Sunday, October 31, 2010

What if someone else became Nova?


Dawn presents: What if? 15 July, 1979

A STUNNING SAGA OF AN ALTERNATIVE REALITY!

What if...Someone else had become Nova?

A man exists on different worlds...the same man...yet very different men!
I really like the alternative worlds concept: the different layers of existence, the twists that would make one probability the onset of different consequences...

Let’s see: first we have some nice John Buscema art.

We start out with a bullied character, Rich Ryder, receiving the Prime Centurion powers from a dying hero orbiting the Earth. You automatically hope the bullying doesn’t make him a bully, himself (no offense Bully). Another world, perhaps the bully gets the “Nova Zap!” Now it’s time to explore one of those twists...

(art: Simonson/ Wiacek) First, we have a grief-stricken woman, her husband felled, a man’s first murder...all she wants is for the man to pay. Helen Taylor’s haunted over the next three months: there’s no breakthrough. Just as she prays for a miracle in her loneliness---the bolt from the blue! Now, sporting cartoony lips as awesome speed lines pass by, she’s become the new Nova! She’s really an engine of vengeance, crashing the underworld, leaving a calling card with a “nova burst” for the police.

In the midst of one barrage, she’s paused by the Kingpin, the boss she wishes to see.
(They’ve toned down the pink pants inside!) He smacks her haughtily, but that’s his last act of aggression. See, she’s no hero; if her husband still lived, perhaps this successor would not be so bitter. Nova Prime couldn’t know at any rate. In a montage, we see her ruthless prowess; her foes fall “and she shrugs it off, a casualty of war.”



Attilla the Hun and Genghis Khan wrapped into one: that’s the impression Ben Grimm gets from Jameson’s Bugle editorials. Naturally, the situation’s fallen into the hands of the Fantastic Four. When they attack, she’s puzzled; aren’t they on the same side? (Killing non-stop is not what heroes do, honey.) Now she believes perhaps they’ve always been wicked pretenders. As she retorts to the Torch, “I’m after Justice!” Sue explains they are not into battles to the death; I mean, had she ever heard of the Four killing even ONE foe? Sue cuts her air supply. Now what will they do?

They call the White House. What alternative do they have but to neutralize her, as she no longer even professes openly just what is her objective? Reed remorsefully sets her adrift in the Negative Zone.

Finally, a man’s found off Long Island, a car in the drink for several months. At first I’m trying to place him, but when I flip back, holy crow, it’s the man who killed her husband, who she never found!

So now they’ve explained the “first Earth” Nova and this ill-fated female version. The next story happens on a world with no super heroes...and apparently the black fellow who got the Nova powers never thought to use them, as he is being thrown out with no money and a shaky cat named Jake. Of the warm “long johns” he’s found, “if it didn ’t look to silly I’d wear the blame thing!” The North Star as his guide, our tattered tramp wanders through the snow...while above:

The Skrulls search out “new planets wealthy in minerals to plunder,” and from above they scan and discover the Nova powers active on Earth. Seeking reverence on their home world, they prepare to isolate and kidnap the power-bearer and rob our “insignificant world,” and use a little space-lingo as they prepare to close in on...

...our non-Nova, who offers to work to come inside, despite being warned by an older lady that this is an orphanage and he may be in over his head. The kids assuage his worries, though, and from his clean-shaven depiction he looks like he’s cleaned up pretty recently and so we get a sweet scene and learn his name’s Jesse. The adults listen off-panel, enthralled by his story, almost forgetting dinner.

Henry, the chef, goes to the kitchen as one young boy sees the space ship above.
“That does it, young man!” says the woman, Ms. Cathy. “no more ‘Star Wars’ for you! This afternoon showing was your fifteenth and final time!” Now I’m hoping someone figures out how to use the costume and powers, because the Skrulls blast open the door.

Already, Jesse’s trying to be a hero; the next “demoleculizer” blast does nothing to harm him. All he knows is nothing has hurt him since the day he found the costume!

