Sunday, September 18, 2011

E-Man Part Seven--TV Man

by Jack Seabrook

The seventh issue of E-Man features the first of Joe Staton's painted covers!

Inside, the story begins as Nova ends another night working as an exotic dancer.  "You are doomed to die, Ms. Kane--Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" reads a message scrawled on the back of a poster in her dressing room.  The words ring true minutes later, when E-Man transforms into Mr. Hyde as they walk through a dark alley, his hand a gleaming meat cleaver!

Not Jack the Ripper, but Mr. Hyde
E-Man changes back to his familiar form just in time to receive a sock to the jaw from his frightened and angry companion.  A hooded figure on a nearby rooftop changes channels on a strange gun and E-Man transforms into The Brain Eater From Planet X!  The hooded villain retires to a lonely basement apartment to make a telephone call that gives a clue to his identity.

Xanadu University!
Part two of the story is called "The Duel."  It begins with the return of Michael Mauser, the seedy private detective last seen in E-Man #3.  The hooded villain threatens Mauser at gunpoint, seeking information about the location of E-Man, who has not been seen for almost a week.  Nova is busy studying at her university (Xanadu!) when she is approached by Juno, the female member of the Entropy Twins, last seen in E-Man #2.  She explains that her lover Michael is behind E-Man's strange transformations; he has invented a microwave gun that uses TV signals to make E-Man change into whatever character is on TV at the time.

The next day, E-Man and Mauser appear at New York's Rockefeller Plaza for a showdown with the bitter twin.  E-Man is suddenly transformed into Konga and, with Nova as his Ann Darrow, he re-enacts the conclusion of King Kong.  All ends well, however, when Michael relents at Juno's urging, and the story ends with E-Man promising to reunite the separated lovers.

"TV Man" has something for everyone!  We get a glimpse of Nova's act, followed by a reference to a classic episode of Thriller that must have been airing on New York's WOR-TV as Nova and E-Man walked home.  It matters little that our hero is involuntarily transformed into Mr. Hyde rather than Jack the Ripper--the visuals are effective and the idea is the same.  "The Brain Eater From Planet X" is not a real movie, but it allows Joe Staton to draw another full-page monster, as he did in "City in the Sand" (E-Man #4).  Things never get too serious in E-Man, however: the monster has E-Man's "E=mc2" emblem displayed prominently on its forehead!

E-Man comics usually
include jokes like this
in one or more panels.
The return of Michael Mauser and the Entropy Twins is welcome, adding to the increasingly complex mythology that Cuti and Staton had begun to develop in the first six issues of the series.  Konga, from the movie of the same name, allows E-Man to play another classic scene, again with his emblem on his hairy chest.

Finally, E-Man's promise to cure the problem he had created previously for Juno and Michael resolves one of the few inconsistent actions taken by our hero in the series to date.

This month's letters column includes a letter by Bob Rodi of Oak Brook, Ill., who was featured regularly in 1970s letters columns of DC and Marvel titles.  He calls Alec Tronn and Nova Kane "the most wonderful comix couple in existence."

To boldly go . . .
The second story in E-Man #7 is also the second in a row to feature the wisecracking robot, Rog-2000.  He drives a purple Volkswagen Beetle with the license plate "NCC-1701," and in "Withering Heights" he runs out of gas and spends the night at a haunted hotel.  The young woman behind the reception desk looks remarkably like the robot in last issue's tale, but this time she is the daughter of a very hungry transparent monster that oozes out of a closet to devour its victims.

John Byrne's girls
all look the same--
at least so far!
E-Man #7 is a great comic, mixing horror, humor, science fiction, detective fiction, and satire into a very satisfying melange.

No post would be complete without Nova!

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