The Daily Comic Book Coffee, number 15: Americomics #4 written & penciled by Rik Levins, inked by Kevin Dzuban, lettered by Bob Pinaha, colored by Rebekah Black, and edited by Bill Black, published by AC Comics, cover-dated October 1983.
Ken Burton was obsessed with the dead super-hero Dragonfly, an obsession that led him to neglect both his engineering company and his fiancée Nancy Arazello. Ken was convinced he could summon supernatural forces to gain the Dragonfly’s powers, and his quest left Nancy running Burton Engineering on her own. Inevitably this led to a huge fight between the couple. That night Ken was conducting the mystic ritual to become the new Dragonfly when Nancy, hoping to work out their problems, walked into the room. The inadvertent result was that Nancy became Dragonfly instead.
Rebuffed by a bitter Ken (who, truthfully, came across as a selfish jerk even before this), a broken-hearted Nancy is left wondering what she should do with these powers she never even wanted. When a ruthless drug dealer uses an experimental drug to create a giant warrior and unleashes it on the city as a test run, Nancy transforms into Dragonfly to save innocent bystanders. At first, seemingly outmatched, Nancy soon defeats the goliath, angrily pounding him to a pulp. Police Detective Richard Trent pulls Nancy aside, taking her to a nearby diner for a cup of coffee to discuss what just happened. Trent appears to be reassured by Nancy’s earnest manner, but she is secretly frightened that she was taking out her frustrations at Ken on her immense opponent.
Dragonfly was created by Rik Levins. Following this debut story, Levins went out to write & pencil an ongoing Dragonfly series that lasted eight issues. Dragonfly also became an occasional member of Femforce, the female superhero team created by AC publisher Bill Black.
I got into Femforce about 20 years ago. Fortunately, a local comic book store had a number of Femforce back issues from the 1980s and 90s available, as well as several other AC books, among them the first five issues of the Americomics anthology series.
Americomics #3 was one of the issues from that haul that really stood out. A young, up-and-coming Jerry Ordway drew a stunning cover featuring Dragonfly. The interior work by Levins & Kevin Dzuban was also impressive. Levins’ design for the character was certainly distinctive.
I had known of Levins’ work from his early 1990s stint drawing Captain America, and I believe he actually holds the record for penciling the most consecutive issues of that title, 36 to be exact. I actually enjoyed Levins’ art for the various AC titles more than I did his run on Captain America. Levins wrote many of the stories he drew AC, so perhaps he felt more personally invested in the material?
Rik Levins regrettably passed away on June 12, 2010, at the age of 59. Due to the fact that he was working in comic books during a time when flashy, dynamic artists were very much in the spotlight, Levins’ work is often overlooked. While I would not say that I was a huge fan I did find him to be a solid, consistent artist. Thinking about it now, I find Levins’ style somewhat reminiscent of Curt Swan, another penciler who could be counted on to turn in professional work on schedule. That’s a frequently underappreciated ability.