The children are warned back, the cat’s drawn really huge, and now, oops, just as he’s put on his suit and starts dishing out the butt-whippins, Jesse, er, is colored caucasian. He fights well but they change into a snake that seems to knock him out by winding him with constriction. The kids are told to have faith, like in the Scriptures, and the cat sulks.


But above, Nova’s playing possum to get the Skrulls away from “Ms. Cathy and the kids!” He’s got to stop them now that he know the plan. “Suddenly, the Black Nova (as if all this time we didn’t notice his color) leaps to his feet...” * A Skrull changes into an Earth tiger, no match for Nova. The entire fleet’s about to be contacted when he desperately slams into the console. They warn him, that’s suicide---he knows. Above the orphanage, the North Star gets brighter, and they talk about it “going nova,” like they learned in science class. “Does it have to do with Jesse?” little Jonathan asks. Ms. Cathy is certain it does, but who can say how? She pets her comfy new cat that came in with Jesse/ Nova, and offers hot cocoa. (Art: Infantino/ Springer)
Hey, this is a pretty good comic! I'll do the other two next! Angela Dawn

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Machine Man and the Final Battle



Machine Man fought against his captors, the Corporation, attempting a last minute super escape. MM's friends find his location, just as an atomic explosion decimates the area.

MACHINE MAN, THE LIVING ROBOT # 9
Edited, written and drawn by Jack “King” Kirby; Inked and lettered by Mike Royers
“He’s BACK!” exclaims a sonic rifle-armed soldier. “Machine Man should be a tin ghost!” So why has a truck driven up with him to Security Corps. “The reports of my destruction were a little premature!” he says, McQueen coolness evoking awe in the soldiers. He’d be happy to relate, once they drop the mechanism-shattering guns.


“After all, I’ve just spent time as a hostage under threat of a variety of nasty weapons.” (He can’t help taking issue personally at times!) Now he spills it:
He hops outside to demonstrate, takes the soldier into the minute. Computing “ten times faster than you can react!” the captive Machine Man calculated his distance from the atomic bomb outside the mountain complex. Hand laser at maximum power, his own blast burns into the ground a silo, in the midst of the smoking pit of his apparent demise. With his high-tension boot springs, out he came “as soon as the radiation count went down!” “Well, you’ve flipped me out, Machine Man! It’s Colonel Kragg’s turn, now!” “Take me to your leader!” he quips.


Before they’re aware of his survival, Doctor Peter Spaulding and the colonel share the loss as they examine the nigh-irrefutable evidence. Even Kragg’s come to respect Machine Man, after heading the vendetta charge against man’s last thinking cybernetic son. The endorsement evokes another quip from Aaron as he enters, accepting a rather long-armed embrace by Spaulding, with his report for Kragg.


A monocled man in yellow named Konik fires one of many Kirby super guns on a range in an armored bunker. The Corporation’s representative cajoles him, then follows Konik to a screen depiction of a solar rifle, his next theft. Konik’s obstinate, but he finally gives the new secret weapon a look: grab Machine Man! He’s convinced and encouraged.

Kragg’s palaver with the federal commission leaves Peter and Aaron strolling outside waiting. “Batter Up!” draws Machine Man over to the bemused soldier’s pick-up game, to which he’s welcomed. At the plate, he jokes he might bunt, while everyone predicts the impossible in jest. He doesn’t disappoint; it’s powderized! To save their equipment, they offer him the outfield. They want to challenge him, and the hit comes his way next. He fields it with a telescoping arm, then tags the runner out. Sarge quiets the complainers down, but Spaulding “removes the bone of contention...you!” So they go to meet the lawyer Spaulding’s called in as counsel.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Machine Man and the 20 minute challenge




Have a need for speed? Try this technique: draw a figure best you can in 20 minutes!







My 20 minute challenge is over! I do cheat and erase just a little. Then I hand letter a message for my friend's birthday!

Machine Man and the Corporation



[IMG]http://i52.tinypic.com/ma9lkg.jpg[/IMG]


(Machine Man 8, I posted pictures. Just a little word about Corporation villain)

So Machine Man offers himself for the release of his friend, psychiatrist Peter Spaulding. The Corporation’s plan to build replicas of his photographed, disassembled parts is served by powerful corrosive acid spouts within the abandoned missile silo, foiling an easy race to the top on magnetized boots. What other powers and ideas will he have? What threats await him? Will his personhood be destroyed in the dissection plans of the Corporation? What would the world do with such a body as his own sold in copies to the highest bidder?


