"In his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon's character Joseph Kavalier bears a marked resemblance to Mort Meskin, sharing not only an Eastern European birthplace but a past as a gymnast. A turning point for the fictional Joseph Kavalier is the release of the 24-year-old Orson Welles's Citizen Kane in 1941. Chabon writes, 'It was that Citizen Kane represented, more than any other movie Joe had ever seen, the total blending of narration and image that was ... the fundamental principle of comic book storytelling." As quoted in From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin, one of several great Fantagraphics comics collections we have on hand. (Samples of Meskin's work appear above and below.)
Amazing Mysteries: The Bill Everett Archives, Vol. 1, edited by Blake Bell. As the review below from Comics Bulletin implies, Everett's work would get a whole lot more sophisticated, but these nascent efforts are still loads of fun.
The most beloved stories in this book are those featuring "Aman" the Amazing-Man, who's a man trained by the Tibetan Council of Seven to become a truly amazing man, with remarkable abilities in speed, strength, intelligence and invulnerability. Oh, and Aman also has the uncanny ability to become a cloud of green mist that can kind of float around semi-invisibly and fight evil. Master cartoonist Gil Kane often cited Amazing-Man as one of his favorite series of all time….
The sublimely surreal Hydro-Man, also featured in this book, is a hero who can change himself to water because of a horrible accident that happens in his lab one day. As you can see from the page presented below, Harry Thurston's reaction to his land becoming liquid is hilariously deadpan. It's obvious that Everett loved this character, continually placing him in situations -- attacking a Nazi yacht or attacking a villain from inside a glass of water -- that would fit his character well. It's all very silly, but we really start to see Everett's style firm up in these stories and can tell that Everett really loved this wacky hero….
Don't you just love the name of Hydroman's comics series, "Reg'lar Fellers"? Below, more rootin' tootin', razzle dazzle comic book art from Everett.
|From the origin story of Hydroman.|
|Using his "green mist" and other powers, Amazing-Man does his bit for the war effort!|
For your further superhero viewing pleasure: Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology 1989–1997 contains four double-CD special editions of the first four Dark Knight movies.
And don't forget to check out another comics pioneer, Fletcher Hanks, whose work I find mesmerizing and sui generis.
UPDATE: Ask and Ye Shall Receive! I was just musing in the comments that it would be great to have a master list of Superpowers. And Lo: Pop Chart Lab hath done it for us, with their Giant Size Omnibus of Superpowers!!