Thursday, February 28, 2013

Barry Clark


Alter Ego: Barry Clark
Occupation: Impersonator
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: Mobile
First Appearance: Detective Comics #298 (December, 1961)

History:
Barry Clark was once a famous impersonator whose own celebrity had faded. Hoping to make a comeback, Clark staged a new show in which he would not only impersonate the Manhunter from Mars, but appear to perform mighty feats beyond human ability. As with a magic show, this was all to be performed through trick props and slight of hand.

The night of his debut, Clark met with the real Martian Manhunter before the show, discussing his techniques as he applied make-up and costume. Clark tripped and sprained his ankle in his trailer, so J'onn J'onzz agreed to go on in his stead, relying on props rather than his Martian powers. The performance was well received, but J'onzz was put in a bind when robbers showed up at a nearby exhibit of rare royal crowns. To save the lives of security officers, J'onzz discretely foiled the crooks in their heist and attempted retreat. The gang took refuge in Barry Clark's trailer, and figuring out who stood in for the injured actor, threaten to expose Clark's fraud if he didn't provide assistance. Instead, the Alien Atlas made it appear as if Barry Clark was the "real" Martian Manhunter, and knocked out the band of thugs with none the wiser.

Powers & Weapons:
Barry Clark used numerous elaborate props to present a facsimile of Martian marvels. Clark could appear to pass through a solid block of steel intangible, but the block was really made from a self-sealing plastic. Clark could seem to fly via a thin, virtually invisible cable attached to his belt. Finally, Clark could replicate Martian Lung Power by "blowing" inflated dummies into a paddy wagon that concealed stagehands reeling them in.

Quote: "This was to be my big chance, Manhunter! I--I may as well give up forever!"

Created by Jack Miller & Joe Certa

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2012 Bette Noir Comicpalooza Commission by Vo Nguyen

Click To Enlarge


I'd been wanting to get a piece by Vo Nguyen since a previous Comicpalooza convention, likely 2011, the year they set artist's alley up like a freakin' maze. Needless to say, I never saw him, which is kind of a huge bungle on the convention's part. To the best of my knowledge, and like a lot of the other artists I've gotten pieces from locally, most of Nguyen's published work has been through CCP Comics, a company so small that they don't even have a listing on the Grand Comics Database. Conventions are these guys' best opportunity to attract attention to their work, which got me looking at Nguyen' deviantART page and Comic Art Fans gallery, but that's of little immediate benefit if I can't find the guy and give him money. That issue was corrected in 2012, and I'm glad for it, as the result was the above piece.

Vo Nguyen was born in Vietnam, immigrated to the U.S. at an early age, and took up the solitary habit of reading comic books. An artist blossomed, and I'm surprised one of the bigger companies haven't snatched him up. His catalog of intricate sketch covers are routinely far better than the authorized ones that make it into print. His work has an ominous air, like the bastard child of Ming Doyle and Tim Vigil, with elements of Billy Tucci and a pinch of Jae Lee. He seems especially adept at dark ladies, so it was a natural to pair him with Bette Noir, a reader favorite I haven't featured much on the blog.


Nguyen was a darn nice guy, which explains why he was cautious enough to called me over during his laying out of the piece to confirm that, yes, Bette Noir has enormous breasts and indeed, it was appropriate to the character to depict them as such. In fact, I think Tom Mandrake's gratuitous goth bombshell design inspired Nguyen to treat the character as a Golden Age pin-up girl with that vaguely burlesque strut on display. The voluptuous villainess is actually a manufactured projection meant to titillate and trap prey for the power stealing fiend, and her true form is that of a grotesque behemoth D.N.Alien held in custody by Project Cadmus.

Bette Noir has a healthier complexion here than in the comics. An element of the original art undermined by my scanned photocopy is the red pencil lines used for the layout, which hint at the hidden violence of the character's intentions (and a nice change from the usual blueline debris on other commissions.) Tidying up the scan caused blurring of the reds in the background, and you can still see the shadow from where I had to fold the copy to fit on the scanbed. The 11" x 17" original is much more crisp in its details, especially the facial features, which I find have an echo of Charlize Theron. Nguyen kept this one overnight, but gave me a call to let me know it was finished the following morning while I was on my way back to the con. It's striking and was a steal at $50.00, though he'd outdo himself a few months later on the Space City Con Cameron Chase Commission! I'm looking forward to seeing what he comes up with for #3!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Justice League: Cry for Justice #7 (April, 2010)


Heroes gonna hero. Martian Manhunter's former (and rather temporary) Justice League of Aliens teammates Starfire and Starman (Mikaal Tomas) took part in a whole second line-up of good guys investigating Prometheus' plot. They all ended up on the same satellite as Hal Jordan's off-shoot Justice League and the then-current "official" Justice League of America staffed with B & C-listers. It's all fun and games until Roy Harper loses an arm, and it was revealed that Prometheus had somehow managed to effectively cosplay as Captain Marvel Junior, approximate powers inclusive. This crazy thing descended into substandard fanfic as Prometheus managed to swiftly defeat dozens of heroes implausibly until Donna Troy masterminded the brilliant strategy of grabbing him and punching him a hella lot. It's the sort of comic you hope to God wasn't planned at all like it turned out, for the sake of the essential cognitive functioning of the creative team, and was instead the result of constant editorial unrest. Based on news reports, that's exactly how things like this happen.

In more of an Ozymandias moment than a Promethean one, the master villain's grand scheme didn't pan out. Prometheus unintentionally set off what amounted to a bomb that struck Star City like a massive earthquake, killing countless unnamed citizens and Roy Harper's daughter Lian. Making a silk purse out of a sow's ear, Prometheus used the devastation as a bargaining chip. He had more devices planted in various other cities that would similarly grind them down, and miraculously had perfect safeguards against being defused by any of the legions of guest-starring heroes' powers.


The cape set mostly busied themselves mounting relief efforts in Star City and locating the devices in other towns. The Atom meanwhile focused on trying to force information out of Prometheus, and to that end called on specialized help. "Thought about how J'Onn would have just read your mind. Then I remembered Earth still has a Martian." M'gann M'orzz to be exact, though her reputation didn't immediately appear to have preceded her.
"Is that so? Martian?"
"Miss Martian to you, creep. Codes in your head? Someone grab a pen and pap-- AAARGH!!"
"A mind-reader? Like I wouldn't expect that. Come on, guys, if you're not going to free me at least don't insult my intelligence.

Prometheus had some sort of psychic feedback trap set up in his brain that prevented telepathic interrogation. Having teased out her involvement across three issues of the mini-series, Miss Martian honored the J'onn J'onzz tradition of taking a fall to serve anemic plot machinations. The heroes buckled under Prometheus' demands, and he uncharacteristically did not screw them over after escaping to an other-dimensional refuge where Green Arrow conveniently, inexplicably, followed to execute the villain.

