As opposed to a “Power Action Computer Kick.”

§ May 22nd, 2024 § Filed under pal plugging, superman § 18 Comments

Okay, first off, before I get into the rest of the post, I want to get this link in here because I was dumb and forgot last time. Old pal Mark, co-creator of Fake AP Stylebook on what used to be Twitter, and co-editor of the spinoff book Write More Good, can use your help.

Mark is currently in an uncomfortable living situation and needs some funds to rehouse himself. He’s reached his stated financial goal, but he can use more scratch just in case, you know? Please contribute if you can:

Thanks for anything you can do.

• • •

Not that I don’t have enough physical comics piled up to read, after being behind for the last several years, I’ve been using the DC Comics digital comics app to look at some old stories I may have missed, and revisit some books that I gave up to the shop/don’t feel like digging out of my boxes at home.

Since I’ve been on an Armored Lex kick lately, I reread this three-parter, probably for the first time since it appeared in print back in 1985:

That’s the middle chapter of a story that ran in Superman #410, #412 and #413 (#411 was a surprise issue celebrating Superman’s editor Julius Schwartz), written by Cary Bates, illustrated by Curt Swan and Al Williamson, covers (which I liked!) by Klaus Janson.

I’ve written before about different inkers’ effects on Swan’s pencils, but I was struck by the expressiveness in the faces here in this particular sequence of panels from #412:

Isn’t that nice? Those are some good looks from Superman that you don’t normally see.

But what I wanted to mention for sure here was…well, let me give you a brief set-up. The story is about Clark reporting on an event Superman was involved in, only it turns out Superman imagined said event and it makes it look like Clark fabricated the whole thing. Clark is fired, and his reputation is shot so he can’t get another reporting job.

Obviously this is a plot by You-Know-Who, but Clark is left adrift in the meantime. As such, he pays a visit to another former Daily Planet/WGBS employee, Steve Lombard, who is currently running a sporting goods store. As you recall, Steve was the one continually pulling pranks on Clark in an attempt to pick on him (pranks that usually backfired due to Clark using some super power or ‘nother).

Now, the digital archive is incompelete for the Super-books, and my own memory of the stories from the time is a little spotty, so I don’t recall the circumstances of Steve losing his job, or on what terms he and Clark were on. But in this particular issue, we see the characters reunite:

…and Steve’s tomfoolery aside, it looks like the two get along just fine. They are genuinely pleased to see each other, and in fact Steve gives Clark a part-time job.

I thought this was a nice bit of character growth for Steve after, what, a decade or so of him being a pain in Clark’s rear? It feels like some of his arrogance has worn away, laughingly admitting his own foolishness in the panels above. It’s a real shame this is butting right up against the Byrne reboot, which would wipe this all away, as I would have liked to have seen more of this mildly less-obnoxious Steve Lombard. Ah well.

• • •

And here, since this seem relevant to the recent Superhero Violence post from the other day, is a panel found by Bluesky pal WormDrivePRO. From Spectacular Spider-Man #118 (1986) by Peter David, Mike Zeck and Bob McLeod, comes this inversion of the “Abandoned Building Battleground” trope:

Huh, just like Thom H. said!

WormDrivePRO is a good follow if you like nice big scans of curated comic panels. It’s a fun feed that I recommend!

18 Responses to “As opposed to a “Power Action Computer Kick.””

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    Thanks for posting some panels of Williamson inking Swan, I’ve never seen that combo before and it’s some of the most appealing later-period Swan art I’ve seen.

    In addition to being an excellent penciller, Al Williamson’s inking enhanced almost any artist’s work. I’m not a huge fan of John Romita,Jr.’s art (while acknowledging he is a consummate professional and greatly skilled; it’s my own personal taste). Al Williamson inked most of his stint on Daredevil, and it is by far my favorite JR, Jr. artwork. The spotted blacks and crisp lines brought out JR, Jr.’s strengths, and helped create the atmosphere of dread that accompanied Ann Noccenti’s stories.

