Charlton VS Mighty MLJ

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dueling Ditko; Bug Bout 4 - Creepy Criminals

We continue our odyssey known as "Dueling Ditko" as we turn back the clock to simpler times for our pair of bugged-out boys, where they fair a pair of cloak-and-dagger hoodlums that lurk in the shadows and cause the guys a moment's pause.

First off, the cover for Fly #2! The coloring of our heroes, the symmetry of our fly friend and his female fly-girl in contrast with the statue and jets behind them. It looks sharp and definitely pulls the reader in that this may be something good. The inside story, however, is a mish-mash, tying up a lose end plot of the Fly against his foe Spider-Spry, wherein the Fly is nearly shot to death then recovers thanks to his pal Turan. To bad he didn't learn his lesson.

The unpublished Blue Beetle #6 also stands out for the shear oddity of the character design for this issue's villains. And, as always, Beetle is in one of his dynamic action-hero poses. This is to have been the beginning of a new chapter in Ted Kord's life, as he finally accepted the fate of his pal Dan Garrett and cleared his name for his premature death. And yet, it was not to be as Charlton moved in a different direction with their publishing efforts. This story saw the light of day years later.

Like I said, Thomas Troy was never accused of being a fast learner. On the way home from the court house, he in fact does get mugged by a thug named Diamond Jack, named after the distinct mask he's clad in during his brazen attacks. Unable to rub his ring in time and transform into the Fly, Troy is once more left for dead. Turan must be shaking his head in the Fly Dimension wondering if he picked the wrong guy.

Meanwhile, Hub City is also plagued by a criminal of a different sort but with the same low cut of morality. Amos Fend comes upon a harness thanks to a criminal scientist named Jacobs, becoming the Spectre. This device, when worn, turns the user invisible. Well, except for the actual harness itself (d'uoh!).  After the confrontation between the two villains, Beetle's intervention seals Spectre's own doom and we are left with another high-tech loon that is turned into a buffoon by our swinging slick scarab!

Back in NYC, MLJ style, Troy adopts his Fly alias to track down Diamond Jack... who has not caused the entire city to languish in fear of this seemingly omnipresent fiend. However, Jack himself crossed paths with a temperamental old broad named Old Abbey who seems to spawn some type of mutant parrot that grows in size and takes down Jack when the Fly is unable to get to him in time. Huh?

Ah nothing like some Ditko waxing the philosophical. At least Blue gets the last word against his spectral foe. Once more, Kord technology is saved from the evil element! Now Ted can retire for seven years.

Dueling Ditko Rating:

1.) Story Drama: This is a tough call. On the one hand you have a fairly linear (for Ditko) plot in Blue Beetle with nary a twist nor turn, and on the other side of the coin you have three tales wrapped up in one convoluted story with the Fly. For the life and death play on matters where the protagonist is concerned, the Fly wins this one.

2.) Imaginative Use of Abilities: The Beetle's mini Bug is "the bomb"! The Fly ain't got nothing on him aside from his fail safe "Turan bailing me out for the upteenth time" deux machina. No thanks, the Bug rules this category.

3.) Adversary: A mugger in a tacky mask, or a thief in an invisio-suit. Just the style of the Spectre gives him one up on his shadowy contemporary Diamond Jack. Although that huge gliding attack bird was creepy, let me tell you what. Still, this is Beetle's win.

4.) Intangibles that Worked: Nothing much aside from general Ditko zannyness. Still the concept for the Beetle's tale shows Ditko in his prime, and the Fly in Ditko's creative decline period. Sorry Tommy, but Ted wins it here too.

So 3-1 in favor of the Blue Beetle for this round! What will our next round reveal for your Dueling Ditko Boys? Stay tuned for more bug action coming soon!


hobbyfan said...

I actually had that issue of The Fly from the Red Circle series of the 80's. Because Rich Buckler is inking, it doesn't remotely resemble a typical Ditko tale of the period. Not even close.

I had gotten all caught up with all of the Red Circle/Archie Adventure books before the line was quietly dissolved. The Archie Adventure line was rebooted when they started running a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series based on the TV show of the time, but it just wasn't the same.

earth-two said...

I would love to get into the whole Turtles thing... And I'll probably touch on it at some point although the "X" blog really does a great job summing up that series, You are right, though, Red Circle was snuffed out to soon and when it became Archie Adventures it lacked in quality (with a few exceptions). This tale definitely is NOT your mother's Ditko, that's for sure.