Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Bizarre Adventures No. 31

Bizarre Adventures No. 31
Marvel / Curtis, April 1982

For the March, 1982 issue of Bizarre Adventures, editors Jim Shooter and Dennis O'Neil decided to use one of the oldest and cheesiest tricks in magazine publishing to try and drum up newsstand sales: 

........exploitation ! ......... disguised as a Meaningful and Profound examination of a Social Issue of Deep Concern.

So it was that the cover of issue 31 features a Joe Jusko painting of an alluring blonde 'flashing' an array of firearms, while the cover blurb promises a 'hard look at violence'.

In his editorial page, O'Neil uses the sort of sententious wording that gives the more naive reader the impression that, by examining violence, Bizarre Adventures actually seeks to reduce it.....

I suspect that, with issue 31, the Marvel editorial staff was seeking to attract the readership of more 'adult' magazines like Heavy Metal. But with this issue of Bizarre Adventures, they failed, because the content is quite lame.

Most of the stories are contrived efforts at copying the satirical style of underground comix ('Dr. Deth with Kip and Muffy', and 'Recondo Rabbit', by Larry Hama; 'Bucky Bizarre' by Skeates and Smallwood). 

Others are pretentious ('The Philistine' by Frank Miller; 'Violence Wears Many Faces' by John Byrne). Some suffer from a makeshift approach and poor artwork ('The Hangman' by Gruenwald and Sienkiewicz).

Probably the best comic in the issue is 'Let There Be Life', written by Tom DeFalco and illustrated by Marvel veteran Herb Trimpe. 

DeFalco's plot is another simpleminded riff on seeing Irony in the Madness of War, but Trimpe's artwork - here uncompromised by graytones, or muddy color separations - really stands out. I've posted it below.

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