Thursday, December 24, 2009

Justice League Animated Style Pérez Zatanna Custom Figure

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Bring on the hip boots and bug tiara, as George Pérez's early '80s costume design gets the three dimensional treatment on Victor Kraven's custom Zatanna 2 page!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Justice League Animated Style Steel Custom Figure

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I really liked Victor Kraven's custom Commander Steel, but I think maybe he should have swapped base figures between Hanks Sr. and Jr. HHIII never looked so thuggish as the Indestructible Man of WWII, so he seems a bit off here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Justice League Animated Style Vixen Custom Figure

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There's an actual Vixen figure in the Justice League Unlimited line, which is better than can be said for Victor Kraven's custom Commander Steel, but the artist and I both dig his work here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Justice League Animated Style Commander Steel Custom Figure

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I've been neglectful of this blog in general, and Steel specifically, so I'll try to ramp up the coverage this holiday season. Here's Victor Kraven's custom Commander Steel page, where he discusses his base and motivations for the toy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

2004 Art Adams Justice League Art


I've searched the internet for a simple checklist of 2007 Upper Deck VS System playing cards to find out exactly where this art was printed, and I've plumb given up. As its owner noted, three years after its conception, "This magnificent illustration was actually reduced to a barely 2x2 inch image!" So screw it, we're going to just relish the magnificence of Zatanna (in top hat & tails,) Superman, Martian Manhunter, and Wonder Woman by the modern master himself!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Detail: Justice League of America #239 (June, 1985)

After the Detroit-era Justice League rescued Superman, Wonder Woman and the Flash (Barry Allen) from the U.S.S.R., the representatives of two JLofA incarnations had a pow-wow at the Bunker. Aquaman was forced by Superman to justify his disbanding the original Justice League of America.

...You weren't here. Neither was Green Lantern. During the Earth-Mars War, the League fought at half strength... and it was only through the aid of J'Onn J'Onzz that the Martian attack was eventually turned back...

There was a time when the League stood as a symbol... 'the World's Greatest Heroes,' the press called us, gathered to stand in common cause against injustice. Do you remember how it was back then? The seven of us... the original League...

We faced each threat as a team, together, and the League was our highest priority. In those early days, none of us missed a crisis. We depended on each other, and we were always there.

As time passed, the League grew... adding more and more members to our roll call-- and yes, losing members as well. J'Onn J'Onzz was the first to resign; the Batman, the last. And somewhere along the way, that original sense of purpose and commitment was lost as well. For some of us, the League was no longer our first priority... sometimes, not even our second.

What happened during the Earth-Mars War was only the most recent, most obvious example of a continuing trend. Isn't it obvious? The League was already dead, at least in the original sense. I simply signed the death certificate.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Zatanna Gallery by Danielle Corsetto

I stumbled upon these pieces by Danielle Corsetto of girls with slingshots webcomic fame last night. It seems like Zee is one of her favorite characters, seeing as the artist drew her about as much as any character she herself doesn't own, judging from her online gallery here. Maybe Wonder Woman provided competition, but that's pretty darned good company to keep.

2006 Zatanna Smug Pittsburgh Comicon Sketch
2006 Zatanna Sitting On Stage Toronto Comicon Sketch
2006 Zatanna Sitting On Trunk Sketch
2007 Zatanna "'?CIGAM' TAHW ? CIGAM" Sketch
2007 Zatanna "!SPOOHW GNORW .LLEPS" Sketch

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2007 Zatanna Piece by Leno Carvalho

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Leno Carvalho has been working here and there in comics for a few years now, most notably on the BOOM! Studios mini-series Station. From what I can tell on his personal blog, his specialty is teh hotties. Blessedly, he's retrained in his handling of everyone's favorite girl next door stage mage at work. It's a lovely piece, and it's thanks to the Martian Manhunter Fotolog it was brought to my attention.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

JLA/JSA Secret Files & Origins #1 (Lead Story, January, 2003)

Fawcett City: The Wizard Shazam called young Billy Batson to his abode to discuss something sinister afoot with his champion, Captain Marvel. Shazam reminisced about his having captured the The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man with the aid of the gods.

The Batcave: The Batman and
Mr. Terrific (Michael Holt) had a cape-to-cape talk, mostly about their awe before one another's team. Terrific admired a photograph from an early JLA/JSA gathering (Aquaman and Martian Manhunter standing together on one side, though J'Onn was nearer to Dr. Fate.)

Keystone City, Kansas: Plastic Man, Hourman (Rick Tyler) and the local Flash (Wally West) attended a hockey game.

JSA Headquarters, New York City: The Atom (Ray Palmer), Doctor Mid-Nite (Pieter Cross) and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner gave Sentinel a meta-check-up.

Metropolis: The Star-Spangled Kid, Power Girl and Wonder Woman discussed Superman's sex appeal.

Doctor Fate's Tower in Salem, Massachusetts: Hector Hall lent Zatanna a copy of her father Zatara's biography. "One of the only copies in existence. Thanks for letting me 'check it out.' Koob Pmuj Ni Tah!" The pair discussed Zatara and a chill they both suddenly felt.

Captain Marvel left the wizard Shazam's company. The stone statues of Seven Deadly Enemies of Man in his abode turned toward Shazam. "It's too late, wizard. Your champion will be ours. As will the world."

"The Day Before" was by David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns, Stephen Sadowski, and Andrew Pepoy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

1984 The Martian Manhunter Postcard by George Pérez

Brought to earth by the ill-fated Professor Erdel and unable to return to Mars, J'onn J'onzz adopted human form. His powers include telepathy, super-strength, flight, and invisibility. His only weakness: vulnerability to fire.

I'm not 100% sure how I was introduced to J'Onn J'Onzz. I suspect it was either DC Comics house ads circa 1984, or my having bought a heavily discounted Super Powers Collection action figure. I loved that toy, and was given a more thorough feel for the character through his appearance in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. A saleswoman at Waldenbooks thought I was just too cute in my raggedy Houston Oilers jacket, and gave me the comic for free just before I went on a trip to Colorado Springs. Not only did the Martian Manhunter come off well in the double-sized issue, but in my mind he would always be at his coolest when drawn by the master himself, George Pérez. Also, Supergirl died, but that stuff never takes.

There must be something about the nomadic Martian, because a dinged copy of
Justice League International #8 was one of the last comics I read in Texas, and a guest appearance in Action Comics #595 was among the first comics I bought when I arrived in Nevada. I'd tried Martian Manhunter#1 in 1988, and was not amused, so I tended to discount any further J'Onn J'Onzz solo reading. I followed the Martian Manhunter's appearance irregularly for years after that, mostly as a result of being a Justice League fan. Alternately, I started buying Justice League Task Force for its Nightwing appearances, and the post-Zero Hour J.L.A. for Wonder Woman and Hawkman. Despite lots of good stories and nostalgia for my action figure, I didn't truly become a diehard fan until 1996, through Mark Waid, Fabian Nicieza, Darick Robertson & Jeff Johnson's Justice League: A Midsummer's Nightmare mini-series. It was like a therapy session had unearth repressed memories. Something about the moment where J'Onzz's family is taken from him again hit me with a tidal wave of emotions related to years of accumulated stories. I was an old lady sitting on the bus sucking humbugs, finally realizing I was a Rider on the Storm. I was a J'Onzz Fan, man!

JLA and my introduction to the information superhighway soon followed, and upon learning there were no Martian Manhunter fan sites on the internet, I resolved to one day build the first. It took me a couple of years to get started, by which time a few sites had emerged, but they're long gone now. My Martian Manhunter: The Rock of the JLA lasted a couple or three years, and was a major learning experience. A little over two years ago, inspired by Rob Kelly's The Aquaman Shrine, I decided I would reconstitute my old site material into a daily blog. The Idol-Head of Diabolu has, to this day, barely touched any of the old material. This is one part because I'm a dimwit masochist, another part due to my becoming a better writer, and yet another part due to the format freeing me to both deeper and broader exploration of the character than I would have otherwise considered.

