The Complete Pacific Comics Re-Reading Blog Series presents:
by Dave Stevens, Steve Ditko &c
Pacific Presents (1982) #1-4
Both Rocketeer and The Missing Man had previously been previewed in Starslayer. It’s probably a good strategy: Introducing the readers to new series in a popular publication. On the other hand, it means that the people who buy the new series may well miss the start of these serials…
And I have to say that the team-up of Stevens and Ditko seems a bit odd to me: The crossover audience between those two artist must be kinda slim.
The first two issues of this don’t have the normal Pacific Comics logo, which is quite unusual. I’m assuming this one was designed by Stevens to fit the style of Rocketeer, which it does admirably.
Bill Schanes explains that this is planned as a three issue series, but with a slightly wonky schedule due to Stevens having to do illustration work instead of working on Rocketeer.
The Rocketeer serial starts with Chapter 3 without any recap of what’s happened in the previous chapters. Again, slightly odd choice, perhaps?
But Steven’s artwork is the main attraction here anyway, so perhaps people didn’t mind. The reproduction here, on newsprint, isn’t ideal, though.
We get a mini-bio of Stevens, but not of any of the other people involved.
Like Steve Ditko, but perhaps that’s not needed.
The Invisible Man, with dialogue by Robin Snyder (for at least two of the issues), isn’t Ditko at his most strident or didactic, but it’s very, very odd. I mean, even for Ditko.
I honestly couldn’t concentrate long enough to make out what even happened here, which is on me, I guess. It probably made all the sense in the world! And Ditko’s artwork is the same as even, but I found all three chapters of this thing to be a total chore to get through.
WHAT DID JIMMY NERVO SAY!?!?!?
The last Missing Man was the most interesting, as it lines most up with Ditko’s Randroid politics. We’re introduced to a truly despicable (and poor) family, and we’re treated to a moral play where we get to see who breaks out of the cycle of evil. And besides, that page on the left there is fun: It’s supposed to be read vertically instead of horizontally, which is fun.
Steve Ditko ranks among the most talented comic creators ever, and this Missing Man was a surprise, if not very exciting. Like Kirby’s ’80s work, Ditko’s offering wasn’t “retro” enough to be quaint, and yet it was far too removed from his classic Marvel work two decades earlier to appeal to fans expecting that sort of minimalist superhero adventuring. Missing Man was ostensibly a private detective, drawn as a mostly transparent character — nothing but hair, ears, arms, legs, and a set of glasses hanging suspended in midair where his face ought to be. The script, by Mark Evanier, had people standing around a lot with dopey “Wot the…” expressions, saying things to each other like “He’s here and yet he’s not here. I don’t know where to stab!” Subsequent Missing Man stories in Pacific Presents were increasingly incoherent, and the series disappeared after issue #3.
With issue three, the book changes into an ongoing title… because Stevens hasn’t done the next part of the Rocketeer serial yet. But instead we get a bunch of new stuff:
Tim Conrad does a wacky science thing about E. Erie Smith…
… with quite interesting visuals. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go anywhere.
Ditko gets even more dualistic than usual.
And we get an introduction to Pacific’s next comic book, Vanity. It’s by Will Meugniot, who’s probably most well-known as the artist on DNAgents. So once again, Pacific is publishing a series somebody who’s mostly known as an artist, and the results are pretty incoherent.
And the gag this sets up is eyeroll inducing.
We get a random sci-fi/western by Bob Haney, Mel Keefer &c, and it’s not much better.
Bruce Jones, Helmut Eppich &c contribute a really groanworthy “mystery”, with unimpressive artwork.
I guess not! That’s the final issue, and Pacific went bankrupt a few months later. I’ve googled, and it seems like the E. Erie Smith serial was not continued anywhere else, and I’m not surprised.
Rocketeer, on the other hand, was picked up by Eclipse Comics, and then published in collected editions by various publishers, in addition to being adapted into a movie.
I was unable to find any contemporaneous reviews of Pacific Presents.