Thursday, March 31, 2011

Psychedelic Supper

I'm Richard Rory, your host for Psychedelic Supper on Citrusville's one and only Rock FM!
Quicksilver Messenger Service, from San Fransisco...that one goes out for Jammin' Jamison on the opening course for Psychedelic Supper. Here's one from Theivery Incorporated.

Shout out to Dr. Laurie, with her Saturday morning positive thinking chats on our sister station in Rome, GA!
Shouts due our sponsor, Dave and Amy down at Omegaville Hardware & Supply! Seed and feed needs? Indeed!

Coming up on the show: Blue Oyster Cult spotlight, part two, next!



Here's part two of our Psyche Supper Spotlight on Blue Oyster Cult.

So, what was biker boogie? It's the speed-fueled darkened twin of the psychedelic music movement. Steppenwolf embodied it perhaps better than any other band that comes to mind. Here is Blue Oyster Cult, from their eponymous first album, debuted in 1972.


BOC, as they are known often by their fans, were created as an answer to Britain's Black Sabbath. The bottom-heavy sound of their first album is on display here, on the 1980 Black and Blue Tour, where the two bands united to storm stages across the world!

"Cities On Flame With Rock and Roll" was recognized critically as the opening step into an extraordinary individual identity as a band.



The band's critical masterpiece is widely believed to be their third album, Secret Treaties. Here's the original 1974 radio ad spot:



Opening with the brash "Career of Evil," the album closes with a grand, yet deeply uncertain and unsettled, piece of music which announced the direction of the band's musical future, the brilliant "Astronomy."





After the mammoth success of Agents of Fortune, the BOC hit their commercial peak and became one of the preeminent touring bands in the world. The band continued to rely on its multiple songwriters, turning again here, for 1977's follow-up Specters to Buck Dharma for another tune in the vein of their new soft rock mainstream appeal, continuing to tell their unique stories and blend guitar and synthesizer to great effect.


Incessant touring built the band's reputation through the 1970's. Their concerts eventually grew so ambitious with its pioneering laser light shows as to not only build great anticipation of their tours, but also pushed them to the limits, with the many difficulties of staging such staggering productions. Their reputation as a live music juggernaut endures.

The signature piece of this classic period to pull together all the elements was 1981’s “Fire of Unknown Origin.” Among the songs here are the other top 40 smash “Burnin’ For You” co-written with Richard Meltzer, and another with lyrics by famed science fiction/ dark fantasy creator Michael Moorcock.

The song “Black Blade” was a previous reference to the sword Stormbringer, a signature of Elric of Melinbone from the Eternal Champions series. Now Moorcock wrote an entirely new song, “Veteran of the Foreign Wars,” featured on “Fire.” The worlds of role playing games and heavy metal would converge in a popular social phenomenon. Geeks everywhere, raise your horns in gratitude—and rock on!

Fantasy writer Michael Moorcock's contribution to the Blue Oyster Cult legend. See if you can follow the story in this twisted little gem from the album, "Fires of Unknown Origin"!


That's part two of our Blue Oyster Cult retrospective! Hope you loved it. Here's one from the Nova Local, a song called, "$5 a ticket."


Thanks for kicking back with us today on Citrusville's Rock FM, Richard here,

finally closing out the Supper with Hawkwind!!!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cult and Kraft : A Defenders- Blue Oyster Cult creative mash-up


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This is Richard Rory,on Citrusville's Rock FM WNRV, spotlighting the Blue Oyster Cult for this Psychedelic Psupper.

The Long Island, NY band, after five years of name and line-up changes, became Blue Oyster Cult in 1972, roaring onto the scene as the prototypical heavy metal group. In fact, the symbol that adorns each of their album covers is an ancient symbol for that classic heavy metal known as lead. Critic Richard Meltzer, manager Sandy Pearlman (who named the band), and future punk poetess Patti Smith all contributed lyrics.


According to Wiki:

The name "Blue Öyster Cult" came from a 1960s poem written by manager Sandy Pearlman. It was part of his "Imaginos" poetry, later used more extensively in their 1988 album Imaginos. Pearlman had also come up with the band's earlier name, "Soft White Underbelly", from a phrase used by Winston Churchill in describing Italy during World War II. In Pearlman's poetry, the "Blue Oyster Cult" was a group of aliens who had assembled to secretly guide Earth's history. "Initially, the band was not happy with the name, but settled for it, and went to work preparing to record their first release..."

In an interview published in the U.K. music magazine Zig Zag in 1976, Pearlman told the story explaining the origin of the band's name was an anagram of 'Cully Stout Beer'.


Harvester of Eyes


BOC became one of the top touring acts of the next two decades. Their off-kilter subject matter and inventive use of synthesizers, along with memorably bottom-heavy production, gave the band a distinct sound. They tour, in fact, to this day.

The trio of black and white covers, with Pop Art sensibilities, stood out as part of the brand, as much as the science-fiction-flavored lyrics and often sinister music. The band progressed over time from a "biker boogie" sound to more textured songs, especially after the bandmembers began recording home demos of their ideas before developing them in the studio.

1976 saw the release of their commercial breakthrough album, Agents of Fortune. Among its many memorable songs, including "Astronomy" and "E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)" was the smash hit "Don't Fear the Reaper," written and sang by lead guitarist Buck Dharma.






Here's a one of a kind treat: a half-acoustic/ half-electric demo created by Buck Dharma.
















Since the band’s inception, Eric Bloom has been the band’s chief lead vocalist. He and “Buck” are the only remaining original members of the psychedelic rock giant. Drummer Albert Bouchard (one of rock’s under-rated great drummers) and bassist Joe Bouchard are classic BOC members, along with keyboardist/ guitarist Alan Lanier.


What this has to do with the Defenders rests with writer/colorist David Anthony Kraft, or DAK as he is sometimes known in the comics community? During his tenure on the title, he and Roger Slifer did one storyline including tributes to the rock band Rush, who they later met in person. A year later, DAK returned from a story about nuclear holocaust (in the Soviet Union) with “Day of Xenogenesis,” a plot to birth a demon race on Earth.
I credit this storyline with the preoccupation with Hell and demonic villains that became a signature of the title, though the occult provided mystery and menace from the very first Defenders story with Doctor Strange, the Submariner, and the Hulk.


In the process of “Xenogenesis” DAK used the second album, “Tyranny and Mutation” as the title of the second chapter; the title of the fourth, “Agents of Fortune,” to describe the occult mercenaries, and the rocker “Dominance and Submission” as one of his chapter titles. The main villain was a priestess, half-human and half-demon, named Vera Gemini, after another song off “Agents,” and the last chapter in the trilogy shares the title, “The Revenge of Vera Gemini.” Patti Smith, who was becoming a headliner sensation at NYC’s CBGB club at the time these issues came out, co-wrote “Gemini.” Another song, “the Red and the Black” inspires a scene where Vera plays roulette with the demons for control---and wins.

Patti's poem, written for Albert Bouchard's birthday May 23, 1973
Rich Buckler's creation Devil-Slayer first appears in the Marvel Universe here as a renegade Agent of Fortune, with his cloak that provides him an endless array of medieval weaponry and teleportation abilities. (Just speculating: his real name, Eric Simon Payne, is a nod to Eric Bloom of BOC.) His opposite number, who attempts the assassination of Stephen Strange, is called the “Harvester of Eyes,” in allegiance to his desire to steal the Eye of Agamotto to bring about Xenogenesis. This is another BOC song, from their excellent third album Secret Treaties.




For that matter, I suspect the attorney rival of Jennifer Walters during DAK’s run on the first She-Hulk title, was named “Buck” after BoC’s memorable guitarist.

But there you have it. Some older fans, now in college, were looking for a more sophisticated take on the comics they loved; DEFENDERS took the vanguard of mixing outrageous super-heroics and offbeat characterization with dead serious issues. There was a time when Marvel was putting out graphic novels dedicated to the Beatles (by Kraft/ Perez/ Mooney), even KISS, when its young creators had a finger on the pulse of New York’s rock scene. No one ever tied it together quite like “the Dude.” And nothing says 70’s rock like Blue Oyster Cult.

