Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Not Fallen Far from the Fan

Big Bang Comics Vol. 2 #30 (Image, February/March 2000, $3.99)
"Knight Watchman Meets the Verdict" Writer: Mike W. Barr, Artist and Letters: David C. Zimmerman, Inks: Jeff Austin.

Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker have been hawking their Big Bang wares since the early '80s. This issue comes from their self-titled series for Image, which ran from 1996 to 2001. Rather than rehash public domain heroes or applying a postmodern take on modern-day heroes, they and their friends—and fellow fans—have created a shared universe of sorts drawing on the best of each comics era. The result are new comics that feel like old comics but remain as fresh and energetic as anything currently in print.

I can't quite peg this issue. The main story is a 21-page black-and-white Knight Watchman (created by Tom King, of all people!) piece featuring the Verdict, a team made up of Hot Wire, Kuttar, Psi-Mage, and Quintessence. It feels like it could sit in the '70s or '80s, and I quite like that it's not entirely obvious. Knight Watchman tracks a woman embodied by Psi-Mage to a penthouse foyer hosting a gathering of the brethren. He and the Verdict team up to rescue Quintessence, held prisoner by Dr. Smight.

"Spa Fun!" Writer/Creator: Mike W. Barr, Penciler/Letterer: John Watkins-Chow, Inker: Tim Stiles, Editor: Gary Carlson.

This solo backup story, an eight-page story done in the manner of the '70s or '80s (again, hard to peg!) that highlights Psi-Mage. The title is a pun on the EC Comics-style phrase "spa fon"—which was also invoked in F. Paul Wilson's novel The Tomb, which I recently finished. After the happenings in the lead story, Psi-Mage needs to take a break, so she goes to a day spa. Her time there is far from restful, yet she emerges a new woman.

The issue also includes a back issue listing and a Barr-penned column, "Rendering the Verdict," which details how his involvement in Big Bang came to be. Reportedly, he met with Carlson and Ecker while they were in LA for an event at Golden Apple Comics. He describes the trio as "three comics pros who hadn't fallen far from the fan" and calls mainstream comics a "no fan's land."

Availability: Big Bang's golden age Knight Watchman stories have been collected in Knight Watchman: The Golden Age.

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