Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 The Fire and Water Podcast: Episode 85 audio interview with Dan Jurgens


The bifurcated broadcast of Firestorm Fan and The Aquaman Shrine just featured The New 52: Futures End and Aquaman & The Others author Dan Jurgens on their show. This is relevant here because Jurgens had a hand in the creation of Bloodwynd, who briefly replaced the Martian Manhunter on the Justice League in the mid-90s before the end of their confusing relationship helped J'Onn J'Onzz launch Justice League Task Force. At the 34:47 minute mark, Podcast co-host Shag Matthews randomly asked Jurgens, "What was the deal with Bloodwynd? As a reader, it sort of felt like his story never really finished, or got explained, or maybe got derailed? What was your vision for that character...?"

Poetically, Jurgens' explanation never really finished and got derailed, as he turned his focus more toward the pressures and time constraints his involvement in the death and return of Superman placed on his relatively short stint writing and drawing Justice League America (#61-77) than the particulars of Bloodwynd. "...Ultimately, by virtue of that, I think the time I had to work on Justice League got cut back more and more and I probably should have left the book earlier than I did, but ultimately it meant yes, I had to wind up the Bloodwynd story and kinda get out of that and move on sooner than I had planned to."

Shag tried to steer back into the Bloodwynd skid with, "Had he always intended to be Martian Manhunter?" Jurgens confirmed "Um... there was always the intention that it be Martian Manhunter, but to resolve itself in a different way... Part of that... if you look back at that now, y'know, it does feel, I think, somewhat rushed and shoehorned a little bit... The mystery was actually going to play out longer... which I think would have been cool. I think some of the best mysteries in comics... you play them out as long as you can until the fans are ready to just, like, go after you with knives and forks... We didn't get to do that, in that instance, and... it had everything to do with what was going on in the other book."

Unfortunately, Jurgens didn't really elaborate on Bloodwynd as a character/concept, and the conversation naturally segued further into the phenomenal response to Superman #75. Notably, it came in a black polybag with a poster of the Man of Steel's funeral procession that included both Bloodwynd and Martian Manhunter, with only Lord L'Zoril between them, all drawn by Jurgens. Between that, how the matter played out in Jurgens' stories, and his words here, I expect Bloodwynd was supposed to be a separate entity from the Alien Atlas from the beginning. I doubt that, under the circumstances described, Jurgens would have gone to the trouble of constructing Bloodwynd's rather involved origin story if he could have more quickly and easily just made Bloodwynd an alternate identity of the Sleuth from Outer Space.

Listen to the entire 49 minute episode here!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

2013 “Who Is He? (And What Is He To You?)” Justice League Fan Video by Reagan Hawkins

"Trouble in the Justice League... Even the most powerful among us are not immune to jealousy and betrayal.Trouble in the Justice League... Even the most powerful among us are not immune to jealousy and betrayal.
Courtesy of Comics Alliance

Saturday, April 12, 2014

2012 Martian Manhunter Kuru Pendant Wallpaper by Morgan R. Lewis

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“I thought the "Kuru pendant" J'onn J'onzz had in the post-Infinite Crisis Martian Manhunter miniseries was pretty cool looking, so I drew up a vector version and created a wallpaper based on it. While I've generally come to want to avoid using simple strokes for interior details, in this case I still think it was the correct approach. And in the absence of a better idea for a background, I went with a red-green gradient for two of the dominant colors in the Manhunter from Mars's color scheme.”
While the Kuru Pendant was meant to apply broadly to Martian culture, I'll understandably always associate it with Cay'an, so it makes sense to run this the same week as my Vo Nguyen commission of her.

Friday, April 11, 2014

2010 Martian Manhunter fan art by David Pielich

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"As for the image it is a picture of the Martian Manhunter. It’s a character I’ve wanted to do for some time now, since I’ve always dug him but never really drew him before. So here it is, drawn and inked on marker paper, colored in Photoshop CS4, and the background done in Photoshop with some NASA pictures of Earth, Mars, and a nebula."
Like that piece by Eddie Nunez, this number is huge with internet articles related to the Manhunter from Mars. About time I ran it here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Weird War of Gilgana: Iwangis IS The Creature King!

