Sunday, April 28, 2024

Batman Annual #23 & Aquaman Annual #5 (September, 1999)

Batman explained in Martian Manhunter Annual #2, "To review: Solovar, leader of Gorilla City, announces his intentions to open relations with humanity, and for Gorilla City to join the United Nations. Solovar is assassinated by a terrorist group of "human supremacists" later revealed as a front for the extremist political faction known as Simian Scartlet. Gorilla City asks the JLA to act as diplomatic intermediaries, who are ambushed and transformed into gorillas by exotic technology. The change shifts the JLA members' loyalties to Gorilla City, until [Martian Manhunter] telepathically restore their original thought patterns. Prince Regent Ulgo declares war on humanity, with the intention of transforming all humans into gorillas; subsequently, a covert gorilla agent known as Grimm forms an alliance with organized crime in Bludhaven-- for the purpose of smuggling troops and weaponry into the United States."

Batman teamed with Nightwing and Oracle to pursue the case, while other super intelligent gorillas that questioned Grimm's loyalties tailed him, and local mob boss Roland Desmond hired Lady Vic to help him pursue other intentions toward Grimm-- likely involving his massive simian heart. The matter resolved with Grimm's cargo ship sunk and ther gorilla in Blockbuster's clutches, in a story by Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan, & Mark Pennington.

Batman continued, "Meanwhile, Atlantis is attacked by the gorilla sub The Kong under Admiral Trafalgo-- in an attempt to steal a mystic crystal called The Eye of Poseidon to power their morphic resonance array." The Martian Manhunter had determined this through a mental scan, and sent "Aqua-Ape" to rout the gorilla forces. Several of the Sea-Monkey King's confidants, like Tempest and Vulko, where transformed into gorillas loyal to Trafalgo, forcing The Prime Ape of the Seven Seas into combat. Unaffected heroines Mera and Dolphin helped steer Tempest and occasionally Aquaman back toward the side of humanity. Eventually, Aquaman overloaded the Eye of Poseidon, not only restoring the Atlanteans' humanity, but even causing members of the ape forces to go human. The Kong retreated, but Aquaman pursued, in a story by John Ostrander, Mark Bright, & Dick Giordano. Batman quotes written by Len Kaminski.

JLApe: Gorilla Warfare
  • JLA Annual #3 @ The Idol-Head of Diabolu
  • Wonder Woman Annual #8 @ Diana Prince
  • Friday, April 26, 2024

    Fury of Firestorm #55-56 (January-February, 1987)

    In Legends #1, the Apokolipsian entity Brimstone first erupted, and failing to contain it, former team member Firestorm enlisted the Justice League of America for a second, equally ineffective pass. Not only was much of downtown Pittsburgh left in flames, but a presidential order next banned super-heroes. Professor Martin Stein, one-half of the Firestorm Matrix, intended to respect the law and at least temporarily dissolve his partnership with former student Ronnie Raymond. However, fascistic followers of G. Gordon Godfrey launched a book burning on the campus of Vandermeer University, and against Stein's wishes, Raymond forced him into fusing to form the Nuclear Man. Ultimately, the right wing former Teen Titan Hawk took up the cause of costumed heroism on campus, while Stein finally forced the fission of Firestorm. In fact, Stein threatened to buy a gun and kill Raymond if he ever did that again, and in discussing the matter with his stepmother, Felicity Smoak equated Ronnie's act to "rape." During another escalation of violence, Ronnie visited his former teacher, who admitted to contemplating suicide with his new pistol, but eventually agreed to reform Firestorm on a case-by-case basis.

