My recent re-reading of Martin Pasko's Swamp Thing (plus the comment below) put me in the mood to re-read the first few issues of one of the few examples of his other work I am familiar with.

ClarkKent_DC said:

That series was my introduction to E-Man, and the only one I've enjoyed, as the ones I've seen since lacked the element (heh) of parody of other comics titles. (The issue featuring a parody of The Uncanny X-Men was pitch-perfect, with one page in particular nailing Chris Claremont's overblown writing, right down to misplaced captions that told you what previous panels showed you.)

I can already see where the cognitive disconnect lies, but I did just re-read the first three issues (probably for the first time since I bought them) with new eyes. First let me say, when I was a kid, I used to get a comic book if I was good at the dentist. One day I picked the first issue of the Charlton series and loved it. Charlton's distribution being what it was in those days, I found only two more of the original series' ten-issue run when they were new, but I acquired the rest by the time I graduated high school. By the time I was in college, a new E-Man series was being published. I was immediately excited, then just as quickly disappointed. Here's what Joe Staton had to say about it years later...

"Charlton's run of E-Man came to an end in 1974; over the years, I attempted to purchase the rights to continue the character, but to no avail. When I was hired as art director by First Comics in 1982, First bought the E-Man rights from Charlton and I repaid all of first's expenses by deductions from my page rate.

"Unfortunately, Nick [Cuti, E-Man's co-creator] was not available to write the book. Even more unfortunately, E-Man was saddled with an editor at First who was convinced that E-Man was a parody book and that 'there's no reason to do a parody unless you hurt somebody.' So, for eight issues, E-Man struggled along under the weight of of heavy-handed put-downs and unintelligible in-group jokes.

"Finally, that editor was removed from the book and, along with Rick Oliver (who co-wrote and edited E-Man beginning with issue #9), I attempted to salvage some trace of the original, easy-going E-Man. But by then, the damage had been done, and when Nick became available again, he wrote only two issues before the book was cancelled with issue #25." [Mike Gold was E-Man's editor back then, but I believe that Martin Pasko is the "editor" to whom Staton refers because he was gone after issue #8 and Mike Gold stayed on as editor through #24.]

Something was just... off about First Comics new E-Man #1, even the art. Issues #2-3 were the X-Men parody and, I must admit, Martin Pasko has Chris Claremont's overblown expository writing style down pat, but the art was still off. I thought Pasko's depictions of the "A'tari" (the "water-chestnut people") and the "Shi'hedd Empire" were pretty funny, but if I had to guess, I'd say that Staton was uncomfortable in the way Pasko depicted fellow pros. for example: Chris Claremont - "Ford Fairmont"; Stan Lee - "Stanley Presents"; Jim Shooter - "Sniper"; John Byrne - "Companyman". Also, Roy Thomas ("Rascally"), Steve Ditko ("Sturdy") and Jack Kirby ("King") were depicted as Three Stooges hairpieces on wig-stands. 

The art began to improve with #4, but another thing that hampered #1 through #5 is that each was "hosted" by the ghost of Albert Einstein. In my opinion, the title began to turn around with #6 (although that was one of the last three written by Martin Pasko). I haven't changed my opinion at all about those first three issues (reinforced it, maybe). The one thing I did like about about the "F-Men" parody (although Joe Staton did not)  is that they gave Nova Jean Gray's intended fate from "The Dark Phoenix Saga": they removed her powers. 

I see now that you, Kelvin, enjoyed the aspect of parody of those early First Comics issues, but I happen to agree with Joe Staton that it's out of place in E-Man... social satire, yes; outright comic book parody, no. That's what Cerebus is for. I have liked every incarnation of E-Man, but those first ten Charlton issues are the best

Views: 56

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I loved the original Charlton E-Man (with Mike Mauser!) also. I've never read any of the later versions.

E-man is one of my favorite characters, and that's based on my love for the original ten-issue Charlton run from the 1970s. I've read the First series and did not like it nearly as much (esp. that first bit with the X-men parody). I like some of the later oneshots and specials done by Cuti and Staton, but for me nothing beats that original Charlton run.

