Everybody remembers Bill Mantlo, of course, for ROM and The Micronauts. But here's my favourite of his Marvel work: The epic saga that never was, The Sword In The Star. This serial only appeared ( to my knowledge ) in two issues of Marvel Preview, with a wrap-up tale in the aforementioned Micronauts. This first chapter ran in Preview 4, alongside the debut of Steve Englehart's Star-Lord, and was illustrated by the bizarre team of Ed Hannigan, Craig Russell & Rick Bryant; Three art styles you never thought would work together in a million years, but the result is fantastic. The spaceships of the bad guys for instance, are completely repellent, and seem too dark and over-inked, which is entirely the effect they were aiming for. Sword is set thousands of years in the future, and is a kind of medieval sci-fi quest myth, similar to Gil Kane's Blackmark, in that it very deliberately draws from just about every mythic cycle it can, specifically those of King Arthur & Ulysses. It's about Wayfinder, an arrogant, bull-headed princeling on an epic quest throughout the galaxies. Wayfinder is at this stage a pretty unlikeable character, certain of his role in life and his place in the universe. However, he's about to be rudely awakened as to what the universe is really all about. Because this was originally planned as a 12-parter, Wayfinder is only at the start of his life's journey here, and is as vaguely insufferable as Thor used to be. Luckily, he has a great partner in the form of the wizard Delphos (who isn't really a wizard). It's Delphos and his revelations that keep you reading through this great opening to the saga. As you may know, Bill Mantlo's story in recent years is far from a happy one, but let's remember when things were good. Here's the first episode. Part 2 tomorrow.
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