Can even Wulf the Barbarian survive--Wulf the Barbarian #3

Wulf the Barbarian #3 cover

Written by Steve Skeates
Art by Leo Summers

If you know your Atlas/Seabord comics, then you know most of them had huge shake-ups in the third issue. Characters were yanked in "bold new directions" and titles frequently had their entire premise rewritten. The third issue of Wulf the Barbarian seems to escape this fate, perhaps because Wulf is such a blank slate that you really can't do much with him.

He does get an all-new creative team, Hawk and Dove co-creator Steve Skeates and Golden Age sci-fi illustrator Leo Summers. Their contribution to the Wulf mythology is to have Wulf fight rat-men riding kangaroos and visit a steel mill, which he then blows up real good. Which is to say, this issue feels like that one random encounter that got out of hand and wound up taking over your last D&D game. Remember, you ran into a pool filled with rot grubs and then your thrashing attracted some crocodiles and lizard-men and you just couldn't seal the deal so the fight took hours and then John had to go home because he had to open the next day and you still weren't any closer to finding the princess and now you're out of spells and stuck in the middle of a swamp? That is the Wulf #3 experience in a nutshell.

Leo Summers had a long and distinguished career as an artist and illustrator in the Golden Age of sci-fi. This is not his best work, and suggests he may not have been well-suited to do comics. His scenes are crowded, anatomy is frequently tortured to make characters fit into panels, any attempt at visual storytelling is lacking, and the inks are so dark and suffocating that the comic feels like a murky mess. Though that last one may actually be the fault Atlas's crappier-than-normal printing.

Nothing really stood out as worthy of scorn, though this one panel stood out at me...

Wulf the Barbarian #3 p. 16 (detail) Wulf the Barbarian #3, p. 16 (detail)

Damn, those are some tight leather pants Tyretha is wearing there. Is this the posterior version of a boob sock? An ass sock? It's even worse from the front, where you can see the pants have a plunging crotch-line. She's also wearing a midriff-baring jacket with a boob window and one button right below her breasts. And thigh-high boots. (Of course).

Though to be fair Tyretha is wearing more than the average female character in a barbarian comic. Which is to say, she's wearing clothes at all.

I am thinking that corpulent wall-eyed guy wearing a weird hat could probably carry his own comic. I mean, geez, he's got "Woozy Winks" written all over him. And he can bring along his hot-ass daughter and have culture clashes with his proletarian son-in-law with the weird widow's peak. They can wander the wasteland looking at houses. It's like All in the Family meets House Hunters in Middle Earth. I think we can make bank on this. Atlas, call me.

Actual Excerpts from Wulf #3's Letter Column

Viva le WULF! The Thinking Man's Barbarian! (Don't get me wrong; I love the action, too!) Rudy Menke, Springfield, MO
I've been a collector twenty years, so I know what I'm talking about when I say this comic is great. I have a collection of thousands, and Wulf the Barbarian is now one of the tops. Pat Daly, Dearborn, MI
One thing, though, that I give Hama credit for: he has succeeded in creating the first "sissy" barbarian. Who ever heard of a blond barbarian? Robert Greene, San Franciso, CA

You have to wonder if these people were all reading the same Wulf #1 I was. And also how they were able to buy it at the newsstand, compose a letter and then get it selected for publication before this issue had to go to press... at about the same time Wulf #1 was hitting the newsstands. Just sayin', is all...

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