Sunday, March 20, 2011

Introductions are in order.

No, I'm not introducing anyone or anything. In this past Friday's "Five for Friday" feature, Tom Spurgeon asked his readers to provide, and I quote, "Five of Your Favorite Comics/GN Introductions". Well, sometimes I'm pretty hit and miss with Tom's FFFs; occasionally I'll immediately think of more than five of the given topic, and sometimes it's a real struggle to come up with anything even close to that number. Sometimes, I can't think of anything at all, and I don't participate. That was the situation this week.

Now, when it comes to text introductions to graphic novels and collections, generally, if I read them at all, they don't really stick with me. More often as not, it's just a friend, collaborator, inspiration, or acquaintance of the writer and/or artist, paying back a favor or gladhanding a little. Sometimes I wonder if someone like Walter Cronkite himself could even be bothered writing an introduction to a Peanuts collection; bet a nickel that he had an assistant do it as a favor to ol' Chuck Schulz. For the life of me, I couldn't think of any forewords/introductions that I thought were remarkable enough to come out of hiding in the vast, cobweb-bedecked, shuttered up and boarded-doored archive of my mind.

So, the next thing I thought of were actual intros in the comics themselves; one which occurred to me was those long-winded speeches that the Phantom Stranger, the Rod Serling of Comics, would give before the lead stories in his 70's comic. They fit the character, and Len Wein in particular excelled at it. And then I thought of one other example: the introduction slash infodump that Jim Starlin gave us in Strange Tales #178, via a character named "Sphinxor from the Star System Pegasus", when he relaunched the Adam Warlock character and began that memorable, and short, run of stories back in the mid-70s...and enraptured young David Jones of Horse Cave, KY in the process.

But, alas, I could think of no others, and that's why you won't see Johnny Bacardi among this week's participants. But, thought I, perhaps I could share that Starlin-written and illustrated intro with all of you. And that's just what I'm gonna do. Below, from Strange Tales #178, cover dated February of 1975, the first (and only, I guess) appearance of Sphinxor, and a nifty recap of the Adam Warlock story to that point.

Now that's an introduction. Amiwrong?