Colonel Kragg’s flying over a remote area, now ordered to stop this from happening. He tracks the ski-marks left outside Spalding’s house, criss-crossing offbeat routes by which they might disappear, and spots the chopper with ski landing gear---about to take off! He will ride herd, take the pilot into custody, and find Machine Man!


Pale blue light represents the “gamma wave probing” that terminates in sizzling yellow light like that of the floor. Machine Man’s floor and and walls go to orange and a light green, which frame his nimble conversion of finger units into rocket tubes inside his lower legs! His “normal circuit check” initiates his blast-off: “I’m probably the Last Missle this silo will ever fire! And the first to mess up the plans of a criminal empire!” Sonic wave bearing guards take him out of the sky.

Though taken prisoner, Machine Man’s already reassembling his hand-weapons system out of sight.



The sonic wave thing is their equalizer, so they might attempt to cajole and explain respectability is not what they are after. The fate of the original, at his asking, goes unexplained, and he’s essentially turned off, as they prepare his fateful analysis.


Peter Spalding’s memory is the last hope; the pilot fears the Corporation far more than jail. He and Kragg soon seek out the mountain wherein Machine Man fights for his life.



The hidden base: his life batteries are declared “fused” and the copying of his body begins. Alone, a bright flash spreads: it’s alive! Moving destroys the equipment; sonics fill the air. They can bring on their sonic howizters now, though; it’s time for the “hand weapons system!”



Ten minutes to live? With that transmission, the Corporation’s already making good their escape. Tension springs and raw strength allow him to explore this for himself, and there’s a “holocaust box” left for him, with a hidden a-bomb ! “If I had pores, I’d be sweating!” Infra red lens allow him to follow the escaped crooks by their footsteps, and now here is a pneumatic railway tunnel, with no car for him.

“Naturally, those dog-robbers took the last available car! I’ve got to improvise ---or die!”


Running: not enough. Arm-treads provide a supply of wheels, from inside his arm; with superhuman dexterity he takes them off to affix to the sides of his boots, and soon is racing down the track, gaining on the car containing the shadowy Corporation men! His body sensors though sense “critical mass!”
Kragg’s jet fighter lucks into the recognizable mountain top; tensions mount. But no sooner does Doctor Spalding point out the peak than he’s warned, “shield your eyes, fast!” A machine man purple mountain billows with smoke as its peak explodes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jack Kirby: Batter Up!


The military that hounded Machine Man was, after all, under orders. Here in Machine Man #9, Kirby thought it'd be fun to portray the now-exonerated Living Robot walking up to the call "Batter Up!" during an on-base baseball game.

Myebook - D'n'A Comics #1 As promised: the
online version of DNA #1!!!Myebook - D'n'A  Comics #1 - click here to open my ebook



Fielding goes a little better than batting---but a Machine Man's just a bit too much an advantage for a fair game!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Super Escape!









Machine Man #8. I think Jack knew "the Corporation" and its desire to make rip-off copies of his original being was really the perfect antithesis to our creative hero. OH, I didn't think much of them at first rememberance---no colorful look, just gangsters, to my mind, just thugs---but now I understand this was the end of Jack and the Bullpen, in a way, the end of the Marvel Comic Group and Jack, the corporation, the individual. This is the last story during his time working there, before drawing storyboards for the upcoming Fantastic Four cartoon.







These seventeen pages explode. There is an economy and breath taking freshness to someone who's really seen nothing like it before.

If Kirby doesn't know, how will you never escape?


Galactus, the Spectre, and a big honkin' Dinosaur






First, I read a friend's idea. I started laying out the figures. Here are the pencils:



Next, I started using marker to get bold outlines. I experimented with a bit of white-out.



I had the perfect dagger teeth in ol' Devil Dinosaur there then screwed them up trying to "spot blacks" between them in the mouth. I came back with white out and the marker and gradually restored them best I could.



