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NUM-INOUS COMICS PT. 2

This essay is a very belated response to a " part 1 " published in February 2015. The gist of that essay was a response to a corre...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

THE READING RHEUM #2: CREATURES ON THE LOOSE #16-21



I mentioned here that I'd probably never write anything more about Edwin Arnold's book GULLIVER OF MARS, but I do want to write a few words about the "Gullivar of Mars" published by Marvel in the early 1970s, in the issues above specified.

I remember liking this one pretty well at the outset.  Though it's just another riff on Edgar Rice Burroughs' "John Carter" series, it's a minor improvement on Arnold's lackadaisical, pseudo-comic adventure.  In the first few issues, Gil Kane's art is strong, and the script introduces a rather interesting buddy for the colorless main hero: one totally independent of anything in the Arnold book, and one whom I liked a good deal better than Gullivar.  This was "Chak," seen below as he and white-haired Gullivar are about to be devoured by your basic sea-creature.



Though the illustration gives the impression that Chak is a bird-man, the birdlike countenance is really a mask, crafted in imitation of his species' normal physiognomy.  Underneath the bird-mask, Chak looks pretty much like a human being with purple skin.  Chak was a mutant and the only one of his kind, which could have set up the series for some good angst, had it lasted longer.  However, like a lot of Marvel series of the period, it soon fell victim to pinch-hitting, including various contributions by Gerry Conway, George Alec Effinger, Wayne Boring and (most pleasingly) Gray Morrow.

I have to say that though Roy Thomas was doing some of his best CONAN scripts during this period, his scripts for GULLIVAR show an unfortunate tendency for a lot of not-very-witty, super-referential "jokes."  Later, Thomas would only get worse and worse at this, though GULLIVAR has two of his worst ever.  In one, Gullivar, on the back of some alien horse-creature, pursues another rider while he remarks about "doing the Rogers thing-- Roy, not Buck!"  And at one point he calls the completely red aliens of Mars-- one of whom is seen in the cover above-- "rednecks!"

Gullivar was revived for one black-and-white appearance somewhere, but to my knowledge has yet to be revived for an Ultimates version.

2 comments:

Henry R. Kujawa said...

Roy Thomas-- OY. I do enjoy his CONAN work, as well as both his runs on DR. STRANGE, but other than that, there's so much about his writing that I often find intensely annoying... I'm really glad most of his energies for years now have been spent being a comics historian, rather than a comics writer.

Hey-- how come just about EVERY Ross Andru art job I see in whatever book he touches is BETTER than his Spider-Man stuff??? (For example, he was a MUCH-better fit for SUB-MARINER than Colan, Buscems, Buscema, Tuska...)

Also, that Andru-Grainger team looks SHARP!!! (But then, when did Grainger ever not look sharp? He's terribly overlooked, I think.)

Gene Phillips said...

I'm still a big fan of his AVENGERS and SUB-MARINER, but I've come to realize that a lot of his scripts read like Weisinger Superman tales: they're more like summaries of stories than like actual stories.

I'm with you in finding Andru's SPIDER-MAN overrated. I've always felt that he and Esposito were not able to handle the range of soap-opera characterization important to the feature. Their style is perfect for "flatter" characters, though, like WONDER WOMAN. At the moment I can't remember specifics about his SUB-MARINER stuff, tho.

Agree that Grainger is overlooked too.