Sunday, July 31, 2011

JLA: Martian Manhunter vs. the White Martians


Meanwhile...

GUEST DC Column with Johann Balasuriya


I have read a bunch of comics featuring the Martian Manhunter and I have also read a bunch of his solo comic book's. But I was never impressed by him as a character or as a hero. I often wondered why the trinity (Supe's, Bat's and Wondy) always treated him with great respect. Yes he had an amazing array of abilities. But in my opinion Hes was just a green superman with an ability to shape change and a weakness to fire.

I always assumed that the most work he ever did was either escorting G'nort and Killowog around town or track down Blue beetle and Booster gold to give them a talking to. I did not think that his ability to be able to mentally connect all the members of whatever team he was in was that much of a big deal.

Until ........ the white Martian story line. That moment where he looks up and says they are white martians and crashes through a bunch of buildings and takes on a few of the whites is amazing. That moment I realized that I had forgotten what an actual powerhouse he is.


Lue: So, Hyperclan came into town, the kind of superheroes...and they make the JLA seem pollyanna and retrograde. And then, and only then, do they reveal their hand...and by then, it's too late. The only one left standing is their old racial enemy, the green Martian Manhunter. We get glimpses into Martian culture, made more complex here than the utopia often remembered by J'onn J'onnz.


The New World Order storyline in JLA Collections Vol. 1 No. 1 has the entire tale.

http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/JLA_(Collections)_Vol_1_1 (click to copy)

Lyron: Hey, that's good! I haven't had those issues in too many years. I seem to remember a great moment with Bruce Wayne revealing the Whites, too! Haven't they gotten the drop on the JLA somehow? You have to watch me, I'll have them mixed up with the Skrulls the FF hypnotized into becoming cows and trees in FF #2!

Yah, that's a great start. I'll look up those covers and see if anything comes back to me. Did you ever get to read his limited series? Doesn't matter; the White Martian fight is probably where a LOT of fans sat up to take notice!

http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Category:White_Martians/Appearances
Johann: Well it's perfectly understandable that you get that story line confused with the FF und die Skrulls. The ending of da White Martian story line is a sort of a funny tribute to the FF Skrull story line. In order to help you not get confused. DC did a better job .

The White Martians change their appearance and pretend to be Hero's called Da Hyperklan ("Hyperclan"--- I just had to add that K in their because of their racist attitudes towards the Green Martians) and they do rub the floor with the JLA. And Batty man does get the drop on the White martians with a book O' Matches Malone because the White Martians did not consider him ta be a threat und under estimated him.


Myebook - D'n'A  Comics #1 - click here to open my ebook First: DNA Comics #1 is ONLINE!!!










Listen, I'm still figuring out integr8dsoul.com, but meanwhile, you can do what Jason did. (He also got a special bonus copy!) In Jason's case, he sent us $9 at

C. Lue Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

which was really cool as it covers shipping and handling, at $1.25 each! The issue itself, DNA #1, retails for $3.25, but save a quarter and get this clearly-drawn story with warm characters and Southern Gothic occultism today for $2.99, $1.25 shipping and handling in the U.S.

You can send $30 and get any three t-shirts and the comic, too---or $25 for the two styles of shirts and a comic.



Be on the look out for Not Another Comic Book! Preview this July!!



Meanwhile, our remaining t-shirts are available at Convention Special Price, for $12 each or 2 for $20, plus $3.00 for shipping & handling.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Harrison Ford, Harrison Ford...


Sponsored by Integr8d Soul Productions, featuring DNA: The Mountain, drawn with crisp, clear story telling by Lue Lyron and the Marc Kane, with scenes and ideas you won't find anywhere else in entertainment!! The comic for those who don't read comics! Black and White, $3 plus shipping each.
Available from C Lue Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

Friday, July 29, 2011

Avengers: The Super Villain War!


Sponsored by Integr8d Soul Productions, featuring DNA: The Mountain, drawn with crisp, clear story telling by Lue Lyron and the Marc Kane, with scenes and ideas you won't find anywhere else in entertainment!! The comic for those who don't read comics! Black and White, $3 plus shipping each.
Available from C Lue Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101 The Vision takes apart the master plan while held at laser point by a suspicious Doctor Doom, in AVENGERS #156, cover date February, 1977 (probably appearing on spin racks by Thanksgiving, 1976; cover dates were usually thought of as "pull dates" for taking unsold magazines off the stands).
Excellent Avengers tattoos taken on a busy curbside of Harbor Drive during Comic Con, featuring Ant-Man, the android Jocasta, and the scarlet-visaged Vision on the back leg.


When Hollywood's introduced the Avengers to the world at large that hasn't met them yet, you can only hope they'll come up with something half as fun as this idea. This is a story that crossed over with the Super Villain Team-Up as well. Here we have Marvel Arch Villain One Doctor Doom, in what I think is probably his second ever battle with the Avengers.

Not only do you get Captain America and Iron Man, but the Beast (yes, the X-Men guy) and Wonder Man and..er, the Whizzer (super-fast crimefighter active during World War Two), who's presently mistaken to be the father of longtime Avengers Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, so you get a bit of soap opera, too. That set-up, from the issue before, is subsumed when a warlord from under the sea named Attuma has raised the stakes. Part of his gambit involves cybernetic slave collars fitted to the subdued Avengers, filling them with rage as he directs them to attack his enemy, Prince Namor, the Submariner...only to find their target, an armed island off the Atlantic Coast, code name Hydrobase, controlled instead by Doctor Doom (who's just recently dealt with an attempted coup in his kingdom of Latveria). They themselves have fallen to an attack by a powerful minion of the undersea barbarian Attuma, enfolding them in a greater mystery uncovered in the final part.

