Learn why they call him … DEVIL GRIP! (SPOILER: you will not)

Just wanted to post some Sam Kieth Wolverine art from a Charleston Chew giveaway comic, but instead I found a new Urban Hero: Devil Grip! Probably one of the shortest lived we have met so far … In fact, his only appearance as S&M god with shredded jeans consists of only the 3 following pages:

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Classic stuff and a character who’s ripe for a comeback … or I might just be going nuts because I am right in the middle of reading the complete Eclipso: The Darkness Withing annual event from 1992 in sequential order and it gets old really quick. Comics are way easier to read today, but I remember reading those comics when I was a kid without problems, but now it’s almost impossible: too wordy and the prose is saaaaaad. Are we getting dumber? More picky? Who knows? Not Devil Grip, that’s for sure, with being catatonic and all that …

Minority Jackpot: The life and times of Jill Tomahawk

Jill Tomahawk: woman, cop and Native American … Marvel really tried all the possible combinations in the 70’s, didnĀ“t they?

I confess that the reason why I chased Red Wolf #8 was King Cycle (more about him some other day, just look at the cover below, the urgency of the “NOW! SET IN THE HOLOCAUST OF TODAY!“, brilliant stuff), but Jill Tomahawk captured my imagination by surprise.

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Much like Lucretia Jones, here we have one of Marvel’s attempts at creating “strong” women as background characters that never really took off. In Jill’s case, and as far as I know, only appeared in this issue and the next one. This is one of these cases where I feel really curious about what was going on behind the scenes, as there are just too many possible scenarios … I mean, sure, there seems to be an editorial effort to include libbed women in the 70’s, but were they aware of how many times the word “pig” (coming from a woman in reference to a man’s behaviour) appeared in Marvel Comics each month? Did they decide it was not very subtle or did they move on to the next thing?

Before we get to the Jill Tomahawk story, allow me to include another example:

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The Avengers page and Red Wolf #8 both appeared in 1973, as did the couple of Daredevil issues with Lucretia Jones (who didn’t call any man a pig, but only because she was lucky enough to work with suave Ashley Sanders). Both Lucretia and Jill disappeared shortly after from the Marvel Universe, the Scarlet Witch being too established a character for them to be able to put aside. Am I going crazy or did something happen in 1974? Maybe someone at Marvel didn’t like feminists? Or maybe it was the readers?

Anyway, this is by no means an analysis, I will leave this to brainier minds with a bit of time in their hands … I mean, there’s probably someone who wrote about this already somewhere else.

Didn’t plan to write that much (saying so little at the same time, but that’s the problem with stream of consciousness blogs), so here’s the first part of Jill Tomahawk’s story:

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You will agree with me, that’s a pretty meaty first appearance for a character you are not planning to use, but to be fair, Red Wolf was cancelled with issue 9. After this scene, Red Wolf goes back to his flat and talks to his best furry friend and gives him a piece of his mind about his new friend:

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Here’s my (very humble) tribute to all the female characters of Marvel that were forgotten in 1973 … You still live in our hearts:

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Urban Heroes: The Savage Skulls

So, here we are again, this time back to biker gangs (if I do enough of these, I think a gang map will be necessary) … We move to Florida this time, to meet the Savage Skulls (from Team America #2, available anywhere with a quarter bin).

Things start off manly enough: Wolf is trying to become part of the Savage Skulls …

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It is at this moment that, Len and his sister Georgianna interrupt a conversation between a bunch of semi-naked guys who were fighting with chains one minute before. Even though Wolf tries to get Len to leave (“Amigo, estas loco!”), it’s too late … The Savage Skulls are all about taking advantage of easy preys (presented here in animated stereovision in a futile effort to maintain the dynamism):

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After that, things get confusing and only people who care about Team America will care, and let’s face it, nobody does … Suffice it to say that the Savage Skulls live to see another day!!!

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Urban heroes: Leroy Collins, Jr.

Another one of those unsung heroes of the Marvel Universe and a victim of editorial meddling, Leroy Collins Jr. was forgotten as the Marvel editorial was simply not ready for the experimental approach John Byrne wanted to take on for this issue, Fantastic Four #234.

To add some (probably unnecessary) context:

  • Byrne was god amongst comic creators after his Uncanny X-Men run, which was cut short due to some disagreements with Chris Claremont (co-plotter of the series)
  • He wanted to write and draw on his own
  • He took over the Fantastic Four (he had drawn a few issues a bit before, but this was his big shot at the first family)
  • This was his third issue

So after 2 issues, Mr. Byrne feels the desire to flex his creative muscles and he gives us the story of a man with the capability to do anything he wishes, except he doesn’t know about it. The real star of the show, though, is his son Junior, in his one and only appearance ever:

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I haven’t been able to take that scene off of my mind since the first time I read it. There was always something bugging me. It’s probably the captions in the last panel:

And so “Skip” departs, knowing that the next time he sees his son nothing will have changed.

Perhaps because he does not wish to exert too strong a control over his children:

Or, perhaps it is that even the greatest power must have limits.

Seeing what the guy can pull off through the issue, it doesn’t make any sense that he couldn’t change his son’sĀ behavior, so I am going to go with the possibility that a page was lost. A page that John Byrne created for the issue but that was repalced by the editors by a page with lots of buildings (John Byrne’s T&A during the 80’s), as they considered it too pessimistic. Here’s that page, deemed too experimental by the editorial team:

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The thing they apparently didn’t like was that the son was going to kill the father on the last day of their imprisonment. Byrne was then going to follow the story of Junior for a few issues as he went to prison and tried to rebuild his life while writing letters to Ben Grimm. Another lost opportunity? Good editorial job? We will never know …

If you have not read it the original story (or the whole wonderful run), what are you waiting for? If you have cash, get this (second omnibus I have ever purchased … the first one had to be Amazing Fantasy Omnibus (v. 1), of course: half-kirby, half-ditko, all win). If you think that’s too expensive (and if you know the run, then you would disagree), try Fantastic Four Visionaries – John Byrne, Vol. 1.

Urban Heroes: Scar Turpin

Our new feature, Urban Heroes, will try to correct an historical injustice and put the focus back on the characters that matter, the ones that appeared in a few issues, a few panel perhaps, but showed us another angle of the comic universes. They are the people that matter, the ones we have been thinking about for years, the ones that make saving the world worth it … in short, they are the urban heroes.

We start this first installment with Scar Turpin, a self-proclaimed candidate for the Captain America position (from Captain America #179, during the crazy run between the Secret Empire and Kirby’s run).

Luckily for you, this classic can be found in trade paperback: Captain America by Steve Englehart, Vol. 2: Nomad (Avengers). Surely, the time is right for Scar’s comeback??