I replaced some of my "scratchy" lines for cross=hatching with darker, bolder lines, as my friend Marcus suggested. I spotted more blacks (the fills that provide figure density) and finished up. I'm still open to changes, though. The dinosaur is completely an homage to Jack Kirby!


Here I photographed with a bit of warm light on the Spectre. For him, I used no reference save myself, and for Galactus, I referred to Ron Lim's version for details, which is pretty faithful to Kirby.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Marvel Comics Group's Rom, the Spaceknight: Firefall


Myebook - D'n'A Comics #1 As promised: the
online version of DNA #1!!!Myebook - D'n'A  Comics #1 - click here to open my ebook


“Firefall”


Archie Stryker watches film footage of Rom’s battle with the National Guard. All the language used around him reinforces his belief: Rom’s an inhuman killer from the stars, and not tanks, not fire, nor nothing man could do would stop him from turning his death ray onto those he chooses. A Silver Star (for Valor) winner “in Korea, 1952”, the arrested burglar says: I may be a criminal--but I ain’t never killed anyone who didn’t have just as much chance of killing me!” The charges can be dismissed; a Senator, General, and an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. assure the disbelieving Stryker there will indeed be a price, and “the beauty of it is we aren’t asking Stryker for anything he doesn’t already want himself! So let us help you help us, Archie---by giving you the power to destroy that alien murderer---Rom!”


Rom stands dull grey in the pale moonlight, upon a hilltop before the crater of his rebirth from space, into a world that sleeps “untroubled by his presence.” He thinks of the one who knows of him: her name is Brandy Clark, and her fear was first of all he has encountered. But with his Translator, he was able to convince her of his mission to cleanse the Dire Wraiths, and thinks back on the tale he told her, of the surgical sacrifice of much of his body, all his senses coated in everlasting cyborg armor. Now he summons forth his analyzer, to alleviate the anguish of remaining without his full humanity to this day, for only one goal will end it: his beam searches out the Wraith activity, clustered at the bottom of a mine within the Earth.
Brandy’s weary return to her apartment, drained as she thinks of Rom’s neutralizing of people she thought were human, and his mission, and her lonely doubts of sanity. Apparently, two men with a badge await her in her wrecked apartment!



Now for two pages, Stryker runs an obstacle course simulating combat in woods rigged as enemy territory. His conditioning and reactions are pushed to the limit, to show those limits to him as well, for now he’s prepared to see the awesome armor of Firefall. His natural fear at being encased in the heated armor is prodded, as the smexy psychologist insists he is the perfect choice. While he steadies himself for his challenge...



Rom soars into the mines (which we’ll see again two years later), feeling the chill inside as he approaches “Wraith Evil.” Even the light he finds is corrupted, before his crackling sensor-eyes. Sinister Wraith science, within the caverns, conducts a sorcerous attempt to somehow drain “the life of the planet!” His cyborg eyes tell him they are human, but he calls upon the Truth with his summoned Energy Analyzer, to reveal Wraiths who begin to scatter before his sweeping Neutralizer. Reverted to their true shape, the human guises fall off as grisly ashes, and headlong they fall into Limbo.


The jeep-as-desperate weapon is smashed and converted to the boldly-speaking Spaceknight’s hurled projectile, smashing the massive interdimensional transporter dish. Its shattering somehow also causes “unearthly energies” to threaten all remaining Wraiths in the darkness. The TVs, phones, even the microwave ovens of West Virginian residents go on the fritz from the “outside interference.”


Steve walks in on such a commotion sending voltage throughout the Clark’s living room; John and Sarah hold each other. Then Steve says something that fits an earlier era of macho bluster, which I’ll admit could happen to any guy, but he should watch who he’s calling “that headstrong little idiot!” just because “I told her to stay here—to settle her nerves after her encounter with Rom!” I’m glad his car acts up and crackles, too, before he gets cranked. He needs to cool it, because his controlling ways are not going to help her. Point is, everyone else is portrayed as being in fear of Rom, and it serves an arc already in place. He does care.
He arrives to find her abandoned apartment in tatters.