Listen, it's a big tie-in of so very many elements of the classic Marvel Universe, where heroes and villains originating in one month's stories might well appear in another comic that month as a guest, or enemy, and places established in earlier stories have continuing stories, tying it somewhat loosely, depending on the editorial vision, together as a version of Earth---a very weird version in some ways. I think it's a great lot of fun, and it takes me back to a time when learning often came naturally to me. These stories depicted here, from 1976, are very much in the spirit of their celebrated predecessors of thirteen years before: hyper-active action, American good versus evil, moral questions, and a touch of romance amidst a lot of very human (if occasionally, formulaic) misunderstanding.

There's even some room for characterization, as the Vision, the cybernetic member of the team---the one created as an android, courtesy of the robot Ultron---has been struggling through some issues already when he makes a calculated move in the middle of the action, where he apparently abandons the Avengers, including his wife the Scarlet Witch, after being freed cleverly by her and Captain America. All of these super-heroes, these protectors, stand somewhat apart from the society and individuals they risk their lives to protect. With all its itinerant melodrama, the saga of the Vision, the android's search for a place in humanity while remembering always he is not a human, will most likely be a part of an Avengers movie sequel one day, depending on how things go next year.

Sometime-ally to both Doom and the Avengers, Namor the Submariner, is on the loose as well, and while he's on the side of angels, he's fighting mad, and Attuma uses the arrival of heroes Namor doesn't know to set up a diversion that endangers them all, with a powerhouse battle. In fact, George Perez draws some terrific battles spacing out confrontations in a clear and bombastic way, beginning with the controlled Avengers versus Atlanteans under Namor's cousin Namorita---wary ally of Dr. Doom! The Beast hides himself aboard Attuma's escaping vessel...and the Vision confronts Dr. Doom, with an offer the technocratic tyrant can hardly refuse.

Life's taken me a lot of places since the days when I had little else on my mind, before I saw formulas in writing and before I outgrew the visceral thrill of an adolescent power fantasy, of being colorful, vibrant, and able to shed the everyday world like a sweaty t-shirt. Gone are the days when I absorbed every scintilla of storyline about these marvelously, absurdly fabricated lives, but thanks to a friend and a precious allotment of free time I've had a chance to read many from a cd catalog of comics once reserved for the expense of the back issue boxes (in my case, the ones that survived a terrible fire in 1987, nearly wiping out my favorite comics shop).

But the merits of the comics themselves can't be distinguished without a sense of how they were an early vehicle for me to dig into the past, into the culture of kids and teens of another time. Like music, movies and sometimes even hairstyles and clothes, they brought out a familiar sense to those who recalled them fondly. While comics, like all pop culture, are riven with advertisements (for novelties, books, hobbies, career opportunities and clothing), they evoke an almost unsavory sense of youth and creativity, and images of lives before mine, gathered together with many conversations. Southerners are very much a nostalgic culture and love to tell stories of times gone by.


I could put on Blue Oyster Cult Spectres, Rumours or KISS Alive, the Eagles or ELO, or Led Zeppelin's "Achilles' Last Stand" and the Southern California summer outside my window could be 1977. Or put on some Motown, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, Mozart, and it could be any timeless summer.


As soon as I have a good time sharing with a friend, that wealth of seemingly useless knowledge---which moved a sort of nobility in me and offered my imagination scope and grandeur that would help me succeed in school, get me thinking about life and friendship, and suggest to me the satisfaction of a bit of philosophy now and then. These are so different in tone that the kinds of comics we make at Integr8d Soul, but I devoted hours to writing innovative new adventure heroes and heroines last year, so it's just a matter of time before we catch up to that!


The whole thing would've just been so much fun to play out with a whole neighborhood of kids. Wasn't that the point, in those days when a new comic was twenty-five cents?

Well, here's an aside: actually, they'd just gone up a nickel, in a trend that would see them double in price by the difficult economic tides of 1979. Around that time, comics were considered a dying industry---I think I've heard that refrain somewhere.


I'm feeling the pull of something with more cerebral bite to it, and while that can be offered in a well-designed comic book, to ask too much of a comic of those times besides what it was---a boredom-killing past time for a wide-eyed, energetic person. That's been very useful indeed; of late my learning's been based entirely in experience, as no amount of reading substitutes for playing one's instruments.

I enjoyed reading this, and all of these I've discussed, to relax and stimulate the wide-eyed energetic person still in me. I may not be playing pretend somewhere in the shadows of the back yard literally, but that energy attracts to me original ideas and inspirations.


I think it's getting time to wind up the play of summer with a more studious frame of mind, not only as I continue learning how to embellish my art and complete pages of my own stories, nor the self-taught musical education I share with my partner, but poetry, painting, stories in other languages---the qualities of things discovered as I learned the landscape of the humanities in college long ago.

As I shift focus, I have a special guest coming up who will help me bring you a few DC Comics and foreign comics treasures, and we'll talk Indiana Jones and Conan the Barbarian over the dog days as they swelter away.

Next: Enter-----Johann!!!!



Myebook - D'n'A  Comics #1 - click here to open my ebook First: DNA Comics #1 is ONLINE!!!










Listen, I'm still figuring out integr8dsoul.com, but meanwhile, you can do what Jason did. (He also got a special bonus copy!) In Jason's case, he sent us $9 at

C. Lue Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

which was really cool as it covers shipping and handling, at $1.25 each! The issue itself, DNA #1, retails for $3.00.

You can send $30 and get any three t-shirts and the comic, too---or $25 for the two styles of shirts and a comic.



Be on the look out for Not Another Comic Book! Preview this July!!


Our fresh Integr8d Soul t-shirts can be yours for $12 each or 2 for $20; write for shipping & handling.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fantastic Four classics: Three Worlds At War!


