Monday, January 12, 2015

It's here!

So, as I reported about a week ago, I had a great visit to Sterling Silver Comics (Mike Sterling, Esq., Prop.) when I was down in California for Winter break; the idyllic sojourn was marred only by my forgetting there was a Part Two to the story in the X-Men comic that I purchased specifically for one panel by Werner Roth - and of course that panel is not in Part One.

Undaunted, I made mail-order arrangements with the Mikester for the second issue; it was easy, since he's such an Ebay maven and has all the ducks particular that kind of exchange nicely lined up. And today, a package was delivered to my door by a uniformed representative of the federal government.

I want to digress a moment to say that the package was pretty impressive. It was a nice stiff manila envelope with a professional mailing label; inside was a thick backing board and a thinner protective cardboard sheet; and inside that the poly-bagged comic was wrapped in another plastic bag for added protection. Nice.

When I got the issue out, I realized the cover was cooler than I remembered - here it is scanned clear:

The story concerns Count Nefaria's (um, okay) attempt to revive the criminal organization The Maggia (cut it out, Stan!) and use the captive X-Men as pawns in a plot extort one hundred million dollars (that's three quarters of a billion in today's money) from the U.S. government by holding Washington, D.C. hostage in a weird transparent dome. The Count's lieutenants are The Eel, Scarecrow, The Porcupine, Plantman, and The Unicorn. (I thought this group had a name, but if they ever did, it came later.)

As achingly Silver-Age as much of the story is, this installment is as action-packed as promised on the cover, with lots of teamwork from both the X-Men and the Five Bad Guys as they battle through the capital. The Army steps in, apprehending super-heroes and super-villains alike (which was actually pretty reasonable), and that leads to the panel that I have remembered for decades: the not-capture of the Bad Guys.

The panel is almost exactly as I remembered; I had the figures a tiny bit smaller in the frame, but otherwise the layout and composition were just as I recalled. I don't know why this panel, of the thousands upon thousands that have passed my eyeballs, is among those that have burned that flashbulb memory into my brain. There's just something about the almost pictographic arrangement and the hyper-expository dialogue that is totally charming. It's almost like old-school filmmaking when they would interrupt a scene to freeze frame and zoom in and highlight with arrows or other markers the details of a scene before letting it resume speed and play out; I get that same explainer feeling with this.

It must have made an impression of some kind. And now I have it again.

Thanks, Mike.

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