Tuesday, July 31, 2012

2012 WHO’S WHO: The Definitive Podcast of the DC Universe, Volumes I-II

Back in the 1980s, I tended to favor Marvel Comics, and still prefer the format of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe over all other comic book references. That said, I have plenty of affection for DC's answer to it, Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe. Marvel's books were more text based, with a single static image of a character useful as an artist's reference, and licensing friendly uniform inking by Josef Rubinstein. Who's Who was more about showing the variety of character types and artists across the five decades of history they were celebrating mid-decade. While I enjoyed the '80s incarnation, I didn't really immerse myself in DC lore until the Post-Crisis period. I tend to like the early '90s looseleaf editions better, thanks to characters and artists I was into at the time. They were also enhanced by supplements published by Mayfair Games that offered more quantifiable powers/abilities and other pertinent details along the lines of the Marvel Handbook (which became garbage in their own skimpy looseleaf version.)

Anyway, Who's Who is a lot of fun to revisit, and since DC apparently will never get around to a long-promised Showcase Presents collection, WHO’S WHO: The Definitive Podcast of the DC Universe offers the next best thing to eBay/illegally downloaded PDFs. Rob Kelly of Aquaman Shrine and Shag Matthews of Firestorm Fan spend better than an hour discussing each issue of the series from A to Z and back again. Volume I covers Abel through Auron, while Volume II handles Automan through Blackhawk Island (with an emphasis on Batman.) They're well worth your time as you trot down Nostalgia Avenue to a simpler, more innocent time of Earths conquered by the Nazis, guys getting caught in nuclear meltdowns while trying to get laid, toddlers suffocated by maniacs attempting to create an undersea kingdom for black people, and whatever the hell Thriller was supposed to be.

I will warn you though that one of the biggest lies DC ever told was that Who's Who was any kind of "Definitive Directory." They were extremely subjective and not a little random in who they spotlighted, and it should come as no surprise that the Martian Manhunter's expanded universe was literally represented solely by the Martian Manhunter getting his own entry. This blog might not have to exist if DC had bothered to include even 5% of what we handle, but they didn't, so here's some links from the creeping inevitability that is our own Martian Fanhunter encyclopedia, including rationales on why DC should have honored them...
  • Alex Dunster: Thieving scientist who stole Professor Erdel's robot brain and used it to teleport before being captured in "Escape To The Stars" from Detective Comics #228 (1956.)
  • Aldo Szuzi: A French millionaire who despite being friends with Marco Xavier was targeted by Vulture in "Marco Vs. Manhunter” from House of Mystery #164 (1967.)
  • Andy Fletcher: The jewel thief who was foiled in "The Dog With A Martian Master" from Detective Comics #232 (1956.)
  • The Beings in the Color Rings: Creatures from another plane that tried to steal all the color from Middletown in "The Beings in the Color Rings" from House of Mystery #148 (1965.)
  • B'enn B'urnzz: A Green Martian criminal escaped from the year 2062 who fought J'onn J'onzz to a standstill in "J’onn J’onzz vs. Futureman" Detective Comics #305 (1962.)
  • B'rett: The yellow-skinned Martian who revealed J'onn J'onzz's existence on Earth, leading to his joining the Justice League of America. Appeared in "The Unmasking of J’onn J’onzz" from Detective Comics #273 (1959.)
  • Baron Voto: A bad guy from the nation of Lavonia who used a magic ring against the Martian Manhunter in "The Day John Jones Vanished" from Detective Comics #308 (1962.)
  • Bel Juz: The femme fatale who tried to sell out the survivors of Mars to evil aliens in "...And So My World Begins" from World's Finest Comics #212 (1972.) Initiated "The War of the Worlds: 1984," which caused the destruction of the iconic Justice League Satellite and instigated the disbanding of the associated incarnation of that team. She absolutely should have appeared in Who's Who.

Monday, July 30, 2012

2011 Miss Martian art by Ron “Doctor Pretorius” Nelson

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He lists Adam Hughes as his favorite artist. You could tell, right?

Doctor Pretorius Art

Sunday, July 29, 2012

SurVILEvor Island: Gorilla Grodd

Professor Arnold Hugo smirked as he strutted past all the also-rans and pretenders. For the first time ever on SurVILEvor Island, Hugo received 100% support from 19 voters. Not only was he among the great Martian Manhunter foes, but he could claim the likes of Batman, Superman, Aquaman and Robin as "lesser foes." It was a good day to be the Wizard of 1,000 Menaces...

The first and most obvious problem with Gorilla Grodd being a Martian Manhunter villain is that he's already, inarguably a Flash rogue. After Barry Allen took up the classic mantle and started the Silver Age of Comics in 1956, he headlined four issues of Showcase before graduating to his own ongoing series. The book picked up the numbering of the Golden Age series where it left off years earlier, beginning with #105. The menace of Super-Gorilla Grodd began with #106, spanning three consecutive issues, and resurfacing in more than a dozen issues thereafter. It took more than three years for Grodd to confront Allen's successor Wally West, but that encounter spanned three issues, and resulted in several dozen more. Since Barry's return, another half dozen comics have chronicled their enmity. Grodd even went after Allen's grandson Bart quite a few times.

During a fallow period in the 1970s, Grodd helped form and lead the Secret Society of Super-Villains, which initially included fellow Flash rogues Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang, and Captain Cold. Several other key DC nemeses were also part of the original group, and this line-up likely informed the 1978 creation of The Legion of Doom for the Challenge of the Super Friends cartoon show. The Legion were all devoted villains of the Super Friends Aquaman (Black Manta,) Green Lantern (Sinestro,) Wonder Woman (Cheetah & Giganta) Batman (Riddler & Scarecrow) and Superman (four foes.) Captain Cold joined Grodd in representing the Flash rogues, plus there was the random inclusion of Solomon Grundy. Typical for the Bronze Age, there were no Martian Manhunter villains to be seen, as the hero himself was not a concern.

Looking over Gorilla Grodd's half century of publishing, these two courses tie into the vast majority of his appearances. Grodd is either a Flash fiend, or part of a team like the Secret Society. His string of appearances in Titans-related comics were tied into his membership to the short-lived group Tartarus, which in turn played into Birds of Prey and Nightwing guest spots. His three turns in Green Lantern were part of a team-up with Hector Hammond against the Emerald Gladiator and Scarlet Speedster. Grodd's "Gorilla Fighters" mixed up with the Outsiders as part of a plot that also involved Dr. Sivana, the Joker, and Lex Luthor. Extreme Justice closed out their series with a four issue battle against a comic book version of the Legion of Doom that included Grodd. A new Society have been active and involved Grodd prominently since 2005's run up to Infinite Crisis.

The concept of Gorilla Grodd as a Martian Manhunter villain relies on a small handful of comics dating back to just 1999. In the "JLApe" annual event, Grodd turned the team into simians. The plot launched in the JLA Annual, continued into those of each of the "Magnificent Seven" Leaguers' and concluded with Grodd's defeat by Martian Manhunter in his second annual. The Alien Atlas retroactively overwhelmed the Super-Gorilla in 2001's JLA: Incarnations #2, meant to take place in roughly the second year of the League's existence. Both times, J'Onn J'Onzz used his extraterrestrial telepathy to overwhelm the gorilla's psychic prowess. J'Onzz was part of the team countering Grodd in JLA: Classified #1-3 from 2005, but there was no significant one-on-one action. Perhaps their most memorable encounter was in the painted mini-series Justice, in which Alex Ross played out his childhood love of the Super Friends with fanfic writ large incorporating the Legion of Doom. Since Ross had respect for the Silver Age and appreciation of the '80s, Ross made use of the Martian Manhunter, and repurposed Grodd as his specialty enemy (while Flash tangled with Captain Cold.) That book came out bimonthly for two years, concluding in 2007. Grodd was also among the crooks in the bar where J'Onzz was murdered the following year to launch the Final Crisis.