Sponsored by Integr8d Soul Productions, featuring DNA: The Mountain, drawn with crisp, clear story telling by Lue Lyron and the Marc Kane, with scenes and ideas you won't find anywhere else in entertainment!! The comic for those who don't read comics! Black and White, $3 plus shipping each.
Available from C Lue Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101


It’s about time to try writing about a series of FF stories that was everything 70’s Marvel, positive and negative. It’s an example of how to write an action-packed epic guaranteed to confuse much of your readership, and it has several things happening that would not make it a viable movie script, but several things that would appeal to a youthful imagination. C'mon! It's got dinosaurs, blue people, invasions from other dimensions, invasions OF other dimensions, and strange doubles living different lives, centered by the Fantastic Four--- complete with a giant teleporting dog.


There are two negative 1970's things that do not set back this storyline, however---if you'll overlook my summary hyperbole. For one, the story line doesn't get interrupted by a fill-in (especially a reprint), and the other is, the team of Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler are able to stay with it all four issues and give it their artistic flair. They are both successors to the wildly popular and mostly well-done 1960s Marvel Comics Group, building directly on the work of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.


One thing 70's we DO have here is the extended story, which we saw even more during this era wherein the comics begin to cut back to 18, even 17 pages of story and art. There's a little bit of grim, melancholy self-analysis you find in Marvel Comics of the Me Decade, too. At least the Reed/ Sue separation story, which never seemed to go anywhere, is done!

This chart appeared early in part three of this four parter, both explaining the thrust of the action and confessing the confusing nature of the three worlds provoked to war. The Fifth Dimension, featured in #158, and Earth-A, and the FF's Earth, are all versions of Earth appearing in previous stories, and the antagonist is from a fourth world, a barbarian warlord named Arkon with four styles of lightning bolts, with different powers not all illustrated here, which he keeps in his quiver. He's unloading these furiously in the opening story, upon the Thing, in an epic street battle...but as his girlfriend Alicia Masters begins to wonder, is this the Thing? He doesn't sound like Ben Grimm...or a super hero, really, for that matter. Arkon uses a bolt to teleport himself and "The Thing" away, so Alicia goes for help.

When she arrives (courtesy of a cab driver who first appeared in FF #1---thanks, Bob!) at the heroes' headquarters atop the Baxter Building, Reed's busy signing over his shares of Fantastic Four, Inc. to a company. Ben Grimm---the Thing---is there already with no clue what she means! Here's where the giant dog, Lockjaw, comes in: he's an Inhuman who can shift into different locations with a thought. He gives Lockjaw the scent of the ersatz Thing's shirt scrap brought by Alicia to go hunting. After Lockjaw gets a bit distracted, Ben eventually finds himself at the door of Counter Earth's Reed Richards---who here has the power of the Thing! (See FF #118.) He gets into a battle with what turns out to be robots, protecting the Ben and Sue Grimm of that world, who've come to visit Reed. The Thing-Reed shuns the public to work on his inventions, while a now-human Ben Grimm has married Sue Storm. (Johnny Storm of this world is believed to have been killed in Viet Nam; this is 1975).

This Reed has also signed over his work to a company which is using his robots to invade the Fifth Dimension. The Human Torch uses a portal on Long Island (see Strange Tales #103) goes to the Fifth Dimension to help, and agrees to lead them in a retaliatory invasion. When you add in dinosaurs and time-lost warriors brought by the time machine invented by Dr. Doom, you have a dangerous three-way invasion. That destructive energy, in Arkon's plans, will power his world.


Bob broke it down like this when he wrote about it on IMWAN:

Basically, the plot breaks down like this:

1. True Earth. Arkon's agent, DeVoor, representing Arkon's I.T. company, buys controlling interest in Fantastic Four, Inc. As a result, he acquires Reed's time machine and uses it to send dinosaurs, vikings and such against Alternate-Earth. Meanwhile, True Earth is being sent into a new ice age due to technology that Arkon took from Phineas in the 5th Dimension. Thus, True Earth thinks it's under attack by the 5th Dimension and is retaliating while also unaware that "True Earth Reed's" time machine is being used to attack Alternate Earth.

2. Alternate Earth. Alternate Earth is under attack by dinosaurs and vikings that came from "True Earth Reed's" time machine. They thus believe that True Earth is attacking them. Meanwhile, Arkon - acting through an I.T. company with DeVoor as his representative - has gotten ahold of Reed-Thing's "andrones" and is using them to attack the Fifth Dimension.

3. The Fifth Dimension. They think that they are under attack by Alternate Earth, because Reed-Thing's andrones have attacked them. Meanwhile, Phineas' technology is being used to attack True Earth.



I think the moment, when the captured, alternative Reed Richards and the Things team up to face the U.S. Military (led by Gen. Thunderbolt Ross from the Hulk comics), is my favorite of this arc.

The conclusion brings me to a phenomenon of the 70's that includes Rocket Racer (bad guy on super-skateboard) and Hypno Hustler (a Bootsy Collins-style disco villain): the appearance of Gaard, modeled after a hockey goalie. The solution to the three worlds battle even resembles a cross between a hockey game and a superhero slugfest! I can't help but feel there were some very happy Canadian kids.

Gaard has a secret I won't reveal here that adds to the irony, possibly the dramatic context. Unlike the cover, only two beings can occupy the place in space/time where this encounter occurs, so we don't get a team of heroes working together for the "goal" like a hockey team, but we do get a variation of FF and Thing-Reed teamwork to beat Arkon's Gaard. The letters pages later suggested Roy Thomas wanted Gaard to be a little tongue-in-cheek---that's a little weird for the conclusion of a fairly dramatic adventure arc.





