Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chuck Patton

Francis Chuck Patton is an African-American former comic book artist best known for a stint on Justice League of America. More specifically, he is closely associated with the period in which the team relocated to Detroit, MI and became staffed with new, multicultural super-heroes. With Gerry Conway, Patton created Gypsy and Vibe, as well as redesigning Vixen and Steel: The Indestructible Man.

Patton got his start at DC Comics in the April, 1983 cover-dated The Flash #320, beginning a brief run of Creeper back-up stories. This was followed by art for Green Lantern, The Brave and the Bold, and Green Arrow before landing his permanent assignment on JLofA. However, Patton left his creations within their first year, taking on sporadic jobs on The Vigilante, Who's Who, The Omega Men, Teen Titans, Legion of Super-Heroes, Blue Beetle, Secret Origins, the Outsiders, Action Comics Weekly and DC Challenge. Patton also tried his fortunes at other companies with DNAgents, Daredevil, X-Men and The Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe. He was considered to replace Todd McFarlane on The Incredible Hulk, but turned the offer down when he was asking to emulate the outgoing artist's style.

As with his JLD partner Gerry Conway, Patton became disillusioned with comics and moved into children's television animation. His credits include Dinosaucers, G.I. Joe, Captain N & the Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, Inspector Gadget Saves Christmas, and Teen Titans. More recently, he has turned to directing, on such projects as Dead Space: Downfall and Spawn, for which he won an Emmy award for Outstanding Animated Program.

Chuck Patton's legacy in comics seems to consist mostly of Justice League Detroit and well-regarded serial pairing Nightwing and Speedy. The image above is a self-portait of Patton, circa 1985, and heavily embellished by inker Mike DeCarlo. One imagines that had Patton inked himself, he might have more closely resembled another of his creations, Dale Gunn. Like Marv Wolfman's proxy Terry Long, who married a super-heroine, I suspect we now have the answer to why Gun had both Vixen and Zatanna vying for his attentions...

Further Reading: One-on-One with Spawn Director Chuck Patton

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

2009 DC Universe Classics Series 8 Commander Steel Action Figure

Save the world (and your collection) with these ever-popular heroes! From Mattel and the DC Universe, this exciting batch of 7-inch scale Action Figures features brilliant colors, tons of detail, and plenty of articulation. Plus, each amazing character comes with an extra accessory that enables you to build a special bonus figure, Giganta! Don't miss out on this exceptional assortment! In stores April, 2009!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Wonder Woman #175 (12/2001)

The evil sorceress Circe continued to torment the beastiamorph versions of her Injustice Gang, as well as Plastic Man and the Sleuth From Outer Space...

Martian Manhunter: While his body was agonizingly contorted aboard Air Force One, Circe explained "...Your powers make you so susceptible to mine... Like J'Onn J'Onzz here. The Martian Manhunter is arguably the most powerful member of the J.L.A.... and completely vulnerable to my magics. Did you know that one of the components for my beastiamorph spell came from the remains of an alien race I discovered in the Middle East millennia ago? Could they have been Martians like you?"

Nightfall: Member of the Overmaster's Cadre who fought Dr. Light alongside Nox. Ultimately failed, as she reckoned, "Oh, spit."

Mongal: Brawled with Power Girl. "Ha! And someone told me they thought you were like the Kryptonian. Such ego-- and such delusion. No threat at all to the new queen of Almer--AAGKK!"

4-D: Teammate of Vixen in the Ultramarines Corps seen in a battle involving Mary Marvel, Strangle-Hold and Huitzilopochtli.

Vixen: Led a team at the South Street Seaport that included Onyx, Inferno and Nightshade-- the latter two having fallen prey to Killer Frost. Vixen herself defeated the Hyena before turning her attentions toward Firestorm's icy foe...

"Out of my way, you nappy-headed furball! This is Vixen on open channel. Gypsy: acknowledge! I repeat, Gypsy: acknowledge! Dammit, where are you?!"
"Look around you, Vixen. She could be anywhere, caught in the ice... freezing to death."

Gypsy: Rather than face a frigid death like the one Manhunter left her to during the Judgment Day crossover, Gypsy invisibly made her way to the roof of a building. Near a hovering presidential aircraft, which was being piloted by the maniacal Joker, Gypsy reported in to her communications center. "Oracle, it's me again. Something crazy's happening on Air Force One. It's not stable above Times Square. I'm not sure how the heck I can do this... but I haven't been spotted yet. And J'Onn's in there, somewhere. I have to." Gypsy leapt for the craft. "Here goes nothing. Mama, Papa-- give me strength!"

Martian Manhunter: A dyspeptic Beast Boy asked of his fellow prisoner "J'Onn, you okay down there? J'Onn?!"