Just as the BOC still tours, the Kraftsman is still creating comics, writing, drawing and coloring his own work. Check out Yi Soon Shin #4 for more of the Dude!

/Turns out the BOC has been in comic books A LOT !!! On their site, I found this:

http://www.blueoystercult.com/Media-main.html

Me? I've seen two eye-fulls of the weirdest things you can imagine. That's my rotten luck! But no matter how bad your day's been, a blast of rock and roll and a comic book are a nice way to get away from it all. This has been Richard Rory, with "Cult and Kraft"- up next, I've got some South African neo-prog rock with Fatboy Jetson, The Pixies, and some Bowie off "Scary Monsters" with Robert Fripp on guitar. Have a Nice Day!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Monday, Monday, WNRV, Citrusville


Listen, I'm about to have an exciting announcement on integr8dsoul.com, which is going to be a really deluxe space for you to groove before we're through.





Meanwhile, as we get it all together behind the scenes, let's do some jams this Monday! Pick your style, try something new, but don't let Monday get you down, it's just the start of better things, believe it. This is Richard Rory, rolling into the week with you on Citrusville's Rock FM!!!


with that said, here's a request from our early morning listener Vita, some new rock to start off your week, from the Brian Jonestown Massacre:





Nice textures in those guitars, freaky vocal...all right! So how about we continue our role with some Grohl? Acoustic Foo Fighters, going out to Hugh, our energy's with ya, buddy...Citrusville Rock FM...










That's the Lovebugs, with the Key...gotta get up, y'all! Rise and shine, as we watch the sun come up on a Florida morning that looks to be cloudy, with clearing skies by noon, high in the low 60s...here's some get up music:


Eminenm, Till I Collapse (with Nate Dogg) Don't Give Up Music!


Monday Morning, Live Fleetwood Mac this foggy dawn. Keep it on the low beams, travelers, watch out for each other! Here's a little pirate music, Jimmy Buffet Live, on your WNRV...




Monday, Monday Mamas and the Papas, from 1966, Hollywood Palace




WNRV, Omegaville, Citrusville!!!




Here's a request from Stanley Adams, up all night writing a book about love everlasting...nice Beach Boys nuevo here, from Ariel Pink...


This is Richard Rory, churning out the swamp rock for you this Monday Morning...Jammin' Jameson's coming in next, more requests on the way...beat those blues back, bat those lids, open those eyes, it's going to be a beautiful day...thanks for diggin' the graveyard shift with me...more music on the way, with Neon Pink Dynamite, Gemma Peel, Cervix Cosmonaut and the Left Field coming up in the hour, on Citrusville's rock FM!!! Live long and prosper....

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Why heroes?



I enjoyed a discussion, following along afterwards, about the legacy of darker visions of heroes, often spun out of inspiration for Alan Moore's Watchmen. Watchmen is indeed written with the quality of a serious book, but its treatment of heroes takes them further away from certainities of even the squabbling, emotional Lee/Kirby/Ditko superheroes popularized by Marvel in the mid 1960s.

Super-Dickery examples abound, but DC comics heroes, which outsold everything but Archie in the same time period, were written specifically to save the day. To this day, the older generation remembers comics as they were frozen in this time. It's the rare superhero book, like FX, listed in this month's blogs on the side bar, that dares to evoke the fresh faces of those by-gone adventures.

http://ceaseill.blogspot.com/2011/03/much-more-than-bird-or-plane-fx-by.html

Has Moore, then, developed a sad legacy? Is it indeed fair to say, as my friends concur, that Moore just didn't understand how to write heroic characters?

At least since Gil Kane's 1968 independent comic His Name is Savage, a few artists were interested in pushing the envelope in safe-for-kids behavior (but on material like Nick Fury, intended to be more PG at least and more with subtle clues) and more so over seas in a few Japanese cartoons of the period.

At least in, say, Gerber's work, while lots of people misbehave, there's always someone present
who, even against their self-interests, perhaps, puts out a neck for the right thing. Even if the sacrifice seems ironic and meaningless, the reader knows why the motivation matters. It is more rebellious, in this cynical world, to do the right thing.

Gerber's stories are filled with self-interested and petty people, but he gives us at least one character each time out with some sort of moral center. What's interesting about Moore is the slipperiness of that moral center, present in each Watchman hero. I think the argument goes against his imitators, really, as their stories rarely have the kind of thematic care and detail Lloyd's art does. Even Moore decided to make a Tom Strong and a Promethea as a backlash against that wave. Whether they are as compelling is certainly open to debate. His Watchmen expose attitudes you can see in the world around you, draped in the guise of morality. Even the vile Comedian is appalled by the Machiavellian means of achieving world peace. One thing I like about Englehart's Patsy Walker is : she thinks becoming a super hero is surely the neatest thing. His Beast, in his Avengers salad days, takes a similar attitude. The Swordsman finds redemption despite his less-than-distinguished career. Thomas' FF leading into Conway already opens the door to super-heroes damaged in personal relationships; there's a kind of pathos in those times, anyway, that doing the right thing rarely leads to greater comfort or closer relationships. Struggling to maintain a heroic stance following the toll of sacrifices marks all the early Bronze Age Marvels I enjoyed most, but it's an element dating further back in the 60's.


I enjoy things like letters columns and Bullpen Bulletins and Checklists for both companies; this all makes the lines more accessible and "homey." My nostalgia is for looking at those things and imagining them each to be as great as the hype!

I really do get how, when you lose heroes who incisively see the right thing to do, you really get the turn of the wheel. I used to prize the "realistic" uncertainties, but I really like heroes who have the best of intentions. Trying to come to grips with that is what makes the high school issues of Spider-Man really sing, because it's about growing up and making mistakes, but seeing in your heart what must be right (and maybe getting that wrong!).

I think it's realistic to have the best of intentions but have a hard time figuring out what to do, or figuring out something that's hard to actually do. Realistically, in my life, I've always known of someone trying to do good, and often paying a seemingly unfair price for it. The best "morally adrift" characters in recent years were the Secret Six: outright villains looking out for themselves, doing the right thing despite themselves. The struggle to evaluate what is right makes the characters interesting; their commitment to making things right and protecting the underdogs make us root for them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

From Red Guardian to SheerZan (and from Gerber to Lyron)

Listen, I may well find myself sneaking in more enthusiastic blogs about Steve Gerber's work. here, however, I believe my sheer zeal for writing has encountered a saturation point, leading me to create a beautiful new artifice that I sincerely hope will bring peace and light and fun into the lives of people still many generations to come.

here's where we turn from the Gerber discussion in the past to the writing discussion that's been here all along. There's no better place to change direction than with the very best similarity. I will describe for you the Red Guardian and her introduction in Defenders #35. Then, I will begin talking to you about this idea, Sheer-Zan. (This turns out to be one of seven pieces found in posts ahead.)

To compare Sheer-Zan: One, written over the rest of this month, with Batman: Year One is to strike a very true chord. The years since I last read that story reverberated with me on the days I watched students risking their lives in Tehran, Iran, in 2009, though it could just as well be Bahrain today. Libya, believe it or not, is actually inspiring me to look ahead to the future of this idea. These stories are my way of containing the multitudes, whom I feel with all my energetic heart.

Yet, though she was created to represent a government and face of a country now in the past, its unique relationships thirty-five years on continue their echoes, and so, to think of the obscure but brilliantly-conceived Red Guardian today is to remember the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union. I realize some of you reading this will have to look that one up. It is hard to quickly tell you about that nation, nor its impact on the world and its relationship with the United States of America. In 1976, when this story first appears, we are celebrating a bicentennial here in the U.S., and the end of the Soviet Union is no where in sight. Those were the days of the Cold Wars.

The crime and corruption of 1970s New York City is referenced somewhat topically in the superhero comics of the day, but Defenders #35 opens its readers to fascinating questions when the familiar brightly costumed hero or heroine drops from above to meet justice on a vicious attacker in an alley way...in Moscow. The commonality of mugging transports the American who fears crime into the streets with, and in sympathy with the victims, in the Soviet Union, which was generally feared by Americans, or at least, largely distrusted.

