After reading E-Man Recharged #1 (October 2006, published by Digital Webbing) I felt like I had been visited by an old friend I never knew I had. This comic is a satisfying throwback to a practically abandoned style of superhero storytelling: denser plotting, pleasant narration, informative flashbacks, likeable characters, and real human situations as opposed to drawn-out angst-ridden sequences. It reminded me of so many comics I read in the mid to late 1970s, notably DC’s All-Star Comics and Metal Men. Having Joe Staton on board as E-Man artist helped with the familiarity; after all, he drew the JSA in All-Star and the Metal Men in 1977 and 1978. But the best thing about E-Man Recharged is the fun involved. Everyone who worked on this comic had a blast putting it together.
To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of E-Man, or a long-time reader of E-Man, or even the slightest authority on E-Man. I knew he was published first at Charlton Comics for ten issues beginning in 1973, and then, after a few years in comics limbo, by First Comics from 1983 to 1985. I knew Staton drew the character. But I couldn’t tell you what the “E” in E-Man stood for, what his origin was, who his supporting characters were, or how many and what kind of villains he had in his rogues gallery. But after finishing E-Man Recharged I can tell you a lot about E-Man, and that’s because this issue is packed with good stuff: an appreciative overview and welcome back by Michael Ambrose, editor of Charlton Spotlight; a very entertaining 25-page story by writer Nick Cuti and Staton; a discussion by the creators on how the tale was pulled together; and a letters column! This book truly, as far as what a comic should contain, has it all!
I’ve held back on writing about the story because I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s one aspect of it that I want to discuss so please skip this paragraph if you don’t want anything given away. There’s a scene towards the end where E-Man has some thoughts on a long-standing character that has just made the ultimate sacrifice to save E-Man and his girlfriend and partner in crime-busting, Nova Kane. It’s a surprisingly poignant moment because E-Man has come to an understanding and made peace with a sentient entity he had, for the most part, always been in conflict with. It’s darn good storytelling!
E-Man was never a part of my personal comics past, but E-Man Recharged is the kind of comic they (‘they’ being just about every major comics publisher) do not make anymore, yet here that kind of comic is right now, a simple joy to read that makes all the right turns down my own memory lanes. Gentlemen, may we have an encore?