Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Golden Derby - October 1965!

Fifty years ago this month things were really beginning to heat up at Charlton. Captain Atom returned in new adventures for the first time in nearly a decade and the stories were by his original creative team of Joe Gill and Steve Ditko. Charlton still was producing some handsome westerns like Billy the Kid (one of the longest running westerns from any company) and Wyatt Earp, a sturdy seller, but a book which would soon disappear from the stands. As always Charlton had a line of war books full of short tales and some few regular features. Charlton stood out from their competition in the war arena in that they would feature stories set in the then ongoing war in Vietnam. DC and Marvel waged battle safely on the historical fronts of World Wars I and II but rarely ventured into the quagmire which America found itself in during the 60's. Charlton went there, often with Commie-bashing zeal left over from an earlier decade but sometimes with a sense of tragedy which spoke to the larger issues war dealt with. This month's issue of Fightin' Army is just such a moment akin to the sentiment found in John Wayne's much more bombastic peon to the war The Green Berets from a few years later. Rocke Mastroserio is a favorite artist of mine and his talent can really be seen on the three covers he did for this month's presentation, the war cover in tandem with Pat Masulli. Finally we have Blue Beetle by Joe Gill, Tony Tallarico and Bill Fraccio, one of Charlton's superhero revivals which was falling on hard times since its sensibilities were not really in the moment. I love these charming tales for what they are and this particular issue in which BB battles The Praying Mantis Man and his army of giant insects was perhaps my first Charlton comic book. A real wild tale with energy if not subtlety.

More next month.

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