Sunday, March 31, 2013

2012 “Vil24: Ma'alefa'ak J'onzz Cubee” by Joshua Wolf

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Following in the tradition of Triumph and Cay'an comes a third Vile Menagerie monstrosity, Malefic! I think Cubees are a cute way to land on a holiday of very opposing sympathies to the genocidal extraterrestrial loony tune that has dominated our March. I'd be willing to try out Ma'alefa'ak Month as an annual affair, but I exhausted a lot of the available material to be found on the internet, so that might be a stretch content-wise. I think we'll give over May 2014 to him, if I can get myself together enough to fill the month with coverage of the issues of Martian Manhunter and JLA: Classified he appeared in before dying out. Maybe we'll even have a New 52 version by then?

Joshua Wolf's Villains Cubees

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Malefic versus Bizarro

Debut: 1998
Nemesis: Martian Manhunter
Other Major Foes: The JLA
Appearances: 15+ comics
Powers: Flight, shape-shifting, Laser Vision and other heightened ocular abilities, nigh-invulnerability, invisibility, intangibility, and superhuman strength/ speed/ physique/ senses/ reflexes/ endurance and sometimes telepathy.

Bio: Ma'alefa'ak is the evil twin brother of J'Onn J'Onzz, established from birth by his own mother as the darkness to the Martian Manhunter's light. Ma'alefa'ak killed and molested much of his extended family, including being credited with unleashing a plague that killed most of the inhabitants of Mars.

Vile Menagerie Stats
Win: Asmodel (13-6); Commander Blanx (5-2); Darkseid (?); Despero (9-7); Fernus (18-5); The Hyperclan (10-4); The Master Gardener (13-5)
Lose: Despero (?)
Draw: 0

Debut: 1958
Nemesis: Superman
Other Major Foes: Lex Luthor, Superman Family
Appearances: 350+ comics, newspaper strips, animation, video games and live action television.
Powers: Flight, flame breath, vacuum breath, freeze vision and other bizarre ocular powers, invulnerability, and superhuman strength/ speed/ physique/ senses/ reflexes/ endurance.

Bio: Bizarro is a flawed duplicate of Superman whose power set works in a contrary version of the Man of Steel's. At various times, he has existed on a whole world of like creatures, or been a lonely creature with nothing like him in existence. Sometimes the product of science, other times magic, Bizarro is always an unstable, unpredictable, overwhelming force of the unnatural kind. Bizarro typically does not understand the difference between good and evil, is easily confused/confusing, and often actively attempts to do the opposite of whatever he interprets as Superman's actions.

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

Idol Speculation:
Given Bizarro's tendencies, a team-up would be more likely than a brawl, but the reverse-Superman does seem to have a bit of a soft spot for life that Malefic would chafe against. Bizarro is problematic, but he/it does function within uncertain, garbled ethical parameters. Malefic has the raw power and lack of compunctions to take down Bizarro by any of the considerable means at his disposal, and I expect he could do so, as long as Bizarro doesn't have time to mount a response. Breathing fire and having most of the same powers as Malefic to a greater degree could make life very hard on a Martian psychopath.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Ma'alefa'ak's March Madness 2013: The Final Four

King Faraday took the green rock from out of his pocket and placed it in Carré's mystical artifact detector. After a brief period of analysis, it determined that there were numerous positive readings throughout Europe, and a simple adjustment in scope soon projected finds throughout the continent. "J'onn J'onzz" certainly was thorough." Faraday's keen analytic mind detected something amiss-- that the large concentration of artifact fragments gathered by the Harovian Royal Family were nowhere to be found in the kingdom. Instead, the loudest ping directed King toward a very specific area of the Mediterranean. Even more intriguing, this locale appeared to be a focal point of magical activity. Most curious of all, a JLI teleportation tube had been installed inside, which allowed Faraday to make the trip in record time through his Checkmate connections.

Gypsy had followed J'Onn's directions to the posh villa where he had once made his home under the alias "Marco Xavier." It remained one of the Martian Manhunter's getaways, though its installation of teleportation technology and tethering to the sorcerous property dubbed the "House of Mystery" meant that it wasn't exactly a quiet retreat. Gypsy had gained J'Onzz's trust through their time together in the Justice League, and Cindy Reynolds had agreed during their Task Force days to observe certain protocols should an alarm go off from the villa. J'Onn had taken great pains to destroy and scatter the heinous device of a deceased warlock, but had become aware of Prince Rudolph's attempts to reconstitute it as part of a metaphysical "nuclear deterrent." This had attract the attention of a whole Illuminati of concerns interested in staking their own claim to the resource. This included Checkmate, who sent one of their top agents to procure a detection system developed by the Carré company. However, in Faraday's haste, he had failed to consider that he was teleporting into the home of a metahuman with an assigned protector capable of broadcasting illusions while simultaneously demonstrating martial skills learned from no less a light than the Bronze Tiger. Under the circumstances, Faraday never stood a chance...

In Middletown, Patrolwoman Diane Meade had been secretly pursuing a case with potentially terrifying consequences. After capturing and questioning the Conjurer she learned that a true wizard had come to the metropolis to unearth the idol-head which had killed her friend and associate Detective John Jones years earlier. The city's own former guardian super-hero, the Manhunter from Mars, had left town to avenge Jones by locating and destroying the idol-head. Already, this mage had corrupted the minds of her fellow officers, causing them to attempt murder against one another. Meade had fought hard against her own friends to save them from themselves, but was now confronted with the reanimated corpses of private investigator Karen Smith, long dead child star Patty Marie, and now Detective John Jones his own self. What Meade didn't know was that she had really been compromised by the telepathic suggestions of Ma'alefa'ak, and that Gypsy's attempt to sooth her with the illusion of a fallen friend only placed her in the same crosshairs as John's long gone associates...

