Don Markstein's Toonopedia: Vengeance Squad
Eric (right) and Tulsa practice while Candy keeps time. Artist: Frank Bolle.


Medium: Comic books
Published by: Charlton Comics
First Appeared: 1975
Creators: Joe Gill (writer) and Frank Bolle (artist)
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The vast majority of Charlton publications were of little or no interest to comic book aficionados — in fact, they weren't even comic books, but crossword puzzle magazines, song books, etc. But even considering just the comics, Charlton published Racket Squad in Action (1952), Freddy (1959), Teenage Hotrodders (1964) and many other titles whose lackluster stories and artwork rendered them viable only because of Charlton's low production and distribution costs. For …

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… every Space Adventures, whose Captain Atom feature by Steve Ditko (Spider-Man, The Creeper) excited fan interest, there were a dozen like Army War Heroes, Black Fury and Romantic Secrets, which didn't.

In the mid-1970s, Charlton published a title that would have fit right in with Police Trap, Registered Nurse or My Only Love, if not for its back-pages feature. Vengeance Squad, created by writer Joe Gill (Son of Vulcan, Nukla) and artist Frank Bolle (Redmask, Apt. 3-G), was just another Charlton in terms of the outstandingness of its content — that is, it didn't have any. The first issue was dated July, 1975.

The Vengeance Squad was headed by Eric Redd, a former U.S. Treasury agent framed into prison for six years and now financing his lavish lifestyle by providing security for rich clients. He ran the squad out of a mansion in upstate New York. The squad's transportation needs were met from his collection of antique cars.

Eric's second in command was Tulsa Coyle, an ex-Marine who thrived on the type of violence that surrounded Eric. The third member of the team was Tulsa's girlfriend, Candy Orr, a cop moonlighting in a way likely to provide more justice than police work. Why a security company emphasized "vengeance" with its name wasn't explained, but "Watch Stuff Squad" probably wouldn't have made it as a comic book title.

What made it stand out wasn't even mentioned on the cover. Mike Mauser, Private Eye, was spun off from the recently-gone E-Man title. He was handled by E-Man's creative team, writer Nicola Cuti (pronounced "cutty"), who also scripted several licensed comics, such as Popeye and The Flintstones, for Charlton, and artist Joe Staton. Staton, who had entered the industry a few years earlier, was on his way to becoming a fan favorite, with Power Girl and Plastic Man in his future.

The main feature picked up some interest when Bolle was replaced by Pete Morisi (Johnny Dynamite, Kid Montana). Morisi's work on Thunderbolt had attracted the interest of some of the more vocal comics fans several years earlier. He stayed on the series, with Gill remaining as writer, through the rest of its run. But the title still didn't stand out from the Charlton crowd, except for Mike "Don't call me Mickey" Mauser.

Vengeance Squad lasted six issues, through May, 1976. The following year, two of them were reprinted under Charlton's imprint "Modern Comics". From there, it was oblivion — the 1987 movie Vengeance Squad had no connection.


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Text ©2009 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Charlton Comics.