Friday, July 16, 2010

More Hypertime Hijinx

Back again-this time with my conclusion to my Challengers of the Unknown (Exiles Light) pitch. I’m doing this so I have some uploaded record of these thoughts that have been sitting in my computer’s database for six years. We left off having been introduced to the concept of the series, as well as the Challengers themselves. We’ll finish up with a look at the team’s chief rivals, and then take a gander at a few of the adventures they would have embarked on:

The Outsiders: A small collection of Hypertime travelers that have been brought together to help each other pursue their individual selfish goals. Unlike the Challengers, the Outsiders can travel between Hypertimes with incredible ease. They are headquartered in a mystical, gothic mansion called Wintersgate Manor. The manor was first introduced in the pages of Night Force. Its owner, the enigmatic Baron Winters, could use the mansion’s various rooms to travel to any point in time or space. The Outsiders have wrested control of the manor from the good Baron, and use it as the beachhead to launch their private campaign of Hypertime havoc.

Calendar Man (Bruce Wayne)- Once he was the Batman of a Hypertime not too different than that of the central DC timeline. After getting kicked out of the Justice League for developing tactics against the other Leaguers, tactics stolen and used by Ra’s Al Ghul, Bruce realized how paranoid and controlling he’d become. He hung up his cowl, and decided to take a more above board approach to crime fighting, taking over the position of police commissioner from his recently shot friend Jim Gordon. He married his old flame Silver St. Cloud, and the couple had twin boys (Alfred and Richard). But, Bruce’s new family was soon slain by a jealously enraged Talia. Wayne’s psyche was shattered. In a twisted rage, he adopted a new guise, the Calendar Man, reasoning that the one thing that all men truly fear is the unstoppable passage of time. He killed Talia, and her father Ra’s Al Ghul for the torment they had wreaked upon him. After learning of the existence of Wintersgate Manor, he stole it from Baron Winters. He intended to use its time travel capabilities to undo some of his mistakes, but learned that the mansion gave him access to all of Hypertime. He believes that it was a grave error to have retired his Batman persona in favor of pursuing a normal family life. Wayne now goes to every Hypertime in which Thomas and Martha Wayne were not killed, and ensures that they die- so that there will be a Batman to bring order to that world.

Red X (Richard Grayson)- Once the Robin of a Hypertime based on the world of the Teen Titans animated series. Robin had entered into a deadly rivalry with the Titan’s arch foe Slade. In one encounter, Slade had brought Robin under a form of mind control, and sent him to kill his teammates. The brainwashed Boy Wonder slew Beast Boy, Raven, and Cyborg. He also killed his lover Starfire, but not before she fired an energy blast at him. The blast left him with severe scars, but it also snapped him out of Slade’s thrall. Blinded with hatred he went after Slade, who slit his throat. Grayson survived, but Robin was no more. Hiding his scars, and shame, behind the skull-like helmet of Red X, he now speaks with the eerie voice provided by his armor’s circuitry. Looking for a place to belong, he has desperately reached out for someone to heal his lost soul. Though hailing from different Hypertimes, he and Calendar Man have become a twisted Dynamic Duo.

Phantom Lady (Ursa)- A Kryptonian villain from a Hypertime where Krypton never exploded. Ursa, was a sadistic criminal who was sentenced to imprisonment in the Phantom Zone. She was sprung from her captivity by the Calendar Man, who used Wintersgate Manor’s dimension breaching powers to pull her out of the Zone. However, a strange side effect has occurred. Ursa, despite no longer being in the Zone, is still a phantom. That said, she can use her ghostly form to inhabit anyone nearby. She then gains her full Kryptonian power while in these host bodies, but as soon as she departs one they are reduced to a dead husk. She has agreed to work with the Outsiders, because they helped her kill her jailer Jor-El.

