May 4, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project: Day 69 - Marvel Spotlight #29, June 1976

It's interesting to see the cover of this issue in colour, since the version of it I'm reading is black and white. With a character like Moon Knight, whose various costumes are black and white, the lack of colour doesn't really make much difference. But I never would have pegged his antagonist, the hyperbolically-named "Conquer-Lord," as a blue and orange kind of bad guy. Oh, the seventies.

So, it's a nice-looking Jack Kirby cover. Honestly, if you need someone to draw super-people battling on a giant, flame-spouting chess board, there's few artists more suited to such a task than Kirby.

The story inside is fairly standard seventies superhero stuff, with a couple of slight, yet important and interesting, variations. First, we have in this issue the first reference to Marc Spector's affliction with/act of multiple personalities, as he notes accessing different personalities for different skills they possess. Though he refers to is as schizophrenia, and the existence of MPD is still one of those highly-debated points in studies of the human mind, he comes across here as almost a prototype of Crazy Jane of the late eighties Doom Patrol. It's interesting to see precursors to an idea that Morrison deploys with such grace. Not that it's not deployed gracefully here, but it's an instance of the trope that I've not seen before.

The reading of these comics in the Essential editions has two ramifications for me: First, I'm struck with a desire to know these writers a little better. I'm familiar with Steve Gerber, who rose to prominence in this era, but Doug Moench, Bill Mantlo, Steve Engelhart, these are names that I see occasionally in the credits of older comics I read, but I can't put my finger on them the same way I can Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman. I'm curious to see if these writers have distinct styles like their 80s counterparts, and whether I can get to the point of recognizing their distinctive qualities. We'll see.

The other thing that occurs is a solution to a problem I was wrestling with as to how to both read and keep track of issues collected in trades for this project. I think that, at least of collections of individual issues, I'm going to enter them into my database but make sure they're explicitly marked as being collected in a particular edition of a particular trade paperback. The only difficulty is going to arise when reprints, like this Essentials edition, only reprint partial issues that include the character in question. This Essential edition collects short stories from Hulk Magazine, but I can't include those issues in the database if I haven't got the whole thing. Perhaps I'll have to figure out a way of noting that it's a partial issue in the database.

Anyway, back to The Score tomorrow, and then a bit more Moon Knight. I have to say I'm enjoying Moon Knight more than The Score at this point, but I get the suspicion that The Score is really more of a "read in one sitting" sort of story, rather than a sequential one, and perhaps that's why it's suffering in my eyes. See you tomorrow!

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