Dollar Comic Review: Skateman #1
It's Easter Sunday, and after three days of placeholders and missed updates, the ISB has risen once again.
Yeah, about that: The original plan for last night was to highlight the awesomeness of Al Hartley's Christian comics with a look at The Cross and the Switchblade. With a title that's second only to Hansi: The Girl Who Loved the Swastika, it's got to be worth a few panel scans, right?
Yeah, well, turns out it's phenomenally uninteresting and despite a cover that promises two-fisted witnessing in the strictly salacious Spire Comics style, there's only one (1) attempted stabbing that's ended with a judo throw. Everything else works out exactly the way you'd expect, with Nicky Cruz finding the Lord, and without the star-power combo of Pat Boone and Erik Estrada to carry the story, it's a pretty boring affair.
But we don't do boring here on the ISB. We do mind-blowing.
Writer: Neal Adams
Artist: Neal Adams
Cover: Neal Adams
That's not actually the cover to this comic. It's page one, which has the same image and logo, but also features some of the most incredible dialogue you're ever going to read. Skateman, ladies and gentlemen: The super-hero who has time to say four sentences while he kicks you in the face with a rollerskate.
Ah, Skateman. Available at finer flea markets everywhere starting roughly January of 1984, this is the first and only issue of a series chronicling the adventures of Billy Moon, an ex-roller derby champion who quit that exciting world when he accidentally kills a friend whose skate was tampered with. Turns out that wasn't an isolated incident, and when Billy's girlfriend comes back from getting ice cream without several pints of blood and a new set of horrific stab wounds, Billy decides it's time to put on some tiny white shorts and fight crime with some skate-enhanced nunchuckery.
As you might expect, this brings him into conflict with a gang of drug-dealing bikers and their plot to bring drugs up from Mexico by using migrant workers as mules, so in retalliation, they kidnap Billy's girlfriend. Fortunately, Billy has a small army of latchkey extreme sports enthusiasts, and with their help, he's able to throw enough explosives into an abandoned warehouse that everything works out okay.
Needless to say, it's a pretty terrible comic. But it's an incredibly enjoyable kind of terrible.
- Neal Adams. An artist whose work has influenced countless comics creators, redefined Batman and Green Arrow, and continues to be the standard for realism. And the creator of Skateman, who fights crime in a sweatshirt, acid washed denim shorts, and a 'do rag over his eyes.
- Also, he carries his costume around in a purse. Yeah.
- Not that you need me to tell you this, but Skateman's not a very good super-hero. Shortly after he's introduced to the reader, he ends up getting beaten so badly that he spends seven pages in a coma dreaming about his origin.
- In order to keep his identity a secret to protect the people he cares about, Billy Moon affects a Clark Kent-like clumsiness when he's not in costume. See, when new girlfriend Jill drags him to the roller rink, he pretends he doesn't know how to skate. That's the kind of dedication to a double life that'll throw off even the sharpest bloodhound!
- While typing that last bullet point, I realized that Skateman has what is essentially the same plot as the USA Network's undeniably classic Renegade, but with rollerskates. The fact that the copy I hold in my hands is not praised as the highest work of genius ever given form by man means that there's something terribly wrong with this world.
- Hey, check it out! It's Huggy Bear and the Mighty Thor!
- Despite having no apparent job and being referred to as "living off" his girlfriend, Skateman can afford motorized skateboards for his crew, Spidey-like tracer devices, and a pursefull of custom-made explosives. That is literally just how he rolls.
- Everyone's favorite
Green Lantern fetishistfeminist comics blogger Ragnell has recently become infatuated with Neal's work on Green Lantern, providing in-depth examinations of his use of symbolism. I just can't help but wonder what she'd say about Skateman's new girlfriend Jill getting kidnapped, tied up, and rescued not once, but twice in the span of five pages.
In a pink tank top.
The craziest thing about this book--and really, what makes it worth reading--is the huge quality gap between the awesome Neal Adams art and the terrible Neal Adams story. Let's face it, kids: Dialogue's not his strong point. Which is what brings us to the single best panel in the entire story, when Billy meets his youtful sidekick Paco for the first time after saving him from getting beaten up by skaters:
Now that you've seen that, you're going to want to say it at work tomorrow. Guaranteed.