Saturday, July 14, 2018
Some Very Amazing Men!
When Bill Everett co-created Amazing Man for Centaur Comics in the early days of comics history in 1939, he fashioned a hero who captured the imagination in a way which has never let go in some respects. While Everett is properly mostly remembered as the creator of Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner, his Amazing Man has lasted too, in some surprising ways.
Amazing Man Comics #1 presents us with John Aman, a man raised in a distant mountain refuge by monks after the deaths of his parents. He is gifted with mysterious powers which he uses to protect mankind from threats of all kinds, including enemies from his own past such as The Great Question. He is a man trained to utmost extent and sent out into the broader world offer hope to a globe seeking hope. He is a hero.
Some decades later in 1966, after the demise of Centaur Comics, the Derby publisher Charlton Comics offered up Thunderbolt. Peter Cannon, created by Pete Morisi is a youth who is orphaned and who is raised in the confines of a mountain retreat by monks and has developed his human potential to its utmost. With his partner Tabu, Peter Cannon went out into the larger world to protect it from a wide range of threats, some presented by another from the his world named The Hooded One. After a short tenure at Charlton, T-Bolt ended up at DC along with other "Action Heroes", even getting his own title again for a year or so. Now though his rights have redounded to the estate of Pete Morisi and he was last seen at Dynamite Comics.
And in 1974 came Iron Fist, yet another variation on the Amazing Man template. I'll have much more to say on Iron Fist tomorrow, but in Danny Rand we have yet another young man who grew up in a monastery and gained incredible skills which he then took into the broader world, ultimately to the benefit of the world. Roy Thomas and Gil Kane were both great fans of Bill Everett and the great artist was given due credit in the debut issue. And apparently the "original" John Aman has joined the cast of Iron Fist in more recent years.
Roy Thomas creates an all-new Amazing Man when he was populating his cadre of World War II heroes in All-Star Squadron. The book was in desperate need of a hero of color and Will Everett (there's that name again) was just the thing. This time Amazing Man was not from a monastery and had wildly different powers but the name was enough to make him a part of the tradition.
The original Amazing Man got a nod in the early 90's when the public domain Centaur Comics heroes were revived by Malibu Comics under the Protectors banner.
And the hero is currently on view in various venues, some exceedingly independent. Amazing Man has been part of comics since almost the very beginning and he continues to be a part in many different fascinating ways.