Sonntag, 28. Februar 2010

The Essentials: New Warriors by Fabian Nicieza

Growing up, I always liked to root for the underdogs; maybe it was the burgeoning Red Sox fan in me, who knows. I pulled for the Buffalo Bills to upset whoever they would inevitably lose to in the Super Bowl, rooted for guys like Kerry Von Erich to win the Royal Rumble, and always made sure my favorite character on any TV show was the third most popular at best (i.e. Laser from American Gladiators as opposed to Nitro, Gemini or Turbo).

In comics, I was no different. The more well-known a character or property was, the less interest I had. Of course the secondary reason for this was that the more undiscovered a comic was the more fun I had learning all about it, but I didn’t really get that consciously until later.

I knew who Superman and Batman were, so I eschewed DC for Marvel. I was at least somewhat familiar with Captain America and Iron Man, so I passed over the Avengers for the X-Men (who of course were anything but obscure to comic book fans, but they didn’t have a TV show or anything yet). Even within the X-Men titles, I always preferred X-Force to the main books because Cannonball was more interesting to me than Wolverine.

And then there was New Warriors.

One day early on in my comic book journey as I was rooting through the back issue bins of my local baseball card store, I happened across three or four issues of New Warriors from the original run by Fabian Nicieza and Mark Bagley. I was mesmerized by these characters who all had great designs thanks to Bagley and the artists he was borrowing from, but who I had no familiarity with whatsoever, yet there was the Marvel logo up in the corners, so they did somehow share a universe with Spider-Man and the rest. That it was a book about teenagers closer to my age than the X-Men or most other prominent characters of the day was a welcome discovery I would make upon returning home and reading the book, but I bought every issue I could find just on the strength of those first few covers and my curiosity about the unknown.

New Warriors ended up becoming the book that served as the spine of my first Golden Age as a comic book collector and remains not only one of my favorite series ever, but one I feel more than comfortable pointing to and saying “This totally holds up as proof the 90’s weren’t all bad.”

I know that looking back at my favorite childhood comic inevitably means many of my observations are going to be tinted through a haze of nostalgia, but I still think I can speak pretty conclusively to some of the things that really made New Warriors work.

In my mind, Nicieza’s commitment to the book and the characters was the most important factor in its success (and for my purposes, we’re talking about “success” more in terms of being a critically well-received and much-beloved by me personally comic if not necessarily a commercial blockbuster), but no doubt the environment of Marvel at the time, at least in terms of their treatment of Warriors, played a huge role in making that possible.

During the 90’s age of super-continuity and titles often being sucked up into bigger events beyond their control, New Warriors was for the most part left to its own devices. Yeah, Nicieza brought in plenty of guest stars from The Punisher to Namor to Darkhawk to an entire alternate Egyptian-themed Marvel Universe in those first couple years, but they added to rather than distracting the larger stories being told over lengthy periods of time in Warriors, stories that felt very self-contained and that as a reader of the book you felt a great deal of ownership over and satisfaction in.

Out of the aforementioned sense of standing alone, I always dug that the New Warriors felt like a far more intimate and welcoming group in opposition to their counterparts at both Marvel and DC. While the X-Men were fighting for Xavier’s dream, the Avengers were Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Justice League were (at the time) working for the government and so on, the Warriors had no great modus operandi and were really just a group of misfits who ended up becoming friends because they enjoyed hanging out together; it was far closer to my (and I’d think most people’s) junior high/high school experience than any other comic.

To wit, the Warriors were founded thusly: Night Thrasher wanted to create a team of young super heroes to fight crime and avenge the death of his parents (yes, I know it sounds familiar); Marvel Boy (later Justice) wanted to join the Avengers but was deemed too young; Nova got his powers back thanks to Thrash and was looking to kick ass; Firestar was at loose ends; Namorita wanted a place on the surface world; Speedball was just looking for a good time. Six completely different agendas, but through more coincidence than design, they ended up banding together to beat Terrax and decided it made more sense to be a team than not to be one. From there they got a cool warehouse to hang out in, brought in some other directionless recruits, and of course started pairing off romantically like bunnies in heat.

In other words, it’s one of the most unique and yet most realistic depictions of teens as super heroes ever; because honestly, at age 17 were you and your buddies more likely to hold formal meetings with roll calls and such or meet up every so often in your clubhouse, order pizza, and go fight aliens because you saw them attacking New York on the news?

In interviews, Nicieza always said his run on New Warriors was about two things: making hard choices and seeking the truth. Again, as a kid, these were things I grasped really easily and found far more compelling than simply “We’re out to save the world” or even “We’re out to foster peace between our race and those who hate and fear us” (no offense meant to my other childhood comic book loves of course).

With those two guiding principles, New Warriors often tackled issues that you wouldn’t see in your average comic on a semi-monthly basis. Marvel Boy was a victim of child abuse and ended up killing his father accidentally while using his powers for self-defense, which formed the crux of one of the title’s most monumental storylines when he went on trial (defended by Foggy Nelson no less). Namorita led the team into a hostile Middle Eastern country where they were unable to determine whether the dictator in charge or the leader of the rebellion was a bigger scumbag. Foes like eco-terrorists the Force of Nature and the vigilante Bengal had the Warriors constantly having to make those aforementioned hard choices as to what side was the right one.
On the seeking truth side of the equation, the mystery behind what exactly happened to Night Thrasher’s parents ended up becoming far more complex than a simple Batman knock-off and the revelations would for an epic that dominated much of the book’s second year and concluded explosively alongside Marvel Boy’s trial in Bagley’s final issue. Nicieza being able to meticulously plot and unfurl these intricate tales gave New Warriors much of its strength.

And yet while New Warriors did hard-hitting “torn from the headlines” stuff better than most mainstream capes and tights titles, it could flip on a dime to stuff that made the universe shudder as well. That Egyptian alternate universe story, for instance, was the Warriors’ first encounter with Nova’s near-omnipotent old foe, The Sphinx, albeit a female version, and that “Forever Yesterday” trilogy not only stands out as a perennial favorite to anybody who has read it, but also heralded more mammoth tales pitting our young heroes against the immortal lovers in a Shakespearean drama gone cosmic.

The Warriors also took on world beaters like their old buddy Terrax as well as the Inhumans and Star Thief, not to mention having to help Nova save an entire dead world in “The Starlost.” They tussled with The White Queen and her Hellions as well as out-of-control mutant Darkling who brought half of New York City’s good guys under his control, including several Warriors. They had memorable moments from Nova and Namorita’s first hook-up to Rage snapping the neck of the man who killed his grandmother.

Like New Teen Titans, New Warriors was a comic that could adapt to any genre, be it topical issues, fantasy, science-fiction, etc. The heart of the book was the family that Fabian Nicieza and his artistic collaborators created in these characters and that you felt a part of.

