September 23, 2006

Questar #1 [1978]

QUESTAR was a science-fiction and fantasy magazine launched in 1978 by William G. Wilson Jr., who had previously published the fanzine THE COLLECTOR which had a few Ditko stories. Ditko writes and draws stories in the first five issues of QUESTAR, starting with "Cosage the Cosmic Agent" in #1, a six-page science fiction story.

The story isn't too much, just a generic cosmic space hero, who pursues an evil conqueror who attacked a planet and kidnapped the daughter of the president. Typical bold hero and cruel villain. The art works a lot better than the story, with a lot of detail (and really sharp reproduction which a lot of Ditko's colour work of the era didn't get), several really good silent sequences and some imaginative settings. It's also a really dense story, with over a dozen panels a page and a lot going on in them, it kind of feels at time what a comic strip drawn by Ditko would be like.

The story was reprinted in colour in CHARLTON ACTION FEATURING STATIC #12 in 1985.

September 15, 2006

The Outsiders #13 [1986]

Ditko did the pencils for 7-page backup in this issue featuring team member Black Lightning, written by Mike Barr and inked by Jerry Ordway.

"...Ten Minutes" is the story about how Jefferson Pierce ends up confronting three fairly inept but well armed young robbers at an all-night convenience store, and you can guess from the title how long it took him to handle them.

Fairly straightforward story, I think building on a few character points that were being made in the main story, based on the scattering of other OUTSIDERS issues I read from that era. Ordway's inks are pretty good, not quite as overpowering as he often is on some pencilers. Parts of it seem a bit stiff, which might be Ditko's layout style conflicting with Ordway's slicker finishing look.

(Black Lightning created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden. Outsiders created by Jim Aparo and Mike W. Barr)

September 9, 2006

Upcoming Ditko - Coyote v4

Steve Englehart continues the reprints of his 1980s Epic series through Image later this year, with the fourth book containing the last two chapters of the Djinn backup series that Ditko pencilled. Shame the four chapters are split among two books, but worth getting if you don't have the original issues.


Women have always been a delight for Coyote (even if they tried to kill him) but he's never met anyone like Slash, who can kill with a look. Still, look who's drawing her origin: TODD McFARLANE, in his first-ever published work. Todd's also on board for the start of a new SCORPIO ROSE series, right beside STEVE DITKO with the whirlwind finale of THE DJINN and CHAZ TROUG with the ongoing adventures of everybody's favorite varmint. Well, everybody except Tally, who's become a Coyote herself - and Cassie, with a Shadow Cabinet target on her back - and the hooker who traded Jesus for a totem - and the Venusian who eats brains. Women! Collects COYOTE #9-12

September 8, 2006

Phantom 2040 #1 [1995]

Ditko pencilled all four issues of this 1995 mini-series, based on an animated cartoon of the era that took Lee Falk's comic strip character into a near-future science fiction world. Which, yeah, is kind of an odd direction to take a traditionally jungle based character, but that's animation for you.

"Generation Unto Generation" is a 20-page story presenting the first part of the origin of the new Phantom (not sure if it's directly based on an episode of the cartoon). Young Kit Walker of Metropia is approached by Guran, a friend of his father, who vanished 16 years earlier and, as he finds out, was the previous Phantom, with a brief rundown of the classic Phantom history. Kit takes on the identity of the Phantom just as an old enemy of his father plans an attack on the city involving robots, hypnosis and other things. Good enough story, and Ditko does a good job with the action bits. The brief bit of him drawing the Phantom history makes me wish he was doing a historical Phantom series.

The inking is by Bill Reinhold, who does a really good job. As I recall, he mentioned back in an issue of DITKOMANIA that he made an effort to add elements of the style of some of Ditko's classic work to the looser style Ditko used when pencilling work for others. It's one of my favourite of the later examples of someone else inking Ditko, and overall this series is probably my favourite of Ditko's mainstream work in the 1990s.

The issue also features a two-page centerspread poster of the character, pencilled by Ditko and inked by John Romita, I think the only time that combination has ever been seen. As with most things inked by Romita it ends up looking more like Romita with a light flavour of the penciller, but still nice to see.


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