Current Reviews


Alter Ego #65

Posted: Monday, April 2, 2007
By: Shawn Hill

Editor: Roy Thomas

Publisher: TwoMorrows Publishing

As evinced by the charming self-portrait on the cover, this issue is a Nick Cardy extravaganza. Thirty-one pages are devoted to the man and his work, including not only his definitive Teen Titans interiors and covers, but also his work in other media, such as movie posters and magazine covers.

His genial personality is clear on every page, in his own words and in the many pictures of him surrounded by colleagues at fan and professional events. The article reminds us that Cardy worked on Western and Romance comics as well. When he stopped doing the Titans interiors in the seventies, he still did the covers for several years, as well as covers for several other DC titles prior to the DC Implosion. His flare for drama and believable anatomy is clear in all his work, making these covers go a long way towards selling the idea of vulnerable people caught in dire straits.

He also did memorable work on Aquaman and Bat Lash, but it’s really his way with the distaff cast of his books that is most characteristic. From “Good Girl” spy Senorita Rio in the post-war era to definitive looks for Mera and Donna Troy, up to current images for fans of Black Canary and Bat Girl, the Cardy woman is alluring and sensual, but usually more “girl next door” than vamp. To read this article is to take a tour through the ups and downs of an illustrator’s life from the very foundations of the comics field to the present day.

Which is really the point of Alter Ego in general; it takes on the Golden and Silver ages, leaving the Bronze Age and after to sister publication Back Issue. The wealth of images is usually all black and white, shared with us on newsprint just like old comics used to be. The wealth of minutiae in each article can be overwhelming, especially when it concerns creators one is unfamiliar with. This is the sort of publication best perused based on interest; it’s Nick Cardy who made this issue a must for me.

Other features of interest to me in this issue include an examination of the belated Siegel & Shuster deal relating to their creation of Superman in an era where "creator-owned" just wasn’t a given concept, and example of the complications inherent in intellectual property rights. There’s also a funny look at some cheesy meta-fictional covers from the forties and fifties, including a Flash cover from the sixties with one of those appalling “buy this issue or let me die” appeals.

Honoring the early titans of the industry that began sixty-some years ago leads inevitably to obituaries and eulogies in a publication like this, but TwoMorrows always makes an attempt to celebrate the work and life achievements rather than just mourn. Two heartfelt dedications to Dave Cockrum are included in this issue, mostly attesting to his humility and passion for his work, while sharing lovely splash pages from Superboy and X-Men with us. And the letters page, “Re:”, is as usual full of interesting clarifications and corrections regarding previous issues, including comments from the mouths of pros like Marv Wolfman and Mike Esposito. Alter Ego is an invaluable resource for the most dedicated collector.

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