Speaking of those collaborators, Nicieza and fans like myself were damn lucky as we not only got Mark Bagley for 25 issues, but then no less than Darick Robertson as an encore through issue 50. New Warriors was always a great-looking book and a lot of the fun in following it monthly was seeing both men grow from the rookies they came on the title as into the superstars they’ve become today.

I think I’ll wrap on that point of the New Warriors feeling like a family, which is an overused cliché in singing the praises of good comics to be sure, but that doesn’t make it any less apt. However, the Warriors never felt like a family in the traditional sense, they felt like the way you call your best friends “family” and know you can count on them to be there for you when maybe you don’t want to go to your parents or siblings. Coming full circle to why I picked up New Warriors in the first place, since they weren’t an established property with years of history when I started reading, I felt like I got in on the ground floor of basically the first week of school and got to become friends with Dwayne, Vance, Angel, Rich, Nita, Robbie and the rest at the same time they were becoming friends with one another; as their fictional bond grew, so did my attachment to following their adventures, hardships and triumphs.

Interestingly enough, I can still draw parallels to that original run of New Warriors to my experience as teenager into the present. In the same way I haven’t really remained close to many of my friends from high school but can still talk to them for hours when we do run in to one another, I don’t feel any great void in my comic book-reading life for lack of a New Warriors ongoing, but I still get excited whenever any two or more members of the team appear together.
Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning illustrated pretty well in an issue of Nova last year where Rich got together with Justice and Firestar to have some pizza and beers that you can never really go home again as far as those glory days. Today, Night Thrasher and Namorita are dead. Nova is off in space. Speedball is a haunted basket case. Justice and Firestar didn’t end up getting married, they went their separate ways. When the survivors hang out, they talk about the good times they had way back when, but their lives are elsewhere now, for better or for worse.

Sound familiar?

Like high school, New Warriors is something I got a lot out of and would never want to trade in, but it’s also something I’m happy leaving on the shelf, revisiting once in awhile before moving onto something else. Those 50+ issues were really something special, but also a neat instance of a comics saga with a good beginning, middle and end that you can always remain satisfied with even as the characters move on to other things.

Samstag, 27. Februar 2010

Earth's Mightiest Sketch Blog: The Wasp

Well this could have gone a lot worse.

Seriously, in all humility, I'm quite pleased with my first lady Avengers sketch of The Wasp.

Since I've always had trouble drawing women (I'm sure that speaks to some sort of issues, but I'll save myself some cash on counseling and just keep sketching), so I used this reference piece by an uncredited artist (Banks? As in Darryl?). However, I ended up doing a lot of "leg work" myself, including switching over to the character's original costume since I find it her most distinctive and because, hey, it's a Jack Kirby design.

So yeah, not too shabby. We'll see if I can hold it up as we continue.

Wheelchair Boxing Round 3: is this tenacious?

Free from the ‘51’ (the 51 days of fever), and the fever and chills from Tuesday, I went to Boxing on Friday. I am places. I have ribs showing, am sitting on pure pelvic bones but have a pot and little tire and not quite sure how that happens (lying there for 51 days might have something to do with it).

It annoys me.

Things that annoy me get removed. Turn on the vacuum cleaners, and hand me the scissors: time for my home liposuction!

I have pushing myself hard since the fever, trying to get reserves, but working every hour. I have had some problems with high blood pressure and seizures, and the fever make things explode literally. Due to my camera being a ‘smart camera’ which tries to match skin tones, this bruise is about half as dark and just plain disturbing as the picture shows. There is another rupture showing up in the pinky, it starts in the crease and goes up half of the pinky. As you can see with this picture, I bleed every day, expanding territory of this particular bruise, and that is only the part you can see on the skin. When I overheat and blood comes to the surface, it gets gigantic. It seems like my body is playing a game of Risk, and slowly winning territory. This is called subcutaneous bleeding, I think. I did not hit anything, this bruise along with about 30 more visible ones, are just ruptures of my arteries from high, high blood pressure.

This is what dying looks like. I wasn’t going to take pictures of the things we now see, except that people who read the blog are so used to me ‘dying’ that the idea the ride is about over, and going to come to a complete stop, is alien. No, I am not an alien, or a sub-human that just keeps going regardless. I could die today, I already came close. My arms twitch constantly so it is hard to type. There is no ‘after Xmas’, or ‘Next year’ or ‘This Fall’ in the thoughts of Linda and I. Yeah, it might be wonderful, you think, to look worse than an infected junkie, and have the pain of having nails driven into your bones, and just go on like this. But human bodies don’t. They tend to generate what are known as ‘loopbacks’ which is the body saying “Help” but, for someone who can’t feel, only generates TIA inducing spontaneous high blood pressure.

I would love a long term gig but right now, no treatment, no doctor, and a hospital would likely kill me in short order (when they make ASSUMPTIONS, and my body works the opposite, that is a BAD thing), that isn’t happening. Sure, I have to live as if I keep on living, because I am not sitting here waiting to fall over. But I am fighting to get back each freedom in the same way I went to the fencing tournament AFTER I knew it might kill me: I want one more spin on the merry-go-round. I want one more 10K, one more Sakura-con (see Linda on how that is going), and with about 600 more postcards I get 5,000. That’s a good number, right? Yeah, the shop is shutting down, whether I want it to or not.

I am not a Goth, I AM GOTH. And no one is riding shotgun with me.

So, after seeing Sherlock Holmes and a few hours of sleep I went up to boxing. I went up because a) I need to lose that pot before Sakura-con (vanity, vanity!) b) I want to be as elite an athlete as I can be for my condition because I believe that will extend my life – even if that is 1/10 of what my condition was in August or Oct. last year. And c) I really want to go out of this life hitting and fighting DAMMIT! I want to be a wheelchair boxer again.

I managed to show up on ‘do sit ups, push ups and heavy bag until you vomit’ night. All right! We did 12 series of combo’s on the heavy bag before doing tight hitting as fast as you could and then strong blows are hard as you could. I couldn’t type afterward – I just needed to lie down and have body twitching.

When I started I felt FAT, but when I finished I felt better, not just because with eating only one meal a day, but I am on bone in my pelvis. But my arms still seem to work, and I was able to sweat, enough to maybe stop my hair from falling out. Enough to stop the skin peeling off of my face.

Linda said, of those there, I was putting the most into it, but then, I do. Ian held my heavy bag and surveyed the room while I worked on uppercuts, shovel hooks, overhead hooks, and power rights. I knew I would be in pain, since last time I was unable to sleep due to the pain from boxing. This time I managed to get four hours sleep (only to find out that due to working SLOWLY every day, the construction will now continue into Saturday – six days a week, starting TODAY until Xmas). I know that I will never be able to look out my window again. That is what is. I have wall scrolls to watch and DVD’s I play to cover up the construction noise.

