Tuesday, August 12, 2008

If You Blinked, You Missed...Bloodstone

Yep, Ol' Groove is starting another semi-series (like Comics You Might Never See Again, the Grooviest Covers of All Time, Still Going, and Groovin' Back In Time--hmm, gonna have to assign a day for each of these topics or somethin'!). This series was suggested by my good buddy Jon Gilbert (whose E-Dispatches from the Great White North y'oughtta be reading!). Thanks, Jazzy One!

There have always been flashes-in-the-pans, whether it be comics, music, TV or whatever. Well, the Groovy Age had its share of flashes; some brilliant, some--uh, not so brilliant. So, from time to time, I'll be digging back in the mines and polishing off some gems that came and went so quickly you might not even know they existed.

First up: Ulysses Bloodstone. Bloodstone was the creation of former Marvel editors, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, and John Warner (best known for a stint editing Marvel's black and white mags in the mid-70s, overseeing classics like the legendary Chris Claremont/John Byrne/Terry Austin/Tom Orzechowski Star-Lord issue of Marvel Preview).

The strip was definitely an oddball one, debuting in Marvel Presents #1--and ending in issue #2. How oddball? It's hard to describe. It was a lot like a Marvel mag in some ways, and very unlike a Marvel mag in others. It seemed, in a way, to be an homage on the old Atlas/Marvel days of the late 50s/early 60s in that Bloodstone hunted (mostly) giant monsters. The strip was action oriented, filled with sub-plots, cryptically linked into the Marvel mythos (the Hellfire Helix and the Hyborian Age tie into his origins, f'rinstance), and sported a mysterious corporate-type criminal organization called the Conspiracy (whatta Watergate-era name, huh?). Y'see? All very Marvel-like. However, the first issue was split into two separate chapters/stories--one story was penciled by Charlton mainstay Pat Boyette--and Bloodstone carried a double-barrel shotgun. Only the Punisher carried a gun in the Marvel Universe back in those days! Also, since Bloodstone was essentially an immortal cave-man, he hearkened back more to classic DC villain Vandal Savage than Spider-Man.

In all honesty, Bloodstone felt more like something that was created for Martin Goodman's Atlas/Seaboard line (oh yeah, we'll talk about Atlas/Seaboard later!). It was, indeed, made-for Marvel, though. According to Warner, himself, the strip was created to run in Where Monsters Dwell as a ten page lead to be backed up by reprints. Where Monsters Dwell was canceled before Bloodstone saw print, but the strip was given a new lease on life as the headliner for Marvel Presents. Warner had planned a cosmic epic, but between issues 1 (which published what would have been the stories for two consecutive issues of Where Monsters Dwell) and 2 he was informed that Bloodstone would end with ish #2, forcing him to wrap his epic up in a mere 18 pages.

But you can't keep a good immortal cave man down!

The strip resurfaced about a year later in the black and white Rampaging Hulk magazine (it does pay to be an editor!), running in issues 1-6 and 8. It seemed that Warner would finally have the chance to do the cosmic epic as he intended. Things went gung-ho for the first six issues, and then a strange thing happened. Bloodstone didn't even appear in RH #7 (a Steve Gerber Man-Thing story took its place), and when the strip re-appeared in issue 8, it was written by Gerber, not Warner. I suppose Warner left or was given the heave-ho from the powers that be, because Gerber killed Bloodstone off, ending the strip once and for all.

Bloodstone wasn't completely forgotten by Marvel. He has appeared (via flashback) in a variety of titles, including Captain America and Marvel Universe. Recently, his daughter, Elsa Bloodstone, has replaced Ulysses as Monster Hunter supreme, appearing in her own mini-series as well as Warren Ellis' Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E.

1 comment:

  1. I really dug Bloodstone as a kid. He indeed reminded me of a Atlas/Seaboard character. As well as the Night Stalker TV movies/ series. But looked a cross between Ka-Zar & kind of Kraven the Hunter in a safasri jacket! Shades of Wild Kingdom. I was disappointed he didn't get his own monthly title. But was happy he was brought back as a back up up the B & W Hulk magazine. But was really pissed they killed him off. What a Cop Out!

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