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The clash was tense, and initially appeared to turn against the Chulko that had already stalemated against the Venomee, who themselves found loggerheads with the Creature King. Unseen but always felt in these proceedings, the wizard cursed the prospect of using his magic to arbitrarily decide a victor, or else wearying his menagerie by drawing out the conflict still further. Briefly, surprisingly, the Doom Shadow fell in such a way that it seemed the battle might favor it. Ultimately though, the energy blasts of the Purple People striking Iwangis triggered a series of explosions that launched a rockslide. Pink sand was pushed off the beach into the waters of Gilgana, causing a far greater explosion, into which the Chulko succumbed. The additional statues that slid to shore expanded the Creature King's army, which finally overwhelmed the Venomee.

The creature commandos of Iwangis may have overcome, but as he looked out over the desolation wrought, he recognized that he would be the king of nothing in this realm but dirt, rocks, and calamitously unstable water. Could Iwangis even dare sleep this night without fear of a native watery hand drowning him, or a monster goring him? Iwangis' goldenrod paw allowed pink sands to pass through his massive fingers, and contemplated an alternative that may have been influenced by sorcerous suggestion. From a slightly safer distance as allowed for the Creature King to continue controlling his minions, Iwangis directed them to sacrifice themselves pushing a mound of meteoric sand into unstable sea, insuring a catastrophic detonation that tore a small gap in the already threadbare reality connecting Gilgana to Earth. From a hole in the sky, the monsters once collected by Diabolu in ancient times rained down to the ocean surrounding a precarious, remote isle...

Despero had done much with his reign as champion over the vile villains of the Martian Manhunter. After outlawing interpersonal conflict among the gathered rogues, he initiated a purity test derisively referred to as SurVILEvor Island. As it turned out, the location was actually Diablo Island, a home to the true evil of Eclipso, who launched ongoing eviction proceedings enforced by the Legions of Doom. These distractions had allowed Ma'alefa'ak to instigate rounds of torture against his brother's friends and allies, but with blood and a bestiary in the water, Malefic saw an opportunity to reclaim his title as original victor over the Vile Menagerie. With The Interferer finally displaced, this supposed "Isle of Diabolu" was up for grabs...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2013 Cay'an Comicpalooza Commission by Vo Nguyen

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When I met up with Vo Nguyen, artist of Bette Noir and Cameron Chase at the last Comicpalooza, he told me he wanted to concentrate on fewer, better commissions in 2013. I was all in favor of that, so long as I got one, so I dropped a c-note for Cay'an. I've developed a weird affection for the absurd not-so-mastermind, and after never getting around to asking Joe Eisma or David Marquez to do her, wanted somebody to add to the collection started with Jonathan Thibodaux. Vo intended to "really blow it out," and this ended up becoming the physically largest piece I own at 13" x 16". I can't actually find anyplace where I can scan the whole thing, so what you see above is about a fifth shy of complete. I had to buy an oversized portfolio to display it, and it allows a roomy home for other high end 11" x 17" commissions I want to keep polybagged without cramming them into spaces. This rendition is peachy, and we even get a display of Cay'an's power of invisibility!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Super Powers Collection Style Guide Benchwarmers Line-up

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José Luis García-López famously set the standard for the looks of DC characters across their merchandising via style guides produced in the late 1970s to mid-80s. However, some minor characters were beneath García-López's notice, and were farmed out to artists I've never been able to identify (although Ed Hannigan's comes up around some examples, like this.) Above is a piece I've never seen before in total, but components have turned up here and there. That crude looking Martian Manhunter was used as the character's image for his official biography page on the DC Comics web site in the late '90s.

Doctor Fate was in the same 1985 Super Powers Collection toy assortment as J'onn J'onzz, plus he was sort of the Alien Atlas' parallel hero on the Pre-Crisis Earth-Two, for want of a legitimate analogue. Samurai was one of the multicultural heroes introduced on the Challenge of the Super Friends cartoon in 1978, but he had to wait until 2011 to get his own toy.

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Another cultural diversity animation creation was El Dorado, arriving in 1981 on an episode of Super Friends. He was proposed for inclusion in the Super Powers Collection, but joined Samurai in that 2011 DC Universe Classics eighteen wave instead. With his powers of super-strength, teleportation, telepathy, and illusion casting nearly duplicated by Bloodwynd, I'm still trying to convince the internet that El Dorado was just another alternate identity of the Sleuth from Outer Space to give him a retroactive pass into the Hall of Justice.

The last two are real dogs. Cyclotron was a name lifted from old DC Comics, but as seen here was a robot created solely for the crumby 1986 wave of Super Powers figures. Arguably the least loved toy in that line, with major competition in the very off-model Orion. Ripping off the 1983 Mattel Masters of the Universe figure Man-E-Faces was more of a priority than accurately portraying the son sacrificed by Darkseid to "The Pact." I like seeing the Manhunter from Mars in this sort of company, if only because it advances my Patron Saint of Loser Super-Heroes thesis.