The trick of making combination is to totally relax between the combinations, like letting your mind go into strategic mode, so you breath, relax. Then you take the power from the relaxed muscles and accelerate them to culminate into a point in time and space – WHAM, wham, WHAM, and relax with your guard up. It takes a half second to make three hits.

Ian is the right type of temperament for me. I told him, “You are doing 40lb jabs” while I was holding the heavy bag (throwing around boxes of books, the 80 pounds of books versus the 40 becomes memorized). He told me he could barely use his shoulders: jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, cross, power hook. “I did two killer workouts yesterday.” He said, “Why do I hit so hard when I am so tired?” jab, jab, cross, jab, back step, step into hook, triple jab and a rocking cross. He laughs, “Because I like it.”

Afterward I apologized for not coming due to the fever. For Ian, who knows me, it is not a big deal, two of his students, new ones overheard me and one said, “Oh my God! Did you go to the hospital?” Ian and I looked at each other like, “Newbies!” He knows this rocket is pointed toward the sun.

He had parasites from a trip overseas, as is working them out. I told him I will be back regularly I hope as I get ready for Sakura-con and the 10K. “You are the most tenacious human being I have ever met.” He suddenly said to me. I wasn’t sure what to say.

Ian has had about 75 bouts with I think 5 defeats. He came out of retirement in his mid-30’s to do a boxing tournament that required FOUR back to back full on bouts, which means you had to win all four in a row. He was at the final bout when a ref called a holding, and a stop, he lowered his glove, while the other boxer put all his weight behind a hit to his cheek, crushing his cheekbone and pressing his eyeball out. Ian went on to knock out that man and win the tournament. But, he said, it taught him that he was too trusting, and it was time to retire. And he calls ME the most tenacious human being he has ever met? Of all the boxers? Of looking himself in the mirror?

I want to live up to that.
Someone recently sent me an email saying they wrote so that I won’t be lonely. I write because I am lonely.

I want so much for this blog to go back to jaunty and saucy and research and observation of BEFORE, and I hope it will. Because all of that is a part of who I am. But so are the things which no one talks about, that shadow which falls over everything I look at, over everything good in my life. I live because I need to live each day as if I were to keep on living. But I also need to have a part of each day in preparation for dying. Except there isn’t any way to teach me how to do that. Linda has 3 support meetings in the next 10 days. I will meet a therapist for the first time, a meet and greet – they are accessible, so they are only available every three weeks. And what do the living, who observe and writing ‘stages’ know of this. What do they know of having what limited support group die, one after the other.

One told me, “Just because they say you are going to die, doesn’t mean you will.” Dead.

“Morbid wit, I like it.” Dead.

Another taught me how to keep blogging. He was the most obvious, slurred, even on the blog, so we brushed by, as I was full of symptoms and possible conditions, and that he could be me soon, it terrified, and he died soon after.

So boxing and being in pain and watching blood pool from parts of me is easy. Wham, wham WHAM! THAT is nothing. Letting someone in, knowing I won’t be there for them, and seeing them watch me with terrified eyes, how do I do that?

Freitag, 26. Februar 2010

Wonder Woman #188

Wonder Woman #188 (On Sale: February 26, 1970) has a cover by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano that is a wonderful return to the heavy bondage roots of classic Golden Age Wonder Woman covers.

We begin with our cover-story "Cyber's Revenge" written and penciled by Mike Sekowsky and inked by Dick Giordano. Continuing from last issue, Diana and Ching have been pulled from the waters of Hong Kong Harbor as the Junk that was the headquarters of Dr. Cyber burns. The badly burned Cyber and her associate Lu Shan, maybe I Ching's daughter, escaped with a new power source to be used to power Cyber's earthquaker devices. Ching was shot by Lu Shan and is rushed to the hospital, while Diana and Patrick McGuire meet at the police station and go over the events thus far.

Suddenly Hong Kong is hit by an earthquake and Diana and Patrick head for the streets where they are shot at by a strange car carrying Lu Shan and a assortment of Cyber henchmen. They escape Cyber's people by hiding under some wreckage, when another quake hits Patrick is knocked unconscious. Meanwhile Cyber sends a message to the wold that she must be declared supreme ruler of Earth or she will level every city on the planet with her earthquakers.

Lu Shan and her thugs locate Diana but she overpowers her and chases off the thugs and "convinces" Lu Shan to show them where one of the earthquakers is located. However, suspecting a trap, Diana wants Lu Shan to throw the power switch to turn off the machine and when she refuses Diana once again overpowers her. Eventually Lu Shan is convinced to turn off the earthquakers safely, bypassing the self-destruct feature that she was hoping would catch Diana.

Back at the inspector's office, Diana gets the location of the other earthquakers out of Lu Shan and while the inspector's men go after most of the machine, Diana and Patrick take the last one themselves. They race across the destroyed city to the location of the final earthquaker as it is turned on once again. They make it into the facility but run afoul of a trap door.

When they awaken they are chained to the ceiling and a heavily bandaged Dr. Cyber is there. She removes her bandages and shows Diana the mess she made of her face. Diana turns her face away from the sight and Cyber grabs her and turns Diana toward her. Which is what Diana hoped she would do, come in close enough so that Diana could knock her out with a swift kick to the face. Using the training she was taught by I Ching Diana is able to free herself but then is attacked by Cyber's personal guards, whom she quickly defeats.

As Diana frees Patrick Cyber awakens and attacks her with a sword, but Diana uses the chains to keep Cyber at bay and knock her into a power supply on the earthquaker. As Cyber fries, she pushes the self-destruct button. Diana and Patrick barely make it out alive. From hiding we see Lu Shan, vowing to get revenge. Diana and Patrick then begin helping those wounded in the quakes.

Days later she and Patrick make it to the hospital to check in on I Ching only to find that he is gone. A visitor came to his room and spoke something of Lu Shan and how she had crossed the border into Red China. Ching seems to have followed her. Reprinted in Diana Prince:Wonder Woman Vol. 2 TPB.

We get another great Sekowsky/Giordano teaser page for the next issue followed by a two page filler, "Crime Does Not Pay!" also by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano. This little short is about a pick-pocket who unwisely tries to pick Diana's pocket!

Edited by Mike Sekowsky.

Detective Comics #398

Detective Comics #398 (On Sale: February 26, 1970) has a cover by Neal Adams.

This issue begins with our cover-story "The Poison Pen Puzzle" by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella. It begins with Bruce Wayne on a jet headed for Los Angeles where Wayne Enterprises is about to buy into the picture business by purchasing a stake in Seven-Star Pictures. Sitting next to him is writer Maxine Melanie, who creates quite a stir on the plane when her identity is revealed by a couple of flight attendants. Her latest Hollywood tell-all "novel" has just been published and when she asks Bruce if he would like an autograph, he makes it clear how he feels about her type of literature, "I wouldn't be seen dead with your--book!"

