Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Green Skull

The Green Skull, 1995, Known Associates Press
by Joe Zabel and Gary Dumm

In yesterday's post, I celebrated St. Patrick's Day by reviewing The Mask: The Hunt for Green October #1, likening the Mask's emerald hue to the inevitable envy one might feel at its ability to unleash its wearer's inhibitions. Just like most folks do on this sacred of Irish holidays. Today, with Known Associate Press' The Green Skull, I've observed a similar parallel; in his introduction, Joe Zabel explains his inspiration to draft a mystery about "filthy rich people." Yes, people with plenty of green. See, St. Patrick's Day is for everybody!

The green wealth in this issue is also its namesake. the green skull, in the possession of "the world's most paranoid billionaire," who promptly, mysteriously disappears from his own heavily locked and guarded bedroom. When author Raymond Fish is hired to chronicle the conundrum, he explains to his girlfriend Delphinia Morgan that he's solved the disappearance and to demonstrate quickly disappears himself. In the billionaire's underground cavern, the billionaire gets the drop on Fish and holds him hostage while Delphinia (dressed in a sexy cat suit for a masquerade party) recovers his green skull safely. Apparently, a secret society of fellow billionaires dubbed the March 14th Group (missed it by three days!) wants the deaths-head . . . and they get it from the helpless Delphinia. Fortunately, when they storm their caverns, Fish and the billionaire overcome them, then drown them. Although the green skull is lost, the group is no longer a threat, and I guess all live happily ever after.

Oh, and the billionaire obviously staged his own disappearance by constructing a hideaway compartment in his vault-like bedroom door, so that when folks opened it to check on him, he could slip through a trap door outside. Why the trap door wasn't just under his bed or something is too inane an inquiry, I guess, but the revelation made for a nice post-action wrap-up of this story.

Actually, this story was a pleasant read all the way around. I liked the creators' succinct, witty dialogue and brief, relevant snippets of characterization, and with the introduction explaining their intentions, the backdrop of vapid upper class narcissism was well played and even socially significant. The art was clean and fluid, as well, boasting an independent look touched with confidence and skill. Further, the extensive supplemental essay/letters section in the back of this issue reveals an insight into the industry and their form. These comprehensive extras solved any mystery of these creators' ability to contribute to the medium.

So, did Zabel and Dumm pull off a mystery about high society? Absolutely. What's more mysterious is how those folks celebrating St. Patrick's Day can spend so much green, despite their relatively mid to low society lifestyles? Let's see Zabel and Dumm tackle that one. Good luck.

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