Yet, as the caption offers, there is still common human deprivation and degradation, while, in a tightly-policed state, there is far less street crime. So the question offered beneath the narrative is, what is it like to live in the protection and limitation of a police state? Not for nothing does the heroine flee for her life from the police; they are under party orders to hunt down anyone operating without sanction.

I want to describe that scene to you, because it is so brilliantly played. I want to note that in Red Guardian's outlaw life, there is a respected civilian guise, a secret identity: Tania Belinsky, a beautiful surgeon. She helps people as Red Guardian because her conscience moves her to do so (and you know it must be an adrenaline high), but she cannot be found out: there's too much good from her medical career.


It is her skills as surgeon that draw her to Kyle Richmond's bedside, at the formal request of Dr. Stephen STrange, who is calling in a marker partially involving the removal of an old ulcer from a bureaucrat years before. Yes, before he was Master of the Mystic Arts, Stephen had a successful career, a true adult. But recall Kyle Richmond's bizarre problem: his brain has been removed and preserved by the Headmen.

There are other fascinating bits involving the Soviets shadowing their doctor, on suspicion she will defect. If only, Stephen says while they prep for Kyle's brain surgery, there were a way she could simply visit and explore the U.S. for a while.
She is leery of her chances of that much personal control with the Soviets, even though she has no intention at all of defecting. She informs Dr. Strange that "I do not believe in magic."

I could go on about Ruby, Morgan and Nagan's encounter with Nebulon and the fawn that holds the mind of Chondu, their partner, the mystic. Some day, when it's appropriate, and it'll never really be appropriate but oh, well, I will. Or, you can look up Defenders #35, or just help yourself to the Essentials Defenders vol. 2 and 3 to have these stories (I have them in original issues, bought in "good" condition to fine condition for one to two and a half dollars each, basically).

No, it's this bit about Tania Belinsky, the Red Guardian, and the passport difficulties, and the character I want to do. I conceived of Sheer-Zan about this time two years ago. I believe it was therefore at least nine months before I ever first read Gerber's issue described above. The parallels are exquisite. I was thinking of using Japanese and Chinese fighting styles and philosophy alongside a well-conditioned but normally-powered woman with a medical profession, a medical mission, a secret identity that jeopardizes her freedom and life, sneaking off to fight crime not unlike Batman in Year One by Miller & Mazzuchelli.

I want to discuss the systems of these Middle Eastern countries, whose changes will become the wave of the 21st century, with a pro-female, thoughtfully-designed character, while doing what Gerber would've like to do, but really just ran out of time on Defenders to do (he leaves with issue #41, so with the Annual, there's really only seven Defenders issues from Gerber). "What's that?" Show the intrigues of the police trying to figure out who Red Guardian is, while she continues helping people in both guises.

Now, swap Gotham for the middle east, and you see what I'll spend the week creating. As a matter of fact, her initial story arc was plotted in seven parts, in homage to her predecessor in fiction, my own VAdo Bujinka in 2000.

As for Red Guardian:

Her deceased husband was intended to be the Soviet version of Captain America, so she is carrying on his name as protector of her people. She is educated and worldly and compassionate and overall so very brilliantly made. There will only be a few stories of note ever made with her, however. The last one of note, by David Anthony Kraft, involved nuclear catastrophe, which is also highly timely.

That's my cue to mention my other blog, Be Chill, Cease ill, wherein I'll be developing five stories of tsunami survival. One, at least, will be directly related to the fifty people at Fukushima, fighting to keep the reactors from exploding, and who they might be, what they might be thinking. So you see how accidentally all this mysterious search for meaning I could hardly explain beyond my whims has led me into a place where I should take a week to write about two things: one inspired by Iran, Iraq, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Sri Lanka, and yes, Libya, and Frank Miller and Robert E. Howard and my friends Rachel and Bali and Troy (my go-to guy on fixing animals!) and Steely (Animal Expert of the World). The other, over on Cease ill, will culminate in an e-Book with proceeds going to red cross, a true red guardian.

---Lyron

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lyrics: Guardian of the Nexus



The last column tells you all about Roshomonics, the song cycle, which includes this.

“Guardian of the Nexus”

“Guardian of the Nexus”



1. She drew a pentagram in the mud of the swamp
A world nearby could not delay
Some pages she recited, elegance and pomp
Za-rehd-Na, from ten thousand years away
Told of world shaking doom in another dawn
Told of power of Thog the Nether Spawn
But the savior arising was itself made of fear
The evil stained-world, brought its burning hands near
A man destroyed by his pride his own hand
Became of the vines and quicksand
Though there’s little more to make him man
Thing that he is, never had he planned

Guardian of the Nexus
Guardian of the Nexus

Chorus:

Though there’s fear in everyone
And everyone’s a setting sun
Other worlds to eat our pain
And one is left with not a thing to gain.
I was there to say aloud/ the last ones even left around
To crush the pyramid so proud
Guardian of the Nexus.

2. Haunted loser’s luck became
The way I came to know your name
You’re no one really there at all
To tred the steps where others fall
And judge no one of these their sins
But with their fear, torment begins
While you and I, are sorts of friends
And why you’re here, who is to blame?


Battle the child from beyond the stars
Duck in the world, and a prince from a jar
Clown enmired with fearsome plays
And we as pawns to act his ways

I’ve found a love and let her go
To leave the life, the horror show
That is the only life I know
Man and unman, in strangest days

Chorus
Though there’s fear in everyone
And everyone’s a setting sun
Other worlds to eat our pain
And one is left with not a thing to gain.
I was there to say aloud/ the last ones even left around
To crush the pyramid so proud
Guardian of the Nexus.

Middle four with synthesizer, middle eight piano
then guitar solo for sixteen bars

3. Viking cut down the rock star
who wrote the joke too far
groupies pleasures turn to fright
beside the house of death, beneath the neon light


So, take me away from this town
Where the books are burning on the ground
by the mad old ones with hate-filled eyes
All the good boys are soon buried


Take me from this town
I’ve walked inside their school
And I’ve seen them all for fools
Crush our spirit with the rules
Make our minds nostalgic jewels

Something mad has pierced the Everglades


Take me away in your van in the night
seeping with the fetid smell
Drive away into the southern night
Drive me from this hell

Chorus:

Though there’s fear in everyone
And everyone’s a setting sun
Other worlds to eat our pain
And one is left with not a thing to gain.
I was there to say aloud/ the last ones even left around
To crush the pyramid so proud
Guardian of the Nexus.


Guardian of the Nexus
Guardian of the Nexus
(Whatever knows fear)
Guardian of the Nexus
(Whatever knows fear)
Guardian of the Nexus.


Dedicated to Steve Gerber
Written by Lue Lyron Copyright 2011 Wingbat Tunes, Integr8dSoulProductions. Whenever it's ready, I'll post a link to the song.

Roshomonics

After soaking my brain in Gerber of late, there's a very short tale of how a couple of responses to writing led to a chain of subconscious that followed me out on my walk to Subway at 2:30 am.

The colorful Headmen characters were the first to call forth a rocker: I had the feel for something punk rock that suits the freaky visual aspect of these unique comic book schemers. As I pondered the "Talking Headsmen" soon after I realized my favorite piece of dialog with them, the multi-level ruse of the impostor Jack Norriss seems a promising scene to offer lyrics.

In between crossing streets, a Berlin-era Bowie/ Eno flavored tribute to Celestial Mind Control emerges as a second song, after only a block spent with creativity broken loose for "Headmen" by a quick listen to Black Flag before I'd left.

After I arrived home, I tried listening for other themes. A couple of tunes started to come along as lyrics, and then, I wrote this one in one sitting.

Ladies and gentlemen, my indie rock plaintive pop song, in honor of the Hulk's tear in Steve Gerber's first fully-written issue (#21, Apr. 1975) of the Defenders.

Hulk is Sorry, Little Girl.


