A Tribute to the of

Neal Adams. Just invoking the name brings any number of things to mind. Game-changing artist, co-founder of Continuity Associates, advocate for creatorís rights and the list just goes on. The characters heís put an indelible imprint upon for DC alone include Batman, Deadman, Superman, Man-Bat, Raís Al Ghul, etc. His scores of covers seem nearly endless. It seems like anything Neal touches turns to gold. Iíve had the opportunity to interview him [Sage #174 & #175] on a couple of occasions and to shake the hand that has produced so much superlative work. When this edition of the Silver Age Sage hits the World Wide Web on the 15th of June, 2016, the one and only Neal Adams will be celebrating his 75th birthday, so it only seems fitting to dedicate this 388th installment to the master.

The trick, of course, was what to spotlight. Weíve covered his Batman work, his Deadman work and many other efforts here at the Silver Lantern, even though Nealís work began toward the twilight of that era. After considering and discarding a couple of candidates, I finally settled on one of his busier, but less noticed gigs, over at the House of Mystery. Neal must have done 100 covers for that title alone, though Iíll admit; they sometimes seemed to be a bit repetitive with hapless children caught up in some awful fix. Still, we are talking Neal Adams here and they were as good as anything he produced. The cover for House of Mystery #178 from January/February of 1969 fits into the mold with frightened children beneath a spooky canopy bed with some bizarre footprints nearby, but the reason I settled on this issue was that he also had an interior story to his credit and furthermore he wrote the script, too, which seldom happened. So, letís take a peek at ďThe Game,Ē written and illustrated by Neal with editing by Joe Orlando.

This short little 7-pager involves an equally short and simple plot. Jamie Markus is leaving a birthday party where he won a board game. His father is unable to pick him up, so heís walking through the valley to get home. The dark, spooky valley complete with bare trees and a sudden rainstorm, causing the young man to retreat into the old Unger house, which just happens to be unlocked and is empty, save a bed just like the one on the cover, complete with a hurricane lamp.

Just then, Jamie hears someone coming, so of course he conceals himself beneath the bed. Naturally whomever he heard heads straight for the sole piece of furniture in the house and gets onto it. Markus decides the only thing to do is reveal himself, but when he opens the drawn bed curtains, the person ignites the hurricane lamp and to Jamieís utter shock is a dead ringer for himself. Jamie asks if he can stay, but the other boy, calling Jamie by name, insists he cannot and itís out of his hands.

As Markus is about to depart, his doppelganger asks what he has in the package. Jamie explains itís a word game and offers to teach the other boy how to play. Since itís described as making words out of seven letters and they occasionally clash over the use of personal names and slang itís obviously based on Scrabble, but thatís not important. They while away some time playing and Jamie triumphantly exclaims heís taken two out of three and is therefore the champion. The other boy accuses Markus of cheating and conceals himself under the covers when the bed curtains are again abruptly parted by Jamieís father along with two other men.

Mr. Markus says theyíve been searching all night and his son explains he was just taking refuge from the rain. We then go to a long shot that shows the bed standing in the middle of the valley. Jamieís father elaborates that a flood hit, taking out every tree and house in the valley with the exception of this bed. Jamie then states that he was unaware of any flood and had only been playing his game with his friend. He gestures to the now empty bed and exclaims he was just there a minute ago. In the foreground cloven hoof footprints are seen in the mud and the story comes to a close.

Not the most sophisticated story and apparently it was more closely related to the cover than Iíd originally guessed, but once again this is Neal Adams art and as per usual his photo-realistic style is well-suited to nearly any story-telling medium. This tale was no exception and itís been said that drawing children can be a challenge many artists cannot meet.

The realistic backgrounds only added to the moody feel of the story and this was a detailed, visual feast as weíve come to expect from Nealís efforts. He never disappoints.

Iíve been following his recent Coming of the Supermen series, which he also has a hand in writing and itís been pretty good. I know Batman Odyssey was pretty universally trashed and while I never read it, some of the savage reviews were pretty convincing. This new series isnít awful, but still isnít quite the fare an old Silver Age dinosaur like myself finds completely satisfying, despite getting to see Nealís take on some classic Jack Kirby Fourth World characters in the bargain. Still, donít take my word for it. Check it out for yourselves and by all means let me know what you think. With that, letís wish Neal Adams a happy birthday and continued health as he helps us exercise our imaginations.

Here at the Silver Lantern, we revere The Silver Age and it is our goal to continue to plumb the depths of this magical era. Keep sending in those comments and suggestions to: professor_the@hotmail.com.

Meanwhile, Iíll get going on a new offering for this feature for your reading pleasure for posting on the 1st of July.

See you then andÖ

Long live the Silver Age!

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