June 27, 2008

E-Man #4 [1974]

One of my favourite Ditko stories of all time is this 8-page gem, the second of the two Killjoy stories to appear in the back of E-MAN in the 1970s. I'm not sure exactly how I wound up with a few issues of E-MAN a few years later (maybe around 1982?), but I did, and I loved them. The lead stories were fun enough, but I found this strange unsigned backup feature especially captivating, and is probably the biggest reason I didn't stick with Ditko's mainstream stuff, but sought out the more off-the-beaten-trail works.

Still a pre-teen, I really didn't know comic book history, but I think I knew enough at the time to recognize that this was the drawn by the guy who did those Doctor Strange stories I liked, and I think I'd read his Starman by that point, maybe a few Spider-man stories. But this was just plain strange. Killjoy has this great costume, pure red and black, with a theatrical comedy mask, who just leaps into the scene of a crime, every bit as acrobatic as Spider-Man, beats up the bad-guys without a word and vanishes. Visually quite amazing, but it's the other characters who make the story. Killer Ded, an armed-to-the-teeth gunman who Killjoy keeps defeating handily, upset that he's been taken alive, and then escaping jail vowing not to be taken alive again. Muggers with weird dialogue like "I'm a $ have not, you are a $ have!". The slippery S.S.S. Snake, who manages to escape Killjoy, giving much joy to Mr. Hart and Mr. Sole, who walk around talking about the rights of criminals. The dozen diamond-themed villains who crash the last diamond heist. There's a lot of quality strangeness in just 8 pages. In here, Ditko manages to hit a lot of the same points he does in his Mr. A and Avenging World stuff of the era, but with a succinctness and humour that those often lack.

As I said, a favourite of mine, I've read it dozens of times and it never grows old. Fortunately, Ditko got the rights to Killjoy at some point, so this story, and the first Killjoy story from E-MAN #2 (which I read later, so isn't quite as close to my heart, but still great) have been slightly revised and reprinted a few times (including THE DITKO PACKAGE #1 [1989]). It's untitled in the original form, titled "Killjoy and Killer Ded" for one of the reprints. Ditko did a new Killjoy story a few years back but it felt quite different (for one thing, Killjoy talked. A lot...).

1 comment:

  1. Being lucky enought to get most (all?) of the E-Man comics, I really enjoyed the 2 Killjoy stories. Sadly, Ditko gets too strident and lectury when presenting his philosophy. These stories are much more fun and still get the point across.

    Sadly, his new Killjoy story isn't as enjoyable.



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