Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Infantino Month Part 6: Adam Strange in "Shadow People of the Eclipse"

 And so Infantino month has come to an end.
We’ve seen him do superheroes, spacemen and horror. I only wish I could have some of his Golden Age work. Here’s the sequel to “The Weapon that Swallowed Men” story I posted earlier. This one has special significance for me as it’s the first Adam Strange story I ever read (In the 1972 reprint in Strange Adventures #238). I was a bit disappointed in that the “shadow people” (Yeah, I’m obsessed with shadow people, sue me) were just transformed civilians and not an entire alien race, but I found the concept of Adam Strange fascinating, and the ending gave me a good laugh. It’s a much more ambitious story than it’s predecessor, although the villain’s potential is wasted by making him a purely malevolent figure.
 The cover of SA 238 didn’t feature Adam except for a small headshot with the story’s title, so I never got to see the original cover until years later. That didn’t matter to me though, I mean, how could you not want to read a story titled “Shadow People of the Eclipse”? All © DC.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Infantino Month Part 5: The Flash in "Master of the Elements"

Once you get past that rather boring splash page, this story from Showcase #13 (You can tell I like that issue a lot) is a nifty little thriller. It also introduced my favorite Silver Age Flash villain; Mr. Element/Dr. Alchemy! Sure he’s your typical pun-spouting villain with costumed henchmen and a lair which must have cost a fortune to establish in and of itself, and sure his debut story is filled with ass-pulls like him randomly discovering new elements and The Flash being saved by a coincidence, but you’ve got to admire how he’s prepared for everything, and his “inert elements” joke is a pretty sophisticated one by comic book standards.
 But the real star here is Infantino’s art of course. His elegant renderings of people in suits at the jewelry store and the restaurant somehow manage to be just as impressive as all of the sci-fi derring do on display, and he’s no slouch in that department either! All © DC

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Infantino Month Part 4: Adam Strange in "The Weapon that Swallowed Men"

 Carmine Infantino may not have been the original Adam Strange artist, and he certainly didn’t alter the formula of the series to any extent that you could say he re-invented the character, but after his Flash work, Infantino’s Adam Strange run in Mystery in Space was his finest work during this era. It’s easily the best space opera art in comics since the Alex Raymond years of Flash Gordon and is (sadly) much superior to Infantino’s later Star Wars work.
 The story here from Mystery in Space #63 is pretty silly, but there’s a charm to it just the same. It was reprinted in DC’s 1999 anthology titled (fittingly enough) Mystery in Space: Pulp Fiction Library which collected most of their space heroes’ stories alongside some one-offs.

 That’s gotta count for something, right? Dig those crazy aliens. All © DC.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Infantino Month Part 3: Nightmare Highway

  Most would agree that Carmine Infantino’s post-60’s work was not his best, with his layouts becoming looser and his rendering becoming more angular and rushed looking. Still, while his mainstream superhero work may not have been to everyone’s tastes, he could still turn out striking work on other genres like this moody 1980 crime/horror piece for Warren that uses light and wash for good effect. Some panels have a kind of Walt Simonson vibe. I like how restrained his art is considering the rampant opportunities it presents for sex and gore.

 The story itself here isn’t anything to write home about, relying on ridiculous coincidences, blatant red herrings and a rushed ending. And who hadn’t seen Psycho by 1980? Still, it’s one of the sleaziest stories Infantino ever drew; Underage prostitution, psycho killers wearing women’s shoes. Quite a way’s away from the innocent days of The Flash running around the world in 80 minutes, huh? And I have an even ickier Psycho-themed story Infantino drew for Warren! I may or may not post it though, since I want to mainly focus on the sleek, fine-lined superhero work that made him famous.

 Here’s “Nightmare Highway” from Creepy #117. All © Warren.