All that stands between the Earth and certain doom is Sean Connery’s moustache and Gene Colan’s art – Marvel Comics Super Special #14, “Meteor”
That’s a Frank Miller pencilled cover. I wanted to put that out there, because there’s not a whole lot about it that says “Frank Miller.”
Marvel Super Special March chugs along with this 1979 adaptation of one of the disaster movie genre’s worst duds. If you watched Deep Impact and Armageddon in 1998 and thought that they were terrible — well they were, but Meteor was worse. It lacked everything. Thrills. Excitement. Decent effects. Actors that seemed to care. Starring Sean Connery, well into the career trough that would only see true resurrection with The Untouchables and the accompanying Academy Award, it had scientists and Cold War rivals coming together to try to avert an extinction-grade collision with only nukes and excruciating boredom in their arsenal. It also had a small role for Henry Fonda, who seemed to show up to collect a check in all these crappy disaster flicks.
The last entry in this Super Special month was The Last Starfighter. I suggested that, in light of that film’s poorly aged special effects, the comic had a chance to carve out its own identity, to have more staying power than the original. It didn’t. But since Meteor was so unspeakably blasé, this mag has a similar opportunity, but with a door that’s wide, WIDE open . And we’re helped that the late, GREAT Gene Colan pencilled this Super Special (from a script by Ralph Macchio, and embellished by Tom Palmer).
I’m happy to report that Colan makes the most of the chance. He goes wild with the scenes of destruction in the always imperilled New York City, and his visual sense gives scope that was inexcusably absent from the film. HOME RUN, BABY.
Before we get a taste of success, let’s get something out of the way. In every movie like this, the strapping hero, no matter how dire the Earth’s plight, has to carve out some time to get laid. Mr. Connery’s character is not excepted from this Hollywood diktat:
There. Done and done.
Nothing says “from a different time” quite like seeing the World Trade Center wiped out in a fictional conflagration. How many of us thought or uttered aloud the “It looked like a movie…” line on September 11, 2001 and the days — and years — afterward? This splash page, with a meteor decapitating the Twin Towers, bears a haunting resemblance to that terrible day:
The Empire State Building gets a similar, if less retroactively painful, treatment, though the greater affection in which it has always been held means it gets TWO splash pages:
If I have one quibble with this stellarly illustrated sequence, it’s that the meteor appears to be as nimble as the “magic bullet” in the Kennedy assassination, making the circuit of every NYC landmark whether they’re perfectly aligned or not. Here it is at its Rockefeller Center tour stop:
No sign of Omega the Unknown on the premises.
Colan is superb, as usual, crafting panels that make you feel like you’re craning your neck to look to the sky even though you’re staring at an open book in your lap. It’s a vertiginous skill he so often deftly employed in his Daredevil days, as the Man Without Fear battled foes high above the same New York streets. It’s a gift, and it’s all that’s needed here to elevate the mag above the movie.
The usual Super unSpecial junk in the back includes a chat with the special effects head on the film, fluff about actual catastrophes and a catalog of disaster films. This last item, a simple list of movies with blurbs about each, really makes some stretches about what films are included (Star Wars makes the cut because Alderaan went kablooey). The last entry is noteworthy simply because it reminds the reader that, if Meteor was at a low point in Connery’s career, it wasn’t THE low point:
Oh, you don’t remember Zardoz? Here’s a refresher:
Aggressive red suspenders diaper camel toe. HAVE A NICE DAY.