Wednesday, February 8, 2017


Seadragon (Elite Comics) 6 issues, 1986-1987 

There are comics which, had I discovered them when I was ten or eleven years old, I think I might've flipped for ... but only at those ages. Any younger, and I was already fascinated by polish (the first comic I ever bought with my own money was a Frank Miller Daredevil, at age 7, so I knew my moody noir-inspired shots from the cradle evidently). Any older, and I wanted my superhero comics to have something more than quips and crisis.

But Seadragon fits in a nice, sweet spot. A product of Elite Comics, Seadragon was part of a small superhero universe including a team book, Epsilon Wave, a pulpy hero called the Twilight Avenger, the obligatory Wolverine-type (Night Wolf, sworn enemy of Day Wolf, I suppose) and an Elite Presents title which I now recall I'd seen at a quarter-bin and skipped. Damn it.

Whatever the case, Elite was clearly a company with some capital and vision, even if it was a vision that was shared by about a hundred or more other small publishers who were trying to effectively walk in DC and Marvel's shoes. "We could be the next Charlton," I dread them having said.

Seadragon is Walter Koch, a researcher who becomes trapped in an experimental deep-sea "gill suit" developed at a place called "The Dragon's Lair." How did they manage to get funding for that? Also, the reason he got fused to it was a "nuclear accident," so more questions have been raised than answered.

The suit grants him the ability to breathe underwater, and a little enhanced strength and endurance t'boot. He also picks up a magic shrinking trident which can be worn as a necklace. I say "magic shrinking" assuming that the trident's natural state is a trident and not a necklace. I dunno. I should call someone.

 This is all somewhat academic, if only because it's boilerplate superhero stuff. He becomes involved in the politics of the undersea kingdom of Mu, fights an undersea tyrant, gets involved with a magic gem, knocks some terrorists around, gets involved with a hooded mastermind. The usual.

The set-up aaaaand the pitch ...

On the other hand, the book boasts some qualified personnel. R.A.Jones, writer and critic for Amazing Heroes and CBG, handles the editorship of the entire line. Meanwhile, Dennis Yee -- whom I mentioned previously for the character The Canton Kid, which he'd created for DC's New Talent Showcase and which I'd really liked -- moved on from artist to artist-writer of the series. The guy didn't do enough, is my feeling.

But the star of Seadragon is its look. Seadragon himself has a pretty interesting appearance, but it's the coloring inside the books that would have excited my tweener self; it looks like it was done with Pentel markers. That sounds like it would be awful -- and it would be, in most cases -- but the effect was to give the interior art on Seadragon this art brut effect, some sort of compelling near-incompetence which made it feel comfortably intimate. It felt like a comic you and your friends might have put together, high hopes abounding.

I'm shy a couple of issues of Seadragon, so for all I know issues one and five were professionally hand-painted by Renaissance apprentices. Still, it's a good entry into Dennis Yee's abbreviated career and a nice addition to the community of forgotten superheroes in general ...

The Visible Seadragon

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