The Original T.E.A.

 Original Tea #1 & 2

The Original T.E.A. Vol 2. # 1& 2 (2007), Vol 2, #3
(2006), Pop Comics, Henry Chmielefski (writer,
colorist #1-3), Frank Humphris (artist #1 &2), Veli
Loponen (artist #3), Mike Melton (colorist, #3), full
color.

The Original T.E.A. (Teen Enforcement Agency) has a
very long history. Henry Chmielsfski started his TEA
characters back in the early 1970s as a fan project.
Henry joined the Christian Comics Apa, Alpha-Omega in
1989 and revived the TEA and began rewriting and
drawing their adventures. Henry dropped out of
Alpha-Omega in 1992, but returned in 1998 again
showcasing the adventures of T.E.A. In 2004 Henry
teamed up with British artist Frank Humphris to
produce two issues of the Original TEA for Brian
Bradley’s Kingdom Comics. While Humphris supplied the
pencils and inks and Chmielsfski provided colors and
letters. These two issues, combined in one volume
(2007), were reprinted with added pages and many
changes under Chmielefski’s own Pop Comics imprint.
Issue number three (2006) starts a new three part
series centering on the SpaceLad character with
Finnish artist, Veli Loponen, doing the pencils and
inks.

The Original TEA is a youthful super hero group cut
from the same cloth as the X-Men, Legion of Super
Heroes and the Teen Titans. The group consists of
Captain Ash, Speeder, Brain Boy, Occult Mistress,
Starr, and T-Lad. They are a special metahuman CIA
task force created to deal with extraordinary
threats. In the combined issue #1-2 they face and
defeat a terrorist threat in southeast England.
Perhaps as interesting as the main storyline is a
subplot involving Occult Mistress who is possessed by
familiar spirits. This tells of her struggle against
these demons which leads to her embrace Christian
faith at the end of the story. This plot thread
caused quite a stir in Alpha-Omega when Chmielefski
first introduced it in the early 1990s. The strongest
aspects of Humphris artwork are his excellent facial
drawings and the architectural backgrounds. Former
Prime Minister Tony Blair makes a guest appearance in
this issue (as he does in #3) and Humphris does a
good job portraying the world leader. The story in
#1&2 takes place in Eastbourne, East Sussex, England
(the artist’s hometown) and Humphris makes excellent
use of reference to produce very nice location shots.
Humphris is probably less successful in dealing with
the overcrowded fight scenes. Veli Loponen (#3) uses
a style heavily influenced by John Bryne and Jack
Kirby to produce a conventional super hero look for
the book. The story takes place in Loponen’s hometown
of Tampere, Finland where alien flying saucers
threaten to destroy the city. Loponen concentrates on
the individual exploits of SpaceLad and does a
commendable job with the visuals. The story ended
with a cliffhanger but we don’t know when issue #2 is
coming out.

The problem with fan based super hero group comics is
that the creator (s) has so much backstory for each
character that can’t be told in any issue. Why should
I as the reader care about these characters? When the
Teen Titans were introduced in the mid-1960s each
character has a fairly extensive publishing history
open to the comic book reader. The X-Men were
produced on a monthly basis, as was the Legion of
Super Heroes, so we not only saw the heroes battling
the villain of the month but also included were
characterization tidbits about their history and
relationships. Chmielefski’s task is an arduous
one to make us care about what happens to these
characters (from his youthful fan days) that are
published infrequently. He is moving in that
direction with the Occult Mistress subplot and the
concentration on SpaceLad. The question-can he make
the characters (and the stories) so compelling that
will bring the readers back after several month
intervals?

www.original-tea.com

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One Response

  1. Having seen and read this title, I can tell you it’s fantastic! The story is great and Frank’s artwork is fantastic.

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