Sunday, May 29, 2011

Agents of Fortune and our cast of Defenders

Here's an exercise I'm personally using to open up a new storytelling idea, to help me try to give Integr8d Soul Comics at least one title that appeals to superhero fan? I think, in playing this game, Joe and I have uncovered a lot of cool ideas that just maybe await our own unique characters of our own creation?Continuing our creative brainstorm re: the Mystic Order of the Defenders C Lue's reply to Devil Slayer Joe (see previous posts):

1. Those cult assassins sometimes double cross one another if they cross paths, and sometimes they work in tandem. You could introduce, one by one, a potential team of them. The Devil Slayer Revenge Squad would be a combination of altered cult members, trained Agents of Fortune, who are the materializers; Agents of Death, the assassins, and demons in human form for the possibility of infiltrating human, say, masquerading as the richest man in the world, and controlling Mexico's telecommunications.

Masquerading as a narco trafficante.
Masquerading as the American security liason.
Masquerading as a developer along the Baja Penninsula.
Masquerading as a border patrol inspector.
Masquerading as a U.S. Senator...or his lover...
Masquerading as the latest American Idol sinner...

...but the best part is, a lot of villains who aren't supposedly demons at all run riot in places lacking basic justice. As long as they are getting their kicks, Vera knows the Machiavellian buttons to push. The purpose? Just pure human suffering. It's seasoning for her next offering to the Outer Faces. Yes, the Outer Faces I just made up.

I have been pondering the degree to which Payne is telekinetic. I believe he has some limited telepathy and definitely a sixth sense for danger. His problem is he is always trying to avoid confrontations with demons in places with innocents in the way.

(Heh, "my arch nemesis, Angel Slayer!" I'm just kidding.)

I don't mind if DS pulls a weapon like something out of the hands of Reed Richards once in a rare while, but I love the idea of him having to master himself to gain the psychic magneticism that calls each weapon to him, and how many heroes have to directly pay the price for the powers they are about to use? Or weapons? There's so much more danger if even arming yourself is occasionally next to impossible.

It's the ultimate potency metaphor, isn't it? If you are going to get your ass kicked and innocents suffer because you can't pull together your tortured psyche, then the battles become metaphorical struggles that play out inner conflicts and thus retain relevance. I think, some day, his relationship to his cloak will change, as he evolves. He may evolve some day right out of being Devil-Slayer. You know he wishes he could. This path of redemption is precisely what makes him a Defender in the tradition of Nighthawk, even Namor and Hulk, while for, say, Patsy and Val, it's about belonging.


Former child model, tomgirl, and divorced adventurer: I'd write Patsy as her old happy go lucky self, but she's still going to need DS's help bigtime! I don't know how her "dedication to evil by her mother as a child" came out, do you?

I just know she commits suicide after seeing Daiman's true face, goes to hell, gets better in a Limited Series by Steve Englehart, and participates in government Registered Superhero Initiative, in stories I don't have, plus some Sex in the City type limited series they tried with her and other heroines, which sorta made sense as I too wanted to depict a modern single woman even if I'm not a SITC fan)

Forgive me, but if we were using old friend Valkyrie and Patsy, I would not hesitate to allow them a very touchy feelie relationship, but lots of girl power and friendship. It makes me feel good to watch people hug, put their hands on one another's face, and so on.

I like her best as someone quick to make friends, thoughtful and inclusive of outcasts, and generally someone whose company you'd find a privilege. At any rate, if you do any Defenders at all, I just love her. A lot of her friends crush on her because she's beautiful, sweet and positive.

In my head, I might consider something that would blow the comic book press sky high. I would write at least one of them as bisexual. However, that could be something I know I don't necessarily show. Furthermore, two women can be close friends and do a lot of things guys often don't without being lovers.

I'm not attempting shock value, but while the comics world's still fine after gay couple Midnighter and Apollo, a more complex world of relationships hasn't...actually, I suppose Cloud was an original attempt to literally create a character who challenged sexual identity, while I have yet to have those comics. Would Disney then proceed to soil their snow white drawers?

Well, let's face it, this is why I write my own characters, and one reason this would be controversial is hardly anyone realized they cared about the characters. But lore, in the hands of the wrong writer, this would be so fucking horrible. I'm sure the fan art's out there somewhere.

My sister-in-law is probably the best gay friend I'll ever have. It's mostly like writing anyone else. I just realized if I was already juggling a relationship for DS in my head (with Vera's twin? Is she even real?), heterosexual couples are not the only way to write romance. You'll see my work by the end of the year, though the notes are around any time this summer you wanna look over Portal Immortal.


