I was researching the year 1983 for my timeline when I came across mention of Skateman. I've never actually seen it, myself - I believe I saw a mention of it in Jeff Rovin's Encyclopedia of Super-Heroes, and threw it into the timeline at a period when I was tossing stuff into it fairly indiscriminately.
Anyway, the info at the link above describes it as though it was one of the worst comics ever. I'm always suspicious of claims like that. Oftentimes, it becomes popular to dump on something when it's not actually that bad. On the other hand, sometimes things actually are as bad as people say they are.
So, has anyone actually seen this book? If so, what's it actually like?
I was blown away by Neal Adams when he appeared on the scene in the late 1960s. It was his artwork that took Batman around the corner from the drab "New Look" back to his "creature of the night" look. In fact, before Adams, I wasn't much of a Batman fan.
That being said, a lot of his Continuity Studios comics were just awful. Adams' writing started out poor and just got worse, getting more and more hyperdramatic and bathetic. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the writers he hired for Continuity Comics were in the same vein, just as the artists he hired all worked in his style. So a lot of the Continuity Comics were very pretty but just amazingly bad.
Looks like Skateman was an early version of that.
Yes, I've read Skateman, and yes, it's pretty bad, but "Worst Comic Ever"? Not by a long shot.
It was awared that "honor" in The World's Worst Comics Awards.
I think it "won" because it was by THE Neal Adams, but his more recent Batman Odyssey was far, FAR, FAR worse than Skateman. If you've read his Continuity stuff, you've got a fair example of what it's like. Skateman is not even in the running for worst comic, AFAIAC. Why? So few people have read or even heard of it. Why, Captain Comics himself hasn't even read it! At the time these awards were given (1983), MY vote for "World's Worst" went to Secret Wars II.
(This two-issue KSP mini-series is well worth a look, though, if you can find it.)
BTW, Cap... he's not wearing a helmet. That's a scarf tied around his head.
TO be honest, I've never even seen a Continuity Comic.
Why things don't work is a preoccupation of mine. How can it be the case that Kirby's 70s issues of Captain America - those I've seen - are mostly awful, when they have interesting visuals and concepts? MisterKitty (adult content elsewhere at site) mocks Skateman here. He arguably shows a bit too much of the story doing so. The material puzzles me in a similar way; it looks awful, but it has good elements - the violence has greater realism that comic book violence often did, and it depicts parts of US society that American comics often didn't. It looks like an attempt to do a realistic superhero, fighting crime in low income America. I've not read the issue.
Actually, I have a copy of Skateman. I may even have two.
It's certainly a bad comic, but I think its reputation as "worst comic ever" is overblown. It was dubbed such in World's Worst Comics Awards #2, a two-issue special from the late, lamented Kitchen Sink Comics. (World's Worst Comics Awards is a lot of fun, and worth getting your hands on, although it's probably as hard to find as Skateman.)
World's Worst Comics Awards dubbed Skateman "worst" on the strength (weakness?) of its writing, which IS pretty terrible. But it has Neal Adams art, so how bad could it be? Me, I would dub something "worst" only if it had bad writing AND bad art.
Anyway, thanks, Luke, for the link to those Skateman pages; it's too much trouble to dig it out. I guess one could consider it an attempt to do a "realistic" superhero, but there's just too much silliness going on. A Vietnam veteran who is a martial arts practitioner who gets a job being a roller derby skater? His best buddy dies from a crash on the rink caused by a faulty wheel on his skates and our hero is branded a killer? He has a kid sidekick named Paco who calls people "Pigmeat" as an insult?
We open the story with our hero on skates taking on a biker gang, like something out of a blaxploitation flick -- except he thoroughly gets his butt kicked. And Paco takes Skateman not to a hospital, but to an old abuela, but as noted in World's Worst Comics Awards, he oddly speaks Italian to her ("Por favor, Signora Quintero"). Not to mention Skateman's costume -- a bright red long-sleeved T-shirt, elbow and shin pads, white booty shorts, white tube socks with red stripes on the calf, a scarf tied over his head and, of course, roller skates.
And, as we see from the pages, it's full of overblown melodramatic dialogue. Even so, I actually thought the last book in World's Worst Comics Awards top ten -- Neutro #1 (Dell, 1967) -- deserved the title.
As described (I've never actually seen Neutro #1), the story introduces Neutro, which is a giant robot one might find in an episode of Ultraman or in a Godzilla movie, and tells of Neutro's abilities, in monotonous, repetitive detail (see here). Page after page is panel after panel that reads like this: "He could destroy entire flotillas ... he could destroy and bring to ground squadrons of huge bombers ... he could rip tanks in half ... and rip up battalions of armored soldiers ... he could swallow bullets like a baby swallows candy ... " on and on and on.
Interesting question, Luke. I don’t have an answer. All I can say is that, periodically, I subject my opinions* to what I call a “period of reassessment.” Oftentimes I find that what I once loathed I now love (and vice versa). I think I’ll re-read Skateman over the weekend.
*I do this with food, too.
If he really wants to keep his identity secret why would he rely on a scarf tied around his head, which could easily come off?
On one of the sample pages it says "Billy succumbs to his wounds." As far as I can tell this phrase normally (or always) means that he died.
If he really wants to keep his identity secret and not suffer a concussion, why doesn't he wear a helmet instead of a scarf?
Yes, I just assumed a helmet -- because, duh -- and to discover it's a scarf ... Well, that's just silly.
I am sure I have read many comics that are far worse than Skateman. Or tried to, anyway. Many books at Marvel and DC went through truly awful periods out of a perhaps misplaced sense of commitment, for instance.