I've played devil's advocate on many of these SurVILEvors; prosecuting characters I like, hard selling characters I'm not particularly concerned about, and so forth. Of the lot, I'm most ambivalent about Gorilla Grodd. He's one of my favorite villains, and there's solid material for the characters to play off. Both characters are non-human telepaths from hidden societies far more advanced than science would ever believe. Both were born early in the Silver Age, and went on to help found and sustain large teams of exalted super-associates. They've had some strong interactions in the past thirteen years, and I look forward to reading more. On the other hand, Grodd will always be a Flash foe foremost, and he managed to go through forty years of relatively regular appearances without having anything to do with J'Onn J'Onzz. I'm glad this goes up for popular vote, because I don't particularly want to wrestle with the decision on this one.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Jemm, Son of Saturn #5 (January, 1985)

"For the wise man, kindness is an act of bravery. The learned know that kind acts are not always returned in kind." --from the teachings of Rahani

Held captive by White Saturnians, Jemm and Bouncer were separately bound, tortured and interrogated. Along with Luther Mannkin, the group was held on the flagship of the New White Saturnian Army, "guarded by an entire legion of... Koolars and Robot Warriors." Supreme Commander Synn informed Jemm that special bonds negated all of his powers, and attempted to extract knowledge about any other surviving Red Saturnians. When torture failed, Synn tried seduction, only for the ever silent Jemm to spit in her face. "You... Red... PIG!!!" Synn wiped herself and lashed out with a tremendous blow to Jemm's midsection. "...You'll either tell me what I seek to learn or I'll bring that young Earth-boy in here... the one you seem so fond of... and I'll dissect him before your very eyes!

A Koolar lieutenant requested the boy, only for a subordinate to inform her that Luther had managed to slip away when her back was turned for a moment. Mannkin found himself in Synn's private quarters, where he was hidden by her sex slave, Farr. A Koolar searching the area beat Farr when his unbearable arrogance saw him speak to her without first being spoken to. Synn arrived soon afterward to dismiss the Koolar but continue Farr's disciplining. "Never again make a public display of the liberties which I allow you in the privacy of my chamber! Don't you know that any Koolar may order your execution at any time she pleases? I wouldn't want to... lose you, Farr."

Superman hovered in the sky over New Bhok, located on a moon of Jupiter. The Man of Steel waited for someone important amidst the crowds wagging their alien tongues to show up and greet him. That someone turned out to be Jogarr, who had studied Earth's history, language and heroes in his youth. "I know that any visit from Superman is a great and humbling honor!"

Jemm wasn't in the habit of spitting on people, but had intentionally provoked Synn in hopes of weakening his bonds. Soon enough, he had worked a fault to break free, then escaped into the industrial-sized garbage drains that carried the ship's detritus into outer space. Using his birthstone, Jemm sought Luther, while the Koolars detected their system's breach and gave chase. In route, Jemm felt the hatred and fear in each of the Koolars through the Mark of Jargon. The sewage was infested with pengii, a Saturnian vermin that was like a cross between rats and piranha, and could tear apart large prey in seconds. Luckily, Jemm could fly over the biting beasts until he crashed into Synn's quarters. Catching the Commander by surprise, Jemm wrapped Synn is his cape and slammed her against a wall. Luther ran out from under the bed to hug Jemm, who extended his hand to Farr. "Come with us and know freedom!" Farr asked if Synn was dead. "I do not kill my own kind." In that case, Farr refused, as he needed the intimacies he shared with Synn. Koolars burst into the room, just ahead of the pengii falling in on them. Even though Farr was still chained to a bed, Jemm and Luther bolted, leaving the mess to the Koolars.

Running down a corridor, Jemm sensed Bruiser, and liberates him from his cell over Luther's concerned objection. Jemm likewise had reservations, but could feel Bruiser's shame, remorse, and childlike terror. "Can these be the emotions of a killer?" The Koolars Teeka and Bruzz were playing checkers instead of properly guarding the shuttlecraft bay, so Jemm made short work of them. The trio of escapees filed onto a small away ship, Jemm beckoning for the timid Bruiser, and then departed.

Superman had located New Bhok using an "Ascorbatron" on loan from Hawkman, completely butchering its proper name of "Absorbascon." Motivated by guilt over his treatment of Tull's alien and overcoming his assumption that there had been no one living on Saturn, Superman was now seeking to make amends. Jogarr had thought that every single survivor of the Great Holocaust was on New Bhok, and when Superman described Jemm, Jogarr confided his lack of relief. "I thought he was dead. He is my cousin, you see. And though I've never met him... I truly despise him!"

"Kin!" was by Greg Potter, Gene Colan and Klaus Janson. A mistake identified this story as "Chapter Three" on the splash page. Already an especially grim n' gritty book, even by today's standards, Jemm really went over the top with all the kinky violence beginning in this issue. The rampant BDSM in this issue makes it clear how a relative unknown with a string of abysmal sales failures got to write the 1987 Wonder Woman relaunch for a hot minute before his swift ouster barely into the run. I could see how a gender ratio of 1:125 would allow for puny male White Saturnians to be enslaved and molested by female warriors, but the part where they could be executed at will doesn't make a lick of sense, given their value and scarcity. That's just dark for darkness' sake, and the set-up is so skeevy I can't recall seeing its like in any other mainstream comic (although Eros Comix and the like would be another story.) Superman's effortlessly locating New Bhok was surely another artifact from the days when it was supposed to be Mars II, which he had visited numerous times.

Friday, July 27, 2012

2010-2011 The Justice League of America 100 Project charity art by Nick Bradshaw

Click To Expand & Enlarge

Since November of last year, after being alerted by a post from Firestorm Fan, the Idol-Head began running a post most Fridays promoting a custom comic cover auction for The Hero Initiative. Once those wrapped up in February, the blog continued using the art spotlight posts as excellent filler material. Sadly for lazy me, I've finally run out of these ready made posts, and will start a new scam in August. Today, we look back at nine months worth of glorious ballast, complete with their final selling prices...

The piece above SOLD FOR $200.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2012 “Saturday Morning in front of La Salle De Justice” by Rey Taira

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A comic book homage to Georges Seurat's “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” This digital print on canvas is featured at the Darkness & Light exhibition currently touring the United States as part of DC Entertainment's We Can Be Heroes initiative to combat hunger in the Horn of Africa. It features the New 52 versions (where applicable) of Apollo, Aquaman, Batgirl, Batman, Batwoman, Beppo the Super-Monkey, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Catwoman, Deadman, Dex-Starr, Fire, Firestorm, the Flash (Barry Allen,) Godiva, Green Arrow, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Grifter, Hawkman, Ice, Krypto, Martian Manhunter, Mera, Midnighter, Nightwing, Poison Ivy, Red Hood, Robin (Damian Wayne,) Superman, and Wonder Woman. There's a companion piece, “Saturday Evening by the Legion of Doom,” featuring villainous counterparts (unfortunately offering Libra in place of J'Onn J'Onzz.) Some web galleries worth pursuing can be found at Comics Alliance and Comic Vine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2012 Scorch Comicpalooza Commission by Johnny J. Segura III

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Best (Martian Manhunter) Art Ever (This Week) offers its first repeat artist! Johnny Segura did such a swell job on Professor Arnold Hugo that I was back at his table the next day for commission #2. I already had a list compiled of characters suited for his manga stylings, and having already gotten a Human Flame elsewhere, that left Scorch and the Saturnian. I'd also seriously considered B'rett and The Mercurian, but I ended up coming back to a blog request.