The seventh and final chapter of Cry For Justice, “Justice” was by James Robinson, Scott Clark, Mauro Cascioli and Ibraim Roberson with David Beaty. It was a pretty vacant endeavor, but Miss Martian was exceptionally well drawn in her cameo appearances.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Dirk Giles



Alter Ego: Dirk Giles
Occupation: Millionaire Playboy
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: Middletown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #291 (May, 1961)

History:
Dirk Giles may have lived on the swank side of town with a large personal fortune, but that didn't earn him the heart of his best girl Hazel, who saw him as a useless coward. Knowing Hazel was a great admirer of the Martian Manhunter, Giles create a suit in his likeness to impersonate the hero. Giles then set up a series of phony "feats" to perform, so that he could claim to be the hero. The scam attracted the attention of the true Manhunter from Mars, as well as the Buggsy Baines Gang, who were looking to test a rumor that the Alien Atlas was vulnerable to fire. J'onn J'onzz confronted Giles, then used him to convince the gangsters that they were wrong about their theory while aiding the playboy through secret Martian interventions. Hazel was impressed by Giles' daring, but made him swear never to risk his life in that way again.

Powers & Weapons:
Dirk Giles employed a variety of gimmicks to convince people that he was the Martian Manhunter, including a midget dirigible disguised as a runaway truck, and a fake flaming meteorite made of brittle plastic.

Quote: "Cost me a fortune, too!"

Created by Jack Miller & Joe Certa

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Princess Cassandra



Alter Ego: Cassandra
Occupation: Princess
Marital Status: Unknown
Known Relatives: Unknown
Group Affiliation: Unknown
Base of Operations: Unknown
First Appearance: Detective Comics #299 (January, 1962)
Height: Approx. 5'9"
Eyes: Dark
Hair: Black

History:
When Princess Cassandra became aware of an espionage ring, she set up a sting with law enforcement authorities, using herself as bait. Cassandra promised representatives of the ring secret government plans for the right price, and arranged a meeting in Middletown, U.S.A. Local police detective John Jones was aware of the ruse, and set about helping the princess during a swank royal reception at the mayor's mansion. However, fellow officer Diane Meade was left out of the loop, and believing Cassandra was a legitimate traitor, began unraveling her cover in pursuit. Both women ended up in a cabin in Haskins Woods, where Cassandra was prepared to blow her cover and lay down her life to protect the misguided policewoman. That proved unnecessary, as John Jones remained close in his secret identity as the Manhunter from Mars, who crashed into the cabin and apprehended the ring.

Powers & Weapons:
Princess Cassandra has been known to carry a revolver in her purse, though she lacked awareness enough to prevent it being quietly unloaded by a crook and placed back in her bag.

Quote: "No, no-- you dare not harm Diane!"

Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Prince Charles



Alter Ego: Charles
Occupation: Prince
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: Unnamed kingdom
Base of Operations: 15th Century France
First Appearance: Detective Comics #319 (September, 1963)
Height: Approx. 5'6"
Build: Slim
Hair: Black

History:
Prince Charles reigned over an unspecified area in France during the 15th century. The region was plagued by the Black Duke, who captured the prince and overran his kingdom. J'onn J'onzz happened to travel through time to the year 1463, and hearing of the plight, set about rescuing the prince. Charles was still too weak from torture under the Black Duke's henchmen to rally his forces, so the Martian Manhunter posed as Charles while displaying unearthly powers to ward off predators present and future. However, J'onzz was vulnerable in Charles' form, and taken by surprise by the Black Duke. On hearing of J'onzz's capture, the prince girded himself for a final conflict while sending his loyal Captain Moray to liberate their Martian benefactor. Prince Charles and an army of common people brought low the Black Duke, who surrendered after the Martian Manhunter collapsed a bridge carrying his forces to battle.

Powers & Weapons:
Prince Charles has been shown brandishing a sword.

Quote: "Now it is up to me! I must muster all my strength to rally our people..."

Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa

Friday, February 22, 2013

2011 Crime Syndicate fan art by Dan Lynch

Click To Enlarge


"A totally new version of the Crime Syndicate.
Ultraman
Powergirl
Sinestro Corps Batman
D'kay D'razz
Reverse Flash"
The Aussie artist sometimes known as "Shadowrenderer" is on to something here. D'Kay D'Razz was a sucky derivative character in an ultimately pointless event maxi-series (aside I suppose from restoring Aquaman to a greater degree of respectability.) However, D'Kay in some sort of partnership as a representative of the Vile Menagerie could be much more interesting, and Brightest Day gave her uncommon visibility...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

2012 “Vil23: Cay'an Cubee” by Joshua Wolf

Click To Enlarge


Joshua Wolf makes Cubee designs under pseudonyms like "The Flying Dachshund" and "Dr. Nobody," and is so comprehensive in his coverage of comic book universes that even Triumph got his turn. I have few opportunities to find fan projects involving Vile Menagerie obscurities (are there any other kinds?) like Cay'an, so I'm glad I have theme months like February to motivate me into acknowledging Wolf's valuable efforts!

Joshua Wolf's Villains Cubees

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

2012 Bel Juz Space City Con Commission by Robert Wilson IV

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All-Time Awesomest Alien Atlas Art brings back the girlie show for February! As I've mentioned previously, attending Houston's first Space City Con was a last minute decision, since it looked like a pissant operation compared to Comicpalooza. That is, until guys like Art Adams and Whilce Portacio suddenly signed on, which in turn attracted other artists to attend in part simply so they themselves could meet the comics superstars. I'm hoping the organizers are smart enough to do the same thing this year, since so far, all their appearance money seems to be going toward the Seventh Doctor who got Who canceled after a quarter century on the air and the usual Autograph Whores of the Federation.

Moving forward, I didn't have a chance to research and meticulously assign characters to artists at this show. I did get to peruse the web site of Robert Wilson IV, and very much liked what I saw, so I approached him for a commission. I've forgotten his rate, but I'm confident that it was reasonable ($40-60.) Smart artists are like drug dealers, giving you a good price for that first taste to get you hooked, then raise their rates once they know you know they've got the goods. There were a lot of dummies at the con who overestimated folks' willingness to break triple digits for their stuff, and I didn't see them working as much. Wilson has a cool retro hipster vibe to his work, and when he selected the Bronze Age Martian femme fatale Bel Juz from the stack of reference I put in front of him, I approved of the match between creator and subject.



