Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Split-Second Squad!

John Buscema & Tom Palmer

For several months in the very late Silver Age, Marvel decided to eschew continued stories. There followed some done-in-gems, of which my favorite might just be The Avengers #77 by Roy Thomas, John Buscmea, and Tom Palmer which features the team of Vision, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Goliath, and Black Panther as they must take on some work to help make ends meet at the Avengers Mansion after Stark Industries comes under pressure from a rival firm.

They end up working for a lout named Cornelius Van Lunt who as it turns out appears to be involved with a ditzy gang of thugs called "The Split-Second Squad". This is a motley crew of visually interesting small-timers under the direction of a large masked fellow named Kronus who bears a striking physical similarity to Van Lunt.

The Split-Second Squad are a bunch of thuggish henchmen who use a myriad of handheld weapons against the Avengers, but thanks to the careful and time-sensitive planning of Kronus prove to be somewhat effective. But they are a colorful and memorable crew indeed.

Those are surely faces only a mother could love.


Kronus is a classic baddie in the tradition of the classic serials, a blustery and cruel mystery man who is behind all the dishonest doings.


Captain Skragg seems to have just jumped off a tramp steamer in time for this gig with the Kronus.


Pinstripes is the elegant fellow with the team, a guy who is never seen again alas after this single issue of Avengers.


Pecos is a cowboy. That makes as much sense as Skragg the sailor, but he's here nonetheless.


Sweet William (who I always though Buscema drew to look like Roy Thomas himself) is a quiet but murderous chap, a true villain.


Onionhead seems to be of sea-going extraction too, and perhaps is part of Captain Skragg's crew. That's speculation.


Joe the Gorilla is a standout on the Squad, a burly and menacing type who does get a few more moments of fame.

It seems after their Avengers appearance and the break up of the Split-Second Squad, a few of the members turn up to battle the expanded Defenders some few years later. The guys who show up in the virtual army of baddies are are Captain Skragg and Joe the Gorilla.



The Split-Second Squad are the very definition of small-timers, but as it turned out they were memorable losers, the kind of colorful baddie which can make comics so much fun.

And Marvel's policy of only doing done-in-one comics fell apart after a few months as the need for longer narratives proved irresistible. The policy did provide some real gems though, and this is certainly one of them.

Here are several original pages from the story. The last one alas gives away a major plot point, so tread carefully here.




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2 comments:

  1. I was gonna comment that it was funny that you still think about this crew that only appeared in one issue of Avenger, but then I remembered how obsessed I used to be with Salem's Seven and they only ever appeared in two issues of the FF.

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  2. It has everything to do with when you find something. Some comics linger in my memory always because of the time I found them, or they connect to something I was doing at that time. Some I like, but they don't have any special meaning.

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