E-Man, looking uncharacteristically serious. Artist: Joe Staton.


Medium: Comic books
Originally published by: Charlton Comics
First Appeared: 1973
Creators: Nicola Cuti (writer) and Joe Staton (artist)
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E-Man had everything going against him — timing (superheroes were no longer a hot trend when he debuted, in 1973), publisher (fans paid …

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… little attention to Charlton), creative team (writer Nicola Cuti and artist Joe Staton were both newcomers to the field), even wardrobe (orange, yellow and white — puh-leeze!). And yet, discerning readers picked up on him right from the start — perhaps not enough to create a new household word, but quite sufficient to make him a cult classic for over a quarter of a century.

In general outlook, E-Man owed a lot to Jack Cole's Plastic Man — both were shape-shifting heroes who dealt with serious menaces in a light-hearted way; and while both maintained balance most of the time, they did slip occasionally into outright comedy, especially when handled by people other than their creators. If anybody missed the connection, E-Man co-creator Joe Staton later drew a reasonably Cole-inspired Plastic Man series for DC Comics.

But they were far from identical. To begin with, Plas was a man with a super power, whereas E-Man was an energy being born eons ago in a supernova, who merely took on the form of a man (or whatever else struck his fancy) while sojourning on Earth. When not superheroing, he used the name Alec Tronn (no relation), tho he never made a secret of the fact that Alec and E-Man were one and the same.

His first supporting character was Nova Kane, introduced in #1. Nova (no relation) worked as an exotic dancer, but was also a graduate student, and her real name was Katrinka Colchnzski (no wonder she preferred Nova). In the 8th issue, Nova acquired energy powers of her own; and from then on she and E-Man were a superheroing team. Private eye Mike ("Don't call me Mickey") Mauser was introduced in #3; and in #8, Nova and Alec got a pet koala bear named Teddy. Vamfire, E-Man's sister (born in the same supernova), first appeared in a story that was left over when the series ended, with its 10th issue (September, 1975). That story first saw light of day in a fanzine titled Charlton Bullseye.

Mike Mauser went on to a series in the back pages of Charlton's Vengeance Squad, which ran from 1975-76, then neither was seen again for years. In 1983, a new publisher, First Comics, hired Staton as art director, and bought the E-Man character for him as a sign-up bonus. The early scripts at First were written by Marty Pasko, who for years had scripted Swamp Thing, The Flash and other well-known characters. Pasko's take on E-Man was far more broadly comedic than Cuti's — for example, he gave Mauser a nephew named Donald Duke. Staton took over scripting with #9, and Cuti returned near the end of the 25-issue First Comics run. While the character was at First, Mauser co-starred in a mini-series, The P.I.'s, whose other star was Ms. Tree.

Since the demise of First Comics, E-Man has appeared, along with Nova, Mauser, Teddy and Vamfire, in specials and mini-series from Comico, Alpha Productions and other minor players in the comics industry. He's never a runaway best-seller, but there's always a hard core of fans who are glad to see him one more time.


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Text ©2000-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Joe Staton.