Wilson's 11" x 14" original art is at its heart what you see at the top of the post, but there's a ton of non-photographic blue pencil framework that dropped right out of the photocopy I scanned. It's kind of neat, since they include the ghost of a different hand positioning, eyelines, many more strands of hair, detailed breasts, etc. On the other hand, those inks really make the completed piece pop, and I'd say the cleaner version is superior. It was also extremely easy to reproduce and to apply my crappy MS Paint coloring. I'd be very interested to see how Wilson would have colored it himself, since my favorite thing about his work is his muted, restricted color palette, recalling old school concert posters (probably because he actually does produce such posters for current bands.) I highly recommended you check out more on his tumblr feed!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Patrolwoman Sally Winters



Alter Ego: Sally Winters
Occupation: Police Officer
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: Middletown Police Department
Base of Operations: Middletown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: Detective Comics #293 (July, 1961)
Height: Approx. 5'7"
Weight: Approx. 120 lbs.
Eyes: Dark
Hair: Black

History:
One day, Patrolwoman Sally Winters spied a car rolling out of control down a street with an elderly woman in the back seat. Winters swiftly scaled a parked car and leapt from its roof into the rogue convertible, only to find its brakes were out and the wall of a building was straight ahead. The day was saved through the covert intervention of J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, but Winters received all the credit. When Winters became a candidate for the Policewoman's Gold Medal for Bravery, not to mention the attentions of committee chairman Detective John Jones, it sparked a bitter rivalry with fellow officer Diane Meade. Both patrolwomen ended up entering a burning building to rescue a little girl from the roof, but when Winters' fire escape route collapsed behind her, all three women were trapped in the inferno. The ladies were rescued by the Manhunter from Mars, and Detective Jones later awarded each medals.

Powers & Weapons:
Ptn. Winters was not shown to carry a firearm, only a purse slung over her uniform.

Quote: "Don't worry dear-- I'll bring the car to a stop!"

Created by Jack Miller & Joe Certa

Monday, February 18, 2013

2008 “The Justice League Mini-Mi's” fan art by TineaK

Click To Enlarge


"This is what happens when I'm bored and sugar-high at the same time. That may or may not be a good thing. I don't know... you tell me."
Well, grass seems to keep the green in, but J'Onzz other costume details are a tad color blind. Glaucoma is clearly no giggling matter.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

2008 “Future Justice” fan art by TineaK

Click To Enlarge
"These are some characters I developed for my 'Legacy of Supergirl' comic.

I may color them in later, when I get some better quality pencils.

The characters are(from left to right,)
Top row:
Erelah Stuart- Green Lantern
Barry West- Flash IV
Kara Lucy Kent- Supergirl
Thomas Kyle-Wayne- Batman
Troia Faraday- Wondergirl
Bottom row:
Iris West- Flashgirl
Su Mei K'hym Jones(J'onzz)- Jade Dragon

You should probably be able to guess whos parents are whos.

Tell me what you think!

Tinea-"
Actually, I'm not at all sure with whom (or how, come to think of it) the Manhunter from Mars conceived another daughter. If this had been drawn right now, I might guess Katana, but five years ago? Someone from the Great Ten? Alan Scott's kid?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

D'Kay D'Razz versus Maxima


D'Kay D'Razz
Debut: 2010
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: None
Appearances: 7 comics
Powers: Telepathy, flight, shape-shifting, Laser Vision, nigh-invulnerability, invisibility, intangibility, and superhuman strength/ physique/ senses/ reflexes/ endurance..

D'Kay was a surviving Green Martian madwoman serial killer who tried to mind control the Martian Manhunter into loving her and repopulating Mars. Instead, he roasted her in the sun.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: 0
Lose: Bette Noir (3-14); Thantos (5-9)
Draw: 0




Maxima
Debut: 1989
Nemesis: Starbreaker
Other Major Foes: Superman, Brainiac
Appearances: 150+ comics, animation, and live action television.
Powers: Telepathy, flight, Optical Force-Beams, force fields, telekinesis, nigh-invulnerability, and superhuman strength/ physique/ senses/ reflexes/ endurance.

Maxima was the empress of the planet Almerac and its intergalactic empire when she chose Superman as her perfect mate. When the Man of Steel rejected her, violence ensued. Despite the blood shed in her name, Maxima became a reluctant heroine and member of Extreme Justice, where her advances on alternative sperm donors Captain Atom and Amazing Man never produced an heir. Starbreaker demolished Almerac, and Maxima herself perished in battle against Brainiac.

Vile Menagerie Stats:
Win: 0
Lose: 0
Draw: 0




Idol Speculation:
On paper, Maxima is the clear winner, based on her years trying to force the sexy on Superman in a not-too-gentle fashion. However, her initial overwhelming power levels were dismissed as belonging to some sort of murderous simulacron, and her time on a lesser Justice League team needing help against chromium cornballs mangled her reputation. Meanwhile, D'Kay laid a serious telepathic mind____ on the Alien Atlas, then she held up as he battered her quite savagely for it. Quite the toss-up, then, though I will say Maxima's a lot more fun and a lot less aggravating.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Cay'an versus Fatality


Cay'an
Debut: 2007
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: White Martians
Appearances: One mini-series/trade paperback
Powers: Telepathy, flight, shape-shifting, superhuman physique, and telekinetic/psionic pulse blasts. Possibly other common Martian abilities.

Cay'an is a Green Martian who survived the destruction of Mars and set about avenging her slain people. Cay'an specifically sought the culprit, Ma'alefa'ak, but chose to torment his brother J'Onn J'Onzz in his absence. Cay'an also persecutes and otherwise molests any White Martians she finds, and isn't especially kind to humans, either.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: Cabal (9-5)
Lose: Bel Juz (1/4); B'enn B'urnzz (4-5)
Draw: 0




Fatality
Debut: 1997
Nemesis: Green Lantern John Stewart
Other Major Foes: The Green Lantern Corps
Appearances: 100+ comics.
Powers: Super strength, speed, and endurance. She is an expert hand-to-hand combatant with an arsenal of weaponry, though she has favored an energy staff for most of her career. Fatality can fly via jet boots, wears bionic arms, and has her own spaceship. Fatality briefly wielded a Qwardian power ring, and is currently a Star Sapphire who can create light constructs at will through Zamaron technology.

Fatality is an alien born of royalty who was training with the Warlords of Okaara when her home planet of Xanshi was destroyed during the Cosmic Odyssey. She set about avenging her slain people, specifically targeting the Green Lantern whose hubris imperiled her world, John Stewart. In his absence, Fatality set her sights on any Green Lantern with the misfortune to cross her path, especially Kyle Rayner. After years as a murderous vigilante, Fatality's heart was touched by the Star Sapphires, and she gave up willful anger and fear as motivations in favor of love.