Above is one of my favorite images of the Manhunter from Mars, a lovely postcard I picked up on eBay about a decade ago. I used to feature it prominently on my old site, along with the two articles Who is the Martian Manhunter? and J'Onn & Me, neither of which have been restored to the net.

George Pérez produced 16 postcards for the unnumbered JLA set. Also featured were the Sword of the Atom (Ray Palmer,) Aquaman, Batman, Black Canary, Elongated Man (& Sue Dibny,) the Flash (Barry Allen,) Firestorm (Ronnie Raymond,) Green Arrow, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan,) Hawkman (and Hawkgirl, of Thanagar,) the new Justice League of America (Detroit Era members Steel II, Gypsy, Vibe and Vixen,) Red Tornado, Superman, Wonder Woman and Zatanna. You can view signed versions of all the cards here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

1984 Zatanna Postcard by George Pérez

I probably saw Zatanna for the first time just like this, drawn by George Pérez in the costume he designed for a Justice League of America cover or somesuch. I didn't know then how hard DC was trying to turn her into their own Scarlet Witch at the time, but I do know it never took. I bought her two part guest appearance in early issues of Blue Devil, and like most readers before and since, was more impressed by her girl-next-door approachable quality than the Marvel character's traumatized drama queen style. Unfortunately, DC's never stopped trying to saddle poor Zee with neurosis. They killed off her father before her eyes, subjected her to a magical quasi-rape, sent her off for a time with her assailant, massively reduced her powers, dumped her at Vertigo... it just never stops. As a result, I try to follow Zee's appearances, but not compulsively, attempting to pick the gems from the junk. I don't care near as much about what she can do as how she handles what comes, but it would be nice if someone could figure out the right balance for once.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

1984 The Elongated Man Postcard by George Pérez

Deriving his powers from the elixir of Gingold, he's the Stretchable Sleuth. When there's a mystery afoot, Ralph Didney, with his famous twitching nose, and his socialite wife, Sue, make an unbeatable team.

I don't actually own this postcard, nor the DC Comics Classic Library: Justice League of America by George Perez, a recent hardcover that reprints the art from this postcard set. However, I found a pair of pictures on eBay, and doctored them up to preserve here. I understand it's numbered P6197, and was part of a 14 card set, plus a promotional Batman piece.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Batman and the Outsiders #1-5 (December 2007-May 2008)

In Central City, Catwoman, Katana, Metamorpho, Grace and the Martian Manhunter broke into Jardine Tower to capture a modified OMAC. The Batman observed and directed his temporary strike force of outsiders while Thunder, benched by the Dark Knight, looked on and groused. The OMAC was soon spirited to a lab run by Dr. Francine Langstrom (the wife of Man-Bat,) while Martian Manhunter left Batman's operation to inform the Justice League of America of its actions. After a brief confrontation between the two groups, Geo-Force learned he was being transferred to the Outsiders.

Meanwhile, at stately Wayne Manor, a foreign couple were met by Alfred the butler at its threshold.
"We're looking for Bruce."
"Bruce Wayne. This is his house, isn't it?"
"It is the home of Mister Wayne. And you know him how...?"
"Well, mostly from fighting crime."
"Smooth move, brainiac."
"What? Like he doesn't know... his boss is Batman?"

Later, in Gotham, Batman asked Langstrom "And these are the files J'Onn scanned from Jardine's data reserves?" They were, and included 3-D models of new lifeforms that could not exist nor survive on planet Earth. This led to an investigation of Jardine's connection to the European Space Agency.

In French Guiana, members of the Outsiders trained with their latest addition,
Green Arrow. This led to a brawl between Ollie and Batgirl, whom the Emerald Archer damned as a murderous member of the League of Assassins. Meanwhile, Batman was caught alone in the jungle by a young black couple.
"You're not an easy guy to track down."
"We stopped by the house. Thought Alfred was going to have a stroke."
"Look, this is weird. But we're in a position to help."
"Silly, he doesn't recognize us."
"No. I'd know you anywhere."

Waiting at the ESU launch site were Mr. Jardine and his team of mercenaries, including Gunhawk, Bunny, Camarouge and Militia.

As the Dark Knight made his way through the ESU base, he was targeted by Gunhawk and Bunny. However, Bunny then turned her gun on Hawk.
"Darling, I thought you'd never get here."
"We can't all be quick studies like you, my dear. We have some time to kill."
"You are so naughty."
"Isn't that why you married me?"
"Till death do us part."
"And look how that turned out."
Clearly not who they appeared to be, "Gunhawk" and "Bunny" kissed passionately.

The Outsiders raided the base, only to be temporarily cowed by Militia's superior firepower. Geo-Force proved the villain's undoing, while the possessed Gunhawk and Bunny pinned down other security forces for a time. "Gunhawk" sensed the couple was needed elsewhere, so the spirits departed the mercenaries' bodies, leaving them to dodge fire from the emboldened security unit.

Metamorpho was placed in harm's way by the launch of three rockets, leaving Green Arrow lusting for Mr. Jardine's blood. A couple of scientists seized the tycoon while Katana held Queen back.
"Don't worry, Ollie."
"He'll pay for what he's done."
"Uh... do I know you two?"
"Only for years."
"Remember all the passes you made at me-- a married woman? Probably not, right?"
"Ralph? Sue?"
"The Dibnys."
"Guilty as charged."
"But I thought you both--"
"Died? Yep. Dead as dead can be."
"But that doesn't stop my hubby from pursuing his favorite pastime."
"--As ghosts?"
"We prefer 'spirits'."

Metamorpho turned up alive and well aboard a spacecraft...

Batman and the Outsiders: The Chrysalis, collecting the first five issues of the 2007-2008 series, was by Chuck Dixon, Julian Lopez, Carlos Rodriguez and Bit.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Blackest Night #3 (November, 2009)

New York City: Jason Rusch and Gehenna argued about the prospect of marriage.

Gotham City: The Black Lantern Justice League engaged the Flash and Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Black Lantern Ronnie Raymond had called dibs on Flash, but Black Lantern Ralph Dibny said "The Scarlet Speedster and the Stretchable Sleuth have been pals since the world-famous Elongated Man cracked his first case, Matchstick! If anyone's tugging on Barry's heartstrings it's gonna be me." Dibny's fingers became blades, but neither his nor Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz's stretching arms could catch the Flash. Allen even had time to experiment, learning roots held the Black Lantern power rings on its corpsman's fingers. A battered Atom emerged from hiding to join the fight against the BL Hawks.

Washington D.C.: Firestorm answered a call from Justice League of America headquarters. There he learned the arrival of the Black Lantern Corps was a global concern. The Nuclear Man was attacked by Mera, until she realized he wasn't one of the undead.

Gotham City: Black Lantern Ralph Dibny ensnared Green Lantern in his trunk. "We were never really tight, were we, Hal? Don't think I didn't catch you scoping out Sue when she was wearing a skirt." Ralph also caught the Atom, and nearly ripped out his heart, before both were saved by Indigo-1 of the Indigo Tribe, a lantern corps who wield the light power of compassion. Through their energy the two Indigo Tribe members on scene dispatched Black Lanterns Ralph and Sue Dibny. The Indigo Tribe duo then teleported the present heroes to JLofA headquarters.

Washington, D.C.: Indigo-1 explained to the collected heroes about the eight known corps wielding different emotionally-attuned colors in the spectrum of power, and the wars they were waging with one another. In the distance were memorial statues for Aquaman, Steel II, and Vibe. The group determined that these were not truly their fallen friends, and that their controller sought to illicit strong emotional responses in victims before devouring them. Flash and Green Lantern found time for a heart-to-heart, before the Black Lantern Justice League crashed the scene with an appetite for both. Black Lantern Ronnie Raymond forced the Firestorm matrix to split, then absorbed Jason Rusch into himself while he murdered Gehenna. Black Lantern power rings sought out more flesh, and found it in a morgue safeguarding the remains of deceased super-villains within League HQ (including Dr. Light, Maxwell Lord, and more.)