Black Lightning (Jefferson Pierce)- On Pierce’s Hypertime, Jefferson became obsessed with topping his earlier accomplishment of sweeping the Olympic Gold Medal count. He began to look for greater physical challenges to prove he wasn’t a has-been. His pursuits took him to scaling the dangerous mountain region of Badhnesia. Unfortunately, he was nearly crushed to death by an avalanche. Pierce was saved by a group of monks that bound him to a Badhnesian Thunderbolt. The Thunderbolt is an immensely powerful genie. It restored Pierce to health, and agreed to carry out Jefferson’s every wish. In addition to being put off by having things “handed” to him, Pierce was further distraught to learn that the Thunderbolt would lay claim to his soul upon Jefferson’s death. The Thunderbolt has agreed to spare him if he can find a new, more willing master. Under the name Black Lightning, Pierce serves with the Outsiders, using the Thunderbolt’s magic, while also hopping though dimensions seeking to free himself from his curse. In the central DC timeline, Jefferson Pierce was indeed an Olympic Gold Medal winner, and the Thunderbolt is the benevolent helper of Johnny and Jakeem Thunder.

Story Arcs:

Arc One- Final Dawn: The origin of the new Challengers of the Unknown, and their first Hypertime adventure. The team finds itself on the orbital space platform Dock Midnight, the base of mad scientist Arthur Light. Light intends to launch a swarm of creatures known as Sun Devils to consume the stars. In the central DC timeline, the Sun Devils was the title of an 80’s mini-series. The story takes some of its cues from the 90’s crossover Final Night.

Arc Two-Doomed Patrol: The Challengers must hunt down, and then protect, the Doom Patrol. On this Hypertime, The Chief, Elasti-Girl, Robot Man, and Negative Man have been forced to kill the citizens of a small fishing village, so that the rest of the world can be spared certain destruction. In the central DC timeline, the Doom Patrol willingly died at the end of their original series, to spare the lives of a fishing town.

Arc Three- Seven Seize: On a Hypertime Earth almost completely under water, the Challengers fight to free the planet from the grip of Orin, The Ocean Master. He has used his son’s genetic connection to an aquatic dimension to flood the surface. Can the team find a way to end Orin’s mad reign? Or, will they have to side with Black Manta, and seal the dimensional breach, by killing Ocean Master’s innocent child? In the central DC timeline, Orin is the heroic Aquaman, and Black Manta was his son’s murderer.

Arc Four- Command D For Doomsday: Reflecto and Fury join the Challengers on a Hypertime that has been decimated. When the Superman of this Earth exiled himself to the stars, after killing three criminals, he never returned. As a result, there was no one powerful enough to stop the creature called Doomsday. The governments tried to kill it with atomic weapons, but only succeeded in turning the planet into a nuclear nightmare. The KryptoKnights of Command D (led by Gardner Grayle) have done their best to contain the beast, but to no avail. In the central DC timeline, Superman briefly exiled himself to space after executing some Phantom Zone escapees. Plus, the boy hero Kamandi, and Gardner Grayle’s Atomic Knights try to survive the fallout of the Great Disaster.

Arc Five- Prey: The Challengers battle the vigilante tactics of the men known as Prey. On a Hyperime where Batman died taking the brunt of an explosive blast meant for his partner Jason Todd, Jason has vowed to carry out his mentor’s fight. Crippled due to a spinal injury, at the hands of a crowbar-wielding Joker, Todd has turned to the cyber realm to mete out justice. He has recruited an orphan named Tim Drake, who lost his father to Captain Boomerang, to deal out bloody vengeance.

Arc Six-Signal Watch: Role Call joins the Challengers. On a Hypertime ravaged by a rapidly spreading plague known as the “Ambush Bug”, our heroes have to find a cure. As the disease kills meta-humans, it also transforms normal humans. Such is the case of Jimmy Olsen, and his friends (and would be heroes) the Signal Watch. Their mutations include becoming elastic, turtle-shelled, porcupine quilled, and wolf-like.

Arc Seven- The Inferior Five: The Challengers must help a group of rookie heroes reach their full potential. The team arrives on a Hypertime where Wally West, Kyle Rayner, Jason Rusch, Conner Hawke, and Cassandra Cain were the first to assume the mantles of Flash, Green Lantern, Firestorm, Green Arrow, and Batgirl. These heroes were revered by the public, but now they’ve been killed in battle. Can their successors- Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, Ronnie Raymond, Oliver Queen, and Barbara Gordon make the grade? Or, will the public continue to see them as inferior legacy characters?

