Monday, 11 April 2011

Killraven's War of the Worlds: Amazing Adventures #35, the 24-Hour Man.

Killraven, War of the Worlds, Amazing Adventures, the 24-hour man, cover

IAmazing Adventures #35, Killraven encounters the 24-Hour Man - and, just his luck, it turns out not to be an emergency plumber. Instead it's a bright green man who only lives for 24 hours but whose mind contains the memories of his entire race, a race which is seemingly never composed of more than two beings at a time; the latest 24-Hour Man and his more long-lasting father, G'Rath, a huge green, death-dealing monster.

Because of this, each new 24-Hour Man has to find his father a new mate before he croaks and takes his entire race's memories with him In the absence of any other females, he decides Carmilla Frost is just the woman to be the mother to the next generation.
Killraven, War of the Worlds, Amazing Adventures #35, the 24-Hour Man. Carmilla Frost meets G'Rath

As this involves being impregnated by a giant green monster, Carmilla Frost thinks otherwise and Killraven and his never-merry men set out to save the day - although in truth they don't seem all that concerned for her welfare. I don't see any words along the lines of, "We must save Carmilla!" anywhere. But then, when you're busy philosophising about things, what space is there in your heart for urgency?

Killraven, War of the Worlds, Amazing Adventures #35, the 24-Hour Man, G'Rath

I must admit this has always been one of my favourite Killraven tales and may have been the one that first got me into the strip when I was a kid, after my having been unimpressed with my first exposure to it in issue #31. When you get down to it, it's as nonsensical, sometimes bathetic, and futile as all other McGregor Killraven stories, although McGregor's verbosity doesn't in this case detract from the story as much as it might. Somehow his style perfectly suits the subject matter.
Killraven, War of the Worlds, Amazing Adventures #35, the 24-Hour Man, cemetery splash page
So, what's the appeal?

Well, the thing takes place in a cemetery, and it rains a lot, so it's got atmosphere on its side. There's also the fact that the 24-Hour Man's life-cycle and nature are not exactly straightforward, so you have to pay attention to work out what's going on. Sadly, it's not drawn by regular penciller Craig Russell but it is drawn by Keith Giffin, an artist I've always had a lot of time for.

But the truth is that in this case the work looks nothing like I expect Keith Griffin to look, partly because it's inked by Jack Abel who totally disguises Giffin's usual Jack Kirby tendencies but also because the layouts are provided by Craig Russell himself - though the Steve Ditko-ness of certain figures and faces, suggests Russell may have supplied more than just the layouts in places.

In the end, you don't really care about any of the characters, being there as they are to spout speeches and comment on the nature of the world, life, death and anything else that entered McGregor's mind while he was writing, but a mixture of atmosphere and imagery win over to make it a tale you're never likely to forget.


Blaze Morgan said...

The McGregor/Russell direction of "Killraven" never pushed any of my buttons. Too surreal and meandering and "fairie king". When Russell worked on a project with fairies and the like, I was there, but for a book whose full title was "War of the Worlds", I didn't like it.

My tastes are too hard edged, I guess. The first few pages introducing Killraven in his first issue were done by Neal Adams. The art and story fit in my brain like a jigsaw piece. Adams couldn't even finish the one issue, let alone work on the series. The poor fill-in artist's work was rushed and dull. Subsequent issues quickly became an LSD trip to elf hill rather than a battle against conquering Martians.

It wasn't until the wonderful Alan Davis did his Killraven mini-series that I felt my young self enjoy the character and setting again.

Steve said...

I must admit to being in more than two minds about the strip. I hated it when I first encountered it, as a kid, but quickly grew to love it, then fell out of love with it when I re-read all the stories in the Essential Killraven but, having been re-exposed to the strip its original form, I'm sort of warming to it again.

Anonymous said...

"The poor fill-in artist's work was rushed and dull."

That fill-in artist was Howard Chaykin! I have to admit it put me off his work for wasn't until American Flagg came out that I decided I might have been a little unfair and went looking for any of his previous work that I might have otherwise dismissed.

B Smith

Blaze Morgan said...

No offense to Mr. Chaykin. I always enjoyed his stuff. If memory serves, my first exposure was DC's "Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser" comics.

But, by all accounts, when "Nefarious" Neal Adams dropped the deadline ball, it would take special artists (penciller and inker) indeed to scramble and do quality work in the time remaining. (as in, over the weekend)

Jeffrey Jones said...

I read this as a kid, but 40 years later, I thought Kilraven was Deathlok. Funny how my memory fails me.

Steve W. said...

It's fair enough. The names, "Kill," and, "Death," are in the same kind of ball park.

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