"Blackest Night" was by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert with Joe Prado.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blackest Night #2 (October, 2009)

Ivy Town: Ray "The Atom" Palmer tried to call Hawkman back about going with him to visit his deceased ex-wife Jean Loring's grave. The now undead Winged Wonder invited him over.

Gotham City: Commissioner Gordon and his daughter
Barbara were surprised by Green Lantern Hal Jordan being thrown into the Bat-Signal.

Amnesty Bay: Mera decided that if it was for the best, Tempest could exhume Aquaman's body and entomb it under the sea. A group of Atlanteans were along for the task, but the grave was already dug out.

Black Lantern Arthur Curry: "Yes. Your king. Your king who would rather be buried in the mud next to his human father than his own people. Your king, who was hunted as a child because of his ties to the surface world. Your king, who returned when you begged him to rebuild Atlantis. And who, after giving his blood to do it-- was hunted again. Now it's your king's turn to hunt."

Gotham City: Deadman's spirit was disturbed by the Black Lantern Corps, as his body joined it.

Washington, D.C.: Hank and Don Hall called by the Black Lantern power rings, but Dove remained at peace, so only Hawk answered.

Amnesty Bay: The undead Aquaman tormented Mera with the memory of their deceased son, and couldn't be killed by a trident through his chest. Tempest was attacked by Black Lantern Tula and Black Lantern Dolphin. The Atlanteans were eaten by sharks at Aquaman's command.

Gotham City: Zatanna, Blue Devil, Phantom Stranger and the Spectre investigated Boston "Deadman" Brand's open grave. They were met by the former Pariah turned Black Lantern Kell Mossa. "Worlds have died. Worlds will rise." Black Hand saw to turning the Spectre's living dead human host into Black Lantern Crispus Allen.

Gotham City: Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz pursued the Flash, Laser Vision ablaze.

Amnesty Bay: Black Lantern Tula regenerated her head after a less-than-devastating attack, then took Tempest's heart for good.

Garth of Earth. Rise

Mera fled.

Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz: "Your thoughts are moving faster, Barry. You're trying to prevent me from manipulating them again... You can't run from me." The Flash had been mixing flammable chemicals for Green Lantern to ignite. Barry contained the inferno. "Sorry, J'Onn." Hal observed, "Fire. It was J'Onn's kryptonite."

Was being the operative word.

"When the fire dies down, I want to recover J'Onn's remains and take them back to Mars. He deserves better than being desecrated like this. The Martian Manhunter was the heart of the League."

"Heart, Barry? I have no heart.I gave my heart to the League."

Black Lantern J'Onn J'Onzz emerged from the smoke unscathed, and no longer alone.

Black Lantern Ralph Dibny: "We all did, J'Onn. And I'd say it's your turn to return the favor, fellas."

Black Lantern Sue Dibny: We'll help them, won't we, Ralph?"

Black Lantern Ronnie Raymond: "Radical! I call dibs on the Flash!"

Black Lanterns Carter Hall and Kendra Saunders brought up the rear...

"Blackest Night" was by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis with Oclair Albert & Julio Ferreira.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Blackest Night #1 (September, 2009)

Batman: Skull unearthed from the grave by Black Hand. "--No one escapes death. That includes you. The dead will rise. And you are connected to them all."

Coast City: Green Lanterns Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, and Guy Gardner performed for the crowds at a heretofore unmentioned memorial holiday for deceased super-heroes.

Smallville: Clark Kent, his Ma, and Connor Kent mourned Pa.

Pittsburgh: Professor Martin Stein, Jason Rusch and Gehenna visited the grave of Ronnie Raymond.

San Francisco: The Teen Titans mourned their dead.

Central City: The secret graveyard of super-villains was seen to by the Rogues.

Chicago: Ted Kord was missed.

Metropolis: More of the same with the JSA.

Amnesty Bay: Two men named Arthur Curry once lived and died here. Mera and Tempest remembered them. Garth argued that Aquaman should have been buried in an Atlantean tomb, but the hero's mercurial widow disagreed.

Aquaman: Origin once more altered in an attempt to consolidate the Silver Age and Post-Crisis versions. Now Arthur only threatened to be left to die on Mercy Reef by superstitious Atlanteans. Instead his mother returned him to his father's island lighthouse. Also, Atlanteans only wanted to cut out Garth's purple eyes, not kill him, so that his origin wasn't as obviously stolen by his mentor.

Gotham City: Alfred discovered that Bruce Wayne's grave had been desecrated.

Washington D.C.: Green Lantern Hal Jordan and the Flash (Barry Allen) were at a morgue within Justice League of America headquarters designed to secure the remains of super-villains from tampering. Barry noted that in his lengthy absence, "The guilty have gotten guiltier? And Batman, Aquaman, and the Martian Manhunter are dead because of it? So who else? Who else died while I was gone? I need to know, Hal." A power ring construct revealed a sea of heroes gone to the great beyond, among them Elongated Man, Sue Dibny, Vibe, Steel II, others previously mentioned, and more besides. "Ronnie? Oh, no. God, please, no... not them. Not Ralph and Sue too. How, Hal? Why?"

Alfred Pennyworth alerted the pair via hologram about Batman's grave robbing.

St. Roch: Ray "The Atom" Palmer tried to talk Hawkman into going with him to visit his deceased ex-wife's grave. In light of Jean Loring having murdered Sue Dibny by reason of insanity, Hawkman pointedly refused. Hawkgirl tried to convince him otherwise.

Space Sector 0: The Guardians of the Universe recognized that the war of light had erupted, a conflict amongst several agencies which derived power from the primeval color spectrum tied to emotion. The corrupt Guardian Scar then attacked her fellows, ripping out the heart of one with her hands and teeth. Black Lantern power rings rained down on Oa, pentrating the main battery, and resurrecting the copses of the Green Lantern Corps dead.

The rings were then everywhere...

J'Onn J'Onzz of Mars... Ronnie Raymond of Earth... Arthur Curry of Earth...


Gotham City: A voice came from behind Green Lantern and the Flash at Batman's grave. "You shouldn't be back. You should both be dead."

St. Roch: Just as Hawkgirl was finally admitting she loved Hawkman, a spear tore through her breast. A mace then battered the Winged Wonder.

Black Lanterns Ralph and Sue Dibny: The abhorrent, ghoulish remains of the lovers had been resurrected to kill the Hawks. Sue had stabbed Kendra, while the former Elongated Man worked Katar over, physically and emotionally. "They were never as close as us. Were they, bun?" The Hawks hearts were ripped from their chests. Black Hand was also present. "You won't escape death this time.

Carter Hall of Earth. Kendra Saunders of Earth. Rise.

"Blackest Night" was by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blackest Night #0 (June, 2009)

There was darkness. Then there was light. And the war between them began.

Green Lantern Hal Jordan visited the unmarked grave of Bruce Wayne. He recalled an early day from his years in the Justice League of America, when Martian Manhunter and the rest played peacemaker between Batman and himself. Aquaman just observed, "Another reason I prefer being underwater. Less shouting."

The Batman was now dead, but Barry Allen, the Flash Jordan knew best, had recently returned from beyond the veil. Joining Green Lantern in a Gotham City graveyard, Flash spoke of the breakdown in a city without its Dark Knight, and was again confronted by changes that occurred during his lengthy absence. Jordan reflected on his own demise, while under the control of the evil Parallax entity. "I died a sinner. You died a saint. Everything changed when you disappeared, Barry. The world got more dangerous. Our jobs more deadly. The Justice League wasn't untouchable anymore."

