Monday, September 19, 2011

Random Reads: "The Ace of Spades Spells Death!" by Wein and Ayers

Hey, hey, hey, Groove-ophiles! Y'know, before Len Wein made a name for himself writing Batman and JLA, before he created such Groovy Age icons as Swamp Thing, Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, or Nightcrawler, he was one of the hardest working men in comics. He wrote tons of mystery yarns, romance stories, race car tales(Hot Wheels and Mod Wheels), and western fare for such publishers as DC, Gold Key, and Skywald. Len is renowned for his superb writing skills, as well as his creativity and editing skills. It's cool to find him working outside his comfort zone on something like Skywald's Sundance Kid.

Skywald is best known for its "Horror-mood" black and white mags, but it published just about everything--except superheroes. Their western mags like Blazing Six-Guns and Wild Western Action weren't trend-setters, but they were very nicely crafted comicbooks featuring western heroes like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (separately, for some reason, in spite of the film that obviously inspired their comicbook versions) by folks like Wein, Gary Friedrich, Dick Ayers, Syd Shores, and Tom Sutton.
I got ish #3 of Sundance Kid (for the first two issues, his mag was called Blazing Six-Guns, btw) in one of those "three comics for a quarter" packs from The Pony Keg back in the summer of 71. It was probably sandwiched between two superhero mags (the "comic-packs" were three cover-less mags wrapped in cellophane, usually with either two superhero or two humor comics showing and a mag from another genre hidden in-between). I loved the Dick Ayers/John Tartagione art and Wein's story was fun. I mean, how can you not love a comicbook story that features a dude going by the handle of "Hungry Jack"? You go on ahead and read "The Ace of Spades Spells Death!" while Ol' Groove submits to the urge to pop open a can of biscuits...

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