February 8, 2006

What Is... The Face #1 [1986]

Ron Frantz published several comics on the A.C.E. Comics imprint in the 1980s, including revivals of several characters published by Columbia Comics in the 1940s. Ditko pencilled four issues for the company, including all three issues of WHAT IS... THE FACE, an update of the 1940s character (whose first story, by Gardner Fox and Mart Bailey, is also reprinted in here). The original Face was Tony Trent, a radio station owner/commentator. The new Face is his grandson, also Tony Trent, a TV reporter who inherits the form fitting mask and colt .45 of his grandfather.

"The Ransomed City" is an 18-page story, plotted by Frantz, scripted by Joe Gill and inked by Frank McLaughlin. Tony Trent is shown to be the usual upright Ditko hero, confident of his ability to bring down the crime boss, despite skepticism from the police lieutenant, DA and station owner. After an attack and attempt on his life he decides to dig out his grandfather's old mask and gun and take the fight directly to mob boss Duke Arno. Unfortunately, while he's able to shake up Arno, it doesn't help get an arrest since the mobster just accuse that mysterious masked freak for the murder they committed.

The series is a bit of a throwback, but entertaining, and both looks and reads a lot better than most of the work Ditko was doing for Marvel around this time (his three issues of CHUCK NORRIS were around this time). McLaughlin, who inked some of Ditko's Captain Atom stories in the 1960s, was a pretty good match for Ditko's work of the time, despite a tendency towards excessive feathering at points.

1 comment:

  1. Later issues of the Face were inked by Rick Altergott. Ditko also drew Skyman for Ace, also inked by Altergott and written by Mort Todd.



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