But as fate would have it Seven-Star Pictures has just optioned the thing and after landing Bruce makes a big stink in the boardroom of Seven-Star, threatening to call of the merger if Seven-Star makes the movie. One of the board-members rightfully accuses Bruce of being a boorish "censor" for criticizing a book he has not read and when they go to get Bruce their advanced copy, they find it missing. This sends Bruce to a nearest bookstore where Maxine just happens to be signing her work.

Bruce is told that if he wants an autograph from Maxine that he better bring his own pen as "Maxine ran out of hers hours ago..." Just then an old woman asks to be let into the line awaiting autographs as she is "too frail to take this pushing around." As Maxine signs her book, she spasms, screams and collapses. The old woman tries to beat a hasty retreat but drops her book. Bruce tries to return it to her and is flipped onto his back by the old broad. By this time a doctor has shown up and pronounces Maxine dead. Bruce notices that there is a pin-prick in Maxine's finger and that there is a needle sticking out of the pen. When Bruce looks at the dropped book he sees that it is an advanced copy.

Back at Seven-Stars Bruce finds that they know of Maxine's death and that one of their top "properties," Loren Melburn has confessed to the murder. She is half of Hollywood's "perfect couple" with husband Dorian Spence. They were both "speared by Maxine's poison-pen in her novel." They mention to Bruce that there is a third major star mentioned in the book, Ronald Dart, who also had motive to kill Maxine. Another board-member walks in and announces that Dorian Spence has also confessed to the murder of Maxine.

Bruce says he will handle this personally and as Batman visits the Los Angeles police where he tels them to announce that Batman is on the case. Later Batman visits the Spense's where Dorian tries to convince him that he is the real killer. Planning to head over to Rod Drake's place next door Batman is confronted by Drake in the garden, where he says he overheard Spence planning Maxine's death. When Drake comes out of the shadows he is wielding a fireplace poker and is not Drake, but Dorian Spense. But just as quickly he is grabbed by Dorian Spence who pulls the mask off the attacking Spence to reveal Rod Drake.

Drake confesses that he fed Maxine most of the dirt in her "novel" with the promise that he would star in the movie version. Only, she reneged and he decided to kill her for it. Does much of this make any sense at all? Not really.

The back-up is Robin in "Moon-Struck" by Frank Robbins, Gil Kane and Vinny Colletta. Hudson University is being visited by a moon rock which NASA is giving to Russia and is being accepted by Russian Exchange Professor Zukov. Geeky student Herb Stroud, the campus "profit of doom" who "showers every hour--on the hour" arrives to say that the moon rock may be dangerous. His prediction appears to have been right as the rock flashes green and Herb's skin turns the exact same color. The campus is quarantined and NASA people grab Herb for testing. They can find no radiation issues at all.

Meanwhile Robin is suspecting a hoax and is visiting the showers and finds a strange bar of green soap with an odd scent. Just hen the lights go out and so does Robin, who is attacked trying to keep the soap. When he awakens he smells an odd scent on the hand of the person who awakened him. Reprinted in Showcase Presents: Robin the Boy Wonder Vol. 1 TPB. Not much to say about this one except the art is horrible and I don't blame Gil Kane.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Chris Houghton covers Airboy 27

Original cover by Ron Randall, Eclipse 1987. Chris Houghton's website is here.

Aquaman #51

Aquaman #51 (On Sale: February 26, 1970) has another brilliant cover by Nick Cardy. This may be the Silver Age of comics, but it was the Golden Age of Comic Covers.

We begin with Aquaman in "The Big Pull" by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo. Continuing from last issue, some alien creatures sent by Ocean Master have blasted Aquaman, well, somewhere unearthly. There he met a woman who lived in a strange city where their religion only allowed for communication in their sanctuary. Looking for information about Earth the woman has brought Aquaman to Brother Warnn and as we pick up the story this issue we learn that even this man has no concept of Earth. The people here only believe in the City and the Wilderness beyond; to them nothing else exists.

When Aquaman tells the woman that he intends to search for someone who knows of Earth, the woman warns him that there is nothing but the City and the Wilderness and to speak otherwise is blasphemy. Aquaman is overheard however by a Supreme Brother, one of the few allowed to communicate outside of the sanctuary. The woman tells Aquaman that if he leaves they will surely attack him, but Aquaman doesn't want to wait around any longer and bolts from the place. He is followed by a couple of warriors with the crazy bubble-guns seen last issue. Aquaman sneaks up on an unsuspecting guard, and knocking him out, uses his body as a shield from the bubbles. Escaping Aquaman soon finds that he is once again being followed by the woman.

Back in the City, on official turns on a machine which sends out huge telepathic waves into the Wilderness. The waves his Aquaman and his companion, causing extreme pain and knocking her out. Aquaman carries the woman and swims on. Eventually as he puts more distance between him and the City the pain eases.

Back in Atlantis, Black Manta is seen approaching the city and Mera, alone and in charge, wishes with all her might that her husband were back with her. At that same instance, somewhere else, Aquaman feels a strange force pulling him in a specific direction. His companion wakes up and seems unsure of what to do, but eventually decides to continue following Aquaman.

As they continue on they are seen by two strange little men toiling in a rock quarry. Jimm thinks he sees Aquaman, but Steev has never heard of Aquaman and thinks they better get back to work or Dikk will have their heads. This was a nice little inside bit by Skeates and Aparo.

Luckily the woman did not see Steev or Jimm for she would have surely freaked when she saw them talking, for a little later on Aquaman is drawn toward a large sphere, covered with cave-like structures. When the woman sees the cave-people communicating in the open she is shocked and pulls out her gun to shoot them. Aquaman stops her, but not before one errant shot is let loose. It hits near a child playing and the cave people head toward Aquaman with clubs at the ready. This story was reprinted in Adventure Comics #503.

The back-up is Deadman in "The World Cannot Wait for a Deadman" written and drawn by Neal Adams. If you remember last time, the same aliens that zapped Aquaman where ever the heck he has been zapped, let loose a cat-like creature when they realized a non-corporal being like Deadman was in their midst and said cat-like creature was flipping Deadman out! More like taking him for an inter-dimensional ride! Now as he lands on solid ground (hard for a dead man to do!), the cat-like create has turned into a beautiful woman who explains that in this dimension Deadman is real

The beautiful Tatsinda explains that in our world she can only exist as the "cat-like" creature, that the aliens captured her two years ago and that the only way she could get home was to "ride" a nonentity, such as Deadman, back to her dimension. Deadman says that she can just ride him right back then, "Look, just drop me off and you can come back here!" But of course, she can only make the dimensional jump with someone like Deadman to ride her through it.

Just then Tatsinda's brother and sister arrive and after a tearful reunion they all run underground to avoid a massive storm. As they near Tatsinda's underground home city they are attacked by two ugly-looking guys on a giant crab-like creature. The crab-like creature's eyes hold them all in a hypnotic trance as the ugly ones grab Tatsinda and scamper (scuttle?) away on a giant network of spider-like webbing. Once they snap out of the trance Deadman asks what is the best way to go after them and Tatsinda's brother says that there is no way, that no one has ever followed the depth crabs, "We'll never see Tatsinda again!"

