Thursday, January 04, 2007

Vengeance Squad #5

Vengeance Squad #5, 1975, Modern Comics
writers: Joe Gill & Nicola Cuti
artist: Joe Staton
editor: George Wildman

In an unplanned second part of a two-part "artist's initials" series, the only way to determine who illustrated the lead story in this reprinted issue of Vengeance Squad is the distinctive initials under the title on the cover, detailed here:

The unique signature reappears on the opening splash page, where only the writer and the editor are credited. Interesting.

Vengeance Squad #5 is an interesting issue, because the main character in the feature story is virtually unlikable, not so much by us readers, but by the character's very teammates. Eric Redd, Tulsa Coyle (Get it?), and Candy Orr are three parts of a James Bond-like special ops team, but Redd's grandstanding often takes centerstage to Coyle's and Orr's valiant but sophomoric efforts. In this adventure, the squad is after a hooded heroin dealer, and Redd sends Orr undercover after the suspect. Although we witness Redd's perilous car chase with the supposed drug pusher, it's Orr's predicament that proves more deadly -- in the fiend's clutches, bound to a chair, with a "massive bomb" hidden in the chair seat! Coyle expresses suitable concern for the potential damsel, but Redd dismisses him: "Candy is a fully qualified member of V-Squad! She'll be okay!" Sure enough, she escapes, but we don't get to see it; rather a caption casually explains, "Candy worked out of it herself . . ." What? No wonder Redd is so enamored with himself; even the writer doesn't give the supporting cast the credit their due!

A back-up story, "Michael Mauser, Private Eye," is entertaining enough, one part pulp, one part Mad Magazine strip, thanks to Joe Staton's cartoony style. I don't know if the segment had a real worthy place behind an old Vengeance Squad story, but the overall package is enjoyable enough to dodge potentially distracted contrast. Besides, after Redd's self-consumption, a little self-degradation was much needed. "Two-fisted Action" indeed!

So, considering the artist's initials and the V-Squad's spotlight hog, this issue is all about giving credit where credit is due . . . or making up for a lack thereof in the long run. Is there a better tangible example of vengeance in its purest form?


Anonymous said...

"PAM" are the initials for artist Pete Morisi who freelanced for Charlton for many years. His "day job" with NYPD prohibited moonlighting, so he used the initials "PAM" to sign his work.

Donnie Pitchford

KaraokeFanboy said...

Thank you for the information! Interesting insight, and that explains why those guns were so well drawn . . .