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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 321: The Weird #1

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from The Weird #1, which was published by DC and is cover dated April 1988. Enjoy!

Brood, Superman, brood, damn you!

Every creator has pet characters, I would imagine, and perhaps only Chris Claremont is more likely to use a pet character no matter what he/she writes than Jim Starlin, as evidenced by the Weird, who shows up in this fairly obscure mini-series and then returns 20 years later, when Jim Starlin was writing for DC again. Starlin does this a lot, but that’s okay – he can do it if he wants to!

The Weird is, well, a weird comic. Starlin teams up with Bernie Wrightson, and you’d think two excellent and legendary creators like them would produce something that’s held in a bit higher esteem. That’s not to say The Weird is bad, it’s just not terribly acclaimed. It looks great, naturally, and although Starlin is probably a better artist than writer, he’s still a pretty good writer, so this is an interesting little series. But none of that matters – it’s a splash page!

I don’t know if Starlin, Wrightson, or Klein came up with the title lettering, but it’s pretty mod, innit? It’s very “late 1980s” in that it could easily show up on a Ratt album. Then we get Wrightson’s brooding Superman, standing on the rooftop in the rain, his left leg propped up on a ledge so that he can drape his arm across his knee, making him even broodier. Klein/Wrightson’s caption boxes move us from the top left to the bottom right and over the image of Supes, so it’s a nice design. Starlin tells us who he is – in case you didn’t know – and where he is, and that his expectations for the night are way off. It’s not much, but it does set the mood for the book, because the Weird himself is so weird. Down in the lower right, Karen Berger lets us know when this book takes place, which is handy – it’s before the new Justice League went international and lost some of the members we’ll find in this comic, so it explains why they’re here. That was always nice to know back when footnotes weren’t so taboo in comics.

It’s a nice drawing by Wrightson, although I’m puzzled by one thing: the wind. The rain is leading our eyes from top left to bottom right, and it seems pretty steady, implying that the wind is steady. Yet Superman’s cape billows out to his right, against the wind. Now, this makes sense to a degree – the rain is leading our eyes, while the cape makes Superman’s brooding all the more dramatic, and it’s easier to draw the cape than to fill in all the windows behind the cape were it not billowing. But it’s still counter-intuitive – Superman’s cape shouldn’t be blowing that way, it should be blowing to his left or at least hanging down. That’s not dramatic enough, though!

Despite that, it’s still a beautiful drawing. The Wrightsons – Bernie and Michele – light Superman from below and to the right (from the windows in the building opposite him and the street below), and it gives him a very nice pensive look. The spectral light of the night – presumably from lightning and city ambient light – tinges the top of his head and his cape with a blue, spooky hue, contrasting with the bright colors of his costume. Wrightson gives us a good sense of Superman’s power, even though he’s not doing anything – we see his muscles and we can sense his strength, but that’s more based on hints by Wrightson and his posing. Dan Green doesn’t use heavy inks all over Superman, so the cape, for instance, looks a little less substantial in places, making Superman a bit more ghostly than usual. It’s a nicely inked page – Green lends some strength to Superman’s physique, but he also is able to make the drawing more delicate than we might expect.

This page doesn’t allow either creator to show off too much, but if it piques your interest, I suggest hunting it down. I think DC released it in trade, but I can’t imagine the single issues are too expensive. It’s Starlin and Wrightson, for crying out loud! How can it not be good?

Next: One of those recent, highly-regarded comics that never stood a chance. So sad! But we can check it out, right? Find more highly-regarded comics that never stood a chance in the archives!


i always liked the Weird, but it is a bit quirky so that may be why it isn’t more highly regarded. Also, the Weird looks….well…weird, so he was never going to be iconic no matter what.

What i want to know is the backstory of how & who came up with this story.

The cape billowing up on the edge of the building makes sense if there’s an updraft coming up the side of the building from the wind blowing against it, as that tends to be stronger than the wind itself if the building face is taking the full force of the breeze without a building in between. You can see stuff like tarps and flags blowing like that, sometimes. the other side of the cape, being on the roof, is in the lee/wind shadow of the building edge and Supes’ body.

I wonder if that not entirely obvious effect was deliberately done to cause a double-take?

danjack: I imagine Starlin just thought of it, because he dug all that weird stuff. You’re right, though – the character’s look tended to work against him.

Basara: Good point about the updraft. I hadn’t thought of that. I think that Wrightson, being a good artist, had probably studied stuff like that and knew that the cape would billow even if the wind above Superman wasn’t necessarily blowing it up.

One of the 3 double cover comics I own. Double covers on floppies were awesome! In 7th grade, it was like finding a gold mine. Do printing errors like that still happen these days?

I remember being fascinated by the house ad for this series, but I never got around to actually reading it until earlier this year. It is definitely a very…weird comic, but given how highly regarded Jim Starlin was at the time with DC, I could see them letting him take the then super-popular JLI out for a stroll to show off his new character. I did like it, though, as I have many of DC’s “throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks” projects from that period of roughly 1987-1989…

I thought I read that this got collected in a trade that collected the more recent Mystery in Space stuff Starlin did.

I too dug that house ad for this, but I’ve never seen the issues, I don’t think.


Yep, DC tacked this onto the second “Mystery In Space” trade collecting Starlin’s mini. He managed to bring back The Weird for that mini-series, so I guess it made sense to include it, though I would rather it got its own trade. Starlin might not be the star he once was, but Wrightson’s name is still a pretty big draw for some people, and heck, just call it “Justice League: The Weird” or something like that, and it would probably do just fine…

I wonder if this not getting its own trade is related to the problems with other DC late ’80s stuff not getting traded, where creators had fairly sweet royalty deals, so it’s not financially viable (they say) to reprint them on their own, but as part of that other trade, since it’s not the “main” book reprinted, it doesn’t cost as much/some fuzzy math accounting is brought to bear. Just spitballin’.

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