Not the right answer for Deadman, who leaps into the depths and swings about on the webs like he once did the trapeze. He quickly finds the ugly ones and landing among them begins to open a can o' wup ass! He rescues Tatsinda and as he is taking her back to her home she says, "You've done what no man on this whole planet could have done! I've been thinking...about how your dimension needs you more than I need to go home! Don't throw up!" and she rides him once again through the dimensional barrier! This story was reprinted in Deadman Collection HC.

Edited by Dick Giordano.

Donnerstag, 25. Februar 2010

Iceman's Wacky Existential 80's Adventure

One thing I share in common with my Marvel cohort Tim Dillon is that Iceman is far and away my favorite member of the X-Men.

As with so many of my favorite characters, I'm note entirely sure when or why I started digging Iceman, but I think it can be traced back to somewhere around 1991 when Chris Claremont and Jim Lee unleashed X-Men #1 on the world and likely had a lot to do with aesthetics. Particularly the way Lee drew him back then, I just thought the character looked cool (pun unintended), with his sleek, simple "costume" and it was something most artists could nail pretty easily. He also had neat powers that were different from the ill-defined energy blasts, generic super strength and claws of every kind that populated the 90's.

Just like with Wally West and Rich Rider, as I got to know the Bobby Drake side of Iceman, I found in a nice coincidence that he had a persona I really dug as well. He's the perennial cocky wiseass of the X-Men, but he's also extremely powerful albeit mostly via untapped potential and is crazy insecure about that and a litany of other things; a perfect cocktail for a fun, multi-layered character in my book.

Unfortunately, it seems more often than not that creators don't have much use for Iceman. Don't get me wrong, most of the time writers have good intentions for the guy, but the fact is there are five million X-Men and Iceman just doesn't often make the cut for the A-team. Folks like Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Mike Carey and others have made great strides at tapping some of that aforementioned potential, but poor Bobby just seems to get perennially lost in the shuffle.

However, Iceman has had his share of solo stories over the years, and some really stand out; one such tale is the Iceman limited series from 1984 by J.M. DeMatteis and Alan Kupperberg. I nabbed it in full during college right after I discovered eBay, off which I also got an Iceman action figure from the 90's that I used to freeze in my mini-fridge and a bootleg t-shirt with him and the Human Torch on it.

Anyways, the comic is trippy as shit.

At the time, Iceman was a member of the DeMatteis-written New Defenders, an eclectic group made up of former X-Men like Bobby, Beast and Angel as well as oddballs such as Cloud, Gargoyle and Andromeda. It was a weird time for an Iceman mini, but it happened, and the results were cee-razy.

It starts with Bobby Drake paying a visit to his parents and catching up with some extended family. Bobby's dad as well as most of his relatives consider him a disappoinment because he ditched a job as an accountant, which everybody else in his family does, and they ride him for it during most of issue one.

(On a side note, I've always found it fantastic that Iceman is a certified public accountant)

Bobby gets pissed off, flirts with some mysterious girl who has moved in next store, then this weird characters named White Light and The Idiot show up. From there it gets weird.

Turns out the neighbor girl is some sort of cosmic entity whom White Light and Idiot are trying to recapture for their mysterious boss. Over the course of the next couple issues, she drags them and Iceman back in time where he meets his parents as teenagers for a little "they used to have dreams like me" bit until his dad gets freakin' shot and he gets whisked away again.

The third issue is a surreal journey of self-discovery as Bobby Drake seemingly gets aged through childhood, the founding of the X-Men, his tenure with the Champions and into his Defenders gig, complete with more of his parents calling him a failure, jokes about Jean Grey being dead, Darkstar dissing him because he's a capitalist pig, and other assorted wackiness. It is absolutely bizarre and DeMatteis makes it cool and cerebral like only he can.

Ultimately, we find out that neighbor girl is Mirage, the daughter of the abstract entity Oblivion, who makes his first appearance here before going on to be a Quasar villain and floating head at those power meetings Eternity calls to order whenever Thanos gets the Infinity Gauntlet. Most recently he showed up in Guardians of the Galaxy.

So yeah, the Marvel Universe's embodiment of nothingness and ennui first showed up in an Iceman limited series--how rad is that?

Anyways, our hero gets caught in a tug of war between father and daughter over whether or not life is worth living, taking charge of your existence and destiny, following your dreams, and a lot of other heady concepts you'd think the X-Men's class clown would be the last character you'd use as a window to, but again, credit Marc DeMatteis for being able to pull it off.

In the end, more weirdness happens, but Iceman does end up gaining a victory of sorts over a guy who gives the Silver Surfer fits and then heads home to reconcile with his parents, tell them he loves them, reiterate his lack of desire to be an accountant, then get called away by Beast and Angel for a new mission.

Summarizing that was a load of fun and I know I got a ton of details wrong because I haven't actually read the book in ages, though I now need to rectify that ASAP. The moral is that while most Iceman stories involve him creating slides and throwing snowballs in the background of a big X-Men battle, he had a four issue epic where he traveled through time, fought a guy named The Idiot more than once, almost scored with a cosmic entity, then overcame the universe's most powerful force for entropy.

Thank you, Mr. DeMatteis. And Marvel Collected Editions, let's get working on this, please.

Steve LeCouilliard covers Xenozoic Tales 13

Original cover by Mark Schultz; Kitchen Sink Press 1987. Steve LeCouilliard's website is here.

I see the world outside and apply for a job (circle game!)

I saw the outside world this night and it turns out to be not at all level like the indoors: it has slants. I had forgotten that. It turns out that ALL sidewalks slant one way or another. Annoying! I wheeled myself all the way to the movie theatre which is about maybe .5-.75 of a mile – surely about a kilometer so I am doing my training for the TC 10K which is after Sakura-con. One down and nine to go. Take that!
I have been inside a wee too long. I should have remembered how annoying all the ‘not quite’ curb cuts are (how hard is it to have a cub cut flush with the street? Honestly, the street is right THERE to measure against!). Also steep hills. But I saw the Sakura Blossoms blooming on a street on the way there, I have a cherry blossom leaf on my wheelchair tire.

