Wednesday, June 22, 2016

COMIC BOOK REVIEW! MR. A. #18 by Steve Ditko (Steve Ditko and Robin Snyder 2016, check for availability)

Well MR. A. is finally back, or shall I say that the slew of stories that Steve Ditko cooked up back in the early-nineties that never saw the light of day are finally being published. Frankly I don't know if Ditko is still drawing his creation (reports say that he's suffering a bit from the ravages of age, but then again that might all be hooey), but if indeed these are the last MR. A. stories to be had then you could say that Ditko sure went out on a pretty wild note what with this personalist character of his who's been in on the good 'n evil game ever since his debut in the pages of Wally Wood's WITZEND 'round 1967 way.

Drawing ain't as crisp as it was back then and the stories seem even more lacking in...viscosity? Well, not quite, because although I thought my mind took a few trips to Jupiter without my knowing while going through these sagas MR. A. still held up as a solid comic read that, although rooted in the classic mid-sixties style, transcends any style or shape or generation of costumed crimefighting you can come up with. Face it, if there's anything one can all agree on re. Mr. A. it that this character is a unique example of a comic book hero who just can't be categorized. I know I've tried what with calling him the successor to the various Quality line of masked and suited good guys (Spirit, Midnight, 711, Mouthpiece...) but even that really doesn't hold up the way I hoped it would.

"Mr. A. and the Horror" starts things off, a strange saga about this weird blackmailing evildoer who kinda looks like a deflated Michelin Man who threatens his victims (including a typically Ditko-esque woman nightclub singer the kind we haven't seen since Steve Douglas discovered a pre-liberated Jaye P. Morgan appearing at some dive on MY THREE SONS) until he's caught, handed over to the police, then released for lack of evidence. Do you think that's gonna stop Mr. A. from doing his job? C'mon, you've been reading these long enough to know the answer to that!

In "Mr. A. and the Score" a fambly man type shoots himself in the head and his co-workers act shocked and surprised since like, they all thought he was a nice bloke 'n all. However reporter Rex Graine (Mr. A.'s alter ego) knows a load of crap when he hears it, only right when things get hot he's told to get off the case by a superior at the paper where he works, THE DAILY CRUSADER. As Mr. A., Graine attempts to get to the bottom of the matter by tormenting one of the suicide victim's weaker-willed co-workers, and after a few visits this lily-livered type is downright convinced by Mr. A. that maybe the other guys who were in on the plot to ruin the dead man might be ready to do him in! Then all Mr. A. has to do is settle back and watch the collision that's bound to happen, since evil always seems to destroy itself or something like that Crass once said!

Continuity never was that important in the MR. A. scheme. Oh the typically bleeding heart liberal editor Reder is still around and as angry over the fact that he can't fire Graine lest he lose control of the paper, but now a sister-in-law who seems every bit as Big City progressive as he shows up and you can bet that she hates Graine with just as equal a passion. As for the actual owner, mainly the editor's brother, first he was deceased and it was stipulated in the will that Graine stays on lest brother lose the paper, then later on (when THE DAILY CRUSADER was actually part of a large media conglomeration) he was portrayed as a man who, although disliking "extremes" in thought, kept Graine on because he did deliver his stories accurately and without personal bias. Now he's getting out of the hospital after an extended stay, not in the best of health and has just returned to duty and not only does brother but wifey wish that he didn't survive the heart attack just so's they both could proceed with their sweetness 'n light agenda unmolested! Wow, such a happy bunch these Big City newspaper types are!

These stories still get me going in a thirteen-year-old gosh darn way even though I should be old enough to know better. Thankfully I don't. You can't hurt yourself by buying this 'un up and catching a glimpse of a comic style/character that you would have thought died out years earlier. And naturally, even with all of the comic book/rock mag backlog clogging up my bedroom I can't wait for the next edition which I do hope comes out more sooner'n later.

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