Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Classics - E-Man #1

Here's one of those "lost treasures" - a series that never quite got the attention it deserved.

Published with a cover date of October 1973 by Charlton Comics, I have vague memories of finding this issue of E-Man in one of the early incarnations of a comics shop. This one sold used comics and arts and crafts supplies, which always seemed like an odd combination.

The comic tells about a strange energy being that somehow achieved sentience after a star explodes. While drifting in space, he encounters an alien race that threatens life on Earth. He arrives on the planet and meets a new friend, a beautiful college student named Nova Kane, who's paying for college by being an exotic dancer. (I know, what are the odds?)

With her guidance, the sentient energy takes the form of a man and bases his costume on Einstein's Theory of Relativity - so the logo on his chest is E=mc2 - or E-Man for short. Together he and Nova track down the alien ship and deal with the menace.

E-Man was an original creation written by Nicola Cuti (who was writing tons of stuff at Charlton at the time) and an artist I had never seen before - Joe Staton.

The writing had a fresh streak of humor in it, and the art was a perfect match. Staton's style was deceptively simple (today it might be considered an animated style), but I liked it immediately - it was fresh, expressive and made the characters very appealing.

E-Man's powers included shape-shifting, and that gave Staton lots of room for some Plastic Man-style visuals.

Another thing that made the series fun was the variety of backup strips, which over the course of the run included work by John Byrne, Tom Sutton, Steve Ditko and Wayne Howard.

The series was never a big hit - it lasted for 10 issues at Charlton, 25 in a revival at First Comics and has been seen in occasional mini-series and one-shots since then. It's a shame, because there was great potential in the series, and those original stories are a real treat.

Humor is such a rare quantity in comics these days - we could always use some more.

Grade: B+



Kyle said...

Hey Chuck, did you see the news that First Comics is apparently making a coming back? They are hosting a panel at the SDCC. I saw Joe Staton and Nick Cuti will both be there, so looks like another E-man may be coming. I was a big fan of First (and Eclipse) back in the 80's... Grimjack, the Moorcock adaptons, and especially Nexus.

Chuck said...

Kyle, I missed that, but that would be great - First Comics had some great titles in their lineup (though I think IDW has printed many of them recently - like Grimjack and Jon Sable).