Arc Eight- All-Star Squadron: Reflecto passes away on a 31st century Hypertime. The Challengers team with the All-Star Squadron, a military guild of teenage soldiers from every star system in the United Planets. Led by Sgt. Rokk, the Squadron takes on the Time Trapper, who won’t stop until Hypertime is his to rule. In the central DC timeline, the futuristic Legion of Super-Heroes was led by Rokk Krinn (Cosmic Boy), and of course Sgt. Rock is DC’s main WWII hero.

These were just some of the 30, or so, arcs I thought of one day. Others included the return of the Walter West Flash (in a tribute to the old Trial of the Flash storyline), exploring the connection between the resurrection-like properties of Nth Metal and the Lazarus Pits, Batman rogue Maxie Zeus being actually possessed by Zeus, tons of run-ins with the Outsiders, and Hypertimes Past stories (exploring what each heroes’ life was like on their world before they joined the team).

Of course, this was all really just a waste of time. But, who knows? On some reality maybe this all saw print.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Don’t Be So Hyper

Well, no sooner do I vow to bring you more content, than I have computer problems. But, now I’m back. This time around (because absolutely nobody asked, or even cares) I’ll be sharing the first part of my pitch for The Challengers of the Unknown.

The Challengers is a title DC Comics has published off and on since the 1950s. It followed the adventures of four men – Ace Morgan, Professor Walter Haley, Red Ryan, and Rocky Davis. They were joined on some exploits by their gal pal June Robbins, as they risked life and limb exploring exotic locals around the globe (and sometimes beyond). They were joined together after surviving a plane crash, and decided to live the rest of their lives like they were “Living On Borrowed Time”.

In the 1990s DC, having done away with their multiverse of Infinite Earths back in 1986, introduced a new concept so that their characters could journey to alternate realities: Hypertime. Hypertime, was unveiled in the event known as “The Kingdom”. Readers, as well as a few characters, became aware that beyond the “regular” DC timeline there were countless others. By traveling into the realm of Hypertime, an infinite number of Earths were once again at their fingertips.

Here’s how Hypertime was explained in The Kingdom, “Off the central timeline we just left, events of importance often cause divergent ‘tributaries’ to branch off the main timestream. But, what’s outstanding is there’s far more to it than that. On occasion. The tributaries return- sometimes feeding back into the central timeline, other times overlapping it briefly before charting an entirely new course. History becomes reinvented. There are hazards to Hypertime of course. Artifacts carried into different Hypertimes dangerously breakdown the barriers between kingdoms.”

Hypertime was a very cool, but very complicated storytelling tool. It allowed parallel world tales to be told for the first time in years. It also put all of DC continuity back in play. If a creator liked or didn’t like a story, they could simply acknowledge that it happened in a different Hypertime timeline. But, almost immediately the editors saw that this device could be abused. It was abandoned forever with the return of the Multiverse in 52. But, not before two very good Hypertime based sagas saw print.

The first was in the pages of the Kon-El Superboy’s original title. This epic, “Hypertension”, pitted Superboy against an evil Hypertime counterpart named Black Zero. Their battle took them to many Hypertimes, including one based off the Pre-Crisis Earth One. During this conflict Superboy teamed with the Challengers of the Unknown. When one of their members, Red Ryan, went missing in Hypertime the other Challengers promised to stay and search every reality they could to find him. They also reasoned that by doing so, they would be challenging the ultimate unknown.

The second major Hypertime tale was in The Flash. Readers were baffled when a new Dark Flash took the regular Flash’s (Wally West) place as the protector of Keystone City. This hero was eventually revealed to be Walter West, one of Wally’s Hypertime selves. Walter had to leave eventually, because (as explained previously) beings from other Hypertimes breakdown the new reality they are in after more than a brief stay. Walter was last seen trying to find his way back to his proper timeline, which in Hypertime is almost impossible to do without some device powered by an element native to Hypertime called hyperium.