At any rate, i WAS already considering spotlighting Sif, Norse Goddess of War and Vanity as we launch female gods into adventures with the kind of respect Chris Claremont is famous for giving Ms. Marvel. I'll bet she's good in Simonson's Thor, but what if she could be nearly so awesome a character as DS is proving to be? Val's history is so convoluted I just wondered if a character who makes more sense having adventures outside that duty of Chooser of the Slain wouldn't be healthy.

But you know something abandoned after Kraft left? Valkyrie decided to enroll in college to fit into the modern world, at Kyle's suggestion. Don't get me wrong, I love her, too, and her occasional weakness when fighting other women, but I threw Sif out there. I am thinking of making her archetype one of my super heroes, anyway. She doesn't quite have all of Thor's variety of powers, and I would give her a non-lethal weapon for butt kicking, like they should have with Val long ago. Flat of her blade, my ass.


he actually seems rather humble and not overly grand in these early Defenders appearances. I know he feels bad about screwing up and ending up like that. I'm pretty good on his bio. I would write him as rather contemplative. Mortality and community are subjects germaine to his reflections. I don't know why I see him ending up with at least one little kid friend. I would give him a whole orphanage, personally. Too bad I haven't read his limited series, looks like it was a doozy!


He should be quite uncomfortable with Payne's shady world. he's still got some temper issues, but if he doesn't snap out of it pretty fast each time, he will seem like he's learned nothing in thirty five years. But listen, the story where his brain is removed has a fascinating implication I think we should explore: he's had, this one, ignored time, the experience of consciousness without senses or sense of physical self. Now, I think it should be a few issues before he's convinced DS is n't just trying to take over his mind, but that mystical experience has a key element within it that would be of ultimate use to Devil Slayer, too: the universal level of perception, which renders the things of this world as a conceptual illusion. I think he's wondering, since he is so at home with Patsy, why he doesn't move on her, and then SoS comes into the picture, LOL.

You know what? He's watching Devil Slayer as though he were Captain America keeping an eye on the Swordsman. But in so many ways, Kyle is a rich Hawkeye figure: a hot head who ends up playing second fiddle when he wants to lead, and always, in throwing himself into his redemptive Nighthawk identity, ponders on the job romances?

. But listen, he's also a guy who reads the papers, Wall Street Journal as well as New York Times, because he's trying to grow up a bit, smell the coffee about the world out there. That's why he thinks the world needs her Defenders in the first place, you know?

Why do I think Richmond Enterprises has offices in Mexico, or factories in San Pedro?

I'm not sure there's room for Son of Satan alongside this incarnation of Devil-Slayer, but I like him as a guest star, at least, particularly in the middle of this Demon War Saga. You could change my mind easily, I just find the concepts, if not the trappings, similar. I would probably really enjoy Gerber's stories about him in Marvel Spotlight. Anyway, whenever the Old Gods Return, it will be good to give him a call!!

I also think Namor, Hulk and Dr. Strange will have to come back for an arc, but I'm way more excited about these free-and-clear bargain basement superheroes.

Death Mask/ Day of Death character.

J.M. came onto the book in 1980 and gave us Gargoyle, an original creation. I suppose such a character as you've suggested could become the Luke Cage of the Latino community. Theres a period where they try to make Black Panther a Harlem teacher in the '70s, too. Your new Mexican character doesn't owe to a stylistic genre like blaxploitation, though. He is not generated from art, he is generated from life. In fact, this overall idea is reminiscent to me personally of what I wanted to do with Sheer-Zan in a Middle Eastern setting. Perhaps, in examining how these two characters differentiate, this new off the cuff idea can take on a form that will leave readers wanting more. As for Sheer-Zan, then she is like, Batman year one and still learning how hard crime fighting is, with revolution being the solution to crime.

People dying in border crosses, and "wolves" who sell Guatemalans into slavery, and drug cartels and endangered journalists. I just think basing a character on things you might actually care about is never a bad idea. My hero Gerber created his own Red Guardian so he could discuss the Soviet Union and our trans-continental perceptions. If any character went on to become a social worker, it's this one.

I want lots of Robert Rodriguez-style touches; I particularly loved El Mariarchi. I want to capture some of the romance of Mexico without consigning it to stereotype hell.

Another mercenary connection: Marc Spector, a.k.a. Moon Knight. True, he was chiefly thought of as an African soldier of fortune before his conversion, but I think there's something back there about Central America, too.

