Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vixen: Return of the Lion #5 (April, 2009)

  1. Predators
  2. Prey
  3. Sanctuary
  4. Risen

Whisper A’Daire was a minor Batman villain from 2000 originally affiliated with Rā's al Ghūl, but now working with Intergang to set up shop in Zambesi, with Aku Kwesi as their representative. Under her command, the chemically controlled Black Canary and Superman launched attacks on the other members of the Justice League present. Batman managed to gum up Dinah’s pipes and kick her in the gut which Red Arrow and Black Lightning tried to fend off the Man of Steel.

As they flew in to help, Sia questioned the potentially Vodun nature of Vixen’s powers, which she shrugged off as too simplistic an answer. The Lady Fox then kicked Whisper in her ugly face. Batman complained, “You’re late.” Mari replied, “You’re losing.” Sia tangled with Kwesi and Vixen fended off Superman by adopting attributes of the armored beetle. Yeah, I don’t buy it either, especially when this mini-series was spun out of a Justice League of America subplot where Vixen could borrow Superman’s own powers.

Batman kept Whisper busy while Black Lightning destroyed her doomsday device. Red Arrow tried to rouse Dinah. Sai stabbed Kwesi in the thigh, then tossed a vial of antidote to Mari. Vixen poured it into her mouth, then sprang like a butterfly at Superman, offering a very wet kiss. The antidote immediately took effect, so the battle wrapped off panel on the next page. Sia had managed to convince Kwesi’s armored troops that he was a fraud and puppet for foreigners. Vixen challenged Kwesi to single combat to prove his mettle he next day “in the village where you killed my mother, if front of all the people you’ve frightened into silence.”

Question: Anyone know when Superman had his first interracial kiss?

Both the Vixen and Black Lightning finally got to wear their costumes for the big showdown, but only one would participate. In short order, the “She-Spirit” had removed Aku Kwesi’s power vest, but tossed aside her own Tantu Totem when goaded to show she still had power without it. After picking Kwesi up over her head and throwing him, there should have been little doubt left. The beaten Kwesi was turned over to the villagers for justice.

Sai conceded “You are a strange and unpredictable woman, She-Spirit… Life here is not easy. But if the strongest and best of us leave, it will never get easier. We are your people, Mari. This is your place. Come back to us.” Mari promised someday that she would, but made up some hooey about her commitment to her friends and such. In a one page coda, Brother Tabo pointed out to his companion lion Zaki that “She is learning.” Zaki agreed, briefly shedding its disguise to reveal the West African spider god Anansi, who is supposedly responsible for Vixen and Animal Man’s powers.

“Return of the Lion Finale: Idols” was by G. Willow Wilson and Cafu with colors by Santiago Arcas. Somehow, sorry editing continued the cover declaration of this being “5 of 6,” but it was finally over. The cover by Josh Middleton was easily the weakest of the lot, amounting to a head sketch glossed over with digital effects. Caption boxes held purple prose, and threats were contained before the issue was halfway done, leading to an extended anticlimax. Creator Gerry Conway intended the Vixen to be an urban avenger with a colorful back story, so all this African adventure stuff feels wrong for the character, and a retread of old Storm solo tales. Mari’s rationale for leaving her country again was lame, and I just wish she’d come out and said she didn’t want to be stuck as the token African super-heroine. What a dull, pretentious, pointless series this turned out to be!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bizarro Comics: Aquaman in "Silence of the Fishes" (2001)

In this two page gag strip by Evan Dorkin, Brian David-Marshall and artist Bill Wray, the entire Aquaman family had been tied up by Black Manta. Mera thought the Sea King should call on the Denizens of the Deep for help, but Arthur refused, as they were not on speaking terms. Aquaman wouldn't budge on the issue, so Aqualad and Tula tried to call on their finny friends to no avail. Arguments ensued, and lets just say you don't want to jack around with Black Manta's stakes. The strip is cute, with some good digs, but it definitely falls under the "Aquaman sucks" humor heading.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

2011 The Vixen by Arie Monroe

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I apologize for phoning in another Vixen post, but I promise to cap off "Return of the Lion" next week, and I should be wrapping up a bunch of 75% completed quality posts that I haven't had a chance to do much with since January. Juggling school and four other blogs gets tricky.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

2002 Zatanna: Everyday Magic Cover Concept Rough by Brian Bolland

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Before the book had a title or an artist, Bolland was already working out the cover. I like the descriptive text:
Mistress of magic
Doyen of the dark arts
She will amaze
and confound

You can see the finished art without type here, and as published here.

