Monday, March 23, 2015


There is a kind of charm to the SPEEDBALL series. Ditko crammed quite a lot of story into what was then a small publishing package. The size of your average monthly comic book at that time was reduced quite a lot from Ditko's days in the Golden Age and Silver Age. He figured a way around this by packing a lot of panels to the page--sometimes ten or twelve panels. Gone were his grand splash pages of the early days, reserving those for the opening shots of each issue.

Another thing he did that was old-school was that he sometimes had two separate stories in each issue. This also harkened back to the very early days of the resurgent superhero comics of the Silver Age. There is also the possibility that Ditko knew that the modern fan base might not go for his new series and he wanted to establish Speedball as a character and set up a history and a mythos as quickly as possible within the run of the book while he had the chance.

If that last possibility was correct, then it was the right thing to do. Because SPEEDBALL was canceled after only ten issues. The new crop of kids and subnormal adults in those days acting as Marvel's fan-base just weren't impressed with the old master's title. And so Ditko went back to doing his own thing on his own time and Marvel got yet another creation which they could turn into cash at some future date.

And so it goes.


SPEEDBALL #7. Ditko delivers one of his typical villains, a masked gunman.

SPEEDBALL #8. This is probably my favorite cover of the bunch. Featuring one of the simplest bad guys I've ever seen Ditko produce. And all the more appealing for that simplicity. Read it if you can find it.

SPEEDBALL #9...continuing the adventures of a teenaged superhero who still lives at home with his parents.

The last issue. Twisted science and criminal mayhem! What did Ditko suspect about Monsanto?! The finale of the series in which one of the bad guys is croaked in typical Ditko fashion.

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