Saturday, October 1, 2011

Unusual Heroes: Slaughterman (Comico, 1983)

One of my all-time favorite comic book characters is a fella named Grendel, who has become a cult favorite among many collectors. Grendel got his start (thanks to Matt Wagner) in 1982 via a new comic book publisher named Comico. Comico was launched by three high school buddies, one of them being Gerry Giovinco. All three of them brought ideas to the table, and Comico Primer #1 featured many of those of them being Giovinco's Slaughterman.

The next issue, Comico Primer #2, featured Grendel's first appearance...while Slaughterman moved over into his own book in 1983, with Slaughterman #1. The first thing that struck me about this issue is the cover, with it's fine use of colors and maximum dramatic effect. We see Slaughterman mourning through his mask and holding his (supposedly) dead wife...all while standing atop a sea of dead baddies.

The story continues from Primer #1, where Slaughterman had attempted to save his wife Morgan from the diabolical Denwald the Destroyer, only to be captured himself and electrocuted by the villain. Now, we learn that Slaughterman was actually killed by the zapping, and Morgan is left for dead herself after taking a beating from Denwald's henchmen.

 With Slaughterman seemingly out of the way, Denwald attacks Buldonia, the largest kingdom in the desert lands. His men are able to overcome Buldonian forces and Denwald kills the King, proclaiming his new rank of "Supreme ruler of the world!"

But plans are thwarted as Slaughterman makes a surprise appearance on his rocket-bike, killing all of Denwald's men. He attempts to capture Denwald, but Denwald proclaims the people of Buldonia will die if he does not return, so Slaughterman lets him go. I was surprised Denwald didn't just electroshock the dude again...but that's just me.

As Denwald escapes, we learn Slaughterman is actually his widow Morgan, whom is out for revenge. Again, it's another strange surprise, considering the Slaughterman suit is form-fitting...yet somehow she is as muscular as her husband, and her boobs magically disappear while in disguise.

Another odd thing about this comic is how false the cover turns out to be. We're led to believe that the Slaughterman is a badass who kills a bunch of people in revenge for his dead wife...but in all actuality it's the entirely opposite scenario, and even then...Morgan's version of the hero spends most of her time getting beat up rather than doing any actual "slaughtering".

Giovinco's pencils are hit and miss here. Some panels are brilliant, from vultures gnawing on the dead hero, to close-up images of Morgan's teary eye as she is about to be assaulted by a barrage of brutal henchmen. Yet other panels look rushed, with underdeveloped characters and designs. Still, I see potential here and it's a shame Giovinco did not continue drawing...but he had many other interests besides art.

Slaughterman would only have one more issue before disappearing into obscurity once and for all. I don't know if readers bought into the story, although it was unique in giving you something totally different than expected. Comico's other initial creations disappeared just as fast, as Matt Wagner's Grendel carried the publisher until they launched a color line of comics such as Elementals, Evangeline and Robotech the following years.

Little known fact: Gerry Giovinco has been performing for years as a cosmic clown known as Captain Visual, and attends parties and gatherings as a clown who excels in making all kinds of balloon sculptures. More information on his secret identity can be found here:


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