But, is it fun? Oh, a LOT of people did think so. I think when you are younger you use a lot of derivative concepts to create your pretend adventures, and for its wonderful absurdity, the Three Worlds at War arc captures that spirit. Personally,as a child I always found the idea of alternative selves unsettling, as they raised many questions not easily answered in Sunday School. I didn't grow up in a house of science fiction lovers (or even readers, in particular) so these things had the maximum shock effect on me. In today's secularized society, can you even imagine that? I tended to conduct my thought experiments in secrecy, occasionally posing strange questions for my Mom, but generally realizing, in that pre-Internet Stone Age, I was on my own. Meeting an alternative self is still intriguing; it's scary and wonderful at the same time to ponder how our lives may have gone differently based on other choices.

Arguably, the art, compared to DC, may be crowded or ugly or confusing, and I can see where coming into the middle of any of this might've turned off a reader from Marvel Comics for life, and I know one reader who felt exactly that way. I was disappointed by the lack of active role for Sue, but even that harkens back to some of the earlier plots---and the early days are the inspiration here.

This was an epoch where Thomas wanted to take the Fantastic Four back to basics in a way, including restoring Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben as the quartet, and that calls for inventiveness and fun---don't think everything was so sophisticated in those 60's comics!

Joseph's shared a terrific sub-plot for our Defenders story; after we work together a bit I'll bring it back here,along with fun articles on the filming of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Planet of the Apes, Conan the Barbarian, and more classic comics. Meanwhile, I'll be busy with our own Integr8d Soul comics!!!



Myebook - D'n'A  Comics #1 - click here to open my ebook First: DNA Comics #1 is ONLINE!!!









Meanwhile, our remaining t-shirts are available at Convention Special Price, for $12 each or 2 for $20, plus $3.00 for shipping & handling.


Listen, I'm still figuring out integr8dsoul.com, but meanwhile, you can do what Jason did. (He also got a special bonus copy!) In Jason's case, he sent us $9 at

C. Lue Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

which was really cool as it covers shipping and handling, at $1.25 each! The issue itself, DNA #1, retails for $3.25.

You can send $30 and get any three t-shirts and the comic, too---or $25 for the two styles of shirts and a comic.



Be on the look out for Not Another Comic Book! Preview this July!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Moon Knight and justice




His life as Marc Spector, mercenary veteran of multiple engagements in Africa and Central America, changes when he watches their leader, Bushman, bite the throat of an archeologist they wish to rob. Already put off by Bushman’s extreme cruelty, he nonetheless tips his boss off to Dr. Arlaune’s pre-emptive assassination attempt, only to watch brutal murder. The dagger in Arlaune’s hand suggests the nearby dig has the kind of gold Bushman needs to run a small country; his thanks to Spector is to beat him and leave him crawling the desert to die. But he doesn’t; he finds himself at the feet of Arlaune’s daughter Marlene, the person Spector had warned to run, incurring Bushman’s wrath.

In the shadow of the statue of Khonshu, Egyptian deity and Taker of Vengeance, Spector’s revitalized. The cloak of Khonshu becomes his...as does revenge against Bushman. With his partner, the pilot Frenchie, and Marlene Arlaune, Spector establishes a new life in America, parlaying his copper mine findings from Africa into a fortune, directed under his alias, Steven Grant. One final identity, a fourth phase, like the moon: Spector begins masquerading as Jake Lockley, a cab driver who frequents Gena’s Diner and talks often with Crawley, a loquacious informant. The hero with four lives in one: Moon Knight.



One doesn’t have to believe in supernatural intervention; that ambiguous point becomes crucial to a story about just who Spector is, now. The cases are based on realistic crime and espionage, more hard-boiled Dashiel Hammet than Tolkein; the criminals don’t have powers, but the quality of their modus operandi doesn’t disappoint.

Moon Knight is a costumed vigilante, an unpaid A-Team, but the idea of him as a super being is dispensed gradually, in favor of naturalistic characters, a kind of magical realism. The supporting cast doesn’t develop very much in the stories presented in Moon Knight, Essentials, Vol. 1, but Marlene, Frenchie, butler Samuels, Gena and her sons, and housekeeper Nedda all actively support the plot and reveal facets of Moon Knight’s thinking, especially once he reveals his identity and recruits everyone actively into his network.

Marlene is particularly effective counseling her love, a sardonic and tough yet elegant lady in her own right, and it’s a fantasy for those who love a story at street level. Her appearance at his origin, published about four years after his first appearance (with a ret-conned origin) in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #32, establishes her as part of Moon Knight from the start; it’s safe to say while Spector is already playing four roles, it’s really a multitude of people that solve these cases together.



The one supporting character who grows the most in dimension is Crawley, the derelict with the affinity for booze and horses, who finally reveals something of the life he drank away in MOON KNIGHT #2. This is also the issue where Grant/Lockley/Spector shares his mode of operation and actively incorporates the characters still as yet in the dark.


Already, creator and writer Doug Moench busies himself with things that distinguish this comic from its super hero brethren; one werewolf and one outlandish trap after his first appearance, Moon Knight gets passed around for a run of DEFENDERS (#47-50) and PETER PARKER (#’s 22, 23) then settles in as a back-up in the more adult-oriented RAMPAGING HULK magazine, a long story arc tying one crime into the next, culminating in a terrorist nuclear bomb plot (followed by a “meeting” with the Hulk under an eclipse).

Realistic criminals and Robert Ludlum/ Richard Marcinko style operations establish Moon Knight as an action hero, but not a super-hero (though he plays upon superstition in a way Batman would applaud). Once his origin is told in the first issue of his new ongoing series, however, Moon Knight’s world begins to fill with glimpses of real people and problems and dialogue.

MOON KNIGHT #2


It’s when a slasher begins murdering derelicts on the Bowery that we get a glimpse of Moench’s ability to tie social commentary and forgotten people in life into a comic book published alongside space adventures and gods. We get a view into Crawley’s real life, as well as an observation from a police officer, after Crawley’s barely escaped the slasher, that these men, these bums, are the lowest priority in life, and not even a serial murderer can make people really care.

