By Basil Wolverton (Archival Press)
Basil Wolverton was one of the most unique – not to say controversial – stylists ever to work in comics and indeed the field of illustration. Equally at home and renowned for horror and comedy subjects he was also one of the earliest and greatest exponents of science fiction comics. His greatest triumph is undoubtedly the pre-WWII adventures of a mysterious and solitary steely-jawed he-man known only as Spacehawk. The strip debuted in the June 1940 issue of Target Comics (volume 1 #5) and ran for thirty issues until Wolverton left the company for less hostile climes.
Spacehawk was a grim, relentless avenger of the innocent, prowling the star-lanes and outer reaches, and the stark meticulous art served only to highlight the singular appearance of the alien monstrosities and landscapes crafted by Wolverton. Many kids had nightmares after reading Spacehawk, and many parents wrote complaining letters because of it…
When the US entered the war in December the editors decided to bring the Lone Wolf of Space down to Earth to fight the Nazis and Japanese, diluting further the eerie power of the series. By the end of 1942 (Target Comics volume 3, #10) Wolverton and his interplanetary masterpiece were gone.
This wonderful collection from 1978 reprints 4 early Outer Space adventures, including the premiere outing ‘The Creeping Death from Neptune’, two earthbound war yarns and a delightful single page teaser of Saturnians and Neptunians in vibrant black and white, some of which owners of the 1990s Dark Horse reprint miniseries will recognise, but this is only the tip of a superb graphic iceberg.
Although some Spacehawk material is available as “bit-torrents” – with all that entails – what this classic character needs is a definitive book edition to captivate us citizens trapped here in a lacklustre future. Let’s hope it’s soon…
© 1940, 1941 Funnies Inc. © 1942 Novelty Inc. © 1978 Archival Press Inc. All Rights Reserved.