by Dave Cockrum
I find as I get older, my appreciation for some of the giants of the comics industry changes and becomes more welcoming. As a kid, I did not like Dave Cockrum's work. That said, my X-Men belonged to John Romita Jr, Marc Silvestri, and through back issues, John Byrne. Cockrum's work did not stand up in comparison, and I was not aware of how much design work he did for the characters. Likewise, I loved the Legion of Super-Heroes, but found Keith Giffen and Steve Lightle's work with them to be infinitely superior to Cockrum's.
Now, though, I can see how instrumental he was in making both of those franchises (not to mention the Shi'ar Imperial Guard) what they are. I feel the same way about Jim Aparo - I didn't like his work on Batman when people like Norm Breyfogle, Todd McFarlane or Alan Davis were also working on the character, but now I can appreciate it.
In that spirit, I thought it might finally be time to read The Futurians, his graphic novel from 1983. It begins five million years in the future, where two warring groups have destroyed the Earth. The bad guys, who call themselves The Inheritors, wreck the sun as they us its energy to move their entire city back in time. The remaining city figures out a way to also send some stuff to the past, and their leader's consciousness travels to the 1960s.
By the present day, by which I mean 1983, he's created a huge science company, which has gathered a group of people and turned them into superheroes, so they can stop the Inheritors. They spend the rest of the issue doing this.
It's clear that Cockrum was working to set up a team that could sustain an ongoing series, but it fell victim to the comics industry when he published through a little known independent company. The characters feel very much like the X-Men, and there are plenty of rivalries and conflicts between the characters that could have worked well to sustain a series for a while.
This graphic novel is pretty much exactly what you would expect from Cockrum at this stage in his career. If you like his art, you will like this, but nothing about it will surprise you.