And the many faces of the land

The reasons people join armies certainly deserve to be examined, here---gangs, too. Human survival, and what survival does to your character and spirit, is a constant theme. There will be some good people along the way, without a doubt. We have native Indians, Mexicans, discrimination against other Central Americans like Hondurans, and the struggles of orphans trying to rejoin parents who have crossed the border....

Individual issues depicting the Demon Secret War:

So. Can we resist visiting the Mayan Prophecy?

Any of these trappings could suggest the Harvester of Eyes cult, first depicted sacrificing some archeologists in the ruins. I see drug gangs working for their aims at times, too. They might get one of those demonically-recharged mutants as a member, a double agent planted by the Six Fingered Hand. Or we could flip the allegiances around.

I want at least one fairly comical relationship, a demon who almost charms you with his futility, someone to lend observations about the Six Fingered Hand's side...or a hapless cultist in the midst of the chanting, hooded Harvester Cult. (I have my own ficticious Harvester of Eyes, for that matter, as seen in posts in this blog.)

The third world villain, or How I Learned to Stop Assassinating And Love the Shadow Cloak

As fun as it is to do a radical story with a bunch of nearly-forgotten Marvel comics characters (the best ideas are for a completely forgotten one, basically), just wait until you see what we make when playtime's over.

Here's Joe Devil-Slayer:

Considering some of the things that DS has pulled out of thin air, including an "Anti-Matter Mace", yeah, I think that there must be something more than what-meets-the-eye when it comes to the Shadow Cloak. It would be interesting to explore DS powering up to pull something that could prove more of a threat than mere steel. Not too crazy about him pulling tons of firearms out of there, but, as in all comics, some things one writer tosses out there can be ignored by another.

Considering Payne's powers were taught to him by an infernal cult and he does spend his time killing earthbound demons, he might view himself as tainted. I think trying to find a good use to them and helping other heroes transcend their own personal demons would help him cleanse himself of that feeling that just doesn't wash off in the shower - seeing evil manifest is tough enough on the human psyche, but to know that he'd been crafted as a weapon in its service is another thing altogether! The thing that tickles the back of my mind however, is that there might be more of these assassins out there in the world.

Speaking of which, how curious is the Marvel Universe, with 90 percent of its Superheroes operating within the borders of the U.S. (or out in space). For decades, there have been globe-trekking adventures to exotic locales where one clue leads to another and the heroes stomp on the bad guys then jet home to sleep comfortably in their beds.

Imagine that those threats, those defeated villains were just the tip of the iceberg. If human nature, super-powers and third-world poverty were to be combined, there would be a virtual horde of super-villains out there.

The obvious ones would be those bent on world-domination, nihilism, etc. - those inevitably warrant attention and a global beat-down; but what of those who use their powers to establish themselves as cult-leaders, warlords, regional crime-lords, narco-bosses - all while keeping an outward appearance of normality.

Those who use not only fear, but nationalism, bribery, economy, anti-Western hatred, etc. could find it easy to establish themselves into a trenched position that guarantees them protection at least a part of the population.

In the case of Vera Gemini, this could mean that the local populace, the police, perhaps even government officials could be used to protect her without lifting a finger - money buys loyalty, fear ensures silence, bravery guarantees death.

In that light, the U.S.A., U.K. and some of the other western nations ARE a beacon of light in a very dark world - a place where the heroes have drawn a line in the sand and fight the good fight against the evil that threatens to overwhelm and enslave humanity. Without making too much of a political statement about Russia and China, this could be illustrated in future stories in a prolonged war against Vera Gemini.

I read up on DS's background in Central America and this would easily fit right in there, possibly dealing with the hopes and fears of immigrants from San Pedro (?) fleeing an oppressive warlord to America through Vera Gemini's domain...that's a sub-plot that could lead to a return to that country.

As with Batman Inc., I like the idea of globalization of Super-heroes. I'm not the most worldly of people and I find it hard not to fall back on stereotypes sometimes, but I think characters like the Black Panther, Luke Cage, Misty Knight, and Captain Marvel II broke a lot of ground for minority superheroes. Latin American superheroes have been under-represented in Marvel. Perhaps this might be because anyone who shows a bit of bravery are either inevitably killed, corrupted by evil or cowed into submission when their secret identities are learned?

