Thursday, June 02, 2011

BRONZED BEAUTIES 3: Astonishing Tales 28 featuring DEATHLOK the Demolisher!

The Bronze Age, comics forgotten era.
In the 1970's comic companies pushed their content in new and wildly different directions inspired by the anything goes social attitudes of the times, while also balancing new fan fostered talent at the helms of post Comics Code adherent, kid friendly books.
While not much born of the era had lasting impressions, there's a cool factor to the books that's singular in style, and inescapable if one looks just a bit closer...
That's where I come in, with Bronzed Beauties, my weekly look at some of the books from the era, that feature more were-men, cyborgs, man-things, barbarians, sorceresses, dinosaurs, monsters, and damsels in distress than any other time, all in striking and vibrant (or should I say faded) four color ink!

THIS WEEK'S BOOK: Astonishing Tales featuring Deathlok the Demolisher!
COVER PRICE AND YEAR: 25cents - February 1975
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics

COVER (HOW COOL AND/OR CRAZY IS IT): It's pretty cool. While it's not as gonzo as most of the era, it's got a cyborg facing off with post apocalyptic evil-doers on a tank! Plus 3 word balloons!!!

WHO'S IT ABOUT (AND HOW COOL AND/OR CRAZY ARE THEY): Deathlok, a half-human mechanism programmed solely for destruction!

How's that for cool?!?

Turns out Deathlok once shared a life with his wife and child, and now instead shares it with a machine, complete with it's own AI computer intelligence.

Yeah, it's cool.
ART (INSPIRED OR PEDESTRIAN): Inspired. Rich Buckler does both script and artwork here, and his art; loose, expressive, and stylized, had to be cutting edge for it's time. And maybe my lack of experience with this era misleads me here, but there are some really daring and unique page layouts and setups used here too. A two page spread, that's broken up into one tall panel on the first page (left side), and a grid spanning both pages laying out the rest (to the right). Or, on the following page, when there's a hard card-stock advertising insert at the book's center, two pages are turned on their axis to create one over-sized page with a massive grid of panels (practically begging you to pull out the ad, spin the book, and enjoy a double-sized page!)!! If I was pressed, I'd say Buckler was inspired by, or from the Ditko school (maybe a touch Kubert), but my knowledge here, again, is lacking...

STORY (WHAT CRAZY SHIT HAPPENS): Deathlok stalks a dystopian future after apparently escaping the mysterious (to me at least) "Project Alpha-Mech". He's competing with a computer intelligence inside his own thoughts, only wanting to off himself... but unable to, as it goes against the computers programming. All while being pursued by another cyborg, his former master and previous failure of Alpha-Mech!!

So while Deathlok stumbles his way around the bombed-out (NYC?) cityscape that used to be his home, he's lured into a trap by six humanoid cannibals. Fisticuffs, tanks, and machine gun battles ensue!

Hell yeah!!!

Plus, the whole book starts out with titles and text inspired by lyrics from The Doors!!!

GUESTS (ARE THERE ANY, HOW COOL ARE THEY): Nope, just the cast of characters from the Deathlok storyline.

ADS (WHAT COOL STUFF ARE THEY SELLING): Only one of the single greatest ads of the 70's... EVEL KNIEVEL toys on the back cover baby (can you imagine cruising the highways and catching a glimpse of Evel's Scramble Van?!?!)!!!

OVERALL BRONZE FACTOR - ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 10 - this week with a new rating system (inspired by comments from my buddy Clay)... Hostess snack cakes:

This is a good one ladies and gents!
Great story, great character, and good art. I've always loved cyborgs, sci-fi, and post apocalyptic stories, so this is a slam dunk... I like me some Deathlok!!
Can't wait to read more (I've scored a small set off eBay that's en route now)!

9 out of 10 variety of snack cake!

1 comment:

clayholio said...

Those pies look delicious! I'm headed to the store right now for a Hostess Fruit Pie!