Crawley’s past life of mistakes comes back to haunt him in a way that just steps the line of impending irony, but the tragedy of a broken family and a broken man comes through, unmarred by the slasher, who is not a typically absurd antagonist and has a frightening desperation in his seemingly aimless plan. It’s the most downbeat of the Moon Knight stories, perhaps even an outlier that made Monech think of how to keep the plots full of action and intrigue, as opposed to miserable characterizations. Still, when Spector takes everyone to Haiti in #6, he revisits the theme of economic oppression, the concern over protecting business and pretty white people over any sense of justice for all.

Sometimes the point’s made in passing, which is a less heavy-handed approach that still makes a reader think of what’s happening out there on the street. But real life is neither as dark and sad nor swash-buckling romantic as in these early Moon Knight comics. It may be one of the reasons it’s so satisfying to read. It’s rather similar to contemporary work done by Frank Miller in Daredevil.



When Moon Knight got his series, Bill Sienkiewicz was tapped for art chores, along with classic, moody inker Klaus Janson to embellish. Bill’s style is perfect for the realism here, even while he serves the action with interesting perspectives and solid anatomy skills. He does develop as a story teller right before your eyes, and while he is still in a photo-realistic mode similar to Neal Adams in these early stories, it’s charming to follow in black and white, as found in the Essentials volume. (The HULK magazine issues are reproduced from color in grey tones.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Comic Con Epilogue: It Started On Yancy Street: Fantastic Four


I'm kinda glad it's all over. Next year I will be inside with a table or, more likely, attending the events and seeing through connections and showing companies what we do.

walking to san diego comic con










Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Captain America: The Virgin Avenger (no spoilers)


Sponsored by Integr8d Soul Productions, featuring DNA: The Mountain, drawn with crisp, clear story telling by Lue Lyron and the Marc Kane, with scenes and ideas you won't find anywhere else in entertainment!! The comic for those who don't read comics! Black and White, $3 plus shipping each.
Available from C Lue Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101


I think I planned to include some of Cap's history here, but tell ya what: go see Captain America: the First Avenger as soon as possible, and that's as good a version of all you really need to know about the hero as I can imagine!


There's an unambiguous morality present in the story that some might find convenient, some may find fresh, and without a doubt, it sets the stage with the real character, a Steve Rogers I recognize, drawn to do the least selfish thing and the bravest thing and most compassionate thing with every action. I have seen super heroes sexed up with intimations of hot and heavy relationships in an effort to make them seem more appealing to adults, but the last two box office kings have been portrayed without any forced adult sexuality---not to mention the summer's biggest winner so far featured sexless robots.

It's enough to make Chris Evans hot, and Cap is a much more old-fashioned fellow than Evans' debut super-hero role, the Human Torch. I am pleased that a sincere, rather square sort of fellow be set forth as a fictional role model. The director, Joe Johnson, kept things moving much too quickly for us to dwell on Cap's inherent stodginess: it all goes to a laser-focus by the end to make him an increasingly more effective hero.

(He will make a terrific contrast to the worldly Tony Stark, with Mighty Thor perhaps between those two attitudes, though I really imagine the Avengers movie will focus on their contrasts and similarities in pairs, to create tight character moments.)


I also think military people will have a lot of reason to cheer Steve Rogers, even as he steps outside the traditional mufti to wear the red white and blue. I don't imagine such a pro-military film was imaginable when I was born.

Stanley Tucchi's Dr. Erskine character shoulders much of the moral complexity involved with the very creation of Captain America. The delightful Hugo Weaving's Red Skull has probably the most realistic plot of any super-criminal on film.
The romance actually lends more emotional ballast than that of any super hero film before, though X-Men: First Class is very close behind. I agree with my friend/ cartoonist Matt Linton: I absolutely forgot about the inevitable ending, so wrapped up in watching Steve and Agent Peggy Carter evolve through several stages that developed both characters simultaneously. I seem to like this movie more the more I think about it. And for a boundless supply of energy, I have to say, this is one of the most positive, pro-human blockbusters ever!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's Amazing, Spider-Man?

A board friend (who was not bored at the time) suggested the Big Time story arc to me when I asked: "is it a good time to read AMAZING SPIDER-MAN again?" I'd only bought a handful of issues in the past...decade? Yah. Hey, I'd already spent an embarrassing amount (if only I knew shame!) on comics in my lifetime, times were tight and other things called. But I still loved a good comic book classic if I could get a decent deal on it; I'm not a torrent kid, after all. They have a way of suspending over-thought and self-absorption of a sort, these clever mixtures of art and words as story.




My Big Time gambit led me to snag #'s 647 thru 649, and while it was a very different Spider-Man world, I'd missed the familiar faces like (now Mayor!) J. Jonah Jameson, Harry Osborn, Flash, the Black Cat. I was intrigued by Aunt May's marriage to Jonah's father, though it's chiefly taken her safely to the sidelines. Jonah as mayor was a great idea!


It seems, in the issues I then missed, Flash took a decidedly dark turn I won't spoil for you (I'm sure it's all over the 'Net, with the rest) and Marla Jameson died during a Spider-Slayer attack. Spider-Slayers were the general name for the multitude of robots cooked up to create Spidey Heartache and Bruises, and both Jonah (who funded most of them!) and Marla had helped build them before (it's how they met!). As a kid who enjoyed the 1984 Annual written by the long-absent Stan Lee (twelve years!) where the Jamesons married, it was a little poignant. As illustrated painfully by Daily Bugle Publisher Joe Robertson, "Marla's no longer the story..." because the Spider-World was knee-deep already in the next threat.