Meanwhile Wraiths beg for death before the eternal banishment of the Neutralizer. Their screams haunt Stryker, now clad in the massive, flaming flame-themed armor of Firefall, his head full of paranoid poison, his limbs filled with one bold Earthman’s blood and power with which to attack Rom amidst the ashes of “those who dared to stand against him!”
Rom’s shocked; the potent assault bears pure Galadorian flame, such as once scattered the Wraiths themselves back to the Black Nebula. “What vile blasphemy is this?! The living fire is the symbol of the spaceknights! Its light sanctified our quest! But now the living fire is turned against me!” Soul and armor are licked painfully by a force he knows no Wraith could wield, and suddenly he fears for the man who should be within the armor he finds. “Karas, is it you?” he says, with a soul-wrenching cry. Do the eyes of an old friend lie within this embodiment of the molten core of Galador? But hate rings out, in the voice of Archie Stryker...”but you can call me...Firefall!

(Yes, they were taking Earth energy and sending it to another location in space/time, which, if you think of it afresh, is fascinating. I’ll tell you about the “inner-dimensional” fate of stolen emotional energies via our own “This Star Fallen!” Nov. 1st!)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rom #3 cover by Frank Miller



Rom, Spaceknight
#3 Writer Bill Mantlo Artist Sal Buscema Editor Jo Duffy E-i-C Shooter



At first flip, this issue has all the 70s problems with flashbacks in place of developments, stretching the gruel thin, plotwise, to set up Rom’s confrontation with Stryker/ Firefall, whose training and indoctrination gets as much space as the hero.


On the plus side, no early Rom cover gets further from the toy or better illustrates the Rom/ Wraith struggle than this Frank Miller/ Terry Austin piece!

It’s very similar to modern middle chapters; the one complete story is the transformation of Stryer to Firefall. The emphasis on developing the villain also helps spotlight the Wraiths in a capacity other than simply talking amongst themselves and catching the Limbo train. The recaps and simplistic evil of the villains, along with the toy origins of Rom, must’ve worked together to give the impression of “kid’s book” mentioned in later letter columns regarding these early chapters. On the other hand: a lot of readers were kids, naturally! I’ll bet if we can revisit the mentality by which all this is fresh and we haven’t seen it done---if we put aside its unremarkable plot in relation to the many Rom stories to come---we can rely on Sal to render a fairly moody, atmospheric tale that finally sets up a foe with tragic dimensions and comparable powers.


Jo Duffy was gracious enough, in personal correspondence, to give Bill and Sal all the credit for innovations in finding the voice, suggesting her enthusiasm and “wouldn’t it be cool if...?” background role as purely supplementary to the team doing their best. Her memories predominate with Bill’s enthusiasm and the buzz among Bullpenners of the day.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Lethal Laserium: Rom's Second Coming

The disguised Wraith who is director of the Laserium Corp. took a moment, when Archie Stryker attempted an attack on Rom with a laser that actually caused the cyborg pain. Quickly he contacted a police chief there in Lansing, VA, who passes notification to the others, some of whom arrive on the scene to overhear Stryker cry out that he will do anything to stop Rom from killing others. He’s seen Rom’s enormous strength, ripping off the vault door to the entrapped director.


Why Stryker, who may have had to kill the director anyway in the complications of an armed robbery, would be so motivated to help when he was not attacked himself and his men were not killed, I am not sure, even though as a Wraith pawn he will become fairly interesting, soon! It is hard to set up complex characterization for a supporting cast in these 17 page stories, anyway, nor is Mantlo inclined to subtleness here.


With Rom streaking skyward into the flamelit night now accused of arson, we join Steve Jackson in the walk up to the Clark porch, where Brandy’s parents greet him eagerly, as their daughter’s story and stance of communicating with Rom sets their nerves on edge. Dr. Peters packs his medical bag, saying she’s suffered a mild shock, but Brandy insists no delusion’s responsible for the truth.



