Freitag, 30. April 2010

Donnerstag, 29. April 2010

My Five Favorite Marvel Legends (That I Own)

While my Marvel Legends collection doesn’t come close to rivaling my Flash figure army, I do try and grab one for the home team whenever I’m at a convention or see a sale at a toy store, a task made pretty easy by the fact that I really dig this line.

Though I don’t have the cash to be the completist I’d like to be when it comes to Legends, I’ve still got my favorites and the ones I either found cheap or can’t remember why I bought them (well, I got Emma Frost and X-23 for Megan because she liked them; I’m not sure why I have a Beta Ray Bill—oh right: BECAUSE HE’S A HORSE WITH THOR’S POWERS).

This is the part where I ask my friends who know way more about toys and how to write about them to humor me…

I’ll be honest: I’m not as over the moon about the Nova figure as I should be given that it’s a Nova figure, however, as I just said, it’s a Nova figure, so it’s still pretty awesome and thus gets an honorable mention. I also dig that they went with the classic costume.

I waffled a few times on whether DD was number five or not, but it ultimately comes down to the fact that at least 60% of what makes the figure cool is the neat stained glass window display I can hang him on my wall with, so it’s almost like he used a performance enhancer.

You can’t pose or move The Thing around much, but you don’t need to because he’s a big, bad ass looking rock dude who stands out amongst your collection no matter where you plop him down. One of my favorite head sculpts of the whole series, as something about those eyes and that scowl really capture the character perfectly. Also, his broken wall backdrop is generic, but for whatever reason, it works.

Despite no particular interest in the character himself besides a barely cursory one, I think Captain Marvel’s blue, red and gold costume is easily one of the best designs maybe of all time, so a figure that gets it right as this one does is a guaranteed hit for me. Little details like the starburst and Nega-Bands being just the right shade of gold to stand out but not overwhelm are the icing on the cake. I also like that he’s pretty easy to pose and you can go with either the arms akimbo or “looking off into space” look (I chose the latter).

Another great costume that thrives on simplicity, another translation Marvel Legends did seamlessly. You’d think a basic black and white color scheme would be tough to screw up and easy to ace, but the way the lines on Bullseye’s suit jump out rather than blend in, particularly around his neck and shoulder, show how the right craftsmen can use the simplest tools to make magic. That super-pissed off look is the biggest component to both making the figure pop and also infusing the character’s personality right in there; there’s an even angrier variant out there, but this one does it for me.

One of my favorite characters, another of my favorite costumes, and thus of course one of my favorite Marvel Legends (and among the first I ever got). Unlike some of the other figures I just mentioned, Hawkeye does have a lot of intricacies to his look, and the folks who made the figure are exacting down to every nook, cranny and piece of chainmail; something as seemingly trivial as using rubber for the flap that hangs off his tunic rather than a harder plastic really makes a difference—don’t ask me why. But the best thing about Hawkeye is, of course, his accessories, which include a full quiver of trick arrows highlighted by one with a tiny Ant-Man hanging off it. The one downside to Hawkeye is he’s a bitch to pose, but once you get the right one, if you just leave it alone, he looks great.

As with most material possessions I value above other similar objects, I probably can’t tell you precisely why Iron Fist is my favorite Marvel Legend that I own, he/it just kinda is. Again, great costume, but not necessarily better than Captain Marvel’s or Hawkeye’s. He also has a cool pose—vintage Kung Fu—but not so much cooler than others. The flame fist accessory is a nice touch, but it’s no Ant-Man arrow (he also comes with more flames that I’m not sure how they fit on the figure, so they’re just lying around my house somewhere). Yet, for whatever reason, when I look at all my Marvel Legends, Iron Fist is the first one that catches my eye. Maybe it’s that yellow and green are such an odd and ostentatious color scheme? Maybe it’s that he’s got a big ass collar and giant v-neck? Who knows, but I know what I like, and I like this figure.

Al Garcia covers Thrilling Comics 71

Original cover by Alex Schomburg; Standard 1949. Al Garcia's website is here.

Mittwoch, 28. April 2010

Lynn Phegley Watches "Lost" - 3 Episode Extravaganza!!!

My mom's name is Lynn Phegley. She teaches music to elementary school kids in Grand Blanc, Michigan. She likes classic Hollywood musicals, trashy romance novels and "Sex In The City."

