The Charlton Arrow v.2 #1
written by Nicola Cuit, Paul Kupperberg and Roger McKenzie
drawn by Joe Staton, Mike Collins, Barbara Kaalberg, Tim Kennedy, Ben Torres and Dan Reed
Lettering and color by Mort Todd, Matt Webb and Ben Torres
published by Charlton Neo/AC Comics
I’ve been telling you about this comic for months, but I finally have my hands on a copy. The Charlton Arrow is now available from Diamond Distributors, and that means that any comic book store worth its salt should be able to order it for you. I understand that sales of this comic have been so brisk that it’s largely sold out nationwide. However, you may still find it in your local comic shop, or look for autographed copies on eBay.
After six self-distributed issues, the Charlton Neo folks have started the numbering over with this issue and it’s a pretty cool new beginning. The Charlton Arrow is an anthology comic with a mix of superhero, adventure, and macabre stories. Some are serialized, while some are great stand-alone short stories. As with the prior incarnation of The Charlton Arrow, this is a really fun comic book that cuts through the BS of mainstream comics to simply entertain.
The big news with this issue is the return of E-Man in a story by his creators, Nicola Cuti and Joe Staton. Staton was able to purchase the rights to his character from Charlton before the bulk of the Charlton superheroes were sold to DC Comics in the early 1980s, so E-Man has lived on with new stories published by a variety of comic book companies over the past four decades, one of which (Digital Webbing) had ties to Charleston, West Virginia.
Now he’s landed back at Charlton for the first chapter of a story that introduces a new member to E-Man’s supporting cast, and sees the marriage of E-Man’s old back-up strip character, Mike Mauser. This is the first of a three-parter, so we basically get “Act One” of the story. Cuti and Staton are in top form and obviously enjoying the reunion with their old creation.
Following that we get a clever short story featuring another Cuti/Staon creation, Colonel Whiteshroud, Monster Hunter. This tale, written by Paul Kupperberg and drawn by Mike Collins and Barbara Kaalberg, sees the intrepid Monster Hunter on a mission in a mine in Wales.
Next up we have the debut of Mr. Mixit. This is just a ridiculous amount of fun. Created by Roger McKenzie and Steven Butler as a sly tribute to Steve Ditko, this is the origin story of a kid who encounters a bizarre comic book spinner rack and winds up with super powers. His super-suit is an amalgam of many Ditko creations, with elements of Spider-man, The Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, The Creeper, Doctor Strange and probably a few I haven’t identified yet. This is just his origin story, and I’m already chomping at the bit for more adentures (which you can find at the Pix-C Comic website).
This is the kind of comic that I would have loved as a kid, and still do as an aging pop culture blogger.
After that we get another introduction to a new strip, Edison Corliss Industrial Steam and Ironworks. With a script by Paul Kupperberg and art by Tim Kennedy and Barbara Kaalberg, this is basically a Steampunk adventure set right before World War II, and happily, there’s plenty of Kirby-inspired machinary behind the Steampunk. This is another intro that has you wanting even more.
The last full story is new chapter of Deathwatch, continuing from the previous volume of The Charlton Arrow. This story by McKenzie, with art by Ben Torres, mixes up the Grim Reaper with a superhero strip and creates a moody revenge saga.
Finally we have a pinup page for Dan Reed’s Space Adventure. Like everything else in The Charlton Arrow, it leaves the reading eagerly looking forward to the future. The Charlton Arrow has retained all of it’s charm and sense of fun with the move into comic books shops. We can only hope that this is the beginning of a trend.
If you are extremely lucky, you may still be able to find The Charlton Arrow v2 # 1 in your local comic shop. If not, check eBay, Charlton Neo’s Editor Mort Todd’s website, or The Charlton Arrow Facebook page for details on how to get your own copy. Mort’s website also has all of the earlier Charlton Neo comics available.