Monday, March 4, 2024

Atlas- Seaboard Comics - March 1975!

March was a lean month for Atlas-Seaboard (don't worry they make up for it next month). There are only four books wearing a March date, and only one of those is a #1 issue debut. I'll go over the the #2 books then take a look at Targitt.

IRONJAW #2 gives us a new artist, a grand Neal Adams cover image, and the second half of his "origin" story. Pablo Marcos takes over the book on both pencils and inks and his work is typically lush. He is a perfect choice for a barbarian book, and he shows his skills here to great effect. Ironjaw it turns out is a lost prince named Roland, who was taken away to die in the wild when his Kingly father was slain by his Queenly mother's lover, who soon becomes king himself. Seen as a threat to the throne the baby is exposed, but his sister remains, and she figures out who he is by a distinctive birthmark. Ironjaw takes the requisite steps to guarantee his revenge, and briefly becomes King Ironjaw. But his barbarian passions are ill-suited to being a civilized leader and he "escapes" from his role and rides off in the final panel astride his unicorn to seek new barbarian adventures. Fleisher seems to want to turn the usual "fairy tale" elements on their heads a bit, and he does so neatly.

PHOENIX #2 continues the saga of Ed Tyler, astronaut and budding "messiah". Empowered with alien technology he mourns the hundreds killed in Rekjavek by the Deiei, and he soon finds out he has been blamed for the destruction. He's even been given a new name..."Phoenix", as he rose out of the ashes of the city. After a personal encounter with an Icelandic family that ends tragically and the death of his alien mentor, Tyler heads to NYC which is under attack by the aliens. A battle rages during which Phoenix is forced to divide the waters between the city and the Statue of Liberty allowing people to escape. The aliens are not so lucky. By the end of the story, the astronaut Ed Tyler has been buried but his mourning wife has a visit from the Phoenix and she takes courage as he flies off to fulfill his new role to bring "salvation" to mankind. Gabriel Levy takes on the scripting while Sal Amendola continues on the artwork. Phoenix remains the book I'd most like to have seen continued somewhere after the fall of Atlas-Seaboard.

GRIM GHOST #2 offers more spiritual mayhem courtesy of Ernie Colon and Mike Fleisher from the ghostly servant of Satan. The story begins aboard a cruise ship where a large-scale robbery of an apparently wildly expensive Buddha is foiled by Grim Ghost. He quickly heads home where he hosts a party as Matthew Dunsinane in his home, the same home he owned when a rogue in the 18th century as it turns out. The party is a big success and introduces the local police chief and more importantly his daughter Jackie who seems to be something of a potential love interest. The story turns as Grim Ghost has to save some folks on a building and his magical vengeance is seen by the Chief much to his dismay. The backstory of the Ghost is well developed by this time.

TARGITT #1 is the sole debut of the month, and it's something of a mixed bag really. The book is advertised in the text page as having Dan Adkins artwork, and I wish it had had it. Howard Nostrand gets the nod over a Ric Meyers script and despite Nostrand's clear skills (from the Eisner school for sure), his light tone seems out of order for this grim saga of mayhem and revenge. John Targitt is an FBI agent who witnessess the murders of his wife and child when their airplane is blown up. The bombing was a mob hit and Targitt then begins to tackle the mob to gain vengeance. Of course, his superiors in the FBI are reluctant and he goes somewhat rogue to accomplish his goals. By the story's end he's gained a measure of revenge, but clearly there is a lot more to do before he can ever be even. There is no costume evident in this crime-saga debut, but the next issue will change that.

April is next...and it's a big month for Atlas-Seaboard.

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  1. I vividly remember picking all of these up at the time and being pleasantly surprised at the vast improvement in Iron Jaw , with Pablo Marco taking on the artistic reigns . And what a geeat cover . At the time i couldnt get my head around Targitt ( another lovely cover) with the cartoony art and violent story, but it really grew on me . Grim Ghost was just a fun comic and one of Atlas' best for me

    1. Thanks to Ernie Colon's artwork, the Grim Ghost was a pretty steady performer in Atlas-Seaboard's brief existence. Nostrand's art was so different from the outstanding Dick Giordano cover. Giordano was ideal to have done this book.

  2. I bought the first two issues of Grim Ghost, not realising that there were only three before Atlas imploded, and I didn't find out about the third issue until decades later. Some months after acquiring them I gave them to a friend, who returned them to me around 30 years later. It was therefore ironic that he was with me when I saw and purchased #3 at a comic mart, not long after he had restored #s 1 & 2 to me.

    1. It was destined that you read them together.