I never get much of a response when I try to open up the comments section to requests, but Anj of Supergirl Comic Box Commentary and our "clubhouse" blog DC Bloodlines wanted to see Segura do Scorch. She's one of the only villains shared by the Alien Atlas and Anj's favored Maid of Might, and Segura channels a lot of the same energy as Scorch's co-creator Ed McGuinness. I'd already gotten a commission by Roderick Thornton the previous year that I was carrying around this con, trying to get inked. By Saturday, it wasn't looking good for that to happen, as I talked in circles with the only serious contender until I gave up commissioning from him at all (though my girlfriend did, and we're still waiting for his piece two months later.) Not only was Segura stylistically appropriate for Scorch, but I can't tell you what a relief it is to get a large, full color piece turned around within a few hours without any headaches. Forget commissions-- I'd call on this guy to draw actual comics if I could!

I gave Segura a very brief description of the character, and he ran with it. As usual with the 11" x 17" art boards that I have to make reduced photocopies of at FedEx Office to fit on my scanner, there's a shift into the red spectrum. In this instance, it kind of works for Scorch, being a devil girl and all. The original art is more of a peachy tone, though. The scan loses a lot of detail on the quasi "color hold" of the cigarette smoke done solely in marker. There are swaths of subtle flesh tones that are rendered plain white here. Finally, about a centimeter and a half are trimmed off the bottom, since even ex-Kinko's copiers can't quite handle this much image space. To get a better look at the unadulterated art, check out this photo, although the lighting foils it, as well.

What I love is that Segura wasn't even familiar with the character, so he had no way of knowing that she was a smoker with exactly the kind of nasty attitude to flip the bird at the world. I had an excellent verbal rapport with the artist, and we always seemed to be on the same frequency without my having to elaborate excessively. He just "got" what I was looking for every time, which is very exciting and, again, a great relief. I knew every time I came back for a piece, it would be better than I imagined, and brimming with personality.

Check out more at Johnny J. Segura III's deviantART gallery, and if you'd like some work of your own, order his $40.00 8.5 x 11" or $120.00 11 x 17" eBay commissions!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2011 Marvel Two-in-One: The Lost Issues: The Thing and Manhunter

It's been a while since I spotlighted either the Paul Kirk Manhunter or Marvel Two-In-One: The Lost Issues, so why not knock out both on this fine Tuesday morning? Hell, how about I even throw in Kate Spencer? Maybe it'll serve as a reminder to the New 52 that there are plenty of different characters who once used the Manhunter name in the old continuity. They could now be revived as more viable IPs by giving them new codenames to avoid confusion and watering down the value of their most valuable Manhunter, the one from Mars!

...The Lost Team-Up Issues...

Sunday, July 22, 2012

SurVILEvor Island: Libra

Despero laughed as the Last Angry God sailed by with 83% of 12 votes, the dissenters being late and ultimately inconsequential arrivals. Perhaps Korge could direct his righteous fury at the next pseudo-divine target for island exodus?

Libra debuted in a two issue stint of Justice League of America five years after the Martian Manhunter officially left the team (and Earth itself.) He formed and duped the first Injustice Gang of the World as part of a plot to rob the JLA of half their powers. Libra took on those powers, and then turned the invention that granted them onto the universe itself. Libra couldn't handle that much energy and was disintegrated for 34 years in real time. Then he was dug up for the Final Crisis crossover as a sort of apostle to Darkseid heralding a seemingly waxing religion of evil forcibly inducting the villains of the DC Universe. That didn't pan out, and Libra appeared to be assassinated by Lex Luthor.

Let's break this down. The Injustice Gang was made up of a minor Green Lantern villain, a Flash rogue, major Atom and Hawkman foils, plus two solid mid-tier Batman foes. They fought the Magnificent Seven JLA minus Manhunter and Wonder Woman, replaced by Elongated Man. Superman alone could have taken most of those guys, but admittedly, the Gang was never intended to defeat the League. They were only supposed to get close enough to steal half their powers, making Libra a glorified Amazo who defeated himself by being too ambitious. Nobody cared about this guy for two generations of readership, he came back for one big event that garnered the vast majority of his published adventures, and he has lain fallow in the years since.

Final Crisis wasn't a well liked or understood event, more Millennium than Legends. In order to meet the minimum amount of death required to hype an event, Martian Manhunter was selected to be the sacrificial lamb, and it was Libra that delivered the deathblow with little fanfare in the first issue. Because of this, people who don't know anything about the Martian Manhunter have tried to treat Libra as an archrival. In a recent charity art exhibit, a painting featuring DC heroes was mirrored against one of villains that set Manhunter and Libra in parallel positions. That to me makes Libra the modern Dr. Light, a Justice League villain who gets associated with J'Onn J'Onzz solely because folks are ignorant about the Alien Atlas outside of the team book.

The Anti-Monitor famously killed Supergirl during Crisis on Infinite Earths. Ditto the Barry Allen Flash. A falling wall crushed the Huntress during the same event. Eclipso killed a bunch of throwaway characters in one of his comics. Neron killed Wonder Woman for about two issues, although it did lead to Hippolyta's lengthy replacement of her daughter. A Sun Eater set up events that led to Hal Jordan's death in Final Night. Issitoq the Narwhal is the guy who killed Aquaman during the final year of Sword of Atlantis. Does Eclipso really work as a Citizen Steel rogue? Should Huntress get a rematch with a collection of loose bricks? Heroes die in events, then they get better. It doesn't have to be personal.

Of all the villains in the universe, Libra happened to select long forgotten Martian Manhunter foe the Human Flame to grant his fondest wish. Was he going to ask for a moon pie, or one night of boy love with Aztek the Ultimate Man? No, he was going to want more power and J'onn J'onzz dead. The Manhunter just happened to have already been defeated and trapped in a cage of fire by a host of super-villains on an alien world. Libra merely teleported J'Onzz back to Earth, where he was set upon by a slew of other villains, many using equipment specifically designed to take the Manhunter down. Then, after all the work had been done, Libra stabbed him with a flaming spear. Clearly, Libra was trying to show off by selecting an already highly vulnerable but well known super-hero, and he spread the blame as far and wide as possible to diminish his role when justice came calling. He's just a cowardly, lazy opportunist who used J'Onzz for a few seconds to earn a rep.

Libra was the final nail in the coffin of an unpopular 2006 revamp of the Martian Manhunter who was course corrected and revived less than two years later. The murder was meaningless, perfunctory and impersonal. Libra is an uninteresting and unimpressive poseur. Why would he be desirable within the Vile Menagerie, and how many panels has he even shared with J'Onn J'Onzz? It's nonsense.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Jemm, Son of Saturn #4 (December, 1984)

"There is no more fertile ground for the weed of hatred than the heart of a broken man." --from the teachings of Rahani
C.I.A. operative Charles Brigham Dade was drinking himself stupid and angry while listening to a news report covering the death of Deidre Johnson and the 30-40 soldiers at the hands of the Saturnian robots in New Jersey. A Princeton professor disputed the likelihood of there being actual alien invaders, which provoked Dade to smash his television set to pieces with the butt of a unique rifle.

Crazy Freddie led Luther and Jemm to a foul smelling, poorly lit den, where the Prince was attacked. It turned out to be a gang of boys Freddie had trained to be pickpockets. Freddie had a good laugh over this prank, while Luther pouted over the stunt. Peace was made through a flower presented to Jemm by Rosie, the only girl in the group. Crazy Freddie clearly adored Rosie, who was no thief. "She just... shines! By that, I mean she's got ESP! Sees things that are gonna happen!" Luther didn't buy into any of that psychic stuff, but Rosie was undeniably a sweetheart.