And for some reason she's seen damn near every episode of "Lost."

This week, our ongoing "discussion" is back with a special three-fer installment discussion the past few episodes that I've been unable to blog due to work and computer malfunctions (more on that tomorrow...I think). Surprisingly, I think mom's kind of starting to enjoy this in the last few weeks. Maybe. Sort of.

Thanks as always to this site for the screencaps.

Let's begin.


[Me: "So, now where we're at is that Desmond knows about the parallel universe."]

"No he does not! That's not what he knows. Anyway, I think he's just going along on the Island no matter what. 'OK, now this' and 'OK, now that.' That's a goofy idea you have. Desmond as the fixer? I don't think so. I think it's the physicist. 'The Physicist In The Library With The Candlestick!' That's what they did with this story. They played a game of Clue, and at the end they went ' was the candlestick.'"

[Me: "But now Desmond is going to go around in the Flash Sideways and get John Locke and Ben and Jack and whoever to remember The Island and get all back together."]

"That's what you think is going to happen? They already got everybody back together in another universe! That's no good. The flash world isn't real. Oh, good grief. I think you're insane. You haven't been right about anything this season. You didn't know they were in Hell!"

[Me: "They're not in Hell."]

"I'm in Hell! Watching this stupid show! All the people at school say, 'If we weren't invested in this, we'd quit watching.' This was so boring, I couldn't believe it. Sitting through this for an hour is like torture."

[Me: "How is this boring? We've got Charlie and Desmond who were once best friends and now are antagonizing each other and driving off a dock. We've got Eloise telling Desmond to leave well enough alone. Who knows why she knows everything."]

"It's because she's a mother. Mothers know everything."


"It's kind of unusual who's showing up from the past."

[Me: "Well, the fans have been asking for Libby for a while, but they said the actress wouldn't do it."]

"Hm. Well, it was kind of interesting tonight at least. I guess. I mean, he hit Locke with a car. That was strange. Did you get my text? Did you laugh or did you cry? I didn't think it was too exciting this week, but it was kind of interesting at least. Last week was kind of a bore. Tonight I liked better.

"But like I said, if this was a novel I would have skipped to the end and then go back to read it. I skip to the end, you know. But I guess it'll keep me here another week."


"I agree with Jimmy Kimmel. He said something like, 'I watched Lost...I don't know what really happened, but I watched it. I don't know what's going to happen to anybody, but I'm going to keep watching it.' That's exactly how I feel. I was up watching Jimmy because of Kate Gosselinwho got kicked off 'Dancing With The Stars.' That poor woman has no personality!

"That one thing at the end was right, Locke goes, 'You're with me now.' I think that what's his name, Sawyer, had it figured out, but then Jack went cuckoo bird and jumped off the boat."

[Me: "But Sawyer and all them got double-crossed!"]

"Those people are the pawns in the situations. There's the Widmore pawns and then there's Kate and Sawyer and the pilot. At least Jin and Sun got back together. And crazy Claire is with them! There's something bad going to happen there.

"I think with Sayid...well, whatever happened to Desmond. Did he kill him? Desmond asked 'What about the woman you love? What will she say?' and that was all they showed, right? I blinked off for a moment. I was playing solitaire on my iPhone.

"[This show now] it's interesting, except there's something about the sideways reality, too. Before we didn't notice, but it kind of had more of a timeframe. It's just like one week. Something was said about 'One week ago I was in Australia.' That's important somehow, but I have no idea what it's all supposed to mean."

Paul Hornschemeier covers Lidsville 1

Original cover photo credit is unknown; Gold Key 1972. Paul Hornschemeier's website is here.

Dienstag, 27. April 2010

Care taking the dying isn't dying. Nightmares and wishes: needing help

I would like your help. In truth, I need your help, in very specific ways, and one of those ways might be your going for a nice meal, or just going out, if you can’t eat. I need you because I am too weak now on my own. I realize that. I can’t survive on my own, much less do more, and I want to do more. Help me please. (Help is not a dirty four letter word)

