This is where I should be saying something insightful and inspiring about the work of Steve Gerber and what it meant to me. This is where I'd like to be saying something like that, but I can't, not honestly. I know I've read some of Gerber's work, I know I've enjoyed many of his characters, I know I've read about his legal battles and his work-for-hire disputes and all the various problems that have plagued his work and the recent revivals of Howard the Duck and Omega the Unknown. The problem is that I don't feel like I've read enough, like I know enough of what his writing is like, what his themes are, or anything of substance.
But I know that after seeing the outpouring of praise and support over the last couple of days, I feel like I've missed out on something big. But I'm certainly willing to find out what I've missed. Where should a Gerber neophyte start to get an appreciation of his work?
Goodbye, Steve Gerber, though I never knew you at all. I hope, in some small way, to correct that.
One measures a circle starting anywhere, Tom.
Howard and Man-Thing are givens, but maybe you want to start with something that'll get you good and hooked. Giant-Size Defenders #4. Then read on in the regular title from, oh, somewhere about issue #20 or so.
Say, I do believe there's an Essentials of this...
I'd say Man-Thing, Defenders and Howard the Duck are start points.
The Essential Defenders volumes do a good job showing off Gerber's style... the shift in tone is noticeable.
I was reading them recently, and wondering why I was a fan of the Defenders are a plowed through the non-Gerber stuff... when I hit Steve's work, I remembered why Defenders was my favorite comic of the 70s.
Here are three easy to find and highly accessible choices:
Omega the Unknown -- the original "classic" version -- is still available in trade paperback. I say everyone should read this.
Hard Time: 50 to Life is collected in a single volume. I expect DC will collect the second volume of the series as well. It amazes me that Gerber persuaded DC to publish this at all.
A collected edition of Doctor Fate: More Pain Comics was already listed in Amazon for this summer. Dunno if they've made any statement about it being delayed. I'd say that, in combination with the collected Helmet of Fate tie-in miniseries by a bunch of different writers including Gerber, would make some gripping reading.
All three of these are dark stories, but they're all among Gerber's most "realistic" (if that's the word I want) and straightforward storytelling.
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