Aquaman: killed after months in a mutated state toward the end of Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis.

Jordan flashed back to simpler days, when he was much more cocky and optimistic, fighting Amazo alongside J'Onn J'Onzz, Aquaman, Batman, Green Arrow, Flash, the Atom, Wonder Woman, and Superman.

Batman: reduced to a skeleton by Darkseid's Omega Beams during Final Night.

"J'Onn J'Onzz... Martian Manhunter... he was murdered by Darkseid's followers. He's buried on Mars-- the heart and soul of the Justice League is gone."

Despite their differences, Green Lantern saw Batman as a friend. Flash hoped all their old buddies would return from the grave, just as Jordan and himself had done. The pair departed.

The villainous Black Hand exhumed the remains of Bruce Wayne, and took the Dark Knights skull in hand. The corrupt Guardian of the Universe Scar was pleased...


The mysterious Black Lantern rose around the corpse of the Anti-Monitor on the planet Ryvt, a world once decimated by the Guardian's Manhunters. It's ultimate purpose and its creator are unknown.

"Death Becomes Us" was by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis with Oclair Albert & Rob Hunter.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Justice League Detroit in upcoming “Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths” DVD

No, Paco isn't a member of Gorillaz, he's just from Earth-2

The Irredeemable Shag of Once Upon A Geek wrote me a week or so ago about a sneak preview trailer on the recent Superman/Batman: Pubic Enemies original animated direct-to-DVD movie. Seeing as I hated the comics that flick was based on, I'd have never caught the feature on my own. Anyway, Spring 2010 will bring Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths. Not only will it offer the usual League greats, including Detroit members Batman and Martian Manhunter, but evil Earth-2 versions of Vixen, Vibe, Gypsy, Elongated Man, and hopefully more*! Gina Torres, who voiced Mari on Justice League Unlimited, has been recast as Superwoman. Aside from William Baldwin as Batman, no other Detroit casting news is available. However, Andrea Romano has once again offered some wonderfully inspired voice casting, including James Woods as Owlman and Mark Harmon as Superman, so I'm keeping my hopes up. You can see screen shots of individual Detroit favorites courtesy of Shag, expecting that at least the ten of us following this blog care. Thanks again to Shag for the heads-up, and a pitiful nod for my late posting of the news...

*Poor Steel, but I'd really like me some evil Earth-2 Dale Gunn, with a full head of hair and a pariah to the ladies.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Green Lantern #43 (Early September 2009)

In a newly created origin, it was reveled that William Hand grew up in a mortuary, and from his earliest days was obsessed with death. Among his earliest hobbies was taxidermy, and he didn't let a fact like the family dog still (temporarily) being alive sway him from its aggressive pursuit. Coming into possession of an alien weapon, the necro-fanatic assumed the costumed identity the "Black Hand." After years descending from prominent Green Lantern foe to wretched joke of the super-villain community, the Black Hand returned home to murder his family. Black Hand had been "hearing" death for some time, and saw visions of the demises of many prominent DCU figures, including J'Onn J'Onzz, Aquaman, Sue Dibny, Elongated Man, Ronnie Raymond, Bruce Wayne, and many more. Villains of noted included Sue's killer Jean Loring, and the co-conspirator in Martian Manhunter's murder Dr. Light.) Hand committed suicide with his energy weapon, prompting the arrival of the corrupt Guardian of the Universe Scar. Serving at the pleasure of an unknown master, Scar vomited up a Black Lantern Power Ring.

"William Hand of Earth. Rise." Black Hand was resurrected as the initial recruit of a new corps representing death itself. "Like Ion. Like Parallax. Like the Predator. You are the embodiment of our corps. You are the black incarnate. You are our lord's herald."

"I... know what I am. I am the Black Hand. And with this power, I will finally extinguish the light."

"Blackest Night Prologue: Tale of the Black Lantern" was by Geoff Johns, Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Colección Super Amigos: Zatanna & other Liga de la Justicia de Detroit Mini-Comics

I'm afraid I lack the time and resources to track down the other Colección Super Amigos mini-comics. Regular readers will note I took a trip down to Mexico and placed this blog on extended hiatus in a valiant attempt, but all for naught. You can't even find them on any torrent sites. Here's what little I know...

  • Zatanna: The Blue Devil villain Shockwave had been hired to break into the underground Bunker that headquartered the new Justice League Detroit and steal their hi-tech Jump Jet. The only members present were Zee and visiting Latino Super Friend El Dorado. In a tweak of his usual powers, Shockwave's armored suit was immune to magic, as the enchanter's illusions and Zee's backward spells proved completely useless. El Dorado held back Shockwave with his super-strength, until the villain decided to issue forth a tremor of monumental force. A quick thinking Zatanna realized the earthquake to come was manufactured technologically, so she could cause it to reverse on its generator and effect the magic-neutralizing Shockwave armor. El Dorado teleported to safety at the last minute, and the mechanical mercenary was undone by his own shockwave, last seen being carted to jail in the very aircraft he pursued.
  • Steel: Gringo Cibernético and Vibe were visiting S.T.A.R. Labs Mexico City when it was invaded by Quadrex, a minion of Darkseid, in search of the experimental Power Amplifier Ray Projector. The ferocious foe's four-armed fighting skill proved too much for the Detroit Duo, as Vibe was laid flat out. To the rescue came famed super-luchadors El Santo and Blue Demon. The three super-muchachos soon put the pin on the alien monstrosity, leaving Vibe to complain about missing out on working with his childhood idols!
  • Elongated Man: When Brainiac's Skull Ship kidnapped new hero Silicon, Señor Alargado and El Creeper used the new Snooper Scout to track him down. Unfortunately, Brainiac had rewired Silicon to oppose the Super Powers Team, so Creeper and Elongated Man had to keep both friend and foe busy until they could use their brains to set Silicon right. Then, the three heroes turned on Brainiac, who made his escape.
  • Gypsy: Gitana, Manhunter, and Vigilante were sent to investigate a rise in chupacabra sightings before the annual Pedro Infante celebration. The heroes were attacked by el Terminator, Howitzer, and Executioner, all under the command of Sangre (a.k.a. Brother Blood.) Along with the armies of chupacabra, the Super Amigos had more than their hands full. To their aid came Mario and Fernando Almada, who helped blast a path through monsters and minions toward Brother Blood, giving Gypsy the chance to cast the illusion that Pedro Infante had returned from the grave. Only the gringos failed to respect the majesty of Infante, and were put away easily after the Mejicanos turned themselves in, sobbing with joy. A Superman Glider carted the collected bandidos to prisión.

For more great Colección Super Amigos/Super Powers Collection action, check out The Super Powers Archive.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Colección Super Amigos: Vixen

The ceremonial return of a long-missing ancient cáliz to Machu Picchu brought a variety of celebrities to the event, including supermodel Mari McCabe. Unfortunately, the Executioner burst onto the scene, attempting to steal the cáliz. The Vixen quickly appeared to snatch the cáliz from the Executioner's grasp, never making reference that the villain was in fact her evil uncle Maksai, newly empowered by Darkseid. Vixen managed to toss the cáliz away, but was caught by the Executioner. Vixen had her Tantu Totem snatched from her person, rendering her powerless.

Meanwhile, a rich father had brought along his son Ricardo on this suddenly uncomfortable trip, along with the boy's friends Carlos, Ernestillo, and Memín. The latter, a resourceful lad, raced to acquire the cáliz and hid it before the Executioner could retrieve it. However, Maksai threatened harm to Vixen, inspiring Memín Pinguín to rush the beast-man, wielding the cáliz as a club. The amused Executioner was distracted by this gesture, little realizing the agile Vixen had worked her way to the totem secured on his belt. Restored to full power, Vixen escaped and leapt to tackle Memín before he could come to harm.