I went to the video store today (big trip!), not exactly when I wanted, but when my disease allowed me to, having woken me up bloated with bowel troubles though I spent yesterday preparing, with most of my energy, to leave as soon as I got up. But the disease is a mountain, and you don’t go through the mountain just because you want to. On the way back was a corner preacher who had ‘signs of Satan and the End’ of which one was ‘Lightning’. I like lighting. I told him, “Lightning is good.” He said, twice without stopping in this sort of joyful singsong, “All you need to know is that God will raise the dead, God will raise the dead and 5 Billion of us will be ground up for fertilizer in concentration camps, God will raise the dead…..” I told Linda that maybe his emphasis was wrong because if I thought 5 billion people were going to be ground up, I would have a bit more emotion and less joy in my voice. Also, it really did sound like God was raising some sort of zombie army which would round up, put the living in camps before mulching them. Is that REALLY what the person meant? Linda advised against going back. Surreal. Linda was there, to push, to help. She was there to stop me using the rest of my energy on questioning the Zombie army of God and the evil of Lightning. She is the kind of help I need.

Despite what they want to tell you, all people will have medical issues, no matter how many blueberries, or green leafy foods you eat. So when YOU get into the medical whirlwind of testing, treatment and ‘it is probably all in your head’, I letting you know that people get nightmares, lots of them. I did, as did those I know. Those nightmares are probably pushed on by fear of that which can’t be spoken, the pain you live with and that medicinal treatment IS a type of abuse – orders, demands, pain and blame. Plus there is the fear of yet another odd and painful test (“We need to put needle rods into all your bones and then zap you with electricity”). I never had the Zombie army of God nightmare, but I had lots, and they do end. But the truth is, it is better for you if they don’t. You will likely have nightmares if you get treatment because…what if it goes wrong, what if it doesn’t work right after a while and you have to do it all over again, or what if it is out of your control (it is) and you get worse?

I theorize that faced with horror, nightmares are our brains way of preparing us to deal with what we have already accepted in our hearts, or fear in our soul, has to be done.

When they say you have a terminal disease, the nightmares don’t end. But when they have done enough tests and the days you have, the nights you have survived rival anything you have seen on a horror film. Then the nightmares end. When you have a significance chance of amputation, and have to do things every day to make sure that doesn’t happen; or when you have had infections where you drained the pea-soup puss out of them, or hoped the area of skin gone stopped bleeding or didn’t spread, then what is horror in a movie where a person must amputate a foot to save a life (Saw)? None. It isn’t a nightmare, it isn’t a horror film, it’s Tuesday.

Night before last I had a dream that I was pulling bright blue connected and hardened mucus from my lungs, which was literally ripping the tissue and choking me into inability to breathe. As I got one out, another thread in my mouth I would feel and pull on and out came another unbelievably large and expanding blue choking mass from deep in my lungs. This was not a nightmare. This was a fairly pleasant dream. I thought it was real, until hours after waking up I realized that no mucus I have every pulled or coughed out of my lungs was blue, so I asked Linda if I rolled onto my face instead – my heart was very, very, very erratic yesterday and perhaps it just stopped beating for long periods of time (the heart pain woke me up yesterday). See, no nightmare.

So the comfort to take from it is this: you have nightmares because you want to survive, and you are preparing to survive. Take faith in your own capacity to hold on.

For me, long past the nightmares, it is the isolation which sinks me, like falling through icy glacial lakewater, to watch those above, so far away. Or like looking out a cabin door and seeing and knowing the great expanse, without humanity, before contact. We are a culture where babies are collectively rejoiced, and adored, children are treasures, and then sick, elderly or dying are annoyances or negative impacts on the lives of the non-dying. I read again and again about adult and busy children with senior parents and how hard it was for them (the adult children) to ‘go through’ a mothers’ cancer, a fathers’ dementia, the illnesses and death of a parent, or loved one. That is a lie.

I wrote about being sexually abused. Linda lived through comforting me from the nightmares I had for years during counseling, and yet she doesn’t know or really understand the experience or the thinking, the reactions etched into the body and mind from being sexually abused. The same is true of A.A.N., my auto-immune disaster to the brain, and neurological neuropathy disease, she lives with it daily, but doesn’t know it to live it, only what it takes to care for it, and the pain and changes she sees. In that same way watching Philadelphia Story doesn’t gives anyone the experience of dying of, or the sacrifices of taking care of a person living WITH and dying of HIV/AIDS. It is an Opera and TV fallacy…that talking about it is knowing it. But you don’t. A parent or loved one dying isn’t you. We have cancer, WE have dementia, WE have Parkinson’s, WE have MSA, WE have the pain, the cramps, the nausea, the loss of muscle control, bladder control, bowel problems, the lying in bed in pain, unable to be turned. US. Just because we are too tired, or it takes days to make ourselves understood, plus no one is interested in narrating for those who die, so our experience of consciousness while dying is omited. Replaced instead by those with 1,000 times the energy we have towards the end, who stand up in the stead. Even the woman who had a partial stroke, wrote a book and talks about having it skips, except for a mention and a few pages, the 500 plus days of confusion, frustration, and other aspects of rehab.

