Back Issue #10 June 2005 (magazine review).

Another early ‘Back Issue’ I pulled from the Neal Adams’ website was # 10 from 2005, sporting a Ra’s Al Ghul cover. Again, this gives some insight into TwoMorrows publications with ‘Rough Stuff’ as an art supplement inside its covers, this time showing Batman by a variety of artists. I especially like the Bill Sienkiewicz and Mike Nasser/Netzer sketches.

First, though, there is an interview with writer Dennis O’Neil and Mike Kaluta about their work on DC Comics ‘The Shadow’ which only lasted 12 issues. It’s interesting to note their comparison to the Batman as the Shadow kills the criminals, which was quite a change in DC Comics choice of licensed characters. Later, with the article on ‘Doc Savage’, there is some emphasis on the fact that DC Comics don’t do particular well with properties not their own. Rather worryingly, they don’t always follow what made said characters popular in the first place.

An interview with Howard Chaykin gives a potted history of his career when it was thought comicbooks were on their last legs and his tenure in Hollywood before returning to drawing.

Adam McGovern looks over ‘Christopher Chance, The Human Target’ who stood in for potential murder victims. Co-created by Len Wein, he convinced his boss, publisher Carmen Infantino to draw the first issue but the rest of its original run was done by Dick Giordano who preferred that to doing super-heroes.

I remember a few of the early issues of Mike Grell’s ‘Sable’ stories but wasn’t really drawn (sic) to it. Reading Tom Stewart’s piece where he interviews Grell on the subject shows it ended up pretty much as a complete story with an ending.

Of course, the cream of this issue is Peter Sanderson’s piece examining the Batman foe, Ra’s Al Ghul, with interviews with writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams. Two significant points are that editor Julius Schwarz came up with his name meaning ‘the demon’s head’. Adams points out that other artists get his design wrong and that Ra’s Al Ghul does not have eyebrows. It was also one of his first characters that didn’t come from a photo reference. As to Ra’s Al Ghul ethnicity, you’ll have to read for yourself but you can discount all the usual suspects.

I always wondered which ‘Back Issue’, the Spider-Man story, ‘The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man’ was covered in and this is it, with Al Nickerson interviewing its writer, Roger Stern, and artist Ron Frenz. The story has been reprinted a few times but pick it up if you missed it as it should be required reading. Hearing about its creation and first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man # 248 as a filler at the end of another story was just a natural progression.

I like the odd surprise but another run, albeit 6-issue mini-series, of a return to Batman by writer Steve Englehart and artists Marshall Rodgers and Terry Austin back in 2005 was something I missed. Oddly, the complete graphic novel, ‘Batman: Dark Detective’, doesn’t appear to have many copies out there or maybe I’m only counting the ‘TP’ moniker against it.

Digging this far back also points out that ‘Back Issue’ will always provides some surprises with education and interviews on the subject. My knowledge, as ever, is always increasing.

GF Willmetts

January 2019

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Direct from them, you can get a digital copy for $ 4.99 (US). From the Neal Adams website, $10.00 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904.)

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