July 13, 2007

Battlemania #4 [1991]

A short-lived part of Valiant's initial launch was its marketing relationship with the World Wrestling Federation, including this series of magazines, which seems to largely exist as a vehicle for the 12-page catalog of schlock in the middle. Surrounding that are two long stories, the first of which is the 20-page "Pain Or Peace", pencilled by Ditko, inked by Don Perlin and written by Jim Shooter.

I never was much of a wrestling fan, but picked up far more than I cared to about it through hanging around with people who were. I'm not quite clear from this story if the set-up is that the "characters" are real and this is their life outside the ring or if it casts the characters in other roles. In this story the Big Boss Man (a police officer), is waiting in a van using some major monitoring equipment on a house newly bought by the Undertaker and his manager Paul Bearer, convinced they're up to no good. He's joined by a kid delivering pizza, and they monitor as Mrs. Goodheart enters the house as part of the welcome wagon. What follows are a bunch of suspicious events and comments that are always on the edge of threats to Mrs. Goodheart or hints of cannibalism, but not quite enough to meet the Big Boss Man's standard of probable cause. Finally, of course, it goes too far (and I'm sure the badgering of the pizza delivery boy questioning his manhood didn't help), and there's a brief fight (which is a nice throwback to classic Ditko fight choreography), which leads to the Big Boss Man crashing a funeral. Apparently his high tech surveillance gear missed the arrival of a funeral procession. On the other hand, the ending seems to confirm that there is cannibalism going on.

Yeah, this wasn't that good. The inking is kind of heavy, but there are a few solid bits of Ditko when you get away from the faces of the wrestlers.

Anyone know if any of the other Ditko drawn WWF stories are worth getting?

This story and others also appeared as part of some one-shot specials, like this.

July 4, 2007

The Legion of Super-Heroes #267 [1980]

As is the wont of a sad completist, I couldn't resist picking up the one last issue I needed to have all of Ditko's Legion of Super-Heroes stories. In this case, Ditko pencilled the 8-page back-up in this issue (published just after DC went from 17 to 25 pages of comics in every issue), "The Grounded Legionnaires".

Unfortunately, about the only word that comes to mind to describe this story is "bland". Shadow Lass runs into a bunch of kids at the Legion HQ, who evidently aren't that familiar with the Legion since they're amazed that she can fly. So she tells them the previously untold story of how the Legion flight rings were invented years earlier, in a battle with a rather goofy thief named Vibrex, Master of Vibration, who was able to disrupt their anti-gravity belts with his powers. Really, just utterly dull in all respects. Dave Hunt's inking is solid enough, but not really that suited to Ditko.


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