Friday, April 1, 2011

The Osprey's Time Is Now!

After three and a half years of daily Martian Manhunter blogging, I'm completely burned out, and feel I've explored the furthest reaches of the character. I don't want to let my fine readers down though, so yesterday's post was designed to help them transition to this blog's new focal point. For at least the next year, I would like to examine the full unrealized potential of one of the most enigmatic, intriguing, and exciting characters in the history of narrative storytelling: THE OSPREY!

Who is he? What is he? Is he a he? Where does he/she come from? What are their powers? With only a single page of continuity in print to date, the only limits on the character is our imaginations!

I've read the Martian Manhunter interacting with Superman hundreds of times, and am very aware of what to expect out of the mouths of J'Onn J'Onzz and Kal-El. On the other hand, there are countless possibilities for dialogue between the Osprey and the Man of Steel. Would the Osprey cuss? Would the Osprey pretend to be a super-hero? Would the Osprey spit out a half eaten sea bass in Superman's smug face? Would the Osprey flirt openly with Superman, even if he knew Clark Kent was married? I don't know! Nobody does! Can't you see how fantastic it would be to consider this mystery in daily long form slash fiction? With illustrations sent in by you, the readers? I fully expect material from each and every one of you to fill my inbox from now on, and those submissions can go to!

There's something in the air today, because there's a whole host of other blogs changing their formats! I highly recommend you check out the all-new attractions at the following tired old, been there, done that blogs:

Finally, if you voted in the site's poll yesterday, a Google update erased all record of it, and you'll note that the previous polls defaulted to 3-3 ties. If you're not sure your vote counted, try again. I extended it by a day to count chads.

Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Manhunter from Mars Annual #12 (1995)

Patrick Starling's mother was the heiress groomed to take over one of the most profitable corporations known to man, with its fingers in as many pies as there are nations. This was how she met Starling's father, who had been a diplomat, but quit to help bulldoze over obstacles in the corporation's various unscrupulous enterprises across the globe. Patrick's brother grew up to become an engineer, and his sister a world-renowned heart surgeon. Both sides of Patrick's family were stocked with exceptional individuals.

Patrick Starling flunked out of the finest schools in the world, and never expressed any interest in becoming anything. His parents tried to teach him the family business, but Patrick simply, passively, refused to take to it. As his siblings became progressively more accomplished, Patrick remained doggedly disappointing. His one abiding passion was birds, as Patrick longed to finally soar free above all the expectations that hovered over him while earthbound. He did become a very capable amateur pilot, but couldn't be bothered to seek professional certification.

Despite all of this, Patrick Starling was used to the finer things and unlimited access, so when he proved unable to earn means of his own, he was at least clever enough to swindle largely and routinely from his family's corporation. Of course, his family was filled with brilliant minds able to untangle his web of deceit and betrayal. While they were putting the finishing pieces of his plot together, they missed the one where he invited his immediate family for a private plane ride, then intentionally crashed. Patrick Starling escaped relatively unharmed, and made sure that the icy, inhospitable crash site would stall search and rescue efforts long enough to see to his family's demise. Part of Patrick's escape from his clan over the years was routine trips to the great outdoors, and he was physically quite sturdy, so it was understandable that he would be the only one found alive. Still, it was a national tragedy.

Starling manipulated evidence to implicate his parents in all wrongdoing against the corporation, and wanting no further obligations, the board was only too happy to help Patrick divest himself of all company holdings. His family's estate was liquidated and divided amongst extended surviving kin. No one was surprised that Starling dropped completely out of sight once everything was resolved, given the terrible circumstances he'd lived through.

