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CSBG Archive

Warren Ellis’ Back Pages

Every day this month I will share with you the first (at least as far as I know) U.S. professional work by a notable comic book creator. Here is an archive of the creators who have been featured so far.

Today’s featured creator is Warren Ellis!

Enjoy!

Warren Ellis made his comic book debut working in his native England, mostly on some smaller independent comic book magazines (like Deadline and Blast! – the latter of which he debuted his Lazarus Churchyard series) but he also did some work for Judge Dredd and Atomeka Press. However, when he began working for Marvel in 1994, when he was in his mid-to-late 20s, he was still mostly an up and coming writer.

His first ongoing series was Hellstorm: Prince of Lies, where he really hit the ground running. His run on that book was quite similar to Alan Moore’s debut on Sage of the Swamp Thing (in terms of revitalizing a book, drastically changing the tone of the book and picking up acclaim pretty much instantaneously). He then basically did the same thing to his next two titles, Doom 2099 and Excalibur. By that point, Ellis was quite established as a great, unique comic book writer.

While his Hellstorm run is now quite famous, around the same time he took over Hellstorm he also did the 1994 Ghost Rider Annual (#2). That story is a lot less famous, and it is quite good. That’s what I’ll be sharing with you today…

The story was a spotlight on the Ghost Rider villain, the Scarecrow. It was drawn by Javier Saltares and Mike Witherby.

The opening is really strong…

Throughout the issue, we see Scarecrow’s childhood, which is pretty darn twisted (his mother would abuse him constantly, and he would teach himself to contort and hide in their house to avoid her beatings). Throughout the issue, we see Scarecrow kidnap others and talk about building a new house like the one he grew up in.

When Ghost Rider finally tracks Scarecrow down, he discovers Scarecrow’s twisted plot – he has lined a maze-like room with innocent victims, so Scarecrow can re-live his hiding from his mother while also figuring that it would impede Ghost Rider’s ability to attack him (as an errant chain would hit an innocent). This leads to the Scarecrow’s ultimate plan…

Good stuff!

14 Comments

Imagine the awkward small talk during the weeks that Ghost Rider was just sitting on top of him, waiting for the bones to heal crookedly.

I think this is the only comic featured in My Back Pages so far that I own. After reading Hellstorm & druid, I remember scouring back issues for Ellis’ name. He did one issue each of the Ghost Rider ongoing, Dr. Strange, & Daredevil, and I was able to follow him onto Excalibur and Thor. Those preview pages in mid-’90s Marvels (“Marvel Edge,” etc.) may have been ugly as hell, but they helped me track down books I would have missed otherwise.

That last panel… you think Ellis was riffing Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth And Must Scream?”

J.

This made Wizard’s top 100 Single Issue stories of the last 20-30 years list. Wouldn’t it be great if CSBG ran one of those as well?

Wow, it’s fascinating how much the Scarecrow had changed since his old days as an Iron Man and Captain America villain, when he was basically just Rag Doll with trained crows. The whole FEEEEAR thing he appears to have, um, borrowed from DC’s Scarecrow.

Imagine the awkward small talk during the weeks that Ghost Rider was just sitting on top of him, waiting for the bones to heal crookedly.

Along with his new FEEEAR powers, Scarecrow was given an accelerated healing factor, because Marvel gives those things out like lollipops. But apparently his only works in the presence of FEEEEAR. (And no, I’m not making that up.)

I love seeing the 1st works of these comic greats. I would love to see a month of the final pages of comic legends that have passed or long since retired

Quiet Jay Tea! Riff or not, Harlan is likely to sue if he finds out about this!

@ buttler

I think the revision of the Scarecrow into a nastier piece of work was in a one-shot crossover between Ghost Rider and Captain America. IIRC it had a fancy gatefold cover – it was a good story, but basically turned Scarecrow into Michael Myers

Apodaca – ‘Soooo, nice weather we’ve been having…’ ‘Is that your bent thighbone or are you just happy to see me?’

funkygreenjerusalem

March 27, 2011 at 7:18 pm

I brought that when I was 11, and pretty new to comics.
It got passed around our playground like nobody’s business – we all thought it was the most hard-core thing we’d ever read.
Made Ellis the one to watch for me.

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 28, 2011 at 5:44 am

I was looking at the archive for this blog, Warren Ellis was linked (or listed) twice both with the same materials.

One of these days, I should check out his Hellstrom run.

funkygreenjerusalem

March 28, 2011 at 10:04 pm

One of these days, I should check out his Hellstrom run.

I suggest at least checking out the last issue of Druid.

It shows a different approach to ending a series.

Brian – Why are you restricting this to just US work? I’d have though most people would want to see Ellis’s first comics work.

Oh man I totally forgot he wrote Lazarus Churchyard! That was fucking great–it’s a pity Blast! folded after so few issues, what a line-up! And it was my first exposure to Peter Bagge–wrecked my Batman-worshiping head up forever…

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