Top-bottom: Vortex, Monolith, Morningstar, Fathom. Artist: Bill Willingham.


Original medium: Comic books
Published by: Comico
First Appeared: 1983
Creator: Bill Willingham
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Lord Saker was an immortal wizard who made a device called "The Shadowspear" for harnessing all the supernatural power in the world. In response, the four elements of classical myth (Earth, Air, Fire and Water), who in this series were living (and immensely powerful) spirits forming the foundation of all that exists, fielded a team of superheroes to oppose him, by each choosing a …

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… recently-deceased human who had succumbed in a way related to the individual element, and raising all from the dead with super powers of the appropriate theme.

Earth chose Tommy Czruchra, a teenager who'd had the life crushed out of him in a landslide and was resurrected with the power to become Monolith, a super-strong, super-sized monster a lot like Marvel's Thing of The Fantastic Four or Sasquatch of Alpha Flight. He later adopted the point of view that super-powered people should rule the world, quit the team to pursue a more villainous career, and was replaced by the late Donald Ridgeway, who never quite fit in with the rest.

Air's subject was Jeff Murphy, who was flying a helicopter for the Coast Guard when he he was accidentally smothered. As Vortex, he could fly and project blasts of wind. Fire chose Jeanette Crane, who had been burned to death. She became Morningstar, whose powers were similar to Wildfire's or Fireball's — she had pyrokinesis (the ability to set fires with only the power of her mind) and couldn't be hurt by flames. Water's choice was Becky Golden, a drowning victim. She was raised as the green-skinned Fathom, with webbed fingers for ease of motion through her element. She could do like Hydroman, and turn herself into water, which she could then attack villains with, in the form of high-pressure streams.

The group was created by Bill Willingham, who later created DC/Vertigo's Fables, a series about fairy tale creatures living among us. He both wrote and pencilled their first appearance, with Bill Anderson (Blackwulf) inking. That first story appeared in the back pages of Justice Machine Annual #1. The front pages were devoted to a bunch of off-brand '80s superheroes meeting The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, whom many off-brand superhero publishers of the time were treating as fair game for exploitation.

The following year, The Elementals started appearing in their own comic. The publisher was Comico (Grendel, The Maze Agency), a 1982 start-up. Tho Saker was defeated early on, they found no shortage of other menaces that needed vanquishing, most related to The Shadowspear in one way or another, to keep the series going.

At first, The Elementals were the only super-powered people in their world, so a certain amount of celebrity accrued to them. (Tommy opined that most of it came from people's curiosity about the fact that they were dead but functioning.) But if they didn't exactly learn to "live" with their notoriety, at least they managed to keep it from impairing their usefulness as superheroes. Being dead, tho, did impose some degree of emotional detachment from the world around them.

Tho it had lucrative licensing agreements for Robotech and Jonny Quest, Comico had financial difficulties, possibly related to the fact that it made an attempt to break out of the Direct Market. The Elementals folded with its 29th issue (September, 1988).

Comico fell into the hands of entrepreneur Andrew Rev, who also acquired the Elementals property. Rev had them back in monthly publication from March, 1989 through May, 1992. In addition, he kept them in print sporadically, as specials and brief mini-series, for most of the remainder of the century. Titles included Elementals: The Vampire's Revenge, Elementals: Ghost of a Chance, Elementals: Lingerie and Elementals Sex Special.

Comico, including The Elementals, folded permanently in 1997.


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Text ©2009-10 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Andrew Rev.