Friday, September 30, 2016

2014-2016 JLI, Saturnians, & Other Friends Artist Jam

October of 2014 was my last month of daily posts, ending a run of eighty-six months total (or in normal people terms, seven years & two months.) I tried to do another month last year for the 60th birthday and came up six days short, so I'm pleased to accomplish the full thirty with this attempt, closing out roughly two years of celebrating the diamond anniversary to & from the actual date.

There's no kidding myself anymore, though. With that "61" officially stamped on J'Onn J'Onzz's lifetime card yesterday, I have done all I can do for that milestone. Plus, honestly, as much as I love the Martian Marvel, I'm really looking forward to shifting focus toward Wonder Woman's 75th year in action (which is apparently also a diamond jubilee, because everyone gives up after 60 years and figures diamonds are forever after.) I've done a lousy job on my Amazing Amazon podcasting and blogging, so I'd like to make up for that.

Don't think I'm forgetting the Alien Atlas though. I've completed a few of these jam pieces, and will continue to work on those I haven't in 2017. I have entire jams done that haven't seen the slightest reference here, and new standalone commissions as recent as earlier this month. Heck, I just now remembered that there's a well liked Bronze Age DC artist with my mailing address who should have something Martian flavored in to me in time for the holidays. I'm pretty sure there will be at least weekly posts in October, most likely completing another jam that's been teased here (although there's still a little space left, so maybe I can squeeze one more character in later?) Samhain should inspire some sort of special themed podcast here, and following shows should manifest roughly monthly-to-bimonthly for the following year. I'll only ever dial down the intensity of my efforts related to the character from time to time, but never shut them down entirely. I know my role.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

2016 Who's Who in Martian Manhunter Vol I Downloadable Reference Resource

Download as CBR/ZIP file

Download as PDF

To commemorate the 61st anniversary of J'Onn J'Onzz, The Idol-Head of Diabolu proudly presents Who's Who Martian Manhunter Vol I...
Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe was one of comics' foremost and beloved reference books. Unfortunately, it didn't have much to do with the history of the Manhunter from Mars beyond the hero's own entry. This free fan publication seeks to change that, offering a recreation of listings for previously unrealized character entries in the style of the original 1985-1987 comic book series covering characters and concepts from J'Onn J'Onzz's six decades of publication history.
I recommend the CBR, which may have turned out okay, but I definitely screwed up a bunch of the size ratios and file types on the PDF I had my girlfriend pull together for me, because I'm too cheap to pay Adobe for the priviledge. All of the text was written by me pursuing an accurate reflection of the characters' published appearances in comics.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Martian Manhunter's 60th Anniversary Special Compilation

Martian Manhunter's 60th Anniversary Special
A Celebration of the Alien Atlas


So I wanted to take the four hours, twenty-two minutes of the two Martian Manhunter's 60th Anniversary Special Podcasts, combine them with thirty-three minutes of additional interviews, and somehow cut that nearly five hours worth of material down to one hour for a YouTube video. Well, even excising most everywhere I had spoken, all the ads and audio clips, even elements of the interviews, I only got it down to a little over twice that length. But never mind, because between my antiquated and expired video programs, I couldn't manage to convert that much audio and one static image to a file YouTube would take anyway. Well, screw it, I dumped that audio I labored over the weekend trimming down onto the more popular The Marvel Super Heroes Podcast feed, and I'm walking away before I invest any more time or money into that sinkhole. Enjoy?

A brief overview of the Sleuth from Outer Space's history shapes a variety of interviews with comic creators and show business talents covering six decades of J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars' career as an alternative to mainstream super-heroes, who nonetheless stands as a founding member of the world's greatest group of champions, the Justice League of America. Abridges three episodes of The Idol-Head of Diabolu Podcast, 15, 20 & 27, focusing on the talents who have loved and supported the Alien Atlas since 1955 as they appeared in exclusive interviews and others culled from across the internet.
Audio Source Credits

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

2015 Miss Martian Amazing Houston Comic Con Jam Sketch by Mark Bagley

There isn't much I can say about Mark Bagley that you haven't heard many times before. He was the winner of The Official Marvel Comics Try-Out Book competition, which was legendary in the 1980s as a one-stop shop to learn every major four color discipline on actual industry standard art boards. He began working regularly at Marvel in the early '90s, making his name on The New Warriors before becoming the defining artist on Spider-Man for millennials beginning with a long run on Amazing and ending just a few years ago on Ultimate. He also had a run at DC, managing to cover most of their icons, including J'Onn J'Onzz. Personally, I've always liked how Bagley draws young people and women with a bright, optimistic quality. That's also a good summation of M'gann M'orzz, who I think may have turned up in Trinity under Bagley's pen, but I wanted one for myself regardless.

Mark Bagley

Monday, September 26, 2016

2015 Jemm, Son of Saturn Space City Comic Con Jam Sketch Detail by Dietrich Smith

Okay, so I was aware of Dietrich Smith's work from the late Chromium Age moving forward, but was most impressed with his more recent color work, which is what made me decide to ask him to draw K'hym J'onzz for the family portrait jam. I really liked that, so then I went back and asked him for Jemm, Son of Saturn on another jam piece. I also dug that, so I tried to go back one more time at the same show for a solo piece, but by then he was all booked up. Another show comes around the following year, and I've got him pegged to draw Carter Burke from the movie Aliens at a point when I thought I was going to do a series of jam pieces, but plans changed so that I only got one done. So maybe, hopefully, I can finally turn Smith completely loose on a piece all his own next year?