Vile Menagerie Stats:
Win: 0
Lose: 0
Draw: 0




Idol Speculation:
This was one of the most obvious match-ups, since both ladies are single-minded in avenging worlds destroyed through the peripheral involvement of the Manhunter from Mars. Both villainesses have held their own against noteworthy if not always capital "F" formidable heroes. Cay'an is the better schemer, but I'd give Fatality the advantage in a straightforward confrontation.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

To All The Girls I've Manhunted Before...


This is an updated version of a 2009 post titled "Mars Needs Women!"
  • Diane Meade: When the Middletown Police Commissioner's daughter first showed up at Detective John Jones' precinct, he was sure taken with her pretty self. Jones even took Meade on a date in an issue of Justice League of America. Things seemed to cool once Diane became a member of the force though, and while she remained a friend to both Jones and J'Onzz, romance didn't seem to be in the cards. Since the character was revived in JLA: Year One, Officer Meade has seemed even further removed from Jones, mostly just taking amusement at his odd manner.

  • Marie Fouchere: A French double agent who dated the real Marco Xavier, and perhaps the alien who assumed his role as well?

  • Bel Juz: It was never quite clear just how close this treacherous Martian Jezebel got to the Manhunter, but in the end she stood revealed for the manipulator she was.

  • J'en: The lover J'Onn J'Onzz lost to The Marshal's invasion plot against Earth. One of the rare cases where both parties wanted to be together, but were tragically parted.

  • Mari McCabe: After all those years in exile, J'Onn J'Onzz was greeted back to Earth with the amorous advances of supermodel Mari McCabe. It seems the lust wasn't mutual, or perhaps J'Onn noticed Vixen tended to flirt with every non-villainous male within a ten-yard radius. They even had her retroactively fall for Steel the Indestructable Man in an issue of JLA: Classified. In the end, Manhunter's animal kingdom-powered teammate from the Detroit League settled for a depressing sort of friendship, fueled by survivor's guilt.

  • M'yri'ah: Over thirty years after his first appearance, J'Onn J'Onzz learned everything he thought he knew was a lie, and that he was actually a widowed husband and father with an unpronouncible name. Since all retcons inevitably get retconned, his lost bride M'yri'ah was finally named a decade later. The great love of J'Onn's life died with their daughter in a plague.

  • Her-Who-Must-Be-Served: Another unreciprocated lover in pursuit of long tall J'Onzz, this green-skinned hermaphrodite from an amazonian race wished only to turn a disguised-as-female J'Onn into his/her bride!

  • Claire Jeffers: "I was responding to a woman-- in a way I never had before-- but a man would be crazy not to..." Claire was the scheming wife of a small time mayor covering for the murder of an alien mother and child by very effectively seducing J'Onn in his Martin Smith persona. Needless to say, things didn't progress far.

  • Cha'rissa: The White Saturnian intended bride of Jemm, to whom she owed duty, but whose lust was all for J'Onn J'Onzz. Sure, it was perhaps less-than-heroic for the Manhunter to have an adulterous fling, but she was totally asking for it.

  • Kishana Lewis: A firefighter who fast became J'Onn's bedmate, until unearthed demons unleashed flame powers in Lewis, forcing the couple apart.

  • Aubrey Sparks: Slightly demented, southern fried trailer trash with flame powers who sought to help the Martian Manhunter overcome his greatest weakness. The two actually became a couple, until Scorch accidentally unleashed a racial evil that lived within J'Onzz, and fell into a coma while struggling to put the genie back in its bottle.

  • D'Kay D'Razz: Retconned as the first Martian accidentally transported to Earth by Erdel, D'Kay took on human identities and went into hiding for decades for no discernable reason before being awakened from "sleeper" status by J'Onn J'Onzz's post-Brightest Day resurrection. How she failed to notice him as a public figure for over a decade before that was never explained, but D'Kay then went on a killing spree as a sort of Valentine offering in hopes of mating with the only Green Martian male in existence. Too bad for her J'Onn wouldn't take her if she were the last Martian female alive, and she isn't, so there!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2012 The Human Falcon Comicpalooza Commission by Kiriska

Click To Enlarge


All-Time Awesomest Alien Atlas Art continues, but rather than a female subject this week, it's the artist bringing the girl power! You'll remember Kiriska from her $5 Human Squirrel Commission, of which she mentioned on her now defunct Twitter feed...
"Aww, one of my commissioners at Comicpalooza did a write-up about one of the pieces I did for him… :O"
As a guy who pays people to do the drawing thing, I never gave much thought to what title that afforded me. Something about "commissioner" sits wrong though, like I'm supposed to receive bad news from Chief O'Hara and reach for the Batphone. Is there a dollar figure attached to the word "patron," and does it involve a free PBS tote bag with my contribution to the arts? Kiriska isn't liable to help me reach the Gold Supporter level though, because I couldn't talk her into taking more than twice as much for a second commission.

One look at the artist's Tumblr sketch blog, A Question of Intent shows that Kiriska has a gift for anthropomorphics. It also shows that nine months later, she's still fixated on Marvel's The Avengers, not that I can throw stones as a guy who has had a Martian Manhunter blog with daily updates for 5½ years. I could mock her descent into mashing the Avengers up with Harry Potter, but again, I still want a more fully realized Ben Stoves commission from her someday, so we could keep leveling-up geekery all day. Anyhow, Kiriska was offering full color 4" x 6" head shots for $10, and since she'd shown an aptitiude for birds that rivaled her furries, I selected The Human Falcon. Technically, the lone comic appearance of this airplane-assisted thief referred to him simply as "the Falcon," but confusion with Sam Wilson (set to appear in 2014's Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and the symmetry of other "Human" Manhunter rogues makes it necessary to fall back on the title of that story for nomenclature.

Depending on the size of your screen, the scan above could be pretty close to actual size. Digitally, the reds got amped up, where the physical markers are more muted (especially the browns of the Falcon's feathers and jacket. I especially love the construction of the beak and the soulful eyes Kiriska managed to express on the big stupid Mardi Gras parade papier-mâché helmet thing this dude thought it would be a good idea to wear while doing crime. For more swell Kiriska work, scope her deviantART gallery!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Martian Sightings for May, 2013



Martian Manhunter
SMALLVILLE SEASON 11 SPECIAL #1
Written by BRYAN Q. MILLER
Art by AXEL GIMENEZ and DIANA EGEA
Cover by CAT STAGGS
On sale MAY 29 • 48 pg, FC, $4.99 US • RATED T • DIGITAL FIRST

Detective John Jones, the Martian Manhunter, steps into the Smallville spotlight in “Effigy,” a stand-alone adventure! A grisly murder in Gotham City sends Martian Manhunter on a quest to confront his past. Guest-starring Batman and Nightwing!
Folks have been telling me this has been running online, and I look forward to reading it in print. The costume sucks, but I'm so happy to see a Manhunter spotlight strengthening his long moribund ties to Batman and shedding light on his role in Smallville. Of course, a Middletown reference would just be icing...

