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NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #10
Cover of ACTION #364, June 1968, "The Untouchable from Krypton."

If you were weaned on Curt Swan's Superman, you know that when Curt did the "Superman in glass" thing, Supes always looked very... serene. Seeing the absolutely frantic, diseased Superman on this cover made a huge impression on me. It was the first time I had seen Superman in such a state! Ironically, as a kid in 1968, I had no clue who "Neal Adams" was! But whoever he was, he created my NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #10...
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NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #9

Splash page of X-Men #12, August 1969, "Do Or Die, Baby!"

The drama and the unusual coloring of this image really got to me, and I also loved the hip-slang nature of the story's title -- "DO OR DIE, BABY!" (Neal wrote that title) -- but the thing that REALLY got to me was the credit box ... there was a name there, the guy who drew the thing ... NEAL ADAMS.

At the ripe old age of 12, this was the first time I had seen that name, and consciously attached it to a style I loved. I realize Neal had been credited many times before this, but THIS was the time that stuck with 12-year-old me. At last I knew the name of the guy who had been doing all these crazy, revolutionary drawings! Not only that, but they even named the INKER -- a Mr. Tom Palmer.

It all came together in my NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #9...

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NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #8

From VAMPIRELLA #10 (1970), "The Soft, Sweet Lips of Hell."

I didn't read this story when it first came out, I saw it as a reprint a few years later. Still, even then, it really shocked me.

First of all, it wasn't in a DC or Marvel comic, it was in a black and white WARREN magazine. But it had been drawn by Neal Adams, who I (at this point) knew well as the artist of Batman and zillions of DC covers! My first reaction was "Wow, they're allowed to work for other companies? Who knew!" Shocking!

Equally shocking was the supernaturally erotic tone of the story, about a beautiful woman who sucks the souls out of unsuspecting male victims. By this point I'd seen lots of Adams' busty, gorgeous women, but this one was a scantily-clad babe running around in a mini skirt, SUCKING SOULS! Leaving in her wake rotting corpses!

In one sequence, the Succubus enters a room full of men, then, a panel later... the men's lifeless bodies are seen on the floor, twitching around, all rotted and stuff. Gross! Cool! Meanwhile, Ms. Succubus struts on out with a smirk, pretty as a picture!

The story's ending is bittersweet, of the Romeo and Juliet variety. All in all, a tale the sainted "Comics Code" would never have approved of! Which, of course, made it a thousand times MORE fascinating.

Here it is, my NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #8...

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NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #7

From AVENGERS #95, January 1972, "Something Inhuman This Way Comes."

The splash page of this story (Triton emerging from water at a dock) is a favorite of many, but it didn't even make my list! It's great and all, but just not at the top, for me. Instead, I chose a panel from this story that affected me far more -- the story's CLOSING shot. I really love it when superheroes tell the bad guys that they better look out, because they are about to GET IT! So naturally I loved the story's last panel, showing Cap screaming that the Kree/Skrull forces that are going to GET IT. As we all know, this was the opening to the brilliant intergalactic space opera known as the Kree-Skrull War, an epic highpoint in comic history. Like most stories Neal did.

OK now, it's time! Captain America, get up on a conveniently-placed rock! Call your fellow team members and tell them to stand around you in a semi-circle! Raise your fist into the air! Ignore the fact the Iron Man's chest device is red instead of yellow, as it should be! Wait until the wind catches the Vision's cape just right, and then scream, "We're coming for you -- Kree and Skrulls alike! And NOTHING will stay our hand from VENGEANCE -- nothing but... DEATH!"

Do all this, and you shall create my NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #7!

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NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #6
From "SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI" (1978).

I bought this book when I was in college. I read it sitting down, in the hallway of the art school I was attending, part of a larger university (of Hartford, in Connecticut). It goes without saying I was blown away by the book, we all were, so I won't go into that now.

When I brought the oversized comic back to my dorm, full of NON art students, the scene was like something out of a Charles Atlas ad. All my friends (non comic fans) laughed at me, and at the book and its title. It was stupid! It was ridiculous! It was "everything bad ever said about comic books"!

