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E-Man #1

E-Man #1 1978/73 Modern Comics

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In doing a quick search, I see that E-man, born in 1973, was a pretty short lived character that over the next 30 years or so popped up occasionally only to fade away again.  This is a reprint of issue #1.  E-man, the man, not the comic, was created millions of years ago when a star went nova, throwing off all sorts of fire and gas and star stuff, and in this case a piece of sentient packet of energy.  This energy packet floated around the universe for several million years. It gained knowledge of the universe, and, it turns out, knowledge of a lot of things there’s no way it could have encountered floating out in space, but more about that later.  I guess if you have no one but yourself to talk to for millions of years, and you don’t go crazy, you become a pretty wise and all-knowing spirit.

So after floating around for eons, the packet finds and boards through the exhaust pipe, a space cruiser.  The cruiser is commanded by a giant brain and manned by cool uni-wheeled robots.  The ship is headed for Pluto where it will test a weapon of war.  But the packet is confused by the conversation it hears between the brain and the robots (languages are not a problem for this packet)–”Long live the forces of peace!”  The packet thinks, isn’t peace an end to force?  I told you, it has millions of years of contemplation under its belt.  To investigate further it transforms itself from pure energy to matter in the form of one of the robots.  Unfortunately, this extra weight wreaks havoc on the ship’s delicate navigation system and it veers out of control, ultimately crash landing on earth. (Sometimes you need to build a little wiggle room into your technology.)  I love the packet’s response–Oops!  Then . . .

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Cut to the dressing room of exotic dancer Nova Kane after her shift.  She says it’s going to feel good getting into clothes, but for the next two pages, she doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to do so.  Anyway, after the crash, the energy packet apparently got caught on some electrical wires and ended up in the one of Nova’s light bulbs.  It explains all this in perfect English from the bulb, and she frees the energy packet by smashing the bulb.  To say thank you, the packet of energy transforms itself into a hunky man.  Him: “I need a place to stay for the night.” (Sure you do.)  Her: “My jeep is just around the corner.” (Of course it is. (She’s still mostly naked.))  Him: “This is perfect.”  (Yep.)  Her: “Get in.” (Yep, yep.)

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Cue trombone: Waaaaaa Waaaaaaa.

In the morning while the two discuss energy and matter and such there is a knock on the door.  It’s the landlord.  He’s back from vacation up north.  But he doesn’t want the rent; he wants to kill everybody!  He whips out his gun and starts shooting.

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After the landlord is dealt with, Nova and E-man (he’s named himself now), head north because they’ve figured out the crashed spaceship must be releasing some gas that turns people into homicidal maniacs.  Nova drives. E-man travels by phone line.  Pretty cool.

When Nova gets there the residents of the town all try to kill her.  She escapes and meets up with E-man.  They venture out to the crash site, battle some robots, and just before the brain releases the gas bomb that I guess would make the whole planet into crazed killers, E-man uses his energy powers to destroy the brain

The other story in the book, “The Knight,” is a spy story from the files of CHESS –Command for the Hindrance of Espionage, Sabotage, and Subversion. I mean if you stop it outright, you’ve just spied your way out of a job, so they just hinder the three main threats to society. Typical government workers, right?

Anyway, the spy story has a cool premise. The three-man team, a knight (team leader), rook (muscle) and bishop (intel person) are called in to headquarters where the king and queen give them their mission.  (The pawns are the backup team with guns.)  I guess I’m a sucker for gimmicks. Attempts were made to set up relationships between the characters, and I think it would have been fun to see these characters spend more time with each other.

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The story was ok, bit of a twist, kind of fun, reminded me a bit of the old Avengers television show.

Overall, I liked E-man #1, especially the bizarre touches–the townsfolk that go mad and must kill anyone who hasn’t inhaled the leaking gas; the fact that E-man can speak any language he hears, understands the concepts of peace and force, but for the last-panel gag doesn’t know what money is; and of course Nova.  I’m not sure how I don’t remember Nova from my childhood. She’s and ample girl who can’t stand, sit, run or fight any way but sexy.  It’s cute that E-man creates a superhero costume for himself to impress Nova.  But I think the book would be better if it were more alien learning about earth while foiling bad guys type story, rather than trying to be a traditional superhero story.  I know that’s a fine line, and maybe it’s just the suit that makes the difference.  But there are a lot of suits out there, and I didn’t think E-man needed one.

Both the E-man story and the spy story were decent pilot episodes.  I like the characters and in both cases would have been glad for a longer story with more character development.  I understand that that’s what future issues are for, I just don’t think I have any more in my big old cardboard box.