For those interested in Charlton's original run of E-Man comics (ten issues), I recommend The Original E-Man reprint series (seven issues) published by First Comics. Probably easier to find would be the E-Man: The Early Years tpb (2011).

THE ORIGINAL E-MAN:

  • All ten original issues
  • Original covers at reduced size in black & white
  • Faithful re-coloring by the original colorist on Baxter paper stock
  • All of the Mike Mauser solo back-up stories from Vengeance Squad
  • E-Man back-up story (in color) from Charlton Bullseye fanzine
  • Unpublished E-Man story

E-MAN: THE EARLY YEARS:

  • All ten original issues
  • All covers, full size and in color, plus unpublished cover of #1
  • All First Comics Original E-Man reprint covers
  • State of the art coloring on slick, glossy paper
  • No Mike Mauser, but includes the two E-Man short stories mentioned above
  • Checklists of all other E-Man and Mike Mauser appearances

I am not a huge fan of Mike Mauser; I am in the mood to reread the Mauser stuff about half as often as I am the E-Man stuff. [Joe Staton, BTW, based E-Man's looks on Roger Moore (probably on The Saint more than James Bond), and Mauser's on Dustin Hoffman (specifically, Ratso Rizzo from Midnight Cowboy).] Nevertheless, I prefer the reprint series to the tpb based primarily on the coloring. I think the tpb color is too dark and "murky" and doesn't really fit the overall tone of the stories. OTOH, the full-size color covers of the original issues is a nice draw. If you've never read E-Man before, you really can't go wrong with either package. 

I'd pretty much completely forgotten about that tpb. It was published a few years too late for me, because - as as I just mentioned today in another thread - I simply collected the original Charlton issues and had them bound. For me, the original issues also have added bonus of letters pages and back-ups like Rog 2000 and Killjoy.

Otherwise, I'm not sure if the 'Early Years' tpb is easier to find; my impression is that it's now pretty rare, and the few listings I've seen online have hefty prices attached.

You're probably right about that. I tend not to price things on the backmarket that I already own. My primary and secondary LCSs are both quite well-stocked and I just naturally expect to find anything I may want on the shelf at cover price. Plus I tend not to overvalue things that were originally available during my own lifetime, especially as recent as eleven years ago. "What? $3000.00 for Hulk #181? Why, I paid a quarter for that in 1975!" 

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Groups

Latest Activity

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Dark Shadows
"I should add: Pluto TV seems to have WAY more ads in an episode than Tubi does, judging from the…"
4 hours ago
Richard Willis replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"It's not a comic book cover. It's a movie poster of the adaptation of the Ray Bradbury…"
4 hours ago
JD DeLuzio replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"Some of those carnival folks can be a little scary:"
4 hours ago
Philip Portelli replied to The Baron's discussion The List of Super-Hero Teams
"I can't see any reason why Hero Hotline and Top 10 would not be considered teams. Are the…"
6 hours ago
The Baron replied to The Baron's discussion The List of Super-Hero Teams
"No one? No one's that worked up about it?  "Do what you like, Bob"? Whatever?…"
7 hours ago
Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) replied to Captain Comics's discussion This Week in Comics: Aug. 15-21, 2022
"I'm sure I sampled Cyberforce back in the '90s with the rest of the Image premieres, and…"
9 hours ago
Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Dark Shadows
"I've seen through episode 639 now.  Adam, Angelique, and Nathan have disappeared.…"
10 hours ago
Randy Jackson replied to Randy Jackson's discussion The List of Super Villain Teams
"Added"
10 hours ago
Randy Jackson liked Randy Jackson's discussion The List of Super Villain Teams
10 hours ago
Philip Portelli replied to Randy Jackson's discussion The List of Super Villain Teams
"In Web of Spider-Man #99 (1993), they introduced the New Enforcers!  Plus…"
11 hours ago
Tracy of Moon-T replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Swamp Thing
"I've read through #128 so I can keep up with the discussion this week. "
11 hours ago
Captain Comics replied to Captain Comics's discussion This Week in Comics: Aug. 15-21, 2022
"Wikipedia calls them a team. Yeah, I had to look it up."
11 hours ago

© 2022   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service