I went to see the late, late showing of the film Sherlock Holmes, which has been steam-punked. Having read many a rendition of Sherlock Holmes and worked on two papers for the Sherlock society, yet unfinished (you think academics are hard, trying obsessive societies for fact checking) this film was a rather jaunty expedition with ‘she’, the one that got away. Also, an interpretation of Sherlock ‘playing’ the violin (like double bass) that was unique. Hanz Zimmer, who did the soundtrack for Backdraft, did another great job here. Ah, I must finish the papers, one proved he was a woman (as no single men of class could or would interview all the people he did – without chaperone!). While the other, proved that he like all great Golden Age detectives was NOT British due to the fact that he is cunning, intelligent and lies a lot (at this point in time it was seen as ‘not British’ to be intelligent – indeed, many best selling novels have heroes at Cambridge or Oxford coming home to worried parents convincing them that they were NOT studying. The purpose of Oxford? Well, at that time, it was, as Elliot put it in his retrospective work ‘Notes toward the Definition of Culture’ that university was the experience of taste and to bond a common elite culture. How did you know you had this taste? Well, Eliot states: if you have to ask, then you don’t have it). In this film Sherlock boxes when bored, which surely is an ode to Conan Dolye, known as ‘a Sport’ and well known for supporting and engaging in Boxing (and writing about it often). There are, of course, many changes to the holy text, but it is all in good fun and to see a shipyard in action (and what would a steam-punk film be without some sort of Tesla Device?) was worth it.

The countdown to Sakura-Con is 36 days or so. This means I need to choose and order my outfits but ALSO my accessories now (so they arrive in the post in time). I am trying to decide whether to go with purple and black torn leggings and matching arm warmers, skirt, corset, etc or blue and black – ahh the angst of a Wheelchair Goth. I have decided for the SECOND day to go with something simple like this. See, that’s why I need the fan in wishlist (and the hairband). What? Of course, I have to have a different outfit every day (shakes head in bafflement that is even in question).

Surprised I went out today as I was very, very rapidly ill yesterday. I spiked a fever which would be 102, and started bleeding in several areas causing spreading bruises as my heart rate went up to 112-140 and my blood pressure was all over the place. It may have been food poisoning and the fever was me going into heat stroke or the bathroom issues was a reaction to the fever. I don’t know. I do know NOW that most of my daily routines to keep myself healthy are based on data from long ago and it is inaccurate. My blood pressure and heart were crazy every time I tested them for a full day. Nothing like having half of my body going into shock and shivering while the other half is purple and green with odd blood pools under the skin to indicate problems.

I seem to be losing my hands and arms, or rather, anytime I use my hands, in particular, or my forearms, my T4-C1 sections go ballistic in heat, which in turn superheats my blood to the brain, and seizure or fever. My entire body can have goosebumps with an air conditioner on me in a tank top but try and type (or use my wings) and my T’s and C’s immediately heat up. A guess, based on Neurology journals is that much as demyelinating nerves in MS will physically increase the spinal cord signal channel, it seems that my attempts to ‘lock’ in functions, by doing them daily for several hours has worked, and failed. The signal channel is larger, neurologists theorize, because as signals don’t get through, more and more are sent. Because I spend hours working to speed up and maintain function, virtually ALL signal channels must be used, and so I maintain function at the cost of a fever. I also, in my limbs have lost use of several muscles. I probably lost another the other day, as it woke me in a full throated scream, with pain that was new to me. The next day weaker. Today, dead.

That said, I worked a couple hours to try and get a job today, playing the giant circle game. I have plotted how if I work 4 hours in a visitor center, spend 36 hours in bed recovering I can work 4 hours again and return to the workplace! Brill, no? I work in a Visitor Center as it will have AIR CONDITIONING in the summer and I will be part of a work force and see humans again. I REALLY need to talk to humans more.....and plushies far less than I do now! Plus I will work in Port Angeles, so that I have a chance at employment under ADA accommodation.

The 'circle game' is when you talk to person A, they say to talk to B, B says talk to C, C says talk to A and B. So I talk to Human Resource who lets me know that jobs for the visitor center appear in the National Database now. I wait and can’t see any for weeks so I talk to the head of the Visitor Center and it seems one of the days or weeks I was watching I missed it, as the jobs were advertised and now closed. BUT those would have been for 40 hour a week jobs. There are jobs for 4 and 8 hour a week but those are Internships, Volunteer or a program of locals who come and do jobs. I have talked to the visitor’s center head and he has no problem in theory with me working and wants to have a face to face before summer. Only HE doesn’t run the Intern, etc programs, as that is another person. But, as a line supervisor, he can only advise me to apply to this other person through a DIFFERENT webpage for non-paying jobs. Whew. Problem is, I can’t apply for a 40 hour a week job, and then say, ‘oh, and my accommodation for disability is….I need to work 8 hours’. He agrees but what can you do. Also, I can’t disclose medically confidential info to him as a line supervisor. So I call the head of Human Resources, who can’t quite get her head around someone like me working. But tells me that I do not apply on the website but send in a resume along with a Special A exemption appointment form. This means I am appointed to my point and accommodated. Okay, who does that. Oh the supervisor. Circle game.
“Um, I just talked to the supervisor and he was sure it was through the webpage, which is why I need to talk to you.”

Turns out that I need to apply for a job, without saying why I need any accommodation due to disability, then get accepted and THEN human resources can accommodate me. EXCEPT, since I have a severe disability, I am appointed, and not done through regular recruitment as a policy for this national agency. Okay, who does the appointing? Who decides? Um, no one knows. It is done at a local level but, the Human Resource person hasn’t heard of it being done and the Visitor Center person isn’t aware of it. By this time, I am loved sort of, I am affable, and it is two hours of straight talking on the phone so I have a seizure.

As I will point out (when I can talk again and get the job), that surely the agency hires people with epilepsy, and people with MS, and people in wheelchairs, and people with fatigue or respiratory problems. So add that all together with a large glob of autonomic failure, heart problems and vision loss and you have me (don’t worry, I carry an eye patch in my backpack!).

Cunning plan. So, so much effort. AB people just don’t have the slightest idea of how much effort is involved in the most basic of functions. I can sit still and talk on my oxygen with breaks, and my medical drinks. That is a visitor center. But to do a ‘meet and greet’ for a job that pays nothing, and will probably cost me three days of effort and recover FOR the ‘meet and greet’. Sigh.

Tomorrow, or rather later today, I hope to go boxing, or shadow boxing to sweat. I have the plan: fever free, then exercise, then 10K. No, I’m not getting better, I’m getting weaker. But I am going to be the fittest I can be, with the greatest reserves. And I got to see outside.

Mittwoch, 24. Februar 2010

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #128

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #128 (On Sale: February 24, 1970) has a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

This issue begins with our cover-story "No Father for Jimmy" by E. Nelson Bridwell and Pete Costanza. The back-up is "The Story of Superman's Souvenirs" from Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #5 by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and Ray Burnley. Killer Burke, a hunted fugitive, hides in the apartment of Jimmy Olsen. Burke forces Jimmy to tell him the stories behind several of his Superman souvenirs, hoping one will enable him to escape. Burke then uses an invisibility belt invented by Luthor to slip past the police. However, the belt causes Burke to go blind. Without his sight, Burke is forced to surrender. When Jimmy turns off the belt, his sight is restored.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Heart Throbs #125

Heart Throbs #125 (On Sale: February 24, 1970) has cover by Ric Estrada and Vince Colletta.

