Suspended Animation Review
Amazing Adventures, published by Marvel Comics, 32 pages, back issue prices vary.
It’s a real joy watching an artist’s work improve with time. In comics, it means seeing them become more comfortable with a particular character, or characters, as they begin to inject more of their own ideas, and the character becomes “theirs.” One of the greatest examples of this phenomenon I have ever seen is P. Craig Russell’s work on Marvel Comics’ Amazing Adventures in the mid-’70’s.
Russell began his work on the book in 1974 with issue 27, and, with the exception of three issues, continued as premier penciller through its cancellation with issue 39. As his work progressed, readers saw him take artistic ownership of Killraven (the main character), as the futuristic warrior lead Earth’s rebellion against the Martian race.
Though most impressive when inking his own work, Russell’s pencils were still some of the best Marvel had to offer when finished by inkers such as Jack Abel and Sonny Trinidad, who also worked for Marvel at the time.
One of the most striking characteristics of Craig’s art was his use of storytelling, or panel-arrangement on a page. Much like Jim Steranko’s work on Marvel’s Nick Fury, Agent of Shield, events flowed through some pages in a style that was as reminiscent of some “fine” art, as it was comic art.
Also impressive was his sense of design. Russell arguably produced some of the most imaginative, and visually horrific, monsters and villains in Marvel’s history.
Don McGregor handled the writing for this run, and credit must be given to his very involved plots, as well as his ability to pack a lot of story into a 32-page pamphlet.
Not highly sought after today, these Amazing Adventures issues may often be found in your local comic-dealer’s cheap back issue boxes. Of course, Marvel has also produced a collection in its Essential Killraven black-and-white trade. If they can be found, however, I suggest picking these stories up in the original single issues, as the color is worth it.
Comics conventions and online auctions and retailers are also good places to search.
Review by Mark Allen.