By the early 2000s, Marvel had launched a great new series, Exiles. The Exiles were a team of heroes who traveled to the various parallel worlds of the Marvel Universe. They were comprised, primarily, of alternate versions of mainstream Marvel characters. In a flash of absolute inspiration I began thinking about a DC Comics version of the Exiles…and so did everybody else. Seriously, there wasn’t anyone I talked to either in person, or online, that had not thought, “wouldn’t it be cool if DC did their own take on the Exiles?” I mean it was only natural. While Marvel has its fair share of alternate realities, parallel worlds are absolutely DC’s bread and butter.

In 2004, I sat down to write my attempt. This was before Infinite Crisis and 52 would lead to the Multiverse being revamped. This was before Mark Waid would return the Challengers to Earth in the Brave and the Bold. This was before the Ryan Choi Atom ever saw print. And, this was certainly before the Ray Palmer Atom began world hopping in Countdown!

My series would take the title “Challengers of the Unknown,” and be subtitled “Living On Borrowed Hypertime”. It would chronicle the efforts of Ray Palmer to discover what happened to the original Challengers (who we had last seen in Hypertime), and in the process send him to as many Hypertimelines as I could. Along the way he would find himself allied with several heroes who were counterparts to well known DC characters. Simple really, and not all that original. But, boy was it fun “creating” this title.

Here’s how it broke down.

The Premise: The Atom (Ray Palmer) is devastated after the events of the recent Identity Crisis mini-series (in which his ex-wife Jean was revealed as a killer). He wants nothing more than to vanish. Wishing to recapture his past, he turns to Professor Alpheus Hyatt. Hyatt is an old friend, who was introduced in the Atom’s 1960s series. Hyatt is the inventor of the Time Pool, a small portal that can transport people to various points in time, first seen in The Atom #3. Ray has used the Time Pool on many occasions (Time Pool adventures were used as frequent back-ups throughout the Atom series). Before Ray can use the Pool to escape his present, Hyatt wants to demonstrate some modifications he’s made to the portal. Shockingly, during the test, five time-ravaged corpses emerge from the gateway…the bodies of the Challengers of the Unknown.

Having witnessed enough death, and feeling he has so little left to lose, he decides to trace the Challengers steps back through the Time Pool, and uncover what caused their demise. But, first he enlists the reluctant aide of his archenemy Chronus. Chronus, a master of time travel, is serving a jail term. But, Ray cuts a deal with his old ally Amanda Waller (who he knows from his time in the Suicide Squad series) to have Chronus released early, if he’ll help guide the Atom through his journey.

The Atom and Chronus find themselves transported to the citadel of Epoch, The Lord of Time. The Lord of Time is a long established foe of the Justice League of America. He wishes to consolidate all of time under his rule. Having become aware of Hypertime, he has begun “damming” off all of the alternate tributaries Hypertime spawns off the main timestream. As he eliminates these realities, various heroes from these timelines have tried (and failed) to stop him. He has captured several of these “last survivors”, and imprisoned them in his citadel. The Challengers had also made an attempt against him, and paid with their lives (though one can always retcon that the Challengers who died were Hypertime counterparts).

While in the citadel, the Atom releases the Lord of Time’s prisoners- four champions, each from a different Hypertime. Meanwhile, Chronus, looking to gain further knowledge of time begins helping himself to some of the Lord of Time’s experiments. Enraged by this intrusion, a battle breaks out between the two villains. The result is a rupture in the citadel’s walls that apparently kills them, while sending the Atom and the escapees hurtling through the various “kingdoms” of Hypertime. Ray is able to fashion a “Hyper Anchor”, a device cobbled together from the debris of the citadel, which allows the group to land on various Earths. But, they must constantly move on, or their prolonged presence could breakdown the walls of reality.

In addition to the adventures they will encounter on these worlds, the Challengers (Ray will pick up the mantle) will also become aware of a dark, sinister group of Hypertime travelers. Led by the mysterious Calendar Man, this team of Outsiders poses a grave threat when they cross our heroes’ path.

