Friday, September 11, 2009

Hidden Gems: Phoenix #3

Yes, believe it or not, there is a gem hidden behind this rather unattractive Frank Thorne cover (did someone else ink it to death?). The lead story isn't much to write home about (or to blog about, I guess) as it is a typically nutty Atlas-Seaboard tale involving some Yetis and Satan himself. I must admit to being strangely attracted to Sal Amendola's artwork. It's far from attractive, but at least he's not trying to simply ape the 'Marvel look' like so many other Atlas-Seaboard folks. The true gem here is the back-up story featuring the Dark Avenger, a bit of a Batman/Ragman/Hawk & Dove hybrid who is a bit of a trailblazer in the 'grim and gritty' movement. There's not too much new about the story, but certain dark elements make it seems as though it was published in the mid-80s rather than the mid-70s. The artwork by Pat Broderick and Terry Austin feels very fresh, and it's a shame we didn't get to see where this character was headed. Although it's far from perfect (John Albano's script it a bit wordy), this story stands out like a glimmering diamond in the pile of coal heaped on us by Atlas-Seaboard.

5 comments:

Andrew Wahl said...

Sal Amendola was an odd artist. His figure drawing ranges from dynamic to erratic, but his storytelling is consistently above average.

I love that "pile of coal" that was Atlas (Seaboard). Can't deny it was mostly coal, but I certainly did enjoy it!

Scott M said...

I'm a pretty big fan too, Andrew. I've probably got 80% of the company's output. I recently got my hands on a couple of old Movie Monsters mags. They are a lot of fun, but they were obviously such an afterthought. Their are typpos every wear.

Rock said...

Amendola had a very stylish look. I think he said in an interview that his art in issue 3 was rushed because he had been told by the new editor(Leiber?) to wrap up his story.

In an issue of CBA, possibly in a Terry Austin interview, they published some photos that Pat Brodrick had shot at Continuity Studios while drawing the Dark Avenger story. The fat woman in the story was posed by Jack Abel.

No, really.

Man of Bronze said...

I love Atlas/Seabord!
I have a complete a set of all their comic book output (except for the VICKY series which were just reprints of TIPPY and not new stuff like the rest).

Still missing a few of their magazine-sized books.

I don't remember about that specific issue Scott, it's been too long since I had a look at it, but I'll take your word on it. Atlas/Seaboard ranged from the best to the worst.

Most of the super-hero stuff is boring and too deriative. It's in the other genres that Atlas was interesting to me: war (some good Archie Goodwin storytelling), adventure (Chaykin's Scorpion), horror/monster, lots of sword and sorcery (often with nice Adams covers), western (Doug Wildey!)... and even the worst kung fu comic book ever (bad/bland/boring script and even worse art: HANDS OF THE DRAGON.

But, by far, the best thing ever to come out of Atlas was the short two-issue run of THRILLING ADVENTURE STORIES. Issue # 2 in particular is as good if not better than anything Marvel and DC ever published in the magazine format: Russ Heath, Alex Toth, Walt SImonson (cool samurai story)... and a Neal Adams cover!

Dan said...

Huh. That cover doesn't ring a bell at all, unlike Phoenix #s 1 & 2 (which I remember buying & reading as a kid & have reacquired copies of fairly recently) & for that matter #4. Highy unlikely that I would've deliberately (as opposed to inadvertantly, thanks to distribution problems) skipped that one, so I'll chalk it up to poor memory.

As it happens, just recently I've added all the Atlas Seaboards I don't have -- 32 issues of the spinner-rack comics, looks like, along with 4 ishes of the B&Ws, not including Movie Monsters (which I guess I'm not really looking for, though I did buy & like them at the time) ...

... And according to *that*, I *don't* now own Phoenix #1 but *do* have #3, which basically means senility has hit me early. Oh, well: All the signs have been there for some time, I'm sure.

In any event, as I've probably alluded to before on CBR, when they were new on the spinner racks I bought probably, oh, 70 percent of the issues. And I *know* I've related there how the only comics theft I've ever suffered involved a stack of comics that happened to include (virtually?) all of my Atlases ... That, or for some reason my mom decided to throw out that stack but leave most (or all) of my Marvels, DCs, Gold Keys, Charltons & whatever else (all of which memory tells me would've totaled only a few hundred at the time). Basically, I happened to notice one day that that stack was gone, & I never figured out who the hell would've walked into the house (not a great feat, as I'm sure one or more doors weren't locked or necessarily even closed) & walked out with *those* comics & nothing else.