Some Essential Harlan Ellison Comics
Harlan Ellison passed away recently, he was one of the most inspiring names in Science Fiction and Fantasy. He has written short stories, essays, screenplays and books. He’s spoken endlessly about how influential the comic book world had been for him throughout his career. However, as much as he adored the medium, he scripted very few comic books. During the past week, I have ventured on a voyage of discovery regarding his work. Here I present what I believe to be the essential works that Ellison contributed to the comic book world. It’s not an exhaustive list and I apologise for any that I missed out on which you, dear reader, have held in your heart. Please let me know in the comments section which were your favourites and suggestions of which of Ellison’s titles I should read next.
Harlan Ellison’s Dream Corridor
This criminally short series was commissioned by Dark Horse comics in the 90’s. It featured an all-star lineup of writers and artists who adapted a series of Ellison’s best work. Artwork from Curt Swan, Gene Colan, Doug Wildey and Neal Adams graced the pages of this innovative title. One of the stand out narratives which featured in this title were “I have no Mouth but must Scream”, a dark, post-apocalyptic take on the future. Where a supercomputer ‘AM’ takes revenge on humanity for it’s own tortured existence.
The Summons of Psyklop.
This issue is part of a two part story which concludes in The Incredible Hulk #140, written by Ellison and adapted by Roy Thomas. The Summons of Psyklop begins with The Avengers capturing The Hulk at the request of the army and ending up with them fighting a villain who shrinks The Hulk down to microscopic size. This then led directly into the Hulk story entitled “The Brute that shouted Love at the Heart of the Atom”. In an unusual move, Harlan Ellison was credited in an exclusive manner on the front of these Marvel comics in a way most other writers would envy!
The Night of Thanks but no Thanks!
A result of a 15 year promise to Julie Schwartz to write a Batman story, this was a fairly neat, self contained story which was the last Batman narrative before the series entered post-crisis continuity. It was the last issue to be edited by Len Wein before Danny O’Neil took over editorial duties.
The City on the Edge of Forever
Scott Tipton, David Tipton and JK Woodward have adapted Ellison’s seminal screenplay for the original series of Star Trek’s best loved episode into a mini series published by IDW. Here they retell Ellison’s story of a doomed love affair and the risk of changing the past. This is a story which has stayed with fans decades after is was first released.