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Subj: Titans Spotlight, Jericho, and Ross Andru..
Posted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 at 03:53:45 am EST (Viewed 1038 times)
Whenever people speak reverently about the Silver-Age and those who embodied it the name Ross Andru rarely impacts the discussion.
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Wonder Woman, the character he helped redefine though the 1960's, held such low currency among fans and scholars that much like Andru's prodigious, but obscure, work for War comics of the era, meant that favor and recognition was never going to come from that direction for Ross Andru. Instead it would take a move to Marvel Comics by the turn of the seventies before his talent and verve would become fully recognised and his name well and truly a part of 1970s Bronze-Age appreciation.
Perhaps we need to be realistic about the subject, after all by the time Andru sadly passed away in 1993 the comics world, and its audience, had turned over and was barely recognisable to the one in which Andru had been a part of at the height of his success over a decade earlier. Much like his contemporaries - Dick Dillin, Bob Brown, Ed Hannigan, Irv Norvick, and George Tuska - the comics world and its readers had moved on and an all-new generation now had their own heroes to appreciate. Heroes with a very different style and fizz altogether to the commercially trained approach of past generations like Andru and his peers.
By the time Teen Titans Spotlight was launched in 1986 Andru's own contributions to the industry had longsince declined in its output, and this sparsity of regular material output undoubtedly helped to lend the impression that he was an artist in tha past, of another generation, no longer required or capable for the job of monthly modern comics. Others, such as the great Jose Garcia-Lopez, succeeded in making the transition, Andru though, despite occasional jobs for DC,seemed to lack the same ability as a Garcia-Lopez to stay high profile and gain any appreciation.
Which is a deeply unfortunate state of affairs, as judging from the examples of his work that managed to appear in the mid to late 80s Ross Andru had in fact not only fully adapted very well to a changing and demanding comics world, but was capable of material of truly exceptional quality and thought...
Teen Titans Spotlight was a series springing forth from the successfully launched Direct Sales incarnation of Marv Wolfman and George Perez' Teen Titans series, one of many new launches it caught the wave of interest and revitalisation of which DC had managed one of its most successful sales initiatives ever with the previous years Crisis on Infinite Earths having brought maximum publicity to the publisher. Debuting a year before the more successful Solo Avengers at Marvel Comics TTS' format was an almost anthology approach allowing various creators to try their hand at a feature story focusing on characters from the Titans mythology, and while never reaching the same impressive allround quality of Solo Avengers this now obscure and forgotten series does nevertheless remain a title worthy of some new attention due to its content and particularly the names who contributed to these 21 issues.
Joining Marv Wolfman for a four part tale featuring the mute Jericho Andru's contribution is therefore the most substantial of any artist who was involved with this series, most stories for this series were either one or two-parters, but Marv Wolfman's storyline for Jericho takes the form of an international intrigue that plays to the strengths of both the character and his background with mother Adelaine, former wife of Slade Wilson and now private freelance security agent. Wolfman's tale is an efficiently told one, though largely unremarkable in itself. What does raise it however is the extraordinary work of Ross Andru.
Opening in Paris, and an armed confrontation between mystery woman and mercenaries on the Eiffel tower naturally, Wolfman isn't aiming for any originality here. The plot is merely a device to get Joe Wilson involved in something exciting and make full use of his potential. A feat which Wolfman, thanks in no small part to Andru's remarkable page design and dramatically fluid flowing panel-work, he achieves with commendable skill. The character of a mute in comics was always a problematic one, but in a medium which tended to have a degree of resistance to fully disabled or handicapped characters Jericho was a brave and appreciated attempt to be inclusive and show that such a character could achieve aa degree of popularity and worth in the genre. And yet key to making the character work on the page was the ability of the artist involved, in Ross Andru no better choice for what is essentially Marv Wolfman doing a four part mini-series for Jericho could have been found. Andru admirably shows his understanding of the problems inherant in a character like Joe Wilson and adapts accordinigly, Joe's is a silent world, meaning a character who has to be communicated visually. And to this end Andru delivers four issues that are something of a masterclass in design and being able to adapt ones self to a particular job.
Anyone with any interest in finding out who Ross Andru was, and whether his work was actually any good, need do no more than look at this now obscure but effectively achieved four part story that shows one of the comic medium's more underappreciated and neglected oldtimers at the height of his powers. As an example of how to fit in as many as FIFTEEN panels to a page, and yet make those pages some of the most exciting and arresting you will ever see in a comicbook, Teen Titans Spotlight #3-6 await your potential enjoyment... testament to the superb craftsman that was Ross Andru.
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