Saturday, September 24, 2011

E-Man Part Eight--In the Inner Sun

by Jack Seabrook

When two cops on the beat respond to a call reporting a disturbance at the old Boar Electronics Company building, they are surprised to discover an eight foot tall blond Amazon, who escapes by crashing through a window.  Meanwhile, Michael Mauser is teaching E-Man how to play poker when Nova arrives, followed closely behind by the Amazon, who collapses on the floor of Mauser's office.

On awakening, she murmurs something about needing to return to the North Pole and an evil man named Boar.  E-Man travels by short wave radio waves to the North Pole, where he meets an Australian named Alfie Alcott and his pet Koala, Teddy.  They are soon joined by Samuel Boar and The Battery.

In part two, Boar explains that he has made improvements to The Battery; E-Man's attempt to fight the machine ends quickly with our hero being absorbed into The Battery's glass cell.  Boar and the Battery journey across the frozen wasteland to a deep pit, which Boar says is the entrance the the center of the Earth. They travel down and come to Nuclia, a Lost World populated by dinosaurs and an Indian-like race of extra-large people.  The blond Amazon is their chief's daughter, and Boar plans to hold her hostage on the Earth's surface while he steals power from the small sun that lights their landscape.  E-Man takes advantage of a dinosaur attack to escape by turning into a small, orange dinosaur himself.

Part three opens with Nova, Mauser and the Amazon in Mauser's office.  On the street outside, Nova is chased by fake FBI agents straight into the waiting arms of Alfie, who transports her to Nuclia, where she is lashed between two pillars near the small sun.  Boar tells her that she will die unless E-Man agrees to help him steal the sun's power.  E-Man arrives to rescue Nova but the sun erupts---and Nova is killed.

E-Man grieves over her death and vows revenge on Boar, but Nova returns quickly--this time as pure energy, just like her partner!  She assumes her human form, but this time she wears a costume similar to that of E-Man.  Together, the two energy beings destroy the battery and defeat Boar once again. As the story ends they kiss, setting off an atomic blast.

E-Man #8 features another painted cover by Joe Staton, and it is the first time that an E-Man story has been full-length (23 pages).  The death and rebirth of Nova are surprising, since they occur without any warning.  Through the first seven issues of the series, we had grown used to E-Man saving the day, and it is a shock when he fails.  It is even more of a shock to see the character of Nova transformed into an energy being with the same powers as E-Man!

Staton's playfulness really goes wild in this issue.  On page one, Plastic Man is seen hitchhiking at the side of the road.  A newspaper headline reads, "Capt. Atom Promoted."  On page two, Michael Mauser's desk is strewn with telegrams from various private eyes requesting his aid--"Mike, can you help me, baby" writes Mike Hammer; "Mauser-request your aid" writes Philip Marlowe, etc.  A boy who operates a ham radio and helps transport E-Man to the North Pole has a poster on his door featuring The Blue Beetle, and so on.

The return of Boar and The Battery is welcome, as they make a particularly evil and dangerous team.  Cuti and Staton really go all out in this story, moving from the gritty, grimy streets of New York and the slovenly interior of Mauser's office, to the frozen landscape of the North Pole, to the lush, dinosaur-populated lost world of Nuclia.  The characters are so busy that Nova doesn't even have time to dance, though she does look stunning in the costume she creates for herself.

I remember this as a really cool booklet!
"In the Inner Sun" is the beginning of the end for the 1970s E-Man series.  No longer is Nova a college student working as an exotic dancer; now, she joins E-Man as a bonafide superhero.  The Teddy character is introduced, and Mauser becomes a more regular character.  Finally, the story is full-length, eliminating the need for a second story.  E-Man's last two appearances in his original run would continue to develop all of these new ideas.

This all seemed so innocent in those
days before Rocky Horror!

1 comment:

Peter Enfantino said...

Professor Jack!

I have made it my goal now to get one of those Charlton booklets. I'm loving this series of articles. Keep up the good work.