At the Pentagon, military police pursued an intruder who had broken into classified C.I.A. files. The spy escaped, and turned out to be Superman, who successfully sought the skinny on Dade. He was suspicious when he turned up nothing on Claudius Tull. Meanwhile, military brass fretted over the second break-in in as many days, the first costing them their experimental Krypt-Kicker.

Three days later, "You take your punishment like a true Koolar warrior, Kamah! Yet still you do not see the magnitude of your failure!" Kamah was silent aboard the spaceship as she was whipped savagely by her Commander for failing to eliminate the Red Saturnian that had been detected, especially since the description she gave matched Prince Jemm. The session was interrupted by word that the White Saturnians had intercepted a video from Earth involving a survivor of the attack made on U.S. troops by their robot warriors. Claudius Tull was spying on Dade and Superman through a broadcast camera disguised on Bruiser's chest. The Man of Steel would be guided by Bruiser to Jemm's last known location, in the hopes a trail could be found that only a Kryptonian could detect. None of those heightened senses were needed to detect the liquor on Dade's breath, but Charles angrily if unsteadily jerked himself away from Superman's supporting hand to "get to work."

Rosie introduced Jemm to the game of jacks. The kid gang's leader, Calvin Crane, figured Jemm was too stupid to understand it. Luther defended "Jim," whose long fingers ultimately proved ideally suited for scooping up all the jacks inside the bounce of a ball. Superman crashed through a door, then Luther fingered Bouncer as one of the men who killed his grandfather. Jemm flew at Bouncer, but Superman intercepted, only to be tossed by the Prince out a window. Jemm determined that the "strange Earthman" was the greatest threat, and pursued Superman. The original Strange Visitor from another planet tugged on the Son of Saturn's cape, them threw him into a water tower. Superman caught Jemm in a bear hug, but the Prince escaped*, grabbed the Last Son of Krypton in one elongated hand, and tossed his headfirst into the street. Superman recovered quickly, and barraged Jemm with facial blows until they landed back in Crazy Freddie's den. "...It appears that this fellow's not really powerful enough to out-muscle me... over the long run!"

Jemm splayed out on the floor before him, Charles Brigham Dade drew the Krypt-Kicker concealed under his trench coat and prepared to execute the Saturnian. Rosie tugged at Dade's arm, begging him not to hurt the peaceful visitor. Dade palmed the little girl's face and shoved her viciously, driving her off her feet and sickeningly backward into a wall. "Shut up! Don't look at me like that! She was siding with that alien! You all are!" Superman had enough of this, and called Dade off, arguing for a page about Jemm's not matching the description of the metallic murderers of Johnson and company. Freddie and Luther tried to comfort Rosie, but she was "badly injured." Dade exclaimed, "In my book, the only good alien is a dead one!" Superman pointed out that despite appearances, he himself was not of this earth. "Yeah. That's right." Once Dade got over his shock about the missed observation, he grinned as he fired on Superman point blank, who doubled over unconscious.

With her head supported in Freddie's hands, Rosie predicted "You'll be sorry you hurt Superman, mister. He coulda helped you-- against the visitors--" The Saturnian robot warriors burst through a wall. Dade let out a scream as he was lifted up between the palms of one and his head crushed. The robots surrounded Jemm, Luther and Bruiser before the lot teleported in a burst of light. Several hours later, Superman finally regained consciousness and managed to stand. "What he sees are the empty shells where once lived two souls-- one whose innocence died long ago... and one whose innocence will never die. It is then that mighty Superman prays, for it was he who led Charles Dade to this place-- and he feels deeply in need of forgiveness."

Jemm and his companions found themselves aboard a spaceship. "Greetings, Prince of Saturn! My name is Synn!"

"The Hunting" was by Greg Potter, Gene Colan and Klaus Janson. It was the most emotionally manipulative issue of a series that went out of its way to jack with the reader. I'm embarrassed to admit that the death of Rosie chokes me up a bit, even though she was as plainly born to die as Luther's grandfather in the debut issue. It's hard not to loathe Dade or get pissed at Superman, either. I strongly suspect Potter had read DC Comics Presents #27, and decided to serve the Man of Tomorrow another plate of crow.

*The art was unclear as to how Jemm escaped Superman's grip in one panel. He appeared to either fly up at impossible speed, stretch to free himself, or perhaps even turn immaterial. Regardless, "Great Rao! I'll never make that mistake... again!"

Friday, July 20, 2012

2010-2011 The Justice League of America 100 Project charity art by Mike Kunkel

Click To Expand & Enlarge

In late 2000, a consortium of comic publishers came up with the idea to create a financial safety net for comic creators, much in the same fashion that exists in almost any other trade from plumbing to pottery. By March of 2001, the federal government approved The Hero Initiative as a publicly supported not-for-profit corporation under section 501 (c) (3).

Since its inception, The Hero Initiative (Formerly known as A.C.T.O.R., A Commitment To Our Roots) has had the good fortune to grant over $400,000 to the comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today.

The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterdays' creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.


Please enjoy this gallery of ALL 104 original Justice League of America #50 Hero Initiative covers!

Hardcover and softcover versions of a book collecting all the covers will be available in December, 2011. AND all the originals will be auctioned off according to the following schedule:

• December 3, 2011, Meltdown Comics, Los Angeles, CA: Display of all 104 covers and auction of first one-third
• Jan. 20-22, 2012, Tate's Comics, Lauderhill, FL (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area): Display of remaining covers and auction of second one-third.
• Feb. 17-19, 2012: Orlando MegaCon, Orlando, FL: Display and auction of final one-third.

All covers will be sold via LIVE AUCTION on-site at the venues above. If you cannot attend but wish to bid, proxy bidding is available.
Contact Joe Davidson at: yensid4disney@gmail.com
Deadlines for each grouping are below, and each cover carries a minimum bid of $100.

Special thanks to Firestorm Fan for the notice!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

2010 Clásicos DC: Jemm, Hijo De Saturno Hardcover Collection

Germans Love David Hasselhoff, and the Spanish love Martian Manhunter related characters. Well, at least more that we do in the U.S., anyway...

"Luther Mannkin is a boy from Harlem who is about to meet a very special friend. It is Jemm, the Prince of Saturn, an alien of extraordinary powers that has come to the Earth fleeing extinction and a fratricidal war which he cannot leave behind easily. So begins the adventures of a misunderstood hero who has a punch-out with Superman himself, in a collection written by Greg Potter and drawn by the great Gene Colan Planeta DeAgostini collects now in this single volume."

That's right, a 293 page hardcover collection of the entire Jemm, Son of Saturn twelve issue maxi-series for 30€, which is roughly $30-40, depending on exchange rates. The book is printed on vastly superior paper (as in white, as opposed to the deep tan newsprint I've been pulling my scans from) and has crisp image reproduction quality. There's even an introduction and creator biography pages. By the All-Maker!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

2012 Glenn Gammeron Comicpalooza Commission by Damon Bowie

Welcome back to Best (Martian Manhunter) Art Ever (This Week)!

Before Comicpalooza 2012, I made a list of all the artists that I was interested in getting commissions from ranked in order. While loosely constructed, I weighed desirability against cost and availability to give some sense of structure and priority. For instance, I circled artist alley like a vulture waiting for Dave Johnson to appear, because I wanted the option of getting art from him before he could potentially get backed up by requests, and because his rates were high enough to heavily impact on how many other commissions I could get and by whom.

There was a whole section toward the bottom of my list for painters and digital artists. The problem there was that I expected such pieces would be very time consuming and expensive, not to mention the probability that a convention floor wouldn't be functional to work on. Both disciplines often mean the artists don't offer convention commissions at all, only prints. True enough, most of the guys in that section of the list proved prohibitive to my designs. Other guys were good on a computer, but not so hot by hand.

