Thursday, November 08, 2018

One of 20 Black-and-White Titles

Edge #1 (Silver Wolf, February 1987, $1.50)
Published by Kristoffer A. Silver, owner of the now-defunct Alexander's Comics in Sacramento, California, this title was one of Silver Wolf's 20 black-and-white titles—as well as 10 additional color comics—that self-admittedly contributed to the B&W "glut in the market" in the mid-'80s. The 24-page issue was written by Silver and drawn by Gary Shipman, who was slated to later also write the title. The comic was carried by no fewer than 15 comics distributors. Remember those days?

Shipman's artwork is pretty decent for such a book (Silver Wolf also published early work by Sacto locals Ron Lim and Tim Vigil). His characters are stronger than his backgrounds despite some anatomy challenges, and the heavy inks occasionally distract from the lack of panel backgrounds, but on the whole, the art is solid. The story, then is about Edge, costumed vigilante Jason Holden, adept at martial arts and making a living as a "thief of thieves."

In this issue, Edge dispatches a "band of punks" that accosts him in an alleyway, remembers acquiring a wealth of gems, gets flustered talking to a pretty neighbor who drops off a UPS package, dresses in the just-received suit he "designed and ordered," and sells the gems to a reluctant fence in downtown Sacto before encountering "Lance of the Eradicators." The Eradicators was another Silver Wolf title.

This book is a fascinating example of the mid-'80s comics boom, and the title is quite good given the sizable ambitions of the publisher. The issue also includes a publisher's note, two pages of back issue listings—including portfolios and roleplaying games (spun out of The Eradicators!) from the company—and a column in place of the lettercol.

Stech #1 (Silver Wolf, December 1986, $1.50)
"Triad Part One" Promoted on the back cover of Edge #1 despite an indicia date that precedes that comic, this 24-page issue of Stech was created and plotted by Silver, drawn by Lorenzo Lizana, and written by S.P. Cook. Lizana's art is uneven, featuring backgrounds weaker than Shipman's, inconsistent character quality, and challenges portraying vehicles at scale with the characters. The backgrounds on pp. 8-9 are especially sparse, and the car on pp. 9—and the background in the first panel of p. 11—almost made me laugh out loud.

Anymon is a man, but not from Earth, and he pilots Stech from "another dimension." A former member of the Eradicators, Stech is now a combat bot for hire. He destroys several tanks in the far east. A doctor and a general discuss a weaponized car codenamed Ground Zero before demonstrating its capabilities against a helicopter, a tank, and a plane.

I almost confused Ground Zero with Stech because on p. 12, just after test pilot Op-One gets in the car, Stech converts into a car. (Anymon seems to be able to pilot Stech from within, as well as transform into the battle bot.) Anymon goes into a bar for a "Terran beer" only to intervene between a woman and a masher, who throws Anymon through the bar window. The characters on pp. 18-19 are particularly well done. The story ends with Anymon transforming into Stech and saying, "OK, chump. Now it's my turn."

While not as promising as Edge, this series—which could have benefited from better editing—also shows potential. I'm impressed by the intertextual nature of the two titles. Both seem to tie in to The Eradicators, which might have been Silver Wolf's Avengers. The issue also includes the same publisher's note and back issue listing as Edge #1, and a lettercol column by Cook addressing challenges with a flaky artist—and Lisana's arrival on the title.

Availability: Neither comic seems to have been collected, but you can learn more of Silver Wolf's history in a 2013 Moby's post and the fan site Silver Wolf Comics.

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