    Sunday, May 14, 2023

    Justice League of America #38 (December, 2009)

    As of this writing, the comic book with the most Vixen appearances is the 2006 volume of Justice League of America launched by Brad Meltzer and Ed Benes. After a lengthy tease, the intended final line-up included "Red Arrow" Roy Harper, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Black Canary, Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders,) Red Tornado, Black Lightning, Geo-Force, Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman, and The Lady Fox. Dwayne McDuffie took over writing duties after the first year, and DC immediately started limiting access to the marque characters. African-American representation was upped by swapping in John Stewart and the Jason Rusch Firestorm, and the run ended with a team-up involving the Milestone characters. Vixen had been one of the central characters for three years, and her visibility had never been higher to that point. Then the writer of the much-maligned Justice League: Cry for Justice took over the title.

    Echoing Aquaman's attendance complaints that lead to the reconfiguration dubbed "Justice League Detroit" in fan circles, Vixen calls a meeting at the old Secret Sanctuary, and only Plastic Man, Dr. Light, and Red Tornado showed up. After Arsenal was "disarmed" and Vixen had her leg broken in Cry for Justice, there was a real question of whether this Justice League was still solvent. Also recalling the Detroit years, Despero showed up to put this incarnation to this test. "Nice. I get to play with the JLA of today in this place of better days. Irony. It's one flavor of Earth I do enjoy the taste!" The lightly redesigned Kalanorian, whose fin now ran down his back, had stopped having fun with another errant Detroit alum, Gypsy.

    Revenge? You flatter yourself. I've traded blows with J'Onn J'Onzz and Sodam Yat. I've battled champions. YOU'RE NOTHING!" Despero sometimes literally tears through the team, but is saved herself, at least briefly, by a revived Gypsy's chameleon powers. Then Zatanna shows up, fashionably late, but very welcome. Through means unknown, Despero vanished, and Zee explained that this pity party was ill-timed. At the Hall of Justice, the dead had risen from the grave and begun to kill and turn others into their army of darkness. With a spell, the haggard, hobbled lot were whisked away, where long thought resolved threats await... By James Robinson, Mark Bagley, and Rob Hunter.

    Monday, August 23, 2021

    2021 “Justice League Extreme #1” Aquaman & Batman fanfic commission art by Brad Green

    Sometime around or between the replacements of Superman and Batman, I did my own takes on new costumes for the iconic heroes. I still like mine better than what DC went with, probably because I borrowed heavily from the Dave Cockrum aesthetic, and he's one of the all-time great designers. In truth though, I think DC intentionally chose less appealing looks, with the full intention of hoping readers would prefer the return of the classics. I felt this was especially true for the Azrael-Batman hybrid, or "AzBats" as he was mockingly dubbed by the fan community of the time. While I thought he was okay from the waist down, the rest is a travesty built only for foil stamped gimmick covers. Brad Green was doing the Lord's work in rendering this overwrought abomination, but based on this being a Batman, another artist would have likely made him more prominent. Either a man after my own heart or simply bearing the common sense to downplay this beast, I'm grateful Green consigned all those scallops and points to the off-sides.

    Aquaman is another one whose incarnation I debated on. The Sea King wasn't so much replaced as transformed in the '90s, so plugging in Tempest or some such wouldn't have been an accurate reflection of the era. I also considered "Artie Joe," the so-called "Sword of Atlantis," but he wasn't extreme enough and arrived well into the 21st century. For the longest time, I assumed that I'd just deploy Commander Murk, another of Geoff Johns' meta characters, who was bestowed many of the PAD-period Aquaman's affectations. Still, he was New 52, unknown to any but the most devoted Aquaman fans, and didn't particularly resemble anything seen sculpted into a Total Justice action figure. For years, I'd held on to a potential story element dating back to "Time & Tide," where an Eskimo demoness who hated Aquaman would drive one of his successors so mad, they would literally eat their own hand (like piranhas had done to Arthur Curry in the '90s.) His half-Eskimo son Koryak would have been more logical in that role than Artie Joe. Since there was no 52 or Sword in my fake continuity, Koryak need not have been killed off by the Spectre, and Artie Joe wouldn't even exist. Now that Aquman is best known to general audiences as Jason Momoa, and is back sporting a beard, it was weirdly appropriate to have the overtly non-white Koryak, clean shaven, with the defining hook-hand & gray armor of the "Golden Mullet" years. Brad Green does an excellent job of reflecting Koryak's heritage and simmering bearing in my single favorite figure of the piece.