Several guys painted in oil, which takes forever to prepare and to dry. Others used swifter acrylics, but either way, those painters charged frankly outrageous fees. One had a book of pieces my girlfriend insisted on tossing through, much to the dismay of my nerves, as every page was in the 4-5 figure range. More galling to me, most of the artists selling those types of pieces photo referenced to the point of plagiarism, in my opinion. I understand the need for reference, but I feel an artist should take their own photos when possible, or transform the pictures taken by others. If I look at a painting and only see a reproduction of a photographers subject/lighting/details, I'm more disgusted than impressed.

I wasn't sure how Damon Bowie would work out. He had a few penciled pieces on Comic Art Fans, but my main source of his images was his digital heavy deviantART gallery. There are some really great looking pieces in there, of both established and new characters, but I wasn't even sure the guy did standard pen & ink commissions. Doing some more hunting closer to time, I found a commission price list with very reasonable rates, which bolstered my enthusiasm.

Upon getting to the con, I couldn't find Bowie in the common artist alley area. Instead, I stumbled upon him further back, mixed in with more specialized merchants (LARPing supplies, steampunk, jewelry, etc.) His booth was stocked up on prints for sure, but he was also taking requests. He wasn't doing any color, but he had a simple flat $20 rate for penciled & inked single figures. I was bowled over by that price, among the cheapest at the con, and for a full figure no less! I wasn't sure how the results would turn out at that rate, but I was happy to pass him an Andrew Jackson to take my chances. In return, he gave me a business card, and wrote on the back the character's name and the day drawn.

Folks who read Justice League Task Force should have no questions about why I selected Glenn Gammeron for a commission, and those who didn't ought to correct that mistake. As I explained to the artist, Glenn is an intergalactic bounty hunter who was acquainted with J'Onn J'Onzz before the plague death of Mars. The two bumped heads when Gammeron captured Despero to collect on a warrant, and Glenn the frienemy ended up hanging out for the rest of the series' run. Glenn's a funny and cool character of the sort many of us know, who spends half his time on the cell phone with his wife, explaining and arguing over his jobs. He's strong, can fly, and fires energy bolts from his staff. His instantaneously appearing armor is pretty consistent, but he can work with or without the helmet. As you can see, Bowie chose with.

Unlike my usual kvetching over the reproductions for this blog, Bowie's 9" x 12" sketch board fit on my scanner, and the inked black and white art came out as a JPEG practically identical to the original (disregarding stray layout pencils dispelled through contrast.) The artist proved an excellent choice for the character, as he deftly worked in all the details of Gammeron's ornamented armor, as well as capturing his dynamic combat style. I gave Bowie a variety of reference images, and I like how he synthesized the original Ramon Bernado design with the leaner body type of Denys Cowan's take on the character. Gammeron is one tough hombre, and I love how Bowie rendered him. To get this level of quality for such a low price, I'd have been a fool not to hit Bowie up each day of the weekend, and a fool I ain't (in this respect, anyway.)

For more by Damon Bowie, check out After the Dream, his web comic with writer Jeremy Begin, or his Christian art prints.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Saturnian Salutations: The Secret Origin of J'Em, Son of Mars

Who is Jemm and why should a Martian Manhunter fan care about him? That goes back to December of 1982, when Greg Potter expressed interest to his old editor Paul Levitz about returning to freelance writing for DC. Levitz had Potter meet with DC's Executive Editor Dick Giordano, who sent Potter home with an edict: "Create a new super-hero character. Plot the first story of that character. If what we see is good... well, we'll see." Potter mulled over ideas for a few days, determining that he wanted to tell a story steeped in human emotion that spoke of contemporary times, and offered a hero different from all others in the then-present market. Combining influences that included E.T., Star Wars, and Frank Miller's Daredevil, Potter came up with Jemm. Potter also decided to set his story in winter time, that his aliens wouldn't conveniently speak English, and "let's have some real, honest-to-God black people in the strip."1

"J'Em" was to have fled from Mars II to Earth after a Pale Martian coup. "When Jemm was first conceived, the storyline called for Jemm to be the cousin of J'onn J'onzz, the Manhunter from Mars. Naturally, when Gene designed the character sketches for the series, he kept this relationship in mind. As a result, there is a resemblance to JJ."2 The Manhunter from Mars strip had ended in 1968. Aside from sporadic appearances (and an attempted revival in 1977 that was aborted as part of the DC Implosion,) J'onn J'onzz had been in publishing limbo ever since. "Well, about two or three months down the road, we editor-types at DC realized that we had a problem on our hands between the new maxi-series entitled JEMM, SON OF MARS and the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. You see, both books had storylines containing the Manhunter from Mars, and, unfortunately, those storylines conflicted and played havoc with continuity. Since the maxi-series was not as far along in production as was the JLA, we, i.e. the JEMM team, retrenched and brought you JEMM, SON OF SATURN."2

The Martian Manhunter would be returning as a member of the Justice League after sixteen years away, in a storyline setting him against his own people in a Martian invasion of Earth that would lead to the disbanding of the super-team. Meanwhile, three issues of "J'Em" had already been written by Greg Potter and one drawn by artist Gene Colan. Swift rewrites shifted Martians to Saturnians. Unsure if the maxi-series would even take place in the mainstream DC universe, a planned guest appearance by Superman was rewritten as "The Patriot," just in case.3

Jemm did officially join the DCU, and the actual Superman joined him for several issues. You could hardly tell, since Jemm's appearances dried up swiftly after the close of his maxi-series. A planned 40-page special for 1986 never materialized4. Jemm didn't make a single notable appearance from 1989-1997, until Grant Morrison was casting about for a villain to serve as Martian Manhunter's counterpart in a new Injustice Gang. Whether Morrison remembered "J'Em," or just noted his vestigial Martian brow, Morrison decided to use the Son of Saturn as an unwilling antagonist. Ironically, a book that may have contributed to Jemm's obscurity had rescued him from it.

A couple of years later, when an ongoing Martian Manhunter series was commissioned to cash in on JLA's popularity, creators John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake wrote Jemm into its first major story arc. Further, the Red and White Saturnians were revealed to have been created by ancient Martians, and the Manhunter was drawn into their politics in a second major story arc in his own book. Through Martian Manhunter, Jemm was restored to a level of visibility that saw him guest appear in a major Superman story, and eventually even received his own action figure. Given the poor fortunes suffered by the multitudes of DC mini-series stars in the 1980s, I'd say the kid turned out alright.

For those curious, "Saturnian Salutations" was the name of Jemm's letter column back in 1984, and the primary source of information for this post.
1: Writer Greg Potter in Jemm, Son of Saturn #1.
2: Editor Janice Race in Jemm, Son of Saturn #10.
3: Editor Janice Race in Jemm, Son of Saturn #12.
4: Editor Janice Race in Jemm, Son of Saturn #11.

Monday, July 16, 2012

2012 Miss Martian art by Mike Dimayuga

Click To Enlarge

Thanks to Shlomo Ben Hungstien of Subject : THE SUICIDE SQUAD ( Task Force X ) for suggesting this piece. Check out the original black and white art here, and the creators full deviantART gallery

Sunday, July 15, 2012

SurVILEvor Island: Professor Arnold Hugo

Despero had mixed feelings about the ouster of Doomsday by a popular vote of 70% out of 20 respondents. While the beast was a potentially lethal and likely uncontrollable adversary, he was also a weapon of ultimate destruction that could be unleashed upon even the most powerful super-heroes. While this decision will see Doomsday out of any future Menagerie melees and local spotlight opportunities for the foreseeable future, he will remain in the Vile Census, with potential for a return to the fold.