So, in #656, the first of eleven issues I purchased for an offer of $25, we meet Massacre, a hostage-taking, clinically disfigured individual whose empathic ties to human life have been severed by a brain injury, which left him with a dead wife for whom he could not even grieve (how's THAT for sympathetic villainy?)and a serious psychosis, previously treated by longtime Spider-verse therapist Dr. Ashley Kafka. We also see Spider-Man cope without his spider-sense, the nervous system-centered danger alert that's saved his life nearly every issue. Worse, writer Dan Slott offers numerous problems that crop up with his lost spider-sense: an unexpected example is when his web fastens to unsupported plaster and his swing lands him flat on his back atop a police car. Things proceed downhill from there!


On the cover, you see Peter's solution, which hits him just as he almost hits snide Paladin outside the office of the Night Nurse: if he's going to get hit, he needs some body armor. I personally think the lost spider-sense is a great idea; now he's truly vulnerable to dangers in ways most flesh and blood people are, and there's more room for surprises, adding to his challenge. Besides, I don't know how many times writers conveniently had him ignore his warning sense for the sake of giving the baddies a fighting chance, anyway!

Jonah's feelings are stone cold, in the wake of Marla's death, and he prepares to use the law to put a permanent end to Massacre. That characterization, and Peter's sensible approach to facing this hapless terrorist, deliver a solid story. Marcos Martin's art here and in other stories is so fresh and vivid, with some unique layout ideas and a warm cartoony style for the characters.

A subplot involving Pete's new girlfriend---a forensic crime sleuth---comes to a kind of resolution that insures me she will remain intensely curious about Peter's secret, without the predictable melodrama one might expect. By the end of #661, I had to laugh.

At this point, the biggest plot in the past year at Marvel intersects with the comic, and we're treated first to Peter's reminiscences of times spent with the Human Torch and the Fantastic Four, three very neat little adventures that range from the very relatable and human to the strange frontiers of Fantastic Four exploration...only to tie back in to the world right outside your door, courtesy of gearhead Johnny.

After that deeply hilarious issue ends with a holographic "will" from Johnny conferring his place in the Fantastic Four family to his superhero brother, Spidey then joins the Future Foundation, the present iteration of the FF, and begins a terrific set of adventures that brings a long-favorite "what if?" to life. The cast becomes the appealing present day FF and their precocious children and the strange protege children under their protection. I've never enjoyed Peter working with the FF more; maybe the difference is that he is genuinely a member, and together they are working through the loss of the Torch while facing mutual adversaries in fairly interesting schemes that harken back to the earliest days of Marvel without simply re-treading old plots!

The other thing of note: Peter got black-balled from photography while aiding JJJ, but his luck takes the interesting bounce where he gets a real genius-level science job, extending the cast and plot possibilities (albeit with characters that have yet to really grab me, but it's been sooo busy!!) with Horizon Corp, which is essentially a Marvel Silicon Valley-East Coast outfit.

These comics are trading for about $13 in fine condition on Mile High Comics' site, and I saw some pretty high Ebay bids. The fact that they rock, AND cost me a shade over $2 a piece, gave me immense satisfaction, when I was finally too shagged out to do anything but sit and enjoy them with some music (much provided by my talented and silly friends Eric and Sabrina, who've bombed my phone with tongue-in-cheek covers of childhood favorites for two days!). They share a last name with Peter's new squeeze, Carli Cooper!

The ending of #656 rings home a fundamental change in the character; not the temporary costume change (changed again for his FF initiation, in another funny scene), but the very motivation of the character. A legitimate beef with his depiction is that, while he was written as a youth still grasping maturity in his early days, he was also a victim of the Me Generation's morose tendencies to psycho-analyse themselves in gloomy, self-absorbed ways in the next decade. Guilt, guilt, guilt---it's a pretty shameful motivation. It's actually one that would hamper happiness, if not effectiveness.

No, he realizes how he can apply his brains and try to find a way to win---a way to save everyone. He does this now for the living! "And I'm going to make you proud. You'll see." I always said a love of people, appreciation of life, and more positive traits were the real motivator, ensnared in all that down-on-yourself verbiage some people find necessary to consider themselves "good." Listen, life is worth living for its own merit; saving life is a joy. And it's a fine time to be Spider-Man!!!


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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

San Diego Comic Con Week: Suddenly the Submariner!



Ooops, haven't re-read this one yet! But I do remember the story. Wait, I'm getting it mixed up. This is the one where Reed decides to make a stand for Sue's love, but the story ends with him in personal turmoil. When all's said and done, when the FF have stormed Atlantis to rescue Sue, she chooses to leave with Reed---but he worries about her ulterior motive to simply end the violence.

What I almost started telling about was Submariner's movie studio, but that's an earlier adventure! Of course, his film roles double as traps for the male members of the Fantastic Four, while he woos Sue. I would tie it in happily with the Hollywood push at Comic Con.

Prince Namor, the Submariner, and Reed and Sue were Marvel's best love triangle in the Silver Age. The super-strong Lord of Atlantis and the smartest man in the world had some great fights (doesn't it sound ridiculous for the smartest man in the world to fight anyone? But hey, who said you couldn't have nerve if you're bright?). Sue always sympathizes with the misunderstood monarch, whose passion for this surface woman pits him at odds against his royal advisers.

We have lots of fun gadgets and imaginative inventions such as the "oxygen spray" used to create a membrane around the air-breathing heroes and always, strange sea creatures with sophisticated purposes. Too fantastic for some, but all played together to assemble a world that usually observes its own inner logic, and very appealing to one's sense of wonder!


What else would I do now, but tie the undersea classic with our modern day beach-loving adventures of Jenn, Celestia, Pepper and the gang we put together in Not Another Comic Book! Looks like Jenn will be appearing in my cartoonist friend Michele Suthers' cartoon map of San Diego. Come by Marina Park beside Seaport Village this week and buy one! You can check out her work here (clipboard it): http://michelesart7777.blogspot.com/2011/07/sketch-from-giovanni-bellinis-pieta.html

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Thing versus the Hulk!!! Happy Comic Con Week 2011!!

