Armagideon Time

DC’s Sonic Disruptors has gained a well-deserved level of notoriety for getting shitcanned in the middle of its planned twelve-issue run, but its demise was hardly a unique or unprecedented event. Roughly three years before the parties involved decided to abandon that funnybook wreck by the side of the road, the folks in charge of Marvel’s Epic line pulled the plug on a lesser known but equally ill-conceived limited series project.

And while it took Mike Baron seven baffling issues of Sonic Disruptors to reveal his self-defeating hand, it only took the late (and unevenly great) Steve Gerber a graphic novel and two-out-of-six planned installments to do the same with Void Indigo.

The project was greenlit at a time when the purpose of the Epic imprint was to woo disgruntled creators back into the Marvel camp by offering them the chance to persue (arguably) upmarket, creator-owned vanity projects outside the realm of shared-universe superhero slugfests. While the plan may have appeared sound in theory, it failed to consider a couple of very important factors — the growing glut of direct market material and the potential audience for works that, well, were pretty much old concoctions poured into new bottles marketed for “mature audiences.”

In Void Indigo‘s case, the old concoction was a reworked treatment for DC’s Hawkman, dolled up with ample lashings of ultraviolence and a whole lot of titty shots.

In the Days of Olde when men were bold and women dressed like dancers at a BYOB strip club, a group of jester-hatted wizard kings struggled to maintain their supremacy over the restive barbarian muggles. The power of these potentates depended (much like present day conservatives) on human sacrifice, transforming the anguish of the tormented into raw magical power.

As their own subjects were much to cowed to provide the requisite emotional spark, they turned their sights on a leader of one of the upstart barbarian tribes. Capturing him and his lover during a moment of poist-coital bliss and subjecting the pair to a long, excruciatingly detailed sequence of mutilations involving a Artifact of Power which looked like it was plucked from the World’s Largest Easter Ham.

The wizards underestimated the depths of the barbarian chief’s rage, however, which enabled him to break free and catastrophically disrupt the arcane ritual. The resulting backlash destroyed the old order and cast the souls of the barbarian and his tormentors into the “Void Indigo,” the continuum of souls bound to the process of reincarnation.

While the wizards had the luck to be reborn upon Ye Moderne Earthe, the barbarian’s soul migrated across the gulf of stars to find rebirth in the form of Jhagur, a crimson-skinned alien who bore a striking resemblance to Peter Boyle in Young Frankenstein.

Befuddled by vague memories of his previous life, Jahgur crashed his ship in the American southwest. There he reaquainted himself with his former life by watching trailer park folks fuck and using his eyebeams to incinerate a dude’s foot down to the charred bones.

The latter action earned him the gratitude of the hooker said dude had been beating on, so the two rode off to L.A. and set up house together. She got a job waiting tables, while Jhagur (who adopted the first name of…brace for it…”Mick”) holographically disguised himself as the Marlboro Man and became a construction worker.

Fifty millennia of mystical vengeance will out, however, and the discovering of the Sacrifical Clove at a building site rekindled Jhagur’s rage to the point of blowing his wages on an impractically double bladed samurai sword and forcing the hooker-waitress to whip him up some Billy Idol cosplay duds.

Jhagur kills some people. The reincarnated wizard kings kill some people and make vague plans. The confused hooker-waitress visits a psychic, then punches her long-suffering neighbor in the mouth. A teenage girl finds the Sacrificial Clove and turns into a nude, flaming angel who says “ecstacy” thirty times in five panels. A red-haired lady mind-melds with Jhagur and turns into a female of his race who strips off her blouse and demands to be carnally serviced at the end of the second issue…

…which is where Epic’s editor Archie Goodwin (rest his soul) came to his senses and decided to shelve the project.

Interestingly enough, the bulk of the criticisms directed at Void Indigo back in the day were directed at its graphic depictions of violence. While it certainly was a exceedingly violent funnybook, much of the non-titty content seems quite tame in comparison to what makes it into the mainstream superhero comics of the present day.

The biggest problem with Void Indigo is that it doesn’t make a lick of sense. To be fair, the abrupt cancellation played a big part in that, but even the foundational stuff comes from a place that must seemed straightforward in Gerber’s head yet stumbled hopelessly over its own convoluted cosmology when translated to the printed page.

Though it made for an infuriating and bewildering funnybook, I suspect Void Indigo probably would have worked better as a low-budget sci-fi exploitation flick where the expository verbiosity was stripped out in favor of cheesy 1980s art direction and a bunch of dudes getting vengeance-killed to the sounds of canned synthtones. (The titty-shots could have stayed as is.)