Professor Arnold Hugo is from Gotham City, and according to his family history, his ancestors played a major role in the city's development. When their contribution failed to be acknowledged by the local historical society, Hugo was so offended that he subject himself to a brain altering experiment, then unleashed a string of mad science menaces on other Gotham descendants. In his boldest scheme, Prof. Hugo nearly destroyed the planet before being defeated and imprisoned by his first foes, Batman and Robin, in his only ever feature length villainous role.

Essentially, Hugo's origin and reason for existence was tied to Gotham City. When he reappeared in a later issue of Detective Comics, these same origins were revisited. After a brief escapade in Middletown, the Martian Manhunter turned Hugo over to Batman at the end of the guest appearance. J'onn J'onzz basically acknowledged the Dark Knight's ownership of Hugo. The only reference book the character has ever appeared in was 1976's The Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes, Volume 1: Batman by Michael L. Fleisher, although he was minor enough to be misidentified as Professor Hugo Arnold (which was not corrected in the 2007 reprint edition.) His last appearance anywhere was a 2010 issue of DC Super Friends, where he was modeled after his first appearance and fought Superman and Aquaman.

On the other hand, the Wizard of a Thousand Menaces made three appearances in the Manhunter from Mars strip running in House of Mystery from 1965-1967. Hugo was visually revised from being squat with brown hair to tall and lean with black hair and distinctly different facial features. Despite Hugo remaining mobile, he managed to run into J'onn J'onzz in entirely separate locations, once on a different continent. Unlike Batman, Hugo actually sought out the Alien Atlas in one instance for revenge, and featured into a total of five encounters. Despite his ties to Gotham City, Hugo has had no recorded stories there since his debut. Professor Hugo was the first villain to face Martian Manhunter in a solo adventure more than once, and in fact did so four times before 1966, when the Martian's next ongoing adversary was created in the form of Mr. V. Hugo has also battled J'onzz's sidekick Zook four times more than he ever has Robin the Boy Wonder. Where Professor Hugo is an insignificant and forgotten one time Batman foil, he's one of the most memorable Martian Manhunter adversaries of the Silver Age. Which is more important, where Professor Hugo started from, or where he went afterward?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Jemm, Son of Saturn #3 (November, 1984)

"A haunting memory is like a cold wind. It has no color, no taste, no form. Yet, as it blows across the mind helter-skelter, how bitter its touch!" --from the teachings of Rahani

Jemm sat and stared blankly into space as Kamah's body floated on in the sewer. Luther fretted over his alien friend, while Crazy Freddie offered the boy a drink of scotch. "It's better than talkin' to some geek-- especially one who don't seem to understand English, donchya know?" Luther lectured the derelict about friendship, while Freddie reckoned his only friend was in the bottle, "but it don't talk to me neither." Finally, the event the Son of Saturn had waited for and feared-- light and energy radiating from Kamah until her form vanished. The White Saturnian Koolar had been retrieved by others, even though Jemm had previously thought them all rendered extinct in his lifetime. "...He does not know... whether to laugh or cry... For if those who just used a Saturnian Collector-Beam... are also Whites... Jemm knows that they will try to kill him... and everyone whom Jemm holds dear!

Jemm remembered a childhood incident with his best girl friend Syrra, where his youthful sense of adventure led him to an isolated door along his castle's edge. Jemm was intent on opening it, while Syrra warned "That cannot be, my Prince! The kingdom wall marks the end of the world! Nothing exists beyond it!" Though forbidden by his father to use his inborn power of flight, Jemm levitated to the door's heavy metal latch and unsealed it. Immediately, a White male warrior with a mohawk brandishing a battle ax appeared. "Pup! I'll cleave your scarlet head like a melon!" The door was the first breach in the kingdom the Koolar had found, and he was intent on killing the children to preserve his find. However, the king of Saturn, Jaxx, was aware enough to make short work of the Koolar. "Snake! Do you now take your ungodly war to the children?" Jemm was in for a rude awakening, shaking his naïveté regarding his security, his father's mortality, and the lives the king would have to take to protect them all. So repulsed was Jemm by the blood on Jaxx's hands from stabbing the Koolar to death, he ran from the king to consult his ghani-- holy man-- Rahani.

The priest told the boy about the history of Saturn (which was remarkably similar to that of Mars' Bronze Age,) and its warring races' unwillingness to share the Garden of Bhok. Next, he spoke of Jargon the Mighty, a warrior king who brought peace to the races in part through the power of an organic gem on his forehead. This lasted until the reign of Jaxx, as scientific achievements liberated the people from monarchic rule, allowing them to act on still seething racial animosity. From the Whites arose a great leader, General Synnar, and his match among the Reds proved to be Jogarr. Meanwhile, Jaxx's wife Jarlla gave birth to Jemm, who also bore a birthstone. "When the people of the kingdom saw the babe, they were amazed and cried aloud, calling the newborn 'savior' and 'peacemaker'! Surely, they thought, this child was a sign from the All-Maker of the Universe that peace would again come to Saturn."

Jemm thought back to the night three months after, when his mother and Rahani woke him to travel down a secret passageway that led outside the kingdom wall. From that perspective, Jemm could see the White Saturnians and their robot warriors laying siege upon the city. "Countless days and nights they ran. Hunger knotted their stomachs. Thirst swelled their tongues. Finally, they spotted a cave. Rahani made a home for them there." Three days in, Jemm learned from Rahani that General Synnar had defeated Jogarr's forces, and sought the crown by attacking the Garden of Bhok. "In the cave, days turned to years." Jemm learned his powers of flight were exclusive to direct descendants of Jargon, and that his birthstone fired a beam that "could probe a man's emotions and lay them bare before the young prince." Jemm longed for his father and "his most cherished childhood friend-- Syrra!"

One day, a great fireball progressively devoured all of Saturn, and soon approached the shelter of the exiled royals. Rahani taught Jemm the final secret of his birthstone; how the Prince could summon all of his strength to perform one titanic feat before leaving his body racked with pain and sickness. Jemm was able to protect himself, his teacher and his mother from the destructive force that threatened them, and then they decided to trek back to Bhok to see what the fireball had wrought. The garden and all other life as far as the eye could see had been extinguished.

In the ruins, Rahani discovered the written account of a survivor of General Synnar's initial conquest of Bhok. The author was Syrra, who confirmed the murder of King Jaxx, but also her escape from the fireball via a rocket ship to Earth. Unfortunately, a Saturnian robot warrior yet stalked the remains of Bhok, and blasted Rahani and Jarlla dead before Jemm could bash its mechanized head to bits. "I will not run. Not like the night we fled from my father's side! I WILL NEVER RUN AGAIN!" Having located a spaceship of his own, the lonely Jemm set out for Earth, and "the one he had always loved..."

Returning to present day New York, Charles Brigham Dade again met with the Senator and Claudius Tull, who had brought in a very special expert to assist in their ongoing investigation of the criminal Saturnians. Like a Big Blue Boyscout, he was always ready when the United States needed him, but he had doubts Saturn was a legitimate problem. It was after all a dead planet, its entire surface devastated many years earlier. Superman had even been there to confirm it...

"Flashback (The Origin of Jemm)" was by Greg Potter, Gene Colan and Klaus Janson. This was the final issue initially written as "Jemm, Son of Mars" before conflicts behind the scenes forced it to turn sights toward Mars. Jogarr was clearly J'onn J'onzz, General Synnar was Commander Blanx, the fireball originally The Blue Flame of Mars and the holocaust the same as described in "...And So My World Ends!" Familiar terms like "Desert Dweller" were tossed around in this script but in none subsequent. The basics as established here could have worked with "War of the Worlds: 1984," but presumably the heft of politics and Jogarr's extensive role in the later story precluded that.

