By Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, N. Steven Harris & various (DC Comics)
One of Grant Morrison and Mark Millar’s rare failures-to-launch, this was an attempt to create a new super-hero rather than tinker with or reset a previously named property (an increasingly rare thing itself in modern comics publishing).
Aztek is a perfect physical specimen trained from birth by a hidden society in the Andes, outfitted with a technologically advanced outfit and sent into the world to defeat the prophesied menace of the mythical shadow-god Tezcatlipoca.
Arriving in the fairly typical US city of Vanity – the predicted site of the god’s return – the new hero begins to settle in. Stealing – say rather, co-opting – a doctor’s identity under fairly unique conditions Aztek becomes Curtis Falconer, and joins the staff of undermanned, overstretched St Bartholomew’s hospital, swiftly becoming a media darling in a city stuffed to the brim with wannabe super-villains.
In short order he meets Green Lantern, Batman and Superman, defeating up-and coming bad-guys and such established menaces as Major Force, the Joker, Parasite and Lex Luthor. On the way he discovers the dark side of his mission and his mentors, and eventually ends up in the Justice League of America.
Poking gentle fun at many modern superhero clichés and conventions, and more than competently illustrated by N. Steven Harris and Keith Champagne, this engaging series couldn’t find an appreciative audience during its initial run but the entire ten issue saga makes for an pretty enjoyable, if off-kilter, fights ‘n’ tights experience.
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