The Final ’80s Countdown, Part Eleven.

§ June 5th, 2023 § Filed under final countdown § 6 Comments

When I’m not busy annoying people way too into this Flash movie on Twitter, I’m writing about comics here…and that includes the next three titles on the “your favorite ’80s indies” list! Nearing the end of the one-voters here, after (good gravy) eleven installments of this, and I thank all of you for your kind indulgence.

A warning this week…two of the titles I know little or nothing about, and the third is one that probably shouldn’t have been included in the first place. How will your pal Mike overcome these, the worst hardships ever suffered by mortal man? Let’s find out together!

Sisterhood of Steel (Marvel/Epic 1984-1986)

This is one of those comics where the title is of course familiar to someone of my particular generation, growing up and discovering and reading and reading about comics in the 1980s. I knew it was part of Marvel’s Epic imprint of creator-owned comics. But aside from seeing ads for it in other Epic publications and in the comics press, I couldn’t have told yhou anything about it.

Well, other than it was about lady warriors, I suppose, as evident from the title. It took me doing research (i.e. looking at the Wikipedia entry) to learn that the central character of the book was a young warrior named Boronwë. The comic ran eight issues at Epic, and according to my “research,” a plan to continue the series in graphic novel format hit snags at that company, so the creators moved on to Eclipse Comics. There a single graphic novel (Baronwë: Daughter of Death) was published, and as far as I know that was that.

The creator of this comic was Christy Marx, with Mike Vosburg on art. The graphic novel was illustrated by the late Peter Ledger, who had been Marx’s first husband. So, strong talent all around, so I’m sure the comics read and looked wonderful. Unfortunately, I just never read them. And as far as I can tell, none of this material has been reprinted.

I think the original eight issue run, at least, is relatively easy to find. In fact, I spotted a few issues of it scattered throughout an enormous collection I just took in. I remember having stock of those at the previous place of employment, but I can only vaguely remember that graphic novel. Pretty sure we had it back then…I know my old boss would’ve ordered it…but I don’t think I’ve seen a copy in decades.

Seems like a shame this has been out of print for so long. Feels like something that might make a hardcover or something.
Space Ark (AC/Apple 1985-1987)

You got me, I’ve got nothin’ on this one. I knew the comic existed, but I can’t even say I sold any of these out the back issue bins while I was at the old shop. I certainly didn’t sell it new, as it wrapped up the year before I entered the business.

The comic is by Mark Cantrell and Ken Mitchroney…Cantrell’s name rings a bell, but a quick look on the Comics Database shows him mostly doing some things for AC Comics, a publisher I really haven’t read much from. Mitchroney’s name I do recognize for sure, most likely from his work on Marvel’s Ren and Stimpy series, though he also was the artist on Myth Conceptions, the follow-up to Myth Adventures (mostly illustrated by Phil Foglio, with Jim Valentino taking over the last couple of issues — am I padding this entry? Maybe).

The series ran five issues through two companies…the first two from AC, and the last three from Apple. (Should also note here the writer on issue #5 was author Steven R. Boyett.) A Space Ark short did appear as a back-up in Usagi Yojimbo #22, where the characters appear to cross over with that title’s lead. I don’t believe any of this material has been reprinted, save the Usagi story that apparently showed up in a German publication.

The comic was a humorous sci-fi adventure comic, featuring the anthropomorphic crew of the Space Ark, headed by Captain Stone (a fox…I mean, he was the animal the fox, not that he’s foxy, though, you know, maybe he is, again I didn’t read the comic). It seems like it’s in a similar mode as Adventures of Captain Jack, and I don’t know if I’m stepping on any toes by even mentioning that, and if so I apologize.

I mean…I know I like Mitchroney’s art, so I’m sure the book looks perfectly fine. I don’t know anything about the tone of the series, how comedic or “dramedic” or wacky or slapstick it might be. I promise, if a copy comes across my desk at my current shop, I’ll take a peek inside.

Special thanks to Wikifur for the additional research source.
The Spirit 1983 Series (Kitchen Sink 1983-1992)

Okay, by all rights I should have disqualified this one. This isn’t really in the spirit (cough) of “Favorite ’80s Title” as I’d meant it. The series (running 87 issues over a decade) was, as far as I can tell, mostly reprints in chronological order the post-war Spirit stories by Will Eisner and others. The covers appear to be all new illustrations by Eisner, which are nice.

Now, in no way am I disparaging the material here, and I’m not saying it lacks artistic or historical value by saying it doesn’t really belong in this ’80s comics overview. But it’s not ’80s comics, it’s 1940s and 1950s comics. Yes, there are the new covers, but, well, you know what I’m getting at. I was aiming for books created in the ’80s, specifically.

But on the other hand, this series did run almost 90 issues, the 40-year-old comics competing side-by-side on the comics rack next to, I don’t know, Dazzler and Nth Man and Haywire, and outlasting many of its competitors. I’m not going to say the material is timeless (one specific element remains…controversial), but Eisner’s art and storytelling is otherwise impeccable. Many of the comics that shared the shelves with these reprints owed a great deal to Eisner’s work of the period.

In conclusion, when I eventually do this for ’90s books, don’t nominate series that are all reprints of comics from earlier decades. This one I’ll let slide because, well, it’s Eisner. And who’s gonna stop me? I’M MAD WITH POWER. And yes, I know this may complicate the Miracleman entry a bit when I get to it.

• • •

Okay, enough with that. Only a couple of entries away before we move on to the comics that got two votes! Exciting, no? Thanks, as always, for reading, and I’ll see you on Wednesday probably.

6 Responses to “The Final ’80s Countdown, Part Eleven.”

  • David E Beard says:

    as the nominator of The Spirit, let me tell you, that series was an achievement.

  • David E Beard says:

    Like, the 90 issues were worth it just for the commentary and interviews with Eisner by cat yronwode, Dave Schreiner, and Tom Heintjes would nearly have been worth the price, without the comics.

  • Chris V says:

    Ken Mitchroney is also famous for doing the artwork on the, much-derided but woefully underrated, Archie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, which was written by (perennial nominee of this very list’s Puma Blues comic) Stephen Murphy.
    I don’t care what anyone says, the Murphy run on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles deserves more praise. It just got a bad rap due to being published by Archie and having the misfortune of being associated with the cartoon program.
    If you are looking for more TMNT stories and you’ve read all the original Eastman/Laird issues, don’t be afraid to give the Murphy Archie series a look.

    Best of all was the disconnect in one of the early issues drawn by Mitchroney showing his adorable looking Teenage Turtles style as they mercilessly kill a fisherman, simply for trying to make a living. People said this was a simple kiddie book?

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Dazzler and Nth Man and Haywire”

    Oddly enough, I HAVE read those, but not much of classic-era Spirit. I did read the… 2000-something series done by either Marvel or DC!

  • Oliver says:

    I’ve read a lot more ‘furry’ comics than most, but ‘Space Ark’ must’ve utterly slipped me by! I’ll track down an issue ASAP.

    On the subject of 80s anthropomorphic animals, it’s sadly being reported that Joshua Quagmire has passed away. His curvaceous creation Cutey Bunny appeared in ‘Critters’ and elsewhere.

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    Re: Josh Quagmire :-(