As it stands, Void Indigo is a shotgun marriage of revisionist superhero wank and third-hand Heavy Metal-isms which emphasized the limitations of both and the strengths of neither. While I feel a little guilty slamming a¬†project by a guy who did some great work and got hosed by the comics industry, there’s no doubt in my mind that Void Indigo roundly qualifies as Nobody’s Favorite.

Related posts:

  1. Nobody’s Favorites: Take your daughter to the slaughter
  2. Nobody’s Favorites: Go forth and putrify
  3. Nobody’s Favorites: Good god y’all

16 Responses to “Nobody’s Favorites: Something to a void”

  1. Jim Kosmicki

    as a lifelong Gerber fan, I’ve tried to read this several times and am very relieved to hear you say that you can’t get it to make any sense either. I had not heard the revised Hawkman proposal element before, but that actually helps me “get” it a little better.

  2. damanoid

    Mick… Jhagur. Oh dear. And ‘Flashdance’ references. And ninjas with headbands. There are punks with mohawk haircuts too, aren’t there? At some point, somebody asks where the beef is.

  3. SJB

    All the trappings of an “adult” graphic novel but none of the execution. I wanted to like it, but Gerber’s attempt to stuff early 70′s tripiness into mid-80′s author imprint was less than brilliant. Val Mayerik’s uneven work didn’t help either.

  4. stavner

    I remember reading Bob Ingersoll’s Law Is A Ass Column where he sued Jhagur for libeling the entire human race. The legal hook: when he found the magic clove at the construction site, he took it away from the site, and therefore stole from his employer.

  5. Jack Feerick

    Man, Val Mayerik was really biting Richard Corben’s style, there, wasn’t he?

    I found Gerber’s synopsis of the remaining issues, and although there are a couple of cool ideas — in the final confrontation, Jaghur charges into battle at the head of an army made up of his thousands of previous incarnations — but again, none of it adds up to anything coherent. It reads, in short, like a NaNoWriMo project.

  6. Jack Feerick

    The curious or masochistic can peruse said synopsis here, BTW.

  7. Aberration, The

    Byerk. That is some sad, sad stuff. But hey, it’s good to know we’ve matured in the matter of sex since then…right?
    …Right?

    It’s probably inappropriate to ask here but Google has failed me: does anyone remember a comic featured in either Epic or Heavy Metal featuring space Shmoo hunting space whales, with a cast of relatively microscopic characters including a man with no skin, a leopard-woman more leopard than woman, a talking severed head, and their Earth-pirate-based alien friends and enemies?

  8. Jeff R.

    I actually have vaguely fond memories of this one, that would no doubt disappear into dust if I were to actually read it again. Format and time have probably led it to be associated with other, better books (like Elektra:Assassin, Stray Toasters, and Blood:A Tale. And I’m not sure that last was wasn’t actually crap as well…)

  9. Jack Feerick

    That would be ABRAXAS AND THE EARTHMAN, by Mr. Rick Veitch, originally serialized in EPIC ILLUSTRATED and now available in a collected edition from Veitch’s own King Hell Press.

  10. Snark Shark

    “does anyone remember a comic featured in either Epic or Heavy Metal featuring space Shmoo hunting space whales, with a cast of relatively microscopic characters including a man with no skin, a leopard-woman more leopard than woman, a talking severed head, and their Earth-pirate-based alien friends and enemies?”

    Space Ghost: The Psychedelic Years.

  11. WRiphe

    I’m probably telling on myself here, Dr. Freud, but when I first looked at the final panel posted above, I assumed that the construction worker on the ground had an erection. When I realized that wasn’t his penis but his foot… well, that didn’t really make anything any better. Some things cannot be unseen.

  12. Aberration, The

    Many thanks, Jack Feerick! I’m off to Amazon!

  13. Sumguy

    As an off-topic request, can you do Geo-Force sometime soon? I’ve heard him brought up as sort of an ideal of Nobody’s Favorites a couple times, but rarely anything specific.

  14. stefano gaudiano

    I’m standing up for the dead writer. There’s no guarantee Void Indigo would have been a great series, but Gerber’s Omega The Unknown probably would not stand up well to a critique of two issues and a synopsis of the rest of the series; yet for basically inexplicable reasons Omega was a great series. There have not been enough Steve Gerber stories published as far as i’m concerned, and too many of his series were canceled in mid-run. Even if i could hardly follow the story, i was sorry to see Void Indigo end after the first two issues.

  15. Ken Begg

    So *that’s* what happened to Beverly Switzler.

  16. Alyhell

    Do something better than Gerber did, so. Critics are the most disgusting race on the face of Arts World, because they only criticize other’s work instead of doing something (before their omnilens) better.

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