Care taking is an experience, loss is an experience, those may be your experience, but loss isn’t the same as dying.
But dying without the caring which creates loss, the care taking which is love and sacrifice in action, is a harsh and lonely place. I am asking not just for understanding but for friendship which is action. That friendship which reaches out, which uplifts, which lets me know that there is more outside than the two posters on the soundproofing boarding and the rat-tat-tat of rain hitting. A friendship which ultimately may not have a quid pro quo, though I try, I may not be able to engage or gift back, or email back to the same level, certainly when my hand speed is 1/10th of yours, and the strength to lift my forearms only lasts for the first few hours of the day (and when seizures wiping memory eliminate the best of plans and intentions, leaving only the gnawing that I was going to send something to someone).

I started the postcard project for change. If you go back and look because people on the BBC and in the disability community said that people, that the AB people needed to change: the world needed to ‘get us’, understand our needs/limitations. I decided that they were right, we needed a BETTER world, a different society and viewpoint than we live in. But I wasn’t going to wait for it, that I, Elizabeth McClung, fuck whether I was disabled or not, would make a change as I could. And one thing people who are disabled need to feel, particularly in some isolating and degenerating illnesses, is not being alone. A postcard for those who are ill, who are disabled, who have impairments of all kinds, and for those who will one day be in the above groupings.

For me it has been three stages. Once I found out that a) I was going to die quickly (diagnosis A) or Diagnosis B) I was going to die quicker, and in ‘horrible ways’. I thought I understood that. HA! The truth is I was sick, like having a bad flu sick but I had 1/10th the energy of before (so about 1/3rd the energy of everyone else). And while I ‘intellectually’ got it, I didn’t get it in my heart. Not in every shadow of my being. It was indeed a very fast learning experience, and I like to learn (the discrimination and being talked down to was total crap but learning changed me, and I appreciated that). Until something changed that couldn’t be changed back. See, it is one thing to HAVE one side with bad circulation and so the ‘red side’ and the ‘white side’ and one side getting weaker all the time because, well, something will come along, something will reverse that, you know, some treatment or something. And sure, when the pain is high or depression comes, there is ‘Why me’ but I can come out of this ‘okay’. Until your eardrum blows, until you have a stroke that bleeds into your brain, until your heart is damaged, until your brain is permanently damaged, until you live through the death of millions of your nerves: so many the spine had to enlarge the channel to try and keep up with all the pain signals. Dropping stuff on my foot was funny, being unable to taste food on my tongue…not funny (the back of my throat still has taste buds, and my nose does too). Having a wound that doesn’t heal for over a year is disturbing….having a medical condition like progressive anemia that goes untreated for over two years, something I thought was ‘important’, you know, having those red blood cells to carry oxygen not replicate, not carry blood, have less and less as no one acts except to stop talking to your face and start talking out the window, or at their shoes…that was less funny.

Then came the honest to goodness, “I could die” moments, or “You did die very briefly” moments, which while realizing that as long as I still come back that is fine, right? Except after a few, the statistics start to click over in my head. And doctors say odd sentences, like regarding the upping doses of painkillers, and when I say, “But you told me that would damage my liver.” They say, “It will last long enough.” So it is intellectually getting through more and more that yeah, dying. And then, I had 1/25th the energy I used to have. I set lines in the sand I would follow, but they fell, they all fell. From: “I will go out twice a week on my own”, “I will shower three times a week”, “I will get dressed and wear make-up every day.” – goes to “I will go out one a week”, “I will get dressed three days a week in non-PJ’s” and then it goes to where a shower means that you are done for the day. And I am not able to put my socks on, not able to put my bra on, not able to put clothes on. And somehow, at some point, so much of what I wanted in life, the extra, the good stuff becomes about keeping to doing those lists every day (list to follow when I am too confused, so I do it anyway), the lists that keep me alive. I fight for that every day. The lists that allow me to shit, and eat and sleep. And then, when a timeline is drawn out, maybe a year, maybe 6 months, it seems like every decisions is made by death, by what can be done before….., well, no one likes to say it, but you have to start saying it. Before I die. “I need to let Linda know about the books before I die.”, “I need to watch that series before I die.”

