Sunday, May 16, 2010

Killraven: 'Amazing Adventures' No. 28 
(January 1975)

‘Amazing Adventures featuring War of the Worlds’ No. 28 (January 1975) appeared on newsstands in the late Fall of 1974. 

This issue, ‘The Death Merchant’,  continues the ‘Death Breeders’ storyline started in the previous issue. The script is by Don McGregor and the art and colors by Craig Russel.
With new recruit Volcana (a female version of the Human Torch) in tow, Killraven and his crew make their way to the Martian redoubt of Chicago, where humans are kept as slaves. Any newly birthed offspring are consigned to a gruesome fate: as morsels for Martian palates (!) This was a rather shocking plot device for a CCA – approved comic in 1974.
As with previous issues of ‘Adventures’ only 15 pages are provided for the Killraven story, with a two-page reprint of an old Marvel comic serving as the backup feature. As a result, while Russel’s artwork is reasonably good, McGregor’s script tries to do too much in too few pages, and the plot suffers as a result. The narrative abruptly jumps from page to page without much in the way of transition, and the excessive text boxes and speech balloons littering almost every panel occlude the action.
The letters pages offer some interesting insight into Marvel’s economic and circulation issues as 1974 drew to a close: a Bullpen essay titled ‘War of the Ratings’ reveals that issue 25, ‘The Devil’s Marauder’, sold poorly enough to give the editorial staff pause. ‘Amazing Adventures’ readers are encouraged to write in with their critiques of the series so that the Marvel staff can improve the book and its circulation.
This sort of self-disclosure was quite rare for Marvel books. Unfortunately, the obvious choice for improving the title- increasing the main story's page count back to 20 pages, and hiring more artists to relieve the over-extended staff – seems to have been non-negotiable.
Below are two pages excerpted from the story, depicting some combat between Killraven and his team and the overseers of the Death Breeder facility.

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