I was thinking of establishing a new character who would ally himself with the MOotD whenever they venture to the border. I envision a young man who is surrounded by death in an oppressive town full of gang members and squalor. Someone who has lost almost everything, like Bruce Wayne has, but decidedly not a billionaire. Looking to avenge his family, his town, his people, he prays during the Day of Death for a hero to save them. The spirits of the restless dead say there are none other among the living who will avenge them. They grant the young man a portion of their power in the form of a death's head mask...

Anyway, I think my wife is calling. I figure that's enough for now. :)

- Joe

Reaching into the Shadow Cloak (for a weapon mightier than the sword)

First, my thoughts on Vera, or as Joe put it : "who knew a washed-up minor half-demon from the '70s could be so relevant in the '10's?"

You have me on the edge of my seat about what she'll do next! I rather imagine circumstances will force them onto the same side, but who will be in control?

Vera will have far more personality and sex appeal than some plot cypher. I think it was telling she came to Payne in #58 as the cult seemed on the verge of their greatest success, that she valued him so. On the other hand, she could not have him running loose outside of her plan, for reasons we could develop more lucidly.

2 Ha, she might even pop in on Victor Von Doom, or Baron Mordo.

3 I wonder if she has enough of a heart to experience a tragic side in her heritage?

4Did you note both our antagonists carry numerical suggestions in their names? Six Fingered Hand, Vera Gemini (the dual nature).

5 does Vera indeed have a twin, on the physical or spiritual plane?

6 Geez, what if she fell for Payne? I actually had this idea, last!)

Vera's never appeared since she went into Patsy's cloak; DAK had every intention of leaving that nugget for himself or a future writer.

The Mexican Connection

With poverty, crime, and desperate people (some quite ill!) waiting at the border, Kyle's thoughts upon crossing into, say, Tijuana might carry a certain ring of social consciousness. But in the Demon War (Saga), who can they afford to trust?

Hard boiled elements, some cyber punk, occultism and dystopian urban fantasy might all serve the atmosphere, but the authentic touches of the exotic locales will unify it all into a world where you can smell the cooking coming out of crowded houses, see the beggars on the street, taste the dust on the unpaved roads. Again, it's tempting to crowd the Defenders right out of some scenes in favor of the complications touching lives that, while not always innocent, all deserve some sort of vanguard against the blood thirsts of the hellbound.

The real life criminals there in Mexico are sometimes the local government; the law has inconsistent influence, and innocent people must be ridiculously brave to attempt legitimate efforts at law and order.

And our center character, Devil-Slayer:

So the weapons he takes out of Shadow Cloak are demons previously slain by his other weapons? If that's what you're getting at, excellent, Joe! I see you mean the power that gives the weapons form---and power to "hit"---is based on inner demons he subdues. Not unlike Buddha Five Swords (I think that's right).

It's also true Simon Payne should be a wanted man in some parts of Central America.
Yet he has the inner traits to be a 21st century "Captain America" for the Defenders.
"Uses his personal journey to aid others in encountering their own inner demons"---you know this deserves a solo title, right? he's a little like Son of Satan and the excorcisms; man, would J.M. ever approve, it's like a pop psychologist superhero!

I might find something useful in that notion of assembling a Mystic Order, a sort of Knights Templar formed for a specific purpose, yet detached from other formulae for teams. Mutants and magic, on the other hand, while blending sci fi and fantasy tropes, were sometimes used effectively by Claremont, and who said all these re-mutated mutants understand they serve a Darker Power? "To Serve a Darker Power" is a title that gives me the willlies, Joe!

What has gone before: the creative tradition of the Defenders

We could make it as adult and relevant (and occasionally as absurd) as MAN-THING under Steve Gerber. But Gerber's characterizations on Defenders were what made his run, IMHO, maybe the best superhero title of 1975, '76.

What did he do? Seize a couple of empty slate characters (Nighthawk and Valkyrie) and build their story, with a pace that includes quiet moments, brushes with the world we know, existential angst and super-hero style absurdism and action, without being a snooty parody of the genre. He was careful to make his absurd elements make sense in relationship to one another, and the reactions were the moments his super heroes transcended the plot-point reciting antecedents and talked like you or I really do.

He got the more famous members right as rain, developing a set of friends you could believe in. His plot set-ups were well ahead of their time, and littered with clues as to larger stories developing alongside the dominant action piece of the month necessary to be sell as a true super hero book.