Friday, July 13, 2012

2010-2011 The Justice League of America 100 Project charity art by Aaron Sowd

Click To Expand & Enlarge

This is actually a cover of a cover, 1967's Justice League of America #52 by Mike Sekowsky and Joe Giella. The original cover was turned into a t-shirt I saw at Wall*Mart one time. It's kind of lame that Superman and Batman so dominate, since they were only in one of three segments involving unraveling the scheme of the Vile Menagerie's own Mr. V.
In late 2000, a consortium of comic publishers came up with the idea to create a financial safety net for comic creators, much in the same fashion that exists in almost any other trade from plumbing to pottery. By March of 2001, the federal government approved The Hero Initiative as a publicly supported not-for-profit corporation under section 501 (c) (3).

Since its inception, The Hero Initiative (Formerly known as A.C.T.O.R., A Commitment To Our Roots) has had the good fortune to grant over $400,000 to the comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today.

The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterdays' creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.


Please enjoy this gallery of ALL 104 original Justice League of America #50 Hero Initiative covers!

Hardcover and softcover versions of a book collecting all the covers will be available in December, 2011. AND all the originals will be auctioned off according to the following schedule:

• December 3, 2011, Meltdown Comics, Los Angeles, CA: Display of all 104 covers and auction of first one-third
• Jan. 20-22, 2012, Tate's Comics, Lauderhill, FL (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area): Display of remaining covers and auction of second one-third.
• Feb. 17-19, 2012: Orlando MegaCon, Orlando, FL: Display and auction of final one-third.

All covers will be sold via LIVE AUCTION on-site at the venues above. If you cannot attend but wish to bid, proxy bidding is available.
Contact Joe Davidson at: yensid4disney@gmail.com
Deadlines for each grouping are below, and each cover carries a minimum bid of $100.

Special thanks to Firestorm Fan for the notice!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

2012 J'onn J'onzz sketch by Yıldıray Çınar

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Thanks to Shag of Firestorm Fan for alerting me to this piece by the outgoing artist of his favorite book!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

2012 The Devil Men of Pluto Comicpalooza Commission by Paul Maybury

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Best (Martian Manhunter) Art Ever (This Week) returns to Wednesdays! Paul Maybury's name didn't register for me when he was announced as a Comicpalooza guest, but as it turned out, I'd just reviewed his swell Clock story from Crack Comics #63. He's also worked on anthologies like Comic Book Tattoo and Strange Tales II. His art on the graphic novel Aqua Leung looked like Bryan Lee O'Malley wandering into a world of Paul Pope. Looking through his CAF gallery, you could tell that he was no pin-up type, drawing full scenarios for characters with a quirky, hip vibe.

I didn't want any scenes with J'Onn J'Onzz/John Jones, and Maybury's look was better suited for certain characters than others, so I opted for a group shot. There aren't that many to choose from in the Vile Menagerie, and in lieu of beasties or bunches with a more plastic sheen like the Hyperclan, one lot jumped out as being the most appropriate. Despite dying in their only appearance, the Devil Men of Pluto have proven popular among readers hereabouts whenever they've come up, and perform very well in polls. When you've got evil alien mercenaries modeled after Adolph Hitler and a pair of Mussolinis, the artist really has to just go for it. Back when I planned to have a punk western B'rett done by Andrew Robinson, I thought an indie-cool trio by Maybury would be an excellent compliment.

I caught up with Maybury early on Friday, when I was hitting all my highest priced commissions at a rapid clip. I was looking to get three black and white figures bunched together with no background, which based on this online quote would make the Devil Men about $180. However, there was no mention of page dimensions for that number, so when I offered Maybury an old 11" x 17" board, he seemed to hesitate a little. Still, Maybury agreed, working under the assumption that Friday was going to be slow, and noodling on it would give him something to do. He asked me if I wanted color gratis, but I didn't want to put him out, since I'd assumed my price was strictly for B&W. We left it up in the air for a while. I gave the artist two pages of reference (a group shot of the main trio, and head shots of spotlight members L'lex Xanadar and Nar,) as well as my copy of House of Mystery #159 (June, 1966). I figured the more he had to work with, the more comfortable he'd be playing around the margins.

True to his word, Maybury made the Devil Men his pet project of the day. I'd check in on him from time to time, seeing him adding more and more detail. I finally greenlit the color, because it looked like it would really put the piece over the top. By that point he was probably rolling his eyes and/or cursing under his breath for extending the offer, but he happened to have just the right skin tone, and I think the piece had already dug into the artist center of his brain. As it turned out, that perfect Plutonian flesh marker had dried out, which was just one more cross for the poor guy to bear. I expect this piece may have contributed to a tweet he sent out within a week of the con: "Thanks dude, I can live a lifetime before I color anything red again." By the time he was done at five o'clock, I basically got a $300 commission for little more than half that. I do get a grin that he was the only artist using one of my boards to take advantage of the blueline borders, though.

My favorite element is the close-up on the first Devil Man, which has some fantastic tones that of course got washed out in my scan, but are partially visible in this twitpic. Most of the harder lines remain, but the soft greens and some feathering is lost. I love the textured shadows on L'lex Xanadar's uniform, the impression of recoil motion in his pistol, and the violence in the air surrounding it. I also appreciate the slimmed down and suave looking Nar in the background. I kind of like to think of these guys as cousins of the first trio, stalking around Colorado looking for payback. The boulders and trees might have something to do with that. Maybury's a good guy who delivered an exceptional piece, so I highly recommend you check out his Comicpalooza tumblr picture blog and deviantART gallery

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Martian Sightings for October, 2012

You know, I've never been able to pull the trigger on The Demon being associated with the Martian Manhunter rogues, despite that one fight with the Alien Atlas in his solo series. Now I hear that Etrigan is taking J'Onn's vacated spot and bridging Stormwatch to Demon Knights. Yeah, no, still, whoopee. Good thing that we still have reprints and M'gann M'orzz, though.

Art and cover by FRANK QUITELY
On sale NOVEMBER 7 • 96 pg, FC, $14.99 US

• The powerful original graphic novel from the ALL-STAR SUPERMAN team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely is back in print!

• Ultraman, Owlman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick rule their world without opposition. But their world is about to be threatened by the arrival of Superman, Batman and the Justice League!

• Realities clash in this mind-bending epic!
I sold my own copy years back, I think, so I expect it's time for a new one.

Written by VARIOUS
On sale DECEMBER 12 • 1,328 pg, FC, $150.00 US

• In September, DC Entertainment reveals the origins, secrets and shocking fates of top Super Heroes in 56 special #0 issues starring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Green Lantern and more!

• Now, these issues are collected in a massive hardcover just in time for the holiday season, with stories written and illustrated by top talent including Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Jim Lee, Brian Azzarello, Scott Snyder and many more!

Miss Martian
Cover by MIN SUNG KU
On sale OCTOBER 17 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E

• Aliens have arrived on Earth-16!

• Superboy and five Justice Leaguers have been abducted!

• Metropolis is in danger!

• Enter: BRAINIAC!
Finally starting to record these, but I've had little luck finding season one broadcasts to get me started.

On sale NOVEMBER 14 • 160 pg, FC, $12.99 US

• Superboy, Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Miss Martian and Artemis defend Gotham City from Ra’s al Ghul and Clayface!

• Features issues #7-13 of the all ages series.

