheroes. We never really learn what her superpowers are but we get clues to it. In contrast to the gaudy superheroes, her character is extremely understated, keeping most of her attributes-- her brains, her toughness and her beauty, covered up until she needs to use them.
Many of her adventures are also equally understated. Often, conflicts are not settled in a massive confrontation but by someone being fooled, making a mistake or just retreating. This can be very unsatisfying to those looking for spectacle but it does give a great deal of realism to the fantastic world of the metahumans.
Most of the art, by JH Williams, is suitably dark and mysterious but also very lush, with every fold of cloth, every stone on a dirt road and every brick on a wall being depicted. He also likes decorating the borders of his pages with design motifs. This gives the book a unique look but can also be distracting.
A newcomer to comics may be puzzled by the complexity of "Chase" but veteran readers will enjoy a look at the many facets of the DC universe-- even if that world no longer exists.
Rating: 7 /10