Forgotten Masterpiece: The Massacre of the Innocents

Here’s another forgotten, fannish collection, a story that was serialized across three issues of the long-running fanzine The ROCKET’S BLAST COMICOLLECTOR. It was produced by artist Brad Caslor, who would eventually go into animation as a storyboard artist and director. But here, he channels the individual styles of close to a dozen other creators to bring forth one of the earliest attempts at a Marvel/DC crossover (though all of the characters’ names have been sanitized slightly in an attempt at avoiding lawsuits. It saw print in 1971 in ROCKET’S BLAST COMICOLELCTOR #85-87, and was a bit of a sensation. It helps to remember that at this point, the very idea of there being actual sanctioned Marvel and DC crossovers was unheard of. So fannish stories such as this one were the only time anybody thought they’d ever get to see their assorted favorites together.

You can immediately see that Caslor is an accomplished artist, even if he still has some weaknesses in his work. Here, he channels some of the flavor of Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott into his Captain America figures.

Here, we get a very classic Dick Sprang-style Batman and Robin (albeit in a later model Batmobile.) What’s interesting about Caslor’s approach is that he’s able to depict the individual characters in these different styles and “on model” with their comic book roots without all of them feeling like they’re living in different universes on the page. Everything integrates nicely.

That’s a pretty Gene Colan looking Daredevil, too. (as the neon sign for soda in the background indicates–Caslor wasn’t hiding his influences, far from is.) Poor Aquaman and the X-Men don’t even rate any panel time.

Here, it’s a very specific period of AVENGERS that Caslor is modeling things after, drawn by John Buscema and inked by George Klein. I wonder if that Mona Lisa painting in the background isn’t’ a comment on Buscema’s skill level as a draftsman.

That’s a straight-up Steve Ditko swipe in that last panel.

Here’s a Ditko-style Creeper, a Carmine Infantino-esque Flash and a Joe Kubert-styled Hawkman all on the same page.

A Carmine Infantino swipe in that sixth panel.

And another Kubert-style Hawkman here.

Another trifecta here, with a Gill Kane-style Green Lantern, a Wayne Boring Superman and a Jack Kirby-esque Thor. That panel where the three heroes stammer out where they’ve been while all of this has been going on is a favorite of mine. So ridiculous, yet so true to the era.

And of course, the shooter turns out to be a crazed Billy Batson, driven mad by having been forced out of the industry in 1953 by Superman and National Comics. The original Captain Marvel had taken on a legendary status in fandom by 1971, owing to the fact that his adventures had been banned and he would never return. Yet DC would make an announcement to the contrary less than a year after this story saw print.

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