Monday, July 15, 2013

Groove's (Not So) Faves: "Time Out of Mind!" by Englehart, S. Busecma, and Esposito

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Ol' Groove has made no secret about how much he dug Skull the Slayer. T'was a "top of the stack" title every other month for about sixteen months. There was one ish, however, that, in spite of it's all-star creative team of Steve Englehart, Sal Buscema, and Mike Esposito, that was a huge disappointment for Young Groove. Steve and Sal had mesmerized me with their work on Captain America and the Avengers, so when I heard they would take Skull over with issue four (December 1975), I was thrilled. When I finished "Time Out of Mind!" I was...I s'pose annoyed would be the best word for it. Sterling Steve could usually do no wrong, but his decision to wipe out Skull's supporting cast, his creation of the villainous Slitherogue, and his characterization of Jim Scully as a heartless war-machine* took things way off the rails for me, though I did dig the introduction of the original Black Knight. Sal's layouts were great, action-packed and thrill-a-minute for the most part. No quibbles there. But after guys like Steve Gan and Pablo Marcos, Mike Esposito's inks lacked the exotic feel I'd grown accustomed to when reading Skull the Slayer. Oh well, at least the Rich Buckler/Dan Adkins cover was pretty awesome! Dig you dig Skull #4, or do you think it was jive? Let Ol' Groove know!


















*On his website, Englehart states that Skull the Slayer was the "...job (he) least liked doing because (he) never felt any empathy with the character."

15 comments:

  1. It's jive, all right (although the art's not bad). But we've all seen worse, haven't we?

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    1. True, I guess I'm harder on this story because of the high expectations I had on top of how good the mag was and would be again in just one short ish... ;D

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  2. Well, I always had a soft sport for that Buscema/Esposito art, perhaps because they were regularly teamed up in Marvel Team-up at around the same time.
    However, looking at the art in those previous issues of Skull you've posted, I can see why you would have been a bit disappointed back then. It certainly does have a more "exotic" look.

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    1. On MTU, Defenders, or other super-hero mags, I was fine with the Sal/Mike combo. It, to me, just wasn't right for Skull. When Gan and Marcos bring their flair to Sal's pencils over the rest of the series, I was in comicbook heaven!

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  3. Hey Groovster!
    I haven't read these on like 40 years almost. I agree I was very pissed off Steve killed off Skull's supporting cast! Especially since they did such a awesome job on Capt.A! I wish Klaus Janson or Tom Palmer had inked Sal too.

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  4. Steve didn't really like doing this assignment either: http://www.steveenglehart.com/Comics/Skull%20the%20Slayer%204.html

    Jeff Clem

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Caught you reading the comics and skipping my commentary again, huh, Jeff? ;D

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    3. Zoinks! You'd think I'd learn. - Jeff

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    4. It's okay, Groove-ophile--I like reading the comics best, too. I'd probably skip my perishable prose if'n I didn't have to check for typos! ;D

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  5. my first Skull the Slayer was in one of the first mags I remember buying off the rack- Marvel Two-in-One #35. It was a great story, although Onesweetdude wasn't too much into the whole '70's fantasy/sword and sorcery thing, and if I remember, the great Ernie Chan drew it. that story capped off Skull's (and supporting cast) story, I think. ah, great times.

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    1. Co-creator Marv Wolfman, himself, wrote that TWO-IN-ONE send-off for Skull. Chan's art was perfect for it, wunnit?

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    2. indeedy it was! Chan was always a wonderful surprise when I picked up a book with his art!

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  6. Skull was one of those mags which never really found its legs; it's one of those comics which had potential but ultimately was passed around like a hot potato (and dropped like one too!) to whatever creative team was assigned to it.

    - Mike from Trinidad & Tobago.

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  7. I recently dug out my collection of Skull the Slayer, it turned out this was my final issue that I needed for the set and I must say Skull the Slayer was a fun read. I must agree this particular issue has some strange happenings in it and I can see why those who did read it first hand in the seventies took a weird look to the book itself. It certainly took a strange route, but thankfully the book recovered for the next issue.

    Over all I really enjoyed the run and there was some solid artwork and even story structure, all bet from this number four issue which just took such a weird turn. I think I enjoyed the later issues more in the run. It's a shame Skull never took off and I need to pick up one issue of the Marvel Two in One to see how they ended his story.

    Maybe in some future marvel movie with the Thing he goes back to prehistoric times and runs into a small band of survivors and one introduces himself as Jim Scully and his band of survivors. And he says my companions call me Skull to the Thing, maybe it would make a nice cameo. who knows if some random producer or writer comes across your blog and just goes that's a great idea there.

    I can see it now introducing George Clooney in phase four of the Marvel Universe as Skull the Slayer.

    Shane G.

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