September 30, 2019

World's Finest Comics #251 [1978]

Part of a short run of Creeper stories Ditko wrote and drew and in the late 1970s, which saw Jack Ryder as the head of a security team at Cosmic Broadcasting, this time tasked with foiling an extortion scheme led by a masked figure who gives the 8-page story its name, "The Disrupter".

Ditko did a lot of interesting slapstick humour in this series, which works well with the acrobatic abilities and quick change transformations of the character.  

All of Ditko's Creeper stories were collected in THE CREEPER BY STEVE DITKO [2010].

September 24, 2019

Bill Schelly, R.I.P.

Just wanted to quickly note the passing of Bill Schelly, a comic creator, historian and publisher, who early on was one of the fanzine publishers to print the Mr. A. work of Steve Ditko in his SENSE OF WONDER publication. In more recent times he wrote the definitive biographies of Joe Kubert, John Stanley, Harvey Kurtzman, Otto Binder and James Warren, as well as books looking at the early days of comics fandom, including his own autobiography SENSE OF WONDER.

Mark Evanier has more here, and his publishers at Fantagraphics have some memories of various associates.

September 22, 2019

Marvel Comics Presents #80 [1991]

MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS was a long running twice-monthly anthology series which for most of its run featured four 8-page stories in each issue, with a mix of long-running serialized stories (as long as 25 chapters) and one-shot stories, and occasionally shorter serials like this one. Ditko was a frequent presence in the book from 1988 to 1991, mostly with single issue stories that he would usually plot and pencil, with other hands brought in to script and ink.

This Captain America story is a bit of an exception, being a two-part story, concluded in the next issue, and being scripted by Ditko. I think this might be the only time he did the final scripting on any work he did for Marvel. It's not quite an all-Ditko show as Terry Austin inks both parts of the story, the only time he inked Ditko. It's also the only solo Captain America story Ditko drew, though he did other team books with the character.

"Wargod" is the title of the first chapter, and features a new foe for Captain America by that name, an armoured villain who has just killed FBI agent Jake Bage (yeah, you can tell Ditko scripted this...) and is fighting Cap as the story opens. Eventually Cap follows up on some clues that Bage left about a secret army that Wargod is raising.

This story is surprisingly similar to a lot of the independent work that Ditko was doing in the era, with very little modification I could see it appearing in one of his own publications. There's a lot of exploration of patriotism, fanaticism and ethical business dealings mixed in with the action. Very unusual style for Marvel of the era, with a dense story and lots of dialogue and thought balloons. Austin's inks are pretty effective, a little slicker than is usual for Ditko, but not in an overpowering way like some other Marvel work of the era.

September 21, 2019

Adventure Comics #474 [1980]

This issue opens with "The Chains That Bind", chapter 8 of the 12-part space opera by the Ditko/Levitz/Tanghal team. At this point we're knee-deep in intrigue, plots and secrets, as the Empress Clryssa is assumed dead, but really in the care of Starman, still unaware  that he's really Prince Gavyn, her supposedly dead brother and potential claimant to her throne. As they stage a rescue of their confederates on a prison planet, the usurper Lord Oswin makes his own plans, involving further betrayals.

A very engaging story with a lot of plot in the few pages it got every month. Ditko's given a lot to do in the design department, with a variety of aliens, robots and spaceships to draw, and some nice action scenes.

The complete Ditko drawn adventures of Starman were reprinted in THE STEVE DITKO OMNIBUS #2 [2011].

September 16, 2019

New & Upcoming Ditko - OUT OF THIS WORLD and HERO / BLUE BEETLE

Sorry this is a bit late. I thought I posted it a few weeks ago.

Now available from all the usual sources, OUT OF THIS WORLD no. 28, a 48-page anthology of Ditko science fiction, with several 1950s stories, plus a sampling of stuff from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, a few of them stories from WITZEND, QUESTAR and MONSTERS ATTACK that a lot of people haven't seen before. Also includes a short essay by Ditko and a long "Under The Gun" letter column from Snyder.

And already available for backing is the next SD Publishing Kickstarter, this time for another issue of THE HERO COMICS (previous issues are no. 23 and no. 26 of the revolving anthology title).  Looks like this one will include something with the Blue Beetle from Ditko's Charlton days, with the preview image having the cover to BLUE BEETLE #5 [1968], a comic which included a brief encounter of Ted (Blue Beetle) Kord and Vic (The Question) Sage.


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