I know I suggested a limited series for this, and the reason why is I'm thinking about a sporadically published set of Limited Series pieces that continue the saga of the Mystic Order of Defenders until sales warrant the re-establishment of their title, and the volume should carry such a name, I think, to distinguish the book. They should face about as much mysticism as the FF does science...and how different are they, really? But the LS idea is just, "what if we ever got a foot in the door to pitich to Marvel?" and what I think they'd go for realistically.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Build a better Devil-Slayer (and Patti Smith's lyrical love child Vera Gemini)

Never heard of Devil Slayer? Well, that's our point!!!

When he's not editing award-winning programs for the Pentagon, my college pal Joe Braband, a fine artist by training, loves a creative challenge for its own sake. My recent thoughts to revive the Defenders as a movie-ready renewed franchise---but first and foremost, a fun and intriguing story--- led me to dig into B and C list characters that aren't really busting any blocks, so to speak. I chose Devil Slayer in particular because my friend seemed to have an affinity for this obscure character, much like my enjoyment of, say, Machine Man.

His pitch for developing the character is Awesome Sauce. Here's his rejoinder to the return of Vera Gemini (thanks, Patti Smith) and Devil Slayer. Hit it, Joe!

I think it is important for a writer to understand the characters that he's going to write before writing, especially in the case of those who have significant backgrounds that can be harvested for some really great stories. Your choice for Vera Gemini as a villain is great. Considering her background, her motivation and her connection to Devil-Slayer, she seems the perfect villain to be elevated to major threat level.

Before that, however, I want to look at Devil-Slayer as a character.

Before becoming Devil-Slayer, Simon Payne was really a horrible person. Mobster, murderer, alcoholic, philanderer, victim of PTSD. He's divorced. He even joined a cult and became an assassin! How fucked up is that?!? He's suffered depression, been wracked with guilt, tried to commit suicide, and ultimately been reborn with a shard of the Nexus of Realities within him. This is a person who has had so many personal flaws and psychological weaknesses that there was no way on Earth that he could be called a hero, and yet, he was one of a handful of people who had been even considered for the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme or Earth.

I thought about that last part, wondering why he would have that type of potential and it all sort of clicked for me - Devil-Slayer is not just a flashy superhero name, it is his purpose, but not in the obvious way. While he might grab weapons out of his shadow-cloak and physically slay demons, his true purpose is to destroy the demons within his own mind and bind them to his will to be used as weapons. Strip away the superhero vestiges of the fancy costume and whatnot and he'd be likened to a practitioner of goetic magic - someone who binds his personal demons and forces them to do his bidding.

The Shadow Cloak - it's not a cloak at all. Sure, it appears to be a cloak and has teleportation properties and all sorts of powers, but in essence, it is a mirror or gateway into Simon Payne's soul. The weapons that he draws from within are mental projections brought over from the other side and given form by the power of his inner demons. Interestingly enough, Vera Gemini was reportedly trapped in the cloak by Hellcat....

The way that I view Devil-Slayer's personality is that of someone who is truly repentant of his crimes, real or imagined, but rather indulge those personal demons, he uses them to fuel his own self-mastery. Having been physically and spiritually reborn, he has embraced his true heroic nature and become someone greater than he was before. I imagine him to be someone with absolute resolve, extreme determination and possessing tremendous willpower. Simon Payne uses his personal journey and his powers to help other people confront and overcome their inner demons - something that would make for incredible stories delving into the other heroes' histories. In this role, he is the team's spiritual guru.

I also see his powers changing somewhat, developing from just pulling mystic weapons from his cloak to manifiesting his own personal demons and unleashing them upon other people. From what I read on the Marvel site, this has already been established. The seduction of his own power and the danger of it would temper his use, but would make excellent plot as well. It also would be a great way for Vera Gemini to escape the shadowy recesses of his mind.
(That and the narco-trafficantes are my favorite parts!!!---Lue)
My lovely Vera Gemini For this and more art, check out!

Vera Gemini would probably run to territory that was familiar, but would find that Mexico has changed. The Narco-gangs perform beheadings, they pray to the patron saint of murderers, they rule the border like demons on Earth. In short, her expectations have been exceeded. There would be more than a few gang members who would be happy to bargain their souls away for power over one another - Vera would be more than happy enough to provide that by summoning up demons when innocent and not-so-innocent people are sacrificed in her name. The plan for Xenogenesis might have hit a road bump, but she'd make up for lost time quickly by reviving the Cult of the Harvester of Eyes and becoming the Narco-gangs' infernal puppet-master. Hell, even without the Six-Fingered Hand to contend with, the Defenders would have one heck of a time dealing with such a large-scale threat!

And that's two characters down..