Then it just becomes about staying alive, because death is like a cloud around you, step on a crack, and you break your own life line, get a cold, get in hospital, lie down too long, forget to drink too long, fall over too hard, anything that tip the balance. And of course, the pain. That’s the hardest part, like wading through snow up to your chest, pushing forward against that hard wind and rain which is always there. And this is when people slowly pull away. Well now I am 200 times weaker, and I scream not daily, but moan hourly from pain, a grim contest of wills, of planning, of determination, that is when I have to reach out over and over again, only to find silence. When a sock weighs 45lbs to me, and typing hurts so bad I cry. But I still send out up to 16 emails a day (that takes 9 hours, like it took me three days to type this). Just grim determination not to give up, and determination to keep trying to have relationships, to BE here, so people can understand. I think often people can’t. I wish they could, To accommodate even the memory problems I have are difficult, to care take for me even 4 hours is extremely difficult but to live is like being flayed and put in a bath of hydrogen peroxide and then being flayed again.

So, yeah, I can’t escape my dying because it is shoved in my face, in ways I will talk about next time. But I have a dream and a determination too – that the disease may have swallowed most of me, that 80% of me is in the beast, but survival just to survival when I know that in the end I will not survive isn’t living. Laughing is living. Joy is living. Something MORE is living. And I am making a DIFFERENT list, one of the things I am going to do, not to survive, but because I want to. Manga that I need, not just to have pain control, but because I WANT to read it, I want to smile. Things I want to do WITH YOU. For example, I want us, all of those with different impairments, illnesses or not, to plan and GO OUT for…..dinner, café, starbucks. I want to go out to dinner with all of you, and have us share it here. I will talk about the when and where, and the other things on my list next time. But you get the idea, yes? I am searching for fun.

I will say goodbye soonish (4-50+ weeks). And I don’t think I will change society much. I would rather spend time with friends, spend time living to find those moments of smiling. I started giving gifts and sending postcards, trying to change the world before the recession, and then friends died, and some decided deliberately that they couldn’t take it, couldn’t stand the pain of caring anymore. So they left. I state this: the more we as a society reward or accept those who run from what they fear (the ‘I’ll pray for you’ and out the door, the ‘It just hurts to much to see you like this’ and gone) the more it will continue. And those who ran WILL find out also when the great exodus occurs in their life once the whiff of illness comes from THEM. So making them feeling good about leaving because they feel bad...second hand, does them no favors.

That why, for those who stay, another part of the ‘fun’ list are the gifts, the boxes and boxes I have of gifts which I want to give out, NOW (while it is possible). But they are mostly unique, imported from Japan, Asia, the UK, Europe, and Australia. And I don’t want to give the wrong thing. And I don’t want to be like my grandmother, where for the last five years, her house had tape on the back of everything and siblings went around erasing others name and putting their own. And I am fragile and weak. So Readers and Lurkers, it is time to de-lurk. I want to know you, I want to know you are searching for fun and joy and I will try to aid that. But I can’t send you a wall hanging, a framed art picture, goth fun, a limited edition set of yaoi postcards, a yuri/lesbian towel unless I know you might like it. Unless you want to write, I don’t know to sent a stationery set (I try to send all who write me letters a stationery set – HINT!). How do I know who to give manga to read, and which, or DVD’s to give to watch if I don’t know who you are and what you like? And more importantly if I don’t know that you want to have deliberate laughter and joy too.

There is a sort of plan, which I will explain more with the next post, along with the grim aspects of dying, survival and MORE than that. But it goes like this, gifts are things to make people happy (I don’t like or believe the ‘obligation’ thing), and for everyone who has given me gifts, I try to give back, to show my appreciation, to show as I can, what it meant to me. Sometimes, that is the extra two hours to make another, special postcard to say thank you. I try to give postcards to all who send post (HINT!).