Batman: Restored to normal, he aided team leader Black Canary in Chinatown.

Zatanna: Under Dr. Light's command at Grand Central Station. Attacked by Magenta. "Do you think saying some magic spell backwards will save you from my power?" Zee turned projectiles of the magnetic mistress against her. "Metallic objects, bind that villain tight." She then whined to Shazam's champion "When are people going to learn that that's just a concentration exercise? You okay, Captain Marvel?"

Vixen: Wished Marvel the best, then at Zee's urging explained what was wrong. "I can't find her. I don't know what's happened to Gypsy!"

Gypsy: Aboard Air Force One, the Spider-Lex Luthor held Circe's young daughter Lyta's life as a bargaining chip for being restored to normal. Martian Manhunter appeared, demanding "Do as he says, Circe--!" Luthor and company were so restored, only for the "Manhunter" to stand revealed as an illusion surrounding Gypsy.

Martian Manhunter: "Thank you, Gypsy. I believe I'm more than recovered now."

Gypsy: "No problem, J'Onn."

Martian Manhunter: Proceeded to punch the new Cheetah, who though he had previously beaten Superman, still swore in Spanish "Oh, dear God..." Cheetah smashed through and well out of the VTOL plane. Circe herself disappeared with Lyta, while Air Force One was emergency dropped into the East River by Wonder Woman.
"Diana--" thought Manhunter.
"J'Onn? Thank Hera--! Is everyone on board all right? Is Circe--?"
"Circe's vanished, Diana. The aircraft seems to have some sort of flotation devices-- and most of the Injustice Gang remains in their transformed states... We'll be fine."

President Lex Luthor demanded his immediate return to D.C. and that the League make apprehending Circe a priority.
"Mister President-- shut up.

Wonder Woman explained telepathically, "You can bind the others with the remaining moly, J'Onn-- that should free them from Circe's thrall. The Amazing Amazon had previously fended off a Superman partially merged with Doomsday until she could free him from his state, leaving the Man of Steel blubbering like a baby.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Wonder Woman #174 (11/2001)

Following the Our Worlds At War crossover, Wonder Woman's mother Hippolyta was dead, and her former Paradise Island of Themyscira was in ruins. The Earth had taken on great damage and large numbers of casualties, as well as begrudgingly accepting extraterrestrial refugees. At this vulnerable moment, the evil sorceress Circe chose to resume hostilities toward Wonder Woman and super-heroes in general. Circe mystically sealed off New York City, then transformed all male super-heroes in town to various types of wildlife. Circe had amassed a small army of villainesses (including the Cadre's Nightfall) to hunt these valiant animals to death, then invited Wonder Woman to try and stop them.

While she waited, Circe set other wheels turning. She sent her new male Cheetah to lay a trap in Metropolis, which snared Superman. She also took Air Force One, where she began torturing the bestial former members of the Injustice Gang she had once taken part in. President Lex Luthor became a giant were-spider and the Joker part goat.

Oracle electronically gathered an all-female super-squadron on Liberty Island to plan the retaking of NYC. Vixen, Gypsy and Zatanna had major roles to play...

Zatanna: Wonder Woman explained to the gathering of heroines, "Zatanna is using her magics to create a garden of moly. Circe's magics have absolutely no effect on the herb... We'll each use sprigs of it to protect ourselves from transformation as we pass through the energy barrier. Once inside, we'll use the rest of it on Circe's beastiamorphs to cancel the spell cast on them. But first we'll need to liberate the city and defend them against the villains hunting them."

Vixen: Among the first to reply to Oracle's call was Vixen. "The other Ultramarines are missing, but I'll be there." Vixen's female teammate 4-D would also appear in the upcoming battle, but in a later issue. Wonder Woman immediately continued her instructions from above, "Doctor Light-- Power Girl-- Troia-- Black Canary-- and Wonder Girl and Vixen will be field leaders. Teams will break down based on familiarity and power. Please listen to your team leaders. They have the experience we need to help save our friends." Vixen surmounted the barrier surrounding New York, then stood by Gypsy as Wonder Woman gained and lost telepathic contact with J'Onn J'Onzz.

Gypsy: Among the Liberty Island party, shown standing between Star-Spangled Kid and Inferno. Entered NYC, only to hear troubling word about a dear friend...

Martian Manhunter: Telepathically called "Diana!" just as Wonder Woman led her army through the energy barrier. "Thank the moons of Mars you've come--! I've been disguised since Circe cast her spell; I switched genders and hid my powers to try to sneak close to her... but she's been able to use her magics to track those with powers-- and transform them. She's affected my telepathic powers... I haven't revealed myself until now-- AGGH!" Eldritch energy surrounded his pained form as Wonder Woman called out, "J'Onn? J'Onn?!"