Starling enjoyed his freedom and liquid assets for a number of years, but fortunes dwindle and indulgences grow tiresome with repetition. Starling held fast to his fantasy of being as carefree and self-determined as a bird, simply diving out of the sky to scoop up anything they desired from the lowly things below. Patrick developed a second passion-- studying the old time "super villains" of the 1940s. With his remaining funds, Patrick Starling modified an airplane, scouted and stocked several "secret headquarter" caves to work out of, and briefly partook of a crime spree as "The Falcon." For the first time in his life, Patrick Starling was an overwhelming force, able to take whatever he wanted, without regard for the welfare or machinations of others. Unfortunately for him, the same unseen, suffocating force that had hung over Starling like a Sword of Damocles throughout his life brought his adventure to a swift, seemingly inexplicable end.

Patrick Starling was imprisoned, not just for his crimes as the Falcon, but through the renewed investigation into his past embezzlement and implications of fratricide. During his many years at Grayton Prison, droves of brilliant criminals came and went. Starling's innate intelligence made him a natural in conversations with the likes of Alex Dunster, Professor Proxon, Mr. Moth, Mike Miller, Monty Moran, Mr. Mastermind, and Professor Arnold Hugo. It was deduced that based on the strange occurrences during his apprehension and his targeting of Middletown, the Falcon must have been brought low by J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars, during the days when he still operated in secret as a crime buster. Trapped in a situation from which there was no escape, Patrick Starling finally put his mind to use in an exceptional pursuit: devising a means by which he could destroy the Martian Manhunter and take flight as the unstoppable bird of prey he wished himself to become. With the idle minds of mad science at his disposal, a suit of armor was designed which could, conceivably, go talon to tentacle with an Alien Atlas.

Acting as his own attorney, Patrick Starling pursued "discovery" that would shed new light on his case. Evidence planted by escaped "friends" from prison incriminated several members of the corporate board in "framing" his family, "engineering" their deaths, and "strong-arming" the mentally unstable Starling out of the company. The media picked up on his riches-to-rags-to-redemption story, and before long, Starling was out of prison with several settled civil suits netting him hundreds of millions of dollars. Starling had a book of his version of events ghost written, including the persecution of the mentally ill by self-appointed "super-heroes," that made the best-seller lists. Finally, Starling had the means and mobility to complete his revenge.

The super armor was put together by various companies based on those prison plans, without any one having knowledge of the whole. Starling decided on the new villainous identity of "The Osprey," as a nod to his past without tipping his hand publicly. In his super suit, Starling trailed J'Onn J'Onzz at various sightings, usually alongside his new team of heroes, the Justice League Task Force. Not happy with those odds, the Osprey lay in wait for the perfect moment to strike at J'Onzz when he was isolated and vulnerable.

The opportunity arrived when the JLTF's headquarters was destroyed by Vandal Savage in retaliation for their involvement in one of his schemes. While J'Onzz left the unit to pursue the immortal villain, his young charges began an investigation of J'Onzz himself, leading them into a distracting conflict with a mysterious figure named Baron Von Mauler. Thus preoccupied, the Osprey shadowed the Martian Manhunter to Greece, far from any other heroes who could lend aid. While the Sleuth from Outer Space operated in his identity as American private investigator John Jones, attracting the attention of counter agents, the Osprey stalked. Finally, with great force and grace but little strategy, the Osprey simply plucked Jones off the ground.

What followed was a fierce battle. Thanks to psychic shielding in his helmet, J'Onzz could not penetrate the mind of his foe. The Osprey's energy wings depolarized the Martian's cells, making it an act of incredible will just to move as a humanoid, much less shape-shift. The warbird's armor afforded him great strength and durability, in the event the Alien Atlas did make contact. Laser Vision reflected right off of it, endangering civilians on the ground, a distraction J'Onzz could ill afford. Trapped in one form, J'Onzz took great bodily punishment from the Osprey's talons. The Martian Marvel thought a change of venue was in order, and forced his foe into the Mediterranean, but the seahawk was fully equipped with an aquatic mode. In a last ditch effort, the Manhunter from Mars went to the other extreme, pushing himself and the Osprey up through the outer reaches of Earth orbit. Starling hadn't bothered to equip flame throwers in his armor, figuring he had the means to create fire and exploit a known Martian weakness if he needed to do so. He had never imagined J'Onzz could tolerate the heat of ripping through the atmosphere at impossible speed, toward the vacuum of space and devastating radiation exposure that would surely kill them both. The Osprey managed to break free from J'Onzz's grip, and the pair plummeted limply back to Earth.