    “Justice League Extreme #1” by Brad Green

    Sunday, September 6, 2020

    Sunday, September 2, 2018

    DC Comics 1993 Editorial Presentation: Justice League International

    Hey look at that super-team with Elongated Man on it! Why, there's Green Lantern Hal Jordan and the Wally West Flash and Power Girl and... Metamorpho and... that Asian lady who was a heroic Dr. Light before DC decided it didn't have enough sodomy in its comics and... really? Tasmanian Devil? At least it's not... oh. Crimson Fox is here. She was on that TV show about the insurance agency that didn't even finish its first season. Sigh. Look, I already featured Gypsy & Martian Manhunter on my main blog, plus I linked out to pieces featuring Aquaman and Batman, so this one just kind of helps me complete the set, y'know? It's a little seen promo piece by... hmm... people? Credits were hard to come by. Sorry.

    DC Comics 1993 Editorial Presentation

    Monday, July 2, 2018

    2017 Elongated Man Jam Sketch Detail by Isaiah Broussard

    Transyltown artist Isaiah Broussard has done a bunch of smaller pieces for me at local Houston shows, mostly contributing to my many (often still unfinished) jams. I think only one of them have made it onto the web so far. A casualty of my shift from blogging to podcasting, I'm afraid. Thankfully, I got something for a more substantial project from him that should be online within the next year, and I'm going to try to get that older stuff up, too.

    Anyway, last year I was at Heroes Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina for a meeting of fans & hosts associated with The Fire and Water Network, and was surprised to find Broussard there. Since we were both representing The H abroad and I had a smidge of room left on one of the only jams he hadn't already contributed to, I asked him to finish off the super-friends of Martian Manhunter with Ralph Dibney (a Detroit/JLI era teammate!)

    Isaiah Broussard

    Wednesday, September 20, 2017

    2010 Despero versus the Justice League Personal Sketch Card by Don Hillsman II

    Click To Enlarge

    Don Hillsman paints an as of yet undocumented battle involving Gypsy, Metamorpho, Captain Atom and Martian Manhunter against JLI-period Despero. As I understand it, these were commissioned specifically as the type of sketch cards popular as chase items in overpriced card sets these days.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2016

    The DC Bloodlines Podcast: The Vixen is a Lady Fox

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

    Finally, the DC Bloodlines Podcast reveals its greater scope than just one 1993 event, but rather a mandate to cover the under-served DCU by looking at the earliest published (and especially the unpublished) comics of what was intended to be the first super-heroine series for a character of African decent, Mari McCabe: The Vixen! We start with the aborted 1978 first issue created by Gerry Conway & Bob Oksner from the second Xeroxed collection of "Cancelled Comic Cavalcade" and the rejected early '80s "The Power Squad" proposal before her accessible comics debut in 1981's Action Comics #521 and her second team-up with Superman in 1984's DC Comics Presents #68, plus supplemental material from Back Issue Magazine #40!

    This episode's non-paying advertisers:
    Spill Some Blood!!!* *across social media only.

    Thursday, September 29, 2016

    2015 Gypsy Amazing Houston Comic Con Jam Sketch Detail by Brent Peeples

    Despite being fond of J'Onn J'Onzz's surrogate daughter of the 1990s, I've only gotten one other commission of Cindy Reynolds since I've started collecting original art, and needed to remedy that. Not having entirely learned my lesson from the still incomplete jams of 2014, I started a new one with Gypsy in 2015 intended to spotlight the Martian Manhunter's closer but perhaps lesser known friends and teammates for his 60th birthday. Thankfully, the scale was kept fairly consistent and the quality of the artists was above average, but Brent Peeples did such attractive work on Gypsy that he was a tough act to follow. He had done a good job on Commander Blanx a few years earlier, but I was very impressed with how sharply rendered our chameleonic sneak thief was done in so few lines, and especially enjoyed the tight feathering/crosshatching on her tummy. A little well placed detail goes a long way, but he didn't skimp where it counted, like in the squiggles of her skirt/bandana or the shimmer of her leather jacket (made with liquid eraser!) The monochromatic red of the lips was the cherry on top, and I wish it had remained the sole color on the piece to really catch the eye, but I failed to communicate that to follow-up artists. Gypsy's still one of the largest and most appealing figures though, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of Peeples' work in the upcoming Gold Key Alliance tpb I've pre-ordered...

