Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Captain Atom: Armageddon #4 (March, 2006)

The WildCats were totally pissed off at Captain Atom for no apparent reason, and played Six Degrees of William Shatner "to decide who gets to kick your ass." Maul "won," even though Atom had been repeatedly filmed fighting the Wildstorm Universe's Superman, and easily handled the chump (by manipulating his atoms back to human form, another magical first time power use.)

Grifter and Nikola Hanssen were still hanging out at a burger joint, discussing her new Void powers.

The remaining WildCats talked about triple-teaming Captain Atom, but ended up falling by numbers. Since I stopped reading Wildcats comics in 1998, I was unaware Voodoo had all of Jean Grey's old powers. Get this-- Captain Atom overloaded her telepathy by "giving" her all of his memories at once and overloading her brain. How does that even work? That makes about as much sense as a magnet to a juggalo. Next, we all try to pretend Warblade is more keen than Wolverine with blades can could literally slice atoms. We know this because Warblade stood there and explained how boss he was while Captain Atom was down, before getting hit by a geyser of energy for being slow. Katana Zealot deflected more of that energy with her katana oh right katana, which could "shave the rough edges off an electron." See, the writer remembered electrons from grade school science, and thought referencing them in a nonsensical context would make him sound mind-bending like Grant Morrison, instead of mind-thwarting like Sarah Palin quotes. The only way I could mock this more is if Captain Atom hadn't actually fought a samurai with an X-Ionizer katana that cut his shell open back in 1987. However, that guy took two issues to deal with, not three credibility-straining pages of Zealot running around in a bathing suit.

Grifter and Nikola Hanssen were held back by security forces at the monument trying to keep people away from the "meta-human trouble." I've been dancing around the DC Comics term "metahuman" for four synopsizes now because I thought Wildstorm called them "suprahuman" or "post-human" or some such. Anyway, Grifter taught Nikola how to teleport them both to the monument, where he drew down on Captain Atom. Supposedly, Grifter had a secret weapon beyond a friggin' gun, but he couldn't seem to fire it before Captain Atom finished debating stepping through wormhole to the moon generated by The Engineer. Would this comic book please just shut up?

"Fight Scene" was drummed up by Will Pfeifer, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Sandra Hope.

ElseWednesday featuring Wildstorm!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Captain Atom: Armageddon #3 (February, 2006)

Captain Atom just showed up floating in front of the White House in the super-hero fearing Wildstorm Universe, so of course the Join Chiefs of Staff decided to nuke the area, as "It's the only chance to save America." Captain Atom absorbed the blast, then teleported into the Oval Office to talk with the president. Guards fired conventional weapons at his deflective skin, because they're stupid. Atom started explaining his situation, ending with "I'm a military man, sir. That means I respect authority." Yeah, that's readily evident in his actions, right? "Authority, eh? Funny you should put it that way." The President explained that he was only human, and in a post-human world, "we answer to a higher authority."

Grifter kept trying to explain to Nikola Hanssen that she had all these Void powers from her splinter, but she was kind of in denial.

Mr. Majestic showed up to talk at Captain Atom some more, but the latter was all pissed off by how jacked-up Wildstorm comics were. Captain Atom actually spit in Majestic's face like a little bitch, and gotten thrown through the Washington Monument. Nanobots would tidy up that mess later.

The artist referenced Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, because that was clever thirty years ago in a Howard Chaykin comic or something. Grifter called the WildCats to meet at the monument.

Mr. Majestic explained that Captain Atom wouldn't go explodey if he got deadened first, but Atom sought a second opinion, and Majestic was cool with that. Captain Atom then directly accessed the Pentagon's computers through his powers, and ran all sorts of equations that all ended him him going all explodey. All mopey, Captain Atom returned to the restored Washington Monument, so the WildCats could get snarky with him.

"Power Struggle" was perpetrated by Will Pfeifer, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Sandra Hope.

ElseWednesday featuring Wildstorm!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

JLA #83 (September, 2003)

Superman had a terrifying vision of Lex Luthor initiating aggression again the nation of Qurac, as a parallel to our own President Bush’s invasion of Iraq. The whole thing was generated in Superman’s mind by the Martian Manhunter’s “Transconsciousness Articulator” device, something like a telepathic virtual reality generator. The Atom had a two panel cameo, where Superman spazzed out and wrecked part of the machine. Presumably, the Atom and/or Batman were working the device, or at least watching over Kal-El. They really needed a telepath though, which is why things went awry. Wonder Woman was also present, and you can get a more detailed account of her involvement at the Diana Prince Blog.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Captain Atom: Armageddon #2 (January, 2006)

Grifter met with his WildCats teammate Jeremy Stone to use his computer to detect not one Void energy signature, but too. Woooooo.