Erdel may have given up knowledge required for the research and development into the technology needed to locate the broken pieces of the Diabolu Idol-Head, but they would have little value without the supernatural wisdom required to reactive the vessel. Erdel recognized the need for the long lost tome hidden in the Martian Manhunter's forgotten mountain lair, the Book of Diabolu. However, his research had attracted unwanted attention, including the agent of darkness born Aubrey Sparks. Scorch teleported into the lair, lived up to her name by roasting Erdel, and vanished in a puff of smoke with a hard won spellbook...

Bel Juz had survived the destruction of her home world by Commander Blanx and the long trip to a new world dubbed Mars II through deceit and cunning, but she had little in the way of raw power when compared to a dynamo like Miss Martian. With the heroine under the psychic spell of Ma'alefa'ak and freed from any soft-hearted gullibility or mercy that Bel could play upon, Juz fell to her terrible fury. However, before Ma'alefa'ak had any time to gloat, a new combatant appeared from distant Earth. J'onn J'onzz had taken one piece of the Idol-Head with him to Mars II, and Scorch would go through anyone to get it back. It wouldn't be easy though, since Ma'alefa'ak's forcing M'gann M'orzz into her white-skinned future form made her invulnerable to flames...

Thursday, March 28, 2013

2012 Ma'alefa'ak Custom Action Figure by “mr_mxyzptlk05”

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"I had an extra Martian and couldn't quite dedcide waht to do with it. Modern? White Lantern? Ma'alefa'ak? Justice Lords? Almost went with Justice Lords, but decided I'd rather have another villain on the shelf instead. Based his appearance mostly on his look ing "Doom" but researched the character and found no consistancy to his look, so I took some liberties. Wanted to keep the "rain catcher" on the cape, but couldn't get the look to come out right. Used sculpy on the head, paint, fabric for the collar, and real chain.

Oh, I do, and so can you with more perspective shots here!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Coming in February 2014- Martian Manhunter: Son of Mars TP

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Bleeding Cool reports that the early issues of the only eponymous Martian Manhunter ongoing series ever will finally get an English language trade paperback collection.
Martian Manhunter: Son of Mars TP
Writers: John Ostrander and John Arcudi
Artists: Tom Mandrake and Jan Duursema
Collects: Martian Manhunter #0-9
$19.99 US, 240 pg
Gah! It weirds me out to see that cover image. The art for #0 was used in advertisements for the series, #9 and #24 are favored images for articles about the Alien Atlas, #8 was commonly seen around the time J'Onn J'Onzz's death was leaked ahead of Final Crisis, and many of the rest turn up in character biographies for Antares, Bette Noir, Jemm, Cabal, and Mister Bones. The Martian Manhunter versus the JLA cover to #6 gets around, even though that's a disguised Malefic, and even Martian Manhunter Annual #1 has its fans. However, in the marketing stunt that surrounded the series' debut with two #1s, a #0, and a #1,000,000 within a span of a few months, the cover to #1 really got lost in the shuffle. Yet, it was used in a previous collection of this material, Universo DC: Detective Marciano Nº 01, the first in a two volume Spanish edition that compiled the entire three year run of the series.

The fact is, the U.S. really lags behind international Martian Manhunter editions. The gold standard of Sleuth from Outer Space tales, American Secrets, has been in trade paperback everywhere but America. In fact, the only full color Martian Manhunter trade released in North America so far is 2007's The Others Among Us, so inauspicious a debut that the only others available to date are the two black & white fire sale volumes of Showcase Presents.

Not to make too big a deal of it, but "Son of Mars" will be the first edition to collect well received modern age stories featuring the character's origin, the introduction of his nemesis Ma'alefa'ak and several lesser character-specific foes, the explanation of his ties to the Son of Saturn and White Martians, plus copious guest appearances. Finally, DC has a tendency to put out seemingly random collections like this around the same time as launching a new series, and after several waves of failed mini-launches after the initial splash of the New 52, it might finally be J'Onn's turn. Few of the outgoing Green Lantern family creative teams have announced new projects, so maybe we'll see Pete Tomasi (who edited the comics in "Son of Mars" and started his writing career doing Martian Manhunter short stories) and Fernando Pasarin will launch a solo series? Of course, I've been wrong a few times or so.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ma'alefa'ak's March Madness 2013: The Elite Eight

When J’onn J’onzz was first stranded on Earth, he chose to make his home in quaint, quirky Middletown U.S.A. Joining the local police department, “John Jones” served as a detective for many years alongside the proud patrols of the fair city. Today, the burg hosts a law enforcement convention that has attracted luminaries from across the nation… to their grisly demise...
It was surely career suicide, but Patrolwoman Diane Meade drew her service revolver and ordered Captain Harding to the ground. Looking past her superior officer, Meade saw Karen Smith and Patty Marie turn from an adversarial stance to lock their cold, dead eyes on her. Meade shuddered as they slowly approached her, and beyond the pair, spied another figure from the past thought long dead...

An apartment in Middletown was no place to keep a super-powered otherdimensional pet, so the Martian Manhunter moved with Zook to a secret mountain headquarters accessible only through a passage the size of a mail slot. That was no problem for the elastic form of Zook, but it was an issue for the host of unwanted visitors clambering about the area...
Zook tracked Scorch and attempted to encase her in a block of ice with his cold generation power. The other-dimensional pet underestimated the heat Scorch was putting out though, and was entirely too close when his ice turned to suffocating steam, causing the imp to pass out. Aubrey Sparks cooled down, and set Zook's tiny form in a safe patch of ground as she continued her search...

Ben Stoves faired no better than Zook, practically drowning in his own sweat while trapped in his Human Squirrel suit. Between Jupiter's snapping and the hazards of a blazing forest, Erdel was able to almost absentmindedly put the ex-convict down with some gadget or another. The inventor was preoccupied with a handheld device that allowed him to take remote control of the robot brain housed within the secret mountain lair and teleport himself inside. Once there, Erdel browsed the curiosities and trophies collected by the Manhunter from Mars, seeking out a specific item...