(Soon to be a plaintive new indie rock with the sound of a timeless hit record)
“(Hulk is ) Sorry, Little Girl” (Gerber/ Lyron)
Hulk enjoyed
Holding your hand, little girl
Hulk enjoyed watching you skip rope,
When you were not afraid of me
And liked my skin, I had hope.
But when your dad got mad
He made Hulk an insult
Hulk never did want any thing
But to be left alone
This is why Hulk always alone!
But Hulk is sorry he smashed your house, little girl
But now he doesn’t know what to do
Though he can fly, Hulk made you cry
Stomped his foot, when Hulk got angry
Hulk and man
Hulk wants to forget ---to leap, and leave it all behind
Ohh-oh-ohh-whoa
Hulk is sorry for we were friends, maybe for a time
Someone who didn’t want to use Hulk
Try to confuse Hulk
Standing in your yard
But it’s broken now
For the strongest one there is
Cannot hold these hands together
Someone who liked Hulk for himself but these blows to my head
Make it all fade away, for a friend
I’m always seeking
Someone like you
Someone like you
Hulk thought he knew.
Maybe Magician and Bird Nose help Sword Girl
But Hulk doesn’t know truly
Where Hulk belongs
Someone like you
Someone like you
Hulk thought he knew.




I found it touchingly melancholy. Just when you expect it to just be funny, y'know?

So I selected these, and if I don't get bored and busy with something else, I pondered an album: Roshomonics

Roshomonics
1. Matt’s Not Coming Back
2. Guardian of the Nexus
3. (Hulk is) Sorry, Little Girl
4. Talking Headsmen* (S.Gerber/ C. Disharoon) (Wouldn't it be a kick to use some of their dialog? It was NUTS!!!)
5. Revolution in the Future
6. My Life and Times (As Told By My Brain)
7. Free Spirit
8. Celestial Mind Control
9. Bus to Cleveland (Stress and Strain)

and perhaps, as an added bonus
10. J.M. & Dian run away ( or leave an intolerable situation)

Omega is really its own rock opera. Even in its incomplete state, that's still perfect rock and roll.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's not brain surgery, it's Steve Gerber. Oh---it IS brain surgery



I originally thought I'd have a few hundred words about the passing of the Soviet Union, how its former political existence still effects the world, and what a fine exemplar of humanity Gerber fashioned in the new Red Guardian. Her civilian guise, Tania Belinsky, is called upon by Dr. Stephen Strange to perform a one-of-a-kind surgery: replace the brain of Kyle Richmond within his own body!

Meanwhile, a plan of sudden inspiration appears...as Chondu's body is changed in horrible, childish ways by the time his mind is transplanted within one of Ruby's artificial brains. Immortality, however, assures this need not be the end of Chondu's horrible, super-human experience.

Instead of discussing the Soviet Union, or the plot, I spent the evening playing a golf video game with my best friend. When do I ever take real time off to enjoy her?


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fawndu strikes! and Red Guardian rising


“That’s right,” says the nebbish man, fist clenched, other hand outstretched; despite his sawed-off frame, he is every inch the villain. Some self-help seminar! He’s just tactlessly suggested his audience cover their desire to improve with self-loathing. Oh sure, you might think you can debase yourself and who you have been up till now, as part of the road to change---but however much you might need to clean the slate, so to speak, are you willing to embrace that you are completely ridiculous?


In this case, the villain’s real thoughts about humanity show through, dictating his self-righteous approach to helping humanity “save” itself. So, is he doing it for money? Oh, no---he’s actually just doing this because, after his last defeat (despite superhuman “dimension spanning” powers), he was discovered by, and indoctrinated partially by, the Lubderdite race. Upon telling about him, Marc remarked: “he sounds like one of those missionaries that would come to tribal people, kill their wife and kid, and STILL be trying to see they should convert, save their soul!” He still has all the ego necessary to think he is the superior being, able to dictate to others how they can improve. But first: “Expose yourself for the bozos you really are!”

Hey, he's only asking us to see ourselves as disrespectfully as he does. He's the one with the answers. One imagines he's got a rather susceptible audience, but maybe he needs to turn up his Aware-a-Meter a minute.

The “bozo” he calls up is the disguised Stephen Strange, who complies “to see what he wants.” The “self-help speaker” refutes this; “you’re such a bozo, you forgot you’re here for what YOU want out of life!”

“That is not so,” Strange replies. “I merely find this a curious path to enlightenment.” Offended by his “sobriety,” our never-named speaker cues the curtains, to reveal a stage full of his abductees, all chanting “bozo” mindlessly! The cheerleaders shouting “B! O! Z! O!” put it over the top: his “random sampling of humanity, whose brains revealed the secret of celestial mind control to me. See what THEY think of you!” “Eyes of Oshtur!” is right, Stephen. Angrily, Hulk recognizes that “four eyes took Bambi—and Bird-Nose, too! (That’s Nighthawk, standing onstage with his body’s own brain in a bowl. See earlier posts!) Now Hulk will smash—“ Val stills him, following Stephen’s lead: patience.


“Four eyes” recognizes the true face now , as Stephen calmly pulls off the Bozo mask, doubtful. Ah, but he does---because, as he reveals, he is Nebulon, the Celestial Man. Val curses Hulk’s inability to recall names, but “what does stupid name matter? Hulk can smash anybody—all the same to Hulk!” Security rushes in, as Nebulon opens fire in their midst with a bolt from his hand, raving about his “duty...to save your malaise-ridden world!” Val dodges, but with his dimension spanning powers, he does, too---to stage right. As “four-eyes” he announces his intention to deal with the “interruption” for all present to observe; after all, “ these costumed savages intend to deprive you of your opportunity for true happiness!” and with his hand-fired beams begins to demonstrate the benefits of “Celestial Mind Control!!” The same power that sends Hulk and the Valkyrie flying over their heads, he promises, lies untapped in their own minds. Its mastery is his gift to them.






Strange deals with the captives, sensing “a severe depletion of psychic energy in ALL the members of Nebulon’s ‘random sampling!’” I like how Gerber’s dialog consistently clarifies the subtle thoughts of his characters, and when juxtaposed with depictions of action, is not merely redundant, but shades the actions presented with meaning, as, with energy projection, the actual results, subtly, could mean anything. Here he simply shields “Jack—and Kyle’s brain---from further abuse...so that I may turn my attention back to our foe. No—wait—I feel the presence of another magical force---growing---“ Here, we see the deer again in the background. Now, Fawndu shall strike!


He senses the force “straining to achieve potency---but where? What is the source?” With glowing eyes, the angry-looking fawn activates its spell. (Remember, he's really the villainous mystic Chondu, captive for now in the deer after attempting to hijack Nighthawk's brain!) Looking at the smoke following the incandescent burst, Strange observes: “Gone---both the deer and Nebulon! Apparently Chondu tapped into Nebulon’s vast reservoir of power..!”


“Bambi—is gone again?” asks the still angry, uncomprehending Hulk. Valkyrie paints the positive achievement of re-uniting all of Kyle’s parts. But Strange is wary---“one need only envision an alliance of Nebulon and the Headmen...to comprehend how truly perilous our situation could become.”







Interestingly...Strange is right about that...but he’s totally wrong about the conflict, which will prove to really be everyone against everyone else. Uncovering that, however, is still many stories ahead...with so many twists, it is a credit to the distinct voices of these characters that they develop distinctly amidst problems each their own, without loss of the thread: especially since the cast will grow by another next issue, with the “Return” of the Red Guardian! Fortunately, she will come to us, thought-out well, opening us from our comic book world’s four colors to consider a different, often misunderstood part of the world, and one of the best feminist characters in comics with her super-competence and devotion to others. As we shall see, even a genius has a lot to learn...

Friday, March 18, 2011

You're all Bozos!!







Celestial Mind Control!


What better way for a super alien to show he believes he is above us, than by terrorizing New York arriving in a completely gratuitous meteor strike?

Still, it IS the right way to draw attention, at least. A natural shape shifter, Nebulon becomes a nebbish, slant-shouldered, uneviable bald little man with glasses, soon as he steps from the flames, surrounded by police. He explains, he’s just coming to work...he can travel to work this way, any time he wants. And so can they. “Want to learn about it?”

Celestial Mind Control!