When J'Onn J'Onzz awoke, he was floating off the African coast. It would take a day or so just to return to the United States in his current condition. Using his vision and telepathic powers, the Martian Manhunter was unable to detect a trace of the Osprey.

Patrick Starling sat motionless, blessed to have sunk only to an ocean depth within his armor's tolerance. He wasn't sure how long he could survive trapped in this place, so it was a lucky turn that an automated crane latched onto the armor and hoisted Starling back to the surface. As he dangled in the air, his sensors barely operational, Starling learned that his motion had been tracked from a satellite with great interest since leaving the JLTF's headquarters. Vandal Savage was very curious to know why the Osprey was after the Martian Manhunter, and what he could do to help...

Mark Waid may have left Justice League Task Force abruptly in the hands of Christopher Priest after a brief stint in 1994, but he made sure to return to a dangling plot thread with this annual in the summer of '95. Artist Sal Velluto had been with the JLTF since their beginning, but also used the "Year One" tale of his co-creation the Osprey as a swan song. It's a shame Priest never brought the villain back into his series, but as with his Vandal Savage subplots there and on The Ray, I suppose unheralded cancellation wrecks the best laid plans.
Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Which Super-Villains Should The Osprey Fight?

The Osprey vs. Weapons Master: One of these guys literally appeared in a few panels of foreshadowing in one comic book that was never followed up on, which goes to show nothing is more open to fan projection than a blank canvas. Just ask Neil Gaiman's Morpheus, or the Phantom Stranger. Then again, Weapons Master was only the 198th high-tech mercenary who could afford full body armor but couldn't scrape the stubble off his own chin in 1994. It never helps to be a Bloodwynd villain, either. (8-4)

Doctor Samedi vs. The Osprey: I hope you'll forgive a bit of arrogance on my part, especially over such a piddling matter, but I feel like I "made" the Osprey. He was one of the earliest entries in the original incarnation of the Vile Menagerie from my late '90s site, which got him referenced elsewhere on the net, and he was also one of the first villains back in after the launch of this blog. Whoever created the Osprey page for Comicvine swiped my scan from here, and I figure my adoption and disproportionate coverage of the character has lent him greater credibility than he actual earned in his sole cameo appearance foreshadowing a confrontation that never arrived. At least Doctor Samedi has the goodwill of Ostrander fans from his two page confrontation with the Martian Manhunter and Fire. The Osprey has literally done nothing but talk a bit of smack and take flight. Each of these characters has survived initial qualifications and 1-2 additional rounds of combat, but they also fall into the category of dudes with exceptionally weak opponents and bogus tie matches. The Osprey didn't fall until the final hours of voting, by a single ballot, or else I'd be stuck finding opponents for both of these losers in Round 3 (says the guy who has an Osprey fanfic brewing...)

The Osprey vs. Mr. Moth: Our boy is probably a better equipped and more effective villain than Moth, but when silly meets stupid, may the most ridiculous one "win."

Comments: 0
Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Hawk's Eye On: The Osprey

Click to Expand

You want to know about this character? So do I! I read through back issues and the web, and only came up with a one line biography for my trouble. Darn it, I'll at least quadruple that effort!

For some reason, Mark Waid wrote several team books around the time of Zero Hour, going so far as to create dramatic new line-ups and status quos, only to abandon the titles to other hands within a few issues. Such was the case with Justice League Task Force, for which he wrote only two scripts featuring the book's final group constitution on his own before co-writing another pair with Christopher Priest, who then finished out the series' run. Waid introduced a new villain in his last solo issue with Sal Velluto and inkers Jeff Albrecht and Romeo Tanghal. The Osprey seemed to be intended as a nemesis for the Manhunter from Mars, but the accompanied image notwithstanding, never got off the ground. The character looked very cool, and even rated his own logo. Personally, I've always wondered if maybe Glenn Gammeron became what The Osprey was intended to be, but I expect somebody would have to ask Priest about that. Below are his only lines ever.