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #4
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Backup story written by MATT KINDT
Art and cover by DAVID FINCH
Backup story art by SCOTT CLARK
Variant cover by TYLER KIRKHAM and BATT
1:100 B&W Variant cover by DAVID FINCH

On sale MAY 8 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99 US
Retailers: This issue will ship with four covers. Please see the order form for more information.

The League uncovers the leader of The Secret Society of Super-Villains—but can such a diverse group of heroes defeat the collective might of the Society? And in the backup story, Manhunter goes behind the scenes to learn more about the Secret Society! This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.
One hand giveth whilst the other taketh away? Despero debuts in the other Justice League book with Firestorm and Lady Atom, but Martian Manhunter finally gets to tackle Silver Age baddies like the Shaggy Man he missed in the '70s while in publishing limbo. Despite the ridiculous cleavage on Catwoman, she's the figurative beard (and Shaggy the literal one) helping to cover for the forced slash fiction perpetrated against Hawkman and the Alien Atlas. I'm happy that this profile confirms that Finch is drawing a classic J'Onn head instead of the New 52 seashells, though I wonder about the loss of the Cossack pants/boots. Swiped from here, which reminds me that battling Shaggy Man is a double redemption, as he was also a Silver Age villain from an issue during the Marco Xavier hiatus.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA’S VIBE #4
Written by STERLING GATES
Art by PETE WOODS and SEAN PARSONS
Cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
1:25 B&W Variant cover by BRETT BOOTH and NORM RAPMUND
On sale MAY 15 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.

Why is Vibe battling Batman? Our hero is in way over his head when he’s forced to turn against A.R.G.U.S.!

I initially read that as "Why is Vibe belittling Batman?" I would pay $9.95 for an issue of nothing but Paco Ramon busting snaps on the Caped Crusader. I even already had an answer in mind. "It's simply Vibe's way!" I'm still ordering this book, even with the grave foreshadowing of a change of writer with the fourth issue (though nice to see Sterling Gates jumping onto a book instead of being pushed out.)

THE SAVAGE HAWKMAN #20
Written by TOM DeFALCO
Art and cover by JOE BENNETT and MARC DEERING
On sale MAY 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T • FINAL ISSUE

Hawkman vs. Blockbuster round two! Hawkman transforms his Nth metal armor into a new berserker mode! Blockbuster’s true identity is revealed! Plus, don’t miss an appearance by the new JLA!
The Martian Manhunter is on hand for the final issue of another Hawkman volume? J'Onn showed up pretty late in Hawkworld too, and it meant the death of Sharon Parker and revelation of Fel Andar as a spy.

CATWOMAN #20
Written by ANN NOCENTI
Art and cover by RAFA SANDOVAL and JORDI TARRAGONA
On sale MAY 15 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+

Membership in the Justice League of America is going to cost Catwoman the rest of her nine lives as Selina comes to grips with the deadly reality of her current imprisonment!
Can we please get to a place where I don't have to list Catwoman comics here? Hypety hype hype. Way off topic, but The Green Team and The Movement each sound really interesting, mining previously verboten political veins.



Despero
JUSTICE LEAGUE #19
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and fold-out cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
Backup story art by GARY FRANK
MAD Variant cover by The Usual Gang of Idiots
1:100 B&W Variant cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale APRIL 17 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.

Combo pack edition: $4.99 US Retailers: This issue will ship with four covers. Please see the order form for more information.

• Who is the one person dangerous enough to use Kryptonite against Superman?
This gatefold cover managed to obscure the New 52 debut of Despero, which is why I added it to this month's list for retroactive representation. They kept the reveal "WTF Certified" for whole weeks, ya'll.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #20
Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
Backup story art by GARY FRANK
Variant cover by HOWARD PORTER
1:100 B&W Variant cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale MAY 15 • 40 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Combo pack edition: $4.99
Retailers: This issue will ship with four covers. Please see the order form for more information. This issue is also offered as a combo pack edition with a redemption code for a digital download of this issue.

The PROLOGUE TO TRINITY WAR continues as a revelation about Batman could destroy Wonder Woman and Superman’s relationship! Plus, in the backup story, the penultimate chapter of the tale of Shazam finds Billy Batson learning the shocking secret of Black Adam!
I know it's just a facial close-up, but I'm sincerely shocked at the fidelity to the Pre-Flashpoint Kalanorian. You'd figure that they would maybe add a goatee or reorient the fin, like they did in the cartoons. Obviously I'm bummed Despero didn't turn up drawn by Dave Finch against the new Justice League of Detroit to fight the Martian Manhunter, but rather in the more conservative Reis book with the Super Six + Cyborg. I wonder if this is Despero's first encounter with a League, or if there was still a Silver Age version that later transformed through the Flame of Py'tar?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Justice League: Cry for Justice #4 (December, 2009)



In San Francisco’s Nob Hill, a Green Arrow villain climbed through a girl’s bedroom window with the intention of kidnapping her for ransom. Should she scream, God help her. “My god’s name is H’ronmeer. And I doubt he’ll help you at all, Brick.” How did the girl know Brick's name? “Duh, I read minds. You know what else? Another of my gods is called L’Zoril. Say hello to him!”

With a panty peek and a punch, Miss Martian served Brick to dreamland. While standing on top of her conquest, M’gann was met by the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick. There was a massive conspiracy centered around the super-villain Prometheus that teams of heroes were working to unravel. M'gann M'orzz was among those that would be needed, but Jay had many more to gather before the day was done. They were as disparate as Manhunter (Kate Spencer) and Mr. America, in sequences that were never actually paid off when the story veered into different directions through editorial interference. When a weary Jay returned home, he was met by the Shade, who promised no ill will as he sought to safeguard Opal City and America itself.

The fourth chapter of Cry For Justice, “The Fix” was by James Robinson and Mauro Cascioli.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Scorch versus Killer Frost


Scorch
Debut: 2000
Nemesis: Fernus
Other Major Foes: Superman, Martian Manhunter
Appearances: 25+ comics
Powers: Fire control and teleportation.

Aubrey Sparks was a redneck transformed by Emperor Joker into a hard living devil girl. Her mental instability caused her to clash with various heroes until she struck up a bargain with J'Onn J'Onzz to fix her mind if she fixed his weakness against fire. Both were temporarily successful, until the ancient Martian id monster Fernus cooked her brain.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: S'vor (9-6); Bel Juz (7-4*); Human Flame (9-4); Effigy
Lose: Bette Noir (7-8*) Saturnian Criminal (4-5)
Draw: 0
*Denotes multi-participant match, rather that a duel.