"For some time, J'onn J'onzz was active in the Mediterranean under the orders of a special secret department to demolish the world-wide criminal organization VULTURE and unmask its faceless leader, Mister V. J'onzz assumed the identity of international playboy Marco Xavier, taking up residence in the posh villa of the assumed dead accomplice to VULTURE..."
Perkins Preston cried, "You look like an angel, but you're the devil in disguise!" Gypsy added, "...and I'm playing for keeps" before laying the poor boy out with a roundhouse kick. She grabbed the Prince's little green rock, wondering if she was in danger of kryptonite poisoning or something. Whatever it was, J'Onn wanted her to keep it out of the hands of evil suits from government and industry, which was explanation enough for now...

Despite looking much more young and fit than Mister Steele, King Faraday had sixteen years and massively more field experience than the agent. King didn't need lead to dent Steele when his fist would do, and then Carré's device was his. It was a deceptively simple premise to create a tool not unlike a metal detector to uncover magical artifacts, but it took an unholy mingling of science and sorcery to accomplish the feat. Erdel certainly did think outside the box...

After Mars was rendered uninhabitable, J’onn J’onzz returned to his people to help lead the survivors on an inhospitable, barren new world dubbed Mars II. Hardly a Garden of Bhok to begin with, things could only get worse with the arrival of the serpent Ma’alefa’ak…
Miss Martian telekinetically ripped the "Anti-Martian Multi-Weapon" out of Roh Kar's hands and blasted him with it. Comically, the charge shorted out the navigation controls in his jet pack, causing him to circle around and around, Roh Kar's body dragged flaccidly along. Though an embarrassing scene, Roh Kar was lucky in that Futureman's weapon was non-lethal...

Through T'omm J'onzz, Ma'alefa'ak talked up the benefits of an unconscionable alliance while groping at the supple flesh of Bel Juz. Though undoubtedly perverse, the intent was not truly to molest, but simply to unnerve with his awkward fumbling. Bel Juz was no blushing virgin, and was not amused. In fact, the gesture left her uninhibited about throttling the adolescent marionette with all the strength Mars II allowed her, more than enough to put him off permanently. Bloodied but unbowed, Bel Juz glanced up at Roh Kar's sad orbit. The corrupted M'gann M'orzz would perhaps be her greatest challenge of the day, and certainly an unavoidable obstacle in escaping from Ma'alefa'ak's disturbing play. Bel flew up at Miss Martian, concealing a pistol that was most certainly lethal to her fellow survivors of the Red Planet...

Monday, March 25, 2013

2013 Martian Manhunter Movie Fan Casting: Isaach De Bankolé as Ma'alefa'ak

Sometime between 1999 and 2001, I wrote up a fan casting for MARTIAN MANHUNTER: The Motion Picture for my late fan site The Rock of the JLA. Besides being terribly out of date, my casting of heroes and villains skewed very much toward the relatively recent Modern Age. Since the Martian Manhunter was in something like 150 solo adventure strips over thirty years before that period, and about a third as many in the fifteen years I focused on, I essentially cast the Manhunter-centric Justice League movie. I'd like to rectify that...

Since I cast Lance Reddick as J'Onn J'Onzz, and I find the prospect of the same actor offering a dual role as "twins" boring, I need another intense performer physically compatible with Reddick for the part of Malefic. Isaach De Bankolé is one scary looking dude who can act volumes from the bridge of his nose up, is roughly the same age/body type as Reddick, has a great voice and a resume full of evil characters.

Diabolic Movie Fan Casting

Sunday, March 24, 2013

2013 “Legion of Doom: Ma'alefa'ak” Custom Lego by [Skatersponge]

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Powers: Telekinesis, flight, Martian vision, shape shifting, super strength, immunity to fire unlike most Martians but gained the ability at the cost of his telepathy
Arch Enemy: Martian Manhunter
Saw him in JL:Doom and new he had to be part of the villainous group.
The Legions interrogator regardless of his lack of telepathy as he has other methods to make up for it, some that seem inhumane and there spy as he masquerades as people in power to discover information in other regions around the world."
Malefic gets another custom Lego! Check out [Skatersponge]'s whole team!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

March Madness: "Voting Irregularities"

" did The Human Squirrel get zero votes? I definitely voted for Ben Stoves. And I even voted for Zook. That's really strange..."
It's really not, and I'll explain why.

I started using Google's poll option on the blog fairly early on, and can't recall having any cause for alarm. I had no qualms about using the option for the first series of March Madness posts in 2011. Toward the end of that inaugural season though, things got suspicious, and I had to run the final polls twice before calling Malefic the winner with any confidence. At the time, I thought overzealous fans were doing some ballot stuffing, called shenanigans, and moved on. Unfortunately, while Despero won 2012 with fewer questions, there were still glitches throughout that season that irked me. I continued to have problems here and there with SurVILEvor Island, but the real smoking gun was when results left over from 2012 disappeared for a while in a crash. I'd initially thought that part of the problem with the 2012 season was my leaving too many old poll results in the sidebar until I could begin recording "player stats" for posterity. Thankfully, I had done that before the crash, because when the numbers were reinstated, they were flat-out wrong. I don't think the winners of any contests were incorrect, but the numerical values/margins were totally bogus. Thankfully, I'd already gone over most/all of them to feel okay with the stats offered in The Vile Menagerie versus the Legions of Doom matches.

The truth is, the number of polls in the sidebar, and especially the number of completed ones, should not be an issue. We've never had a poll that went past even forty responses, so we're hardly taking a toll on Google's network. I watched that Zook versus Scorch match suddenly, randomly, go from 50/50 to a 2-to-1 win for Scorch, and other poll results fluctuated in an unseemly manner. Quite simply, as much as I appreciate Google hosting this blog, their poll mechanism is a consistently unreliable turd. I'll use it to finish out March Madness 2013, but I'll be employing other poll resources when "Legions of Doom" restarts in April. Recommendations would be appreciated, though I intend to test drive a few in hopes of avoiding this crap in 2014.

