|What's got eight wheels and kicks you in the face? Give up?|
What is there left to say about the comic book that’s roundly considered the worst example of the medium ever produced? Well, clearly there’s a lot left to be said, because the internet never tires of talking about Skateman – and then again, I’m not sure everything’s been said about it full stop. Did you know, for instance, that it’s kind of racist? Oh, you did. Okay, well we’re done.
Actually, I’m not sure that Skateman really is the worst comic in the industry’s history – to its credit, you can at the very least say that it lacks the cynicism that’s abundant at any forty dozen mainstream corporate crossover events from the big two industrial intellectual property factories. I mean, it’s batshit, racist, dumb, violent and confusing, but at least it’s earnest.
|It's a fair question.|
Skateman, however, is a particular nadir for Adams’ portfolio. Allegedly created as a product tie-in to some roller skating company who had the inclination to have their product associated with mob hits and hot pants – and who wouldn’t – the single issue opens with a face kick and closes on an explosion. Just like Hamlet.
Billy Moon, Vietnam Vet and martial arts enthusiast, finds himself at loose ends when he returns from his tour of duty. His best pal Jack gives Billy a new lease on life – via the world of roller derby! A tale as old as time!
It turns out that Billy’s a whiz at smashing into dudes on skates - so much so that he gains the unwanted attention of the mob. Billy’s refusal to kowtow to the Goodfella types results in an in-rink injury which leaves Jack dead – and it looks like Billy’s the culprit! Cries of “MURDERER!” echo throughout the roller derby rink, America’s most revered tribunal.
Billy’s escape into the loving arms of his dutiful girlfriend Angel is short-lived, inasmuch as she’s promptly killed by gangsters. I don’t even … Billy’s a jinx, man.
|It's poetry, of a kind.|
Well, shame on Billy, because it’s not until his NEW girlfriend Jill is abducted by bikers on behalf of “shit”-trafficking foreign drug lords that Billy things to put on the form-hugging white denim short-shorts of justice.
Billy adopts the most terrifying vigilante garb in the history of the genre – an orange bandana covering his face, red shirts, white booty shorts and roller skates. Combining the deadly skills he developed while serving in Vietnam with his own martial arts prowess AND roller-skating, the most versatile and devastating of all the types of skating (ice-skating can cut you, sure, but it’s not much good for a high-speed chase through Los Angeles), AND assisted by local amateur skater street kid and (ahem, Billy’s word, not mine) “Beaner” Paco, Billy becomes SKATEMAN. Which is a terrible secret identity, someone call Daredevil, this guy’s an idiot.
One of the highlights of Skateman is Billy’s dialogue, a violent sort of beat poetry loaded with ham-fisted mixed metaphors and tone-deaf tough guy prosody. “Hands off jerkhole” he yells to a man into whose face he’s forcibly pressed his skates, “We’re forming a union! My foot and your face!” Loading his young sidekick Paco with a box full of hand grenades, he directs his charge to assault the crooks’ headquarters by telling him “You make the difference” and adding, solemnly, “Haul ass.”
|Your hero, ladies and gentlemen.|
Skateman ends in the execution of a climax, the explosion of a warehouse headquarters for the drug-running street gang in question. There was clearly meant to be more to the Skateman story – by which I mean “another page,” but it ends on that explosion and we settle for some backup material which never gets any particular love.
The first backup is "Futureworld," featuring art from a young Andy Kubert. The story focuses on a post-apocalyptic future where a single courageous youth - Korlak - must brave the wastelands and terrible dangers of two panels worth of flying a big zeppelin to get to "The Great Machine."
The "Great Machine" turns out to be an old Nuclear Power Plant, which we know because Korlak exclaims, upon seeing it, "Th-the Great Machine! It lives! A WORKING ATOMIC REACTOR!" Of course, in his very next word balloon, he muses "I have never seen such contrivances." Then how did you know it was a nuclear power plant, you dope?
The next story is "The Rock Warrior," which is what I intend to name my first born. Here’s the plot, as best as I could determine: Edgar is a boxer, Om is an inventor. They used to be partners in adventure until Edgar settled down and had a daughter, Angie. Om accidentally drops his newest invention – a handheld personal teleporter – right into Angie’s infantile mitts, which sends ‘em on a tour of the universe’s most dangerous spots.
Luckily, Om’s twin brother THE ROCK WARRIOR is floating around out there too, so they destroy a missile with lasers and come home. Enh, sure, it sounds like nonsense, but if we put it on the CW, we could power at least a half dozen dedicated Tumblr accounts.
|...And then there's this densely-packed printed toilet paper of pure nonsense.|