Gil Kane

Atari Force 5 (1983)

49386 20130522174834 largeEven with some great Gil Kane art, the last issue of Atari Force is a tad meager a finish for the series. Kane doesn’t have to suffer through a lot of video game-type space action, but there’s some and it’s too much.

Worse is the romance. Thomas and Conway promote it to a full-fledged subplot for the issue–worthy of a real flashback, then don’t give it one. Instead, the flashback is to these alien pacifists. That element of the story–intense non-violence–is kind of nest in a comic about blowing up Cthulhu-like space monsters, but it’s underdeveloped too.

The issue ends with a promise of another series, which might explain some the problem with Conway and Thomas’s script. They’re already looking ahead instead of concentrating on what’s going on here. Or maybe they just made things so big they’re unmanageable.

Still, gorgeous Kane art.



Galaxian; writers, Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas; penciller, Gil Kane; inker, Dick Giordano; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 3 (1982)

2334Even though the characters are still visually bland, Atari Force gets Gil Kane on the art and he knows what he’s doing. It’s a big read instead of a long one. Writers Conway and Thomas split the issue into three chapters, but it’s more like two–there’s even a cliffhanger mid-point.

For this issue, there are no more flashback introductions. Instead, there’s a somewhat weak flashback explaining the alien planet they find. It’s bumpy but passable.

Conway and Thomas to continue their rather serious look at what should be a goofy comic. One of the characters is a pacifist, burnt out by all the warring on Earth, and he doesn’t give up his convictions. There’s not a lot of fallout from it, but the writers do return to it a few times and the guy does turn out to be right.

With Kane, Force is all around competent now.



Enter — the Dark Destroyer!; writers, Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas; penciller, Gil Kane; inkers, Dick Giordano and Mike DeCarlo; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Giordano; publisher, DC Comics.

Marvel Premiere 2 (May 1972)

Ladies and gentlemen… the writing stylings of Roy Thomas! Yay! Yay!

Oh, wait. Umm. No. Not yay.

I suppose if someone wanted to read some really bad seventies young person counterculture dialogue, he or she could read Roy Thomas’s Adam Warlock story. It’s painful to read. And eventually painful to see too.

It’s another issue where Gil Kane’s art falls apart after a certain point. There’s this private detective who Kane draws terribly, but also disturbingly. He looks like an evil, poorly drawn Peter Lorre.

Oh, and the villains. The villains are these giant animals–a rat, a snake–and Kane butchers them. It’s like he can’t draw anything but regular people. Worse, the art all starts good and then plummets.

It’s a confusing story. Thomas loves to overwrite.

There’s a Jimmy Woo backup too, from Jack Kirby. It’s not any good, but it’s mildly interesting as a fifties relic.

Creatures on the Loose 17 (May 1972)

For some inexplicable reason, probably because he liked to read himself (I don’t think Marvel paid by the word in the seventies), Roy Thomas has his protagonist spouting expository dialogue every panel.

Thomas and Gil Kane do the feature, Guillvar Jones, and it’s beautiful to read. Kane eventually does have some weak panels, but most of them are fantastic. Lots of fluid movement. Just great.

And Thomas doesn’t do bad with the first person narration. It’s fine. All the expository dialogue (protagonist talking to himself) is terrible and narratively pointless, if not incompetent.

The issue also has some old reprints. There’s a pretty good giant sea monster one from Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. The twist is the sea monster is intelligent, but Lee doesn’t explore that point enough. Nice art.

The other reprint is sci-fi (from Lee and Don Heck). It’s fine until the moronic ending.

Ka-Zar the Savage 12 (March 1982)

Jones finishes up his Inferno homage–he confirms my plotting suspicions too… again, it’d be a great movie. Because kids need to read Dante.

There’s a lot of action as Ka-Zar goes it alone (Shanna and his friends are brainwashed) against various demons and the big bad Lucifer stand-in.

Armando Gil takes over inking Anderson to great effect. Having seen Anderson go through two and a half inkers, it’s clear Gil is the one adding all the detail. He brings out what Anderson has started–even though they’re in the pits of Hell, Anderson has a lot to draw.

