Brand Echh – Thunderbolt #57

For a short period in the mid-1960s, under the editorship of Dick Giordano, bottom-rung publisher Charlton had a very nice line of up-and-coming super hero comics. It didn’t last long–the market dip in the post-BATMAN TV show craze put the kibosh on all sorts of super hero aspirations. In this instance, though, we’re going to be speaking about the most overtly Marvel-imitative strip Charlton ever ran.

The Sentinels ran as a back-up feature in THUNDERBOLT for six issues, and was clearly inspired by the Marvel books of the period–right down to aping their title page bannering and title lettering. Sadly, many Charlton books of this period used typeset lettering like this, which looked awful.

The Sentinels were Helio, Mentalia and the Brute, three young folk singers who had been given devices which granted them super-powers by a dying inventor who enlisted them in his secret battle against the mysterious Mind-Bender. This isn’t the first Sentinels story I’m showing today, but it is the first one that I encountered, so I have a certain sentimentality about it.

The Sentinels was the brainchild of writer Gary Friedrich and artist Sam Grainger–though Friedrich’s roommate Roy Thomas has confessed to throwing in a few ideas as well. It was essentially a cut-rate Fantastic Four. This installment was dialogued as well as illustrated by Grainger, apparently.

While he cheats on backgrounds here like there’s no tomorrow, I always found Grainger’s quasi-cartoony style appealing. He’d go on to do more inking than penciling for the major outfits, including a stint over Dave Cockrum right at the start of the New X-Men run that was quite a good fit.

This page in particular looks as though it had been lettered in the traditional fashion and then had all of the hand-lettering replaced with machine type, while keeping the balloon shapes. Weird.

Here at the end, Grainger and co. bring in Sarge Steel, editor Giordano’s own creation, who functions in this context as a Nick Fury figure. It’s a fun emulation of the Marvel style of continuity and cross-pollination. There’d be two more Sentinels stories after this one, but the series is largely forgotten today.

One thought on “Brand Echh – Thunderbolt #57

  1. Fun strip! I like Grainger’s cartooning here. It looks like a line that would suit Gil Kane’s pencils– but didn’t, in “Gulliver Jones”– and be a poor fit for John Buscema (FF ANNUAL # 11) or Dave Cockrum, both of whom looked good under his inking. Who’d’a’guessed?

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