Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day of Judgment Secret Files & Origins #1- Zatanna Profile Page (November, 1999)

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Here's a very valid question: why buy comic book reference in the year 2012? We have Wikipedia and Comic Vine and countless blogs being updated regularly with the latest developments. That's exactly the reason why. All those reference sources are doing their level best to cover the who-what-where of current continuity, revising and glossing over everything that came before. They're like nerdy kids who go away for the summer and come back with a buzzcut wearing skater threads and wanting to be called "Thrasher." These old references are a snapshot of a specific moment, warts and all. They may look kind of puffy, or the subject can't even fake a smile because their parents were going through a divorce.

Take Zatanna. There's that profile page where she was still trying to dress like Scarlet Witch, and she'd gotten all meta-kidnapped/raped/tortured by that Adam guy before she fell between the cracks of the DC Universe and only appeared in pre-Vertigo supernatural books. There's another one from after she was radically depowered and Dr. Mist was stalking her and she was in this terrible pants magician get-up with a batwing cape that she only ever wore, like, once. There's another one where she's kind of a half-assed wannabe riot grrrl in leather and boots with this staff thing. Last time I looked, she was going through a sad goth phase involving fishnet opera gloves.

I like this picture. This was years after she'd dealt with the deaths of her parents, but years before she was implicated in all those nasty mindwipes. She had gone back to wearing a variation of her original costume, itself a tarted-up girlie version of Zatarra's that by today's standards is just darling and quaint. She's back to being the slightly older girl-next-door, the big sister or object of unrequited crushdom, appearing in zany books like Impulse. She was back to being incredibly powerful and speaking backwards, but more mature and together than in her younger days. She was the one heroine powerful enough to truly hang with the "Sentinels of Magic" JLA of super-sorcerers DC tried to run with before settling on the Shadowpact.

She looks happy in this picture. I like this one. Good times.

The profile was written by Scott Beatty with art by Brian Denham.

Secret Files & Opinions

Sunday, June 24, 2012

2011 DCnU JLI art by TJ Frias

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"Here's another sketch based on DC's relaunch, Justice League International featuring Batman, Booster Gold, Green Lantern Guy Gardner, August General in Iron, Fire, Ice, Vixen and Rocket Red. There's of course a mystery female member who's been pulled from DC's promo art. This is, of course, a tribute to Kevin Maguire, one of the dudes that truly gave life to the JLI.

Initial thoughts about the relaunch: JL and the subsequent JLI by Giffen, DeMatteis, and Maguire was my favorite Justice League run. It was eventually taken over by Dan Jurgens (I believe on art chores and maybe writing), and he is now penning this. It was a let-down then and I'm afraid it may be again. As far as costuming goes, I didn't think Booster needed a change. Vixen's could be better. I don't know what Fire's non-flaming look looks like. I'll refrain from commenting on the roster till I read some more."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Aquaman #8 (June, 2012)

Six years ago, Arthur Curry's father was dead, and his identity was revealed to a media that camped out in front of his lighthouse, demanding answers. Dr. Stephen Shin was at least partly responsible for this mayhem, but now struggled to get through the throng of reporters with freshly dressed wounds on his neck. Angry and heartsick, Arthur burst through his own front door, ripped off his shirt, and dived off a cliff into the bay. Shin stood looking over that cliff for hours after the media had departed. "I'm so sorry." A year later, Aquaman turned up with an early version of his costume and bearing a trident.

In the present, Mera learned that Aquaman had been part of an informal group of super-humans during that period, and shared a telepathic connection with the beast mistress Ya'Wara. She did not appear to be pleased. Aquaman and the others banded together out of necessity to locate and secure Atlantean relics of power, which was the likely prize for Black Manta in murdering them. Ya'Wara was sure that Shin was in league with their foe, and wanted him dead, but Arthur asked Mera to protect the doctor while he investigated the matter. Ya'Wara teleported Aquaman to her jungle, while Mera demanded more information from Shin.