The Characters: The Challengers of the Unknown

The Atom (Ray Palmer)- The only regular character from the central DC timeline. Ray is looking to escape what his life has become in the wake of Identity Crisis. But, it is also his past that makes him the most qualified to headline this team. He is a brilliant physicist, able to develop weapons from star fragments. But, despite his years as a college professor, he is far from a retiring, stuffy academic. He is just as likely to “school” you in combat. From his acrobatic fighting style, to his years wielding a sword (all those Sword of the Atom tales) this is one little man you don’t push around. He’s also had a lifetime of experience dealing with time travel. Whether it’s coping with his arch-foe Chronus, his journeys in the Time Pool, or even being temporarily de-aged by Extant, he’s been though it all.

Dev-Em- A Kryptonian from a Hypertime identical to the Pre-Crisis Earth One. Dev-Em was a juvenile delinquent from the planet Krypton who was a menace to Jor-El, Lara, and their young son Kal-El. After stealing plans for a rocket from Jor-El’s lab, he too survived Krypton’s destruction. He eventually ended up on Earth, where he gained vast powers, and framed Superboy for a series of crimes. These events were depicted in a Silver Age story where he was called the Knave from Krypton. When Dev-Em next appeared, he was still a rogue, but this time he was on the side of the angels. Readers never got to see what triggered his transformation. This version shares the devilish attitude of the original (not to mention his immense abilities), but we’ll slowly show what turned him around.

The Green Flame (Tora Olafsdotter)- In Tora’s Hypertime, a group of immortal beings called the Gatherers have tried to collect all magical energy in the cosmos, so it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Originally, the Gatherers feared that humanoids might be tempted if they were selected to help collect such energy, so they created a hybrid race of magic and machines called Mys-Techs to carry out their orders. The Mys-Techs soon gained infamy under a new name, the Magehunters, as they stole the magic in a vain attempt to give themselves souls. The Gatherers then began selecting living beings they trusted, and outfitted them with magic rings carved from the greatest single source of alchemy, the Starheart. These Sentinels of the Starheart, or Green Flames (for the effect their rings give off) as they are better known, protect all corners of the galaxy from dark sorcery. Tora’s husband, Guy Gardner was one of them. She inherited his ring after his death at the hands of his foe Solomon Grundy. Her ring can create any object her mind can envision, project force fields, and grants her flight. Due to the strange nature of Hypertime, she no longer needs to recharge her ring, but it still does not work against any substance composed of wood (a weakness the Gatherers placed in all the rings). In the main DC timeline Tora was Green Lantern, Guy Gardner’s lost love Ice. She was also best friends with Fire who once operated under the codename Green Flame.

Robin (Richard Grayson)- A hero from a Hypertime identical to the Pre-Crisis Earth Two. For several decades Robin served as the partner to Batman. Eventually, Bruce Wayne chose to go out in battle, rather than succumb to the cancer that was ravaging his body. Robin decided to not only honor his mentor by continuing as a super-hero, but also by fighting crime in the courtroom as an attorney. He is different from his counterpart in the main DC timeline on several counts. First, he is much older. Although he’s still a fantastic fighter and acrobat, he has lost a step. He has had to compensate by getting craftier. Second, he never gave up the Robin mantle to become Nightwing. Third, he has never led a team. However, he has years of experience as a diplomat and ambassador. These are skills he employs to great effect as they travel from one strange world to another.