But I'd already read the book, and so I knew what I had in my hands. An atomic bomb! TEN atomic bombs! So I took the biggest loudmouth, named Phil, and forced him to sit down and look through the book, surrounded by about a dozen people who had been cracking on me for buying such a stupid, stupid thing.

Comic fans, it was me against the world, but I wasn't afraid at all. Not because the force was with me, but because NEAL ADAMS was with me! (And Denny.)

Phil sat down, and I plopped the book in front of him, and screamed, really, really loudly, so loudly that they still talk about it to this day, I screamed, "READ!" The crowd grew silent as Phil picked up the book, preparing to trash it no matter what was in it.

Initial reaction: Wow! Look at all the celebrities on the cover! There's Carter... Lucy... (etc)."

Hee heee ... let the fun begin!

Phil he leafed through the book, the STUPID, IDIOTIC comic book, scanning the pages for STUPID things to point out, which he assumed would be easy. But it wasn't! EVERY PAGE was its own masterpiece! The opening street scene, the spaceships, the fight scenes, the drama -- and Ali really LOOKED like Ali! The sheer SIZE of it was awe-inspiring. By the end of the book, Phil, and my entire dorm, did a complete 180.

"They did a really nice job," Phil had to admit. And so did everyone else. Of course the crowd had no first clue who "they" was, but still. VICTORY WAS MINE! (Ours, comic fans.) So, why did I pick THIS particular spread to represent the monumental Supes vs. Ali book? Reader, you have to be OLD to understand! You have to realize that in the dark ages before the invention of Photoshop, creating the effect seen on this spread was a lengthy, difficult and even RISKY process.

As I mentioned, I was in college, attending art school, and I had only just begun learning how to create such an effect -- how to drop the grays out of photo, screen it, add a texture, then manipulate the four color plates (CYMK) to create a particular color (purple in this case), then position that image where desired, risking registration problems, praying the whole thing wouldn't print like mud. Can you imagine? I go to a class where I learn all this, then later that SAME DAY, I buy "Superman Vs. Ali," and see the techniques I had just learned about being used, to great effect, in a totally amazing comic book drawn by Neal Adams! Life doesn't get much better, comic-wise.

The spread below combines my favorite "I'm gonna get you!" routine with a massive purple color hold that's so photo-realistic, it may actually have been taken from a photograph. But with Neal, you never can tell, so he probably just drew it. You go Neal! You go Ali! You trash that alien scum! (Frankly, if I was Hun-Ya, I'd run away -- while I still could!) Talk about IMPACT!

BOOM! THERE IT IS!

My NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #6!

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NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #5

From BATMAN #232, June1971

The moments I've listed so far had a huge impact on me. But this next moment hit me like a BOMB. I mean, I turned the page, and there it was! It just came off the page -- at me! A scene of Batman just sitting there, doing nothing, and I was totally stunned, thrilled, and delighted, as never before in my comic reading career. By Batman just sitting there doing nothing!

For Neal fans, I can just refer to this page, and ... "Oh yeah. That page. I know!" But for any civilians who may be interested, THIS PAGE, this image of Batman just sitting there doing nothing, sent a shudder of delight sweeping through the entire comic book reading world that has not dissipated to this day! What? Batman just sitting there doing nothing did all THAT?

Yes! Want to know how?

Here's how-- with one single panel, Neal Adams sent Batman back 40 years -- all the way back to his very beginning. To the moment he was spotted on a rooftop, and some yelled, "It's The Bat-Man! Get him!"

His cowl was all black. It didn't have a weird little blue nosepiece. It didn't have a powder blue front section. And his cowl... well, his cowl just wasn't there at all! It was connected directly into his cape, which was mostly pure black.

This was a radical departure from the "friendly," Adam West television series-inspired look that Batman had languished under for years. This was a shocking "NEW LOOK" for the former Caped Crusader, now suddenly become the Dark Knight all over again. As depicted in the jarringly different, photo-realistic style of Mr. Neal Adams.

Batman. Just sitting there doing nothing. Except signaling that a new era for the Dark Knight had begun! An era that would include "The Joker's Five- Way Revenge," the introduction of Ras al Ghul, and provide inspiration for Chris Nolan's "Dark Knight" trilogy of Batman movies. And it all started here, with Batman just sitting there doing nothing,

DOING nothing -- but you know what Batman was secretly THINKING?