This issue begins with our cover-story "Leave Me! Leave Me! Leave Me" drawn by Ric Estrada and Vince Colletta. Next is "Two Loves Have I" drawn by Lee Elias. We end with "Am I Too Young for Love?"

Edited by Joe Orlando.

Comic Shop Stop: What I Bought This Week

Sometimes it's new stuff. Sometimes it's old stuff. Sometimes it'll be back issues or the same ol' thing I got 4 weeks ago. Whatever the case is, here's what I got at the shop this week (lemme know if you wanna borrow anything):

Remember the sale at Midtown last week? I went back and grabbed the following:

SKIM - I had a copy of this graphic novel from Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki back when I was at Wizard, but never read it and I can't find it anymore. So I grabbed another and the brush art, tone and camera angles remind me of Night Fisher, one of my favorite books.

ALMOST SILENT - I don't own a whole lot of Jason's work - although I've read a good chunk of it thanks to David - so I grabbed this hardcover collecting the formerly stand-alone graphic novels "The Living and the Dead," "You Can't Get There From Here," "Tell Me Something," and "Meow, Baby." And all for only $25! He started my Watchmen sketchbook, so he holds a special place in my heart.

Otherwise, this week I only picked up:

MEGA MAN MEGAMIX VOL. 1 - I'm not a gamer, and I've never bought an all-ages manga before, but this beautiful collection of Hitoshi Ariga's comics set in the INGENIOUSLY designed video game franchise blew my mind. Please check out this story from CBR for some sample pages and plorp your eyeballs out over that TENSE energy. This thing's so action-packed with robots punching and kicking and shooting and sound-effecting and speed-lining the fuck out of each other that I literally can't stop flipping through it enough right now to get this posted in a timely manner. Next time you're in a shop, flip through a copy and respect that heavy-metal heart. I gotta assume it's books like this that guys like Bryan Lee O'Malley (Scott Pilgrim) and Corey Lewis (Sharknife) are channeling in their work.

Otherwise, I didn't buy anything else at the comic shop today, but I DID notice the following:

1. Salgood Sam's comfy art in today's "Ghostbusters: Tainted Love" one-shot REALLY reminded me of Farel Dalrymple.

2. Dan Hipp (Amazing Joy Buzzards) did the art inside today's Ben 10 Alien force graphic novella from Del Rey Manga written by Peter David!

3. The inside cover paperstock on Popgun Vol. 4 almost made me drool it was so slick.

And that's it. I was able to get my hands on today's Walking Dead, Astounding Wolf-Man, and King City for free, so I'm skipping writing them up this week. What'd you guys get?

(Quick disclaimer: I borrow a LOT of stuff from Ben each week from Marvel, so I don't always buy single issues of the Marvel books. And I get everything from DC, WildStorm, Vertigo, and Zuda for free, so I never really buy anything from them unless I'm picking up for somebody else. So don't take my exclusion of DC stuff as a sign that the books aren't good enough to buy. They are. So there.)

Wizard Features That Never Were: Run Phil Jimenez's Career!

I feel like I say often "so and so is a really cool person" when referring to comic creators, but the lovely truth is I've had the good fortune to work with and befriend more excellent folks in this business than jerks.

That said, I hope it still has appropriate impact when I say Phil Jimenez is a really cool person. Seriously: really cool.

I have great relationships with a lot of creators, but Phil is a guy I can truly say is my friend. I've actually hung out at his apartment and grabbed dinner in the city with him, so that's the litmus test right there. Heck, my wife complains his Facebook feed takes over her page, so that's friendship.

It's always neat when I get to meet and in some cases get to know artists and writers whose work I remember from my childhood, and such is the case with Phil (and I don't feel bad saying that because the handsome devil doesn't age). I totally remember him as the guy who used to do the awesome fill-ins on Robin for Tom Grummett and who crammed a zillion people into that issue of Guy Gardner: Warrior where Guy opened the bar. Before I had any idea who George Perez or even Jack Kirby was, I thought Phil Jimenez had invented the crowd scene, and if he didn't, well, he packed so much detail into his that he may as well have.

While I can't quite remember how I first met Phil voice-to-voice and then face-to-face, I'm sure it was around Infinite Crisis time, as that was one of the first big deals I was intimately involved with covering for Wizard; most likely Geoff Johns made the introduction.

What I do remember was how taken aback I was by not only how nice Phil was, but how inquisitive he was and how he genuinely seemed to want your opinion on everything. He's for real a guy who just loves soaking up what everybody thinks about everything and applying it to what he does; nobody's take doesn't matter to him.

Phil is also ridiculously smart and knowledgable on just about everything, from comics to literature to architecture to theater to medical oddities (those last two comes from Wizard World Philadelphia 2006, during which Phil took me, Megan, Sam and TJ out to an amazing Italian lunch and was the life of the party, seamlessly switching from talking Wonder Woman and zombies with TJ to musicals with Megan; at the end of the meal, he recommended the girls check out an exhibit on medical oddities at the Mutter Museum because they were bored). He can regale you on pretty much any topic for as long as you've got to listen. I've had awesome conversations for hours with Phil on comics, but I'm pretty sure if I called him to talk European history he'd still manage to hold both our sides of the exchange.

It was around early 2007 or so that Phil called me very excited about an idea he had for a Wizard feature. Since Infinite Crisis had wrapped, he had been laying low a bit, recuperating from that epic, doing a gorgeous issue of 52 now and again and looking for his next project. Since he had not settled on said project quite yet, he told me he wanted his fans to do it for him.

As reality shows were (and are) all the rage, Phil wanted to run via Wizard one of his own after a fashion in which the readers helped him select what comic he should draw next over the course of several months. He had thought a lot about it, saying he could come up with a list of characters he was interested in, do up sketches, we publish them, then fans respond with which they liked best. Each month, we eliminate a project or two, and he does more sketched of the remaining characters; wash, rinse, repeat. There would also be an opportunity for folks to suggest their own ideas (though I think that would just be a courtesy; Phil wasn't going to completely surrender his professional destiny and end up drawing Amethyst or something...though as I type that I realize Phil would probably love to draw Amethyst).

I don't remember any of the characters from his initial list other than Green Arrow, who I believe was his example, so maybe he really was pulling for that one.

I loved the idea and also mentioned that we were trying to get some more heat on our web site at the time, so perhaps we could post more frequent updates there, including each sketch, selected reader feedback, polls, and maybe even some video with Phil. He was game for playing around with the format and finding what worked best.

My editors were also keen on the idea, we just had to cross some T's and dot some I's from a legal perspective to make sure it was all kosher. Unfortunately, when you're talking about something as ambitious as what we were, that kind of due diligence takes time, and of course Phil needed to work. Still, I thought we could make it work.

We couldn't.

Why not? Because somebody gave Phil a job first.

