Monday, June 13, 2016

Sci Fi Genre Gems: E-Man (1970’s Comic Book Series)

What Is It?  In this short-lived series from Charlton Comics, we are introduced to the superhero E-Man, a sentient being of pure energy created out of a super-nova.  This being traveled through the galaxy and came in contact with Earth, where he meets the human Nova Kane and decides to take human form himself as a superhero.  The two then set off on action-packed adventures fighting villains that threaten the planet.

Why Does It Stand Out?  This whimsical little series hit the stands at a time before superheroes had gone dark and grim and it delivered a fun set of comic book tales with a sci fi bent.

The Skinny: Co-creator Nicola Cuti had the idea of creating a superhero similar to the whimsical Golden Age character Plastic Man, and artist Joe Staton helped bring to life this modern hero with a sense of fun.  The transformable E-Man would morph into any of a numbers of shapes as needed, not dissimilar from his Golden Age predecessor.  But it was the banter between E-Man and his opponents as well as side kick / partner Nova Kane (she would later become a superhero herself) that made this strip so much fun.  Unlike the revivals of this character that would appear in the 80’s and 90’s, this series was less interested in parody, and more in just telling a good fun tale.

It would also introduce the private eye character Mike Mauser who would later get his own series, plus it also had regular backup stories that highlighted tryout characters for Charlton.  Steve Ditko’s Mr. A-like character Killjoy showed up in two issues and John Byrne’s Rog 2000 also had several appearances.  Unfortunately, E-Man would only last for ten issues in its original run.  The sales for the book were not great and the publisher decided to cancel the series, though the character would have a final appearance from its original creative team in the fourth issue of the Charlton Bullseye fanzine.

E-Man would live on in the decades that followed with several revivals at other publishers, but in my opinion those never quite matched up its original run that was quirky and funny and just trying to tell some good fun comic book tales.  The first ten issues have yet to be collected in a trade paperback, but they recently appeared in eBook format available through and Comixology.  You can also find the back issues pretty easily and you won't have to spend an arm and a leg on them.

Did You Know?  Joe Staton based E-Man’s face on James Bond actor Roger Moore which he described as “charming and heroic looking, but kind of generic”.

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