Tuesday, July 27, 2010

2010 Zatanna versus Starfire Commission by Michael Netzer

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A naughty number by the famed '70s Wonder Woman and Manhunter from Mars artist! Visit Michael Netzer's Online Portal blog!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Justice #3 (February, 2006)

Aquaman remained bound on an operating room table. Brainiac thought Aquaman was an enviably remarkable being, even by the standards of the Justice League, but the Sea King wouldn’t stop pestering him with questions. “Don’t interrupt me. It’s not befitting someone of your mental sophistication.” Brainiac felt there were two ways to deal with his envy: acceptance, or merely taking what he wanted.

Martian Manhunter had been assigned to find Aquaman, as he had remained missing for weeks. The search would not fare well, thanks to Gorilla Grodd.

Aquaman threatened that he would get free, while Brainiac expressed his disgust for humanity and its predisposition toward violence. The Coluan menace explained that we were born from chaos, but still longed for design-- for order. “That’s where I come in. The truth is that I’m only bringing you the very thing you’ve wanted.” Scalpel in hand, he continued, “Come now, Aquaman. Have an open mind.”

Edward Nigma was still an inmate at Arkham Asylum, constantly badgered by the Joker to be allowed into his scheme. From out of a purple haze, Lex Luthor materialized, the Riddler’s hat and coat in hand. Luthor was a bit put out by Riddler’s tipping his hand to Batman, but Nigma was unrepentantly his own man, which Lex could respect. “We all gloat in our own ways.” The Riddler told the Joker his goodbye as he vanished with Luthor, but the Clown Prince wasn’t prepared to give up that easily.

Aquaman was a major part of Brainiac’s plan. One continued his telepathic outreach while the other made his deadly incision. “You have no idea who it is who just killed you. You’re my hero, Aquaman. You really are.” Off the coast of Argentina, sea life formed crosshairs to direct the JLA Satellite to Aquaman’s location, but it would only do good if there was anyone left to look. Using Riddler’s stolen data and Gorilla Grodd’s telepathy, the Legion of Doom were striking out at the League. At that moment, the Scarecrow plotted outside the apartment of Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance, while ever more heroes were placed in crosshairs of their own…

"Chapter Three" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

2008 Hallmark Expressions Justice League Unlimited Grandson Birthday Card

Anyone who visits the greeting card aisle has likely come across one of the very many great Batman related items. Just the other day I saw one with gorgeous art (Ryan Sook?) that came with a button, and my personal favorite is a gray gift bag with a felt Bat-symbol modeled after the classic Silver Age Batman costume. Today though, we'll look at a vertical tri-fold number with embossed figures of the founding members of the aughts Justice League cartoon (sans Hawkgirl.) It should come as no surprise that Hallmark put their best marketing foot forward with the World's Finest duo on the cover fold, followed by the obligatory woman and minority, allowing Martian Manhunter and the Flash to bring up the rear. There's a mix & match game involving connecting all the male heroes to their powers, if you allow for "Utility Belt" as a power.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Top Ten Elongated Man Covers

It really must have sucked to have been the Elongated Man. Stretching heroes have been a comic book hallmark from the very beginning, so Julie Schwartz decided he needed one amongst his Silver Age revivals. Schwartz later admitted that had he known DC had already acquired and shelved the publishing rights to Plastic Man, Ralph Dibny would never have been born. Still, Schwartz had enough faith in the new Elongated Man to feature him prominently in the Flash and boot Martian Manhunter out of Detective Comics to give Dibny his own feature. However, the character never managed to expand from there, instead appearing throughout the Bronze Age as a marginal member of the Justice League of America. Despite fifteen continuous years in that book, I couldn't find a single cover image from that extended run worth running here. Ralph's powers made him the perfect character to fill up space way in the background, and I didn't see the point in choosing any one cover where only Ralph's outstretched head appeared. From there, Ralph became one of the least funny members of the JLI, had all manner of wrong done to his wife, pretended to become an alcoholic before committing heroic suicide, and barely managed to milk any cover action out of any of it.

10) DC Comics Presents #21 (May, 1980)

Nicely rendered, and an interesting application of Ralph's powers.

9)Elongated Man #1 (January, 1992)

Fairly weak, but it's the only first Elongated Man issue ever and has Sue Dibny in the foreground.

8) Detective Comics #343 (September, 1965)

There was a time when the Elongated Man could be treated as a threat to Batman and Robin. That time is long past.

7) Justice League of America #51 (February, 1967)

Although this is more of a Zatanna cover, it features most the heroes whose strips helped introduce her, including Elongated Man. Also, this was Dibny's first major JLofA appearance.

6) The Flash #134 (February, 1963)

Still playing the villain card, and already third man out on a three figure cover.