Steve recalls with disgust Rom’s arrival in the midst of Clairton: the panic, the apparent “death ray” and the smoky (apparent) demise of two townspeople they both knew, before sweeping up Brandy and flying away. He’s thankful the National Guard saved her, but she angrily tells all that Rom is here to save us from the disguised Dire Wraiths, who tried to destroy his home world. Upset mother or no, Brandy feels she’s connected with a tortured man inside the apparent monster; nonetheless, Steve’s dutifully sent to her side to dissuade her. A kiss, however, reveals nothing is going back to normal, and soon, Brandy and her dog Tempest wander out to the gazebo beside a moored boat, as she asks herself how it is she believes a creature from the stars.

Silently, she questions her sanity: Rom stands, gun-metal grey, within the gazebo! Her heart prods her to speak where her mind is blank. His silence, however, floods with two century-old memories as a man, holding a woman---a thought unrevealed, as he asks her to inform him on this strange new world.


She hides her hurt way beneath fallen arms, as she listens: “a hardened criminal,” upon tracking a Wraith to its lair, “displayed misguided valor by attempting to save the wraith from my vengeance!” “He probably thought you were killing a fellow human being, Rom!” She acknowledges the reality of the weapon she saw the Guardsman use, despite the insanity of all else. Steve stares on, spying wildly from the bushes; the word “monster,” used by Stryker, crosses his mind.


Above Washington D.C., a real monster, the raven-form Wraith, flies into the pre-set corridor, whose safeguards open to allow her into the meeting room, with its imperious table set before an Earth background, seemingly menaced by a Kirby-esque device extended in the foreground. Now the raven transforms into the sinister phone operator with long, chiseled face. One of her counsel here is referred to as “Senator” by a Wraith S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, she refers to the limbo banishment, mistaken as slayings.

They coordinate efforts with concern, cold calculation, and upraised fists, creepy shadow puppets before the screen of the globe. Meanwhile, Steve’s telling Brandy run for the house, and calls Rom a monster; this provokes Rom to summon his Analyzer from subspace, and without a word he scans the panicking human. His menacing aspect is born of jealousy, but terrified Steve is unharmed. Now, the siren wail of the police he’s summoned arrives. The Clarks rush out stunned and again call Rom “monster” while Steve defies Brandy’s request to negotiate. Rom offers to depart with an apology, while Brandy encourages him to remain, explain. The Clairton Co. police chief Rogers pulls up with Stryker in tow (?), who identifies Rom from the Laserium. Now “chief” pulls out a bizarre object and drops veiled hints of preparations for Rom, passing it off as “top secret!” The device hooks into his short wave radio, as Rogers orders his men to fire at the spaceknight, who stands, hand up lifted, offering peace. (Doggy! Run!!!)



Their gunfire does nothing but upset Brandy and kill her dog. Grief, frustration: Rom turns to the innocent gazebo in mid-speech and rips its top right off the supports. Here Mantlo writes of Rom’s sacrifice of a peaceful life to become this powerful being, as he accents the point made by the hurled gazebo. At the chief’s orders, a special “bazooka blaster” is produced to blast the “robot,” while the men continue their surprise at such “Star Wars-type” weaponry. [IMG]http://i51.tinypic.com/2e3mihd.jpg[/IMG]

Hurt, Rom flies up, then smashes the weapon before the fleeing officers, while Steve restrains Brandy.
Now the siren, via Wraith technology, becomes a weapon, a “sonic shatterer” that pains Rom greatly, to Brandy’s continued concern and fright. This puzzles Steve considerably. Rom resists, and advances on the siren. Smashing it, he then lifts the automobile, and gives a peak at the eloquent Rom to come: “I have heard the call of comets, flown through the music of the spheres! What is your sonic-shatterer compared to that?” Now he trains his analyzer upon the Wraiths assembled, revealing human Stryker cringing and a hissing Chief Rogers. He rips open off the door and flings Stryker free, who interprets this as “like I’m not even worth killing!”
The Wraith’s begging angers Rom further as he flings the car, then summons his Neutralizer to open the gate to Limbo; the smoking car fumes soon in the lake—another apparent murder. Rom turns to his accusers, sorry for the grief brought to his one friend. The war allows no room for friendship or love, and so without a word, he takes flight towards the hope of forgetfulness. For Archie Stryker, however, the one value left to his life, after seeing two fellow human beings slain, rests with putting an end to Rom, Spaceknight.
#3? Just picked it up in exchange for rice cakes (didn’t recall big bag, brought remainder of small) and 1$. Have What If? Nova now, too!