Gypsy: Clearly upset as she demanded "What is it? What's happening to him?" The telepathic link had been cut off.

Vixen: "Diana-- we've got to help him!"

Gypsy & Vixen: Swept up in a sonic attack from the Silver Swan before rejoining the counter-offensive.

Batman: Turned into a were-rattlesnake.

Aquaman: Try Porpoiseman.

The Creators: Phil Jimenez managed to write and meticulously draw this issue as part of a monthly schedule, but the quality is uneven, and a guest penciller would soon follow. In a book positively drowning in details, both related to recent continuity and in illustrating several hundred super people, it's funny that Circe has so little motivation for her grand scheme. Then again, the whole storyline fairly reeks of fan service over logic, but getting a reunion of every living Detroit Leaguer but Elongated Man suited me very fine.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Justice League of America #133-134 (8-9/76)

Aquaman: Joined his fellows on the JLA Satellite; including Elongated Man, Green Arrow, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Flash, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, the Atom and Hawkman; in meeting with Supergirl. The Maid of Might fretted over her missing cousin, who had been spirited to the planet Sirkus to defend it against Despero. For undisclosed reasons, Aquaman was not a part of the team that made off in search of Superman.

Aquaman was impersonated by a Sirkian who used technology in an attempt to recreate the Sea King's powers. "Despero's right! None of us is a real substitute for his Justice League counterpart! I can swim-- even break 'Green Lantern's' fall-- but I can't summon sea creatures telepathically like the real Aquaman! My fellow actors and I are here only in a supporting role! If we're to win-- it must be because of Superman!" Pseudo-Aquaman was defeated by a mental blast from Despero while battling an Eel-Creature.

Elongated Man: Joined Supergirl, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Atom and Hawkman in a space mission aboard the latter's Thanagarian vessel. Was teleported aboard a starcraft inhabited by the last two examples of an alien race, who were curious about these humanoid heroes. The aliens also teleported Despero aboard, prompting Ralph to attack.

"He's the guy who snatched Superman! See-- my mystery-solving nose shows it-- and it's never wrong!"

In truth, it was only half-right, as Despero only claimed Superman after he failed to defend the aliens who had originally kidnapped him for that purpose. Despero thought, "Who is this foolhardy freak attacking me--?" This was the first meeting between the pair, so Despero greeted Elongated Man with his third eye. "No one assaults Despero! Mine is the power of the mind unleashed-- a power that can punish, by causing your malleable molecules to stretch out of control-- or a power which can destroy!"

E-Man let out a "EEEYOW" before Supergirl could fly his mishandled frame to a safe distance from Despero's wrath. Batman asked, "Is Elongated Man okay, Supergirl?"
She cradled his limp but normalizing frame while answering, "I think so, Batman!"

Later, Despero was pitted by the mysterious twin aliens against pairs of Leaguers, including an Elongated Man joined by Supergirl. Despero had just finished taking mental control of Wonder Woman when he was teleported to this confrontation, and asked after her. "I wouldn't know, Three-Eyes-- Suppose you tell us? This is one situation where I don't feel like playing detective! Ralph entangled the Kalanorian despot, as all three were transported to a whole other environment. The heroes were disoriented, with Supergirl asking how this came to be. "I always used to love a mystery, Supergirl-- but not when the prisoner is escaping!"

The Maid of Might blew Despero off his feet. "Handy power, that super-breath! But I can't help thinking-- what a bill for mouthwash!" A fatigued Despero refused to carry on, but the mysterious aliens somehow turned his mind toward pure blood lust against Supergirl. "Trying to choke an invincible girl like you? He's gotta be crackers! Might as well knock the guy out of his misery! Huh? One of my best punches-- and he's still moving?"

Despero's suddenly superior strength tapped Elongated Man out with a left hook, which sent Ralph on a nap until Supergirl tricked the mysterious alien pair into fighting one another. The Justice League escaped in Hawkman's ship, with Superman and a Despero bound by Elongated Man in tow.

Batman: Identified Despero for team members unfamiliar with the long absent villain. Joined Hawkman in being glue-gunned out of commission by Despero.

The Creators: It seems like Gerry Conway wrote the first script, then a month later the second, based only on a vague recollection of the first. Issue #133 really only features one actual League member, and while it was interesting to watch Despero tear the fake batch apart, it was ultimately pointless. Then in #134, only a random sampling of League members from the first chapter appear, and the only elements of the previous chapter carried over in a significant way were Superman as a captive and the presence of Despero. Speaking of which, Despero's accomplishments were mostly due to the alien interlopers, whose story is wrapped in slapdash fashion, and by a non-Leaguer to boot! A bit of a mess, this one was. Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin are better on the art front, though their heart always seemed to belong more to the look of newspaper romance comics than sci-fi super shenanigans.