I'd gotten Jemm done once before, but I felt he played such a major Alien Atlas-specific role in "Rock of Ages" and in the two most popular story arcs in Martian Manhunter's eponymous 1998 series that he deserved representation in the jam. I'm glad for it too, because this is a very regal prince with his high collar and billowing cape. This was another instance where the jam had a big chunk of space that needed to be filled to feel "done," and Smith absolutely took ownership of that property with a gorgeous spread across that real estate. I never give artists J'Onn reference with the "vampire" collar because I don't feel it suits the Sleuth from Outer Space, but Jemm was created with one, and here he rocks it like a ruby peacock. I love the shading, and looking at it again makes me hanker for that future Smith work!

Dietrich Smith

Sunday, September 25, 2016

2015 Glenn Gammeron Amazing Houston Comic Con Jam Sketch Detail by Adrian Nelson

Adrian Nelson is another local artist that I can reliably call upon for excellent work, which to date has included commissions of Bloodwynd, Ma'alefa'ak, H'ronmeer (and other art finishes on the J'Onzz Family Portrait,) & Private Ricco Frost from the movie Aliens. This time, his subject is Glenn Gammeron, intergalactic bounty hunter with mysterious ties to J'Onn J'Onzz that date back to the plague which claimed most life on Mars. This was my second pass at a piece featuring the sketchy character, who once took on Despero and should absolutely return to that Martian Manhunter fold for further adventures. I love Nelson's take on the character, which vaguely recalls Larry Stroman, and the scans don't do justice to his crosshatched shading.

Adrian Nelson

Saturday, September 24, 2016

2013 Martian Manhunter “The Challenge of the Alien Robots” color art by Enrique “Quique” Alcatena

Click To Enlarge

Cuando el Detective Marciano, acompañado por su amiguito interdimensional Zook, corría sus aventuras en las últimas páginas de Detective Comics primero, y de House of Mystery después. Cuando era el gran Joe Certa el que ilustraba los guiones de Jack Miller...

When the Martian Manhunter, assisted by his interdimensional tiny sidekick Zook, lived his adventures in the back pages of Detective Comics first, and house of Mystery afterwards. When the great Joe Certa illustrated Jack Miller´s scripts...
Enrique “Quique” Alcatena

Friday, September 23, 2016

2015 The Alien Robots Space City Comic Con Jam Sketch Detail by Antoine Mayes

Up until this month's Amazing! Houston Comic Convention, this was the last piece of Antoine Mayes art I had to offer on the blog, and my favorite of his many contributions to the jam. Featured are the villainous automatons of “The Challenge of the Alien Robots” from Detective Comics No. 317, July 1963. I really like the architectural boxiness (with foundational cracks) that gives way to an animation-type anthropomorphization with the slanted, louring "eyebrows." Plus, that one in the foreground is spitting fire. Unlike the loose arrangement of rectangular modules from Joe Certa's original story, Mayes creates a modern day armature of evil that looks physically functional and ready to go Chopping Mall with its long (bladed?) fingers and dynamic pivot points for maximum aggressive response. Mayes chose all of his own subjects from a copy of Showcase Presents and went wild with the scale and chimeric variety of old school rampaging menaces, shaping the totality of the piece and selecting fun creatures I might otherwise have neglected in my fatiguing pursuit of the same handful of Skittle Martians I keep doling out for.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

2015 Iwangis, The Creature King Amazing Houston Comic Con Jam Sketch by Erik Arreaga

Iwangis was the villain in one of my favorite Silver Age Martian Manhunter stories, and especially out of the ones from the period where he was searching for the Diabolu Idol-Head (though it was never definitively stated whether the Creature King was connected to the device.) Seems other folks like him too, since he won our 2014 March Madness vote. I wanted someone cool for this piece, not just for the character, but because the overall jam was shaping up nicely. I was into Erik Arreaga's style, and his strong Sam Kieth influence was very well suited to the giant furry master of stone menageries. He strikes the right balance of menace and mirth as the monster reaches its paw out toward the viewer. I love all the crazy detailing and frenetic energy of this piece, and should definitely enlist Arreaga for a more substantial commission in the future!

Erik “Phour Nyne Guy” Arreaga

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

2014 Princess Cha'rissa Comicpalooza Jam Sketch Detail by Chris Beaver

Chris Beaver is one of the artists I return to again and again for commissions, because he hit it out of the park first time out to bat with The Human Squirrel at 2012's Comicpalooza, a fun piece I was fond enough of to make a color copy and have framed next to my desk at the old apartment. He followed that up a few months later at Space City Con with Hunter Commander J'en, and the following year with one of my absolute favorite commissions ever, Kishana Lewis. I can't get a scan to capture his beautiful color work in that piece, so sometime I need to either take it to a professional or hang the original. Most recently, he contributed to this year's Aliens 30th Anniversary commission series with Corporal Cynthia Dietrich, but we sadly had a dry spell in 2015 because I'd committed so much time, effort and especially money to a series of jam pieces begun in 2014. Beaver contributed two black and white pieces to two separate jams begun that year, one hero and one villain. The heroine is Princess Cha'rissa, fiancé of Jemm and secret lover of J'Onn during murderous intrigue between the red and white-skinned Saturnians. These damned jams won't be done until 2017, and as I'm piecemealing them character by character all this month with plenty to spare, I've reserved the remaining space for new artists and the new year. It's all well and good, because what I really want is to plot out another full color piece like that Kishana Lewis, hopefully next year...

Chris Beaver

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2015 Bloodwynd Amazing Houston Comic Con Jam Sketch Detail by Oliver Banks

It's been over four years since Bloodwynd was referenced in a significant way on this site, and even that was to defend him against accusations of being the Second Worst Justice Leaguer Ever, which was majorly harsh. I like Bloodwynd well enough to have a solo commission, and certainly wanted to include him in a jam of associated characters. Bloodwynd has an undeservedly bad rap, and I really need to get his biography page done to help vindicate the character (though legitimizing his messed up origin will take a better man than me.) Speaking of, artist Oliver Banks did an even better job here than on the previous year's Green Lantern Guy Gardner, and it's a shame it took me two years to spotlight his work. I dig the dude's attitude, imposing size, and the way his cape drapes around the character below him. Banks also incorporated the thick gray border around that character into shading on Bloodynd, which unfortunately doesn't translate well to the scan. I was able to contrast the blacks solid without completely obliterating the shading, but it's darker and much coarser than in the original, and I apologize for the distortion. He does look spookier for it, though.

Banks wrote of the piece, "High class collaboration," and if you'd like to see his Martian Manhunter, look no further.

Oliver Banks

Monday, September 19, 2016

Podcast- Comics Bulletin & Alex Ross on the Cusp of J’onn J’onzz’s 61st Anniversary

Episode #29

Look for us on iTunes, ShoutEngine or directly download an art-tagged MP3 from the Internet Archive

On October 8, 2014, the website Comics Bulletin published a discussion between Bryan Stroud and the famous painter of Marvels and Kingdom Come in the article Alex Ross Talks About the Martian Manhunter on the Cusp of J’onn J’onzz’s 60th Anniversary. Nearly two years later, with the Alien Atlas' next birthday imminent and with the help of an online text-to-audio program, Diabolu Frank joins their conversation...

We enjoy dialogue on the red planet, so here are our non-telepathic contact options:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

2001 DC Direct KINGDOM COME: MARTIAN MANHUNTER Poster by Alex Ross

The series of painted, full-color posters by Alex Ross (KINGDOM COME, BATMAN: WAR ON CRIME) continues with this dynamic portrait of J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter. This 22" x 34" poster is designed to be displayed on its own or be placed side by side with others in this series.

$ 7.95 US
To the surprise of no one, I bought this poster new, but waited the better part of a decade to finally get it framed and hung on the wall. Since I moved, it hasn't yet returned to a wall, and presently is sitting on the floor in a stack of over a dozen other framed comics related pieces I haven't committed to geeking up my current study. It's an exposed space visible from the common area, and I think the girlfriend would prefer we get a door installed to obscure my shrine first. I'm getting sick of it lying around though, so maybe I'll just hang it already. Also, the image above is not an actual poster, but a trim of Ross' original full sized piece made to best approximate the poster. I'm not breaking out mine, and for some odd reason, all the photos online look like crap.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

2013 B'rett Comicpalooza Commission by Johnny J. Segura III

Click To Enlarge

When I first met Johnny Segura at the 2012 Comicpalooza, he burned through a hot streak of fantastic commissions with Scorch, Professor Arnold Hugo, and L'lex Xanadar, leader of the Devil Men of Pluto, and he followed up in 2013 with Miss Martian. I was a bit surprised when he got experimental with B'rett, but I had been pushing it with the uniformity of the other pieces, so I can appreciate his wanting to try something different. For starters, we shift to a landscape, allowing the yellow Martian to swing wide with his gun arm for a gangster pose, complete with hand wrap. I tend to see B'rett as something of an old west sidewinder who'd shoot you in the back if you looked like future trouble, so this would qualify as a more contemporary take on that type. With a pronounced scowl, he demands in a word balloon "Ya lookin' at me, TOOTS?!?" Perhaps he was addressing M'gann M'orzz and that Kawaii thing she's doing with her eye in that year's earlier commission? Speaking of the newest super-heroine being adapted to television this year on the CW network, is it just me, or does B'rett's cape kind of look like the promotional poster for Supergirl season 2?

Johnny Segura 3rd

Friday, September 16, 2016

2016 Ma'alefa'ak Comicpalooza Commission by James Ferry

Ma'alefa'ak is the evil twin brother of J'Onn J'Onzz introduced in Post-Zero Hour continuity as the creator of "H'ronmeer's Curse," the plague that wiped out Martian civilization. As "Malefic," he continued to menace the Martian Manhunter until his apparent demise. To date, Ma'alefa'ak is the only villain created to fight the Alien Atlas to be adapted by an outside medium, via the animated movie Justice League: Doom.
After Ferry's jam contribution featuring The Master Gardener of Mars, I figured I'd get another good looking Who's Who style profile image, this time of Malefic. See, I liked the Doom cartoon redesign a little too much and gotten a bunch of commissions of it instead of how he looked in the actual comics. However, Ferry wasn't satisfied to meet that expectation, and instead exceeded it with a fully realized work of art featuring a sea of floating reverse-teardrop rocky (icy?) masses floating in midair while Ma'alefa'ak malefically (an actual word I had to research, because "meleficently" is not one) contemplates Jodorowsky's Incal as big fluffy clouds roll by. The Mœbius influence is obvious, and appreciated, because this piece is the closest I'll ever get to owning a Jean Giraud original. It's a beauty!

James Ferry

Thursday, September 15, 2016

2015 D'Kay D'Razz Commission by Tim Vigil

One of the obvious perils of buying many dozens of commissions and then doing nothing to catalog them over a multi-year span is that you start to get really fuzzy on the details. Some pieces I haven't run because they were by unknown artists whose work is unsigned. Now that's embarrassing. This one's not so bad, because I've been a fan of Tim Vigil since I conned my stepfather into buying a very age-inappropriate issue of Faust for me (plus pillaging Silverwolf Comics out of quarter bins after the black & white bust of the late '80s.) Just as a frame of reference, a fellow art collector I know that had a commission done ahead of mine showed me that she'd gotten an exceptionally well endowed nude (as in "Is that a python running down the leg?") hermaphrodite demon/vampire in recline (still comparatively tame for a Vigil, meaning something Vertigo or MAX or Dark Horse or IDW would never ever ever publish.) With an image like that, you'd think I'd remember which convention I saw it at.

Vigil doesn't particularly care for super-hero stuff, so I thought the body horror of shapeshifting Martian serial killer D'Kay D'Razz would suit him well. I regret the choice because I should have used it to start an all-villain jam instead of another one-off of the character after Austin Rogers and Lane Montoya already went there, and also because the piece is so sick with disturbing detail that I'd love to see follow-up artists try to match it. The piece is wicked, even though I do not want to know what's go on down there in its nether region...

Tim Vigil (NSFW!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

2014 B'rett Comicpalooza Commission by Mark Texeira

The people behind me in line for Mark Texeira must have hated me. They were all getting comics signed or quick sketches on backer boards, and I roll up with an 11"x17" jam commission that Tex would ultimately fill a quarter of involving reference materials and lots of back and forth discussion. Then what do I do? I ask about getting a full solo commission, complete with waterpainted color! The nerve of this guy right here, typing about the two awesome pieces of Tex art I got for an entirely reasonable price which I admire greatly! Can you tell how little shame I feel over grinding that line to a halt?

So long as I was able to get a full commission from Tex, I knew I wanted him to do one of the most conceptually complimentary but least seen Alien Atlas Adversaries, the yellow-skinned Martian B'rett. I've liked the Xanthic Bandit for a long time, and it shows by the number of pieces I've gotten of him, probably the most of any single character outside J'Onn J'Onzz himself. The problem was that I had a very specific idea of how I wanted B'rett rendered, and despite getting some dynamite pieces of him, none quite matched the crystalline ideal in my mind. I wanted that grinning menace of a ruthless, brazen, but not exactly fearless foe, and I felt like Tex was my best shot at finally scratching that itch.

My recollection is that I watched Tex draw Vandal Savage, but left him with reference for B'rett to work on when he had time after taking care of the folks behind me. Toward the end of the day, I came back to see Tex's finished pencils, but he hadn't had the chance to apply any paint. I think I offered for him to keep it overnight, but he had already mixed the rather distinctive colors on his palette and was ready to get down to it. By this point, the con was announcing that the dealer's room was closed, and before long, lights were being shut off and security was eyeing us warily. Tex dismissed any concern, basically saying that as long as we were with him, nobody was going to bother us. Sure enough, I and a collection of onlookers got to watch him do the full Bob Ross demonstration as he discussed pestering publishers who wouldn't meet his quote but wouldn't stop calling, his training background in fine arts, and more fascinating insights into the life of a painter in the modern comics industry. When he finished well after closing time, I giddily took the wet piece out to the lobby, admiring it as I watched it dry and waited for the rain outside to subside. I wasn't taking any chances with this baby.

It should go without saying that Tex finally nailed the malicious, trigger-happy spirit of the character I'd been searching for all this time. Despite having the brawny physique and gladiatorial attire of the Sleuth from Outer Space, that callous spray of bullets and cruel grin lets you know B'rett would just as soon not get his hands dirty taking some poor soul out. I love the lighting over his muscles and the way the yellows contrast against the plum colored garments. In black and white, B'rett is just a Martian with a laser pistol, but nobody looks like this dude in color! Tex even whipped up an impromptu logo for B'rett on the spot, which I've happily made use of (plus I snuck the image into one of my fake covers from a Manhunter series that exists in a better world than ours.) Getting a work like this from Mark Texeira was one of my "grail" pieces, and I'll have that much easier a time going to my grave knowing I checked this particular box off my bucket list with a glorious commission that's the envy of my friends and among my very favorites!

Mark Texeira

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

2014 Telok'Telar Comicpalooza convention jam art detail by Paul Gulacy

Telok'Telar is a White Martian who was captured by Cay'an, brainwashed into believing that he was a green-skinned Natural Martian, and sold to a government research lab. His normal form eventually reasserted itself, but not his mind, and he was institutionalized by J'Onn J'Onzz.
When it came time to get a grail piece from one of my favorite artists, knowing his work, the subject had to be a female. Gulacy ladies are the best, or in the case of the conniving Bel Juz, the worst. I had an opportunity to collect a second piece though, and figured to incorporate Gulacy into an artist jam project that was in progress. I wanted him to draw the Martian Manhunter without it actually being J'Onn, so Telok'Telar from the misbegotten 2006 mini-series The Others Among Us got the nod.

Paul Gulacy

Monday, September 12, 2016

2014 The Master Gardener of Mars Comicpalooza Jam Sketch Detail by James Ferry

The Master Gardener of Mars is a Natural Martian horticulturalist and survivor of H'ronmeer's Plague who masqueraded as the Father-God of the Lizard Men, with whom he briefly conquered much of Earth in the late 1950s. He was defeated by Martian Manhunter and is believed dead.

So I had Cody Schibi start a jam commission series featuring one of the emanations from the Diabolu Idol-Head, it turned out great, and frankly, it was a tough act to follow. I wanted to gather some atypical artists who could do the weird world of late Silver Age Martian Manhunter monsters of the month justice, and eventually stumbled upon James Ferry. I liked the strong European and Japanese influences in his work, and thought he would be a good match with the contemplative Master Gardener. I enjoy the craggy and almost crystalline quality of the figure, coupled with the fluid fancy of the shapeshifting fingers. I think it complemented the first entry very well, and raised the bar that much more for the artists that followed. I've picked up a couple more pieces from Ferry since this one and look forward to showcasing them, but this week is focused on B'rett and other outlaws native to the Red Planet, and only one of those two applies...

James Ferry

Sunday, September 11, 2016

2014 B'rett Comicpalooza Commission by Pat Broderick

The final of three pieces I picked up from Pat Broderick, one of my favorite Bronze Age artists, was the villain responsible for exposing J'Onn J'Onzz to the world, B'rett. I've been saving my pieces of this guy for three years, hoping to make a week's worth, but my diminished number of commissions over the past two years put an end to such notions. Anyway, that might seem like excessive tribute to a character that only ever made one appearance fifty-eight years ago, who I've already got several pieces of, and two more to show before this week's up. However, I think B'rett is one of the most viable bad guys from the Manhunter's Silver Age rogues gallery to revive, so there's that. I also decided to try my hand at crudely coloring Broderick's work, and considered replacing it as the art for B'rett's sidebar icon, but ultimately decided to let the classic stand. For more from Broderick, check out his New 52 Martian Manhunter, The Marshal of the Soldiers of the Red Brotherhood, Facebook page and web site.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

2014 Porto Comicpalooza convention sketch by Herbie Rivera

Here's another person who drew something quick for me during the crazed jam commission spree of '14 whose information I misplaced for many moons. This is technically part of a jam, but it was the one with so little continuity of spatial relevance that it became more like a collage. Also, I don't have a scan of the total piece, nor the physical art board. Last year at a con (Amazing?) I accidentally left it with an artist, along with my reference copy of Showcase Presents Martian Manhunter Volume 2 that I haven't been able to retrieve from him (though I did chat him at the CCP Studios booth this year.) Anywho, this is The Man of 1,000 Disguises, whose biography I finally wrote last week after having had the art scanned and uploaded at Photobucket for a few years now.

Herbie Rivera

Friday, September 9, 2016

2015 Patrolwoman Diane Meade Space City Comic Con Jam Sketch Detail by Edgar Vega

Click To Enlarge

Edgar Ulrico Vega is the artist on the free digital comic Rage Against the Jackal and all-around cool guy who drew one of my favorite John Jones supporting characters, Diane Meade! Here she's clearly in Silver Age mode in her pretty policewoman outfit. I need to do a bio on her, but she made more appearances in the strip than anybody save Captain Harding and maybe Zook, none of whom have a biography either. Look, it's way easier to knock out characters that only have one or two appearances, the average for characters in these stories.

Edgar Vega

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Top 10 Despero Covers (Updated & Revised)

Official Justice League Of America Index #8 (1987)
I first attempted a top ten list of Despero covers six years ago. Since 2010, Comic Vine stopped allowing remote embeds of art, so I had to do my own hosting (and a few scans.) There's also been a fair few new covers produced in that time, and I felt the need to reevaluate the earlier rankings as well.

Despero the Destroyer is something of a nemesis to the Manhunter from Mars, and there is no shortage of impressive images of him. However, because he's often the big bad in a big reveal during a story, the covers often do not reflect the magnitude of his presence.

Honorary Mentions:

10) Justice League of America #38 (2009 Andy Kubert Variant Cover)

Left this one off on the first try because it wasn't very imaginative, but neither was the Gary Frank Supergirl cover, and in retrospect I think the technique and impact were greater here.

9) Justice League of America #133 (August, 1976)

Flanked by the world's greatest heroes, Despero kills Superman and ask who wants next.

8) Justice League Task Force #27 (September, 1995)

The finest cover example of Despero's gun-toting, anti-heroic, "the Savage Dragon stole my bit" period.

7) Superman/Batman #33 (March, 2007)

Literally chewing up a host of alien heroes in his jagged maw. I went back and forth on the placement of this one, because it seems static at first blush, but then I factored in the World's Finest duo reflected in Despero's third eye which also incorporates the logo and the demolished cities in his main two eyes. That took a fair amount of thought to execute.

6) R.E.B.E.L.S. #12 (March, 2010)

Nothing says "we're in trouble" like someone holding Despero's severed head, while nothing quite says "our way out is almost as frightening as how deep we're in" like Vril Dox grinning.

5) Justice League Task Force #31 (January, 1996)

Just a striking image of Despero in bondage-- no small accomplishment. You want to know how this happened and who the captor is.

4) Justice League America #39 (June, 1990)

I almost threw in the issue where Despero crash lands in the JLI's midst, but he's just a funky colored blob in an intentionally obscured image. Here, you can clearly see the result of his onslaught, and the beginning of his fan favorite villain status. I lowered this one because the composition isn't all that interesting. Despite the damage done to the surrounding city, it's still standing, as is Despero's lone visible adversary, J'Onn J'Onzz. It's got attitude and a low key swagger,

3) Justice League of America #251 (June, 1986)

The first clear cover image of Despero reborn as a finhawked badass of massive scale. I moved this one up in rank because while it foreshadows the Despero-smash sameness of many post-1990 pieces, it's more metaphorical than representational in that regard. Despero is god-sized, threatening to smash the League with their own satellite, as two worlds visibly appear bound to collide. Also, while his new wardrobe said "barbarian warlord" instead of "alien telepath," that's a lot more distinctive than the naked pink Hulk he'd later become.

2) Justice League of America #178 (May, 1980)

A great riff on Despero's debut, beautifully rendered by Jim Starlin, and the first indication of personal animosity toward the Martian Manhunter. I had to move this one up in rank because it's simply too swell for fifth place, but also because it includes classic character touches and the twist of the Leaguers as miniaturized chess pieces reacting individually.

1) Justice League of America #1 (November, 1960)

The original. The classic. One of the most inspired and imitated covers of all time.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

DC in the 80s interviews Diabolu Frank, the "Martian Manhunter guy"

Click To Enlarge

The crew over at the DC in the 80s; including Mark Belkin, Michael Alan Carlyle, Susan Hillwig, Gracja Nowak, and frequent shower of Diabolu Twitter love Chris Sheehan; have been doing great work the past couple of years stoking the fires of nostalgia for one of the best and most important decades in comic book history (especially for Detective Comics Comics!) I particularly love their use of uncommon and rare promotional artwork in relation to coverage of various releases, as seen on their swell tumblr. Why they'd want to louse up their winning streak by talking to me I'm sure I don't know, but webzine editor Justin Francoeur decided to poke around in my idle-head until a lengthy interview popped out (and I also think he let The Doom Shadow loose again, but that's another story.) It's all terribly ME-centric and "inside baseball" beyond even my previous indulgences here. I talk a lot about my early collecting history, perceptions of the rise & fall of the direct market, why this blog/podcast exists, and some general info on Martian Manhunter and Despero. You can read the interview here, which is probably asking a lot of folks given the lame-o who vomits up most of the words, so you might prefer to just skip ol' Frank and go right to following the quality 'zine via Twitter or Facebook!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

2014 Vandal Savage Comicpalooza convention jam art by Mark Texeira

I probably first encountered Mark Texeira's art during his very brief run on Warlord, a book I only bought for a short time as flea market cheapies, but I didn't really take not of him there. His art may have influenced my purchases of Buckaroo Banzai #1 or some issues of Sectaurs, but I don't specifically remember it being a draw. The first time I really took note of Tex was his very cool Mad Max style promos for Hex, and a became a fan while collecting Psi-Force mostly for his work. That was one of the only New Universe books I bought off the stands, and there was one particular splash (I think in issue #5) that I stared at in awe-- one of the most exquisitely rendered images I'd ever seen up to that point. There was a fill-in on issue #6, and I not only felt cheated by the bait & switch of a Tex cover, but it made me realize that I wasn't very interested in Psi-Force stories unless he drew them. His final issue on interiors was #8, so it was my last monthly purchase as well. Tex disappeared on me for a while after that, but when I saw he was drawing an issue of Stalkers here or Night Breed there, I bought them. Punisher? Ghost Rider? Wolverine? Sabretooth? Union? If Tex was there, I'd follow, and be happy about it if only for the art. Of course, I preferred it when he was on books with scripts and characters I could also enjoy, like Black Panther, but the fact is that Tex is one of my top five favorite comic artists of all time, and one of the very few I'll buy regardless of title. I just bought a skimpy IDW trade of A Hero's Death, but Tex painted it, so I'm there.

When Mark Texeira was announced at Comicpalooza, I was extremely excited and hopeful to pick up a piece or seventeen. I looked everywhere for him at the show, and my heart sank when I couldn't find him. Hours went by, and I'm not even sure I ever located him on Friday. However, on one of the days, friends pointed out to me that he'd ended up in the celebrity autograph section I spend very little time at with a makeshift banner. I was like, "WHERE? SHOW ME!" Sure enough, there was Tex with a respectable line in front of him. Which I promptly joined with no intention of leaving until I'd talked to one of my illustration idols.

They say, "never meet your heroes," and I've unfortunately experienced the wisdom of this expression firsthand. Some of my favorite creative people have disappointed or frustrated me in person, in some cases permanently diminishing or outright quashing my affection. Blessedly, this was not the case with Mark Texeira, a larger than life figure with a perpetual smile and no shortage of conversation. He never stopped telling stories, drinking, eating, laughing, drawing, coloring-- even if you weren't into comics, his presence was so warm and inviting that you'd still want to hang around him. I'm so happy and so relieved that one of my favorite creators in this medium also ended up being one of my favorite people, too!

As for this specific piece, it was part of my first attempt at a jam that totally got away from me. By the time it got to Tex, the scale was all out of whack, so what I really needed was a nice, big, beautiful central figure to tie everything together. Tex asked first if it was okay for him to go nuts, and I assured him that yes please take up as much space as you need to make the best piece possible. I wanted a character as vital and lusty for experience as Tex, so Vandal Savage seemed a perfect fit. Despite the immortal tyrant being one of my favorite comic book villains, I'd never gotten a drawing of him done because I'd never found an artist that inspired me to shell out my own money on a character already well represented in print. Savage was a relatively minor direct foil for Martian Manhunter, really more of a threat to incarnations of the Justice League J'Onn had served on, but I didn't let that get in the way of devoting a spotlight section of this blog to him. Texeira was such a perfect fit for the villain, and even drew him in his pain-in-the-ass armor from the JLTF period I like so much but never wanted to inflict on anybody. I love this commission, and am grateful to Tex for doing an even better one for me afterward...

Mark Texeira

Monday, September 5, 2016

Podcast- Adjudicating J'Onn J'Onzz (ComicsVerse v Martian Manhunter)

Episode #28

Look for us on iTunes, ShoutEngine or directly download an art-tagged MP3 from the Internet Archive

The website Comicsverse, "your source for in-depth comics analysis" very very briefly ran a series of podcasts (exactly two to date, the last one in January) under the banner "Best Underrated Characters in Comics." Mind, this is out of 80 shows in total, and there've been 19 since, so perhaps they just abandoned the premise. I tend to think that's for the best, since I find the title misleads one into thinking they're going to select a character they find deserving of attention they haven't received and tell you why they're boss.

Unfortunately, in the episodes shining a white hot interrogation lamp on two heroes I'm very fond of, the shows instead felt like inquisitions to determine whether they are in fact underrated, or just poo (with the moderator's thumb on the scale weighing toward poo in both cases.) One was Doctor Strange, and you should know by the subject of this blog who the other was...

Join me for a special feature length episode with Diabolu Frank for the defense in the case of ComicsVerseS the Manhunter from Mars, but you should lead with the prosecution's case before you allow me to retort! Superman, Batman, Aquaman, and the rest of the Justice League will be called into question and occasionally treated as hostile witnesses as part of The Trial of the Incredible Hulk Sleuth from Outer Space!

We enjoy dialogue on the red planet, so here are our non-telepathic contact options:

Sunday, September 4, 2016

2015 The Doom Shadow Space City Comic Con Jam Sketch Detail by Antoine Mayes

Following a lengthy hiatus, we're back to featuring the work of Antoine Mayes in his defining contributions to an all-villain art jam, this time covering the petrifying fiend from House of Mystery #146 (October, 1964). The hatching over its face is more involved than what translated to the scan, and I blotted out other elements from the overall piece (though I left a tentacle teasing another artist's character...)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

2014 The Headmaster Comicpalooza Commission by Lane Montoya

Click To Enlarge

I broke a Comicpalooza tradition last year after getting Lane Montoya pieces in 2012 (Gypsy, Jemm & Princess Cha'rissa) 2013 (D'Kay D'Razz) and this number in 2014. In fact, I only got one single piece of art at Comicpalooza last year, which I still haven't posted, as I was more preoccupied with getting interviews from J.M. DeMatteis, Peter David, and Mike McKone for Martian Manhunter's 60th Anniversary Special: A Celebration of the Alien Atlas Part 1 & Part 2. I also wanted to get Matthew Sturges, Louise Simonson and more, but to be frank, it took time and an emotional toll to screw up the nerve to deal with getting those first three recordings, and I felt pretty spent thereafter. So, unfortunately, no Montoya last year, and I haven't been gung-ho about commissions in general since letting this blog fall by the wayside outside of the podcasts. This beast isn't as hungry for content when the schedule goes from 365 posts a year to a dozen or two, plus it would be nice to pay off some of these credit cards that put me through school instead of dropping a few grand across Houston's 3+ shows this year.

Wait-- you say this was the 30th anniversary of one of my favorite movies, Aliens, and the cast came to town before hitting SDCC? And wouldn't it be neat to get their signatures on character specific commissions? Game over, man! Okay, I'll try to keep it down to a grand.

