Sunday, March 10, 2013

365 Comics...69: Blue Devil #7 (1984)

Blue Devil arrived (and disappeared) just before I started regularly buying comics, but over the years I've picked up a half dozen or so of the later issues in its run and I could tell this would have been a series I would have really keyed into as a pre-teen (in fact my first real exposure to him was a six-part story in Showcase '93, as a late-teen, which made me a fan).  A sort-of precursor to the Giffen-DeMatteis Justice League, writers Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin crafted a book that was a full-out action comedy centered in Hollywood loosely around the less glamourous parts of showbiz.  It became a cult hit, but like any cult hit, it just couldn't sustain, and Blue Devil was gone, but not forgotten, for years.  

After his revival in Showcase '93, he started appearing all over the place, including an almost-star making turn in the Underworld Unleashed event, joining the Justice League, and later the Shadowpact.  Blue Devil returned in the New 52 recently, but in a most generic manner.  I don't know why DC has generally abandoned Dan Cassiday's lighter side (the same reason why Speedball became a sullen cutter, and Blue Beetle was given a heart condition then shot in the head... lighthearted heroes for some reason can't stay that way in the mainstream, some writer always needs to come along and poop in their cornflakes).

Reading this issue, in which Dan Cassiday goes out on a date, his first since becoming Blue Devil, Mishkin and Cohn employ slapstick and wit in equal measure (and independent of the comedy, largely, the Trickster), to interfere with Cassiday's confidence and interrupt his romantic evening.  While it could be over the top silly, somehow the writers make it seem like it's all a natural part of Blue Devil's world.  The character conceit evolved that he actually is a weirdness magnet, so this is as it should be.  

Legendary artist Gil Kane acted as fill-in this issue, and it adds a classiness to the whole affair with his refined style and lack of cartoony sensibility.  A series like this should have an artist like Kane with an established but dynamic style, which works in the face of the typical tendency to go overly broad and cartoony.  I love Gil Kane, such a phenomenal talent... and as heralded as he is, I still think he's underrated.  This issue may not be his strongest work throughout but it does contain a lot of the distinctly amazing Kane perspective, particularly in his close-up panels.

I'd like to see Blue Devil perhaps in the "Entourage-meets-Grimm-meets-" mold.  A supernatural-comedy-actioner, with a bit of a sharper edge and more inside-Hollywood.  There's enough writers working with feet in both the comics and cinema/television field that it should be fairly easy to find someone who could do so.  Not that it would necessarily be a blockbuster (it'd probably do well for an indie, but dicey in the mainstream), but it would return the character back to the roots from which he spawned, just update him for today's genre-hybrid market.  

1 comment:

Adj said...

Trickster's in this?? Add it to my pile please.