1987: Strike!

Strike! (1987) #1-6, Strike! vs. Sgt. Strike Special (1988) #1 by Chuck Dixon, Tom Lyle, Romeo Tanghal et al.

Another 4Winds production, but this time Timothy Truman doesn’t seem to be involved. Instead it’s written by Airboy writer Chuck Dixon and features another revamped 40s public domain character.

As with many of these revisions at Eclipse, the question is “how do you make a super-hero relevant these days?” Answer above.

That is hittin’, man.

What’s not hittin’ is Tom Lyle’s artwork, which is extremely Standard mid-80s Superhero. It’s not very exciting, and I don’t even feel inspired to rag on it.

Most of the first issue deals with retelling the Sgt. Strike origin story, and it involves Tunguska, Nazis, CIA and just about everything you’d expect. Perhaps more stuff than you’d expect, even.

Dixon explains that the character originated with a novel idea for selling cereal: A US mid-western company in the 40s decided that including comics with cereal would be a good way to sell more cereal, and a separate line of comics was spun out from that.

The storyline doesn’t really start until the second issue, and Our Hero comes up with a really odd way to make money… start brawls in pubs? I didn’t quite get the logic. But, on the other hand, the fight scenes are more amusing than they usually are, so what the hey.

Not the first hero who have made that point.

Dixon continues with his history of the comics, and retells in perhaps too-great details the plotlines of some of the 40s comics. Some people really enjoy recapping plots. But then we get a reprint, the first of five:

Er… that drawing and that physique looks extremely un-40s.

And that’s a Doc Ock tentacle from the 60s? WTF?

Is this another postmodern mock revival thing like Timothy Truman has done in his Prowler series just a month earlier? Two fake revisionist super-hero comics made at the same time by the same people?

I guess they had fun one drunken night or something after re-reading Watchmen too many times. Well, that explains the rather unlikely story of the cereal marketing stunt.

I like these kinds of shenanigans, but couldn’t they have found somebody who’s better at emulating 40s stories so that the joke would have made it past the first page of the reprints? It’s a missed opportunity.

This all puts a new spin on the grim proceedings of the main feature. Is this psychotic CIA agent meant to be funny? Are the short shorts?

The next issues’ “reprints” have an artist that does the rendering a bit more 40s, but the physique is positively 90s, and the mecha Japanese robot is another tell, I guess.

Our Hero goes after a villain (to steal drug money), but he goes after his childhood friend (who had turned drug dealer), leaving him to be killed by the Colombian mafia. Is Dixon making the point that vigilantes are psychos, or does Dixon think that’s a reasonable, healthy thing to do? I don’t know, and I don’t really care.

The best of all Tarzan knock-offs.

Are those the Qys from Alan Moore’s Miracleman? I guess Dixon was an even bigger fan than I imagined…

Strike! is hot! But it doesn’t sell well.

That’s Sgt. Strike’s moronic sidekick, as Dixon described him…

And, yup, in the sixth issue Dixon spills the beans: He’d just made the entire thing up. None of the letters he printed seemed to indicate that any of the readers saw through the joke at the time… and if they had, Dixon could have printed them all in the final issue and let everybody have a laugh.

*gasp* The final “reprint” is drawn by Daniel Clowes! His post-Lloyd Llewellyn/pre-Eightball Bernie Kriegstein mode! Looks great!

And the story is the most unhinged of them all, and is definitely the best thing in this series.

And then we’re told that this series continues in this new #1:

By this time, Strike! no longer takes place on Earth: Our Hero has been kidnapped by aliens and he has to fight some other aliens For The Sake Of Our Universe. It’s a rather jarring transition from where it was a couple of issues ago, but whatever.

You can’t handle the bull! It’s hittin’!

And then we’re told that this continues in Total Eclipse, which I guess I’ll get to in a few weeks.

As late-80s revisionist meta super-hero comics go, it’s one of them.

I wonder whether anybody later picked up a random issue and was a bit puzzled about the concept…

Yup:

There are lots of details there, but I haven’t been able to verify any of them after some determined web searching. No “All-Thrill Comics,” at least from that time period. No books called “Prairie Crimebusters” or “All Kid Comics.” No company called “Happy Comics.” No “Jolly Farmer Food Company.”

Strike! doesn’t seem to have been collected or reprinted.

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