March 21, 2013

Return Of The Skyman #1 [1987]

The Skyman is a long-running Golden Age comic book hero, published by Columbia and first appearing in BIG SHOT COMICS #1 [1940] by creators Gardner Fox and Ogden Whitney. He appeared in that title until 1949, as well as four issues of his own title.  See here for more on Columbia's comics.

As ACE Comics publisher Ron Frantz discusses in the latest DITKOMANIA, he acquired the rights to Columbia's The Face and The Skyman from publisher Vincent Sullivan, and first published three issues of WHAT IS... THE FACE with art by Ditko. Then in 1987 he published RETURN OF THE SKYMAN #1, with an 18-page story penciled by Steve Ditko, inked by Rick Altergott and written by Mort Todd. It begins in 1949, with Allen Turner, the Skyman, a decade into his career and considering retirement with his recent marriage and a baby on the way, gets a call that prompts him to check in on his mentor and uncle, scientist Peter Turner. He finds his uncle being interrogated by a Nazi war criminal looking for the secret to time travel, which ends up bringing the Skyman into 1987 and the immediate aftermath of a nuclear disaster.

This is only the first chapter of a longer story that never did continue, but it's an intriguing start, and The Skyman is a pretty interesting and well-designed character. Ditko does a solid job, with a lot of nice visual bits like the time machine (especially the fate of the Nazi criminal) and the post-disaster future world. Altergott's inks are very much in the slick Wallace Wood inspired vein, which works well.

This issue also features an Ogden Whitney cover from SKYMAN #1, the 3-page Fox/Whitney recap of the origin from that issue, a 1965 fanzine article about the feature and a long article by Frantz about both Whitney's life and Frantz's search for information about Whitney.  That includes some panels from a 1965  Herbie the Fat Fury story (Whitney's most famous creation) which features a Skyman cameo.


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