Captain Atom determined that that he wasn't in Kansas anymore, in part because this Earth lacked the cities of Metropolis, Gotham, Opal, Keystone and Sub Diego. Yes, Sub Diego, because the writer of this mini-series created Sub Diego during his brief Aquaman run, and not entire nations like Bialya, Qurac, and so forth. Nathaniel Adam then assumed his human form to learn once again that nobody on this Earth ever heard of super-heroes from his Earth, and that everyone's afraid of super-people here, and that he's too dense to have gotten that point last issue, and that it'll be made again in future issues because of that. Captain Atom then directly tapped into every computer on Earth through a pay phone, which I don't recall as being one of his powers, but it's done all matter of fact-like.

Grifter brought the WildCats back together to investigate the Voids and to be snarky to one another for reasons DC readers wouldn't understand, because nobody got a proper introduction.

Captain Atom and Mr. Majestic fought a little bit more, then Majestic gave a brief half-assed explanation of the Kherubim-Daemonite war that formed the basis for much of Wildstorm's continuity. Then Majestic ran some tests and determined that Captain Atom was going to blow up and destroy the entire Wildstorm Universe, so I guess its origins didn't really matter all that much. Further, Atom couldn't be gotten rid of by any known means.

Grifter approached that EMT from last issue, Nikola Hanssen, and started talking to her about Void type stuff.

Captain Atom, predicted destroyer of all Wildstorm reality, decided he should turn to someone with real power... the President of the United States. In the Wildstorm Universe. Because if he can't beat Superman, maybe he can out-dumb Hal Jordan...

"Brave New World" was inflicted by Will Pfeifer, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Sandra Hope.

ElseWednesday featuring Wildstorm!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April Fool's Day Blogging

I've been kind of peeved at Google lately. A recent update screwed up my March Madness polls, my scheduled posts keep resetting to unpublished drafts, and even the words I type right now are the result of some coding snafu destroying my first draft of this paragraph. I'm going to go study this weekend, and offer this post recapping holiday shenanigans that never came up on my own Google Reader.

The Irredeemable Shag is usually the ringleader of these April Fool's goofs, and first suggested a 2011 edition in January. His mailing list then promptly forgot all about it, Shag included, or bowed out early. Out of the blue on March 19th, Boosterrific announced that he was going ahead with the plan, and several of us ostriches pulled our heads out of the sand and went, "Oh? Well, okay, I think I'll join you."

The premise this year was to convert your entire blog into something different, devoting it to some obscure property that you have an affection for. Shag of course went the most gloriously nuts by converting Firestorm Fan into B'wana Beast's Blog, dedicated to the curious prevalence of a virtual nonentity for forty years into an enduring cartoon guest star (Justice League Unlimited, Batman: The Brave and the Bold.) Shag created ten entirely new posts, including Why a B’wana Beast Blog?, B’wana Beast in Who’s Who 1985, B’wana Beast gets animated!, Best B’wana Beast Covers of All Time, B’wana Beast Action Figures, POLL: B’wana Beast or Freedom Beast?, B’wana Beast Cosplay at DragonCon 2010*, B’wana Beast Temporary Tattoo, Napoleon Dynamite’s Liger – B’wana Beast’s Greatest Achievement? and my personal favorite, the fan fictional B’wana Beast and Beta Ray Bill – Marvel vs DC Amalgam.
*Caution: May require Kleenex after viewing, regardless of gender

Boosterrific was the one bringing this back, so he sure as heck brought it, with Red Star Fire, the most famous Communist at DC Comics replacing the capitalist running dog Booster Gold. I adore old Soviet bloc propaganda imagery, so the design of the blog alone had me drooling. I don't know how long it will be up at 100%, but it should be accessible through the weekend. If not, the direct link to the permanent content is here.I very much approved of his offering the people a weekly poll to explain what their correct opinion should be, as it was pre-rigged.

Kelson's Speed Force briefly turned Cobalt Blue over: Cobalt Blue, Classic Rogue?, The Flash vs…Barry Allen? The Bronze-Age Origin of Cobalt Blue, “Seeing” Blue: TV’s Cobalt Blue Prototype, Flash Facts: Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Blue T-Shirt Available Exclusively At VA Comicon, Who Is Hot Pursuit, REALLY?