Silver Scarab (Carter Hall)- A hero from a shiny, optimistic Hypertime. Centuries ago, an Egyptian prince named Khufu and his bride Chay-Ara were exposed to an alien element called Nth Metal. This substance allowed them to be reincarnated over dozens of lifetimes in different bodies. It also linked their souls together, meaning they met and fell in love in every era. In this century he has been reborn as 21-year-old M.I.T. student Carter Hall, while she became his girlfriend Shiera Sanders. This reality is personified by glistening, hi-tech skyscrapers, and relentless optimism. It is as if the promise of the Silver Age has come to pass. And, no one embodies that spirit more than the Silver Scarab. Carter has built a full set of gleaming Nth Metal armor, which he uses to preserve the peace. The Atom (whose best friend is Hawkman) gets a kick out of seeing an upbeat version of his normally brooding pal. The Scarab is the first one to put a smile back on Ray’s face. Even after Carter’s Hypertime is destroyed by the Lord of Time, the Scarab does not abandon hope that he’ll see his soul mate Shiera again. He is convinced she’ll be reborn somewhere- and he’s right.

Fury (Sharra)- After the Silver Scarab’s Hypertime was eliminated, his soul mate Shiera’s spirit migrated to a new reality. It took root in the body of a recently slain warrior woman named Sharra. Sharra is from a Hypertime that is a post-apocalyptic nightmare. It is an Earth that has been ravaged by both atomic war, and the unstoppable creature known as Doomsday. Most humans survive as nomadic, barbaric tribes. Sharra is 6’ 7” tall, and has enhanced strength mutated by the fallout. Her weapon of choice is the Atomic Axe (which can cut through anything including metal, force fields, gravity, light, etc.) She, and her tribe, speak in a simple language known only to them. She is incredibly savage, gaining her the nickname Fury when the Challengers encounter her on their fourth adventure. Despite the differences in their styles and languages, Carter and Sharra recognize the bond between them. She leaves her world to join the Challengers on their odyssey. In the main DC timeline, Carter and Shiera were Hawkman and Hawkgirl, the parents of Silver Scarab, and in-laws to his wife Fury. The Atomic Axe was wielded by Legion badguy the Persuader.

Reflecto- Created on a Hypertime identical to the Pre-Crisis Earth Three. In a reality ruled by the evil Crime Syndicate of America, only one man stood up to tyranny- Alexander Luthor. Luthor combated the Syndicate’s leader Ultra Man on many occasions, but the villain’s incredible strength, speed, flight, vision, hearing, breath, etc. was too overwhelming. Luthor decided to create a genetic copy to match up against Ultra Man. This artificial lifeform would be a perfect physical reflection of his adversary. But, while he had all of his vast powers, he bizarrely had an incredibly heroic personality. Before, Luthor could activate his creation; the Lord of Time destroyed this Hypertime. However, the construct known as Reflecto, somehow survived the carnage, and has begun exploring the various timelines under his own fantastic power. His path eventually crosses that of the Challengers on their fourth mission, during which he saves them from Doomsday. Unknown to his new teammates, even though he slays Doomsday, Reflecto sustains internal injuries in the battle that will eventually prove fatal. However, his peerless courage, and just use of Kryptonian level abilities will leave a profound effect on Dev-Em. In the main DC timeline Bizzaro is a twisted copy of Superman, and Reflecto was an alias a young Clark Kent adopted temporarily with the Legion.

Roll Call (Chris Reed)- Chris Reed is a survivor of a plague stricken Hypertime. He meets up with the Challengers on their sixth adventure. When a mysterious virus sweeps across this Earth, killing super-heroes and normal humans alike, scientists begin cultivating DNA from the fallen meta-humans. They place their genetic codes into a digital device the size of a small cell phone. Chris is tasked with delivering it to the only STAR Lab known to still be operational. He is attacked however, by agents of Project Cadmus who are responsible for unleashing this “Ambush Bug” that strikes without warning. In desperation, he punches in a series of numbers on his “phone” and finds himself transformed into a super-hero. Chris learns that he can “dial” up the powers of any of the deceased heroes stored in the device he calls the Rolodex. With the help of the Challengers his world is cured. In gratitude, the orphaned Chris- now Roll Call, joins the team. In the main DC timeline Chris King and Robby Reed were just two of the individuals who used the powerful Dial “H” For Hero.