    Brent Peeples

    Friday, September 16, 2016

    2016 Steel (Hank Heywood III) Amazing Houston Comic Con Jam Sketch Detail by Allen Adams III

    Allen, former military man, dedicated Steelers fan, and prolific artist, has created a pantheon of characters and stories, such as 'season of Storms, and Alpha American. With a 'see everything, know nothing attitude and music as a muse, he cannot help but to give his artistic side the lead in his life. Allen is presently working on the art for Midnight Storm, collaborating on Gods of Thunder with Damon Jackson and the art of Fusion starting with issue #3.
    Allen Adams III

    Friday, September 9, 2016

    2015 The Vixen Amazing Houston Comic Con Jam Sketch Detail by Brad Garneau

    Ive been drawing pretty much most of my waking moments since as early as I can remember.

    I began doing independent comic work around the Michigan area where I grew up. Then moved into the educational software industry which led me to the video games industry for the better part of the last 2 decades, where Ive most recently been working on games like the Incredible Hulk and most recently and The Hobbit game.
    I first encountered Brad Garneau when I was researching artists announced as attending the con, and specifically kept a lookout for him. I saw his work on Comic Art Fans, and was very impressed by both his tasty four color influences (definitely Angel Medina, probably Darick Robertson, maybe a bit of Tom Raney and Dale Keown?) as well as those outside our niche industry. Anyway, I couldn't find him for most of the weekend, but there was this one dude doing elaborate framed paintings that I was checking out, and saw a book of his line art off to the side... Damn it! I'd been passing the guy up the whole time because you don't normally see that crossover between mediums! In a bit of a rush, Garneau knocked out this sweet Halle Berry/mid-aughts model Mari McCabe, my favorite overall look for the character to date. I was very happy with Garneau's work, so I promptly forgot his name and sat on this piece for a year or so. Luckily, he turned up at Compicpalooza this year, so I could snap a cell phone pic of his signage (he'd run out of business cards) and get an even slicker full commission...

    Brad Garneau

    Thursday, September 1, 2016

    2015 Vibe Amazing Houston Comic Con Jam Sketch Detail by Brian Salinas

    This piece has a complicated history. I'd originally approached Brian Salinas about drawing a picture of Superman holding a big circle that would have eventually contained the number "60" in the style of the classic DC bullet used from 1976-2005, also known as my entire childhood and primary years loving the company. This was in reference to Martian Manhunter's 60th birthday in 2015, and while I'd been playing with the idea for a while, I finally committed to it at this show when I found a low grade copy of Amazing World of Superman dirt cheap at the con. Salinas took the reference home and played with some sketches, but ultimately felt like he lacked the space and the tools to do the job right. I can't recall if I'd given him a blank 11"x17" or if a jam had already been taking form (likely the latter,) but I deferred to his judgment and thanked him for his professionalism. We still wanted to work together, so I planned to include him in the jam piece further down the line. The project snowballed until roughly an hour before the end of the convention weekend, when I wanted him to include Vibe. Paco Ramone had served on the Detroit era Justice League, but I preferred the more contemporary New 52 version of Cisco Ramone, star of his own short-lived comic and featured player on The Flash TV show. Salinas made the last contribution to the jam to date (I'm still thinking of adding a character or two, but space is limited) and the only one done in color, plus he gave me a sketchbook besides!

    Brian Salinas