Monday, July 9, 2012

1984 Jemm, Son of Saturn Thumbnail

Here's a curiosity. At the bottom of the letters page for Jemm, Son of Saturn #5 (January, 1985) was this thumbnail image (2 thumbs by 4 thumbs according to my own digits) that appears to have been the basis for the Full Page House Ad used to promote the maxi-series. However, only the standing figure was shown against a black sky, where here we have two floating heads and a dynamic figure. I couldn't find a larger or clearer (or let's be honest, an any anything) online, so I decided to share what I had...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

SurVILEvor Island: Korge

Despero was impressed/disturbed by the fight Doctor Arthur Light gave, as he initially looked like a pushover, but stayed right up in this thing down to the end. 40% of 27 respondents wanted the guy who gave Sue Dibny surprise sex and has fought the non-powered Green Arrow more than any other single super-hero who's any damned good at all. Close call or no, we're sending him out on a dinghy.

More definite results are expected from Korge, the Last Angry God of whatever that planet was in the Bronze Age that the Martian survivors settled on. In a fairly typical Martian Manhunter story from that period, J'onn J'onzz had already been preemptively defeated by the villain and gone running to his superfriends so they could fix things for him. On the plus side, rather than making J'onzz look like a tool by defeating the bad guy easily (see Commander Blanx, Re's Eda, N'or Cott*, Bel Juz, Challenger**, the Marshal and the entire surviving Martian military,) Korge actually kicked each individual ass in a JLA team. Given that powerhouses like Lobo and Doomsday have recently been voted off the island, the Vile Menagerie could use a guy with notches in his gnarled fingernails for the Flash, Green Lantern and Superman. On the other hand, the Martian Manhunter was another notch, and though he delivered the final blow in defeat Korge, it was all according to the brilliant plan of the Atom. I run an Atom blog, and the Tiny Titan desperately needs villains, but I'm not about to give him Korge. Does the Alien Atlas deserve more consideration, or is this another reach based mostly on home turf advantage?

* Whose name I've consistently added an r to for about four straight years.
** Taken out by one Green Arrow, and isn't that embarrassing?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Jemm, Son of Saturn #2 (October, 1984)

"Home, my son, is not a place. It is a feeling. It is a gathering of hearts that give comfort. It is heaven on earth." --from the teachings of Rahani
The snow fell heavy in Harlem that night, as derelicts sat around a drum fire to keep warm. Bertie was their coarse leader, and when Luther tried to take in some of the heat, Bertie pushed the boy to the ground. Bertie claimed "...there's only fire enough for four," and his fellows began to wonder if the boy had some money they could poach. Jemm slapped his large hand over Bertie's shoulder, then tossed the brute so far into the sky he would certainly never return intact. The derelicts drew weapons on Jemm, who screamed in his alien tongue and launched himself at the crowd. Jemm's body contorted and extended in an eerie manner as he stalked the men, but one turned over the drum, igniting Jemm's cape.

A fifth wino was Crazy Freddie, who had stolen a bottle of bourbon from Bertie just as Luther had arrived at the fire. Now, Freddie threw his coat over Jemm, smothering the flames and earning Luther's affectionate thanks.

Elsewhere, a beaten and bloodied Bouncer had made his way to his ma's apartment. "Bruno? Oh, God!" Ma tended to Bouncer, and on learning the injuries were from a job for Mr. Tull, explained, "you should be proud of your wounds, Bruno!" Bouncer explained what happened at the Mannkin apartment, and how it was perhaps only right he'd been hurt, since Mr. Tull only ever sent him to hurt others. When Bouncer said he wanted to quit and stop hurting people, Ma began to repeatedly slap and enjoin Bruno not to speak ill of Mr. Tull. As Bruno began to cry, he promised his mother to keep working and bringing home Mr. Tull's fine money.

Crazy Freddie noticed there wasn't a mark on Jemm. "The fire didn't burn him-- just sort of tried to smother him! Like his body reacts differently to fire than yours or mine would." Jemm went to fetch Gramps' broken body, and Freddie claimed to know just the right place in the sewer to lay the old man down. After the group descended, a Saturnian robot requested back up from outside the manhole. "Repeat: I am ready to meet Saturnian life-form in battle!"

Dade showed up at a senator's house in the middle of the night, with photographs of the U.F.O. and information on the massacre of "forty U.S. special troops and two NASA scientists..." The senator had a house guest present, who was declared a trustworthy patriot. Though the senator thought Dade delirious, the guest saw the value in exploring the unusual "opportunities" should Dade's account prove true. Dade was less generous toward the guest, but the senator demanded, "Hold your tongue, Dade! This gentleman pays more to Uncle Sam in taxes each year that you'll ever make in a lifetime! No one I have ever known has been a better adviser to me, nor a more staunch supporter of this country's government... than Mr. Claudius Tull!"

Crazy Freddie had stolen some hothouse flowers to lay on Gramps' chest, and Jemm allowed the old man's body to drift off into waist deep water. Jemm's thoughts turned reflective, to a ghostly pale figure in a hooded purple robe that sat in a garden with him in younger days. This was the priest, tutor and friend Jemm knew as Rahani...

"But teacher, are not Red Saturnians fighting White Saturnians just outside the walls of this palace? And if we were outside rather than in, would we not be mortal enemies?"

"Aye. All of Saturn is one great battlefield, and the generals on either side are bigots who cannot see beyond the color of their brothers' flesh! But you are different. You must not hate either the Reds or the Whites."

"And if a white were to breach our walls and kill my father simply because he is Red, would I not then hate all Whites forever?"

"No! You must be above all that! You must swallow all hatred that wells up within you! For you were born to be different, young one! You carry the birthstone upon your forehead-- an omen not seen on Saturn in over twenty eons! It is the sign that you are the special one sent from the creator of all things to be a protector and savior of all Saturnians, White or Red! Remember this always. You must never turn hatred upon any form of life from your homeworld. For you are unique among all Saturnians. You are Jemm, Prince of Saturn!"

Jemm's revere was broken when he was attacked by the towering robot. Jemm briefly sank underwater, then emerged with a stunning intensity, ripping the robot's head off in one swift motion. "Unit RT-36Z58 reports mission failure... Request back-up force commence attack." So it went, as the very water formed into a pummeling fist against the Son of Saturn. Pipes pulled free from the sewer walls to entangle and choke Jemm. A disembodied voice spoke in a tongue only our hero could understand:

"Greetings, Prince of Saturn! My name is Kamah! I am a warrior of the Whites. A Koolar-- shape-taker! And I am ruled by her supreme commandership, Synn! Surprised? Did you really believe you were the last living Saturnian in the entire universe? How vain you are! But how like your father, and your father's father, and every member of every generation of the pompous, strutting Saturnian royal family! For eons, you ruled our planet with an iron hand... but now, every last relative in your pious gene pool has been exterminated-- except for you! And soon, even you shall die!"

Concrete dislodged from the walls to assail Jemm's body. "It is then that Jemm decides to ignore the pain, and he concentrates. From the sparkling jewel on his forehead, a yellow beam shoots upward, probing for Kamah's heart-- searching for a black concentration of pure hatred!" Jemm felt a sick feeling in his gut, and knew he'd located the agent. Jemm withdrew briefly, them released an energy blast that revealed Kamah's true form. The White girl landed in the water, floating upright but lifeless.

Jemm took comfort in Luther's embrace as he slumped wearily. At first he hoped this White, who threatened to kill him and his friends, was dead. Then he shed a tear over the continuing violence between the few surviving Saturnians, and his role in this play.

Bouncer awoke to the sight of Ma standing next to Claudius Tull, a man who pressed Bruno to remain prone with the butt of his cane. Tull wanted to know about the Red Man, as he slowly invaded Bouncer's personal space, forcing the side of Bruno's sweaty face into a pillow with his palm. "You're afraid I won't believe you-- that I'll think your story too fantastic-- and that I'll have Earl and Sid beat you for lying to me. But believe me, Bouncer... I've listened to a number of fantastic stories tonight, and I have every reason to believe they're true..."

"The Tunnel" was by Greg Potter, Gene Colan and Klaus Janson.