In a few days I will post the rest of this pitch. This will include profiles on the team’s opposite number The Outsiders, and just a few story arc descriptions. Hey, I got to get this stuff on the record somehow…

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Greatest Geek Moment On Earth

As promised, here is my dorkiest display- EVER! Now, I already shared this gem with Robert, Ken, and Marty. But, the point is I also shared this moment with a stadium full of people…

A few weeks ago I took my daughter to the circus. We were plowing through our cotton candy and popcorn, when the ringmaster directed our attention high above the center ring. He stated, that the trapeze artist would be attempting a quadruple somersault- something that had not been successfully executed in the last 60 years. I should have been honored that my family was in attendance to witness such a great potential achievement. But, instead I rooted- LOUDLY-against the acrobat that was risking himself for our entertainment.

And, why would I be so callous? Well, you see in the comics, my favorite character (and former circus trapeze artist) Dick Grayson is noted as being the only one in the world who can do a quadruple somersault. So, who was this real life, flesh and blood guy to rob that distinction from my pretend paper and ink hero? I then took great joy when the performer failed to nail the maneuver (after seeing that he landed safely in the net bellow). Yes! I shouted with glee, as I basked in the satisfaction that my favorite character’s record remained intact.

A minute later I realized I was one sick pup. Maybe there’s a padded cell for me at Arkham Asylum (wait that’s fake too).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I’m Back: Because You Demanded It (er, right…)

After several weeks away, I’m going to be returning to blogging with a vengeance. In this week’s posts alone I will thrill you with:

My all time geekiest moment (and that’s saying something)

Treat you to my never before seen pitch for the Challengers of the Unknown (think Exiles)

Give reviews of this week’s comics, plus reveal my secret comic shame (and no wiseguys its not Aquaman)

So, that’s what you can look forward to in the days (that’s right I said days) ahead. As for why I was gone so long- I could blame it on being emotionally spent after the Lost finale, but the truth is I was not feeling good for a couple weeks. I went to the doctor, and he ran some blood tests. I’ve been getting better, and I was just about fully recovered in time to go with Dom, Ken, Marty, Robert, and Tim (who was nice enough to drive) to Wizard World Philly. While it is safe to say it wasn’t the greatest con I’ve been to, I couldn’t beat the company. Robert spent hundreds on original art. The others dubbed him “the Ghost of Artist Alley”. Despite busting on him for constantly spouting non-sequiturs, I have to give it up to Robert. He really is so genuinely enthused with this hobby we all share. I’m hoping for an even greater time in Baltimore (my favorite con) in just a couple months. And, if Wizard reschedules its NJ con, I hope to see Gary in the Fall.

Plus, an apology (of sorts) to Nick. He foolishly asked me an innocent question about Tom Tresser aka. Nemesis, and I gave him a decades spanning character profile. So, sorry. But, in case you didn’t mind – put a few weeks aside if you want to ask me about the Legion.

Ah, the Legion! It is back in full force. I don’t know who this new kid Paul Levitz is, but I think he has a great future ahead of him. Seriously, the classic Legion scribe proved he can still play ball with the current generation. I absolutely loved both Legion #1, and his debut on Adventure (both of which were the perfect companions to Geoff Johns’ latest runs on the characters). Long Live The Levitz!

See you tomorrow!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Lost No Longer (Or How I Both Don’t and Do Know Jack)

“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need”- The Rolling Stones

The single greatest television series EVER came to an end last night, as Lost aired its much-hyped finale. If you entered this episode looking for further answers regarding Jacob, the Man in Black, their crazy mom, the funky lighthouse, the fertility statue, etc. (and I was), then you were left with those answers still beyond your grasp. So why do I feel like I’ve just seen the most haunting masterpiece I’ve ever experienced?

The answer to why I’ve loved Lost has always been the characters. I remember telling everyone during the first season, that the show was about this great group of interesting people trying to build a society-plus, there’s this monster. You see, for me, the monster, the time travel, constants, and hydro bombs, were just the topping. They were an extra bonus. I loved exploring their meanings and mysteries as much as the next fan. But, from the start I would debate those who said that the show was not forthcoming in giving up its secrets. I constantly argued that we, as viewers, feel the need for answers, but precious few of the CHARACTERS do. They just wanted to live.