Friday, March 22, 2013

March Madness: Round 3: The Mediterranean & Mars II

"For some time, J'onn J'onzz was active in the Mediterranean under the orders of a special secret department to demolish the world-wide criminal organization VULTURE and unmask its faceless leader, Mister V. J'onzz assumed the identity of international playboy Marco Xavier, taking up residence in the posh villa of the assumed dead accomplice to VULTURE..."
Maxwell Lord IV needed only a moment to speak, and only a few moments of speaking to ensnare the mind of a given subject. King Faraday had been trained to rob men of such moments, and the mere fact that he was still available to confront Lord after years in the field was a testament to his expertise in the theft of lesser men’s lives. Lord’s swift reaction allowed him to keep his brains within his skull, but he could not avoid Faraday’s bullet creasing his head and leaving him bloody and useless for the rest of this operation’s duration…

Another tranquilizer dart dropped Aldo Szuzi immediately, but Mister Steele needed Pierre Carré awake to answer his questions. “Who’s your man, Carré? I need a name!” He replied, “M’sieu Steele, he has many monikers. James… Mark… Saul… take your pick. He has a different face for each name. He has left this facility, and is far too brilliant for a pedestrian intellect such as can be found in your organization.” That was enough for Mister Steele. “Erdel.” Carré was put to sleep and Steele progressed to the most secure lab in the building, only to find King Faraday had beaten him to it…

Prince Rudolph had been taught the art of melee in preparation for his role as sovereign, but his hands were soft and his education was broad. Perkins Preston grew up hardscrabble in the American south, with gravel in his guts and spit in his eye. When it came down to it, the boy simply had more heart and a hell of a lot more fight in him. The bloodied prince begged the rockabilly star to relent, and questioned the nature of his mission. Perkins explained that he was just a country boy on vacation, who'd stumbled into another round of crazy business thanks to a mysterious friend. The Prince asked for Perkins' aid in defending his kingdom of Harovia from forces that would steal its treasures and potentially threaten the world. Perkins was soft at heart, and agreed to at least look into the matter.

The young men prepared to climb onto Rudolph's horse and ride back through the temporal anomaly that led from Marco Xavier's posh Mediterranean villa to an entirely separate European nation. However, Perkins intuited something amiss... more immediate then the broader peculiarities of the situation. Glancing about the room, Perkins motioned for the Prince to hold his horse, but when he turned around, he found the royal slumped in a corner on his derrière. A green rock attached to a necklace levitated over Rudolph's head, as though some invisible force were stealing it away from the Prince. Perkins Preston rushed to retrieve the rock, only to inadvertently tackle Gypsy, knocking a second green rock from out of her pocket…

After Mars was rendered uninhabitable, J’onn J’onzz returned to his people to help lead the survivors on an inhospitable, barren new world dubbed Mars II. Hardly a Garden of Bhok to begin with, things could only get worse with the arrival of the serpent Ma’alefa’ak…
Roh Kar's laser pistol was the original "Anti-Martian" armament, and he had a clear advantage over N'or Cott with the speed, maneuverability, and vantage offered by his jet pack. N'or Cott's riddled body fell face first into the jagged pebbles of his adopted but unwanted world. Roh Kar landed long enough to inspect Futureman's confiscated Multi-Weapon, and thought enough of it to try it out on his next target...

T'omm J'onzz was sickened by the burning mound where the remains of his family was laid out. His Grandmother had started the fire with her aged, brittle body, while T'omm smelled the dismembered bits of muscle and flesh from his mother Sha'sheen and father M'rynn roasting in her flames. Familial gore caked T'omm's own flesh as he was greeted by a maniacal visitor. Ma’alefa’ak said, "T'omm, brother of J'onn J'onzz, and a maniac after my own heart," then kissed the lad full on the lips. Weakened by the flames, T'omm couldn't resist as Ma’alefa’ak's elongated tongue probed his mouth and throat. Before long, this malefic entity seemed to disappear inside of T'omm, and with a crazed grin, he wandered toward the next nearest source of elemental pyre...

Bel Juz had initially fended off K'hym and M'yri'ah J'Onzz with the same inherent strength she'd used to defend herself against Superman in times past, until persuasive whispers in the girl-child's ears had set her off to burn from the inside out through H'ronmeer's Curse, taking her mother with her. Bel Juz had little time to appreciate the favorable outcome though, as final family member T'omm J'onzz approached her with a twisted smile that spoke to his being in the grip of madness...

Jemm's empathic abilities allowed him to registered the tainted presence of Ma’alefa’ak penetrating Miss Martian's psyche, and recognize the abominable influence Malefic had exerted over his own actions this day. As the Son of Saturn fought off the controlling telepath, Commander J'en fired on the both of them from her hunter spaceship. The Prince used the birthstone on his brow to blast the craft out of the sky, though the exertion dealt him a harsh blow. Jemm turned back toward M'gann M'orzz, hoping to aid her, only to find the young lady fully corrupted by the vision of her despicable future self. This pale shadow of Miss Martian fired a telepathic bolt into Jemm's mind that took him out of the sky to land limply with a horrifying thud.

