Jim Steranko’s transformation of Twitter from a mere social network into a personal narrative that may well shake Western civilization to its very foundations – I mean geez, the guy b!+ch-slapped Bob Kane for criminies’ sake – inspired me to step outside this blog’s comfort zone and post one of my favorite stories by the great writer and artist.
I should probably derail this already tenuous narrative, though, to say this blog (and its predecessor, the sadly deleted Fortress Of Fortitude) owes a great debt to Steranko. When I was 10 years old, I stumbled upon the artist’s two-volume history of comics that told compelling, in-depth stories about some of the greatest creators, characters and story-lines of the Golden Age.
I was immediately intrigued by Steranko’s narrative, which was accompanied by black & white reproductions of classic Golden Age covers. I also spent many hours staring at the finely detailed covers Steranko provided for the two books, which literally brought scores of famous and obscure super-heroes to life.
Suffice to say, I was hooked and became a rabid – if rather frustrated – fan of Golden Age comics who eagerly grabbed any original or reprint I could find. It wasn’t until the advent of the Internet and such sites as Comic Book Plus and the Digital Comic Museum that I actually had a chance to read much of the stories that Steranko had mentioned. It was such an exciting experience that … well, I couldn’t help but share the whole shebang with others.
Steranko’s history also included examples of his own comic-book work, which set me off on the far easier task of collecting old issues of Nick Fury, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Although he wrote and drew less stories than I expected, each issue of Steranko’s Fury blew my mind in a manner that wouldn’t be matched until I encountered Jack Kirby’s New Gods, Steve Ditko’s Dr. Strange and Jim Starlin’s Warlock.
Pretty heady company!
This particular story, which appeared in Strange Tales directly before Fury graduated to his own title, pretty much sums up the unique experience of a Steranko production in about 10 pages or so. So with a humble tip of the hat to Mr. Steranko – and a nervous glance toward the Disney conglomerate – here’s “Today The Earth Died!” from Strange Tales #168 (Marvel, May 1968).
The story and pencils are by Jim Steranko; inks are by the great Joe Sinnott.