Read Only Musings on Stryker, Brandy and Steve might be interesting; the ingrained Wraiths do make his job hard. Take it as a whole though with 2 & 3.

Rom #2


Rom #2 “Second Coming” The second city of Earth now feels the impact of Rom’s arrival, his ability to land in an area and render it so utterly surreal one’s mind struggles to calculate what to do at all. Here is the mysterious toy-being an enigma yet, not proven a force for good or ill save by the context of his own word, that aliens have secreted themselves in entire human life spans to live like us, among us, waiting for a sinister day when they can use our budding technology to relaunch their schemes on Galador and the universe at large. How could any race be so thoroughly-going evil? What is Rom’s story is a lie, a cover to some other horrible reality?


Only one person, Brandy Clark, age twentysomething in quiet Nowhereville, is even privy to the question: to all outsiders, there is no personal encounter, only a meeting with a war machine at war. Was there any better analogy for what a military must bear: to be assumed an enemy for one’s ways and mission, yet to be a human longing for freedom and life one day outside of duty? Yet have you ever known a soldier who could not stay home until all the brothers and sisters are returned? The language barrier. and a visual misfortune that makes Rom’s neutralization of the enemy appear to be brutal murder, make his dutiful action, without the benefit of diplomatic communication, a vile strike from the skies.



(There is much here about the struggle over word meaning and perception of such
entities as our armed forces, abroad; imagine, now one soldier, two hundred years from his life, two hundred years a weapon, alone without benefit of yet one friendly voice, and agitators lurking in the works.)


So is the state of noble Rom’s struggle when he lands inside the Laserium, a laboratory and apparent demonstration facility for the state-of-the-art laser. Herein may be something yet that makes the danger within wrap ‘round his solitary mission, but Rom only knows he’s detected a Dire Wraith, of the sort that murdered the peaceful Galadorian expedition and threatened his precious home planet.
Now, smashing through the ceiling and alighting on dissipating jet pods, he encounters, among the people he considers innocent though susceptible to Wraith manipulations, the disguised head of the facility, himself the victim of a crime!


Archie Stryker and his band of thugs took this job counting on a low-security clean sweep of the vault, upon the threat of death to one easily isolated and controlled man. Rom is a force for which no normal man can possibly repair; great is their fear, particularly if they are familiar with the rumored disintegrations of people in nearby Clairton...in Archie Stryker’s hands, the Wraith dirty work is nearly done for them, but, though they are built so deadly as to cause him actual harm, Rom succeeds against the lasers.


However, once again he takes his leave without explaining to the executive branch of law enforcement---and in such a rogue status as to make his appearance at the White House a bad idea, if he even yet realized he could go there. Rom remains, essentially, a vigilante, and if the people do not perceive his innocence, then the populace he wishes to save becomes one more liable factor.
Now, however, prepare for the simple entry stage left of Steve Jackson, arriving at the Clark residence to talk to the one eye witness everyone wants to call crazy....his girlfriend.

of spaceknights



Haven't forgotten the origins of this blog: truth to tell, I've been either writing about the collector's item classics or working on my own original stuff, but haven't written any pastiches of both lately (just a few essays instead). Today I'm going to share some notes from over a week ago, as I began working on a Portal Immortal story with my own spaceknight who is not Rom, but possibly a creature from the land where babies communicate their pre-birth contact to their mothers on Earth. The next night, I revisited the Voidon invasion I'd planned to be part of P.I. and realized a meteor in the night is an awesome, grab-you-and pull-you close opening, and the reasons invented themselves, really.