Liquidcross briefly lost the reins to the Indigo Tribe blog to Flash rogue Roscoe Dillon, who tried to prove Nobody Tops the Top. That is, until he found himself Dead and loving it.

Always handy as a bulking agent, I converted five of my own blogs, like Diana Prince as the New Wonder Woman into Wundercar Valkyrie!, dedicated to the Nazi aviation from '40s Hillman, '80s Eclipse, and '00s Moonstone comics. That one was mostly pin-ups and pieces from aborted coverage of one of her mini-series.

DC Bloodlines became Marshal Law's San Futuro Police Blog, revolving around synopsizes of the very mature and anti-superhero first six issue mini-series, plus a few extras. It's actually relevant, since DC (of all places) will be reissuing the series.

Power of the Atom was given over to Dreadstar & Company, a childhood favorite creator owned science fantasy series by Jim Starlin. That one was stocked with remembrances, pin-ups, and crudely glued together custom Overpower cards from when I was younger and even more poor.

I had already planned a fan fiction 1995 Manhunter from Mars Annual #12 and some new icons for the sidebar, but The Aviary of the Osprey kind of laid an egg in terms of raw material in replacing The Idol-Head of Diabolu.

I was running on fumes by the time Vibe's Beat Street Blog spun off from Justice League Detroit. That one was cobbled together, like many of the other blogs, from old crap on my ...nurgh... blog from when I did more there than comic book and movie review. Since I already cover Vibe's stories there, that one descended into music videos, pop-lock educationals, and a look back at 1983's D.C. Cab. Apologies for scrapping the bottle of the barrel on that.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Greetings from the Empirical Galaxy!

For those of you coming from another site, welcome to the most remote and by far least trafficked of my many blogs, devoted to the 1980s' science fantasy series by Jim Starlin. I won't keep you long with introductions, but I hope you'll stick around for a bit while I make my case for a beloved series, and also encourage you to try these other swell blogs:

Speed Force:

Following the Flash, the Fastest Man Alive

Justice League Detroit:

Vibe! Vixen! Gypsy! Steel! Zatanna! Men Aquatic, Elongated & Batty!

The Indigo Tribe:

Green Lantern Reviews & Commentary

The Idol-Head of Diabolu:

A Blog for J'Onn J'Onzz, the Manhunter from Mars

Firestorm Fan:

The Source for DC Comics' Nuclear Man

Diana Prince as the New Wonder Woman:

Figuring the Amazing Amazon out one "Bold New Direction" at a time.

DC Bloodlines:

The Little Blog for the Lesser Known Universe

The Web's Number One Website of Booster Gold, the Corporate Crusader!

The basic premise of the series is that the heroes of "The Metamorphosis Odyssey" that "saved" the Milky Way Galaxy from alien invasion did so by destroying everything in it. The sole survivor of the tragedy was Vanth Dreadstar, a rugged soldier with a supernatural sword who attempted to begin a new life of peace in the Empirical Galaxy. However, a priest excommunicated from the Church of the Instrumentality named Syzygy Darklock sought Vanth out, claiming that only he could stop the centuries long Monarchy-Instrumentality War. Vanth refused destiny until the war came to claim his new world and wife. Another sole survivor, the catman Oedi, joined the band, which would soon expand to include the blind telepathy Willow, the unscrupulous Skeevo, and many more. The Monarchy had not been fairing well, and was somewhat accepting of these rebels. Their success only served to infuriate the Lord High Papal, a genocidal maniac of incredible sorcerous power, and force him to make bolder moves. As the body count rises, the question is asked whether freedom is worth all the blood spilled, especially for a man who already carries the guilt of one of the greatest mass murders in history...

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Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Monday, March 28, 2011
Dreadstar And Company and Me

In 1983 or so, my uncle bestowed upon me much of his collection of late '60s through mid-70s Strange Tales and Doctor Strange comics. Jim Starlin's Warlock got started in the former, and I had a few issues of the spin-off title and Captain Marvel. It's safe to say Jim Starlin was my first favorite writer/artist, so when a new series by him landed on the small comic rack at my local 7-11, I pounced on it.

"New" is a dubious application here. DC was experimenting with a format where they would relaunch top titles like The New Teen Titans as direct market only with deluxe printing, then reprint the material cheap for the newsstands a year later. Marvel had pioneered taking mediocre selling books direct only, and offered the anthology Marvel Fanfare on cover stock to comic shops, but neither could be reworked into mainstream fare. Instead, Marvel took Jim Starlin's bimonthly, Mando format creator owned Epic series Dreadstar, along with Elfquest and Groo the Wanderer, and revisited it as a cheap monthly under the Marvel banner.

