Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Showcase #75

Showcase #75 (On Sale: April 23, 1968) has a cover by Steve Ditko, who, like lightning, strikes again with The Hawk and the Dove.

"In the Beginning..." is scripted by Steve Skeates (in his first work for DC) and plotted and drawn by Steve Ditko. Even though Ditko would bail on this strip quickly, I loved the concept and in the turbulent radical 60s, the Hawk and the Dove was about as relevant as you could get. Of course Ditko only really cared about the Hawk and this strip was supposed to be a political statement by Ditko, one DC never really let reach where Steve wanted it to go.

Hank and Don Hall are brothers and high school students with radically different views of the world. Hank is aggressive and believes in using force to back up his beliefs. Don is passive and seeks negotiation and compromise over violence. The boys' father Irwin Hall is a judge at the Elmond County Courthouse. He tries to encourage the boys to use logic to form their beliefs.

When Irwin Hall sentences racket boss Dargo to prison, the mob strikes back with an attempt to kill the judge. They only succeed in injuring him, while Hank briefly glimpses the bomber. When Hanks sees the mobster later, he and Don follow the crook back to his hideout. They overhear the crooks plotting another assassination attempt on the judge, but are powerless to do anything.

When Don wishes for power to save their father, a disembodied voice grants them power to stop injustice. It transforms them into the costumed super-heroes Hawk and Dove. The boys then race to the hospital to save their dad from the killers. After the fight, they learn that Judge Hall considers them vigilantes and lawbreakers, so they don't reveal their true identities to him. Hard to believe that this strip has never been reprinted as it is classic Ditko.

Now, not everyone was happy with how this book turned out, Steve Skeates being the major dissenter. In Comic Book Artist #5 Skeates said:

There were all sorts of problems with the Showcase issue. Although a lot of people have said that they really like that issue I think a major problem with it was that Dick was trying to please the Comics Code.

One of the rules was that you couldn't question authority so every time I had the Dove say something against the U.S. government, Dick would change that to some sort of nebulous "they." To me it comes off as terribly written with a lot of pronouns without any nouns that they are referring back to.
On his contribution to the creation of the strip Skeates said:
It was developed by committee. There was Dick [Giordano], Carmine [Infantino], [Steve] Ditko and me. Carmine came up with the title and he attended all the meetings. Part of the concept was to directly appeal to, I don't know, the counter-culture. My main contribution was that they had to say their names to change into the characters.

They were trying to come up with a "Shazam," a magic word and I said, Why don't we have them just say their character names?" They went along with that. I also created the community in which they lived, the college town. Steve Ditko came up with the major concepts, the costumes, the powers, the characters - just about everything. The judge was definitely his idea.
Edited by Carmine Infantino in the indica but actually edited by Dick Giordano.

No comments: