Monday, August 23, 2021

2021 “Justice League Extreme #1” Bloodwynd fanfic commission art by Brad Green

Despite having read over his stories several times with the expressed purpose of nailing down what his whole deal was, Bloodwynd yet remains a confounding mystery. To this day, most people still think that he was just a cover identity of the Martian Manhunter, not a separate character, if they ever think of him at all. I've had an angle on Bloodwynd in mind going back to at least the reviled Dan Vado run, but it doesn't fit with this project, and he somehow managed to become the motivating factor for the team's creation instead. I never talked up my interest in Manhunter/Bloodwynd like I did Artemis, so it would have been easy to shove him in between bigger characters for little more than a head shot or waist-up. I'm really glad Brad Green was able to draw most of the heroes as full figures, but especially that Bloodwynd is so fully realized with serious cape action and authentic African-American features. Bloodwynd has rarely looked as good anywhere as he does here!

art & cover by BRAD GREEN
variant cover by PHIL CHO
card stock variant cover by ED BENES
Bloodwynd is no hero. The mysterious dark mage of death has his own agenda, which he preferred to pursue in isolation. Outed by his nemesis, the necromancer briefly played at being a champion during a time of unprecedented tumult, when the world’s greatest super-heroes were threatened with extermination. The savage Kryptonian behemoth Doomsday beat Superman into a coma. Hulking criminal mastermind Bane broke the Batman. The minions of the war god Ares saw to the demise of a Wonder Woman. The multiversal destroyer Anti-Monitor extinguished the Flash. Alien tyrant Mongul drove Green Lantern mad. Extraterrestrial terror Imperiex obliterated Aquaman. The worshipers of Darkseid, Lord of Apokolips, executed Martian Manhunter. Through his necromancy, Bloodwynd recognized that these magnificent seven crusaders were tied mystically to the fate of all creation, and he stepped up to defend all of existence… including, especially, his own.

Then came Judgment Day, when the Overmaster and his Cadre arrived to witness the end of the Earth. Bloodwynd was cosmically aware that this moment was beyond him, that all hope rested with the Justice League. He merely watched as the universe ended… and began again. Like tumbling dominoes, the events set in motion by Doomsday led to Hal Jordan becoming Parallax, and with other terrorists against time itself, unleashed entropic energies that annihilated the universe. Only a handful of heroes remained at the Vanishing Point to restart everything with a Big Bang. Today, another Crisis in Time has begun, and many of the horsemen of the previous apocalypse rise again… without any of the Magnificent Seven to meet them. The Septuplicate is essential for salvation, a search for seven successors, an extreme form of Justice League.

Reignman has been born through the melding of the corpse of the Cyborg Superman Zor-El, further enhanced with the automations of John Henry Irons, controlled by the intelligence of the Kryptonian Eradicator. The unjustly exiled Amazon Artemis has chosen to wear the indignity on her back, in the discarded garb of her fallen sister Diana from her own hour of disgrace, as a living Requiem. Freed from Mother’s control and picking up where The Colony left off, the genetically engineered and psychologically programmed killer Jean-Paul Valley is among the sole standing vigilantes defending Gotham from Leviathan, within his sealed Knightfall battle armor. Arrived from a catastrophic near-future where his family perished before his eyes, Walter West takes no prisoners with the crimson quickness of Dark Flash. Compelled by the Life Entity within his White Power Battery to defend their home world against aliens, Kyle Rayner returns to Earth to wield nearly limitless powers over creation as the Omega Lantern. Obsessed with reclaiming the throne for his bloodline, Arthur Curry’s only surviving son, the berserker Koryak, would rule as Aquamaster.

The return of Mongul to Coast City attracts several of these anti-heroes who have faced him in the past, and understand the danger he normally represents. However, the flaxen fiend has not come alone, and his fellows’ reach and menace in unfathomable. What is the Superman Death Squad, and what purpose could it still serve in a world without the Man of Tomorrow? And what of these would-be heroes? Are they all that they seem, and could there be just as much of a threat within their ranks as without?
ON SALE 05.12.21
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES
This issue will ship with three covers.
Please see the order form for details.

“Justice League Extreme #1” by Brad Green

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

2021 Martian Manhunter by Paul Smith

Juggling too many projects this week while also suffering from the energy depletion of dieting, so nothing substantial this week. One of those efforts is Siskoid's "Who's Editing" fan fiction thought experiment, for which I offered... 

written by G. WILLOW WILSON
art & cover by PAUL SMITH
Spinning out of the pages of DOOMSDAY CLOCK & ATOMIC! The Shadow Lords’ trap has been sprung, bringing about a new world order. Their Stormwatch Intercontinental now patrols the globe, capable of putting down any threats to their planetary rule. With the Justice League no more, numerous other challengers neutralized, and even the alien refugees being deported from Earth, their control appears complete.

Despite faltering at Shadowspire, there is yet a collective of heroes to fight back against these nihilistic fascists. Aided by Staq Mavlen before his demise, Ray Palmer located the 30th Century telepath Imra Ardeen within a dank prison, the captive of Adrian Veidt. Her own mission to save Superman, Johnny Thunder, and the new Rorschach Reggie Long has failed, but Veidt himself offered a path to redemption. The son of Erika Manson and Marcos Maez held special meaning to Doctor Manhattan, who left the boy to be raised by the former Silk Spectre and Nite-Owl in 1992. That boy, now adult, is somewhere on Earth with the full inheritance of power from his “foster father,” capable of correcting the time stream to save… everyone?

Dr. Osterman had prophesied before his disappearance, “In the year 2020, Superman’s timeline is bombarded by the reckless energies of the Old Gods, once again warping the Metaverse.” Instead, the New Gods brought about his end in that year, or have they? So many threads to pull on this harrowing new reality, and who better than the survivors of the classic Justice League, joined by their proud legacy from 1,000 years in the future? The Atom and Saturn Girl escape with Elongated Man, Hawkman and Hawkwoman, herself drawn to reunite her cohorts in serving The Life Entity during Brightest Day. But first, they need allies and a base to plan their next moves, and after a quick stop for Sue Dibny, they are directed to Monument Point, Virginia. Former mayor Jay Garrick is also under fire from the government after aiding XS & Kid Flash against A.C.E., and is ready to get back into the race as The Flash. Hot in pursuit is the Shadow Cabinet, led by the aged Veidt’s heir apparent, Cleopatra Pak… the villainess Nostalgia.
ON SALE 5.26.21
$3.99 US | 32 PAGES

Like all right-thinking people, I love Paul Smith, so it's fun to see his take on J'Onn J'Onzz. He's bit too inhuman to me, especially with the Spock ears and vampire collar on an otherwise very Silver Age-y interpretation. The Alien Atlas isn't on my fake team because I killed him off with the rest of the Magnificent Seven JLA at the start of the project. More on that next week...

Monday, August 2, 2021

JLA: Year One #12 (December, 1998)

The Daily Planet buzzed over Earth's heroes beating back the Appellaxian invaders. Two generations of Green Lanterns & friends saved Metropolis. Black Canary & the Blackhawks had an Iwo Jima moment in DC. Aquaman, the Sea Devils and others were in... um... ocean? Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Shining Knight, and Black Condor fought avians in... air, and Martian Manhunter had to listen to them wonder how the aliens knew all their secret identities. Awkward.

Kalar took out his frustrations on Stonehenge, where a teleporting Vandal Savage used the mindwipe device to take out a group of Appellaxians, and also took offense at the insult to his design. On to St. Louis. In a brilliant moment, the Atom shattered a crystal proxy by enlarging slightly in one of its flaws, but the explosion knocked Ray Palmer out, leaving his tiny form to be caught in the palms of Doll Man. In Paris, Molly Mayne reported on the Global Guardians. In Central City, Canary and Flash reunited, as did Barry Allen and Iris West, so Dinah made clear that she wasn't going to be her mother's daughter in a way that would make for two-timing. Also, Green Arrow showed up to flirt.

Martian Manhunter helped clear Peking, but even with Metamorpho and the Doom Patrol, the Great Wall was lost. Despite some gains, there were just too many aliens being fought by exhausted heroes. Even the mystical likes of Dr. Fate and the Spectre faltered. Vandal Savage offered a poisoned chalice, delivered by a shapeshifted Clayface in his image. The device, now set to kill all the Appellaxians on Earth with the touch of a button. The League debated. Aquaman and Flash leaned yeh, Canary and Lantern nay. Snapper Carr and Martian Manhunter went a third way, filtering the device's ray's through J'Onn's psyche to render it agonizing rather than lethal. The Alien Atlas head warped and mind verged on shattering. Aquaman whispered, "I'm here, J'Onn, my friend. Open your mind to me... Open your mind... to us." The League lent their own psyches to the filtration. The mystics creating a portal to Appellaxia, and those that didn't walk through it were tossed in. Savage wanted the League complicit in an act of vengeance. Canary insisted, "We're not about vengeance... we're about justice!"

Flash noted, "I'll say it again, J'Onn. You never fail to surprise us. That was one incredible risk." J'Onn felt he owed a debt to everyone there for the way he'd compromised them, which Canary assured with a kiss was "--Paid in full. Let it go. We will." Hawkman asserted that the Justice Society was proud to pass the torch, and Superman stated that there could be no greater honor than to serve at their side when needed. Planet headlines announced future victories against Amazo, (an anachronistic) Despero, and Kanjar Ro. Aquaman removed the plague commemorating the Appellaxian casualty of their first missio, and thought the surface dwellers had done a nice job pulling together. There was a very forced moment where Black Canary likened herself to a flower blossoming and a bunch of stuff about hers and Flash secret identities being trains going in different directions, yadda yadda. Green Lantern put forth the notion of expanding the roster, beginning with Green Arrow, to the questioning of Dinah and Barry. They took it to a vote. As it turned out, the identity of the secret financier Simon Carr continued to keep was none other than Oliver Queen. "The Irony is just to wicked."

"Justice for All" was by storytellers Mark Waid / Brian Augustyn / Barry Kitson with inker Michael Bair. This extra-length finale didn't take so long to read or to write up, but I put it off because of all the expected listing of names and locations and this happened and that happened. All the toys got set up in their displays and the good guys won. I appreciated that this series made a point of spotlighting the original Blue Beetle, often overlooked in DC history as one of the earliest published super-heroes (thanks to his originating at another publisher and not moving to DC until after Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas were heading out the door.) Still, fanboy here, so can't quite forget that the Seven Soldiers of Victory should have still been separated and lost in time.

Overall, the story is nice and pleasant, with no small amount of nostalgia both for Silver Age comics and even then-contemporary ones. There are some great bits and classic character moments. The whole premise of a super-alien with total recall keeping filing cabinets full of excruciatingly sensitive data about masked heroes on paper in filing cabinets behind a false wall is about the dopiest I could point to off the top of my head. It worked way better as encrypted files on the Bat-computer in "Tower of Babel." All the Appellaxian stuff goes on for too long, and I wish we'd had more single issue spotlights and attention to period detail. Then again, they tried that with the quasi-sequel Incarnations, and maybe not so much. This is probably my second or third pass reading the material, and my second write-up, so I'm probably done revisiting it unbidden by outside factors. I like it fine, but prefer to skim rather than fully invest as a whole, which is probably why it never got a proper adaptation.