Killer Frost
Debut: 1978/1984
Nemesis: Firestorm
Other Major Foes: Justice League of America
Appearances: 125+ comics, animation, video games and toys.
Powers: Cryokinesis and heat absorption.

Scientist Louise Lincoln inherited the role and powers of Killer Frost from her deceased friend and colleague Crystal Frost, with whom she had the common bond of being murderous nutters. Frost has plagued many heroes of the DC Universe, but holds special enmity against the Nuclear Man.

Vile Menagerie Stats:
Win: 0
Lose: 0
Draw: 0




Idol Speculation:
Elemental confrontations are visual spectacles, but I burned Scorch with this match. Killer Frost's powers are fueled by heat, and since that's about the only weapon in Scorch's arsenal, Frost will simply gorge and chill.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bel Juz versus Poison Ivy


Bel Juz
Debut: 1972
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: Superman, Justice League of America
Appearances: 4 comics
Powers: Flight, superhuman physique, and presumably other innate Martian powers.

Bel Juz survived the genocide on her home planet and thrived on Mars II through ruthless cunning, feminine whiles, and a willingness to sacrifice countless lives rather than suffer herself. Superman once saw through her charade and choked her unconscious with considerable effort. Using the Marshal of the Red Brotherhood as a chess piece, Bel Juz orchestrated a Martian invasion of Earth that was put down by an under-staffed JLA.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: Dr. Light (8-1); Cay'an (4/1); The Martian Criminal (10-4)
Lose: Scorch & Bette Noir (4-7, 4-8); Human Squirrel (?)
Draw: 0




Poison Ivy
Debut: 1966
Nemesis: Batman
Other Major Foes: Batman Family
Appearances: 600+ comics, toys, video games, animation, and a major motion picture.
Powers: Immunity to poisons/toxins, toxic bodily secretions that can kill/control, plant control, and superhuman physique.

After being betrayed by a man and nearly killed by an injection of plant poisons, Pamela Isley survived and thrived through her intellect and special relationship with plants. Though mad, Poison Ivy has killed and manipulated her way up through the hierarchy of Gotham City's criminal underworld, and run into most every urbabn vigilante under the sun. Ivy tends to target men, and has a weakness for her fairer sex.

Vile Menagerie Stats:
Win: 0
Lose: 0
Draw: 0




Idol Speculation:
Despite the fun I had with the image mash-up topside, Poison Ivy goes down hard and fast. Her forte is plant control, which can certainly ruin a Caped Crusader's weekend, but isn't likely to stall a powerful Martian. Perhaps with time to plan, Ivy could cook up a mind-controlling herb for a Martian the way she did with a Kryptonian, but that took her years to work out. Ivy has nearly as much reason to avoid fire as Bel Juz. Finally, the Martian minx is a green-skinned femme fatale, so if anyone was likely to counter-seduce Poison Ivy, it's Bel Juz.

Friday, February 8, 2013

DC Super-Media and Relevancy



Mark Millar is a popular comic book writer who has managed to get many of his creator-owned properties optioned and even made (Wanted, Kick-Ass) with their storytelling aesthetic relatively intact. On the other end of the spectrum, 20th Century Fox (the Bryan Singer entries in the X-Men franchise notwithstanding) has a reputation for showing little regard for comic book properties, as proven by the lukewarm reviews and box office receipts for the Daredevil and Fantastic Four flicks. Marvel Studios are now breaking records with their multiple successful franchises, so FOX hired Mark Millar as their "superhero creative consultant," and in this role he's decided to run down DC's super-hero properties as out of date and otherwise too silly to thrive in a SciFiNow interview. Despite having done good by the Martian Manhunter in some late '90s stories, I don't have much regard for Millar as a creator, and absolutely no faith in him as a media figure. He's repeatedly shown a willingness to lie his face off for industry ink, and I suspect he'll ultimately have as much creative input in FOX's movies as Stan Lee. That having been said, it doesn't mean he's not right about the irrelevancy of most DC properties.

There was a time when DC Comics was king of all super-hero media. The breakout comic book stars in the earliest days of the medium all got themselves adapted elsewhere. Whether it was newspaper strips, radio shows, or serials, many of the vanguard entered and remained in the public consciousness for decades. Superman starred in all three of the platforms mentioned, plus some of the most revered cartoons of all time. The Adventures of Superman TV show ran six beloved seasons before the suicide of star George Reeves halted production. Regardless, Superman became a fixture in television animation until the late 1980s. The feature films started rolling out in 1979, of which four were produced in the original run (two of them outright blockbusters.) Superman and his younger self Superboy headlined multiple TV programs of varying degrees of success from the '80s through to just a few years ago. Superman has always tended to be the crown jewel of super-hero adaptations, or at least he was until 1989, and he's surely still the biggest draw in live action television.



Batman was also an early adopter of multi-platforming, including his own serial, and later, the cultural phenomenon dubbed "Batmania" that spawned a hugely successful TV show and feature film. Batman had a spottier track record in animation, though. However, a second wave of Batmania launched with Tim Burton's 1989 movie, from which three sequels were born, and one of the most endearing cartoons ever, Batman: The Animated Series. Only Spider-Man has ever challenged the Dark Knight as champion of comic book box office, though the bofo business of the Christopher Nolen film trilogy helped pull the Caped Crusader that much further ahead. Batman has also dominated animation, with more cartoons than I care to count.



The 1970s were the pinnacle of DC Comics' cultural relevancy. Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel each had well liked live action shows, but the true jewel was the animated Super Friends. Ten seasons were produced over thirteen years, and the iconic Superman, Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman were each represented. Aquaman, who had his own single season cartoon in the 1960s, became synonymous with oceanic heroics (and the first Super Friends season even listed him as one of "the world's four greatest heroes.") The show (re)introduced general audiences to the Flash ("the" super-speed hero of record,) Green Lantern, Hawkman & Hawkgirl, the Atom, Firestorm, and Cyborg. There was also a slew of heroes created specifically for the show who are remembered today, like Black Vulcan, Apache Chief and the Wonder Twins. Plastic Man even managed to score his own spin-off show for a couple of seasons. In the 1970s, "super-heroes" were synonymous to "Super Friends," and there was very little competition from outside the DC ranks.



