|SKULL THE SLAYER No. 5, May 1976|
Despite in many ways being something of a bizarre reboot of the ‘fatal’ events which befell this comic’s supporting cast in its preceding edition, Bill Mantlo’s storyline for Issue Five of “Skull The Slayer” is arguably as entertaining as it is action-packed. For whilst the Brooklyn-born writer ludicrously brings all three of the titular character’s companions back to life at the whim of the sinister Slitherogue, his surrounding narrative depicting a dynamically-charged demonic fist-fight, and castle-top melee between knight-bearing winged-horses and Morgan Le Fay’s fork-tongued scaly-skinned minions proves as enjoyably engrossing an experience as any “Marvel Comics” book reader of the Seventies could surely have wanted.
Indeed this seventeen-page periodical’s only real weakness is that both ‘set pieces’ concerning “the great Jim Scully” battling alongside the Black Knight, Merlin and King Arthur are disappointingly cut somewhat short on account of the combatants all seemingly being “what thou hast termed a robot” as opposed to being the genuine article. A situation which results in the vast majority of these “chrome-an’-bolts automaton[s]” suffering a swift end on account of a piercing lance, sharp sword or even an ignoble burn out…
Only time-travellers Jeff Turner, Ann Reynolds and physicist Raymond Corey seemingly appear to be “flesh and blood” rather than “nuts and bolts”, and even these personalities struggle to generate any lasting apprehension as to their fate on account of having ‘died’ previously and then subsequently been re-formed from their “transmuted” energies; “How else do you explain three people you saw get killed, now living again…”
Disappointingly Mantlo’s explanation as to why the murderous “kid… girl, and… egghead” return to the side of the “mad dog killer” at the conclusion of this book is also frustratingly unimaginative. One minute Ann is furiously directing her friends not to “try [and] take him alone” but to assail the Slayer with swords and a bludgeon, and the next, simply because the ex-soldier picks up the injured doctor, the “team” have nonsensically elected Skull their leader and joined him in an effort to “get out of this tower”?
Just as erratic as parts of the script to “Magic, Myth And Madness!” is the artwork by Sal Buscema and Sonny Trinidad. The duo’s drawings of the Black Knight and the super-strong hero battling “the evil creatures of Slitherogue” are wonderfully animated and full of crunching blows. Yet whenever the narrative's pace slows or a panel wholly focus’ upon the visage of Marv Wolfman’s co-creation, the sketching becomes noticeably poorer and significantly less disciplined.
|Author: Bill Mantlo, and Artists: Sal Buscema & Celso L. "Sonny" Trinidad|