5)Wonder Woman #308 (October, 1983)

I love this cover because it's so random. Sure, let's have an Elongated Man guest appearance where he offers his own reaction to a bullets & bracelets situation. Wah? Also, the art and coloring here are phenomenal, and they show that sometimes you get a greater sense of contortion from less elongation.

4)Booster Gold #15 (February, 2009)

I was shocked to find that over fifty years of history, a cover produced just last year, two years after Ralph's death, was among the liveliest of his entire existence.

3) 52 #52 (May 2, 2007)

A somber impression is made with this painting, but Elongated Man still has to share space with mourners for the Question and Isis. Even in death, Elongated Man isn't allowed to carry a story.

2) Showcase Presents: The Elongated Man Vol. 1 (2006)

It may be a reprint of an interior splash, but nice cover images of Ralph Didny alone are very rare. Again, we have strong anatomy with only slight, unnerving distortion of the human form.

1)The Flash #112 (April, 1960)

The debut of the Elongated Man, and a pretty nifty cover besides.

Honorable Mentions:
Animal Man #16 (Great mood, and a mystery!)
Detective Comics #327 (New feature! Slight presence!)
Detective Comics #331 (Nice bright background color.)
Elongated Man #2 (Battling a host of sad bad guys.)
Elongated Man #4 (Boring design work throughout these covers.)
The Flash #138 (Generic.)
The Flash #252 (good bit, but tiny figure.)
The Flash #296 (Nice idea, rough execution.)
Formerly Known As the Justice League #1 (Cute[ish] sight gag.)
JLA: Classified #4
Justice League Europe #31
Justice League Unlimited #39 (Owned by a chimp? Ouch.)
The Shadow War of Hawkman #3
Wonder Woman #219 (Ralph's shooting a snuff film?)

DC Comics 75th Anniversary Iconic Cover Suggestions

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Justice #2 (December, 2005)

The Riddler, garbed in a goofy-collared trench coat with an even more ridiculous interior illumination, was directing his gang on a heist. In an inspired move, the crooks had broken into Wayne industries to use its singularly powerful computer network to hack the Bat-computer. The security system detected Bruce Wayne himself rushing toward their control center, but it was in fact the Batman who would send them scurrying.

As the Batmobile pursued the Riddler’s vehicle, the Dark Knight received word from Red Tornado that Aquaman was missing. The android detailed, “Mera is accustomed to the dangers her husband faces. He’s gone missing before. But that does not make this easier.” Batman replied, “Of course not. No one wants to consider losing a part of the family. Arthur’s a friend, of course. I’ll do whatever I can.” The Caped Crusader suggested that the Martian Manhunter investigate, since the Riddler had gotten away with the identities of the Justice League and the schematics of their satellite. “I’ll devote myself to finding Aquaman once I’ve retrieved what the Riddler stole. This won’t take long.”

A grappling hook snared the van the Riddler’s crew was riding in. The Dark Knight pounced on the overturned vehicle, striking at the goons while the Riddler himself ran to “The Batcave.” Rather than the Caped Crusader’s secret headquarters, this was a Batman-themed bar in Gotham. The Riddler doubled back on Batman and swung with his question mark cane, but the blow was absorbed by way of armored gauntlet. Riddler’s men caught up with the pair and swarmed Batman, but batfan club kids pulled the goons off. The Riddler opened his coat to reveal blinding green light and a mix of holographic and material question mark throwing blades. Edward Nigma escaped, but by compulsion, left a clue behind.

Meanwhile, potions administered by Dr. Jonathan Crane allowed the infirm to walk again, Pamela Isley produced fruitful trees in the desert, and the media ate it all up.

The Dark Knight Detective used Riddler’s clue to track and capture Nigma in a local graveyard. Nigma began choking, but managed to recover, wondering “…what’s… wrong with me?” Delivered to Arkham Asylum, Nigma was harassed by the Joker, who was intrigued by tales of the apocalyptic dreams he’d been missing out on. “I deserve to be part of this…”

Batman couldn’t let go of the night’s case back at the real Batcave. “Why a cemetery?”

Aquaman awoke to find himself strapped to a gurney, an overhead light shining in his eyes. Lacking real peripheral vision, the Sea King was startled when an albino monkey landed on his chest, an electronic box wired into its skull. A voice explained that the monkey was less a pet, and more of a broken toy. Brainiac enjoyed his grisly little experiments, and as he approached Aquaman in his blood splattered surgeon’s uniform and bone cutting tools, the alien fiend expressed his desire to “get inside your head.”