Dreadstar was basically Star Wars as processed through the anti-Catholic, Kurtzman loving, cosmically attuned mindset Starlin had popularized in the '70s. To some degree, it was also the sober and more commercial version of the under-appreciated shambolic schizo-junkie-iconoclast paranoid fantasy masterpiece Warlock (along with Starlin's hazy output of the time at Warren and elsewhere.) Greatly benefiting from ignorance of the wealth of related material like The Metamorphosis Odyssey, The Price, and the original Dreadstar graphic novel, Dreadstar And Company opened with a nine page recap that to the uninitiated seemed like a sweeping prologue. A centuries old war between the Monarchy and the idealogues of the Instrumentality had left enough causalities in its wake to inspire a small revolutionary force of such character and ability that they could potentially challenge both intergalactic empires. Led by the mysterious Vanth Dreadstar, the band consisted of a wizard, a cat man, and the token female.

Vanth was a young Obi-Wan with the grit and some of the fashion sense of Han, as well as his own variation of a lightsaber. Syzygy Darklock was his alien Merlin, looking like Jonah Hex by way of J'Onn J'Onzz. Willow was Jean Grey, and Oedi was the wise and serene feline, except when the claws came out. The art was among the best of the period, especially as of its initial 1982 release, and Starlin's scripts read much more naturally than his earlier heavy melodramas. The story that followed the recap was perfunctory, introducing characters and their powers through a plot constructed to serve that purpose. Today it reads like a fun diversion of an action piece, but as a kid it was the best thing since ever.

The series would improve greatly on that starting point, from Willow's sad story of childhood abuse to the nuclear horrors of Chichano to the political intrigue of the Hand of Darkness. The final two issues were comparatively lightweight, and diluted somewhat by the use of inkers. I was so impatient between issues that I was constantly concerned I must have missed one, because it always seemed to take a whole season for a new issue to come out. I was fairly crushed to learn the experiment would end with the sixth issue, possibly related to the breakdown in Starlin's relationship with Marvel that saw him move the comic to First Publishing.

In retrospect, Dreadstar And Company was cheesy, but it still had more heart and dazzle than much of what was on the stands at the time. The first twelve issues hold up very well, as evidenced by Dynamite's lovely reproduction of that run in hardcover a few years back. It looks worlds better than the substandard reprints I grew up on, although new (sometimes better) covers did come of the enterprise, and I wouldn't have the same enduring love without them.

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Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2011
2005 Dreadstar & Company by Jim Starlin and Alan Weiss

Here's an outstanding piece of the entire team! Oedi! Syzygy Darklock! Vanth! Willow! Skeevo! I love these guys, and Weiss is an awesome inker here!

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Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Custom Syzygy Darklock Overpower Chararacter & Special Cards

I've already discussed my custom (and extra cheaply) made Dreadstar & Willow Chararacter and Tactic Double Shot Cards. I managed to progress further into the company with the sorcerer Syzygy Darklock, giving him enough cards to be playable. His 7 in Energy seemed appropriate, though debatable, since the guy often petered out in combat. That was partially due to that 2 in Fighting, because the guy was routinely sucker punched by lesser powers and taken out of combat entirely. The 5 in Strength covers his cybernetic prosthesis, and the 7 in Intellect is again debatable (though a 6 seems like his minimum.) The Mystic Order of Vieltoor refers to where Syzygy turned from a mystic to the deformed powerhouse he would become. I wasn't willing to cut up my copy of "The Price," and its painted art wouldn't have worked here anyway, so I instead turned Vanth Dreadstar into the human Darklock with pens and markers. I are poor, yes? Sister Marion was of course the nun Darklock he loved at the Order, or alternately, Willow in a marked-on habit, taken from an old Dreadstar and Company reprint. Readers may recall that Sister Marion was part of the Price Syzygy paid for his power, along with most of his physical form. The card reflects this, as well as Darklock's regeneration. The art is of a victim of the nuclear holocaust directed by the High Lord Papel in Dreadstar #3. Syzygy defended himself and Vanth from this assault with a Sphere of Protection, used commonly enough to warrant as an Avoid.

I know they're cheap and ugly, but thought went into these specials that amuses me as I reflect on them years down the line. I wished I'd played Syzygy at least once, especially since I xeroxed and glued the non-One Per Decks to actual Overpower cards, making him ready to use...

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Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2011
1985 Vanth Dreadstar by Jim Starlin

Here's a swell pin-up of my favorite incarnation of Dreadstar, a pencil drawing by his creator at 8" x 10". The piece was colored by Steve Oliff in 1990.

