RAUCOUS RAMBLINGS AND REVIEWS OF RIDICULOUSLY OVERLOOKED COMIC BOOK RICHES!
Over the years, I've been reading reviews and comments on some of the best and worst comics that hit the stands every Wednesday. I've always appreciated finding out what other people think of the current crop of comic lore being produced month after month, but lately, if it's not infinite praise for Jim Lee's artwork, or the total witch burning for the older talents like Frank Miller and John Byrne, then the reviews have been a little hollow. Sure, there are some great reviewers out there...creator of Black Lightning, Tony Isabella springs to mind right off the bat, but guys like Tony are few and far between.
I think I'm getting tired of the comic buying community trying to crucify the legends simply because their political views may be different, or the artists' style isn't up to par with the hot young turk drawing the latest hot comic!
I admit...I'm not digging too many of the new comics anymore. I've always been a hard core DC fan, but the new 52 just isn't my cup of tea. It seems DC decided to bring the '90's back and make their characters harsher and more violent. Notice, I said characters because these guys aren't heroes anymore. At least, not heroes in the traditional sense. You'd be hard pressed to find a DC character that took up the long johns to fight evil only because IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO! Alternately, because I'm not against all the new stuff, companies like IDW and Dynamite are putting out some pretty terrific comics right now. Check out Dynamite's Kirby: Genesis or IDW's Cold War if you want some really fun new comics.
What I want to do in this new column is talk about and review some of the older comics that you may not either know of, or not enough about. If you're tired of the new stuff, maybe this can open some doors to some new excitement with some classic comics.
So, what's first out of the multitudes of magnificent comic marvels out there?
Steve Ditko's MISTER A.
If anyone reading this doesn't know who the co-creator of Spider-Man and many other quirky heroes is, then stop and go Wiki him....there's a lot to learn here.
Now, Mister A is a character Ditko created after leaving Marvel and Spider-Man and after he became embroiled with the writings of Ayn Rand. To my knowledge, there are only two issues of the series. The books weren't published by a major company or had much advertising. Mr. A was published in 1973 by a little known company called Comic Art Publishers. It was as independent as a comic could get. Produced in black and white, Ditko's avenging character wore only a business suit, fedora and a metal colorless mask and gloves. Armed only with a revolver, he set his sight on those that would oppress the innocent. In the first issue, Mr. A (who was really reporter Rex Graine) tracked down a trio of ne'er do wells that kidnapped a little girl to ransom her to the parents for millions. Another story dealt with a convicted felon wanting revenge on Mr. A for sending him jail..and so on. There weren't any super villains like Darkseid or even the Green Goblin, just ordinary crooks that wanted to get ahead on the coattails of others.
The first issue originally sold for a measly 50 cents, (which was a big deal back then) and looked more like a fanzine than anything else. There was no glossy cover and was a little oversized like a Golden Age comic. The interiors are in black and white, but the amount of story you get in this issue is beyond belief. While Ditko isn't the most perfect of writers, as he gets extremely preachy in his text, he manages to tell a story that makes you want to turn the page. Most importantly, he made you think! This was at the hight of his Ayn Rand influences and it definitely showed. Whether you subscribe to Rand’s ideas or not, this was a comic that made you realize that maybe we should stop and be at least more introspective in our behaviors and dealings.
Issue 2 came later in 1975, brandishing a bright glossy cover, smaller page size and a higher price tag of 75 cents. In my opinion, the cover seemed to be a rush job and didn't look very professional at all...but again, this was before the age of Photoshop and was done by hand. Inside, the stories were similar to the first outing of Mister A.... bad guy wants what other have, he'll do anything to get it, Mister A comes in and makes him regret it. Pretty standard plots, but for the entire Ayn Rand philosophy that kept kicking in. At first I thought I'd be a bit bored with the stories...but then I realized I kept thinking about what was said in the comic. I was truly starting to look at myself and my actions in a different light, and that maybe I need to be a better person as well. The comics are mainly a way for Ditko to voice his ideals, and he did it with a sledgehammer.
Of course this comic won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you enjoy art that's close to perfection by one of the Comic Masters,and a story that can bring a little thought into your head, then maybe doing some back issue digging for this little gem wouldn't be such a horrible idea. Granted, finding these comics may prove a bit difficult, but it's well worth it!
Steve Ditko's MISTER A issues #1 - #2 get my grade of an A!
Next week I'll be reviewing another comic that you may not have read, but really should...ATARI FORCE!
Welcome friends and fanatics, to my first ever unabashed blog of news, notes and nostalgic musings!