Having fun...will need a bit of sleep...if can’t sleep, write some more...love the space night world twist and the original Voidons thriller that takes up the main plot of Portal Immortal #4,5.
By THIS point, I start considering making this the kick-off story for the strip, as it then contains less of the fantastic elements from Mysti Hazel and so on; a pure science fiction story, with everyone at human levels of power. I pondered having the redstone meteor crash to earth, with all its sense of urgency imitating ROM #1, only with Sulinar Vix tracking it...and Neneh Stonegrave had popped up looking, so why not start her back at the Redstone, give her Brandy’s role. Really works, with S.V. = Anti-rom!

Great! My other drama with Sulinar Vix is actually a story begun here, seemingly long ago. I wrote the plot for the third act of "Calinferno!" but never posted a script, and it's been mixing in and out of my to-do list except during the weeks I only worked on our soon-t0-be released $2.99 comic, D'n'A.



Next: ROM #2~~~!!!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bill Mantlo and Rom


http://i51.tinypic.com/2gv3qfc.jpg Bill Mantlo
C/O The Mantlo Family
1995 Miller Place
Merrick, NY 11566

Listen, if you have a soft spot for ROM---whatever your Mantlo connection---
I hear he appreciates fan mail to this day. Everyone seems familiar with his car accident in '92,
but as far as I know, letters are still welcome, okay?

We'll see if Jo Duffy replies with a story of how ROM went from 50's style alien invader story complete with "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" enemies to the song it became...which was not bad for a former state-of-the-art toy that managed to move between 200,000 and 300,000 units before cancellation.



So why am I thinking of "I Will Fly No More" off Toy Story, huh?


Her editorial interest is thanked personally by Bill in a later issue; I'll finish commenting on #1, with less expectation of cracking many of his thoughts via his electronically preserved memories. Publius Enigma keeps finding memories of the memory ensconced in the lattice work, but Rom's personality didn't seem fully engaged as yet during the first days following Earth Fall---perhaps a dehumanizing effect of extended space travel?

I did not have a review of #1 that was better than what Scott Tipton says here:
http://www.comics101.com/comics101//?mode=project&action=view&project=Comics%20101&chapter=83




While I actually found the script serviceable but not full of original lines, I did find the plot a very functional way to bring Rom to Earth and set him down a path of interest. I think I always enjoyed the conceit of his existence as a cyborg; seven year old me was fascinated at the repellent thought of my humanity being diced from my body but my life still continuing inside the robot shell. (At 7, with talk about sex notably absent, I had yet to realize how maddening that would be in a romantic relationship with a human! Brandy doesn't factor into #24, the only ROM I had until #65 as I began collecting later.) Soaring through outer space in such a body, coupled with an enemy that harnesses every child's fear that the adult with which they must interact will not turn out to be nice, already I heard for him a distinctive voice and eventually drew him in battle with something reminiscent of the Alpha android I'd spied quickly in MTU #129, but with wings. Those few pages began with Starfox, of all people, reading a paper in the living room of Avengers Mansion, soon victim to the creature's attack. Now soared Rom into battle! For only 20 cents, I believe; if it sold just one copy, I'd promised to make more, and so began my subscription service pitch at both family households.


If you can fall into the coolness of revisiting 1979 and its TV antennae (Brandy's car is a make with which I'm unfamiliar, but it looks very upscale for Clairton), and feel the tension of the misperceived alien menace that could land anywhere at any time, with an unknown agenda and monstrous power, Rom #1's for you. It has all the flaws of products of its time, production wise, and a rushed approach to the faces for a comic no one knew would stick around as a series. If you're a fan of the character, it's awesome to return to a time when the mystery first began.


Jim Shooter, according to "The Greatest of Spaceknights" site, took a plot Mantlo himself called "horrible," and re-wrote the story, apparently between him, Duffy and Bill. They, along with our pal Sal (who only shared the run with...Steve Ditko) got us to a first issue with all the hallmark Marvel traits, yet no comic relief, which remained true of its tone throughout. I speculate Shooter came up with the cyborg army of Galador, but in the process of talking, you can't be very sure who spun out which idea. This single character, however, was the one Mr. Mantlo would most make his very own, even considering the typical storytelling engine expectation to find Dire Wraiths (and who took D.W. in the singular and decided on the Skrull-like invaders?) at the bottom of each rotten barrel.