Saturday, July 18, 2015

Review- Man From Atlantis #1-7

I took them out of bags and boards long enough to read them and photograph them. 

Man From Atlantis #1-7 (Marvel, cover dates February- August, 1978)

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artists: Pencilers- Tom Sutton (first story in #1) and Frank Robbins; Inkers- Sonny Trinidad (first story in #1), Frank Springer (#2-7)

Truth be told, the only issue of this series that I owned as a kid was #4, with it being a quarter box find in 1983. Even then the television series was nothing more than a faint echo of a memory to me. I remember watching this show as a small child, and there were apparently enough fantastical elements in it to capture my mind and heart.

Fast forward to the here and now. I have long since given up hope that this series will ever be properly remastered and rereleased in hardcover and so I went and pieced together an entire run. These comics can be found for dirt cheap, scarcely outpacing inflation based on the original cover price. I am not talking beater reader copies, I am talking Fine or better condition, beautiful copies that can be had for less than a new comic.

I have no real recollection of any events from the television series, so this review will focus squarely on these seven issues. Bill Mantlo was a solid writer, even in his salad days. I can't stand the art team of Frank Robbins and Frank Springer. Their style is too cartoony and unpolished for my tastes. Oddly enough, many of my childhood favorites were done by Robbins (this title as well as the Morbius stint on Adventure Into Fear). His idiosyncrasies drive me nuts as an adult. He does clear enough layouts and his storytelling is easy to follow, so props for that. He has a lot of fans, including Ed Brubaker, who once called me out on Twitter for criticizing Robbins' artwork in a review years ago.

Issue 1 is an 80 page beast, featuring two complete stories as well as articles and interviews. Issue 4 is an adaptation of a television episode. Issues 5-7 are the best, as Mantlo and company dive deeper (no pun intended) into what makes Mark Harris tick as Skorba uses Mark to find lost treasure for him and he winds up discovering a defunct lost underwater civilization. The series was selling well enough but NBC pulled the plug on the comic when they axed the television series due to lukewarm ratings. It's a shame, because Mantlo had found a voice that worked for the character with issue 5, and we all know that Mantlo typically took several issues to find his footing, but once he did he was off to the races.

This television series was the result of failed negotiations to bring Marvel's Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner to the small screen, so Warner Bros. made a character who resembled old Subby. It is ironic that Marvel agreed to do the comic book adaptation of a television series which was a copycat of a property that they owned! I would still buy a hardcover collection of this series. It would be even more swell if the UK strip which ran for six months in 1978 in Look-In magazine were reprinted along with it.

A page of the UK strip.

The print quality on comics during this era was among the worst ever. Line bleed and off register printing abound, and even the pulp paper was cheaper than it was even a few years earlier. These comics were a fun read in spite of this.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5. 

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