Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Skull The Slayer #7 - Marvel Comics

SKULL THE SLAYER No. 7, September 1976
Featuring a ferociously fearsome Stegosaurus, numerous bloodthirsty native savages, the power-mad machinations of a Jaguar-skin wearing Inca King and even a pair of viciously hungry prehistoric Pteranodons, there is little to suggest that Issue Seven of “Skull The Slayer” is a Bronze Age publication on the very cusp of being cancelled; even if the seventeen-page periodical does contain the somewhat ominous announcement inside Stan’s Soapbox that the comic book’s creator and champion “Marvel-ous Marv Wolfman” is “swapping our editor’s chair for a full-time writing schedule here at the bullpen.”

Admittedly Bill Mantlo does interrupt his captivating “Bury My heart In The City Gold” storyline mid-way through the action with twenty-five seemingly superfluous, tiresome panels depicting Freddy Lancer’s selfish scheme to ‘settle a score’ with the titular character, whilst rescuing Senator “Stoneface” turner’s son in the process. But the dreary dialogue-heavy scene set “two or so million millennia later than then” is soon over, as the Brooklyn-born author continues to ‘change the direction’ of this magazine from that of his “out of touch” predecessor, Steve “one-and-only shot at scripting Skull” Englehart, and “get Scully back up against those lizards of his.”

Indeed the Eagle Award-winner’s “unique sci-fi fantasy” narrative proves a far cry from being just “another line of inferior material” as some readers feared and even provides the super-hero’s supporting cast, Raymond Corey, Ann Reynolds and young Jeff, the opportunity to fend for themselves within a sub-plot featuring a heavily-netted fauna-filled pit, flying reptiles and a long-dead soldier’s grenade belt. Buoyed by such an incredibly compelling script, is it little wonder that the creative team (over)confidently declared that the magazine “may even reach issue two hundred” in its letters page “Skullduggery”?

This edition makes it equally as clear that Sal Buscema “was as thrilled at a return to the original concept of Skull as” Mantlo was. For whether the New Yorker’s breakdowns, coupled with Sonny Trinidad’s embellishments, are simply depicting an irate senator, fuming monarch of a lost civilisation or decidedly determined doctor’s secretary, every single one of the New Yorker's numerous panels are crammed full of dynamic energy;  “I sure hope I’m doing this right because it’s a good bet I’m not going to get a second chance!”
Writer: Bill Mantlo, and Artists: Sal Buscema & S. Trinidad

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