From above, scanning the streets for his lost Bambi friend, the incredible Hulk bounds to the Earth, accusing “Four Eyes” of taking “Hulk’s friend Bambi!” Why does he do this? Well, Steve clearly wants us to think about that...but because the Hulk’s so, oh, prone to irrationality, his impulse is easy to dismiss, much as Hulk himself dismisses it. But he’s right! Nebulon DID take “Bambi,” or that is, the Lubderites did, for the sake of their enlightenment terrarium.


Problem is, he’s got Jack’s mind in Kyle’s body, and that combination can’t last. Doc has just explained to Val why they need to find Jack immediately: deprived of his body too long, his mind may dissipate. Little does Val even realize at first how much is at stake now for Jack; still they don't realize what kind of whammy Nebulon’s putting on him, either, because even after this battle, Hulk won’t remember the correct name of his opponent. The Defenders are still in the dark as to who is pulling the strings behind:

Celestial ....Mind Control!

Transforming into his usual self, the little bald man, as Nebulon, catches Hulk’s punch, then blasts him away with the other hand. Before Hulk can renew his attack, Nebulon encases him in an energy bubble, and sends him rising, lighter than air, towards the outer reaches of space.


Now back to his bald, tiny self, two minutes later, he’s just impressed everyone on the block, including a couple of cuties who offer to help him with his seminar. “For a moment there, you looked almost...beautiful!”

“I AM beautiful,” he insists, smugly grinning with the girls on his arms, now that he’s demonstrated something the masses would eagerly wish to learn, proving you don’t have to seem like anyone special to tap the tremendous, mysterious forces within.
Hulk’s bubble won’t stop! He breaks it with his own great smash, though he must plummet with a force only one such as Hulk could hope to survive. So, “Hulk is back...but Sparkle Hair is gone.”


The flyer left behind strikes a chord in the emerald behemoth, and so he leaps to the skies once more, to take picture “to Magician.”








In between, we see Nebulon’s terrarium includes a machine jack senses is draining their very life forces! The elderly woman who’d been stammering about Greek architecture drops dead in front of fellow captives Martin and Cissy, who demand: “You! In the hero suit! Can’t you do something to save us?” The man in that hero suit doesn’t even have a functioning jet pack, after the abduction. What can HE do? And where are...

---the Defenders? Trying to pass unrecognized through the crowd of Park Plaza Hotel, a crowd big enough to surprise Valkyrie.

“Hardly suprising, Val,” he rejoins---given the claims made in that leaflet. “Man is prone not to question too closely a system which promises so many benefits at so little cost. Of course—“ Stephen says, “the true payment is inevitably exacted later.” He would know. He had to humbly wring every understanding he calls his own from the arcane, fantastic books on reality tutored him by the wise Ancient One. From the way Hulk was treated, Stephen’s eyes are wide open: there’s more to this purported benefactor than meets the eye. What would he want with all the people he could attract, with such displays and claims?




First problem: the security scanners tell the guards about Valkyrie’s sword. Stephen’s relying on the spell of concealment over them all, and mentions this bEfore Hulk can jump in for her. Her open jacket is her response to being manhandled. When they want to frisk her for what they clearly can’t see, she makes her position clear just who is in charge of her body. One numbed hand, later, the three disguised heroes are sharing the front row with a little woman in her purple coat, who explains no one else seems eager to be so close.

Let the self help seminar begin!

The key? He demands they all admit: they're all bozos!!! Failures, each and everyone. Geez, he should be a Marine drill sergeant.

Now, you think Oprah has some surprises under the seats...wait until you find Nebulon's great self-image exercise, as he clowns his entire audience...including three now doubly-disguised friends, who wonder:

What is going on here? Find out next!
We will explore the secret of ...

CELESTIAL ---MIND--- CONTROL!!!

Cosmic A-Hole: Nebulon, self-help guru wannabe

I was wrapping around my head around nuggets such as this, from objective reductionist theory (OR). For some reason, reading this caused a second train of thought in my mind to record an interesting insight, though I can't reasonably explain how, just some similar terminology.

Quoth Stuart Hameroff:


Every superposition is considered a separation in the underlying structure of spacetime, or fabric of the universe, with each branch of the separation evolving separately—resulting in two different universes.


The universe divides like a living cell into two nearly identical copies. Roger (Penrose) agreed that superpositions are indeed separations in the underlying spacetime fabric, or geometry of the universe. He pointed out that Einstein’s general relativity meant that matter was equivalent to curvature in spacetime, so that a particle in two places is the same as simultaneous spacetime curvatures in opposite directions—a bubble in the underlying fabric of reality.


But in Roger’s view these separations, or bubbles, are unstable—even if decoherence is avoided. Rather than evolve to form a new universe, the spacetime separations eventually reach an objective threshold for self-collapse, or quantum state reduction, and choose one bit of reality or the other. And when that happens, he argued, this self- collapse—OR—resulted in a moment, a fundamental unit or quantum, of conscious awareness.



So!!


Suddenly the capacity for a dimension warping alien to get interested in matters of consciousness makes a certain intuitive sense. While the application of these ideas I’ve sampled here is still to be fulfilled in my imagination, I think about Nebulon, and all these fun details arise.


But, failing to understand what it is that makes our absurd, ridiculous species strive for the apex of the attainable, Nebulon only groks humanity from a cynical point of view. Not only are we ridiculous, we are all failures. Broken down thus, the consciousness can be reshaped to do the wonders such as those perpetuated by our would-be savior Nebulon, as portrayed in the stories discussed of late here in Integr8d Fix.

Well, you can certainly tell his attitude was suitable for being a villain, not so long before. He didn’t care about us when he tried to steal our polar caps, and to do what he would’ve to a people is not to have much esteem for them. So, despite the illumination of learning with the Lubderdites, he’s fallen into a self-righteousness whereby he will save our pitiful fool selves.
You can’t really help anyone you look down upon, is the moral of the story.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Check my brain



This is what mowing the lawn sounds like.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Self-Help, alien style: Steve Gerber's Defenders #34




Having fun?

We’re over a year into Steve Gerber’s Defenders run, from the days when I still ate my share of Gerber, no doubt.

It may be one of your favorites, it may be you just discovered them. If I’ve done my job, you don’t even have to like comic books to appreciate what an unusual entity
Steve’s slant on superhero comics truly was; there’s no doubt his approach inspired many of the field’s most lauded talents, and, I suspect , many creative people who went into other directions.

I hope a lot of kids grew up, if never again to read comics, to fondly half-remember these strangest and most fun comic books of days gone by.

Come to it like a little child and you’ll find imagination heaven inside!


“I think we’re all Bozos in this Book!”

we've got:
Nebulon, the Celestial Man...the most glam rock of super villain designs.
School of scaly Lubberdites...
and Jack Norriss, as....le Beaver.

Naw! Something WAY more outlandish than that. Say it with me:

His consciousness resides in the brain of Chondu the Mystic, which itself has been transplanted to the body of Nighthawk.



Jack knows this guy knows his face that isn’t his face, and they’ve even been enemies, so that can’t be good...selling the ice caps, is he kidding me? He keeps a grip on his brain...well, his body’s brain...of the guy in the Defenders, the one guy, who obviously has a problem with him, while talking to some sort of super alien who’s abducted him, meaning Nighthawk’s been kidnapped twice now (and borrowed, one other time!) and hasn’t even had his brain connected to his body so he can do anything about it.

His brain’s sloshing around in a bowl in the arms of the guy he likes the least.
Setting all this aside, someone’s got to keep up with the villains’ plans. Jack does this and tries to listen, appearing non-plussed. And now, the former ice cap thief declares, amidst his Lubberdite teachers, he wants to lead the world to enlightenment.

NEBULON: Do you approve? Will you aid us?

JACK Du Hawk: Yeah, sure. Sounds Keno.
What a truly great oh shit moment. Out of one major frying pan, into the fire. Reminds me a bit of exactly what I love about Hawkeye the Archer: “great, I’m just a dude with no power...what the heck will I do?!?”

Only, Jack's not even a super hero, much less one trained by Captain America. I don't even know if he attended Boy Scouts. He's just a regular guy in the body with the loose brain of the guy who's jealous of him over the wife that barely notes that he's alive. What's more regular than that?