The problem with being at the vanguard of a movement is that you tend to get as far out ahead of everyone in mistakes as you do with innovations. The DC shows were corny all-ages entertainment, but Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the Justice League as a whole descended into outright camp at various points in their careers, and no one lets them forget it (except Batman.) Awful Marvel outings like the Nicholas Hammond Spider-Man show and the TV movies of Doctor Strange and Captain America are largely forgotten, but it's tough to ever live down the self-parody of Superman III, Batman and Robin or Legends of the Superheroes. Marvel Comics in particular learned a lot from DC's missteps, and always managed to stay hipper and edgier than the Distinguished Competition. The modern age of Marvel films started with the R-rated Wesley Snipes Blade franchise, after all, and Marvel Studios has yet to have as catastrophic a blunder as the painfully boring Superman Returns.



Diversity was the stone that slayed the Goliath that was DC Comics. From the cancellation of Super Friends in 1986 until the launch of the Cartoon Network's Justice League in 2001, DC simply shifted back and forth between Superman and Batman in live action and animation. Even if Marvel had been satisfied with the enormous success of Spider-Man and the X-Men, the latter still provided teams of spin-off characters to exploit. Yet, instead of resting on their laurels, Marvel consistently pushed to expand their universe of brands, from the Fantastic Four and Iron Man to the Hulk and the Avengers. The Punisher could shed all the blood he wanted while Captain America kept things clean and nostalgic. Everybody got their own super-hero with Marvel, while DC only had the World's Finest white men in capes. They didn't even bother to sustain all the multicultural icons from Super Friends after the cartoon died, taking a bold initiative of inclusion, then freezing it in amber as a comical example of feel-good post-hippie liberalism. People who've never read a comic book in their lives have had regular opportunities to get to know Storm, while El Dorado is only a vaguely recalled Generation X trivia question/punchline.



Justice League arrived rather late to the party, and any progress it made in modernizing the image of the DC heroes was undercut by the more broadly seen and utterly ridiculous Smallville. When DC had the opportunity to inject racial diversity into their image through the cartoon's John Stewart, film audiences were instead "treated" to Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan in the expensive flop Green Lantern. A saving grace of Smallville was casting Phil Morris as the Martian Manhunter, but the character has before and since been cast with rotund geriatric white actors, and in the latest draft of the proposed Justice League movie, the character was cut altogether. The media ambassadors of the DC Universe have by and large been low rent and goofy as hell, which means that with the exception of Batman, it's an uphill climb to get any of their heroes taken seriously. Superman was on a dumb show and in an dull movie. Wonder Woman was the least appealing female on a basic cable group cartoon. Aquaman was a running gag on Entourage and remains low hanging fruit for stand-up comics. The Flash dies after one expensive season against Cosby. No one even wants to bring up Robin anymore. Somehow, Warner Brothers has managed to be so myopic and misguided in their shepherding of the DC Universe, that Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy are perceived as more viable than most of their super-heroes. It'll take something beyond excessive piping and the abandonment of overgarments to dig them out of their present hole.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

K'hym J'onzz “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” design art by Jerome K. Moore

Click To Enlarge

For as long as there have been comic books, there's been a drive to produce them as quickly as possible. This necessitated a streamlining and homogenization of style, to generate enough finished pages of acceptable work to build a decent paycheck. As a result, this field was defined by journeymen, with the rare flashes of true artists in the periphery.

In the early '80s, guys like Sandy Plunkett, Mark Beachum, and Jerome K. Moore were ahead of their peers by quantum leaps, so vastly superior as to appear downright alien in direct comparison. However, the stars that burn brightest do so for the shortest time. In the case of Moore, there's very little sequential comic art out there in the wild, as he quickly focused on covers, and specialized in uncanny but unusually vibrant likenesses on licensed properties. This likely facilitated his shift to animation, where he remains to this day.

The comic book ties still bind though, as he contributed designs for the 2010 direct-to-DVD animated feature Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Among the characters were K'hym J'onzz, the now deceased daughter of J'Onn J'Onzz, who appeared in a flashback sequence. If I recall correctly, it was her first cartoon spot, as the Martian Manhunter's origin story in the Justice League pilot was altered to exclude his family.

I pulled this image off Moore's deviantART gallery, from which it now appears to have been excised, or else I'd offer a link with additional information. I like how Moore gave her femininity without any gender-skewing affectations, and an expression that translates to both meek contentedness and an element of tragic stoicism, as though she knows her tragic fate and is facing it with a dear heart. If anyone knows where I can find similar design art for M'yri'ah, leave a comment!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

2012 Cay'an Comicpalooza Commission by Jonathan Thibodaux

Click To Enlarge


I spent a lot (like, a lot-- I mean a lot) of time and money (especially money, dear LORD!) getting last year's commissions together. Don't get me wrong-- I don't regret most of them, but did I mention all that time and money? The truth is, I was overwhelmed by how much material there was to sift through afterwards, which was part of the reason I took breaks from posting them (skipping November and January entirely.) I'll try not to get quite so crazy this year, especially since I'm still paying back money from school, much less regular bills that didn't benefit from the extravagance. I say this now, but May isn't nearly as far away as it used to be, and have you seen the 2013 Comicpalooza guest list? George Pérez alone is going to punch me right in the wallet, and it would be kind of spiffy to keep the weekly commission posts coming into the sixth anniversary lasting through to October of 2013 on a blog centered around villains.

Anyway, part of my point is that three seasons on, I'm not sure how detailed this final round of commission posts is going to be. I'm not getting any younger, and memory gets hazy. Thankfully, a lot of the folks to come are repeat pleasers, so I've already said most everything about the background for the commissions. Also, I've saved some of their best pieces, which should speak for themselves. I just don't want anyone feeling like they got short shrift.

Moving along, Cay'an was the central villain in the only Martian Manhunter mini-series published in the aughts (unless you count World War III, which you shouldn't.) I like the character, despite her emphasis on near nudity and the utter inanity of her master plan. I haven't seen so many desperately convoluted illogical machinations that meant and amounted to nothing since the Birther Movement. Despite her importance to the Coneheadhunter, she only appeared in her true Martian form in the final issue, and never in a clear full body shot. My initial plan was to have Joe Eisma correct this via a colored commission, but he cancelled out of Comicpalooza, and I was broke by the time he showed up in town a couple of months later at Space City Con. I considered Marcio Takara, but I wanted him to do Patrolwoman Diane Meade, and I frankly would have been peeved if Cay'an had come out without feet when I specifically wanted a full length figure. I also thought about asking Lane Montoya, but she'd already done the half-naked Princess Cha'rissa for me, and I didn't want her thinking I had some sort of pervy fixation.