On the run, Memín helped Vixen convert the cáliz into a rocket through compressed air, and the heroine beaned the Executioner with his prize. Before Vixen could press her attack, a Star Gate opened, drawing the Executioner back to Apokolips, where Kanto chastised Maksai for his failure. The Lady Fox and Memín Pinguín then returned the cáliz, to the acclaim of revelers.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Colección Super Amigos: Vibe

Más ágil que una tortuga, más fuerte que un ratón, más noble que una lechuga, su escudo es un corazón... ¡Es el Chapulín Colorado!

At the International Breakdancing Competition in Mexico City, the experimental boombox sound system failed to operate properly. A technician moaned, "Oh! ¿Y ahora quien podrá ayudarme?" From behind a speaker appeared the most famous Mexican super-hero of them all, "¡Yo el Chapulín Colorado! (I, the Red Grasshopper!)" The crowd cheered as el Chapulín Colorado began tinkering with the high tech amplifier the DJ had discovered, only to find he had inadvertently converted the boombox into a Boom Tube. A swarm of Parademons flew out of the interdimensional portal, attacking citizens and property. "Mis antenitas de vinil están detectando la presencia del enemigo." El Chapulín Colorado tried to stop them with "La Chicharra paralizadora," but his special horn only paralyzed innocent bystanders. The timid Chapulin then took "pastillas de chiquitolina" and shrank away.

"En lo que el palo va y viene," the Puerto Rican sensation Vibe was "gufiao" while spinning on a cardboard mat when the chaos was unleashed. "¿Claque? ¡Se formó un corre y corre!" Spotting the airborne minions of Darkseid, Vibe held back their onslaught with repulsive waves. An excited Chapulín hopped on Vibe's shoulder, prompting the JLD star to chastise "¡No seas insecto! ¡Te cagaste del miedo!" Chapulín replied, "Que no cunda el pánico. Todos mis movimientos están fríamente calculados." El Chapulín Colorado then directed Vibe to fire him into the air, where he landed on a Parademon, before waltzing inside its ear to hammer at its equilibrium. "¡Síganme los buenos!" However, the Parademon then spastically evaded Vibe's cover emissions and slammed hard into the hero.

El Chapulín Colorado crawled out and returned to his normal height, batting wildly at the demons with his hammer, "El Chipote Chillon." It was a vain effort, as the Parademons tightened their circles for a final deadly descent, with citizens condemning Chapulín for disabling the only actual, helpful hero on the scene. "Se aprovechan de mi nobleza." Vibe was roused by all the sobbing. "¡Locón, Está brutal!! Las cosas se pusieron color de hormiga brava." Vibe then spotted the discarded Boom Tube device. "Esto es oro de la Palestina." Vibe reopened the portal as the Parademons made their final dive, sending them back to Apokolips. Chapulín congratulated, "Crea fama y échate a dormir," to which Vibe replied, "Corazón de melón."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Colección Super Amigos: Liga de la Justicia de Detroit

Blogs across the internet today celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Super Powers Collection, featuring some of the world's greatest super-heroes and among the finest action figures of their time. However, as always, the Justice League Detroit blog is less concerned with the spotlight hogs than the obscure, ethnocentric also-rans of yesteryear. Where is the love for the Colección Super Amigos, and most importantly, the Liga de la Justicia de Detroit figures that were only produced in Latin America? Today, their light will shine!

As many of you know, Pacipa Argentina reused the SP molds in 1989, which Play Ful then took over in the early '90s, both producing inferior quality figures for the South/Central American market. The mid-'90s saw the Columbian Gulliver Super Powers line, but none could compare to the toys produced by Broma Práctica!

As we'll discuss in a later installment, the Detroit era League comics proved much more popular in Mexico than in the United States. This created demand for their representation amongst the Super Amigos, but the Mexican market wasn't financially strong enough to justify licensing fees, much less new molds. Notorious bootleggers Broma Práctica rushed to fill this void with abysmal knock-offs made available through flea markets and street hustlers. They were cast in cheap plastic, and their (lead) paint jobs would typically begin to flake even before being removed from their blister packs/Ziploc bags. Soon afterward, limbs would be lost. Not just the figures, but amongst the children playing with the most notoriously lethal action figures of all time...

Pictured: Zatanna and Vixen

Pictured: Mexican child victim of Super Amigos Liga de la Justicia de Detroit

Zatanna was mostly harmless. Though advertised as having a "Power Action Mystic Spell Cast," Zatanna only went through the basic articulation motions without any enhanced features. Vixen, on the other hand, was the sharpest figure in the set. To minimize costs, the amount of plastic in her mold was reduced to the point her facsimile hair was honed to razor sharpness. At just over three inches, this made Vixen a street legal switchblade throughout most states, and she could easily circumvent metal detectors. The Vixen action figure became the weapon of choice amongst young Mexican street punks, while "gangster" rap and ranchero songs often referenced the lethal toy (most popularly in "El Vixen es una señora Fox" by Control Machete.

Pictured: Street toughs brandishing Vixen action figures. Note the boy wearing a "Vibe" headband.

Pictured: "Señor Alargado" (Elongated Man) and "Gitana" (Gypsy)

Elongated Man's packaging fraudulently exclaimed "Cuello del estiramiento de la acción de la energía," but in fact "Señor Alargado" was merely cast in rubber, making him slightly more pliable than the average figure (more in line with Mattel's Secret Wars line.) Gypsy, or "Gitana," wasn't even technically an "action figure," as she was molded in a single piece. However, her advertisement as "Símbolo Santería" made her a well regarded lucky charm often hung from the wrist or a rear view mirror (as applicable.)

Pictured: "Gringo Cibernético" (Steel) and Vibe

Steel and Vibe were of course the most popular figures in the line, outpacing even Aguahombre and Detective Marciano. However, Steel was another extremely unsafe toy. Though it appears as a standard Super Amigos mold, the figure was in fact die cast iron, making it a terrific weighted weapon/bludgeon. Vibe meanwhile was afforded the only functional action effect: a wind-up motor with a mounted ball bearing set in the figure's chest piece. This "Vibración Magnífica" made the toy as popular with moms as sons!

After numerous complaints from consumer advocates on both sides of the border, Broma Práctica was finally traced by customs agents back to a small sweatshop in Tempe, Arizona. No criminal charges nor civil suits were successfully leveled against the U.S. owned company, though their action figure division was eventually scuttled.

More Colección Super Amigos:
Colección Super Amigos: Vibe
Colección Super Amigos: Vixen
Colección Super Amigos: Zatanna & other Liga de la Justicia de Detroit Mini-Comics

Further Reading:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Comic Book Movie Casts the ENTIRE 108 Members of the Justice League!

There's a fan site called Comic Book Movie that specializes in news about just that. One of their commentators who goes by the name THEHAWK recently decided he would fan cast the entire Justice League, including the Detroit era, JLI, JLTF, Elite, Antarctica-- everyone. No small task, and many of his choices are utterly insane, but some are pretty observant. Besides, even I never gave a second's thought to who would play, say for instance, Maya. You can see the entire list here, but I figured I'd highlight some specific examples for this blog.

