Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Unusual Heroes: Electronaut (Icon Text, 1987)

In the 1980's, and long before the internet, electromagnetic waves were the source of most communication forms. Canadian Curt Shoultz tapped into that technology as inspiration for the superhero he created, and in 1987 The Electronaut #1 was born. The story revolves around a company called Wavision in Brandon, Manitoba. Scientists there are working on a suit that can read all forms of electromagnetic waves, and due to recent security threats, they need to hire an undercover agent to supervise the company.

That agent is American ex-CIA Hornblue, who arrives and is briefed by GM Ned K., and introduced to Dr. Woytla, the creator of the suit. Woytla's vison for the suit is for it to become widely available for everyone to use, not as a spy tool. She fears the Earth's electromagnetic energy is harmful and believes the Electronauts will be able to manage it for the better.

Before Dr. Woytla has a chance to fully explain the suits properties, they are kidnapped by a man called Versus, who sends a challenge to Lewis Nettle, the only guy that's been trained to wear the suit. It's now up to Lewis to use the suit and rescue Woytla and Hornblue, but Versus has other plans in store for the Electronaut...

After finding Versus' location, the Electronaut is subjected to all kinds of dangerous tests as Versus wants to test the limits of the suit. And then comes my favorite test of the bunch: a dead end full of heavy noise and radio frequencies of every T.V. station and Top 40 simulcast all at once!

The Electronaut is assaulted by extremely bright lights, which he is able to escape in the nick of time by tuning to only a Green-light wavelength, which reveals a door. Then, more trouble ensues as a barrage of deadly X-Ray frequencies attack him in another room. Can he destroy them in time?

He made it. It's now time for the final test, a meeting with Versus. And since the suit is only designed as a tool and not as a weapon, the only instrument the Electronaut has at his disposal is an 80 volt taser. But what will that do against a gun?

Nettle simply cannot match the power of Versus, and gets layed out. Versus returns to Dr. Woytla and gives her his impressions of the suit, before activating the, "operational disengagement cycle button" in attempt to destroy the Electronaut.

Although the Electronaut survives the blast, he won't survive Versus' laser-gun. Dr. Woytla is able to take control of Versus' robots just in time to thwart him and save Nettle.

The Electronaut is a decent amateur effort, and reading through it for the first time in 2012 felt like a timeslip back into the 80's. I had "I Ran (So Far Away)" from A Flock of Seagulls playing in my head the whole time. I simply loved the funky Electronaut suit, and the whole idea was well thought out. Shoultz has gone on to become an inker for DC, inking such titles as Hawkman and Deathstroke.


The fifth issue of Reverie saw the debut of The Electronaut, a superhero strip starring Susan Jessop, a young woman who is given a unique costume that allows her to harness electrical currents that give her special powers. A refreshing twist on the standard superhero formula, The Electronaut was written and drawn with great panache by Michal Dutkiewicz, who has deservedly carved out a successful career as a talented comics artist and illustrator, both in Australia and internationally (He also drew the cover illustration for Reverie #6, 1984/85}

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