Nothing in this comics world is more compulsively readable than random Steve Ditko comics, and here’s a recent favorite: The Big Man, from the 1986 Renegade Press release Murder #1. Simplicity in action – an anxious toymaker gets back at his nasty business partners by building a super-costume that transforms him into an enormous guy at will. Then he crushes his enemies with enormity. “An envious mind, maybe a tiny mind with a big hate. A victimized mind seeking redress, etc. etc. etc.” muses a detective, whose function is mostly philosophical elaboration; the villain dies in a costume malfunction. So basically it’s The Incredibles, if The Incredibles was 115 minutes of Syndrome handing out critical beatings.
Murder was one of frequent Ditko cohort Robin Snyder’s anthology projects with Renegade, loosely arranged under the banner of Robin Snyder’s Revolver, as in ‘revolving’ artists and themes, although only the first six issues were numbered under the Revolver title – then came three issues of Ditko’s World: Static, an issue of Ernie Colon’s Manimal, three issues of Murder and a reprint-heavy Revolver Annual subtitled Frisky Frolics. Ditko showed up in almost every issue, as well as various artists and writers associated with the Warren magazines, which had folded a few years prior in 1983; indeed, some of the content is reprinted from Warren publications, while it’s possible the assorted Bill DuBay and Jim Stenstrum pieces (scripts?) were intended for Warren during their time with the publisher. To your left you’ll see Jim Stenstrum’s Tales of the Siberian Snowtroopers #1 (Revolver #6, reprinted in Annual #1), drawn by future Image co-founder Erik Larsen, who otherwise contributed a few illustrations to the extended Revolver project. If the story wasn’t intended for Warren, this would mark the only original, non-Warren comics work by Stenstrum, a specialist in keen violence and sarcastic heroism of the sort that would eventually spark a pre-Image comics revolution in America, the ’80s British Invasion fed by a growing 2000 AD and Warrior, as I’ve indicated in this space before. Here, it seems several time periods exist at once, although I wouldn’t call Stenstrum ‘ahead-of-his-time’ in the ’70s – internationally he was perfectly of his time, while many American genre comics hung a few steps back.
But now, onto the sequels, collections and follow-ups you dare not miss: