Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Goin' Underground: The Skull Killer (Pulp Mania Inc., 1975)

Part of the job in maintaining a blog such as this one is in finding comics that are not only obscure and unusual, but entirely mind-blowing and fantastic as well. Well look no further folks, because I've found the grandaddy of them all...The Skull Killer #1.

The Skull Killer (as well as his nemesis, The Octopus) first appeared in a pulp magazine called The Octopus in 1939, but it was this interpretation by writer Brendan Faulkner and artist Gary Terry three decades later that really made an impact. There is a visceral experience to be had here...a perfect blend of pulp fiction mixed within the psychedelia of the 70's underground comix scene that really launched these characters into new heights.

The Skull Killer has three personas: Dr. Skull, an old doctor helping the poor, Jeffery Fairchild, a young millionaire in the Bruce Wayne mold, and as the dual gun-wielding vigilante Skull Killer known for leaving an imprint of a skull upon his victims. Rounding out these three personalities is a cast of supporters that back the Skull Killer's cause: Nurse Carol Endicott, ex-racketeer Norvell Quinn, and Syn, the Skull Killer's indian sidekick.

The Skull Killer's main threat is the mysterious villain called The Octopus, who leads a cult of zombies called the Purple Eyes. In this story the Octopus has returned and is threatening to unleash his power to turn everyone in New York into zombies at midnight. It's up to the Skull Killer to stop him.

Excerpts from The Skull Killer:

Upon learning of his brother's death at the hands (or tentacles) of the Octopus, Fairchild and friends plot their next move:

The Skull Killer decides to pay a visit to the address on Quinn's lead:

During the battle Tung-Sen escapes through a trap door:

New York stands guard as midnight approaches, and as the clock strikes twelve The Octopus unleashes his wrath:

Meanwhile, the Skull Killer is handling business with the Commissioner:

And then races to the scene of The Octopus' assault:

The Skull Killer has defeated The Octopus once and for all. The next issue was to feature a new villain called the Nazi Ghoul, but sadly it never materialized:

 The Skull Killer is one of those comics that you don't see too often. Gary Terry's superb underground art-style is just amazing. Sadly, this was the only release by Pulp Mania Inc., and only a few hundred copies of this issue made it to press. So if you can find yourself a copy, snag it! For this is truly an obscure classic in all respects.


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