Saturday, September 25, 2004

Think I'll take a crack now at the "Favorite Comics Moments" meme that I first saw over at Will Pfiefer's place.

As I think of them:

"The Strange Death of Adam Warlock" from Warlock#11 (1976), by Jim Starlin (script/art) and Alan Weiss (inks). Poor Adam Warlock was, at least as written by Starlin in the series I think was the pinnacle of his career, the most powerful screwup in the universe- I mean, the guy couldn't do anything right. No matter how hard he fought and how noble his intentions were, he was constantly seeing friends and comrades die and all his plans go for naught as he battled against the galaxy-conquering menace of what turned out to be a twisted future version of himself named The Magus and his "Universal Church of Truth". A being called the In-Betweener convinced Adam that the only way to defeat the Magus was to commit a sort of suicide, and that leads Adam (through a bizarre set of circumstances) to confront his future self before he was corrupted. The once and future Warlocks have a conversation- and the bitter, defeated future Warlock's strangely poignant final words have always stuck with me, even 28 years later. You can find most of it reproduced here and here, in a couple of nicely written commentaries on Starlin's saga.

Last two pages of Flex Mentallo#4 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely.
Will cited this series in his list, too. I always get a little shiver at that panel in which our protagonist realizes what is happening, after he's written the "magic word" SHAMAN, as the heroes prepare to invade reality- and he looks at the reader in a closeup panel, saying simply "heh" with an crazed but elated grin on his face. I don't think Grant's ever topped Flex Mentallo, and I have been known to cite it to those who wonder how and why a 44-year old man can still read and enjoy comics. What a shame that it's not out in trade format.

Amazing Spider-Man #16 (1964)
Guest star Daredevil is forced to fight not only the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime, but a hypnotized Spidey as well- and the jokes flow fast, furious and funny as only Stan Lee could write 'em in his prime. Four-year-old me about busted a gut laughing as first DD, then Spidey wisecrack incessantly as they scrap, and damned if 44-year-old me still doesn't do the same in the all-too-infrequent opportunities he gets to read it.

"The Bouncing Ball of Doom", Strange Tales#131, 1965
The Mad Thinker has created a remote-controlled ball, which flies around destroying buildings, dams and such and generally wreaking havoc and the Human Torch and the Thing strive to stop it. One scene which stuck with me out of many in this, a guilty-pleasure comic for me if there ever was one, is a scene where the ball causes support cables on the George Washington Bridge to snap, and the Thing bravely holds the cables together as the Torch welds them. I remembered it just recently, on my trip to New York City, as I drove over the Bridge.

"I said-- get your ASS-- off this TRAIN!", Thriller #4, Robert Loren Fleming (script), Trevor Von Eeden (art)
Marietta, the matriarch of the Salvotini family, is dying from a head wound inflicted in a train crash. Her supernatural daughter, the ethereal Angie Thriller, can save her- but only if she can merge with nine-foot-tall artificially born priest Beaker Parish, whose artificial body can handle what Angie plans to do. Her brother, marksman Tony aka Salvo, objects and wants to stay with his Ma- but Beaker puts his foot down (something the generally pacifistic Father doesn't do often), slams Tony up against the wall, and persuades him to leave. One of the many scenes which made Thriller special- that sense of family ties that was strong between the members of the Seven Seconds.

Killraven exacts revenge from Skar for the death of Hawk, Amazing Adventures#34 (1974)
Killraven, of course, is the escaped gladiator title character from Don McGregor & Craig Russell's extrapolation of H.G. Wells'' original story. Hawk was the Native American member of Killraven's Freemen, a surly fellow who went along with KR because he believed in the cause, but not necessarily his leader; and Skar was a killer that the Martians sent to track KR and his group. This particular issue was the final showdown; it was almost entirely sans dialogue, carried along with minimal (for McGregor) narration. Skar happens upon the group as they were separated, and fires a blast at some rocks which were perched over the heads of some of the group. As they flee to avoid being crushed, Hawk realizes that one of the members, who was mortally wounded a few issues prior and had to be carried along on a sled, was in the path of the rockslide. He goes back, can't drag his fellow out in time, and is crushed under the rocks. When KR hears the noise, he rushes back and has a wordless, savage battle with the Martian killer, and his wrath is yea, verily, most righteous and savage. This issue has always stood as a high point among those who were fans of this series, because of this scene.

The death of Shebaba O'Neil, Ironwolf: Fires of the Revolution one shot (1992)
Lord Ironwolf's back story is a complicated one; I'll leave it at that for now. As I wrote a while back, there were three issues published featuring the Chaykin creation in the early-mid 70s, and the character was revived for an excellent one-shot in the early 90's. In the 70's Weird Worlds issues, Shebaba O'Neil (named after dialogue writer Dennis) was Ironwolf's Number One, his friend, confidant and sharp-tongued comrade-in-arms, and a favorite of mine. Flash forward 18 years, and we find that Chaykin means business when he revisited the concept- she gets her head blown off by enemy fire about six pages in! Y'know, I didn't see that coming at all (neither did she!), and while on the one hand it made me a bit angry, on the other I was impressed and surprisingly delighted (after I had cooled off a bit) to be taken by surprise like that. And y'know what? She stayed dead. Wow. It's like Garth Ennis had killed Nat the Hat stone dead in Hitman issue #6 or some such. I've said it before- if you haven't read this, and are even remotely familiar with the character, then you should order it ASAP. It's apparently still in print, as a click on the link above will show...! I liked that book a lot after I had finished it, and my estimation of it has grown substantially over the succeeding years.

OK, this is it for right now- I'm sure I'll think of others eventually so stay tuned for the sequel!

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