Saturday, January 2, 2010

Second Smash Issues: Strange Tales #179/E-Man #2

Hey, hey, hey, Groove-ophiles! It's the second sensational day of 2010! Nobody ever celebrates January 2, do they? I mean, unless it's their birthday or anniversary or somethin', right? Yeah, Ol' Groove gets a bit metaphysical sometimes, thinkin' about such transcendental tripe, but it can lead to some pretty far-out brain storms. For example, my thoughts on January 2 lead me to think about how disrespectful we are to second issues of our favorite comicbooks. We can go on and on about how dynamite debut issues are, but how often do we wax nostalgic about ish #2 of--well--anything? Well, that changes today!

Welcome to the debut of Second Smash Issue, a new DotGK department in which Ol' Groove shares some of his favorite--ta dah!--second issues with ya. To kick things off, we're gonna dig into two--count 'em!--two of the best second issues to ever hit a spinner rack!

When Charlton Comics released the first issue of E-Man in 1973, we knew we had something special to look forward to in the months to come. When the second issue hit the stands in September, 1973, we weren't disappointed. The hip humor, the biting satire, the fun, and the sexiness of the first issue actually ramped up a notch, with a generous dose of pathos added to the mix. E-Man creators Nick Cuti and Joe Staton were channeling the creative spirits of Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster, Jack Cole, Will Eisner, C.C. Beck and Otto Binder and adding a large dose of Marvel Age cool to create a truly special, memorable, and uniquely Groovy Age style superhero. Are ya starting to get the idea that Ol' Groove really, really digs E-Man? You'd be correct-amundo, baby, and here's a heapin' helping of why! Join E-Man and Nova as they meet..."The Entropy Twins"!

As much as Ol' Groove digs E-Man, there is one hero who rises to the top of my list of Groovy Age Greats. You know I'm talkin' 'bout none other than Adam Warlock, especially when Judo Jim Starlin is handling the writing and art. The second issue of Starlin's Warlock actually appeared in Strange Tales #179 (January 1975), and as much as ST #178 turned me on, this issue completely blew my mind. As a kid of 11, Young Groove got the power of Starlin's art, his design and storytelling. His use of color to set mood (handled just as magnificently by Glynis Wein in this particular ish), his deft plotting and gut-wrenching dialogue all elevated, in my mind, Starlin's Warlock to far and beyond a "mere" comicbook to something that had to be Art. As I look back, I see it as a quantum leap for comicbooks, as much a breakthrough for the 1970s as Lee and Kirby, Adams, and Steranko were in the 60s. The difference was that the darkness, the angst, the hopelessness of Adam Warlock hit us FOOMers where we lived, but it didn't do as much for fandom at large. Its place in history is set, though, and Starlin's Warlock run is revered in many circles. If you've never read "Death Ship!" before, I think you'll catch on to what Ol' Groove's rappin' about. Starlin packed so much into the story! The introduction of Pip, the Troll. Warlock's parable about leadership. All those acid-based aliens. Warlock's stealthy battle with the Death Ship's soldiers. And most of all, the big reveal of the true, vampiric power of Warlock's soul gem. This is as classic as classic can get, baby! Dig it!


  1. COSMIC!!
    I'm with you Groovy One! HIM/Adam Warlock has always been one of my all time favorite heroes. Especially, when Jim Starlin was drawing & writting him. This might sound crazy, but to me Starlin's art on Warlock. Was like a combination of Steve Ditko & Jack Kirby if they were one man.

    Just when I thought Adam couldn't look any cooler with his SHAZAM lighting bolt. Starlin gave him a cool cape! But then he took away his lighting bolt GGrr!! Pip the Troll rocked also. I was, however, always disappointed with the Magnus character & death of HIM. I would have rather seen him live & hook up with HER. I loved that beautiful pin up Starlin did for the 75?/76? Marvel calender with Warlock, the Silver Surfer & Capt.Mar-Vell. Why didn't he have a team up with Adam & the SS!! I'd still love to see him do it today!

  2. Starlin's Warlock is, along with his Captain Marvel, one of THE best comics of the '70s. In retrospect it was too dark and philosophical for the times, but what a trip! ( Man! )

  3. thanks for E Man, very cool

  4. It's interesting to see all the pages from both these stories laid out all at once here. Though a reader might not normally think of them as having much in common, both of them show great daring and inventiveness in their panel layouts. Staton is continually changing things up instead of sticking to one consistent grid throughout; it really suits a lively tale full of action. And look at the density of Starlin's pages -- with eleven, twelve, thirteen panels, topping out at seventeen on one page! -- while remaining totally readable and clear. Who else could have pulled this off back then?



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