The issue’s particularly impressive because it’s all Ka-Zar’s show, something the comic hasn’t been since the first one. Shanna’s not an active participant. Jones casts Ka-Zar as Conan against the (more demonic than Cthulhu) Elder Gods. It works.

The backup’s a perverted Disney movie about Ka-Zar’s tiger. Gil Kane does fine.

Ka-Zar the Savage 11 (February 1982)

Marvel ought to turn this one into a movie. Not a Ka-Zar movie, but a movie about the backstory–Dante Alighieri the action star. Jones’s Dante chased a Cthulhu-worshipping cur from Italy to Antarctica to save his girlfriend, discovering a long abandoned Atlantean vacation resort, which eventually the bad guy turns into Hell. And Dante writes Inferno about it.

It’d be an awesome movie, even if the recap in the comic is only a few pages.

The craziness of that plot, unfortunately, is the most substance in the issue. It’s an action issue, with a lot of scene humor, and it’s good. It’s just not substantive.

Josef Rubinstein takes over the inks to mixed result. Ka-Zar’s face is better, but Shanna’s is worse. But the art does seem stronger. It’s unclear if it’s Rubinstein or Anderson finally having something interesting to draw.

Jones hasn’t fully recovered, but close enough.

The Immortal Iron Fist: The Origin of Danny Rand 1 (October 2008)

Thank goodness Marvel felt the need to recolor the first two appearances of Iron Fist with some terrible glossy digital coloring from Andrew Crossley. Someone with time on his or her hands should do a comparison between Crossley’s “modern” colors here and the originals from Marvel Premiere.

Oddly, there’s a classy opening from Fraction and Kano–I think that opening must be Fraction’s last work on Iron Fist–and Kano does his own, non-glossy colors.

The origin issues hold up pretty well. Both Thomas and Wein write in the second person, which makes the whole experience–learning about K’un-L’un, Iron Fist’s origin, Danny Rand’s traumatic childhood–palatable. Kane pencils the first part, Hama the second, Giordano inks them both smoothly. Even the silly coloring can’t mess up Giordano inks on a kung fu comic.

The reprinted stories aren’t classics in the quality sense, but they’re solid seventies stuff.


The Origin of Danny Rand; writer, Matt Fraction; artist and colorist, Kano; letterer, Dave Lanphear. The Fury of Iron Fist!; writer, Roy Thomas; penciller, Gil Kane; inker, Dick Giordano; colorist, Andrew Crossley; letterer, Gaspar Saladino. Heart of the Dragon!; writers, Thomas and Len Wein; penciller, Larry Hama; inker, Giordano; colorist, Crossley; letterer, Saladino. Editors, Cory Levine, Thomas and Jeff Youngquist; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Detective Comics 520 (November 1982)

5625.jpgYou know what… I’m not sure I’ve seen a better inker on Newton than Alfredo Alcala. The art this issue is exceptional. It’s so wonderful, it makes up for Conway’s leap off the judgement bridge.

The story itself isn’t bad. Batman is putting together all the clues about Rupert Thorne, as Thorne hires Dr. Thirteen to ghost-bust Hugo Strange. Then Batman has to just Deadshot out of prison, which I guess provides the issue’s action sequence.

For whatever reason, Conway writes it in second person, the narration describing each character’s thoughts to him (Vicki Vale doesn’t get that treatment). It’s absolutely horrendous. I think Conway’s doing it to get the tension up, since his lengthy arc is about to end… but it utterly fails.

Thank goodness for the art.

The Catwoman backup is genial. It’s got nice Gil Kane art and Rozakis’s script is fine. While filler, it’s got potential.


The Haunting of “Boss” Thorne; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Don Newton; inker, Alfredo Alcala; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, Ben Oda. The Cat and the Conover Caper!; writer, Bob Rozakis; artist, Gil Kane; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Adam Kubert. Editors, Carl Gafford and Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

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