Thought bubble:

"One day... this panel... will become... ROBBY'S NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #5!"

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NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #4

From PHASE 1, "A View From Without," 1971


a story published in a slick-paper magazine called PHASE 1.


About a draft-age young man who finds some sort of interstellar iPad. The images were narrated by some alien overlord weirdo. I later found out the "weirdo" was actually Neal Adams himself, who had posed for a series of head shots, then touched them all slightly to make himself look like a futuristic alien overlord type guy!


Anyway, at one point in the presentation... the panel picture below, a child, a victim of war, tries to rubs his eyes with his hand. He raises his hand, and... there's no hand there. Just a bloody stump. The boy's hand was burned off a a result of war. The narration takes a heart-wrenching image and makes it even MORE heart-wrenching by describing how the boy tries to wipe his tears away, and can't understand "why the futile rubbing pains him all the more."

Message: War is hell. Sub-text: The Vietnam War is hell. Impact: Devastating.

I've called other Neal Adams Moments in this series shocking. Compared to THIS, they are the most NON shocking things ever devised by the mind of man. THIS is truly shocking, in a way that no superhero story can ever be. Because, at the time, it was REAL. It was happening to real people, in a very real war, in a country called Vietnam.

As a child of the Sixties, I was never a supporter of the Vietnam War... but THIS... this was just almost more than I could bear to be reading in a "graphic story novel," or whatever high-falutin' name they were pushing at the time.

For me, this story remains the most devastating anti-war critiques EVER!

Which is why it's my... NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #4!
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NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #3
From Green Lantern #76, April 1971.

If you're a Neal Adams fan, this one hardly needs to be explained. But I will anyway! In the previous issue of this title, GL, courtesy of John Broome and Gil Kane, was concerned with a race of aliens secretly sustained by the “U Mind” of a chick named Olivia Reynolds. Pure science fiction. A decent story, but it had no relation whatsoever to “real life.”

The letters page of GL #75 promised that the next issue would take the book in “A bold new direction,” and said, “Furthermore, there'll be an added plus with the presence of Green Arrow.” No additional details were offered, and the names Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams were not mentioned.

Of course, readers assumed that whatever this “bold new direction” would be, it would probably involve GL battling aliens, or super villains, or both, as he had done for his entire career.

Then Green Lantern #76 hit the stands.

The cover: BY NEAL ADAMS! I'd see it in an ad a month earlier, so it wasn't new to me. Green Arrow shatters the power battery with a single arrow! Aliens? Super villains? Never again! NEVER AGAIN!

But wait -- Neal did lots of covers for DC back then. We were used to buying an issue because it had outrageously great Adams covers, only to open the book and find Adams didn't do the interior. So when I picked GREEN LANTERN #76 off a spinner in a stationary store, I wasn't getting my hopes up.

Then, with trembling hands, feeling I might be on the verge of some kind of historic discovery, I opened the comic. WHO DID THE INTERIOR? Answer...

NEAL ADAMS! GASP! He did the entire BOOK!

>>>GULP! COMIC-GASM!! SYSTEM OVERLOAD!!<<<

And... WHAT a book! THIS was the historic “breakthrough” book where DC comics, and by extension all comics, became “relevant.” Now, comics were dealing with highly controversial, current real-life issues! And, although they had been doing this type of story since the Golden Age, comics were suddenly declared “relevant.” And because of it, they got an unprecedented amount of favorable press coverage.

Green Lantern addressed racism, overpopulation and drug abuse, Sgt. Rock tackled the “My Lai Massacre” (making the front cover of the New York Times Sunday Magazine), and Spider-Man confronted drug abuse in several “uncoded” issues published WITHOUT the now-antiquated Comics Code Seal of Approval.

The highpoint GL #76, for many people, was the moment Green lantern confessed he had “done nothing for the black skins.” But this scene never made sense to me. I felt that Green Lantern had saved the entire earth many times. Didn't the “black skins” live on the earth? So for me, that scene was over-reaching.