Laurence Fishburne as Martian Manhunter
Camilla Belle as Gypsy
Paul Walker as Aquaman
Serinda Swan as Zatanna
Aaron Eckhart as Elongated Man
Jay Hernandez as Vibe
Naomie Harris as Vixen
Ben McKenzie as Steel
Stephen Dorff as Triumph
Djimon Hounsou as Bloodwynd
Keith David as Despero

My main issue with most of these choices is that the actors are just too danged old. Gypsy, Zee, Vibe and Steel into their thirties is asking a bit much. Fishburne's already "played" Silver Surfer, and turns up as J'Onn on too many of these lists. I couldn't complain about Keith David as Despero, but that guy is the Sam Jackson of voice work-- he does everybody. I do like Hounsou a lot as Bloodwynd, though.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Elongated Man Custom Total Justice/JLA Action Figures

Courtesy of Justice Customs: A Virtual Customized Who's Who comes these custom Ralph Dibney toys styled after the Total Justice/JLA line of DC figures. Skolowski produced an amazing five variations of Elongated Man covering three full costumes and two modifications. He even created Pocket Heroes and Super Powers takes! I guess we'll have to see if he's got a Black Lantern Elongated Man waiting in the wings (no pun intended.) Check out the full sized pictures, and learn from whence the parts came here

Thursday, July 30, 2009

2008 and 2009 Vixen Sketch Cards by Rhiannon Owens

You can see the enlarged 2008 card here, and the 2009 one here. I'm not sure, but my best guess is that these cards were produced for the sketch cards were produced for the upcoming Rittenhouse Archives Justice League of America set. You'll know these are pen and ink, as opposed to the 2007 DC Heroines Triptych, Aquaman, Batman, Vixen and Zatanna pieces I ran earlier. For more, check out Owens' MySpace Page or listing at Comicartfans.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Aquaman, Batman, Vixen and Zatanna by Rhiannon Owens

The other day I ran the 2007 DC Heroines Triptych by Rhiannon Owens with the promise of more to come, so here's Aquaman, Batman, Vixen and Zatanna. Also, here's a bonus 2008 Zatanna Sketch Card, presumably from the upcoming Rittenhouse Archives Justice League of America set. For more, check out Owens' MySpace Page or listing at Comicartfans.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

2007 DC Heroines Triptych by Rhiannon Owens

I've never heard of Rhiannon Owens within the industry, but she keeps popping up on the net, with a painted style that reminds me of Nick Cardy. Here, she's does a series of three plates featuring a host of DC heroines, including some with ties to the Detroit League. Hawkwoman and Zatanna top the first plate, also featuring Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Power Girl, and the original Batgirl. You can see it enlarged here. The next five heroines are Wonder Girl (Donna Troy,) Big Barda, Vixen, Supergirl and Huntress, visible here. I haven't been able to find the final five; Starfire, Mary Marvel, Raven, Catwoman and Jade; on their own. Here's a decent blow-up of parts 2 & 3, though. Actually, this artist has done quite a bit of work with Detroit's own super team, so I think I'll do some more postings throughout the week. For more, check out her MySpace Page or listing at Comicartfans.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

2003 Zatanna Convention Sketch by Ryan Sook

Click To Enlarge

Here's another great piece by Ryan Sook, this time a con sketch from when he was preparing to draw the Seven Soldiers: Zatanna mini-series.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

2007 Upper Deck VS System DC Comics Legends Elongated Man Card (DCL-011)


The last collectible card game I played was Overpower in the '90s, the shortest bus of the genre, so I can't tell you much about this modern, new fangled, complicated thingamajig. According to a few resources I dug up on the intarnets, the card works like this:

Elongated Man
Stretchable Sleuth
Team: JLA
Cost: 1
ATtacK: 3
DEFence: 0

Activate arrow elongated man gets -3/+3 this turn.

Now that's what they call the long arm of the law.

The card is common, and can be purchased for less than a buck. It was lovingly rendered by Ryan Sook, who includes several version of the piece on his site, including preliminary, uncolored, and finished versions.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

1986 DC Comics "Legends" Promotional Ad

Click To Enlarge

This black and white ad by John Byrne and (I assume) Karl Kesel ran here and there back in 1986, but Byrne's arrival at DC and its being the follow-up to Crisis On Infinite Earths had the book pre-sold as a hit. In retrospect, it was pretty hokey in execution, with little long term consequence, and fares poorly when read today. Still looks pretty, though. Also, Ralph Dibney in a group publicity shot? How often does that happen?

Monday, July 13, 2009

2007 Green Lantern vs. Elongated Man by Steve Rude

Click To Enlarge

Why is Hal Jordan blasting the late Ralph Dibney in the face with his power ring? I do not know, but somebody's got a bad case of the Mondays!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mike Vosburg "Identity Theft" Commissioned Art

Click To Enlarge

The original '70s Starfire and Steel are featured in this piece commissioned by SwanShadow. Here's his thoughts on the image, enlarged here:

If I mention the names Starfire and Steel, what image comes to mind? Let me guess: The big-haired girl from Teen Titans, and that hammer-swinging guy Shaq played in a movie, right? Well, back in the Bronze Age, before Koriand'r and John Henry Irons were so much as twinkles in their respective creators' eyes, Starfire was a sword-wielding heroine living on a faraway fantasy world, and Steel was a fin-headed superhero whose nickname was "The Indestructible Man." Both the original Starfire and the original Steel headlined their own short-lived DC titles in the mid-1970s. Both are mostly forgotten today, although Steel's descendant Citizen Steel is currently a member of the Justice Society of America. Mike Vosburg, who co-created the Bronze Age Starfire, matches his classic heroine with her male contemporary in this sensational Common Elements scenario.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

JLA #119 (Late Nov. 2005)

The JLA appeared from nowhere to pile on Despero, but Black Canery was the first of several to join the Alien Atlas in putting Superman in a choke hold, or the Dark Knight in slugging Hal Jordan. All but Catwoman, Hawkman, and Superman were possessed, with the latter wavering. A reconstructed Red Tornado came to the rescue, followed by a Zatanna whose resolve in the necessity of her actions had been girded by Wonder Woman after a brief spell on Paradise Island. The League was freed and Despero frozen in place by Zee's power.

The Manhunter asked, “How should we proceed?”
“I’ll get John Stewart. We’ll take Despero to Oa for containment.”
“I think J’Onn meant in terms of the League.”
“The League? I don’t know about you, Superman, but from what I’ve seen...?”
Green Lantern critiqued, “...there is no League. Or if there is... this isn’t it.”
Manhunter unsurprisingly protested, “That was Despero’s influence, Hal.”
“Despero took advantage of the situation, but the damage was done a long time ago. Now Batman’s quit. Wonder Woman’s not coming back. Arthur, Ollie, Dinah, Red Tornado and I haven’t been members in years. And Carter works with the J.S.A. As of now, the League is you, John Stewart, Wally, and Superman.”

The notation prompted the Flash to quit on the spot, thinking in light of all this trouble and the recent birth of his twins, he needed time away. Manhunter was clearly troubled, but Superman asserted, “You’ve managed to rebuild the team more than once, J’Onn. And when you do, I’ll be there. Until then, if you need me...”
“It’s never a matter of ‘if,’ my friends... it’s always ‘when.’”

J’Onn had been in this place before-- of seeking out heroes without enough experience or power enough to take on world class threats without casualty... because the supposed “Big Guns” were too hung up on their own problems to serve the greater good. Perhaps that was why he invisibly snuck back into the Batcave...

“You might as well show yourself, J’Onn. I can hear your breathing.”
“I’m sorry to intrude... but I had to know the truth. This wasn’t just about you, was it? This was about her.”
You see, Catowoman had briefly been a member of the Secret Society, suddenly becoming an ally and more to the Dark Knight in the years that followed...
“I thought she’d changed, but... maybe it wasn’t her choice.”
Catwoman would later learn from Zatanna that in fact, no, it wasn’t entirely her decision, though mostly so.

Manhunter returned to the Watchtower, where he held a teleconference with Green Lantern John Stewart while scrutinizing monitors displaying League candidates. Zauriel, Nightwing, Vixen, Fire, Gypsy, Metamorpho, Huntress, Firestorm, Booster Gold, Hawkgirl, and Animal Man were all up, clearly showing J’Onn unwilling to compromise the League because of his own aversions. The list of options seemed to be arrived at in a past time, however, as J’Onn had to refile Blue Beetle as “deceased.”
“Ted should be here. Like a fool, I didn’t take his warnings seriously, and now... we’re being attacked by super-powered centurions... our longtime adversaries have been organized into an army... an intergalactic war has broken out... and the world of magic has been corrupted... Ted believed there was a conspiracy at work. Maybe he was right. Maybe none of this is coincidence. But who could have been powerful enough to have orchestrated--?”

