Thursday, February 27, 2014

TRULY GONE AND FORGOTTEN : E-MAN



E-ManThere’s no character I’ve more reluctantly queued up for this Truly Gone & Forgotten feature more than E-man, because I hate to admit that this bright, colorful character’s time is probably done – not that he ever seemed to fit in any of the venues which hosted him.

Created by Nick Cuti and Joe Staton and originally published in Charlton Comics, he was even an odd fit for a company which produced the Blue Beetle, Spookman and Son of Vulcan. Played for straight superheroics with dashes of light humor and occasional flat-out farce, you had here a comic which involved a hero battling life-and-death stakes but starring characters with punny sobriquets like Nova Kane and Alec Tronn, ominous and recurring menaces rendered in Staton’s breezy style and partnered up with pint-size private dicks and a walking, self-aware koala bear which took it upon itself to routinely break the fourth wall.

They got websites where you can watch girl bustin' bulbs.
Beginning his existence as a self-aware burst of energy born in the Big Bang, E-Man subsequently spends “millions” and “thousands” of years (cosmology is not a strong point) bouncing around the universe, hungry for another intelligent life form to provide him with company. When an impending invasion of the planet Earth puts him in the company of exotic dancer Nova Kane, E-Man quickly adopts a human identity, transforming his energy to matter in the fashion of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, after which he takes his super-hero codename (E-Man being short for “E=mc2 Man”).

Gifted with the power to fly, shoot energy bolts and transform his body a la Plastic Man, E-Man made for a light and fun character. The question of why a shape-changing alien entity uncountable eons old would wear the shape of a handsome white male and pick up a relationship with the first human female he meets aside (although that gets addressed in a later, slightly retconned story), he seemed to exist in a world of limitless possibility where light comedy and adventuring heroics could go hand in hand.

After ten solidly entertaining issues with Charlton, E-Man was revived with First Comics during the big indy boom of the Eighties, albeit now under different writers (a royal flush of DC Comics’ roster at the time, featuring Martin Pasko, Paul Kupperberg and a Mike W.Barr guest gig, before Staton picked up the pen) and turning in a distinctly satirical bent. E-Man’s enemies – both recurring and passing – included parodies of the X-Men (and a Dark Phoenix theme that didn’t excuse the creators from its satire), Elfquest, 2001, Pogo and a few more, and entered the annals of “most unexpected crossover ever” by sidling up next to First’s sexy space opera Warp.
I feel like holding her nose was maybe just plain hurtful.
 E-Man has enjoyed a few brief revivals over the last few decades, but never seeming to find a comfortable fit – he was too light-hearted for the relevant 70s, too satirical for the self-important 80s, and too sporadic for the creator-owned booms of the 90s and 21st century … although surely there’s always hope for a shape-changing superhero who’s happy to hop across genre.


8 comments:

Chris Wuchte said...

I was actually just thinking about this character the other day. I saw E-Man comics at the comic shop all the time in the '80s, so I always lumped him in with Rocketeer, Badger, Grimjack, American Flagg, etc, all those titles that looked interesting but I never bought because they weren't Marvel or DC. I've since read a number of those, but E-Man has still eluded me. From your description, it sounds like I may have been elevating it a little higher than it deserved.

Calamity Jon said...

No, not at all - it's a great deal of fun, I'd rank it about even with all the titles you listed. It just never managed to find its time or its audience...

Craven Lovelace said...

As a teen in the Bronze Age, I would diligently (but reluctantly) pick up any Charlton title that was vaguely superheroic or featured art by Ditko. But the often sub-standard stories and — especially! — the awful paper and printing made it a chore, not a pleasure. Except when it came to E-Man, which was always a delight, for the reasons you enumerate here. Thanks for the memories!

Michael Hoskin said...

Warp itself is begging for either a 'Truly Gone & Forgotten' or a 'Nobody's Favorites.'

The only E-Man I've read came from the First issues by Pasko, which I found intolerable. Loved the art though.

Professor Fester said...

E-Man is,indeed.returning very soon! I am co-editor (along with Roger McKenzie and Mort Todd) of a new comic called THE CHARLTON ARROW,the first issue of which has just shipped.
Nick Cuti and Joe Staton are bringing back E-Man , and it will run in issues #3-6. (The first issue features Charlton alum John Byrne, Paul Kupperberg,Joe Staton,---and a host of other great talents!)

Calamity Jon said...

OH MY GOODNESS THAT IS FANTASTIC NEWS!

Professor Fester said...

Jon, if you would like to see more and talk with other Charlton fans and pros join our facebook group, we'd love to have you
https://www.facebook.com/groups/thecharltonarrow/

you can visit our website http://morttodd.com/charlton.html
for full details on the comic book

Patrick James said...


Not sure if anyone is interested, but I just posted a vintage E-MAN shirt on eBay.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/162086745829

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