It's a shame there was so much manuevering necessary to get the pieces in place for this, because I think it not only would have been real fun not to mention awesome to see Phil drawing all these characters, but also because you'd have virtually a stone cold lock for a hit book off the "fan-selected" angle, I figured.

It didn't work out, but Phil is still awesome; he owes me a Nova sketch though.

Green Lantern #76

Green Lantern #76 (On Sale: February 24, 1970) is an obscure, little-known book of no real importance. Not! Neal Adams provides the cover to this ground-breaking comic with the new Green Lantern Co-Starring Green Arrow logo.

I remember seeing this book on the stands like it was yesterday. Having read the Green Arrow make-over issue of The Brave and the Bold and having been following his exploits in Justice League of America I was hankering for some more Green Arrow, and I was always ready for a new Neal Adams' series. This issue I got both and so, so much more. "No Evil Shall Escape My Sight" is the classic Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams revamping of the ailing Green Lantern franchise that changed the direction of comics for years to come and introduced the word "relevance" to comics.

This landmark issue almost went out with this cover instead, but editor Julius Schwartz passed on this one, perhaps because it looks like Green Arrow is about to shoot Green Lantern in the back. I've seen another version of this cover on-line somewhere which has the Green Lantern figure inked by Adams.

Stop me if you've heard this one before... or not. Green Lantern is in the area of Star City and decides to drop in on Green Arrow to see how he is doing. Once in town he sees a guy in a suit being accosted by "a punk" on the street. Lantern does a little green-ring razzle-dazzle and sends the "punk" off to police headquarters. He then picks the accosted man off the street and dusts him off accepting his gratitude. Then the crowd gives Lantern their opinion of his performance as they begin to pelt him with bottles, cans and other assorted garbage.

Green Lantern grabs the nearest punk and is about to work him over when Green Arrow arrives with the classic lines, "Touch him first, Green Lantern, and you'll have to touch me second...and I'll touch back!--Believe it chum!" "I was almost tempted to throw a can at you myself!" Arrow takes Lantern aside and explains that the accosted guy was Jubal Slade, the fat-cat landlord who owns these tenement slums, and who is now evicting everyone to turn the buildings into parking lots.

Up on the roof of the building, the straight-laced Green Lantern says he was only doing his job and Arrow accuses him of being a Nazi. Then in one of the more powerful moments in comic history an old black man asks Green Lantern a question, "I been readin' about you...How you work for the blue skins.. And how on a planet someplace you helped out the orange skins...And you done considerable for the purple skins! Only there's skins you never bothered with--! The black skins! I want to know... How come?! Answer me that, Mr. Green Lantern!"

This is one of two scenes that everyone seems to remember from this book and regard as its high point, but for me it is the first panel on the next page that makes this scene kill. More precisely, it is the caption of that first panel: " In the time it takes to draw a single breath...the span of a heartbeat--a man looks into his own soul, and his life changes..." What makes this story work and the whole concept of the book work, is that Denny O'Neil is able to give voice to two opposing views through the two main characters, but he is obviously slanted toward Arrow's more liberal views.

In a way, O'Neil turned this book into his own take on Steve Ditko's the Hawk and the Dove, only he is playing the favorite that Ditko never would ever have considered. Arrow gives a powerful voice and presence to the Dove and Lantern finds himself conflicted as the black and white Hawk. The country, certainly the youth of the country, was rejecting Ditko's black and white view of the world and embracing a more humanistic approach. Green Arrow was the perfect tool to bring that view to comics.

Back in our story, Green Lantern goes to Jubal Slade and tries to talk him out of razing the buildings. Slade calls him a "bleeding heart" and has his men attempt to throw him out. Lantern takes out Slade's thugs and is about to open a can of whoop-ass on Slade when the Guardians intervene, telling Lantern to report to Oa immediately. The Guardians are pissed that Hal attacked Slade, who in their eyes, had committed no crime. They send him out to save a moon of Saturn from a swarm of meteors and tell him to wait there for further orders. Tired of doing the work of the "blue skins" and thinking back on the words of the "black skin," Hal disobeys the Guardians and heads back to Earth.

At that moment Arrow is visiting Slade and convincing him that he needs to pay Arrow for "protection." They set up a meeting for later than night for a payoff. We watch the two guns heading for the rendezvous, silencers in place. Seeing a figure in a chair they pump it full of lead, only to find it is a dummy and Green Arrow is upon them! After handling the men, Arrow retrieves his hidden tape recorder, only to find that one of the gunsel's stray bullets has scored a direct hit on the tape and Ollie is back to square one.

When Arrow and Lantern get together, Ollie relates his failure and Hal comes up with a plan. One of the gunmen shows up at Slade's penthouse and Slade erupts, telling him never to come there and wanting to know if the "hit" on Green Arrow was a success, "Green Arrow! Did you finish him? I paid you to kill him...remember?" At which point the gunman turns into Green Lantern and Green Arrow shows up with the District Attorney in hand to arrest Slade.

All that is left is Slade's attempt to get away via a hand grenade he uses as a paperweight, but Green Lantern makes quick work of that and the D. A. takes Slade away. Happy ending, right? Not so fast bucko! There is the Epilogue and the other famous scene from this story.

The Guardians are pissed off at Hall for disobeying their orders and Green Arrow lays into them and Hal in some of the most amazing dialog ever written. For the time it was shocking. "Listen...Forget about chasing around the galaxy!...and remember America...It's a good country...beautiful...fertile...and terribly sick! There are children dying...honest people cowering in fear...disillustioned kids ripping up campuses...On the streets of Memphis a good black man died...and in Los Angeles a good white man fell...Something is wrong! Something is killing us all...! Some hideous moral cancer is rotting our very souls!"

And so Ollie tasks the Guardians to do something about it and after much deliberation they send down one of their own, disguised as a human and together, the three of them take off in a pick-up truck to find America. "Three set out together, moving through cities and villages and the majesty of the wilderness...searching for a special kind of truth...searching for themselves."

This classic tale has been reprinted in Green Lantern/Green Arrow #1, Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told HC, Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told TPB, DC Silver Age Classics Green Lantern 76 (#6), Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection Vol. 1 TPB, Millennium Edition: Green Lantern 76 (#5), Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection HC and Green Lantern/Green Arrow Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Girls' Romances #148

Girls' Romances #148 (On Sale: February 24, 1970) has an absolutely beautiful cover by the great Nick Cardy.

This issue begins with "I Won't Fall in Love" drawn by Ric Estrada and Vince Colletta. Next is "My Nightmare Love Affair" drawn by John Rosenberger. We end with the transgendered romance (just kidding) "I Wish I Wasn't Born a Girl" inked by Vince Colletta.

Edited by Murray Boltinoff.

Joel Grothaus covers Amazing Spider-Man 3

Original cover by Steve Ditko; Marvel 1963. Joel Grothaus's website is here.
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