Roh Kar had no cause to hesitate against his previous opponents, knowing going in that they were all perverse corpses reanimated temporarily by the will of Ma'alefa'ak. Unfortunately, he had failed to save the living afflicted, such as Princess Cha'riss and Prince Jemm. Now, with the "Anti-Martian Multi-Weapon" in hand, he wondered if he would be forced to take the innocent life of Miss Martian to halt this travesty, and whether he even could face this adulterated vision of the heroine and survive himself...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

2012 Malefic Space City Con Commission WIP by Adrian Nelson

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Yesterday I posted the finished version of this piece, acquired in August of last year. I had a bad night (or rather, my girlfriend had a bad day and I got the brunt of the consequences that night) and didn't get around to drafting a post for today. Trying to pull something together before going in to work, I stumbled upon the piece in progress in artist Adrian Nelson's deviantART gallery...
"Commission done at the Space City Con. I don't remember the characters name but loved the design. This isn't the finished commission either. I ended up doing a full color take on it because I was in the mood to fiddle with it. The owner promised to scan it in and send it to me."
Oops. Did I? Crap. Totally forgot about that. Um... better three quarters of a year late than never? In my defense, the dude's had my email since I scanned him the Bloodwynd commission, if he wanted to remind me...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2012 Ma'alefa'ak Space City Con Commission by Adrian Nelson

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Comicpalooza's layout was much improved in 2012 over the previous year, but one issue was a lack of conformity. By this I mean that the artists tended to be grouped on the right side of the main hall, the dealers on the left, and miscellanea sprinkled within each camp. That's an oversimplification, since there were whole regions for autograph booths, cosplay and so forth even further left, not to mention two other halls of different stuff, but we're sticking with the two sections that mattered to me. Moving along, I obviously spent most of my time, money and energy on the artists' side of town. However, there were publishers to the left with artists also doing sketches, which went unnoticed by me until late on Saturday, by which point I'd pretty much decided to wrap up my fifth anniversary spending spree. Adrian Nelson, who'd done a kick-ass Bloodwynd Commission in 2011, was shut out as a result.

Two months later I was at the considerably more intimate Space City Con, and recognized Nelson. We shook hands, and I related the gist of the first paragraph to him. I learned that he had seen the post we ran on his piece, and asked after a new one. I didn't know in advance that Nelson was coming, and instead of picking a subject for him, I handed over most/all of my stack of reference so that he could choose his own. As had occurred previously, the artist took his time thoughtfully looking over his options, so I offered some commentary. The one I remember most is Futureman, when we both acknowledged that the character is visibly a collection of phallic symbols. I think maybe Cay'an, Gammeron, and Jemm were in the running at some point, but the recollection is unreliably hazy. As it happened, I'd already picked up the Whilce Portacio Ma'alefa'ak Commission, so the reference was back in play, and Nelson pulled it right back out again.

Ma'alefa'ak was created in 1998 to be the evil twin brother of J'Onn J'Onzz as part of the launch of what remains to date the only Martian Manhunter ongoing series ever. As designed by Tom Mandrake, he was a lankier version of the Alien Atlas with long nails and piercings, outfitted in a fairly basic barbarian-style tunic type thing featuring chains. The same outfit returned later in the run drawn by Eduardo Barreto, but when Rick Leonardi drew him during a stint on JLA Classified, he ignored everything but the basics. Truth to tell, Mandrake himself never seemed to settle on specifics to his own design, seeming to still be playing around with it from panel to panel. There wasn't much of anything on the internet to be found in the way of fan art in the years since his creation, until Justice League: Doom. The 2012 direct to video animated movie offered fetishized redesigns of most of the villains featured in its narrative, and none seem to have lived past the cartoon except Ma'alefa'ak. Not only did the show give Ma'alefa'ak his widest audience ever (and teach them to pronounce his name "Mallah-fah-ock,") but it seems to have fired the imaginations of many fan artists. I "assigned" the animation style Malefic to Tyler Kirkham, but Whilce Portacio and Adrian Nelson selected him on their own and in preference to the original comic book design I also had reference for. Plus, Nelson still wanted to draw him even after we had talked about Peckerman and I then segued into all the incestuous homoerotic tension Malefic projected in the cartoon. That's a testament to the appeal of the redesign.

The first time I was going to get a commission from Adrian Nelson, I expected something from the Michael Golden/Jason Pearson school reflected in his portfolio. His Bloodwynd was much more somber and contemplative, better suiting the character. Since the Bloodwynd image was what was stuck in my mind, I was surprised by the Michael Golden/Jason Pearson style take on Ma'alefa'ak. I was even more surprised that it was in color. See, I'd told Nelson on Friday that I wouldn't be back until Sunday to collect the piece, so I think he colored it to use as a demonstration piece free of charge. I then showed up relatively early on Saturday, when he was putting the finishing touches on said colors. I said he could hold on to it another day, but I didn't really mean it, and he didn't make me abide by it. Come on, man-- would you leave this beauty on a table if you knew it was yours for the taking?

Nelson traded out the blues and most of the golds for solid blacks, so there's a point off for fidelity, but he very clearly kept the surprisingly well detailed bare feet, which gives him a point back. Gray strokes are apparent in the original 11½" x 16½" art, but I bumped up the contrast on the scan to make them pop here. I like how the crosshatching on the cape is like an inverted callback to the crosshatching around the cape in the Bloodwynd piece. I think the attitude on display here is closer to capturing Ma'alefa'ak that the more serious, sober versions linked earlier. I like the perspective, which makes it a great companion to my Dave Johnson Martian Manhunter. Since I moved and had the glass frame shatter on my Andy Kuhn Doctor Trap Commission, I've decided to only frame color copies from now on. I think I'll have a professional color "The Reverend," then hang the recently redesigned J'Onn and Ma'alefa'ak J'Onzz side by side. Sweet!

Next time I see Adrian Nelson, I promise that I'll pay for color and let him keep it for weekend display. Or just give him the color copy I used for scanning. Probably that second one. Also, I'm going to try pre-selecting a character with him in mind, just in case, to show I care and to give some unrepresented guys a chance against showboats like Malefic. The Art of Adrian Nelson blog, it's gallery section, and his deviantART page should be a big help!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2013 Comicpalooza Commission Wish List WIP

As I type this, there's only 66 more shopping days until the 2013 Comicpalooza Texas International Comic Con, in always sultry Houston (where we've skipped winter entirely for the second straight year in favor of a new season, Semi-Shady. It's pretty much just an expansion of our equivalent to autumn, the time of year where temperatures occasionally dip below 70°F.) My con experiences date back decades, but Comicpalooza is the only show I've attended annually (since the first "real" one in 2010,) and it's become the unofficial con of this blog. I had a dalliance with Space City Con last year, but they seem to be doubling down on washed up genre actors over comic talent. Hell, I think Comicpalooza may be trying to crush them, since they saw Space City's smattering of Voyager alumni and raised them half the cast of Deep Space Nine, only to completely annihilate them with the inclusion of Michelle Rodriguez. Houston's a car town with a large Latin population including a sizable geek contingent. She could end up being bigger than that kid from Harry Potter hereabouts. Space City Con was already underwhelming, and they've been pushed out of an uptown Galleria hotel into a Marriott just inside the beltway, so way to spike the ball in their faces.