    I say “almost any artist” because Williamson was a mismatch for Gene Colan on a 4-issue Tomb of Dracula revival. To be fair, Colan was experimenting with hyper-exaggeration in a way that I don’t think worked. To be fair twice, Colan is an artist whose work is bery hard to ink. Still, that ToD revival contains some of my least favorite work by one of my all-time favorite artists.

  • Thom H. says:

    Wrong neighborhood, web-head!

    DC clearly knew they had to freshen up the Super-books if they had Klaus Janson drawing the (very nice) covers.

    I agree that Williamson’s inks look really good over Swan’s pencils. There’s some lovely body language going on in those panels in addition to the expressive faces.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @Mike Loughlin

    I agree with your assessment of JR JR. I’ve actually really enjoyed interviews I’ve seen with him on YouTube and think he is a consummate professional, but his recent work work doesn’t appeal to me aesthetically. I really like his late ’70s through early ’90s style much more, and his work with Bob Layton on Iron Man is a high point to me, as well as the Daredevil issues inked by Al Williamson which you mentioned.

    As for Gene Colan, I’ve always felt that Tom Palmer was probably his best inker, although Bill Everett did some great inking over Colan’s pencils on several Black Widow stories in Amazing Adventures back in the early ’70s. Bob Smith also did pretty good inking on top of Colan’s pencils on Night Force over at DC Comics.

    As for Curt Swan, I was impressed recently when I saw some early Silver Age stories he drew from the ’50s at just how good they looked. I think with Swan, as with Kirby, over time and churning out tons of comics, the art became a bit more formulaic, but I maintain that at least as far as Bronze Age Curt Swan art goes Murphy Anderson is his best inker.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    @Sean Mageean: funny you should mention Night Force, I just found and bought a bunch of issues in a dollar box. I agree that Bob Smith is a good inker for Colan. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would disagree that Tom Palmer was his best inker- Tomb of Dracula was gorgeous- and I think Steve Leiialoha did a great job inking Colan on Howard the Duck. Klaus Janson’s inks were hit or miss when it came to Gene the Dean, but the good issues sure looked great!

    If you haven’t read the late ‘90s Amalgam comics, I recommend checking out Thorion of the AsGods. It contains one of my favorite JR, Jr. art jobs. I forget who inked him, but it makes me think his style could have worked well with 4th World material.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @Mike Loughlin

    Cool that you found a Night Force run in the dollar boxes; I really enjoyed that series. Yes, Steve Leialoha is a great artist in his own right. I liked it when he drew a few issues of Steve Englehart’s Coyote comic. He also did some nice work on Spider Woman.

    I think I picked up that Thorion comic in a dollar box a few years back but never got around to reading it…I will have to see if I can locate it. It would be intriguing to see Mike Royer ink JR JR.

    I give Janson credit for maintaining consistency on Daredevil as the series inker for about seven years or so…inking over the pencils provided by Bob Brown, Sal Buscema, Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Gene Colan, Steve Ditko, and, of course, Frank Miller. Then Janson became a great all around artist and colorist in his own right.

  • Thom H. says:

    I greatly prefer Silver Age Swan to Bronze Age Swan. I’m sure he had to loosen up his pencils or risk long-term hand injury, but his later work on Superman lacks the same impact, at least to my eyes.

    I think of him as the Silver Age George Perez because of his crisp lines and the sheer amount of detail he could pack into a page. He was able to handle a large cast, too, while keeping their faces and body types differentiated.

    George Klein’s inks really brought out the best in his work. It doesn’t hurt that they worked together on a handful of iconic stories like The Last Days of Superman or the original Luthor/Brainiac team-up.

  • Sean Mageean says:


    I’d say that that’s a fair assessment and that George Klein is probably the best Silver Age inker of Swan’s pencils.

    Personally, I like the Silver Age Legion of Super-Heroes stories in Adventure Comics where Jim Shooter did the layouts for Curt Swan…as the pacing and panels feel much more dynamic. I also like Jack Abel’s inking on several of those Swan drawn LOSH stories.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Kinda fun to see a version of a battle armor Luthor here:

  • Thom H. says:

    The Luthor battlesuit looks awesome reimagined as knight’s armor in green and purple.

    And there are a lot of those fake trailers for ’50s versions of superhero movies on YouTube. I had no idea. It’s totally worth falling into the uncanny valley to see the X-Men video alone.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @ Thom H.