"Chapter Two" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

2010 Baby Aquaman by Oliver Nome

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I'm still playing catch-up across several blogs, and I'm about to throw a celebratory get-together, so my time crunch becomes a crossover of super-heroic chibi art by Oliver Nome. This will serve as a premature (*ahem*) AquaMonday, since I've scheduled coverage of Justice #2 to coincide with a Dark Knight spotlight on BatTuesday...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Zatanna Gallery by Mahmud A. Asrar

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The very busy Mahmud Asrar offers plenty of nice pin-ups between his Deviant Art gallery and his blog Creative Differences. I've only found a pair of Zatanna pieces by him so far, but he's doing DC books, so I'm sure more are forthcoming.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Justice #1 (October, 2005)

The Earth was in its final minutes when the Sea King threw his hands up, ordering a crowd of frightened people back. Just as the planet's cities had burned, its oceans boiled away, leaving nothing but a burial mound for sea life the world over. Batman guided children down into his network of underground caves, hoping to escape their inescapable ends. "We all fall down. Ashes. Ashes."

Black Manta sat up in bed, sweating, cupping his face and neck. "Not again." The nightmare kept coming, and his fellow villains in the Legion of Doom shared it.

King Arthur's wife and infant son slept more peacefully, in the serene depths of their Atlantean palace. After his mother died, Aquaman promised his father he would use his powers to defend the world above and below the ocean. "I have to remind myself why I have to be anything other than a husband and father." The Sea King was restless, and explained to his queen Mera that he sensed something amiss in his domain. After playing with Aquababy for a moment, the hero excused himself to pursue his grim intuition. "If there is anything in this life I would choose again, Mera, it's you. When I need a reason to return to Atlantis, I think of you and Arthur."

Astride a giant seahorse, Aquaman surveyed his kingdom and beyond, coming upon a massive ebony dome. Suddenly, Black Manta and his men were attacking, firing lasers and clutching at limbs. Ultimately, the troop proved ineffectual, but a host of sharks ignored Aquaman's commands and set upon him. Manta taunted his foe as Arthur succumbed, then saw Aquaman into the dome. Lex Luthor shared Manta's nightmare, and as their common foe lay unconscious in the Hall of Doom, they plotted with their compatriots to save the world from the super friends...

"Chapter One" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Friday, July 9, 2010

Earth's Mightiest Heroes by Tommy Tejeda

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After Batman: The Animated Series and Superman's follow-up, everyone was waiting for Wonder Woman and/or the Justice League of America's turn. Certainly there was a lot of proposal art from production designers like Bruce Timm floating around. Tommy Tejeda also had his turn at bat, rendering a fairly typical general audiences League in line with the founders/Super Friends model. No minorities, the mandated female, and certainly no unknown quantities like the Martian Manhunter or Hawkgirl. I like this clean, classic line-up as a single image, but it's much too safe to inspire confidence in a new cartoon series. Where's the tension and unpredictable dynamics? Plus, I vastly prefer John Stewart to Hal Jordan, and the actual show was essential to the turning of J'Onn J'Onzz into a household name. Aside from the Aquaman snub, I'm all the way behind the team actually used on the show.

For more by Tommy Tejeda, check out his blog, Vibrational Frequencies. I'm also having a spotlight at my blogs, so give 'em a look.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

2009 The Submariner vs. Aquaman by Tommy Tejeda

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Andrés Tommy Tejeda is an Emmy-winning character designer and occasional director who has worked on most DC-related animation since the mid-90s. He also likes to draw pictures of hot chicks in tight jeans and super-heroes punching each other. Aquaman took part in one, and you can read up on the match here.

For more by Tommy Tejeda, check out his blog, Vibrational Frequencies. I'm also having a spotlight at my blogs, so give 'em a look.

Monday, July 5, 2010

2009 Batman commission by Jun Bob Kim

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Fantastic work by an artist I was previously unfamiliar with. Check out Jun Bob Kim.com for more, or visit some spotlight posts at my other blogs:

Sunday, July 4, 2010

2007 Gaslight Batman Custom Action Figure by Sillof

Gaslight Justice League


Although the line was designed to go with the original DC Direct Batman figure, I knew fairly early on that I was going to at least modify the existing Batman (head, symbol, belt, paint) to have a more cohesive look with the rest of the line.

This isn't BaTuesday, and I've been pretty lame about supplying those anyway, but I'll run a Batman post today all the same. My fellow Americans (U.S. flavor) are celebrating our independence from England (circa 1776,) but The Irredeemable Shag of Once Upon a Geek inspired me to look at how things might have played out had things gone the other way. The unofficial first DC Comics "Elseworld" alternate universe prestige format story was Gotham by Gaslight, which saw the Dark Knight turn up in the Victorian Era. That book inspired a fan by the name of Sillof to create a small line of steampunk custom action figures dubbed the "Gaslight Justice League." His Batman is pretty faithful to Mike Mignola's comic book design, but Sillof's Aquaman & Black Manta are pretty wild. His dapper take on The Martian Manhunter is my favorite of Detroit Leaguers represented. Wonder Woman and Gorilla Grodd are also pretty boss, and what would Batman be with The Joker? See then all at Sillof's "Gaslight Justice League."