Thursday, April 17, 2014

2013 Triumph Comicpalooza Commission by E.K. Weaver

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"In the span of a single day, Amal calls off his arranged marriage, comes out to his conservative parents, promptly gets disowned, goes on a bender... and wakes up the next morning to find TJ, a lanky, dreadlocked vagrant, frying eggs and singing Paul Simon in his kitchen. TJ claims that the two have made a drunken pact to drive all the way from Berkeley to Providence. As it happens, Amal promised his sister he'd be there for her graduation from Brown University. And TJ, well... TJ has his own reasons. The agreement is simple: Amal does the driving; TJ pays the way - but a 3500 mile journey leaves plenty of time for things to get complicated."
E.K. Weaver is the creator of The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal, a free web comic which I liked on skimming but confess to having not properly read. However, Weaver is clearly gifted at drawing pretty queer boys, and since Christopher J. Priest outed Triumph, I've been wanting to see Will MacIntyre envisioned through a more sympathetic, gay-friendly lens than, say, Mike S. Miller.

Triumph was a retcon created in 1994 to take advantage of the Zero Hour event comic to introduce a previously unrevealed "founding member" of the JLA, who was lost in time and memory until returning contemporaneously. He saw himself as a peer to DC's greatest heroes, without having their accumulated years of experience, and ended up on the Martian Manhunter trainee team Justice League Task Force. Insubordinate and conniving, Triumph was eventually beaten and fired by J'Onn J'Onzz before getting sucked into the demonic machination of Neron and being reinserted into the timestream proper. Triumph failed utterly when given a second chance to relive his lost years, then was turned evil by a magical imp and punished severely by the Spectre, the Old Testament GOD's agent of vengeance.

Triumph was a much loathed character, but was essentially the Guy Gardner of the JLTF-- a catalyst for great stories specifically because he didn't follow the rules of uptight, upright super-heroes. His being gay added a subtext and tension to those stories that is both uncomfortable and intriguing. In Weaver's art, you see the attractive, vital face of a good man and potential hero, but the streaks of flesh tones are overwhelmed by contrasting grays and stark whites. His golden armor is made dull-- abstracted-- unreliable from compromise. The pure, competent, heroic Triumph is all in Will MacIntyre's head, as his ornamentation fails him and frail flesh and blood lies beneath. This rendering tells a story of Triumph's possibility, his unique aspects, but his ultimate inability to ascend to the Pantheon and validate himself as the champion he declared himself to be.

1 comment:

LissBirds said...

This artist is unknown to me, but I really like her style. I bet she'd draw a nice Booster Gold.