See that? That’s a superhero, armed with a sword and shield. Fighting a snake. Riding a frog. It only gets better from there.
Ray Palmer was never a cool character. I’d never even heard of him as a kid. This was one of the books my father had that I got after my parents divorced. Gil Kane’s art was fantastic back then because it was so mature, it was like peeking into the adult world through a secret door in a comic book panel. There was no graphic nudity and yet there was a sexuality in the book that was titillating to young boy. The subtle use of sex and violence was just enough to enthrall, but not enough to be offensive.
I didn’t read “high fantasy” as a kid. I had no idea what John Carter, Tarzan, or Flash Gordon was. My Mom loved horror films and my Dad only left me comic books. The idea that a man who could shrink down small enough to find a hidden, ancient civilization was the craziest thing I’d ever seen! It was like Conan, with yellow people and a hero dressed in the rags of his old life. It was awesome.
Funny thing is, for years I only had a beaten old copy of this story. One year Comics N More had the whole series available and I quickly snatched it up. I buy duplicates of the classics if affordable and in decent shape. The very next week, seriously I kid you not, I walked into Value Village so the wife could get some sheets or baby clothes or something and I saw the Annual for this series I didn’t even know existed. After the success of the series I guess fans demanded more and we got an annual, but it was a surprise to me! Over thirty years later I find the sequel chapter to one of the greatest comics ever made!