Greetings, fellow Terrans! Get your magnetic boots on and prepare yourselves for takeoff as the Indie Comics Spotlight rockets you into the far reaches of the cosmos with…
Space Crusaders #2, Starring Spacehawk, the Superhuman Enemy of Crime!
What, you need more warning before agreeing to a sudden interstellar expedition? Something to entice you further, to steel your nerves against the untold dangers that may lie in wait within the chilling void between the stars?
Well…how about a peek at this superbly executed cover, then?
Yes, folks, the MRC is taking a look at yet another bold and refreshing publication from Atomic Pulp Media’s Atomic Action line of comics!
Max Reads Comics received an advance copy of this issue for review purposes, and at risk of spoiling things, would have gladly paid for a copy regardless because it is downright great. If you want some more details to go along with that brief yet accurate statement…read on!
This is the second issue of Space Crusaders (the first one featured Rex Dexter of Mars), and this time around, as the majority of the cover’s banner will tell you, features the classic character known as Spacehawk!
Besides being the Superhuman Enemy of Crime, Spacehawk also carries the distinction of having been created by legendary artist Basil Wolverton.
Mr. Wolverton’s name is well regarded for good reasons, and the Wikipedia link provided above can get you started on seeking them out if you’re not already familiar with his impact and legacy.
But enough about the past! Let’s tune in now to this comic book published in the present which takes place in the future!
Our journey begins with an absolutely rollicking splash page opener:
Now, if that doesn’t make you want to strap on your rocket pack and unholster your photon blaster, then I don’t know what will, eh?
Granted, as the captions so breathlessly inform us, this massive creature only provides a brief distraction for our hero before things really kick off into full hyper-space gear.
Also, I need to point out something here: Spacehawk has some seriously cool nicknames going on for him. Not only is here the Superhuman Enemy of Crime, but he is also, according to the final caption box, the Lone Wolf of the Void!
I don’t think you’d need to put much more than his name and those two sub-titles on his packaging card to sell that action figure, folks. Well, at least, not if you wanted to sell it to me.
And there’s more super-toyetic content to come! Believe it!
For now, let’s rejoin our titular hero as he wraps the case of the misplaced Venusian Beasthemoth:
Having the would-be Wolvertonium wasters, Spacehawk soon receives what he believes to be a telepathic distress call, and it’s off into the vastness of space he must go!
And man, does he ever go in style!
Or, you know, does he ever go in something that kind of looks like an interstellar school bus. I guess I can admit that this type of spaceship design is not the most exciting stuff to behold for most people, but I’ve always found this era of sci-fi visuals to be uniquely charming.
Plus: Mighty Atomic Engines! Roaring, even!
And just where is the mightily roaring atomic vessel taking the Lone Wolf of the Void?
Why, to a place with an extremely fun couple of names, of course!
Specifically, the spaceport known as New Tortuga, and a bar known simply as the Black Hole!
Now, Tortuga, of course, has all kinds of Earthly pirate history cache, and the Black Hole sits quite nicely alongside such Treasure Island lore as the dreaded Black Spot, so right there in one panel, I’ve been made into a pretty happy comic book reader.
Once within the bar, Spacehawk begins his search for the source of his distress call, and orders something to whet his whistle while he’s at it:
Yes, Spacehawk is the type of hero who orders a glass of water when he bellies up to the worst pirate bar in the sector.
Granted, it’s a glass of comet-ice water, and Spacehawk is also the type of hero who gleefully murders his enemies left and right, but we’ll get to that.
In short order, Spacehawk meets up with someone who can, in a way, lead him to the one who called out for his aid:
As it turns out, Princess Oro’s planet was destroyed by the very same person who killed the man that Spacehawk is looking for!
On their way to Spacehawk’s immediate quest for vengeance, the newly matched duo stops by a memorial to the Superhuman Enemy of Crime’s fallen friend:
I really like these two panels, and possibly very much because they remind of Shanghalla, the Memorial Asteroid for fallen members of the classic Legion of Superheroes over at DC comics.
Princess Oro then tells Spacehawk more details about how his friend (“Galar“) died, and just who it was that did the deed:
Behold “Morlok Kaan,” destroyer of worlds! Normally I’d try to avoid multiple comparisons to comics from “the Big Two” here in the Spotlight, but I just have to mention something here.
