Saturday, July 11, 2009

Those Image Moments: Super Patriot goes klik klak klik klak.

Continuing our tour of early '90s Image comic book moments that have stayed with me all these years, that's Super Patriot up there, from 1993's Super Patriot #1, written by Erik Larsen and Keith Giffen and drawn by Dave Johnson.

Johnson's art was fantastic in this mini-series, and he came up with some very creative ways to show off Super Patriot's super power, which was that his arms could change into guns. (Gotta love those '90s comics.)

Below is a three-page action sequence that I still think is just terrifically executed. All you need to know is that Super Patriot has been sent to an island to investigate some bad guys:

(click to enlarge)

Other Image Moments:


  1. Well, I can't say this is terrible, but I'll say that Dave Johnson has come a long way in the last 16 years, assuming this is the same guy that does the 100 Bullets covers. I would call this better than a lot of the Image stuff that I've seen, but it's still kind of muddled, and not as easy to follow as it could be. For instance, the first page doesn't establish that there's more than one plane chasing him, so when he shoots at the plane at the beginning of the second page, it looks like he's totally aiming in the wrong direction. Actually, that's probably the main problem. I do find the star on his crotch amusing, and the sound effects are kind of interesting, like there's a stream of noises rising up from their source toward the top of the panels. It seems kind of similar to some of Erik Larsen's work on Spider-Man, from what I remember reading.

    So yeah, surprisingly good, compared to a lot of the awfulness I've seen from early Image. Just what a teenage boy should gravitate toward, right?

  2. I'd say that this is a great example of 'Show, don't tell,' except not much is being said...and the backgrounds are primarily made up of sound effects.

    That said, Johnson has improved a helluva lot. His 100 Bullets covers were great, and have you checked out his covers to the new Punisher: Frank Castle books ( )? Super good!

  3. Johnson the single image maker may have polished his technique, but looking back at this, I miss Johnson the storyteller. He was 26 or so when he did this... He's making some freshman mistakes, but he's conjuring a lot of poetry out of a very mundane script. Its pretty amazing that he came out of the gate with drawing chops like those. I wish he was still making comics.

    The sound effects are by Chris Eliopoulos, who lettered all of the books that Erik Larson worked on for ten years or so, long after everyone else in comics had turned that job over to computers. It's to Larson's credit that he understood the power of sound effects in comics when almost noone else did (again this was the early 90's) and wrote room for them into the stories.

    This comic, dumb though it may be, has held up very well. I have my copy in a shortbox next to my drawingboard, and I'm not ashamed of that. Thanks for shining the harsh light of 2009 on comics from 1993. Its a fun blog to read.

  4. Yeah, I would like to see Johnson return to doing full comics instead of just covers. Although Mr. Inkwell Bookstore is correct; that Punisher cover he did recently is awesome. (Great typeface for the title, too.)

    Matt's criticism aside, I still think these three pages are pretty great - I love the flow from image to image. Great movement and pacing. Seeing the reflection of the second plane blowing up in Super Patriot's glasses is a nice touch, too.

    And the sound effects are neat -- I particularly enjoyed the FUNT FUNT.

  5. What was Johnson's last non-cover work? He did the first two issues of Mark Millar's Superman: Red Son, but has he done anything else since?

  6. According to the Comic Book Database (, he did some pencils in Bulletproof Monk: Tales of the BPM #1 (, cover dated March 2003, and JLA/JSA Secret Files and Origins # 1 (, cover dated January 2003.

    Both of those came out before Red Son, though, so that might be it.