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March 19, 2008


Captain Average

Man,I hate those cliche heroes.If I see ONE MORE villain turned into a rat with a human head, which the FBI just leaves sitting on a table,I swear...

Paul Karasik

Thanks for the kind words about my book, "I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets: The Comics of Fletcher Hanks".

Readers unfamiliar with Hanks’ work may want to slide over to the BONUS page of my website for a slideshow of a full length Fantomah story that does NOT appear in the book:


Mark Engblom

Hey, Paul! Great to hear from you! I'll add your link as an UPDATE to my post, so everyone is sure to see it.

Thanks for stopping by! Love the book!

Peter Wallace

I LOVED this collection. It will mess with your mind. It seemed to me that Stardust was a little sadistic. He would see what was brewing on little old earth, and rather than fly there and stop it before any damage occurred, would wait a while so the bad guy could wreak havoc on civilization, for a while anyway, and then he'd show up and render punishment. Couldn't he be a little quicker? Ah but then, there'd not be much of a story.

Thanks, I'm enjoying your blog!


There's also the implication that Stardust devotes a *lot* of time pondering different ways of dispatching bad guys!

Mark Engblom

I'm just sitting here imagining a Stardust and Spectre crossover/teamup. Why, they could have a contest between the two of them to see (A) how many bad guys they could dispatch and (B) how creative they could be in the process. As many of you know, DC's Spectre could also get pretty inventive in the "ironic justice" department.

Mark Engblom

Hi Pete! Glad you like the blog....thanks for stopping by!


The Fletcher Hanks Biography is the surprise ending of the book. The biography about Hanks was as much a page turner as Hanks Golden Age stories.

John Nowak

I've got the collection; it's a first-class production and comics scholarship owes a serious debt for sparking interest in this.

Still, I can't say I believe there's any "genius" in these stories: there's something unsettling about them, and not in a good, deliberate way. There is a difference between "genius" and "mental illness" and I seriously suspect Fletcher Hanks comes down on the wrong side of the line.

Mark Engblom

I think you're right, John. Having read a number of them (and enjoying them), there's definitely an element of "not quite right" at work in the stories. There's something almost dreamlike about reading these surreal, detached stories of vengeance and alienation. Very odd...yet an unforgettable experience.

John Nowak

And it's sort of hard for me to say why, exactly, Hanks is so off-putting. As other people mentioned DC's Specter used to do this sort of stuff all the time.

Yet in the bits of Specter I remember seeing I always had the sense that the story itself was horrified, or at worst getting some nasty macabre chuckles out of the situation.

Hanks, on the other hand, is devoid of any sense of drama, or conflict, or characterization. Stuff just happens. It reminds me of a bad freeform roleplaying session, where one player just keeps announcing that he's more powerful than anyone else, and you read it and sort of hope that the players no older than eight. I could honestly see Stardust being used in a writing class, just to discuss how much is wrong with it.

But yeah, it's worth reading.

Mark Engblom

I think one of the stangest things for me is the actual appearance of Stardust himself. Looking like a distorted version of the old Marvelman (later "Miracleman") character, the pretty boy face, cartoonishly muscled physique and polka-dot belt (!) stand in such stark contrast to his otherwise brutal (and often sadistic) ways of dealing with criminals...all while never changing his blank facial expression. Ever.

So, you're right...there's a chilling current of madness underlying these bizarre stories. But it's exactly this weird component that makes the tales so compelling to read....almost like not being able to look away from a bad traffic accident.

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