Spacehawk has a very Golden Age Superman feel to him at times (just what are his powers anyway? They’re not very clearly described at any point), this Morlok Kaan could be seen as somewhat analogous to characters such as Mongul or even the more recent “Rogol Zaar” created by Brian Michael Bendis.
Now, I’ve enjoyed some of Bendis’s work at DC, as I have detailed here on this very blog, but the character of Rogol Zaar and the entire plot-line built up around him is not among that work.
Without belaboring the point (too much), I’ll just say that in just a few panels worth of appearance, Morlok Kaan manages to interest me infinitely more than Rogol Zaar.
I could get into why that is, but instead, let’s take a break and check out Kaan’s super cool but totally evil headquarters, shall we?
I need an enormous plastic play-set of that scene in my house worse than J. Jonah Jameson needs pictures of Spider-Man on his desk by noon!
I mean, really: this entire story is filled with things that I would buy in toy form.
Speaking of toys, how about we take a look at Spacehawk’s super cool new combat-ready helmet?
And that’s not just a sweet alternate helmet accessory for your Spacehawk action figures, people. No, that helmet is also a visual cue for a plot twist within this very story!
What is that plot twist, you ask?
I’m afraid you’re going to have to BUY THE BOOK to find out!!
If you don’t how else will you prepare yourself for…the Omega Cannon???
Yes, this grand piece of Kirby-Tech is just one of the many examples of artist Peter Grau’s ability to homage the style of other masters while still maintaining a look and feel of his own all throughout the issue.
And yes, they do get to fire the Omega Cannon. Whether they’re satisfied with the results or not, well, effendi, you’ll need to read the book to find out!
For now, we’ve got our hands full with some Rat-Men from Uranus!
The Rat-Pack does not fare well, and Spacehawk does not go easy on them.
No, he does not. In fact, as I alluded to earlier, our “hero” is quite the bloodthirsty angel of death type when it comes to throwing down with those he would call his enemies.
If there’s any question as to whether or not Spacehawk enjoys performing violence on his foes, I ask that you observe the expression on his face, shown below:
That, friends, is how the Lone Wolf of the Void looks when he has been given a choice between mortal combat and surrender.
It is not a look to be ignored.
And, SPOILER ALERT: Morlok Kaan does indeed ignore that look to his own peril.
Having dispatched his opponent, the Superhuman Enemy of Crime delivers this epithet to his fallen foe:
I’ve clipped that panel to avoid a pretty major spoiler, so again: read the book if you want to know the truth!!
As with all of the Atomic Action releases, Space Crusaders features a Letters Page just after the main story, the masthead for which is:
One of the letters in this issue is from Beau Smith, he who created Wynonna Earp and has written many other fine, fine comic books besides!
At end of the Interstellar Transmissions, we get a Next Issue box:
And, a nice sidebar is provided for those who might be unfamiliar with the history of our star character:
With the main feature rocketing safely away, the issue then moves on to a short back-up feature starring:
Now, this is a very short story, so I’m not going to spoil much of it here. If you want a plot summary, one is provided very handily in a single panel on the first page of the tale:
This is also, if it matters to you, the kind of pulpy sci-fi tale where they have things like:
Compu-receptionists! Now that’s the kind of retro-futurism I like! That one line makes me want to see what the rest of this weird mash up of the 1940s and the “far future” is like!
I should mention that the art by Nik Poliwko is very atmospheric, and it suits the “future through the eyes of the past” vibe extremely well.
Again, I didn’t want to include too many screen shots, as every panel has something to do with the plot, and with only a few pages to spare, there’s only so much I can show you!
At the very end of the issue, there is super-fun ad for “Sugar Krush Snack Cakes” featuring Al Fago’s “Atomic Mouse.”
And….that’s that, folks!
As was the case with Sleuth Comics #1, this is an extremely well-made, classic style comic book that is here to entertain you without skimping for one second on the content or the quality.
I’ve got a link or two sprinkled within the article above, but I’m never sure if people can actually see them or not, so, here are some explicitly called out links for finding and purchasing Christopher Mills’ fine, fine Atomic Publications:
The Atomic Action Shop:
The full Atomic Pulp Media library on Indyplanet.com:
Go out and check out either of those links and see what you find.
If you like fun, enthusiastically made comic books, I really don’t think you can go wrong with any of these comics!
Until next time: I am Max. I read comics!