The scene that got to ME was the panel below. Unless you're of a certain age, you may not be able to understand its impact. For you, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy may be unknown, or remote, long-gone figures of history. But it's different for us old-timers. We knew these people. We knew them as good, fine men, men who gave us hope before hope became a dirty word. Then, one day, they got shot down like dogs. And they died. It wasn't like losing normal politicians. It hurt. It was horrible. And it made everything seem horrible.

The assassinations of these two men was covered night and day in virtually every magazine and TV show in existence at the time. Then, one day, it was mentioned in a comic book. In THIS comic book. In this panel.

The words belong to Denny O'Neil. But would it have worked if the portraits of Dr. King and Mr. Kennedy didn't resemble the genuine article so perfectly? No! It would have been a disaster. But I dare say that when Denny wrote these words, destined to take their place among the most famous ever published in a comic book, he never gave a second thought to what the panel would look like. With Neal doing the drawing, it was a forgone conclusion that Dr. King and Mr. Kennedy would look like ... Dr. King and Mr. Kennedy!

“Something is wrong! Something is killing us all! Some hideous moral cancer is rotting our very souls!”

It's melodramatic, overblown, and manipulative. It also made my cry. Both when I first read it, and right now, remembering the horrible loss of these two men.

This is much more than a comic panel... THIS IS HISTORY.

This is... MY NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #3!

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NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #2
Get ready -- this one is really unbelievable!

Back in the days before the internet, before slick paper comic fans magazines, there was little or no way to tell what the comic companies had planned. Sometimes they ran ads for book a month or two in advance, but that was about it.

As a fan, you just showed up at the newsstand and hoped for the best. Beyond a cover image, if even that, you had almost no idea what to look for. All you knew was that certain titles were published every month, or every other month. Sometimes.

Forget about BUYING everything -- you were in a constant state of never being sure if you had even SEEN all the comics on sale in a given month! Sometimes, a lot of times, issues just escaped you. It was hard to know when they came out, and each venue only got at most a dozen copies of any given issue. There were only two stores in my area that sold comics. When they sold out, that was it. A tragedy, because back issues were difficult to come by, if not impossible. Especially when you're 12 years old.

So it was with Robby Reed and STRANGE ADVENTURES #216. This was the final chapter in the epic DEADMAN saga! I had been waiting a whole year for it! Actually, I'd been reading and loving the title for a year or so, and I had no way of knowing that it was intended as a limited series, and was building to a climax. That only became apparent in the later issues. But when it did ... wow. Yet somehow, I missed the final issue.

Yes, Neal fans -- Robby Reed missed STRANGE ADVENTURES #216 (Feb 1969)! How could I have POSSIBLY missed that issue!?!?! But I did. I didn't even know what the cover looked like!

As Deadman might say, "Aaaaaarrrrrrgh!"

>>>SOB, SOB! Oh, Strange Adventures #216! How COULD YOU?!?!<<<<

As time went by, I fantasized on a minute-by-minute basis about might what happened to Deadman, and imagined 1,001 versions of what his final cover might look like. Deadman in silhouette screaming AARRGGH! Deadman confronting his killer. Deadman coming back to life. Deadman staying dead! Deadman joining the Justice League. Lois Lane tricking Deadman into revealing his true identity. Deadman this, that and everything. A whole month went by, and I resigned myself to NEVER KNOWING.

Then one day a friend of mine, first name Grant, came over to my house. He was a comic fan, but he only liked DC's war books. He rang my doorbell, and I answered it. He stood there. "Come in,” I told him. But he didn't move.

He said: "UNBELIEVABLE..."

“What?” I asked.

He said again, with growing force, “UNBELIEVABLE...”

Now I started to think he was MAD at me or something. I started to get concerned. He said it AGAIN, now almost shouting.

“UNBELIEVABLE...”

“What!“ I yelled at him, “WHAT!! WHAT IS UNBELIEVABLE?”

With that, he held up a gift for me, the comic book seen below, and said... “UNBELIEVABLE... STRANGE ADVENTURES!"
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NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #1
From Green Lantern #89, April 1972

SURPRISE CLIFFHANGER ENDING!

Why is the panel below ROBBY REED'S NEAL ADAMS MOMENT #1?

The AMAZING answer will be revealed in a future issue of DIAL B for BLOG!

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