Brian Bolland Roughs Day

Friday, May 13, 2011

2005 "Work It" by FallenAurora

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Mari Macabe, aka Vixen for the Vixen from JLAU. She's working teh sexiness ( you think GL's taking this one? *gigglesnorts*) in a photo shoot. Happy Birthday Vixen! and don't worry, you're not old!!! Old is when you remember what you were doing on V-J and/or V-E day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

2008 Zatanna Conventon Sketch by Ted Naifeh

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From CAF:

"I finally get to scan this image in, instead of a wonky pic with a camera on my phone. Zatanna. Ted Naifeh. DragonCon 08. True, the scan took out a bit of color (mainly the green he used as the outline), but this is my favorite in my sketchbook. She is the "Z" in my alphabet."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Vixen: Return of the Lion #4 (March, 2009)

  1. Predators
  2. Prey
  3. Sanctuary

Mari hunted a mad and/or diseased lion rampaging through the Nzembas’ village, reeking of blood. “The Totem is like a distant heartbeat; I’m channeling the power that flows through it. I hear insects moving in the dust… the velvet footfall of the lion.” Mari knew she must kill the beast, and hoped she was capable of doing so without the Tantu Totem around her neck. “I don’t think of tokens and symbols. I don’t think of Anansi… My vision goes red. I am the lion. I am the lion.”

Brother Tabo made another big speech about how strong Mari was, and how she might return to defend her nation, but if not how the people must rise up against the evil in their midst. Mari returned with the corpse of the lion, because nothing says “impressive A-List super-hero” like killing a big cat with your powers. “You were right… my powers are my own. All these years I was afraid… Afraid of what would happen if I lost control. I felt like a fake around the other Leaguers… They’re so confident because their powers are inborn. Part of them. But it was fear itself that held me back. It kept me from realizing that my powers are apart of me. The Totem doesn’t control me… I control it. From a distance, even for a little while-- if I have to.” Mari and Brother Tabo would tend to the wounded back in the village, but then Vixen would have to confront Aku Kwesi. “I just hope I can keep in the anger I feel about my mother’s death long enough to beat him. Last time, it made me irrational. It almost got me killed.”

Arsenal, Batman and Jefferson Pierce secured Superman and Black Canary within their aircraft, then defended it against armored Intergang troops. Roy Harper took out most of them out on his own with a bow and arrow without once whining about being underpowered, fake, or out of place (which used to be Roy’s side job, so suck it up, Mari.)

Mari tracked down Sia and again enlisted his aid. “So I owe you one. Now I’ll owe you two.” Sia was resistant to taking down the man who paid him, since at least Kwesi was “a Zambesi thug,” rather than another foreigner raping Africa. Mari explained that Kwesi was just “a puppet, and his strings are pulled by outsiders.” This caused Sia to relent, and take Mari to a secret lab he’d stolen the key to. Inside, Mari discovered some of Kwesi’s claws, realizing they were artificial. Kwesi used “performance-boosting equipment,” and poisons to further enhance his reputation. “Kwesi doesn’t use magic or metahuman powers—he’s faking it. It’s all a trick.” Also within were puffer fish and datura-- “zombie poison.” While working with Batman back in the day, Vixen had been quizzed on the poisons of the vodun she had known of from her time growing up in this land. “(T)hey can make a healthy man appear like one of the living dead, and be commanded like a sleepwalker.” Further, Intergang had engineered a strain that could affect even Superman. Vixen found what she believed to be an antidote, then carried Sia as she flew to where he guided her, “To rescue the rescuers.”

At the jet, the three remaining Justice Leaguers were confronted by Aku Kwesi and a woman with whom Batman had a history, Whisper A’Daire. Through lips charred, along with the whole left side of her face, whisper said, “You can call me yes ma’am” Whisper then commanded the revived but enthralled Superman and Black Canary to “kill them all.”

“Return of the Lion Part 4: Risen” was by G. Willow Wilson and Cafu with colors by Santiago Arcas. The revelations and action ramped up with this issue, so it was a nice change from the last several issues of Vixen’s pity party. Let me say that the line about how Vixen’s “powers are apart of me” was not a typo, at least on my part. Since internalizing powers has become such a cliché, I like to pretend Vixen was confirming in some Freudian fashion that she really is still dependent on the Tantu Totem. It’s kind of like how people snicker at Wonder Woman’s lasso and invisible jet, now that she can fly under her own power and is near Superman strength. Why deflect bullets with your bracelets if they can no longer penetrate your skin? Without her own distinct powers, weapons and weaknesses, isn’t Wonder Woman just Superman with boobies, or Vixen just Animal Man with a uterus?