Although Bill Everett had a well-known affinity for water-based crime-fighters (Sub-Mariner, Hydroman, The Fin), his ability to create compelling characters that eschewed traditional notions of heroism separated the writer-artist’s work from his contemporaries and established Everett as one of the great pioneers of the comics field.
Prince Namor, of course, is widely recognized as comic’s first true anti-hero. However, that same streak of rebelliousness can be found in much of Everett’s other work. From his hard-boiled interpretation of Atlas Comics’ Venus to the innumerable pre-Code horror classics created in conjunction with Stan Lee, Everett’s style never quite veered toward the center of the road.
A good example of this tendency can be found in one of Everett’s earliest creations, Amazing-Man.
As related in the character’s origin, John Aman was sent to Earth by the fabled “Council Of Seven” to use his skills and abilities for good. Unfortunately, a disgruntled member of the council – a cloaked mystery man known only as “The Great Question” – sought to control Aman and fulfill darker ambitions.
The surprise twist to the following story is that the villain actually succeeds in corrupting Aman. Even at this stage in the game – mere months after the debut of Superman – Everett demonstrated an interest in depicting heroes with discernible weaknesses. Later, of course, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would utilize similar techniques to bring about the Marvel Age Of Comics.
Though his name isn’t often credited for such accomplishments, I believe Everett’s work helped pave the way for the Marvel revolution.
The following story, written and drawn by Everett, originally appeared in Amazing-Man Comics #6 (Centaur Publications, 1939).