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2011/07/comic_con_2011.html Comic Con's the big news in San Diego downtown.

But at the core of all its Hollywood spectacle and major product release frenzy, amidst the swirling robes of wizards and the sound of clanking Storm Troopers, San Diego International Comic Con was a celebration of fans of comic books, and easily, one of the most iconic, the most representative, of all super hero comics, it's Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's two issue battle featuring the Hulk and the Thing, as presented in early 1964! Yep, before the Beatles were even off the plane, Marvel's greatest monster men were smacking each other through a hapless New York City!

After a decidedly offbeat issue before (following a classic struggle with Doctor Doom), now we get to the place where the modern world of super hero comics evolves. Not only does the Hulk react in anger to a newspaper announcing Captain America joining the Avengers, but in the brutal revenge scheme to follow, he instead mixes it up with the Fantastic Four before the Avengers themselves make the scene in the next issue!

The interactions of characters from three different strips was facilitated by the writer and editor of all three of them, Stan Lee. So he gets a bit confused and refers to "Bob" Banner in the script---I can only imagine how fun this scrap was for fans of the time! The FF are not at their full fighting strength here, making it a rather dramatic battle centering around Hulk and the FF's resident strong man, the Thing. Their first encounter in FF #12 was the earliest crossover I know of in Marvel history.

I don't believe the Hulk had yet begun to appear again in Tales to Astonish after his own series was quickly cancelled (yes, the first commercial failure of the Marvel Age was the six-issue INCREDIBLE HULK). This was a break through appearance, then, for Jade Jaws. His strength outclassed the Thing's, but Ben's fighting spirit and wits keep this cross-town tussle from a dull moment. These two have clashed now so many times as to become a sort of Marvel cliche, but Jack Kirby brought this an energy and whacked-out sense of happening right in the middle of the Big Apple that makes it one of the true blue classics of comic books, from days gone by.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wacky Lee/ Kirby Fantastic Four: Infant Terrible (International Comic Con Week)


Sponsored by Integr8d Soul Productions, featuring DNA: The Mountain, drawn with crisp, clear story telling by Lue Lyron and the Marc Kane, with scenes and ideas you won't find anywhere else in entertainment!! The comic for those who don't read comics! Black and White, $3 plus shipping each.
Available from C Lue Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

The menace is funny, but played very straight: the alien who's landed in Times Square
creates random mischief, but Reed Richards begins to fear the awesome extent of what the being can do. He deduces from its behavior that it's simply a child---but one he expects will treat the corner stones of our natural survival like toys. What happens when the creature decides...to play with the sun? The criminals that attempt to influence the child are thwarted by his lack of understanding, as well as the timely intervention of the Thing, Torch, and Invisible Girl.


Reed gambles his time and concentration : what else do you do when a missing child turns up? You try to contact the parents!

I'm busy with strange wanderers from another culture, myself. I don't think Willie and Ogie will panic any superheroes, though! I'm about to add them to my friend Michele Suthers' cartoon map of our town.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

International Comic Con Week Presents: Master Plan of Doctor Doom!



There's always a sub-plot cooking in these classic Fantastic Four stories made by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. In #23, from cover date Feb., 1964, opens with a squabble evoked by a five foot tall reptile bopping in from prehistoric times, courtesy of the time machine they've confiscated from Dr. Doom. The argument surrounding the runaway dinosaur (who's quickly dispatched again to his time) brings up the question of why it is that Mr. Fantastic, Reed Richards, is the leader of the team and not The Thing (Ben Grimm), the Human Torch (Johnny Storm) or the Invisible Girl (Sue Storm).

Well, in a group where one member's code name contains the honorific "Mister" (he's really a Ph.D , you know, if Dr. Fantastic isn't too egomaniacal for you!) and the lady in question goes by "Girl", it's probably not going to be equality of the sexes---that's things fifty years ago for ya! "The Thing" doesn't sound like your likely group leader, either (though Steve Englehart tried just that almost three hundred issues later)!

Still, when the trio without Reed put it to a vote, each has voted for his or her self! At least Sue made the point "it's time we tried a woman around here!" but there's not really a serious discussion that makes you think the status quo will change. If anything, Reed does have the maturity to apologize to Sue for lumping her in with his frustration towards "you primadonnas" though in a later era she would've stood up for better treatment herself.


Basically, while this fued's been brewing, Reed's been watching for signs of Doom's peculiar technology; it's his dedication as well as his ideas that have driving the Fantastic Four.

The point about dedication is particularly the one that makes him the leader: he's the one who's obsessed with improving their technology for emergencies and exploration, the one who puts the thought into what their arch enemy might be doing at the time. The implication that he is the most serious one and the most logical thinker. Even still, there's more to leadership, yet---the ability to delegate, the ability to communicate, the ability to foresee consequences. Still, as you'll find in these pages, nobody can do it alone---even Reed's humbled by Doom here.


At this point Reed and Ben are portrayed as fifteen or so years older than Sue and her teenage brother, so while that's a factor, of those two Reed's the one portrayed with the temperament: the writer's chosen mouth piece for a majority of the ideas and precautions. The whole point at the time was to move adventures along, preferably with character reflecting an array of reactions and motivations with which readers could identify.

Meanwhile, Doctor Doom's busy recruiting three criminals with peculiar talents, to manuever the four, the counter to Sue, Ben and Johnny's powers in particular. Do you want to know or am I wise not to spoiler these until you've read them yourself? The psychology of the team is on Von Doom's mind, too. This time, rather than producing very powerful super criminals to match the Four's strength, he enhances his minions just enough for his purposes, and uses his grasp of the team to do the rest. Handsome Harry can hear Sue when she walks; Bull has a bit of superhuman strength; Yogi Dakor is fireproof.