At that moment, a figure arrived in the teleportation tubes the computers registered as, “Superman... I’m glad you’re here. We need to reorganize... I think there’s a possibility everything we’re facing is connected--“
“I know.”

Manhunter turned, “Wait... you’re...” J’Onzz raised his hands up in fear as energy erupted around him-- the Watchtower exploding entirely. The Infinite Crisis had begun...

"Crisis of Conscience, Conclusion" by Geoff Johns & Allan Heinberg/Chris Batista & Mark Farmer.

Monday, June 29, 2009

JLA #117-118 (Oct.-Early Nov. 2005)

Despero used his mind-controlling third eye to force Manhunter into his natural Martian form, then drew blood when he raked J’Onn’s chest with his claws. J’Onzz knew he was outmatched, and fled the Watchtower under his own power. As I long suspected, Despero too possessed some degree of flight, and trailed the Manhunter to terra firma.

Manhunter was aflame from the friction of reentry, plaintively casting out telepathically, “Are you there...? Can you hear me? I need assistance. He is coming.” J’Onzz struck ground in San Diego with terrific impact. Despero palmed the back of J’Onn’s head and lifted him off the ground. “Why cry for help when you know I’m the only one who can hear you? Even if I weren’t dampening your telepathy, there is no one to answer the call. The League is distracted. Too busy betraying one another and protecting their own to worry about the likes of you.” Despero dug his talons into the flesh of J’Onn’s face, then locked J’Onn’s arm within the vice grip of his other hand. “Face it J’Onn... there is no one left to save you. In response, a metal rod from a construction yard speared Despero’s right shoulder. Aquaman claimed, "That’s funny Despero... I was about to say the same to you."

Despero rent Aquaman’s flesh, but the Sea King hurled him through the bow of a boat into the bay, commanding “Make. Him. Bleed.” Despero was beset by sharks, their visage and ferocity a seeming match for his own. In his element, Aquaman went for Despero’s throat, and slammed the fiend into the midst of Sub Diego. Aquaman remained focused, despite mental communication with the extant Martian Manhunter.
“J’Onn... Where’s the rest of the League?”
“Out of range. I was barely able to contact you. Remember... Despero is a telepath. If he can’t subdue you physically... he will do everything in his power to take over your mind.”
“Let him try.”

As Despero’s third eye energy blast scythed the water, Aquaman pulled his fist back for a blow that sent the destroyer back up to the surface.

The Sea King rejoined the Manhunter. “You all right?”
“I will be, once we’ve disabled Despero.”
“Just tell me how.”
“We have to shut his mind down. That’s why I came to find you. Together, our combined psionic abilities might be enough to overpower him.”
The Destroyer of Worlds challenged, “Let’s find out, shall we?”
Our pair of heroes launched their stratagem, while the Leaguers who had been “distracted” by the Secret Society of Super-Villains returned home to find the Watchtower wrecked.

J’Onn J’Onzz had seen a lot of combat in the panel gutters, which might explain why, when he and Arthur next appeared in the Batcave, they were in thrall to Despero. “I have my king... I have my rook... and now... I have my knight. Let the game begin.”

Catwoman’s claws revealed a “third eye” beneath the cowl of the suddenly adversarial Caped Crusader. “Batman is under my influence. Just like the others. Their conflicting emotions have left their minds fractured and vulnerable. Like yours, Selina Kyle. You’re fighting on the wrong side.”

“Gee, a chance to team up with an alien dictator? As tempting as that sounds-- I think I’ll pass.”
Selina managed to signal the League via the Batcomputer. Meanwhile, “I’m going to have Batman do things to you... that he never knew he was capable of. “

"Crisis of Conscience, Parts Three & Four" by Geoff Johns & Allan Heinberg/Chris Batista & Mark Farmer.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

JLA #115-116 (8-9/2005)

Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana.
Belle Reve Prison.
Frenchwoman Deborah Camille Darnell has lain here in a coma since her short stint as Star Sapphire ended with the Secret Society’s mindwipes. Red eyes appeared in the darkness of her room, a blue-caped figure commanding her, “Wake up.” Her costume and consciousness psychically restored, the villainess had her own demand. “You!?! Tell me! Who did this to us?”

Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. Red Tornado was nearly destroyed by animated plant life.

Opal City, Maryland. Ralph Dibney was pulled from his home before it collapsed in on him.

Gotham City. An invisible Martian inadvertently comes between Batman and a flirtatious Catwoman, in the literal sense. After apologizing, J’Onn explained, “We need to talk.”

Bodies of Justice League members that had arrived on scene to the aforementioned hot spots fell limply from the sky to the trio’s feet. Sapphire, Felix Fault, the Wizard, the Floronic Man, Chronos, and Matter Master had arrived to continue their reunion tour, with a vengeance! Batman shielded a Manhunter set on telepathically reviving his fellows while Catwoman wielded a convenient flamethrower against the Secret Society of Super-Villains. J’Onzz accomplished his task, but between Zatanna’s revelations and attacks from the Society’s warlocks against him and his, the Manhunter proclaimed, “There will be no more magic today,” eyes ablaze. “One last trick,” Felix Faust assured. “Now you see us... now you don’t.” The Society vanished without even a psychic trace. Green Arrow bemoaned the effect of even more magic there, but Manhunter wasn’t so sure.

Batman took off for the Batcave with an injured Catwoman, and was none too pleased when he was followed by a Martian and League set on making things right for the betrayal against the Darknight Detective. Batman was unforgiving, going so far as to slug Hawkman for attempting to vindicate their actions. Clearly failing here, the Leaguers suddenly remembered the threat posed by a team of superhuman criminals who knew their secret identities. “You should all go home to your loved ones. We’ll regroup later at the----Watchtower.” Manhunter’s voice had trailed off, aware of the horror of Red Tornado lying in pieces before him.

Returning to the moon, Manhunter found a terrible, corrupting presence waiting in the Monitor Womb. “J’Onn. I’m so glad you’re here. Someone has given the Secret Society their memories back. I wonder who that could’ve been...”

“I know what you’re thinking. How could the Justice League----the people trusted more than anyone in the world----how could they have altered someone’s mind? Even I’m disappointed. After all these years of trying to destroy the League... the League will end up destroying itself. And this time, you won’t be around to fix it.”

“You underestimate me, Despero. You underestimate the League... You have from the very beginning.”

“...You violated my mind the same way Zatanna did Dr. Light’s.”

“I didn’t alter your mind. I allowed you to see what you wanted to see.”

“No need to be defensive, J’Onn... Don’t bother trying to get inside my head. Or contacting the League telepathically. I’m ready for you this time, J’Onn. And I’ve made sure your friends are otherwise engaged. So, now... it’s just you and me.”

"Crisis of Conscience, Part Two" by Geoff Johns & Allan Heinberg/Chris Batista & Mark Farmer.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

JLA #115 (8/05)



A long time ago, my family--my entire race--was wiped out by a psychokinetic plague. I keep coming back here--searching for some trace, some remnant of my past.”

J’Onn J’Onzz stopped walking the barren red wasteland, knelt down, and scooped up a handful of sand. Rising to his feet, he allowed the granules to slip through his fingers. “But Mars doesn’t feel like home anymore. My home is somewhere else now.”

At the JLA Watchtower, Hawkman and Green Arrow were ready to come to blows. Since the death of Sue Dibney, an increasing number of people were learning of abuses carried out by the Satellite Era league, specifically as it stood from the induction of the sorceress Zatanna until that of the young and naive Firestorm. When a villain knew too much, crossed a certain line, this group would vote on performing magical alterations of personality, or worse, virtual lobotomies and forced comas. Catwoman and Flash villain the Top became “heroes” for a time due to this process. Dr. Light, on the other hand, was turned from a brilliant threat to a bungling idiot. Now, this fact had come back to Light, and by extension members of the now more far reaching Society of evil-doers. Other heroes, like the third generation Flash and Green Lantern, were also becoming accomplices after the fact as they learned the truth about their forebears. The Batman had discovered the conspiracy as it was performed on Dr. Light, and he too fell victim to a “mindwipe” of his knowledge. Wally West, after much consideration, could no longer accept that. He called most of those complicit in this string of human rights violations, and declared “...if you’re not going to tell Batman... I am.”

