Thursday, September 03, 2009

Snap, crackle, pop...sluice.

Yesterday was Walt Simonson's birthday, and of course I missed it, as unable to find the time to sit down and focus and write as I seem to be these days. Even still, I thought last night that I would attempt to pay a little tribute of some sort, and I wanted to spotlight a somewhat unheralded and kinda-forgotten art job he did before he went on to Marvel, and Thor, and the FF, and so on: his brief stint on the Metal Men comic back in '76-'77. By this time, he had really begun to perfect the dynamic, playful style he had gotten everyone's attention with in the excellent Manhunter, and this, as well as the last few issues of Hercules Unbound (which he did at about the same time) just blew me away back then. I searched high and low for scans of his MM ( for some reason, I no longer own my originals) run so I could post a few pages for your edification, and finally, one night later, I found some. They were mostly corrupt and wouldn't display properly, but I did manage to find a few great pages from one issue in particular, #49, which was the conclusion of a two-part story involving Eclipso (I've been reading the Showcase Presents that came out a week or so ago, and I'll probably try a longish review soon. relatively speaking.) and his quest to resurrect some sort of ancient god, the likes of which were most popular back in the mid-70's. Apologies for the awful look of these; I don't have a computer at home with Photoshop anymore so I can't touch 'em up. Still, the resolution's OK and they're quite readable.

Anyway, many things jump out at me- the breathless pace of the action, full of speed lines and Simonson's patented lighthearted onomatopoeia; although you can't tell it much from these pages, Simonson made a definite effort to pay homage to Alex Toth's version of not only 'Clipsy but alter ego Bruce Gordon and girlfriend Mona Bennett as well. Marty Pasko's script (I've always felt that his work on this title was his best) was breezy and fun, not written with overwrought imitation Roy Thomas dialogue like so many writers' scripts from that time period were, and Simonson's art brought a lot of that out- look at the last panel of the last page, in which Mercury exclaims "There he goes- sluicing back into the sea!"...and sure enough, he does so accompanied by a big "SLUICE" in wobbly letters, courtesy of the artist. There's also an amusing sequence (in the page at right, click to see biggerer) in which the Big Bad, name of Umbra, fires death-beams out of his fingertips, which seek out their intended targets- humans Doc Magnus, Mona, Gordon, two others- and Walt gives us a panel with helpful little boxes with arrows pointing to each, telling us which target each beam is intended for. Well, I thought it was amusing, anyway.

Anyway, Simonson and Pasko's short-lived Metal Men was good comics. Take my word for it. If I ever run across a set, I'll buy them back someday.

Oh, if you want further testimony to the man's excellence, if any was needed, here's my last year's tribute, with lotsa covers.

Oh, and lest I forget, Tuesday the 1st was the birthday of the great Gene Colan. I wished him a happy one on his Facebook page, 'cause we're all best buds and such. Anyway, here's last year's covers tribute.

Bacardi Show Birthday Greetings to both!

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