Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Hembeck #3 (1980)
You don’t hear much about Fred Hembeck anymore, but there was a time he was an omnipresent cartoonist in fanboy circles. Silver Age baby boomers likely recognized him as one of their own when his strips began popping up in places like The Buyer’s Guide To Comic Fandom (a tabloid precursor to today’s CBG & Newsarama.) Folks a tad older than me would have been familiar with his little narrow strips at the bottom of DC’s editorial pages in the 70’s. As a child of the 80’s, I knew him best from his sometimes multi-page features in Marvel Age, and of course the infamous and long-delayed “Fred Hembeck Destroys The Marvel Universe.” Jim Shooter was originally the titular destroyer, and it seems allowing editorial cartoons were an option specific to his regime as Editor-In-Chief, to the chagrin of guys like Archie Goodwin and Al Milgrom. I can’t honestly say I ever found Hembeck to be funny so much as informative, as he would go off for paragraphs on some of the more shameful corridors of comics history (Hello, Brother Voodoo!)
Fantaco published collections of his newspaper strips in magazine format with reams of new material added to pad them out. The basic premise was to have characters from all companies interact in humorous fashion, with pop culture icons like Orson Welles thrown in for good measure. Originally called “Between the Panels and into the Omni Worse,” sixteen pages and a rarely cover-featured Manhunter from Mars were added for this edition. I suspect nostalgia may have been at play there, seeing as these were the days when our hero was considered downright obscure. Luke Cage had just walked off-panel, after taking a beating from Power Girl when he questioned her infringing on his “Power Man” identity. Johnny Storm had been consoling the former Fantastic Four quarter when the Alien Atlas entered the scene. “Hello there, young fellow! You probably don’t recognize me! I’m J’onn J’onzz, Manhunter from Mars, a DC character who, sad to say, hasn’t had a regular series in years. A shabby way to treat a charter member of the Justice League of America, wouldn’t you say? Ah, but I’ve had my days of glory!” J’onzz went on to claim he started the Silver Age, plus recap his origin and publishing history (plainly breaking the number one rule of film and usually comics: show, don’t tell.) I’d continued to write a summery of the appearance, but suddenly realized I myself was guilty of the same crime, plus ruining the jokes. For now, enjoy the cover, and I’ll eventually post the 3 1/3 pages J’onn appears on.
If you can’t wait, feel free to visit Hembeck