From the doorway of the meeting room, a Martian queried “Tell Batman what?” Hawkman tersely replied, “Nothing.” Too late, as the Manhunter suspected, “It doesn’t sound like nothing.” Flash relented, “Read our minds, J’Onn. You tell us.” His eyes pinpricks through the shadow cast by his brow, J’Onzz paused, then grimaced. “I can’t. Why?”

From out of nowhere, Hal Jordan’s voice answered, “Magic.” This Green Lantern hadn’t been a member of the Justice League since the Parallax entity had possessed him, launching him on a mass killing spree. At one point, Jordan as Parallax nearly allowed entropy to destroy the known universe as part of his plan to “fix” everything. Now free from the parasite’s influence, Green Lantern had not only returned to his original position against the mindwipes, but reconsidered his part in the conspiracy to keep the practice secret regardless.

For those keeping score, the original vote had Green Arrow, Green Lantern, and Black Canary against; Zatanna, Hawkman, and the Atom for; with Flash Barry Allen breaking the tie in favor. Elongated Man abstained to care for his wife, while latecomer Batman clearly objected with batarang in hand. Retroactive continuity clouds matters a bit, as Wonder Woman would have been involved as a member at the time, but her 1987 “reboot” had the character arrive in “Man’s World” well after the stories took place. Further, in actual publishing history, J’Onn J’Onzz had quit the League (and pretty much all comics appearances) nearly a hundred issues before these events took place, but had “always” been a member Post-Crisis. How to handle the inconsistency? Bless their hearts, Zatanna’s magic kept the Manhunter in the dark and far from blame. She was an established member alongside J’Onn right through to the end of that series. J’Onzz rarely had contact with conspiracy Leaguers for another decade, and the reformed “JLA” consisted of newer or mostly unrelated teammates. High five for all the fans of characters kept clear of this moral boondoggle!

Back to the story, an increasingly agitated Manhunter demanded, “What did you have to do?” Hal told J’Onn everything, including the mass mindwipe of a whole incarnation of the Secret Society of Super-Villains who had discovered the heroes’ secret identities. Zatanna, head hung low, confessed, “But it didn’t end there. Batman tried to stop us...”
“So you did it to him, too. And to me?”
“We knew you’d never read our minds without our consent--“
Hawkman interrupted, “But we couldn’t risk your picking up the stray thoughts of some of our weaker minds...”
“So you hid the memories from me.”
“I didn’t want to disappoint you.”
“And we didn’t want you undoing what we did.”
“I would never alter another person’s mind. There is no greater violation--“
Hawkman offered justification without apology, while Flash noted Batman’s increasing alienation. “We have to tell him before--“
Manhunter grimly asserted, “He knows.”
Canary found her voice to ask, “J’Onn, what are you going to do?”
“Fix it.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

DC Challenge #8 (6/1986)

Batman: Finally, after eight issues, said plain exactly what the heck had been going on. "Earth and the planet Rann are under attack by mystical forces... demons inhabiting long-dead human beings, and creatures risen out of ancient mythology. At the same time, Earth is being invaded by aliens from some cosmic organization called the Greater Galaxies... I found three 8-figure numbers scrawled on a wall at a power plant... I ran these numbers through my computer here in the Batcave... and got a result that seemed to spell a formula to bring about the end of the world. The numbers, decoded, are electro-magnetic vibrational frequencies... [if] put into operation... the resulting wave-front could crack the Earth like an eggshell." The Dark Knight Detective knew demons were involved, and headed in his Batplane for their nearest concentration point, Metropolis. In the distance, a warp hole opened. "I'm too late... the Batman has already departed. Pity. I might have been of some assistance."

Unbeknownst to the Dark Knight, his nemesis the Joker had helped orchestrate attacks on Earth's heroes with the Greater Galaxies organization. The Clown Prince of Crime worked under the turbaned alien Kaz with the promise of kingship over Earth. Kaz explained the situation as follows:
"Project X involves the disruption of physical reality... the merging of this reality-plane with that of the netherworld. Bork and his fellow renegades of the Black Council have discovered a weakening of the cosmic fabric here in this locus... on the world you call Earth. A similar, parallel weakening is taking place on the planet Rann, of the star-system Alpha Centauri.

Bork has developed a device known as the Probability Disruptor, which feeds on red sun radiation, relayed to this world from a base on Earth's satellite, Luna. The Disruptor is destroying the protective barrier between realities at this locus. The result is an increase in the manifestation of demons on Earth... manifestations that occur normally at this locus, at periodic intervals related to phases of the moon. Bork's disruptor, however, has increased the number of manifestations a thousandfold.

Project X is upsetting the natural cosmic balance... a balance we of Molanto have worked long and hard to maintain. To save reality, Molanto, in conjunction with the Greater Galaxies organization, have invaded Earth. We have done this for the simple reason of expedience. Bork must be found. Project X must be halted. The fastest, simplest way to accomplish this is through the conquest of Earth."

Martian Manhunter: Earth's super-heroes were likely to interfere, so Kaz engaged the Joker to assist in distracting them. The Joker stated, "Capturing all the heroes who'd been born off world, like Superman and J'onn J'onzz, among others-- and threatening to execute them as traitors to the Greater Galaxies-- that was my lovely idea. See, it's what we call a red herring. Now all the other heroes will be wondering what the alien heroes have to do with the alien invaders. It'll drive 'em nuts, giving us time to strike! Which brings me, oddly enough, to my final plan... I need three million tons of rubber cement, Kaz..." The Joker wanted to gum up the works in Washington. D.C., but Kaz was done with this insanity, and had the Joker locked away.

Batman: The Batplane flew over Metropolis, which by this point looked, as Batman put it, "like something out of Fantasia's 'Night On Bald Mountain!' Demons everywhere... as if a doorway had opened between our world and Hell!" The pandemonium led to the destruction of the Batplane, but the Caped Crusader still managed to reach the Galaxy Broadcasting Building, now aware thanks to the infernal beings he had been inadvertently helping this "Kaz" person.

The Dark Knight was met by Dr. Terrence Thirteen, Ghostbreaker and Floyd Perkins, the kid who started this all in the first issue. Perkins had told Dr. 13 about finding a floor in the building that shouldn't exist, and bumping into an undead Humphrey Bogart. Dr. 13 in turn told Batman about his and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen's running into the alien invasion, and through a space-warp into the Plane of Holes, where they met Darwin Jones and Bobo the Detective Chimp, among others. Dr. 13's memory was fuzzy after that, recalling that he had been returned to Earth by Albert Einstein, but decided to pick up the investigation again. Doctor 13 had brought a radiation detector with him, and when Batman had a look at the frequencies emitted from the GBS antennae, he recognized them from the earlier inscriptions! Dr. 13 had backtracked his detector's readings to their source, the moon...

Batman called on the Outsiders, but they stopped short of the Galaxy Building to address the demons running rampant throughout Metropolis in Superman's absence. Batman predicted the end of the world as the signal from the moon began shaking Earth apart, and a whole building began to fall on the Outsiders...

"If This Is Love, Why Do My Teeth Hurt" was by Gerry Conway, Rick Hoberg, Dick Giordano and Arnie Starr. This was the tidiest, most descriptive issue to date, and even managed to work its gonzo title into the narrative (lovers kissing as the world begins to vibrate violently.) Detroit co-creator Conway missed writing the rest of his team in the next issue...