Jack’s thought balloons light up with his nervous self-dialog. He’s drawn by Sal Buscema to where the reader gets to see him cringe, his back to Nebulon.
Where the heck are the Defenders?

Answer: in Connecticut, covered in goo, amid the wreckage of the Headmen’s headquarters.

Feeling vengeful, George Teekle, the man in Nagan's neighborhood (would you be my, won't you be my neighbor?) scoffs at the heroes freeing themselves. He gloated openly, after his thirty year mortgage home was demolished by the Hulk's bad temper (as seen back in #21, where I first began chronicling Steve's run).

Now, he goes and taunts the Hulk. Man, he does not appreciate that tone. He remembers it. He recalls playing with the Teekle's little girl in the yard; she wasn't afraid, she didn't cry...until George yelled at Hulk, and Hulk hammered the ground.

Doctor Strange's admonition to the Hulk, "ignore him," will not stop what happens next.

"Man tried to spoil Hulk's fun! Hulk HATES puny, stupid human!" So he sends a chunk of Nagan's hopelessly smashed wall sailing over George's head..."directly into the wooden skeleton of the home he hoped to build."

Aw, man, the thing is, the story Steve’s telling is one of those pitch-perfect priceless deals where captions are flawless, so matter-of-factly, and the characters are so realistically imagined, you can hardly leave out a word in the telling.

Captions with the author’s voice are still a trademark of comics convention at this point. The narrator doesn’t over think it, but uses his natural vocabulary. His voice makes him fit right alongside his misfit non-team.

I love the way he described the Defenders once in an interview: “they’re an encounter group.” Take this with you to therapy next time, in case you need to document the point at which you started to enjoy going crazy enough to make room for it in your life and move along.


Ponder the absurdity of it all, and meet me back here later today.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bus ride to Madness (or Cleveland, whichever we hit first): Howard the Duck


Remember: as Steve Gerber was wont to say, "the joke is, there IS no joke."

All Howard's done since Le Beaver tumbled from his tightrope above Niagara Falls is hallucinate, with stream of consciousness free word association and restless sleep. Beverly Switzler stands over the exhausted duck; she worries that the doctor's declared a nervous breakdown. She agrees to go for coffee with him. That's when Howard finally awakens, still dealing with some dementia.

(Remember, he's not a cartoon, he's a flesh and blood being with limits to how much disruption and absurdity he can handle, because while he'd be content to walk away from what will needlessly complicate his life, it's followed him everywhere since arriving on Earth.)

In this state he finds Bev at the coffee shop, but rather than go in, he storms off in self-pity and spends the last of his "campaign money" on the next bus out of town. Great gesture. The vendor tried to warn him. Too late. As he discovers after the seat nearly squashes him ("all machines hate you"), he's sitting next to lisp-challenged Winda Wester...on the bus to Cleveland.

As irony rolls Howard towards his circular futility, he's accosted by Alvin, a fervent disciple of Gnosticology. "Are your emotions in deep freeze?" The survey questions amuse Howard not in the least; after much banter about this new brain technique, Howard begs off as nicely as possible: I'm not up for a new religion today. Alvin: "But it's not a religion! It's..." "--a scam! Yeah, I know!"

This attracts a man dressed alarmingly like popular depictions of a certain savior...but this very uncertain savior offers support, then venerates his one book with all the answers. It reads: "Martyrdom for the Millions."

"Hare, Hare Krishnu!" come the cries, as an acolyte approaches with "To Sri With Love." (No! Please! Not another one! Aren't there any non-believers on this bus?")

"Lose illusion of separateness---your ego---your..."

"Stop!!" Howard shrieks. "I don't wanna thaw my brain---I don't WANT a roadmap to Heaven---and I don't wan'na forget who I AM!"

All he wants is to be left alone. But voices tell him "no duck is an island. Nor even a pennisula." "We're with you always."

Four hours later, Winda breaks Howard's agitation with silly faces. This is the big problem her parents have with her---why they say she's possessed! But "it's very thewapuetic. And it keeps people away in droves." Best yet, after sharing "this tewiffic wewease" she offers to go back to sleep; "see you in Cwevewand." But dreamless sleep? No...a cane on the head...random word dis-association...and the return of the Kidney Lady.

KL is an absolute shrinking violet: massive, and armed with her cane and "the truth," which will free her from his "kidney-poisoning conspiracy!" Having seen him previously with Beverly, she accuses Howard of subduction of the innocent, as he "hooks them on fried food, tobacco, and fast living---just to get at their KIDNEYS!!!" When she asks where he "dumped" "the redhead," it's just a toll bridge too far. "Ya finally hit a nerve!" he screams, as the duck socks his senior menu- indulging bully.

She flings her accusations as he topples her. "Ridicule and denial---the first refuse of the hopelessly guilt-ridden! But you can't deny the evidence of your eyes, can you, world? Would a decent, honorable, moral creature---whup the tar out of a helpless old woman in public?!?"

The white-robed figure from earlier thus speaketh: "Indeed. You should love thy neighbor and be true to your school. Let him who is without sin cast the---"

"You stay outta this, you dirty HIPPIE---" says the face-kicking Kidney Lady; "the forces of goodness can do without you!"

As the chanter of "Hare! Hare! Goo-goo-goo-joob!" intervenes, the mind guy touches his temples and amidst the violence declares "I shall abort this brawl by force of mind! Yes...Yes...I'm getting it.."

"Bird of Prey" Howard's lost in the futile desire to strike back, as the driver yells over the "brouhahah" as a tire blows. "The bus!" KL screams. "Its kidneys have burst!!!"

"Buses don't have..." "No! No! My mind BLEW it! Forgive me!" "Only ask for forgiveness, and it is thine!" "'Thine'? Nobody talks wike that anymowe!" "Hare reasoner! Hare reasoner!" (60 Minutes pun, my young friends.)

Howard decides looking at KL's "ugly face!" is a terrible way to go, "but not so bad as seeing my life flash"...CRASHH!



mORNING COMES. The accident clean-up is on. And Winda and sedated Kidney Lady sit in the back of a paddy wagon...with a straight-jacketed Howard the Duck.

The end! And yet, not.

So that's it: the bus to Cleveland equivalent of Satre's No Exit. Imagine feeling alone, confused, and surrounded by fervent believers in one System of Answers after another. I'll bet it's not nearly so difficult to imagine as most things in an old comic book.

Hallucinating KISS in a sanitarium? That's what I call making it up as you go along. But I don't have that one (nor the next three). So I guess we'll see you in BagMom, as Bev and Winda are called to the (magic) carpet.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Support your local characters: real people in Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes' Marvel comics



I love Ruth Hart's run in the early stories of the Man-Thing comic book series, precisely because she opts on her own to participate, and decides on her own to move on. She is the protagonistic opposite number to the Man-Thing, who relies utterly upon the emotions of others for his motivation. Ruth's source is herself. That is how she walks away from both the man she rode into town with (who set her up as double-crosser of the whole cycle gang he's double crossing) and even the cooler, trustworthy misfit guy Richard Rory, who helps her break free, on account of the bizarre weirdness that is relentlessly Rich's Citrusville companion.

They'd both just stumbled into this life where he's taken residence, if not shelter; but much as she likes him, she decides maybe she's never done anything real after all. Her plans for leaving town would not involve stopping to load a muck monster into a van to visit Atlanta. But that's Rich for you. Why not throw in a runaway seventeen year old, too? As usual, long, totally weird story, that you'd understand, if you just understood, really.

I love that she returns as a supporting character in the book where I met her, Omega the Unknown, an intriguing cult classic written with a streetwise respect for the intelligence of its readers of all ages, co-created and structured with writer Mary Skrenes.



She is not affiliated actively with the silent, humanoid alien, odd-job working outsider super hero figure of that comic. Rather, she believes she is helping a sensitive, intelligent, seemingly withdrawn young boy---some troubled spirit; that is enough---survive and recover and grow up, dealing with Hell's Kitchen. This is where James Michael Starling lives with her, discharged to her care by the clinic where she works as a nurse, to continue his contact with the same doctor and keep the kid situated. He doesn't always appreciate it, but, long after her days as a biker chick and much crazier things, she provides normalcy. best she can.