Sadly, a well meant gift can instead remind me of what I have lost: hair, function, the alteration of face and body, not going outside, not being able to….(fill in the blank). I assume people don’t give gifts to make me (or others) sad. So I have changed the wishlist, and will continue to do so. I have on there the things I need to survive. I have on there the things Linda needs to survive, and I have on there things that I need for pain control, for bed days but also things I want to look forward to. Isn’t that the point of wishes? To work for them to come true? So, starting now, for each person who gifts from the wish list, or who gifts a gift certificate from or (to: I want to work toward giving a gift package. So please a) let them put your name on the, so Linda and Cheryl can put it on a yellow stick it note and put it on the manga, DVD, medicine and b) email or write to let me know what your like, what you do, your hobbies, your interests, do you like queer stationery, yaoi stationery, yuri stationery, goth stationery, what books you like, what amuses you, (and if you have children or young relations that you like to spoil – as I have lots of kids stuff – and YES, Hello Kitty stuff)? That was I can try to match what I have to what would give you joy. A joy exchange.You are giving me something special or helping me work toward something which brings laughter instead of nightmares….I really want to do the same.

I hope that makes sense. I know that many people have been kind over the years. I hope you understood I tried to show my appreciation. For the packages, with my current limitations, my brain issues and my weakness, two hours a week with a careworker is a day’s energy, and I want to be able to sort items to match with names. Building relationships and joy within the limits I havethat means I need the names, if you are on the postcard project, the name is all I need (unless you have moved) and the interest to laugh, to joy. For example, I try now to spend 4 hours letter writing a week (that is half a day), which makes two letters. So another list I am working through (a slow return in writing people who write me, but I am trying to create better than just surviving).

The nightmares are over, and so soon will life, but now we have a time, and I want to make as much of it a place where good dreams happen.

Earth's Mightiest Sketch Blog: Captain America

Jack Kirby's design for Captain America's costume has always been one of my quiet favorites in comics. That it was conceived so much in an ultra-patriotic era of jingoism yet has remained consistently popular and rarely been deviated from speaks to the strength of just how cool it looks. Who else but Kirby could make a guy wearing an American flag a pop icon outside the United States?

I did kinda a quickie sketch on this one, basically just taking a Gabrielle Dell'Otto Secret War cover and stripping down all the tricky details that make him a professional artist and me a guy drawing in my sketchbook...

I'm pleased with my effort, but I think a lot of that owes not only to aping Dell'Otto, but, again, the inherent quality of that Kirby design; it's just tought to screw up.

I will say this sketch showed me that Captain America just doesn't work as well for me in black and white or grey tones. I can do without the chain mail or glint off the cowl, but there's something about the balance of the red, white and blue that really does make it pop.

Rahzzah Wundabar covers Moon Girl 3

Original cover by Sheldon Moldoff; EC 1948. Rahzzah Wundabar's website is here.

Late Again

My mother had her second stroke in three years earlier this month and I have not been in the state of mind to read or comment on comics. As a result, I have fallen far behind in keeping this site up-to-date, though it is 40 years late already. Hopefully, my mental and emotional faculties will return shortly and I can get back to this. I ask for you patience. Thanks.

Montag, 26. April 2010

Coulda Beens

Writing the other day about Terry Kavanagh and Alex Saviuk’s various attempts to inject new blood into the Marvel Universe during their Web of Spider-Man run got me to thinking about the other various characters to debut in the 90’s (and earlier) heralded as “the next big thing” who either promptly went nowhere or settled comfortably into a role as the occasional guest star or reserve team member.

Comics is of course littered with literally thousands of concepts that never achieved the success their creators intended and you could probably sustain a blog for years on those alone (I’m sure somebody out there does). I can think of a few in particular though that I thought had squandered potential or came along either at the wrong time or wrong place to go all the way (and I’m not just talking about X-Treme); some of these characters have enjoyed a modicum of success, but certainly nowhere near what could have been.

I’ve spoken of my affection for Richard Dragon before, which runs alongside my thing before Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, and both mostly amount to this: there are guys out there in the DC and Marvel Universes who aren’t particularly well-known or “A-list” but who are better in hand-to-hand combat than their more well-known contemporaries. Same deal goes for Bronze Tiger, but he’s also got the added benefit of a far more interesting and conflicted back story as a former compatriot of Dragon who was captured and brainwashed by Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Assassins, forced to become a killer, actually beat Batman, then broke free and sought redemption as a member of the Suicide Squad. Now there’s enough there for a solo series to run at least a couple arcs in my opinion, but if not, why would “guy who beat Batman” not be enough to at least get the Justice League to read your resume? Yeah, there’s the whole “former assassin” thing, but that just adds to the potential drama.

