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Sunday, April 16, 2006

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.

November, 1983
Writer: Neal Adams
Artist: Neal Adams
Cover: Neal Adams

The Cover

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.

The Plot

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.

The Highlights

  • 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 fetishist feminist 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.

Defining Moment

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.


Blogger Kevin Church said...

CHRIS, you can label this BEAUCOUPAPPROVED.

And that is not because I'm drunk.



4/17/2006 12:53 AM

Blogger Dorian said...

Skateman is, of course, the standard by which I judge all truly awful comics. If it's worse than Skateman, you know it's of intestine-bleeding quality.

4/17/2006 1:38 AM

Blogger Jake said...

Dude, this is bizarre. Last week you had the Heroes vs. Gorillas just before I had my King Krypton review, now you've posted The Cross and the Switchblade the day before I was going to do it.

Unfortunately, you're absolutely right about it being dull. I picked up this, Archie's Parables, and God's Smuggler from the quarterboxes and all of them are incredibly bad, but not "ha-ha, Jimmy Olsen is a dumbass again" bad.

4/17/2006 4:45 AM

Blogger David Campbell said...

This has been CAMPBELLIZED, which is better than beaucoupapproved because it leaves the post covered in a sweet, honey-like residue.

It's as if they used a random profanity generator to create the dialogue. "Why don't you go bitch yourself in the fuck, assdonkey?"

4/17/2006 12:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"What the shit do you care, Pigmeat?" is indeed the greatest panel in comic book history, and I am proud to own a copy of Skateman.

4/17/2006 11:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a copy of cross and the switch blade and I can't believe you guys gave up on it.

The thing is a gold mine! It doesn't do anything outrageous but it's insanity is truely subtle.

4/18/2006 12:56 AM

Blogger Phillip said...

If I were drinking, Dave Campbell would owe me a new keyboard. "Why don't you go bitch yourself in the fuck, assdonkey?" is the new "What the shit do you care, Pigmeat?". (But really they're both my favorite.)

4/18/2006 7:07 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Continuity Comics Rule!

2/26/2007 4:36 PM

Blogger billso said...

This review gets better with age, like a fine bottle of fortified wine. :)

4/15/2007 2:34 AM


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