This issue was published in July 2000 by Rob Liefeld’s Awesome Comics. Written by Larry Stucker and drawn by Deitrich Smith, this is a new incarnation of the team, not connected to the original series. The story revolves around S.P.I.C.E. an artificially intelligent robot (built to look and act like a teenager girl) was programmed to be the sidekick of the superhero FIGHTING AMERICAN (a hero created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby back in the 50’s whom Rob Liefeld licensed and published several miniseries about in the last 90’s). S.P.I.C.E. has been framed for the murder of over 100 people in a space station. It was actually another robot, designed to be S.P.I.C.E.’s replacement, who caused the destruction of the space station, while trying to destroy S.P.I.C.E., which lead to all of those deaths. Nevertheless, the authorities believe that S.P.I.C.E. is responsible, so Fighting American and many other original Extreme Studios character are assembled to track her down and bring her to justice. S.P.I.C.E. crash landed in the middle of the woods somewhere, where DASH, a member of the NEW MEN, is camping by herself. S.P.I.C.E. is damaged but explains the situation and Dash believes her, and she calls in Kid Supreme to help.
It’s not explained how Dash and Kid Supreme know each other (I don’t recall any previous encounters between the two heroes). And Kid Supreme is back in his original outfit, with the leather jacket, not the new costume he had the last time we saw him. Badrock from Youngblood and Geoff and Kyra from KABOOM track them down, and a good old fashioned superhero fight ensues. Eventually Fighting American arrives on the scene and everything is cleared up, and the heroes decide to band together as a new team to figure out who is behind this conspiracy to frame S.P.I.C.E. and why.
So it’s basically a set-up issue, but with just the right amount of action and characterization to keep you hooked. Not only is there the mystery of the conspiracy, but there’s Dash’s reluctance to join this team, as after everything she’d been through with the New Men, she had retired from being a superhero. Continuity-wise it’s a bit unclear, at least in regards to Kid Supreme. There’s a panel where Geoff asks “So what’s your deal, exactly? I thought ‘Kid Supreme’ was what Supreme called himself when he was a boy? Are you just some kind of wannabe or the son of Supreme or what?” Kid Supreme doesn’t answer, but when Alan Moore revamped Supreme he did write this Kid Supreme out of existence, so them both existing in the same continuity (both Supreme and Suprema appear in double-page spread alongside a bunch of other superheroes in this issue) is a little odd. It’s probably better to just not think about that.
Still, I have to say, rereading this issue 15 years later I’m impressed, it still holds up very well. Not dated at all, and could easily have been released today. In addition to the writing, I’m also very pleased with the artwork. Dietrich Smith (or Dietrich O. Smith) has a nice clean, somewhat Manga-ish style, which I think really compliments these characters. Good job all around.
Unfortunately, although it ends with TO BE CONTINUED no further issues of this incarnation of Brigade were ever published. Awesome Comics went out of business soon after, and Rob Liefeld’s license for Fighting American lapsed, making that character unusable anyway, so this was it. Although yet another relaunch of Brigade is due in July. But you can get a copy of this issue very cheaply if you want to check it out.
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