Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hot Wheels #3

Hot Wheels #3  (On Sale: May 19, 1970) has an adequate cover by Neal Adams, but it gives the book a tone that does not in any way match the interior. It puts the emphasis on the bad guys and relegates the heroes to very small heads in the police car and, of course, the obligatory headshots running down the left panel.

Now this may seem like a minor criticism, but this book was really Alex Toth's baby, and he had a particular product that he wanted to sell, and it was about the characters and their interaction with their cars. Alex had done a number of car books by this time and he knew how to deliver one of those, but I think he was aiming for something more accessible to kids than what DC had in mind.

Nothing points that out clearer than the cover by Alex that was rejected by DC. It puts forth the same idea, that the kids are working with the police and are being shot at. However, it changes the emphasis, moving it away from the bad guys and putting it clearly onto Jack Wheeler.

Alex even employs the unusual design choice of having Jack's head in the left margin do the talking. This moves those obligatory headshots from static window dressing to active participant in the cover. It is a brilliant idea on Toth's part. I just have to wonder what Dick Giordano's problem was with Toth's ideas here.

I have this book near but not in hand right now, so I cannot give this the detail it deserves. The book begins with "Stakeout," a 13-pager by Joe Gill, Alex Toth and the horrific Vinnie Colletta.  Colletta could destroy just about anyone's pencils and he certainly sucked the mood right out of Toth's work here. Toth demands a bread, assured stroke and Colletta was never in possession of one. The only bright side to the artwork on this issue is that it is the last time that someone else will ink Toth's Hot Wheels pencils and that is a very good thing.  

The back-up story is  "The Raid of the Red Baron," an 8-page tale drawn by Ric Estrada and Dick Giordano.

The book was edited by Dick Giordano.

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