Then there's Ruth's roommate.

Amber Grant? I'm going to just have to write about Omega the Unknown. She is the realest character in the Marvel Universe, and no one writes about her anymore. That's in part because she seemed very much the kind of character who could live without being in a comic book story, and just as she did in the pages of the short-lived Omega series, that's what I imagine she did, to this day.

Marvel's New York City is just a great place to break out her camera and make some freelance bucks to go have fun and pay some bills, too. She has this whole life outside of her appearances on panel I would consider really fun and interesting in precisely uncomic book geeky ways, yet open minded enough to try most anything once, the kind of girl who makes you catch your breath, life full of what she really feels like doing. That is my kind of power. That is the kind of hero I want to pretend to be. Wish fulfillment: to be an adult, and like it.

(I want to point out here that both Amber and Dian, as well as Beverly Switzer, were created by Mary Skrenes to go with Steve's work. She deserves the credit.)

Her moments mentoring James Michael show her to be caring but not coddling, a respecter of everyone's boundaries. The Adventures of Amber Grant. That is the series for me.

Only Dian, James Michael's best friend at school, might know for sure what happened to the boy. He hardly understood any of his own secrets that she didn't understand, too. In a "daily minefield" of a school filled with street culture, Dian is far more than another set of eyes; she understands survival here, as well as how one might dream to be more, without having one's starry eyes blackened.


Where they went when they ran away together, starting with a bus and a cross country-style hike to the house where he remembers growing up, only one person really knows. She disappears with him into the margins of his own world...and then there are no more stories.

Richard Rory gets to come back in Roger Stern's guest-written #8 story, by the way. His spirit is still free. I so wonder where the writers were going next. That would make a cool dream. Some Saturday morning, then, I hope to awaken from it with atmosphere enough to write about it for an hour or two! But there's so many stories of my own to tell...the more I learn, the more I want to try, and it's coming from a place I trust implicitly, which is why I never hesitate when I'm able to save time, in a way, in order to share it so many times more later in the form of my little art gifts I spread around a little.



I like Rory a lot, because he'd have so many great rock and roll stories to dazzle me with, the legends of it. You wish characters you like have enough depth for you to find a place in common. Richard Rory, you stumble through these stories with the bad luck to end up with a wingman who burns fear with his touch, and with no powers, you keep trying the right thing. That inspires me. He seems to really 'get' women, like equals, and to 'get' people, even an Unman...he sees himself as just another guy, and tries to stop things beyond anyone's control from at least being so bad. Like my favorite of many summers Doctor Strange, Richard Rory has no powers, just some understandings, but lucky him, also, his old enemy, his Fate, to remain in over his head, where, of course, you sometimes find others drowning...what can the strength of one person do, then?


On the strength of maybe three appearances, I think Trish Starr, too, bears mentioning. She did more in her brief appearances than anything else, to make me think about her boyfriend Kyle Richmond and his life as though it's all happening to a real human being. Her aims and ambitions were outside the world of superheroes, and only her worst experience ever brought her into that world.


But this is not just the Death of Gwen Stacy in redux. She lives thru her trauma. She goes on to do something that sounds deeply interesting and true to her intelligent, free-spirited self, and re-appears in the world of the Defenders on Steve's last issue as writer, #41.


Whoever called that issue uneventful is missing a lot in characterization. The biggest nothing is, when Trish's life returned to, well, no longer requiring intervention from Drs. Strange and behemoths emerald, she and Kyle take a walk to talk. And their relationship, under other writers, is never heard from again. But that's hardly surprising. Being able to experiment, bring completely new stories, means each writer should feel free to add to the toybox, if they are truly giving something of themselves.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The free spirit heroine, or, why didn't Beverly Switzler have a nervous breakdown with Howard the Duck?

Beverly Switzler is as much a part of the Howard the Duck stories as Steve Gerber himself. Beverly, like Amber and Ruth Hart from Omega the Unknown, make these two wonderful titles Gerber wrote in the latter part of the 1970's while working freelance for Marvel Comics, as he'd moved to New York City to do in 1972, I believe. All three were created by his collaborator, writer Mary Skrenes.


why not imagine jet setting the globe in Epicurian splendor?

When I was searching the apartment for change, I started telling Angela about Bev, scrounging those two quarters so she and her weird new best friend could have a candy bar. In direct contrast to Howard, she is never upset about the things that bother him. While she has fears only when they seem relatively sensible, it's those times Howard seems unafraid, and just enough unworried, even.



His worrying is absurd to her, but she's not really hung up about his trip. Howard is a fantastic creature in our world, in the world of his stories, and despite his physical inversion of every standard by which people commonly judge heroic features, he is fast thinking enough and too full of heart to hold back, the best response to the absurdities of the world around him. By his very constitution, however, by who he thinks of as himself, unique in this confusing world, its chaos and darkness will drag him down, and his hero's journey, if you will, is mere sanity.



She is a free spirit. Her response is to roll with it. In tune with the
everything-is-new style of Howard within context of storytelling itself, while she can be hurt, emotionally and physically, the worst thing imaginable is that she will be forced to marry that tool, Dr. Bong.

In her spirit, let me tell you why we don't need to rehash these encapsulated episodes to tell you anything about her at all, though you may find them more refreshing thinking of them from Bev's perspective.

What is important is not what she does in the plot of a comic book, but how her dialogue samples an approach to life, as in dialogues of philosophers since time immemorium. All of her actions are ones a flesh and blood person might do, even as she participates as an indispensable character in a very most unlikely modern mythology, Gerber & Skrene's Ovid to Kirby's Homer.


Are you a free spirit? Do you know one when you meet one?


You feel filled up by the true free spirit, because their energy...is free. They demand no price, they extract no price, and you fill to over flowing. They are people who radiate free energy, released from their own connection with grace and kindness.

Experience in the world is the hallmark of what makes every great story great.

I asked friends who first came to mind a simple question: what is a free spirit?



My friends say:

It's the shot of whiskey that guy buys you when he thinks you're hot! LOL Couldn't resist."
Oh, no, go ahead.

Harley Coro: But of course my friend. :)
A free spirit is the light that shines from a fire fly's butt when he is released from the Mason jar.


Then she told me to think of a bank, depositing one dollar for every good thing of which I think, and taking away a dollar in balance for all thoughts of ills.



"The short version off the top of my head - Someone who is unburdened by ideology, prejudice or fear. Someone who lives in the moment, rather than worrying too much about the future that may or may not come. Someone who isn't self-centered, but in the same breath unentangled by the workings of others." ---the man in the JOE chair

"A free spirit is some one who is willing to let go!" ---Bali


"i suppose someone who is not as hindered as the masses by social mediocrity in direct reference to taste, views, and creativity. a free-er thinker than the norm, perhaps.

Not as propelled to conformity."
--Heaven

" A non-captured spirit? nah hahah :)
I would say say someone who dwell in themselves, have their own opinions and make their own decisions :)" --Dark Poet, who said Lueticon knows him well.

"Hmm. Someone who does what they enjoy, without seeking external validation for their choices and actions, but tries not to harm anyone while doing so," said the Ray upon the Red Stone.

"One who truly does not give a damn what others think. One who moves through life succeeding or failing on his own terms, the only ones that truly matter. It does NOT mean one who says 'fuggit' to his responsibilities - that spirit will eventually find itself imprisoned by circumstance - but one who decides for himself what is truly important and acts accordingly." Thus spake the Golden Day.



A free spirit is someone who marches to the beat of her own drum, despite what anyone else thinks about it. She dances to the off key songs in her head, even if it gathers raised eyebrows from envious, trapped inside their own self created walls, onlookers. She is led by a light that perhaps only she sees to a place full of rainbows and cotton candy. She regularly stops in the middle of the road to trespass and pick flowers blooming in the field. She lives and loves fully, without regret, drinking in all that life has to offer, as one would a delicious wine, free flowing from the fountain of youth! Scarlet Dragon #9

"Hmm. One that is not bound by restrictions? Physical, emotional, worldy, otherworldly." ---a lady whose name is literally in the stars (on a satellite)


So, don't let these words be bound by restrictions. Take them with you. Enjoy the freedom in your own spirit.