Anyway, I've been following convention guest updates for Comicpalooza since not long after Space City, and They. Were. Epic. Chris Claremont & Michael Golden! Boris Vallejo & Julie Bell! George "Freaking" Pérez! I was beginning to feel like a deer in headlights, trying to figure out how I could possibly afford to take advantage of such an embarrassment of riches. However, perhaps thankfully, my expectations have been increasingly tempered. First off, one of my all-time favorite comic artists, Mark Texeira, has canceled. On the bright side, Renee Witterstaetter seems to be his broker for commissions and will be attending, so maybe I can talk to her about rates for a proper watercolor painting (and I'd rather wait until later this year to plunk down north of a half grand on art, which I'm sure I'd prefer over a figure sketch for two bills besides.) Many of the attending artists don't do con sketches, others don't do them very well, some guests have problematic reputations, and there are some returnees I'm not really hot to negotiate with again. I'm totally going, and I'll be totally giddy over the pieces I do get, but I'm in strategy mode here...

Brian Denham

If I get another Denham commission, it'll probably cost me. His 2011 Bel Juz piece is in contention for my favorite of them all, and having been spoiled, I would want a companion piece of equal quality that I doubt I could get for the same $100. The Marshal would be the most obvious choice, due to his close ties to Bel and Denham's skill with bulky dudes in armor. Then again, his greatest gift is in rendering the ladies, and wouldn't Miss Martian look fantastic? Denham was friends with the late Scott Clark, who helped him break in at Marvel with an Alpha Flight fill-in issue. It got me to thinking how great it would be if Denham took over the Manhunter back-ups in Justice League of America from Clark, so maybe the New 52 Alien Atlas would be most appropriate?

Michael Golden

I've developed a general and now well documented disdain toward head shots, but I bow to Michael Golden's awesome command of this commission type. He packs an enormous amount of personality and gravitas into an incredibly stylish yet cozy bit of space. I'm finding the prospect very tempting, especially if an inked one runs as high as most of the other artist's full figures at $175. Then again, if you're in for that much, $300 to get the body inked is a comparative bargain. Golden famously drew the Bronze Age Marvel Universe for a 1982 poster, so anyone in the Martian Manhunter's sphere should be fair game. However, if I go for a head shot, I'll want a distinctive one. J'Onn J'Onzz himself might be the best choice, especially since I'm not sure that Golden has ever drawn the character, which is criminal.

Joe Jusko

Like most comic book fans, I grew up loving the paintings of Joe Jusko and cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars on one. However, Jusko does convention sketches for a couple of bills, and his line art strongly resembles the late John Buscema, so why wouldn't I want him to do a Martian Manhunter figure?

Bob Layton

Layton was doing inked single figures for a c-note two years ago, which I hear has increased by 50%. Serves me right for dragging my feet, but I'll pay today. Layton means metal, or you're just not doing it right. Therefore, TOR, the Osprey, Hunter Commander J'en, Gammeron, the Marshal and the Prophet are immediate candidates. Dark horses include JLTF period Vandal Savage, the Capsule Master, Triumph, and select members of the Hyperclan.

Marat Mychaels

Given how often he fields requests for Deadpool sketches, I could make this artist's life easy by requesting B'rett, another bald athletic gun-wielding figure. That's not going to happen though, since B'rett requires a maniacal aura, where Marat Mychaels proved on his 2010 Commander Blanx Commission that his true gift is with more coldly calculating sociopaths. I'm on record as totally digging the alterations Mychaels made to that megalomaniac, and would love to see them fleshed out for a full figure. He'd be pretty nifty on Vandal Savage or the Prophet, as well.

Yanick Paquette

I've liked this artist's comic book work since his days on Wonder Woman, but I have to confess strong reservations about plunking down a couple of bills for commissions as unpolished as what I'm finding online from recent years. Cay'an, Gypsy, Bette Noir, the Conjurer, Scorch or Bloodwynd might be nice.

George Pérez

As I explained to my girlfriend, Perez isn't so much a visiting artist as one of the comic book "gods." Unfortunately, deities aren't known for being easy to make demands upon. What I want is a full figure black and white Commander Blanx for a price preferably well within the three figure range. What I'll potentially get is a head shot, assuming those aren't decided by a lottery system wherein tickets are purchased for a dollar each with several drawn per day and a new set of lottery tickets pooled each day of the show to determine who gets a piece. Oy.

Sam de la Rosa

This here's a local who has been a regional convention staple for ages. He's best known as an inker who rode high on association with Spider-Man characters around the time of "The Clone Saga" like Venom, Carnage and Solo. He embellished dudes like Mark Bagley and Tom Lyle, so I think I'll have him take a crack at revitalizing my faded Kevin Maguire Martian Manhunter figure sketch of unverified eBay origin.

Bernie Wrightson

The odds are astronomically opposed to my getting a Wrightson commission. He already turned me down once at Comicpalooza 2010, and he seems generally against convention pieces. Still, I'll ask, and maybe if I throw enough money and creative liberties at the guy, he'll cave. In the meantime, pretend the picture above is Diabolu.

Matt Frank

Frank's a friendly fella who did me a solid with his 2012 Despero Commission, and I'd still like to see him take on some manifestations from the Diabolu Idol-Head. Other options include Gorilla Grodd, Human Falcon, Tybalt Bak'sar, Iwangis and Mr. Moth.