Once he shed his persona as a substitute Thor and gained his own heroic identity, Eric Masterson had the misfortune of receiving a horribly dated 90’s costume complete with sleeveless leather jacket, pierced ear and pony tail—and I’m convinced this had far more to do with his lack of longevity than anything else. Because when you look at the idea behind Thunderstrike—a “street level” Thor who has the power of a god but walks among mortals and deals with legitimate issues—it’s a solid one that I think could have been made to work given more of a chance. Masterson was also already a pretty well-liked character during his time headlining the main Thor title, so he had something of a built-in fanbase; again, it was just bad timing. Thunderstrike came along at a time when the market was barely supporting one Thor title, let alone ready to propel another to success, and again, little things like the visuals just didn’t earmark the character for long-term success. Nowadays, with the Thor franchise more viable, I think Eric Masterson or Thunderstrike could fill a nice niche role bridging Asgard and Earth.

I never really followed any Valiant title too religiously, but if I had, I think it would have been X-O Manowar (or Harbinger, but probably X-O Manowar). When you take just a cursory glimpse at the character, he’s Iron Man but with the ultra cool twist of the dude in the armor being a freaking caveman who went into suspended animation for centuries and woke up in our time to become a businessman and super hero with his alien battle armor; he’s Captain America and Iron Man plus elements of Venom and Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer all mixed together! The guy also just looked rad, so if his IP is lying around out there somewhere, somebody with some cash and motivation should give it a look.

While original Spider-Woman Jessica Drew has been the recipient of a tremendous popularity resurgence in recent years, I always thought her successor, Julia Carpenter, had as much if not more going for her and it’s too bad she’s more or less in limbo now. During a period in Avengers lore when most of the female team members got short shrift in the 90’s, Julia was portrayed as professional and confident and I always felt it was a nice moment when the main team shut down the West Coast branch yet invited her to stay on (and then she turned them down). Her being a single mom who was committed to raising her daughter not fully divorced from her costumed career also made her unique in those halcyon days. She’s also got neat psychic web powers plus a dynamite costume, so surely there’s a place for her somewhere outside of Canada?

For years, the second character known as The Ray has coasted on the fact that Joe Quesada originally designed him with an awesome look both powered-up and just in costume to remain at least on the periphery of the DC Universe whether as part of the Justice League, Young Justice or the Freedom Fighters. However, those who followed Ray’s somewhat surprisingly long-lived solo series in the 90’s probably had higher hopes for him to become a breakout star on his own, much as I did. In addition to the great visuals Quesada gave him, Ray also had a nice stretch of character development by Christopher Priest that included major daddy issues with his Golden Age heroic father, a childhood that saw him raised in virtual isolation, and a doomed love life that somehow included a fling with Black Canary. Ray has that nice balance of legacy and uniqueness that I feel like should translate to another shot in the spotlight, or at least a prominent role in one of the two Justice Society books.

Now it may seem somewhat unfair to place Stryfe on this list due to the fact that he was a primary villain in a semi-major X-Men crossover less than a year ago, but nonetheless, the guy was a big-time personal favorite of mine—and many other—as a kid, and I think we all had bigger things mapped out for the Chaos Bringer in our heads. He made such a blockbuster debut in X-Cutioner’s Song (ok, technically he had been around a few years at that point, but just as an ancillary X-Force villain, not a real deal X-Men baddies) that I think we were all pretty sure we had the next Magneto or Apocalypse on our hands. Yeah, his name was a bit corny and he lacked the big picture motivation of the other villains I just mentioned, but Stryfe was a step above the generic schemers populating the X-books at the time based on his deeply personal connections to characters like Cyclops and Jean Grey and the motivation he derived from therein. He was hugely powerful, spoke like an over-the-top lost work of Shakespeare and when rendered right his thousand-angled costume looked bad ass. However, after his big crossover tour de force, he settled back into being just Cable’s personal nemesis, and then died a couple times without much fanfare before fading from collective memory. His return in Messiah War was much-welcomed from where I sat and he was handled perfectly by Duane Swierczynski, Chris Yost and Craig Kyle, but I hope there are more plans for him beyond sitting in an apocalyptic future somewhere, since even if his full potential may never be realized, Stryfe is too good a bad guy to let rot on the vine.
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