Six years ago, Aquaman's group was in Siberia, pursuing Manta. Explosions were set off, and Kahina the Seer saw a vision of villagers buried alive. Aquaman was willing to ignore their welfare in his dogged pursuit, but the others turned away from him to protect the village. Vostok-X flew a couple of guys to safety, but it was Prisoner of War's energy shield that actually saved the day. Aquaman grudgingly helped a little girl caught outside the shield, but was clearly pissed about losing Manta. The Operative argued that "Revenge isn't a greater good," while Kahina tried to soothe Arthur's savage breast with the foreseen fortune that he would eventually "find happiness."

At present, in a Brazilian jungle, Aquaman mourned over the body of his friend Kahina. Her Seal of Clarity had been taken, and gunmen employed by Manta began firing on everyone at the scene. Meanwhile, Black Manta was at the U.S. Army Health Center in Heidelberg, Germany. "Yes, I'm here. And I've found another."

"The Others: Chapter Two" was by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado. A lot more flashback action this issue, which was welcome, since Johns packs a lot more story into those than his deflated "A" plots. Most of the Others remain cannon fodder, but they get a bit more characterization, and look alright in action. I could have done without two splashes and a spread, all insubstantial pin-ups, eating away an already slight twenty pages of comic.

New 52's Day

Sunday, June 17, 2012

2010-2011 The Justice League of America 100 Project charity art by Mark Buckingham

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An outstanding piece with such few, specific, and underappreciated characters, you know Buckingham must have love for Aquaman and the Atom (and maybe their various team-up stories?)

In late 2000, a consortium of comic publishers came up with the idea to create a financial safety net for comic creators, much in the same fashion that exists in almost any other trade from plumbing to pottery. By March of 2001, the federal government approved The Hero Initiative as a publicly supported not-for-profit corporation under section 501 (c) (3).

Since its inception, The Hero Initiative (Formerly known as A.C.T.O.R., A Commitment To Our Roots) has had the good fortune to grant over $400,000 to the comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today.

The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterdays' creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.


Please enjoy this gallery of ALL 104 original Justice League of America #50 Hero Initiative covers!

Hardcover and softcover versions of a book collecting all the covers will be available in December, 2011. AND all the originals will be auctioned off according to the following schedule:

• December 3, 2011, Meltdown Comics, Los Angeles, CA: Display of all 104 covers and auction of first one-third
• Jan. 20-22, 2012, Tate's Comics, Lauderhill, FL (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area): Display of remaining covers and auction of second one-third.
• Feb. 17-19, 2012: Orlando MegaCon, Orlando, FL: Display and auction of final one-third.

All covers will be sold via LIVE AUCTION on-site at the venues above. If you cannot attend but wish to bid, proxy bidding is available.
Contact Joe Davidson at:
Deadlines for each grouping are below, and each cover carries a minimum bid of $100.

Special thanks to Firestorm Fan for the notice!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #55 (October, 2007)

Vandal Savage chastised Krusivax over pretty much everything: capturing rather than killing the new Aquaman, offering grand expository victory speeches, hiring a D-lister like the Human Flying Fish based on "sentimental rubbish." Krusivax countered that the immortal villain was "in jail, or occupied with other projects, for the last several months." Can't complain about the run of things while off gallivanting, basically. Arthur just wanted his father left alone and to be free of all the craziness. A businessman named Jupiter figured he didn't know the half of it, making reference to "Operation Sinker" and earning Krusivax's scorn for his drunken slip of a "crude joke" moniker.

Savage cold knocked-out the HFF when it was realized that he had forgotten to bring in Aquagirl after capturing Aquaman. Lorena Marquez had escaped to seek aid from Cal Durham and Dr. Kyesha Salton in Sub Diego. Cal didn't exactly have Superman's number, but he had shaven his head to show all the recent evildoers that he meant business, and he had a line to Titans Tower...