Monday, April 7, 2014

2014 “Holly Hunter joins the Batman-Superman movie, presumably as Martian Manhunter” article by Sean O'Neal

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Ostensibly a news article for The A.V. Club, a side benefit of the commentary is the skewering of fanboys jumping to casting conclusions in super-hero movies. Assuming Jason Momoa, The Rock, or someone else who hasn't been officially connected to a Martian Manhunter that we don't even know figures into the script doesn't get the part, I wish Hunter the best as Joan Jones (or more likely, Maggie Sawyer?) Thanks to Joe Slab for the alert!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Weird War of Gilgana: Terrible Trio Title

The Orchestra of Doom floated toward a stone menagerie on a plateau of Gilgana, where their furry flaxen foe appeared to be caressing the art. Its yellow hue dimmed, but the statues soon came to unreal life. The Creature King never heard the demonic strains of the Doom Band-- only watching with satisfaction as they were played out by his bestial soldiers...

The Venomee had been successful at evading the Doom Shadow, but were unsure if their transformative touch would be wise to apply against The Chulko. Further, the vision powers of the Purple People were stymied by their need to avoid the Chulko's own paralyzing gaze. Would the approach of Iwangis and his creature army break this stalemate, or conquer its participants?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

2013 “JLA and the Avengers in 3D Anaglyph” by George Pérez & Jérôme Bonnaud

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I couldn't find my analog 3D glasses to see how well the effect works here, but as I look at the image, I'm struck by bittersweet pangs of nostalgia. I'm pretty sure those longing for a return of Golden Mullet Aquaman are in the minority, but the Magnificent Seven JLA with retcons on the backburner and "widescreen" sci-fi/fantasy action at the fore in fantastic stories? Only one Avengers team with a largely classic line-up crafted by the cream of veteran creators? For the most part, we knew how good we had it in the late '90s/early '00s with this talent on these characters, which is why it's such a bummer to come crashing back to the reality of Forever Evil and Original Sin. It's like scoping out the Facebook page of an ex and seeing how they've let their self go. It doesn't make your present any better, and it taints your fond memories of the past to see the lengths to which your former loved ones have sank.

On that cheery note, I only just realized that I somehow managed to have never posted the promo art that served as the basis for this modification, which you can see here, as well as the vital original uncolored line art.

Captain America vs. the Martian Manhunter (blog)

Who do you trust? To run a daily Martian Manhunter blog, I mean? Not me! I'm off seeing the late Thursday/early Friday showing of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, then buying related merch, then going to sleep and waking up to finally watch the disappointing season finale of The Walking Dead, then going out to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier again with my friends in IMAX 3D with Super Soldier Serum mixed drink in hand, then going to sleep and getting up to read the latest disappointing trade paperback of The Walking Dead, then taking a nap, then phoning in an obligatory post. If you're waiting around for me, might I recommend that you instead see Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which has been over-hyped, but is still one of the finest super-hero movies ever? Also: retroactively wins me every argument with Batman fans over who would win in a fight. Wait, you care about a victor in the Alien Atlas/Sentinel of Liberty match-up? What are you, nine? Besides, I love both these guys! Team-up!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

No seriously, it's our 2014 March Madness Final Four

The turnout for our March Madness contests on the blog have always been rather sad compared to most sites' polls (have we ever broken 30 votes?) but "The Weird War of Gilgana" has gotten offensively embarrassing. We've only been getting 4-5 votes per round (including myself,) so I'm trying to shuffle it off as quickly as possible. Still, the last poll launched Monday night, and while it was admittedly swiftly buried by the tossed together April Fool's post, exactly one person has voted on the two contests. I went ahead and added my vote, but there's a tie, and I may have to just shut the whole damned blog down if I can't get two other people besides myself to engage with this thing. So take inspiration from this famous magazine cover, imagine Jupiter in its place, and friggin' vote.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

2013 D'Kay D'Razz Comicpalooza Commission by Austin Rogers

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Austin “Redbeard” Rogers returns for a second piece of Awesomest Alien Atlas Art Anytime! Following his Martian Manhunter vs. the Scary Monsters, here's the mass murdering madwoman D'Kay D'Razz, the other last survivor of the Red Planet per Brightest Day. You know, I don't recall hearing anything about her time on her home planet before coming to Earth, or how she survived the plague. Hopefully, we'll get some more such details someday!