    I recommend these two by a YouTuber called Cloudgaming:

    Justice League and Avengers retro ’50s…they are pretty fun…and Ant-Man looks like Kirk Douglas. Other heroes resemble classic ’50s actors.

    I suggested a casting for a 1940s JSA trailer with classic ’40s actors (Robert Mitchum/Superman, Alan Ladd/Green Lantern, Buster Crabbe/Hawkman, Tyrone Power/Flash, Burt Lancaster/Wildcat, Veronica Lake/Black Canary, Leslie Howard/Dr. Fate, Dorothy Lamour/Wonder Woman, Humphrey Bogart /Sandman, John Garfield/Atom, etc, etc.) and I think Cloudgaming might use some of my suggestions, so that would be fun!

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Night Force”

    It’s no Tomb of Dracula, but it’s decent!

    Al Williamson & Tom Palmer: the two best inkers in the business!

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @Snark Shark

    Because Wolfman and Colan created it, “Night Force” is pretty close to a Marvel horror comic, even if it’s not as classic as “Tomb of Dracula.” Here’s a shout out to Don McGregor and Gene Colan’s “Nathaniel Dusk,” too!

    I would add Terry Austin, Frank Giacoia, Joe Sinnott, Dick Giordano, Wally Wood, Dan Adkins, and Mike Esposito to the great inkers list.

    I was rereading some early Defenders the other day and I think Frank Bolle also did a great job inking Sal Buscema’s pencils.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Nathaniel Dusk”

    Darn close to Film noir for a comic!

    Am I remembering right, that book was not inked, just published from the pencils to give it that washy, scratchy affect?

  • LouReedRichards says:

    Williamson on Swan is nice, don’t know of I’ve ever seen any before.

    Agree that JRJR never looked better than when inked by Williamson. One of my top 5 favorite artist collaborations!

    I picked up an issue of Night Force in the cheap bins and finally read it about a year ago, really enjoyed it. Need to find the rest.

    That is a very striking cover by Janson. I can imagine it standing out nicely on the spinner rack.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    I’m two issues into Night Force, and it’s enjoyable so far.

    @Snark Shark: yes, Nathaniel Dusk was published without an inker. Honestly, the first series looks a bit muddy. Nathaniel Dusk II looks better, someone must have figured out a few things. Colan’s art would be printed from pencils several times in the late-‘90s and early-‘00s (including the Curse of Dracula miniseries, a couple Buffy-verse short stories, and Captain America 600) on better paper with digital coloring. I’m glad we got to see his work in that form at long last.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @ Mike Loughlin

    Yes! Seeing Gene Colan’s pencils published in their pure form was amazing! It also shows just how challenging it was for inkers to ink his work. To you and Snark Shark and other Colan connoisseurs I also suggest checking out his work on Detectives Inc. and Ragamuffins from the ’80s over at Eclipse Comics if you haven’t already. These were also Don McGregor scripted projects. The Detectives Inc. was published both as a graphic novel and a three issue mini-series–it is the follow up to the first Detectives Inc. graphic novel which was illustrated by Marshall Rogers. Ragamuffins was serialized in Eclipse Magazine (or was it in the Eclipse Comic?) which was an anthology series; later it was reprinted as a one-shot comic–it was autobiographical slice of life vignettes based on McGregor’s childhood and youth. Both series feature great Gene Colan art.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “@Snark Shark: yes, Nathaniel Dusk was published without an inker. Honestly, the first series looks a bit muddy”

    Probably. I didn’t hate the look, but it seems an odd choice. I outta get those two sereies, I only read ONE issue, literal decades ago.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @ Snark Shark

    Nathaniel Dusk is worth reading, even if the pencil art looks a bit muddy on the first series; McGregor’s scripts are great! In fact, Warner Brothers should greenlight a Nathaniel Dusk film or streaming series based on McGregor’s scripts. If they wanted to, they could get artsy and film it in black and white as an homage to the classic Warner Bros. Film
    Noir movies (and has Netflix has done with “Ripley”). They could cast Cillian Murphy or Ryan Gosling as Dusk.

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