Wednesday, 5 December 2012
BOOK REVIEW: SPACEHAWK by BASIL WOLVERTON (Fantagraphics Books, 2012)
Writer/artist Basil Wolverton is one of comics cult legends. He produced some weird and wonderful science fiction stories in the early 40's; in the 50's he became a legend for his physical and surreal grotesqueries which appeared in Mad Magazine; and later in his life, following his fundamentalist evangelical faith, he focused on Biblical and apocalyptic images.
Spacehawk is one of his earliest works and this is a complete and chronological collection of the (usually) 10 page stories which appeared in Target Comics. The first nine stories are set in the future where our hero zips and zaps around the solar system defeating evil (often with extreme brutality and usually with lethal force) which he senses mentally. His powers are vague but do include super-intelligence, able to transfer a humanoid brain into a dinosauroid creature or knock up a robot fish in half an hour. He's very strong but not quite invulnerable, and has various mental powers. He's also at least over 800 years old.
This was his only cover appearance.
The creatures, aliens, and humanoids in these stories were strange and often quite wonderful, such as the bad guys whose neck and head bear a strong resemblance to a penis but obviously no-one noticed at the time. Please let me know if I'm seeing something that isn't there.
And then, very abruptly, Spacehawk was suddenly contemporary with his readers, the smell of war was in the air with World War 2 already well under way in Europe. Now he fought thinly disguised, and then not thinly at all, the Axis powers which allowed Wolverton to caricature Germans, Italians and Japanese, something he did with great gusto. But you'll have to take my word for it as the image below was the only one I could find. After 20 stories in this vein, Spacehawk was cancelled, never to be revived.
Fantagraphics have done a great job in the presentation. The book is large size, larger than the original comics, on good quality paper (which has a nice smell to it), and there's an informative introduction by Wolverton's son who also followed in his father's footsteps.
Even better from my point of view, I originally ordered this title when it was £13.99, used an Amazon voucher to knock a tenner of it, and when it was finally published clocked in at £18.99. Sweet.