Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Classics - Doomsday+1 #1

It was difficult to be a fan of the Charlton Comics line because their distribution system seemed to be very haphazard (though in all fairness, that might have been because of the fact that I grew up in a rural area). That next issue might show up next month - and it might not.

Their comics were also produced cheaply on terrible paper - something that was evident to me even as a kid. Marvel, DC, Gold Key and other companies put out a professional product, while Charlton just cranked out a crazy quilt of comics and titles.

But even that company had its moments. In the mid-'70s, several comics suddenly appeared that stood out from the crowd. The first one I remember seeing was E-Man, along with a series based on the TV science fiction show Space: 1999.

I followed both titles as closely as possible (given the occasional missed issue), and then I spotted this title: Doomsday + 1 (it has a cover date of July 1975). I was hooked.

The comic was built around a classic "End of the World" story. Three astronauts are sent on a space mission just ahead of an all-out nuclear war. Capt. Boyd Ellis shared the tight quarters with two beauties - his fiancee, scientist Jill Malden, and radiation expert Ikei Yashida.

They eventually land in what's left of Greenland, where they encounter some once-frozen creatures that have been brought back to life.

Written by Joe Gill, the story is a relatively straightforward science fiction story, with no superheroics and only a few story elements that require the suspension of disbelief.

It's a well-told story with interesting characters, good conflicts and lots of mysteries to solve.

The series is probably best known for being the first full-length (published) comic drawn by John Byrne. I remember being very impressed with his art, and the issue holds up well, especially considering the poor printing process it had to survive.

The layouts are fresh, the characters expressive, and if a few panels are a bit crude, there's no denying the energy and enthusiasm packed into this issue. Despite his youth and limited experience, Byrne immediately became, in my mind, an artist to watch out for.

It wouldn't be long before he moved on to bigger and better projects at Marvel, but for a time his work elevated Charlton in my eyes. (It didn't last.)

Sadly, this comic only continued for six issues, but I did manage to track them all down. Considering that it's one of (if not the) best comics Charlton ever published, it was well worth the effort.

Grade: A-


1 comment:

Bobby Nash said...

I really enjoyed these books too. I picked them up in discount bins in the '80s. Fun stuff.