Today marks the 30th anniversary of Bill Everett’s death.
Although the legacy of Everett’s formidable talents are far from forgotten – thanks to the efforts of such chroniclers as Blake Bell – I believe the broader scope of the writer-artist’s work is often neglected in favor of his apparent preoccupation with water-based heroes and themes.
(Not that I blame people for focusing on that particular fact. Everett, after all, created the Sub-Mariner, The Fin, Hydroman, etc. etc.)
Still, it’s worth noting that many of Everett’s characters dealt with darker themes than your standard, square-jawed Golden Age heroes. Namor, of course, was comic’s first true anti-hero: a super-man just as likely to destroy a city as defend its populace.
Everett’s “Aman, The Amazing-Man” – the Golden Age inspiration for Marvel’s Iron Fist – was more outwardly heroic but also fought – at times, unsuccessfully – the corrupting influence of his greatest enemy. A subsequent adventure found the hero impulsively battling Hitler a year before the U.S. entered the conflagration and achieving little more than causing random chaos before finding himself captured.
By the 11th issue of Amazing-Man’s comic, the character’s Tibetan masters called Aman to task for his mistakes and sent a re-dedicated hero back into the world. This tale marked the end of Amazing-Man’s struggles against corrupting influences and – perhaps not coincidentally - the end of Everett’s affiliation with the character.
Taken together, the early issues of Amazing-Man comics offers an intriguing character arc for a super-man who was far less than a man of steel before discovering his true strength. The fact that such a story emerged from the earliest days of the super-hero genre is a true testament to Bill Everett’s talent and vision.
From Amazing-Man Comics #11 (Centaur, April 1940), here’s “Purification!” The story was scripted by Allen L. Kirby and drawn by Everett.