Adventure Comics #467-469: Starman, Plastic Man and Ditko

adventure-comics-467Adventure Comics was a long running anthology series from DC. Issues #467-469 caught my attention due one of the features being the debut of the Prince Gavyn incarnation of Starman. I was drawn to this not because of the character, but more because it was Steve Ditko work from the 1980s.

After reading the Steve Ditko book, I’ve had a lot of interest in this period of his career which is very hit or miss. But in these issues, Ditko was on fire. The script is by Paul Levitz, who wrote a lot of DC’s more cosmic stories during this period.

Gavyn is a prince from the intergalactic empire of Throneworld, and after developing powers he was exiled into deep space while his evil and corrupt sister ascends to the throne. As Starman, he comes back to try to liberate his people. It’s what you would expect from a science fiction/fantasy/super hero comic book from this time. One cool thing about the story is that Starman’s origin isn’t explained till the third appearance of the character. I liked that because you already had a sense about him before that was all explained.

And, I guess another reason why I really wanted to pick these up was because of the Gavyn figure I have from the Justice League Unlimited line that Mattel put out during the mid 2000s. I felt obligated to learn a little more about a character that I wasn’t familiar with.

The other stories in these issues feature Plastic Man, which are pretty silly and kid friendly. I think that’s because this would be the time that the character was horrifying a generation of children on a Saturday morning cartoon show.

Don’t believe me?

This might be a conversation for another day.

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Happy Birthday Steve Ditko

Today we celebrate the 84th birthday of one of comics legend Steve Ditko! The ever-elusive creator of Spider-Man enjoys his privacy and probably wouldn’t want us to acknowledge his birth, but that won’t stop us from talking about some of his best contributions to comics!

Let’s look at some of Ditko’s better known creations.

You can’t argue that Spider-Man isn’t Ditko’s most successful project. Here’s a clip from an interview with Stan Lee where he talks about what he feels was Ditko’s best work from their run on Amazing Spider-Man.

Ditko’s run on Spidey was semi autobiographical

Over at DC, Ditko created the super hero brother duo Hawk and Dove. One peace-loving, the other war mongering, the Hall brothers made their first appearance in June 1968’s Showcase #75. Dial B for Blog has a great account of their creation.

Ditko also created the Creeper, an outspoken talk show host who moonlights as a psychotic super hero. Simply put, the Creeper is insane. HyperDave at Data Junkie put together a great retrospective of Ditko’s run.

Also during this run at DC, Ditko created Shade the Changing Man, a new Starman and the Stalker. I’m not going to go too much into them, as I really haven’t been exposed to them enough.

During this time, Ditko did some phenomenal stuff over at Charlton, creating the original Captain Atom and the Ted Kord version of Blue Beetle, both of which became key staples in DC’s Justice League International books. He also created reporter turned faceless vigilante the Question. Eric Newsom runs an invaluable resource on the character, filled with analysis, interviews and commentary about the faceless hero.

Ditko went on to create a more hardline, Ayn Rand influenced version of the Question called Mr. A. The great people at Dial B for Blog have a much better description of the character.

This is just the tip of the iceberg; there’s much more non-super hero work in his bibliography. Keep in mind, Ditko’s career began in 1953, and he’s still creating stuff to this day. He remains super elusive and doesn’t give interviews. If you would like more information about Ditko’s career, there was a great book Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko that chronicles his career, as well as the BBC documentary In Search of Steve Ditko. You can find clips on YouTube.

On a final Ditko note, when you research his works and his life its hard to miss mentions of the influence of philosopher Ayn Rand. At one point, he even pitched adapting her novel Atlas Shrugged to Marvel. So in a bit of Ditko magic, my work day began with me taking a pile of Rand’s books–including Atlas Shrugged–from the free book pile in the staff room. I think its fitting; if Ditko had a birthday party, I’m sure that would be his party favor of choice.