Sunday, March 16, 2014

"With Greta Garbo's feet I never would have made it!" A.C.E. Comics Presents#1 review

Over the last year, the fanzine Ditkomania has seen a number of articles and letters from Ron Frantz, who published A.C.E. Comics in the 1980s. I had never heard of A.C.E. before, but Frantz's recollections of working with Steve Ditko back then drew my curiosity, so I've picked up some A.C.E. books from the back issue market.

A.C.E. Comics Presents#1 only features Ditko on the cover - but it's quite a cool cover, no? There we have the Golden Age Daredevil in combat against the Claw, displaying such frantic energy I wish it had been Ditko on the interiors!

The interior is a black & white reprint of "Daredevil Battles the Claw" by Jack Cole from 1941. In this, the somewhat-Oriental and quite-freakish being the Claw launches an assault on the city where Daredevil lives; armed with a mere boomerang, Daredevil leaps into action against the Claw, wise-cracking all the way.

I wasn't aware Daredevil was a wise-cracking super hero - and now I suddenly realize why some 1960s comic book fans were quite miffed at Stan Lee, as his original personality for Marvel's Daredevil is definitely similar. Of course, Jack Cole was uniquely madcap and this - this is very, rather extremely Cole. Not only in Daredevil's wisecracks, but in the sheer unreality of the situation - the Claw's height is wickedly inconsistent from panel to panel and you're never quite sure how large the rooms in his headquarters are supposed to be. At one point, Daredevil runs out of a pit through momentum by running up the circular walls which... I don't think even Donald O'Connor could pull it off. But it makes perfect sense coming from the man who created Midnight and Plastic Man.

Following this is "The Finger of Death Points at Silver Streak" also by Jack Cole from 1940. This one features the super-fast super hero Silver Streak but it's not wacky at all - this earlier story takes the material seriously, and is thus not much better than any other 1940s super hero comic; only Cole's energetic art keeps it interesting. The Silver Streak battles a gang of mad bombers in this one and Cole finds a few neat way to use his powers, as when he hurls bricks with "machine gun" velocity.

Obviously, reprinted content only tells you about a publisher's interests; tomorrow, I'll delve into an actual A.C.E. original story!


Mose Busby said...

The restored, original color version appears in the great book "Supermen! The First Wave of Comic Book Heroes 1936-1941," Fantagraphics Books.

Michael Hoskin said...

Thank you Mose! I see it's also in the Silver Streak Archives Vol.1 by Dark Horse.