I will say this: the special ionic dust that's used, when activated by a passing "solar wave," to begin transferring matter in our dimension into some frightening other, is part of a FF trap I'll never forget! I first read these as plots in the old Marvel Indexes, and later, as a story in the black and white Fantastic Four Essentials collections. It's nice to wrap my imagination around the timeless energy of these stories---it's the sheer inspiration one should take along!





Listen, I'm still figuring out integr8dsoul.com, but meanwhile, you can do what Jason (and Aimee!) have done. In Jason's case, he sent us $9 at

Cecil L. Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

which was really cool as it covers shipping and handling, at $1.25 each! The issue itself, DNA #1, retails for $3.25.

Meanwhile, our remaining t-shirts are available at Convention Special Price, for $12 each or 2 for $20, plus $5.00 for shipping & handling.

You can do the same over PayPal, at luelyron@gmail.com !!!

AND!! You can use the button provided; the $15 will cover your postage.






D'n'A t-shirt #1




or





D'n'A t-shirt Puzzle pieces (girl and boy)




Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And now, classic Fantastic Four!! (And Big Secret Island) Celebrating San Diego Comic Con Week



Serendipity's wonderful. With my shirts and comics (DNA #1)ready to show to fans at the San Diego Comic Con, I thought I'd rest while possibly poking at some preview pages. I'm already busy with the Marc Kane on rehearsing songs of our own for the Stage It.com shows scheduled. I want to convince myself there's no pressure and just find myself creating it! I've decided what, but not all of exactly what, my goal for those pages is. Now: what's a way to relax, heading into the big week, something creatively stimulating?

At last, I pulled out my gift disk filled with archived Fantastic Four and Avengers comics. While I'm not presently working on super hero comics---Snow Leopard's a little close---it's hard to find a more universally-beloved example of the genre than the book that, together with Spider-Man by Steve Ditko, established the shape of commercial comic books for the next five decades. I just knew I wanted some Jack Kirby art to read, so I dug into the run after it's kicked off good and proper, opening the 1964 issues and starting with #22.


I was struck by the elements of humor, mystery and danger, all mixed into an adventure comic. Through the lens of our unique Integr8d Soul ideas, we make comics that way, too, and none more so than the Stuckwayze.

I imagine George Bell's inking is not for everyone, but Jack Kirby's figures, while well drawn and laid out, engage with each other's unusual powers, and express their own, with much personality. A cartoonishly humorous gag about the Thing's frustrated efforts to answer multiple complaining phone calls is a highlight, but while the Fantastic Four seem thrown off-balance by multiple complaints and harassments, little do we suspect the adventure's already under way! You see, it's all part of a plan to coerce the foursome out to a big secret island off the Jersey coast---a piece of potential real estate, possibly a new headquarters.

What they can't know is that their foe the Mole Man survived the battle in their very first encounter, and here he plans their doom, while setting into operation a most under-handed scheme to confuse the Cold War powers, the Soviets and the United States, into war---over vanishing cities.

It seems an absurd stretch? (Take it up with Mr. Fantastic.) I suppose it's difficult to characterize the suspicion between those nations, particularly in matters of bizarre technology. Just think about the race to Space, won by the Soviets before the U.S. knew it was declared, and our response to race to the Moon. Remember, a Moon launch inspired the rocket with which Stan and Jack gave the quartet their powers!

Anyway: I just happened to be drawing my preview based on the Stuckwayze comic drawn early this year: a journey to a mysterious island full of technological secrets, begun with a comical flair, disguising how an over-arching plan has been put into effect. To return to Kirby's comics and the Stux on the same day, to such serendipity, gave me a feeling of things neatly fitting into place from the chaos of life that brought it to us.

Now, my first comics preview will begin, decided by coin flip, with the Stuckwayze, an angsty-looking, skinny race of humanoids, whose story is explored by one of their own, Ogie Johnson, when he finds unexplained cash in the bank and decides to seek out his best friend Willie, and together, explore Big Secret Mountain. (The entire story's drawn in roughs; sitting down with this preview will be the beginning of converting it and other new material into STUX #1, debuting in September). I took most of my idea from a comic I drew as a kid, characters essentially made by my sister and I, growing up. As I drew and wrote that summer, the earliest issues of MACHINE MAN inspired my text page, as IRON MAN #63-66 were also often on the table with me, there at Brenda's Place, my parents' restaurant in Shannon.

Jack Kirby loved a good hidden race, himself, and his work as I know it---and I've not nearly read all the best of it---was a guiding light in making an odyssey for Ogie and Willie, today. (They were not the original P.o.V. characters in UGLIES #1.)


I have to note FF #22 was also the debut of Sue Storm's invisible force field powers, and also is where she began making other items invisible (which, if she was invisible, made her visible) as well as invisible objects, visible. Her expanded powers immediately come into play against the Mole Man, who can't activate his doomsday device in front of his captives and can't visibly detect why he can't just push the darn button!

I enjoyed the creative usage of everyone's powers and the different traps; this was still the Fantastic Four formula for many early issues, so while we are about to enter an era of fun, inter-locking references to other Marvel heroes and titles and a high energy carousel of storylines that overlap and intertwine, we are hitting the time when the original team, the original lee/ kirby formula, feeling their creative way, begins to change and grow.






Listen, I'm still figuring out integr8dsoul.com, but meanwhile, you can do what Jason (and Aimee!) have done. In Jason's case, he sent us $9 at

Cecil L. Disharoon
542 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101

which was really cool as it covers shipping and handling, at $1.25 each! The issue itself, DNA #1, retails for $3.25.

Meanwhile, our remaining t-shirts are available at Convention Special Price, for $12 each or 2 for $20, plus $5.00 for shipping & handling.

You can do the same over PayPal, at luelyron@gmail.com !!!

AND!! You can use the button provided; the $15 will cover your postage.






D'n'A t-shirt #1




or





D'n'A t-shirt Puzzle pieces (girl and boy)