Yes! No! Decide Now! How? Ditko's World #2-3

Ditko's World #2 cover

By Steve Ditko

Okay, so, there's this guy, Stac Rae1. He's helping a scientist (with the imaginative name of "Doc") develop a super-suit, which sorta looks like Speedball's costume only not as busy. Stac wants to use the suit to go out and fight crime, except Doc and his daughter Fera are not entirely convinced that's such a great idea.

The key to understanding "Static" is that each of the three characters embodies one three different theories of justice (outlined by Ditko in a short strip in issue #3). Doc embodies the the "natural right" theory (the nature of man determines what is just) - he agonizes over whether Stac can handle the suit without going power-mad. Fera emboedies the "social good" theory (what is good for society is what is just) - she tries to destroy the suit because its power is purely destructive and therefore dangerous in the long run. Stac, oddly enough, embodies the "positive law" theory (what is legal is also just) - he makes his case through reasoned arguments and when a decision is made he abides by it even if he doesn't always agree with it.

It's not an exact fit, obviously, but it'll do. Here's a sequence from issue #2 that spells out the various relationships...

Ditko's World #2 p.5Ditko's World #2, p.5

This is one of the few nice pieces of storytelling Ditko's World (nothing is actively awful, just uninspired). The three paths being laid out in parallel is a common enough device, but Ditko also establishes a nice rhythm through the overall panel compositions - the first tier is horizontal long shots, while the second tier consists of close-ups with a slight diagonal thrust from the lower left to the upper right. It's a nice way of drawing parallels between three different internal monologues.

Anyway, the problem with "Static" is that while Ditko is trying to strike a balance between the three points of view, he obviously has no sympathy for Fera's position. Whenever Doc and Stac actually have a debate over whether it's right to use the suit, Fera essentially stands in the corner with her hands in her ears shouting "I can't hear you the suit is evil." She comes off as a shrill, paranoid harridan trying to force everyone else to do her bidding.

Truth be told, it's kind of an interesting set-up, but Ditko needs a co-writer to help smooth out the rough edges, softening Fera, writing better dialogue2 and clarifying the characters' motivations. Unfortunately, editor Robin Snyder clearly thinks Ditko's stuff is the bee's knees, and having an uncritical editor rarely brings out the best in an artist.

Ditko's World is also padded with some short fantasy and sci-fi strips ("Thunbolt Lives Again!") that are diverting if not memorable, and also some short philosophical "Heads" strips that are reminiscent of the tract-like Avenging World (more about that later).

  1. Hey, it's a Steve Ditko comic. If you can't get through an issue without groaning at names like Rac, Ort Krim, Xbaum, and Dgrt you might as well read something else.
  2. Sample dialogue: "Even love can smother and destroy. Evil is the irrational act!" "No! The only protection againsta frightening unknowable is non-use!" When have people ever talked like that?

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