Lorena was off in search of further help, and ended up with a foot snared in Topo's tentacles. "In some offices, this would be considered harassment. Topo had managed to hack Tri-Dent, and discovered a video in which Progene Technologies chairman Gregory Jupiter took credit for destroying cities along the Pacific Ocean Rim by dropping them into the sea as he'd done to San Diego...

Professor Phillip Curry was left sedated on the floor, Aquaman was bound up, and the soused Gregory Jupiter was left to shoot the breeze without any guards around. As it turned out, this was the brother of the Mr. Jupiter that used to order the Teen Titans around, but Gregory preferred the idea of playing super-villain. However, he knew from making the video that he would get all the blame for the billions soon to die, and Arthur made sure that he was aware that he would surely die because of it. After all, Krusivax would rule the survivors under the sea, while Savage got to "thin the herd" on land, and neither would want Jupiter around speaking to their involvement. The cause of all the trouble would be genetically-conceived "lithophages" who would eat the rock around tectonic plates to destabilize land masses...

A tubby fellow had gone bonkers in his Sub Diego apartment, and began painting his face with markers before sharing his realizations on the black humor of life...

Issitoq the Narwhal finally decided to leave Dyss, but had to fight past Pardoner, whose ability to inflict pain had been quietly overcome. That left the murderously treacherous Cryptid, a girl friend whose gelatinous body had to be chewed through by Issitoq for him to continue to Atlantis...

In the Loma Sea Valley, Garth learned from Leah that there were three great undersea nations, with Atlantis only the most famous (if also the least conscious of that fact.) Garth was becoming aware of Dyss, but it was actually the third, Viatha, that was manipulating him through the Thorny Crown. Leah had lived among the latter for a time, and showed Garth her stolen submarine vessel as proof of her escape...

Jupiter freed Arthur, but Vandal Savage was wise to the development. "My green-skinned ally shares the vices of many beginners. He likes to lecture his enemies. Over the millennia, I've learned it's better to kill them." Savage dealt Aquaman some damage, but was ultimately overcome. The Human Flying Fish saved face by shocking Aquaman unconscious. More heroes made an explosive entrance, as an armored Aquagirl and Cal Durham were joined by Cyborg for a rescue mission...

"Ring of Fire" was by Tad Williams and Shawn McManus. Kevin Maguire drew the cover, involving Artie Joe getting attacked by a tentacle monster in a non-Japanese kinky way. Maguire had a run of covers on the iconic Aquaman in the early '90s, and despite improving as an illustrator, demonstrates the weaknesses in the "Sword" design by still falling short by comparison. The script also falters with this edition, as it floods the reader with revelations long teased in a halting matter that heightens the sense of things still somehow being dragged out. There's too many pieces of information from too many sources slowly adding up to a rather banal master scheme and some obligatory fisticuffs. The latter was really not McManus' strong suit, and his characters are too comical in appearance for the ominous tone Williams was setting.

Brave New World

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

2008 The Vixen & Steel Mego-Style custom figures by Alberto Malnati

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Probably the first major line of super-hero action figures were produced by Mego in the 1970s and early '80s. Iconic DC heroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman were released in various forms by the company, and even shared space with Marvel Comics' top heroes and the stars of hit TV series/movies.

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The Lady Fox and the Indestructible Man existed while the Mego Corporation was still making action figures, but they were much too obscure to rate toys of their own. The Detroit Era Justice League of America was just coming together when Mego was falling apart, and the busy late Bronze Age designs referenced here really stand apart from the more simple union suits of the "name" heroes Mego manufactured. Still, I get a kick out of this mingling of styles, and Hank turned out especially nice. More Mego Customs

Monday, June 4, 2012

2011 Zatanna color art by Ozzie Rodriguez

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Do click on the pic, as it will take you to the artist's blog and swell progress images. Bravo!