Brent Peeples

I liked how Peeples' 2012 Commander Blanx Commission turned out, so another may be in order. Triumph would probably be the best choice for his clean, heroic style, plus I haven't gotten a Triumph yet. Other options include Re's Eda, N'or Cott, Gypsy or Futureman, and he still might be viable for a Hyperclan group shot.

Thom Zahler

Zahler rocked Roh Kar, and since my plan to order more pieces from him online flamed out because a) I've been broke since Space City Con and b) I've never done mail order commissions with any artist ever, I guess I'll just hit him up at Comicpalooza again. It would be fun to have him do edgier characters like the Hyperclan members, but I can't resist going goofy with the gonzo obscurities. I'm thinking the Martian Criminal, Futureman, Patrolman Mike Hanson, Sally Winters, Vulkor, a Thythen, or the wizard Diabolu.

Monday, March 18, 2013

March Madness: Round 3: Middletown & the Secret Mountain Lair

When J’onn J’onzz was first stranded on Earth, he chose to make his home in quaint, quirky Middletown U.S.A. Joining the local police department, “John Jones” served as a detective for many years alongside the proud patrols of the fair city. Today, the burg hosts a law enforcement convention that has attracted luminaries from across the nation… to their grisly demise...
Patrolman Mike Hanson came up behind Patrolwoman Diane Meade, and tried to grab her wrists to save Sally Winters. Meade rared her head backward into Hanson's crotch. Before he could even process the pain, Meade swung an elbow into the tender of Hanson's knee. Mike reflexively lifted his leg, which Diana grabbed and jerked upward until her opponent fell on his back. Meade barely pulled herself off the floor as she pounced and pounded the downed patrolman...

Former Officer Pat Brady was startled by the sudden motion of Captain Harding, as he drew the fingers of his hand into a mock gun and shouted "Bang!" It was a juvenile gesture, but it cowed Lieutenant Saunders, who looked on as Harding shook his retired officer's hand. Just as it seemed the tension in the room had broken, Captain Harding rushed toward and past the Lieutenant to try to rein in Patrolwoman Diane Meade...

Sergeant Bob Segarini was gob-smacked by Karen Smith's intelligence and looks, turning him into a bumbling imbecile. His crushing was interrupted by Willy's cries of shock as a balloon full of fruit punch exploded against his chest. Slimeball reporter Spencer Lee rushed to paint child star Patty Marie as being on some sort of rampage, until she broke out into a rain dance that made Captain Harding's nephew laugh. "This squaw beat paleface," Patty declared, "and freckle-face, too!" However, Karen Smith recalled that Patty Marie was wanted for questioning by no less than the F.B.I....

An apartment in Middletown was no place to keep a super-powered otherdimensional pet, so the Martian Manhunter moved with Zook to a secret mountain headquarters accessible only through a passage the size of a mail slot. That was no problem for the elastic form of Zook, but it was an issue for the host of unwanted visitors clambering about the area...
The true Bloodwynd was not as vulnerable to fire as the Martian Manhunter that once impersonated him, but the inferno manifested by Aubrey Sparks proved enough to provoke the shady character into teleporting far from the scene for his own safety. The flames were so far reaching, Till'all fled from his battle with Zook to take cover invisibly. However, the other-dimensional pet felt the White Martian youth was too dangerous to be allowed to escape. Zook used his antennae to track Till'all, then radiated enough heat to catch a patch of forest surrounding him on fire. After Till'all passed out, Zook turned his attention toward the increasingly uncontrollable forest fire, and its primary instigator Scorch...

Jupiter bounded at Erdel, who struck the dog at the back of the head with what at first appeared to be a slap bracelet. It turned out to be an especially efficient mind-control collar, not dissimilar from one once put together by J'Onn J'Onzz out of parts from L-Ron to halt a rampaging Despero. In fact, one wonders if the design was perhaps originally Erdel's. Who was this scientist, anyway? Why was he alternately known as a doctor, a professor, or an amateur inventor lacking any higher degrees? Why was he sometimes called Mark, other times James or Saul? Why isn't his appearance consistent? Did he really die of shock upon meeting J'onn J'onzz, was he murdered by his own computer, or had his death been a fraud perpetrated against J'Onzz? Did Erdel accidentally teleport J'onzz, or was he intentionally called to combat a crazed Martian that preceded him? Did Erdel employ millenia old alien technology left over from White Martians for this task? What were his goals-- his motives? For today, they were to use Jupiter to catch Zook's scent, and use it to trace his portal of exit from the secret mountain lair of the Alien Atlas and his impish sidekick...

Ben Stoves was surprised by the difficulty he had in overcoming Barry Clark. Once again, the Human Squirrel had clashed with a figure whose appearance was identical to the Manhunter from Mars, and who had clearly trained himself to be as close to a human approximation as possible. This once, Ben triumphed, and not a moment too soon. The Squirrel dashed through the forest choking on smoke carried on the wind after Erdel and Jupiter, who had settled near a nigh-imperceptible opening into the mountain about the size of a letterbox...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2012 Miss Martian fan art by “BurnedSmackdown”

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Monday will be ruled by the March Madness results, so here's an early bird M'gann M'orzz fanfic with a Malefic flavor...
Being the daughter of Ma'alefa'ak and a unnamed White Martian due to the fact that Ma'alefa'ak cared not for his fellow Green Martians, M'gann M'orzz was the only first and known Martian hybrid and thus when the White Martians under Ma'alefa'ak's leadership attacked and wiped out the Green Martians M'gann was found by her uncle J'onn J'onzz and was taken to earth where the two hid from humanity and J'onn took up the name John Jones and gave her the name Megan Morse and when he took up the hero name Martian Manhunter he helped her control both her Green and White Martian powers which made her a much stronger telekinesis than himself and allowed her to change from a human form, a Green Martian form and a White Martian form and when he thought she had control of her powers he allowed her to join him in defending their new homoeworld from crime and her father and she took up the name Miss Martian. She soon joined the hero team in Bludhaven the Titans upon her uncle's request and she becomes close friends with Superboy and Troia and other heroes outside the team like Batgirl, Aquagirl, Artemis and Wonder Girl. She along with the Titans joined the Justice League where she fights for her friends, her uncle and her home and aceppcted both her Martian origins and is proud to be on Earth.