Jonathan Thibodaux was seated near (between?) Chris Beaver and Vo Nguyen... who would later share a table at Space City Con... where I would get second commissions from both that have been posted here already while each's first commission has yet to surface (though Vo's is coming very soon.) I don't think Thibodaux was featured on the con's website, because he has a very distinctive style that I would have taken time to match to a specific character. Instead, I stumbled upon him in the closing hours of one day, tossed through his portfolio, and figured he could be my Cay'an guy. I don't think he wanted to keep the piece overnight, and I explained that I was looking for a basic, no-frills, Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe type style guide image. He knocked it out in about twenty minutes at a buck a minute. What a pro! As usual, the shabby coloring above is all me. What an amateur! The scan gets all of the broad strokes, but there's a lot of fine detail missing, especially in the face and crotch-hatching (not a typo.)

Thibodaux is affiliated with CCP Comics, like several other commissioners I've worked with, and he used their 8¾" x 11" semi-rigid sketch paper (further branded with his name and contact information.) Check out more of his great work at deviantART!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

2012 “Martian Manhunter Concept” color art by “Diniece Harseik”

Click To Enlarge


"FINALLY. A finished Martian Manhunter design. X3

If it were up to me, J'onn would primarily rely on his shape-shifting abilities in combat rather than his other powers. They were on a great track in Justice League: Doom - having Martian shift into different forms deriving from his homeworld's animal kingdom. Whut? Alien animals? Hecks yes, I approve.

He's looking pretty genderless here, mostly because I'm still mulling over the character's sex. ... Huh. Genderless might be interesting. 8P

I'm... I'm very tired. I dunno what else to type. xD"
The artist appears to be working on some sort of personal Elseworlds type project involving the JLA, and after long hours redesigning the Manhunter from Mars ends up with... D'Kay D'Razz? Don't even try to tell me that is anyone but the crazy tatted-up chica from Brightest Day, regardless of intentions. I think this is the best piece in the gallery, which is highly unusual for Alien Atlas art. There's all sorts of weird digital debris embedded within the original PNG though, but not this here JPEG.

As for the artist's comments, I must disagree. If you focus on shape-shifting battles, it all becomes a bit Merlin versus Mad Madam Mim. The point of having a hero with so many diverse powers is to offer circumstances that would require them and the imagination to employ them well. If you focus on a green-skinned shapeshifter, you get Beast Boy. If you focus on telepathy, you get Professor X. Invisible Woman, Phantom Girl, Cyclops... there's a hero who specializes in every aspect of the Manhunter's arsenal. It's the mingling of powers that sets apart the Sleuth from Outer Space, not any one alone.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Justice League: Cry for Justice #3 (November, 2009)


In becoming more proactive against super-villains, the new team of heroes forming around Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Green Arrow Oliver Queen stumbled upon a conspiracy laid out by the JLA anti-Batman Prometheus that was building a body count. Meanwhile, in Opal City, the Shade began putting together his own squad… for justice! A fortune was read that indicated a great deal of additional heroes would become entangled in Prometheus’ plot, including Wildcat, Miss Martian, Manhunter (Kate Spencer,) the Guardian, Batwoman, Shining Knight, Hourman, Liberty Belle, Robotman, and others.

The third chapter of Cry For Justice, “The Villain” was by James Robinson and Mauro Cascioli. Credit for consistency, the book looked very nice, and the script was fun, but everyone was taking their time getting anywhere. The team formation was also less than organic, as they each cried… for… justice!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

WTF DC?



Mid-century DC Comics were defined by offering outlandish circumstances for their protagonists to face on its covers; situations often conceived as a single image by an editor or artist that the scripter was challenged to write his way into and out of in the comic produced out of the crazy concept. This offset the episodic nature of the books' adamantine status quo, set from the beginning of every story and restored with each ending. Modern DC Comics aren't all that different, which is why they proposed a month long gimmick of gatefold covers that when unfolded revealed a "holy s***!" surprise development. DC has since dubbed the stunt "WTF Certified," although it seems like much of the whattafuggery is going on behind the scenes. For instance, the image above was solicited for April's issue of All Star Western, only to be reworked extensively by another artist. A theory is that the yellow hand wielding the gun was a time lost Booster Gold, but surprise, DC actually decided that this was too clearly the debut of New 52 B'rett. Seems so obvious when I point it out, right? Those sly dogs!

In less delusional news, Jim Starlin has taken over Stormwatch, and seems intent on driving me bonkers in doing so. I'm a Starlin fan from way back, and while I haven't enjoyed much of his work in recent... well, we're kind of coming up on a plural of "decade"... he's still doing interesting stuff that I wanted out of this team in the first place. Hellstrike rejoins the team, after having been a member throughout the first Wildstorm volume. The skeevy New 52 Midnighter and Apollo appear to be killed and replaced by the Ellis/Hitch originals. Debut member "Storm Control" looks an awful lot like a Weatherman, and Starlin has even shoehorned one of his own properties (the Weird) from another book (an indulgence he pioneered in the '70s, and he will presumably once again continue telling stories from years back that he didn't get to finish in the books where they started.) The cover to a successive issue indicates the roster changes (or reversals, as the case may be) are permanent, and there's another race of beetle-browed aliens to battle in some sort of cosmic odyssey. Damn it all to hell-- why isn't Martian Manhunter in this Stormwatch-- the sort I'd imagined when the title was announced two years ago? WTF indeed, DC!

Friday, February 1, 2013

2013 is for Evil Lovers



At the start of 2012, I announced Happy Zook Year as part of the lead-up to the blog's fifth anniversary. Like most resolutions, it came up a bit short. While I did spotlight a fair number of supporting characters, including some nifty art commissions, important players like Diane Meade and the titular Zook still haven't seen enough play here. I also probably got more character biographies done last month than in all of 2012, and I plan to keep up with that going into February. In fact, since I tend to associate the ladies with the month of valentines, expect to see a number of posts spotlighting the y-chromosome challenged. Maybe we'll get to the patrolwomen of Middletown before it's done?

Anyhow, I couldn't very well let 2013 pass without emphasizing the evils investigated by the Sleuth from Outer Space. The blog isn't called "The Alien Atlas Shrine" nor "Martian Manhunter Maniac," but instead The Idol-Head of Diabolu after a magical box that once regularly released monsters to battle J'onn J'onzz. 2013 will be all about reevaluating and redefining the rogues gallery of the Manhunter from Mars. Too often, the emphasis is on "name brand" bad guys shared by more popular heroes, where part of this blog's mission statements is to shine a light on the villains that are wholly "owned" by the Martian Marvel. A manhunter is judged by the quality of his enemies, so a strong Martian means healthy adversity from a Vile Menagerie of foes. Besides, the nickname works better once you focus on the freak show that is the collective of nasties dedicated solely to destroying the Manhunter from Mars.

Hope you folks like the new banner. It features quite a few pieces of art I commissioned last year and will start posting individually again this month. Anyone care to try to name all the characters feature and/or the artists who drew them?