First Appearance: Justice League Task Force #17 (November, 1994)
Quote: "'Green Guy'? J' and gone. Seems I'm forever a step behind you, J'Onzz. That will change. Soon, you and your Task Force will be the first to know the fury of--The Osprey."

Beyond that, the only background lies with the word itself. The osprey is a bird of prey with colors that run toward black and white (with blue & brown in the mix.) It is medium-sized, a fish monger, and is found on all continents except Antarctica. The raptor is highly adaptable to different environments, so long as they are near enough to water to provide food. Said bird also inspired the V-22 Osprey, a troubled U.S. military project dating back to the mid-80's. This osprey is the first helicopter with both VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) and STOL (Short Take-Off...) capabilities. Basically, it can work as either a long-range turbo propeller aircraft or a standard chopper.

Comments: 0
Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Hawk's Eye On: The Human Falcon

Alter Ego: Unknown
Also Known As: The Human Falcon
Occupation: Thief
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: A cave atop Hawk Mountain near Middletown, U.S.A.
First Appearance: DETECTIVE COMICS #265 (March, 1959)
Height: Approx. 6'0"
Build: Average
Eyes: Dark
Hair: Black with gray streaks

Described as "a twisted genius with a penchant for birds," the Falcon was a winged thief who engaged in a one-man crime wave in the city of Middletown. Among his many heists were priceless Bird of Paradise plumes, the first Giant Golden Eagle ever held in captivity, and a large bronze casting of "The Griffin" owned by J.P. Harvey. The Falcon managed to thwart conventional security and police officers at every turn with his well planed jobs, which often imperiled innocents as a distraction ploy, and were executed with the aid of high tech equipment. However, an invisible Martian Manhunter was eventually carried to the Falcon's secret mountain lair "nest" as part of a looting, and easily apprehended the Falcon with his super powers.

Powers & Weapons:
The Falcon possessed no super human powers, but was athletic enough to swing from grappling lines and easily outrun security personnel. The Falcon was in possession of a vast array of specialized equipment presumed to be of his own devising. The most impressive of these was his Falcon Plane, which could deploy several sturdy grappling hooks shaped like a bird's talons with stunning precision. Falcon carried a wand which could project feathers as a concealing screen for many yards in his general area. Finally, the Falcon had a pet parrot named Peter who was quite fluent in English.

Quote: "You can say that again, Peter, my boy! For years I have prepared for my career as The Falcon! Now-- I'm ready for the big payoff!"

Created by Jack Miller and Joe Certa

Comments: 0
Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Which Martian Manhunter Villains Do You Least Want To Read About: The Osprey

Theme Song: "Ospreys And Chaos" by Stephen Osprey

Another near exact carry over from the Rock, with a complete history limited to a few panels, it's no wonder he was this blog's first VM entry. My only concern with his ranking is that I really would like to read more about him. Imagine how blindsided Mark Waid or Christopher Priest would be if questioned about this guy! I bet they couldn't immediately recall his very existence, and they were associated with his creation!

Comments: 0
Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM


The Irredeemable Shag said...

I'm so glad to see this change in direction for your site. Quite Frankly (pun intended), I was growing weary of reading about Martian Manhunter. There is really only so much you can say about a green guy with an obsessive compulsive disorder towards Oreos.

Love the new direction! Can't wait to fully explore Osprey's potential!

Keep up the great work!

The Irredeemable Shag

LissBirds said...

That freaky bird-head is going to haunt me in my sleep...and why does a man-bird have a pet bird? That's like Pluto (the dog) having a

Diabolu Frank said...

Dude's creepy. My first mental draft had Patrick Starling stalking and eating his family after the crash, but I pulled it back.