The reason why I Made her half Green and White Martian is because in Young Justice she calls Martian Manhunter uncle and she's a White Martian so I thought she could be the duaghter of a unnamed White Martian and Martian Manhunter's twin brother Ma'alefa'ak which would make sense on how she's stornger than Martian Manhunter and still is his neice. She also still has her Bioship like how Superboy still has Wolf and Sphere from Young Justice.

Created in HeroMachine. Character belongs to DC Comics.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

March Madness: Mars II: Round 2

After Mars was rendered uninhabitable, J’onn J’onzz returned to his people to help lead the survivors on an inhospitable, barren new world dubbed Mars II. Hardly a Garden of Bhok to begin with, things could only get worse with the arrival of the serpent Ma’alefa’ak…
Miss Martian was horrified by the pure massacre before her. Someone had to be controlling J'Onn J'Onzz's friends and family to do harm to one another. While attempting to fend off the surprisingly furious attack of the usually passive Jemm, Son of Saturn, M'gann reached out telepathically for the passingly familiar mind of the Manhunter from Mars...

Princess Cha'rissa was a true warrior, favored to take most comers in any contest. Yet, she was also Saturnian royalty, unaccustomed to the hardships faced by the survivors of Mars II on a daily basis. Between her armor and her training with the Soldiers of the Red Brotherhood, Hunter Commander J'en outmaneuvered and blasted Cha'rissa with unexpected ease. Scanning the area, J'en spied numerous contests between combatants both unknown and known all too well...

Futureman hunted Martians in the year 2062, but typically lone ones with the help of a troop of fellow officers. N'or Cott wasn't some cowardly criminal, but an enforcer of the law of Mars once entrusted to take down the Alien Atlas himself. Not only was Futureman human-- but N'or Cott made him bleed! Crimson stained Futureman's helmet as N'or stripped him of his special Anti-Martian Multi-Weapon. J'en had no immediate qualms with N'or Cott, and ran past, more concerned with the fighting overhead...

Distracted by her psychic search, Miss Martian was struck by a devastating beam of power projected by the jewel upon Jemm's brow. In freefall, she saw the curious sight of a Martian male in shortpants who appeared to have a swan sitting on his head. Well below, wind blew through the decorative mane on the helm of Re's Eda from the propulsion of Roh Kar's jetpack. The militant Martian suffered a handicap through his limited powers on Mars II, which the First Lawman of Mars overcame through technology. The largely grounded Re's Eda was forced to deflect ray gun blasts with his sword, but that carried him only so far, and the one that got through his defenses finished him.

Hunter Commander J'en watched an under-dressed green girl with a passing resemblance to Bel Juz fall from the sky, only to slow her descent and fire beams from her eyes at a Red Saturnian that pursued her through the air. If only J'en could soar so unaided. The revere nearly cost her, as a laser blast clipped her helmet. Roh Kar wasn't familiar with the fellow officer of Martian law, and seemed to be firing on anyone in sight. However, N'or Cott was the law on Mars II, and he had the perfect range weapon to enforce it on this vigilante do-gooder well out of any self-appointed jurisdiction...

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Her-Who-Must-Be-Served most assuredly had been served. Dazed, she murmured, "mutilated lips give a kiss on the wrist..." before fainting to land roughly on the amber sand. Bel Juz, the "laughing lady living lover" as she had been called by the hermaphroditic "queen" of the Daals took a naughty peek at the curiously equipped alien. "Ooo, you sassy frassy lassie." Moving on, K'hym J'Onzz had her mother on her back, and was repeatedly thrusting her spade-shaped hand into M'yri'ah's chest cavity. Bel pleaded, "Please calm it down. Everything is turning a sticky reddish-brown." M'yri'ah disciplined her daughter with the back of her comically enlarged but highly effective fist. "Take my hand you ugly girl!" The wife of J'Onn J'Onzz then turned her gaze toward the harlot Bel Juz, who had the gall to question her parenting. When her stunned daughter gathered her senses, K'hym was forced to contemplate which of these Martian women to attack next...

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While Jemm recovered from the fire he'd been forced to smother on his cape, Miss Martian turned invisible, buying her time to survey the battlefield with her eyes and reach for distant worlds with her mind. The armored figure M'gann had seen sprinting earlier was nowhere to be seen, and the familial tragedy unfolding broke M'orzz's heart. This was partially her undoing, as Jemm's empathic abilities sensed the unrest in M'gann's soul, and once his power reserves had a chance to rebuild, a broad spectrum energy blast would be enough to end Miss Martian...

Sha'sheen J'onzz ensnared M'rynn J'onzz with her own contorted, serpentine body before attempting to literally bite his head off. Sha'sheen had been a manhunter, and her husband merely an academic. However, his strength lay in his brains, which connected to his bride's. She exclaimed, "Worm like tips of tentacles expanding in my mind!" Meanwhile, T'omm J'onzz retained a smidgen of his youthful innocence and drive to be good like his big brother, but Grandmother horrified and disgusted the lad. She had accepted the destruction of Mars as H'ronmeer's will, and believed only through the fire would true rebirth come. Spotting his parents in mortal combat, T'omm raced to tear them apart. Grandmother's eyes began to smolder, literally, locked on her family's struggle as a curse burned on her lips...

Miss Martian thought that she had finally located J'Onn J'Onzz's psyche, but instead was telepathically molested. Ma’alefa’ak could not bear to be far from the J'Onzztown Massacre he had instigated, relishing his family cutting one another down. "I licked my brain in silence. Rather squeeze your head instead..." Miss Martian's defenses were down, and Jemm was poised to strike when fire from a Martian hunter spaceship gave him pause. Hunter Commander J'en was an excellent pilot, and commanded the means to even the odds against this dangerous duo...