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I’m not the biggest Neal Adams fan. This will not change my mind. – Skateman #1

April 3, 2011

I had no knowledge of this book until three weeks ago. It was in a pile of comics in a store and I bought it. It seemed odd. Uncommon. Perfect blog fodder.

And then, about a week ago, I read the thing. And remember, I knew absolutely nothing about it going in.

This may be the worst comic I have ever seen. Underline the “ever.” It makes Alf comics look like Maus. It’s an assault on the eyes and brain. It is this:

No, it wasn’t the crushed remains of the Ten Commandments in the Ark. It was an advance copy of Skateman #1.

Where do I begin?

I always like to include at least a few scans of comics I talk about, and that’s especially true with a book that I might take issue with. It’s fair, and it’s as close as I can get to letting the writers and artists have a say. Granted, things might be shown out of context, but outside of posting the entire book (which other people do, but I’m not really comfortable with) it’s the best I can do.

This one…

This one defeated me. I read through it. But I don’t know where to friggin’ start. Really. This thing is a jumbled mess on so many levels. So. Many. Levels. For me to scan something, some signpost on the journey of a cohesive story, there has to be a cohesive story, you know? And there’s none of that here.

Before I really gave up on pulling a lot of scans, the following was one that I selected. I thought some Adams-philes would like its mosaic of action:

Believe me, it’s all downhill after that. A hero on roller skates is the least of the problems here.

The structure of this book is an absolute nightmare, one in which you spend most of your time wondering “Who are these people and why do I care?” The story starts in the middle of “action” and ends just as Skateman rescues someone we don’t give a rat’s posterior about as a building blows up behind them. Along the way the tale flips timeframes from flashback to present-day, always a dangerous prospect when the reader is already drifting in and out of consciousness.

Then there’s the coloring. Coloring in a comic is like refereeing in sports — you only notice it when it’s bad. 

Skateman‘s coloring is coloring that you notice. 

You know those “paint with water” books? The ones for real little kids, where all they have to do is take a wet paintbrush to the page because the colors are already in the paper? Do you know/remember how blah and crappy the pictures look when they’re all done? Well, this whole goddamn thing looks like it was colored that way.

Then there’s the origin, which is so overblown it somehow adds up to 110% of the content here. It makes a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie’s backstory look cerebral. It’s done in horribly turgid exposition, with service in Vietnam, murdered army buddies, slain girlfriends, biker gangs, inspiration from a kid reading a comic book, and Lord knows what else. Every cliche is thrown at the wall, whether it’s going to stick or not. Here’s the first page of said backstory to give you a feel – I double dog dare you to read it and not pinch the bridge of your nose and wince:

I could go on and on about so much more. But really — why bother?

I am tired. I am worn out. If this is a good comic, then Cocktail and Road House are cinematic high points. And guess what — there are backup stories within. As if this crap wasn’t enough. But I retire from the field a defeated man, leaving those to hardier souls than I.

Allow me to say a few things before closing up shop. I respect Neal Adams. I’m not a devotee, but I admire his contributions to the comics world. I also respect independent publishers, those hardy souls who try to make hay outside the cozy confines of the Marvel/DC citadel. I understand and have great sympathy with folks attempting to create an independent hero book without having the usual catcalls of “seen it” and “been there, done that” rain down upon them, snarky comments from drips like me, the Statlers and Waldorfs of the world.

But those things do not change the fact that this thing sucks. Bad. And it wasn’t Rob Liefeld on a bad day coming up with this. It was Neal “I created the goddamn modern Batman and ushered in a new era of comics” Adams. The best hitters in baseball strike out now and again, but this is like striking out and accidentally letting go of your bat and having it sail into the stands and impale someone. This may be the craziest thing Adams has ever done, and I’m talking about a guy who made his own DVDs promoting a pseudo-science crackpot theory about “the expanding Earth.”

For a similarly befuddled look at the Skateman monstrosity, check here. There are some more scans there and some talk about the backup stuff — if you’re a glutton for punishment like me, knock yourself out. Raiders of the Lost Ark found it’s way into that post as well, though for a different reason. Perhaps there’s some Jungian blog imperative to cite the awesome whilst wallowing in the fetid.

All right. Enough. I’m tapping out.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. April 3, 2011 3:12 pm

    I haven’t had direct contact with this but I saw it in a Jeff Rovin book and knew just from the cover that it was a very “Special” property. Thanks for the indepth in that you saved my sanity by proxy.

    Lazarus lupin
    http://strangespanner.blogspot.com/
    art and review

  2. Joe S. Walker permalink
    April 5, 2011 6:34 am

    Looks as if it was inked by Vince Colletta.

  3. April 8, 2011 4:38 am

    Adams gets a bit too much credit for recreating Batman; Novick deserves to be recognized for reinstating the noir look to the series. That said, Adams was breathtaking; you really need to look at the early Brave and the Bold issues to get a feel for it. Although the story is pretty sappy, take a look at the layout on that page from the backstory.

    • April 8, 2011 1:07 pm

      I have to say, I think Adams gets a bit too much credit for everything, not just the Batman stuff. As far as that layout goes, I look at it and I don’t see genius. I see something that feels overwrought to me, like most of Adams’ material. His art has all the subtlety of a William Shatner monologue. Was it a breath of fresh air after his stolid predecessors? Yes. But it’s not my cup of tea.

      I’m obviously out the mainstream of the comics cognoscenti on this one. So be it. I certainly don’t begrudge other people digging his stuff. Everything except Skateman.

  4. Danny in Canada permalink
    April 29, 2012 7:36 am

    I talked to Adams at a con last year. He said it was originally intended to be a licensed property. So I guess that explains a little bit about the overall shittiness thereof.

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