Tuesday, April 9, 2013

365 Comics... 99: The Futurians by Dave Cockrum #2 (1985)

I don't know if this was Cockrum's intended idea behind the Futurians or not, but my take on the characters and series is  "what if a half dozen or so average people suddenly were endowed with superpowers from the future and then asked to form a team to combat extra-terrestrial threats from the future without any training whatsoever?  What would that look like?"

It looks a hot mess of gaudy derivative 80's-designed spandex and creature mutations, full of fuck ups who have no idea what they're doing and constantly bicker with one another in a not-friendly way.  It's kind of like a superhero equivalent of reality TV, about a decade before the John Connor that was The Real World heralded the destruction of television.

I found The Futurians #3 in a quarter bin a couple years ago and became fascinated with it, as I tend to get with short lived series (and companies) that are the product of big name (or at the very least credible) talent.  There were such big promises made in the back of issue three with notes about what was so certainly coming down the pipe in future issues.  Then I discovered that #3 was the last issue published, and that The Futurians originally started life at Marvel as part of the oversized Marvel Graphic Novel series with intent of continuing as an ongoing under Marvel's "Epic" banner.

Cockrum was however swayed by "Hollywood connected" upstart publisher David M. Singer, a lifelong comics fan who wanted to make his own comics company by throwing gobs and gobs of money at top tier talent in a wholly unstable business model, banking on selling licensing to Hollywood to break it big.  Singer did manage to make some great looting comics like this one as well as Wally Wood's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Codename Danger, inexplicably under multiple publishing banners (Lodestone here, Deluxe Comics for Thunder Agents) but only for a few months before it all collapsed.  He was apparently paying over double what Marvel was at the time.

Cockrum in interviews I've read seemed regretful about his decision not to stay with Marvel/Epic, thinking he probably would had had a 5-to-10 year run on this series of his own creation.  The Marvel Graphic Novel went to 3 printings, rather unusual in those days, it was a hit.  But he also understands all too well that as an artist he couldn't turn away Singer's money even if it did seem to be too good to be true.

In the future I should get more into Singer's short-lived publishing history because this guy is something else.

This second issue of The Futurians is a terrible read (in a fun way) but a terrific looking book (also in a fun way).  I just need to find issue #1 to complete my run now, although I hear there is a collected edition with the otherwise unpublished #4...

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