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Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2011
1985 Marvel Age Annual #1 Dreadstar Preview Art by James P. Starlin

Coming bi-monthly issues of DREADSTAR will see the addition of three surprising new allies for Vanth Dreadstar. Surprising has to be the word when two of them are his enemies Dr. Mezlo and Ultra Violet! The pair is joined by the enigmatic Omni, and what all this will mean for the rest of Dreadstar's crew is anyone's guess... but particularly that of Jim Starlin, who continues to chronicle their exploits with the help of inker Sam De La Rosa. And the DREADSTAR AND COMPANY title will continue apace, reprinting the earlier installments of the series in a format available at newsdealers everywhere.

I was introduced to this series through the newsstand reprints, which sadly only lasted six issues. I swear I've never in my life felt the wait between issues of a comic like I did when following Dreadstar & Co., and I howled when I read the cancellation notice in the last issue. Considering it was selling better than half as many copies as the new issues (through Capitol City anyway,) I wonder if the series' wrapping had more to do with Starlin's moving the property from Epic to First Comics midway through Company's run. Then again, did any of the Epic newsstand editions fare well? Elfquest, even?

Anyway, check out the new characters and costumes! I don't recall Willow ever wearing that very '80s top, though her hair went that direction after Starlin stopped drawing the book. I think Vanth's suit was worn for the rest of the issues Starlin wrote, during his war criminal hunting days, but it looked quite different when drawn by Luke McDonnell. I don't recall what became of the late additions (didn't UV take her own life?) I never liked that bunch, as they seemed to switch sides as a plot device more than a natural development. Starlin was sick of drawing comics by that point, so I figure he was just rushing his magnum opus to a conclusion so he could dump the chore. I'd guesstimate the book was only selling about 20K by that point anyway, so he may have just needed work-for-hire funds.

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Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2011
90s Vanth Dreadstar and Syzygy Darklock Convention Sketch by Angel Medina
Click for Higher Quality & Size

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Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Custom Dreadstar & Company Overpower Tactic Double Shot Cards

Just as I was sick of having to play with Marvel characters to make my Overpower decks work, I was also tired of their ugly, poorly rendered Tactic cards. I figured while I was busy cutting up old Dreadstar comics, I might as well use leftover panels to improve my view with Jim Starlin artwork. Team-ups mostly centered on Vanth & Syzygy or Darklock & Willow, though the High Lord Papel and his god turned up twice.

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Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM

Sunday, March 20, 2011
Custom Dreadstar Overpower Chararacter Cards

Over at my Martian Manhunter blog, I've been pulling out all of my old Overpower Collectible Card Game stuff, to explain the basics of a pastime I wasted way too much money on. Since I wasn't happy with the character selection, toward the end of my involvement, I decided to try my hand at making some of my own. Lacking a computer or real money to speak of, this was accomplished by cutting up old Dreadstar comics and pasting them onto cards. I've loved Jim Starlin's Star Wars rip-off since I was a wee lad, so those characters were an obvious choice to play with.

The first card is intended to be Vanth Dreadstar as he appeared in the Metamorphosis Odyssey and the first dozen comics in his own series. Overpower rated powers on a scale of 1-8, so his middling Energy of 4 was meant to cover ray guns and projections from his sword. A 6 in Fighting was pretty respectable, comperable to the better fighters in comics. His 6 in Strength is about right, I figure, along the lines of a juiced-up Bane, Beast and Sabretooth. Being a solid planner, a 5 in Intellect placed him with bright combatants like Shang Chi and specialists like Blue Beetle. All those mid-high Rankings would help with Spectrum KOs, but his 21-point total would keep him as either the front man of a low point team or background amongst heavy hitters. Seemed about right.

I never got around to assigning Willow a Power Grid, as I was trying to use her to help design a team around Dreadstar and Company that never materialized. I also meant to give her an Inherent Ability, as the image I cut out of her was light enough to type on directly. Low rent, right?

The second Dreadstar(s) was meant to reflect the version of the character that finished out the Instrumentality war, basically a poor man's Captain Mar-Vell. Because Vanth had internalized his sword's power, and I though the team could use a high baller, he now had a 7 in Energy. That was probably too high, but Overpower was never overly concerned with accuracy, so there was play room there in favor of gameplay. Since Vanth got away from hand-to-hand combat, I dropped his Fighting to a 4. His Strength remained the same, and his Intellect dropped a point, as his plans became increasingly lackluster.

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Posted by Diabolu at 12:00 AM