Nice Beaver: Canada's Revenge on Howard the Duck



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Scandal!! Okay, so the campaign could've went more smoothly; 46% of respondents want to kill him, 30% approve, and the rest need more information. But one poorly cropped photo of Bev and Howard in a bathtub becomes front page news, derailing the All Night Party's hastily chosen candidate. Only---there's no water faucet on either side of the tub, in the picture! Despite this, the impunity exasperates and embarrasses Bev to no end, and at least for her mother's sake, when Dreyfuss Gultch comes up with evidence they were framed by the bellboy, and that the trail leads back to Canada, she's adamant they follow and find the perpetrator. Howard relents, and they board a plane...

...which turns out to be remote controlled! This blatant assassination attempt DOES bring them to Canada, where they're found by a mountie and his dog. He believes he works in the vast Canadian wilderness...about sixty miles outside of Toronto. Upon hearing automated planes and bellboys are involved, he names his suspect: a Canadian super-patriot, who exclusively commits crimes with bellboys and auto-piloted planes! With his preternatural tracking skills, he finds the hideout, topped by a moonlit sign that reads, "Pierre Dentrifis, Canada's Only Super Patriot".

The shadowy old man behind it all conveys his sad origin, as a young airline magnate. He relates how his beavers attempted to dam Niagara Falls into running the other way, only to be bombed by the United States. He's since aged 73 years and can now only use his teeth. That's been since February. Howard assures him, given time, they will probably kill themselves; he needn't bother.

Afterwards, Pierre confers with the bellboy and insists he try killing them again, in the dead of night at the mountie's house. Even dressed as Uncle Sam and wielding a hatchet, he's no match for Bev and Howard, To force a confrontation, Bev is spirited away by beavers in the night, prompting a showdown at Niagara Falls.

Slowly, I turned...

Soon, they face the villain at his log cabin, where he reveals he's been manipulating Howard from the start to become the third party candidate, to raise America's hopes. With his candidacy trashed, America would become dispirited, and the Canadians, sick of living in America's shadow as a nation, will cross the border triumphant (greeted as liberators, no doubt).
Now, upon a tightrope, the super-patriotic old man, in a delicious farce of superhero comics, has acquired a huge exo-skeleton, facing Howard as Le Beaver. His satirical rant as he walks out onto the tightrope swells with Canadian nationalistic pride. (This is during the decade with strong separatist feelings between French Canadians who wished Montreal and the east to secede from Canada.) Confronting his fears, Howard finds within a completely sensible desire to head the other direction on the rope, away from the insanity. Le Beaver's great weight, however, brings the encounter to a deadly splash. Bev is safe. Howard is well on his way to a nervous breakdown.

#10 was the first issue I ever had, full of surrealism and the repetition of the words "piano" and "water" as well as images of Spider-Man and all the Duck's previous foes. I don't have it here---haven't read it in a decade, easily---but it pushes Howard to the brink, leading him to purchase an ill-starred bus ticket...as we'll see in #11!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Get DOWN, America! Gerber's campaign pain for Howard the Duck!



Political satire serves a valid purpose: it makes people question. Questions are good. Questions are necessary. The more you learn, the more you need to laugh, but the more you need to question.

"Open Season" HOWARD THE DUCK #8 (Note: "Trapped in a World He Never Made!" is now in my head in the midst of a rock and roll-style song hook)

Yay, Howard the Duck just teamed up with the totally awesome Gerber Defenders! Pity he can't just stay at the Sanctum Sanctorum; as an occasional non-member helping out, there must've been several great stories out of that!

You see, he's about to get back to where we left him last issue: he saves the convention crowd in the middle of a banal speech by the All Night Party Candidate---from a bomb. The Alaskan Delegation sign is live. I mean, "Ka-Boom!" a bomb. Look out, Buddy; Howard thinks: "It's been a long time since I tried a pole vault," and plunges that sucker straight into the most farcically patriotic cake possible.

The candidate shifts without hesitation to the stance: the job's too dangerous.
Gultch, however, has his man---who professes he really had nothing else planned 'till November.

The Duck's pretty frank:
While some people are fighting hard, with a lot of money, for the right to turn your surroundings into a true hell hole, I'm beseeching you, here: ask questions. Ask questions about the answers you're given. Think of what someone with a differing point of view might think, and then, question the motivations behind that difference.

You can question a true thing and find it's true, but you'll not for long have the luxury of believing everything you hear.

Speaking of truth...after he's the candidate? A two million dollar bounty's on his head. And competing bounty hunters try to psyche each other out in an alleyway nearby, only to fire upon each other. "Every bounty hunter in the city? Well, forget that; I'm out! It's all yours...See ya..."

For as the caption, beneath a telescope sight, says, framing the goodbye handshake of Stephen Strange and Howard: "An existence led at the intersection of crosshairs. For along with power and free franking privileges ---the man or fowl who seeks the White House also courts Death. (So what else is new?)


One bullet-proof limo ride later, Howard's confronted with every permutation of his image across many walks of life, as he finds his banners hung within the PR department's office: cowboy, hard hat, shovel at ready, and placid clergy. Bev says it all: "Wow. Hey, Ducky, I'm impressed. I used to think I was all things to all men---but even in my devil-may-care days, I couldn't beat THiS!" G.Q. Studley's taken image all the way over the top. He's given false teeth, a pipe, and a red sports jacket, after hearing his high assassination quotient means people care! Every syllable's on hand in a book, all his canned material "spoken anytime Howard's within earshot of a reporter" and then, G.Q. recites a selection of platitudes.

In response?

Howard walks out, opens a phone book in a phone booth, and hires his new agency: Mad Genius Associates. "Now that's our kinda people! Well...your kind, anyway."


Small guy, big truths: We still have more freedoms than most of us realize, of which we should take advantage; there are freedoms we need back, too, sometimes keeping them out of the hands of our would-be protectors. It is important to find the answers behind the financial and governing bodies' motives, especially in relation to our gift of individuality. Who they are, how they work, and what is good sense, and what is waste? In this, we must keep good humor, and most importantly, know where a little good sense can simplify things, but given by personal example.

Howard's real power is discernment. He is always asking himself:" where does responsibility lie?" These universal questions distinguish superior, inspiring fiction.


As Mom often says, "one never knows."

That's why, when all the satire one can pack in 17 pages ends, Howard finds the media manipulated into his apparent undoing, with a farcically bad attempt to scandalize him...setting up to face the Canadian manipulator of his recent life in #9!

All of this falls within the discussion of what we mean by socializing, what we mean by community, and what we mean by something so abstract as the fabric of our society. It's always required what kindness and love we can offer, but it's set against a mental background where unethical, unkind people have the most material gain to swallow, as what one honest person can make for a living draws upon a slimmer pool of actual, available wealth one can earn. What passes for thinking for one's self is left to the individual; to have anything but a stupid conversation, or none at all, we need people thinking for themselves. It's that intangible realm of the heart, however, that guides that individual quest, shaped by the relationship with that heart, and what we will allow to it, and what it in turn gives us in our circumstances.

I'd lavish details of his press conference...and his narrow escape from the Attack of the Industries, one metaphorical absurdity piled on the next. But to tell you, is to quote or go home; to describe is a distant second finish to Colan's cartooning, rendered so menacingly by inker Steve Leialoha: remember, amidst all the wackiness, mortal injury's a distinct possibility in the traps of the world he never made. I simply can't compete with these last pages.

Criticism of these problems is the work of social satire, and it must be done with an origin in that realm, the heart, the emotions, reaching its zenith from head speaking for a full heart.

Satire bears the face of society's changes and the features of its follies.

Here we remember a relic from the past of social satire, a bicentennial year-flavored blend of art and words still vibrant, but standing best as a means to inspire a new voice. It's earned its humble museum of our words because, at some point, oppression must be seen as absurd. To laugh is to gain courage, to contain fear. They give us the thoughts to maintain our hearts as we continue to think, as well as worry, as well as rest.