Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Neal Adams, The X-Men, And The Revolution!

I've sung the praises of Neal Adams before...but I think that many of us just can't conceive what an earthquake, what a thunderclap his arrival on the scene was.

Take, for example, X-Men #55 (1969).

Granted it looks as if deadlines or some such made a bit of a dog's breakfast out of this. Layouts by Don Heck, pencils by Werner Roth, inks by Vince Colletta....

I'm not harshing on the art here--I've made no secret that I'm a fan of Don Heck's 60s work, and while this isn't Kirby, the many hands produced perfectly serviceable super-hero fare.

Pay special note to the layouts, the portrayal of emotion and power and speed.

Then, imagine yourself reading that in the day, and then, exactly one month later, being presented with this:

That "introducing" is a bit misleading...X-Men #56 wasn't even Adams' first Marvel work, let alone his first super-hero joint.

But here we have the same characters, same costumes, same powers...and it's like this comic book is coming from a different universe than last issue:

Obviously Tom Palmer was a big help here, too (Adams did his own colors during most of his X-Men run, so he gets extra credit there.). But Adams' experience in the advertising world, having to draw realistic characters for ads, blossomed into this incredibly different looking "photo-realism" that grabbed your adrenal gland and didn't let go!

Adams had already been making waves with the Deadman strip and other books at DC. But good gosh, just picture having read #55 four weeks earlier, and then reading this!!

Of course, it seems that not too many did pick it up, because despite some great stories and mind-blowing art, the Thomas/Adams run was insufficient to save the book from cancellation.

Soon enough, Neal would join up with Denny O'Neil for their famous Batman and Green Lantern/Green Arrow runs.

But these X-Men books, where the solid-but-staid-and-maybe-even-boring style was replaced, without warning or transition by a new, incredibly dynamic and kinetic style? That's where the revolution was, brother. And comics woulds never be the same again.


B Smith said...

"X-Men #56 wasn't even Adams' first Marvel work..."

Which leads me to ask, just out of curiosity...what *was* Adams' first Marvel work?

(I'm kicking myself for not knowing the answer straight off)

snell said...

B--I don't have it in front of me for the moment, but I believe he had done a few short stories in some of Marvel's horror anthologies...

Mista Whiskas said...

He really was something. He came into Batman and his art almost overcame Haney's corniness and gave it a 'gritty' feel.

dngillikin said...

This is like the sixties equivalent of the switch from Sal Buscema and Tom Mandrake to Bill Sienkiewicz on New Mutants in 1984.