But back to the piece, this is a nifty number featuring Headmaster, the Al Gore of actual gore-- specifically decapitating people so they can all fit in his space ark to escape the inevitable destruction of Earth while continuing the palest imitation of life! I think the reds really bring out the violence in the character (and y'know, the claws.)

Lane Montoya

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Vile Menagerie: PORTO

Alter Ego: Porto
Other Aliases: “The Man of 1,000 Disguises”, “The Human Fly”, “Bird-Man”
Occupation: Stage Performer/Gang Leader
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: None
Group Affiliation: Leader of unnamed crime ring
Base of Operations: Mobile
First Appearance: Detective Comics 315 (May, 1963)
Height: Tall
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Red

The famous impersonator Porto had a traveling stage show where he would thrill audiences by rapidly changing into outrageous costumes and performing stunts involving impressive special effects. Among his roles was a "Human Fly," wherein he would dress as a known burglar and adhere to surfaces through unrevealed means. As it happened, the otherdimensional being Zook had been present during the Human Fly's last quarter-million dollar heist in Middletown, and during Porto's performance, Zook's powers verified that they were one and the same. "The Human Fly" was assisted by cohorts who had imperiled innocent bystanders with a runaway 20 ton truck as a distraction to the pursuing Manhunter from Mars. While Zook and J'onn J'onzz were on to Porto, they still needed to draw out his criminal assistants. To this end, they captured Porto and secured him in an isolated shack while the Sleuth from Outer Space used his shapeshifting powers to assume the actor's form. As Porto, J'onzz would perform the stage act and await contact from his gang.

Porto wore a functional silver bullet charm necklace, which he was able to deconstruct and withdraw the gunpowder within. Zook had been assigned as a guard outside the shack, so when Porto smashed a window, the alien hero raced toward him while using his powers to emanate heat. Porto threw the gunpowder at the red hot Zook, sparking a small explosion that knocked the imp out. Porto then met with his game and conspired to assassinate J'onn J'onzz while he was in Porto's vulnerable form.

Zook recovered and traced Porto to the theater in time to create a barrier of heat between the disguised Martian Manhunter and silenced bullets fired against them. Zook then attempted to tackle Porto, who successfully brushed him off and made his way to a dressing room. There, Porto changed into a "Bird-Man" outfit and tried to fly through a skylight in the theater. His escape was halted by the Martian Manhunter, who then took Porto and his men into custody.

Powers & Weapons:
Porto possessed a number of costumes that appeared to afford him superhuman abilities through unrevealed means, although they appeared to be technologically based and embedded in the individual costumed. As "The Human Fly," Porto could scale exterior walls with ease, theorized as being enabled through powerful unseen suction cups by John Jones. As "Bird Man," Porto wore a jet pack strapped to his back that allowed him to fly, and he was also capable of flight through a small rocket ship while in astronaut garb.

Quote: "And now-- now we're going to that theater- and finish off that Martian lawman while he's still on stage, stealing my act!"

Created by Jack Miller & Joe Certa

Thursday, September 1, 2016

2016 The Evil Mystic Brushes Comicpalooza Jam Sketch by Cody Schibi

I don't know what's harder to believe... that it's been two years since a Cody Schibi piece has appeared on this page? That this small 2016 image was the capstone of an artist jam started in 2014 by Schibi? That I've spent two years trying to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Martian Manhunter from lead-up to fade out? That this year also marks the twentieth anniversary of my "officially" becoming a fan of the Sleuth from Outer Space, and therefore have spent about eighteen years off and on building web sites and the like to raise awareness of the character's sphere?

By the end of this month, J'Onn J'Onzz will be sixty-one years old, and regardless of my disappointment in not celebrating his 60th birthday to my full satisfaction, I have to put that matter to rest. I worked very hard, gave up a lot of time, and laid out a lot of dough on the stuff I did get done, like the roughly four hours worth of collected audio in The Martian Manhunter anniversary special podcasts parts 1 and 2, interviews with John Ostrander & Mark Verheiden, The J'Onzz Family Portrait Artist Jam, the JLMay crossover, and appearances on The Secret Origins Podcast: Martian Manhunter & Justice League, plus Justice League International: Bwah-Ha-Ha Podcast. I didn't get everything I wanted done, and maybe should have labored less on individual projects in favor of getting a multitude of smaller ones accomplished, but I feel I and my Martian friend still have plenty to be proud of. Also, this September will be packed with daily goodness, including an awful lot of deferred commissions, long form podcasts, and other goodies you'll have to wait for. We're going to have a good time firing up the Idol-Head of Diabolu one last time for an entire month before settling into an intended monthly podcast with odds and sods for the blog. I hope ya'll will enjoy and come back regular like until the festivities close.

As for today's piece, it's the Evil Mystic Brushes from House of Mystery #150 (April 1965), a pair of enchanted art supplies whose monstrous "Supernatural Masterpieces" come to rampaging life! There are a bunch of other Diabolu-cal beasties in this jam, and it could be argued they all manifested from this brush. At the very least, the Color-Ring Creature from House of Mystery #148 appears to be making a cameo appearance at its pleasure...