Monday, 28 September 2015

Skull The Slayer #3 - Marvel Comics

SKULL THE SLAYER No. 3, January 1976
The last of three issues written by series creator Marv Wolfman before he became ensconced within Seventies “Marvel Comics” politics as Editor-in-Chief, “Tumult In The Tower Of Time!” proves to be an incredibly exhilarating read even though it contains several bemusing twists within its narrative which make little to no sense whatsoever with the storyline that preceded them. Indeed despite the utterly implausible nature of a Prehistoric world suddenly populated by a purely robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex and containing an unfathomably tall barbican where “every level of this tower-- is another time” the Brooklyn-born author’s script still somehow manages to jell together in order to provide “Skull The Slayer” with an astonishingly enjoyable seventeen-page ride.

It is certainly hard to think of much else the two-time Eagle Award-winner could give his super-strong titular character to do within so short a time frame, as the “little dinosaur hunter” not only plays rodeo cowboy with a gigantic primordial horned horse, flees a herd of rampaging carnivores and confronts a party of Pharaoh’s armoured warriors from “Ancient Egypt”. But he also appears to be imbued with the curiosity of a 'pulp fiction' investigator as he examines a grave-yard filled full of the staked out rotting corpses of “air force pilots [and] ship’s captains” who’ve “been dead for years”, before ascending an alien pylon, covered in identical writing to “the stuff” in the cave where he found his scorpion-powered belt and which is so tall that it “goes through the clouds and above.”

Disappointingly the New Yorker’s handling of Jim Scully’s supporting cast though is not quite so successful, especially when it comes to the trained soldier’s primary antagonist, the bigoted braggart Raymond Corey. The African-American physicist’s blatant prejudice towards the group’s “great white leader” increasingly grates upon the nerves, and it becomes increasingly hard to understand just how, given their stressful circumstances, the Vietnam veteran doesn’t make good on his promise and batter the Doctor; especially after the adventurer saves the ‘loud-mouthed’ “past-master of good cheer” from falling to his death over a cliff edge and is verbally abused by the scientist in return.

Fortunately Steve Gan’s pencilling more than makes up for any failings with Wolfman’s penmanship, with the “naturalised Filipino of Chinese origin” producing some highly-charged action-packed panels as the tale unfolds. In fact his sequence depicting James somersaulting himself off of the back of his antediluvian ride and then slowing down his momentum by cartwheeling through some nearby trees is extremely-well drawn.
Writer/Editor: Marv Wolfman, Pencils: Steve Gan, and Inks: Pablo Marcus & Steve Gan


  1. Good review Simon, I agree with all your comments, how Skull stops himself from punching out the good doctor I really don't know he deserves it so much (He is the Zachery Smith of the series). I did have to take exception to the idea of stripping the clothes off of corpses as a) surely they would have rotted and b) I couldn't see Anne being pleased enough to put on a little fashion show. However all in all this is a very good issue that rattles along at a good pace and though some of the ideas are a little shaky, so were a lot in comic of that era and that is a part of their charm, I actually own this issue, though I cant for the life of me remember where I got it (wink).

    Cheers Roger

    1. Many thanks Roger, and I'm delighted you enjoyed this issue - especially as you own it ;-) I'm thoroughly enjoying this Bronze Age series so far, though I know that it goes somewhat awry now Wolfman has left the series. A strange decision imho for as EiC you'd have thought he'd have picked this, his own creation, as one of the titles he'd continue to write for!?! Perhaps you could have a "Skull The Slayer" month at some point over on your excellent blog :-)