And, live they did, embodied by the finest cast on TV. Yes, I may never know how the island could move and how those afflicted were magically cured. But, thanks to this series I did know Locke, Jack, Sawyer, Kate, Hurley, Ben, and all the others (no pun intended). It was because, the creators made sure we understood them so completely (after all the shows biggest narrative trick was character enhancing flashes so that you literally knew them backwards, forwards, and sideways), that I was so moved by what they did choose to focus on in the end.

This was a deeply profound statement on focusing on what really matters, the power that human connections and friendships bestow, and that no man is an ISLAND.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Iron Man 2 Gets It Right

I had a blast watching this flick. The reasons are many:

1) I saw it as part of Comic Masters latest movie/party events. As such, I got to watch it in the company of my fellow fans. Most of us enjoyed the heck out of it. The after film party was fun as well. I can’t thank Harry and his crew enough for all their efforts. Though I have to throttle even further back with the trivia questions next year.

2) The film was pure fun in the “Mighty Marvel Manner”. Iron Man, War Machine, and Black Widow blasting away at the bad guys with abandon. Shout outs to the Avengers, Captain America, and Thor are sprinkled throughout. The tone is crisp and light. It’s not deep in a Dark Knight way, but it does have a point of view. Which brings me to…

3) They stick it to liberal Hollywood! Make no mistake, the movie version of Tony Stark is as right wing as his portrayer Robert Downey, Jr. (Jon Favreau, as well as their pal Vince Vaughn are conservatives) Downey had a conversion several years ago, “I have a really interesting political point of view, and it’s not always something I say too loud at dinner tables here, but you can’t go from a $2,000-a-night suite at La Mirage to a penitentiary and really understand it and come out a liberal. You can’t. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone else, but it was very, very, very educational for me and has informed my proclivities and politics ever since.”

His fictional counterpart, Stark, takes on Whiplash and some robot drones, but the true threat comes from the government. They want to seize his armor, and regulate it, even though they played no part in its creation. Think of it as super-hero wealth redistribution. Stark shouts at (and mocks) a liberal senator, “You want my property? You can’t have it! But, I did you a big favor-I’ve successfully privatized world peace.” He isn’t sorry (or feels) guilty about his vast wealth. He has earned it by being better than his competitors, and because he is such a successful INDIVIDUAL the world has benefited from his accomplishments. That is a capitalist as crusader.

The best dig though is a send-up of Obama’s famous Hope poster.

Now, if they can only get the Captain America movie to have such zeal.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Birthday Boy

Well today was my birthday! I turned 41. So, I thought I’d post a personal Top Ten List:

John’s Top Ten Things I Love About Life

1) Family- My parents, my wife, and of course my daughter, make me feel richer than Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark combined.

2) Friends- Over the years I have been blessed with many (John Keller, Melissa, Dom, Gary, the Comic Masters Crew). And, a special thanks to Patti for remembering my B-Day!

3) Comics- They have provided me more hours of fun, thought, awe, companionship, and education than any THING else in my life. Many of the actual friends I have made were due to a common love for the medium.

4) Mashed Potatoes and Meat Balls- My favorite foods. Perhaps, not a surprise since I’m Irish and Italian.

5) Coke- My favorite beverage. Not a day goes by without me swigging down a 2 liter.

6) Star Trek- TV or Movies…Captain Kirk Rocks! Plus, DS9, Wrath of Khan, JJ Abrams remake, heck you name it!

7) Superman: The Movie- The greatest film of all time, and seeing it in the theatre is my single favorite childhood memory.

8) Tom Seaver- I’ve always been a Mets fan, and he is the single greatest Met of all! The only cool thing about turning 41, was that was his (retired) number was #41. My birthday gift was a Tom Seaver 41 jersey from my wife.

9) Roger Staubach and The Triplets- The Dallas Cowboys are my NFL team of choice. Particularly, the 70s and 90s eras. The Triplets (for those unaware) were Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith and Michael Irvin.

10) Country Music- The Aquaman of musical genres, but I don’t care!