Let me tell you---this is Lue here---my friend could write this character as a solo character, with ideas like that!!! Maybe a mini-series, spotlighting Devil-Slayer, and eventually guest-starring the Defenders, would be a smash basis for a movie treatment. But it's already a movie I'm seeing trailers for, in my mind. You see, even I don't know what the script will look like! But I'm excited that "somebody's doing it."

This, to me, is going to be something that made my summer memorable. It's the consistency of ...anything you love, creating, exercising, laughing---that makes the right habits. This is one of the things that suits the pattern of my life: it takes me back to the dramas I create with no one visibly around me in the woods. That's the treasure of my childhood, there.

So, here's Devil Slayer. Hopefully, you're meeting him for the first time. The seeds are there for storylines that are contemporary, fun, somewhat socially relevant, and challenging, with something for readers at all ages. Don't be too shocked if this sees print in the next three to five years. And, don't be too shocked if it doesn't!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mystic Order of Defenders: Deathlok, and the dystopian OsCorp (7-9)

Did not realize this when the plot began to come to me, but Deathlok and Devil-Slayer have a history---from Devil-Slayer's first Marvel appearance!!

What are we doing? We're resurrecting a title of B and C list characters and developing them in (hopefully ) compelling storylines. The philosophy, banter, and other specifics have yet to emerge, because first, there's the brainstorm, to set the stage. See if you recognize some classic Marvel story lines, or if all of this is alien to you, heck, feel free to ask! It's a sheer creative exercise, whose value can't quite yet be determined, but it's more fun than griping about comics not being the way they used to be! You never know, we may have Marvel's next movie idea, LOL!

So, I gave him a line up, he gave me his suggestions, then he gave us a story to kick off this new version of the characters, reaching back for the villains and heroes he enjoyed as a new reader.

So, Braband offered me a great tableau for creating new minions for the Six Fingered Hand---one that graces the outskirts of the X-world, at that!!! We might even reach back for some devolved mutants who appeared over the years but were lost amidst the line-wide changes that led to so many depowered mutants.

Yeah, huge hand for your efforts, Joe! (A Six Fingered Hand!)

 I would love for #3 and 4 to involve a trip to Hell and maybe include a mad casino where the Defenders must gamble for their souls.   But I"ve already tossed up an issue #2 plot...and after hearing J.M.'s dark take on Patsy's mom (back in 1980), Hellcat may have a couple of "Kid Fears" I didn't count upon!!!   But it's immensely fun.  it's like mail order chess, but more unique.  Again, feel free to change anything.  I let someone cut off all my hair yesterday, what do I worry for you offering your own take on these characters?  AFter all, you came up with a great set piece and foes.

  So listen, I came up with an issue of Avengers/ Defenders mix ups in #5, finishing up in 6.  (I'm going to keep my potential match-ups to myself until we hash out the best ones!)

But things don't stop there; the Beast from an alternative time line takes, say Devil Slayer, Nighthawk, Sif, and Gargoyle into cyborg Deathlok's timeline, where New York's populated by cannibals. IN #7 of our offshoot of the Mystic Order of the Defenders, they meet Deathlok just before he finally faces Ryker, the cyborg who's trying to control everything from the stronghold of his prison (see Astonishing Adventures #35 and Marvel Team-Up #46) .

But, in #7, they discover Oscorp remains an enemy of Ryker's.  In fact, there's a sinister Spider-Man on the loose!  And, very possibly, a Black Cat who turns out to Gwen Stacy, a thief who rebelled against her police captain father.  Meanwhile, Oscorp attorney Matt Murdock takes on a secret identity to break and enter: the Prowler, using gear made by Hobie Brown, the window washer.  (The Prowler's a pretty obscure but neat looking Spidey villain from ASM 79 and 93?)  Spencer Smythe's Spider-Slayer bites the dust fighting this sinister Spider-Man, who is unmasked as...well, who else?  Only two possible answers are begging to be revealed here, and they both end in Osborn, don't they?

  Then, at the end of the issue, you have a Peter Parker who finds the old Green Goblin weapons developed by Osborn's old partner Mendell Strom.  he joins the Defenders as the Hobgoblin.   So Hobgoblin, Deathlok, Gargoyle, Nighthawk (or SOS, if he's not on a subplot w/ Patsy), Sif and Beast.  Maybe a nice cannibal Kingpin?  Anyway, they find Machine Man's deactivated parts.  I'm thinking of 7-9 as a twisted dystopian timeline ---"the past"---with alternative secret identities for some familiar faves.

i have a plan for 10-14, too, which eventually leads Hellcat, Luke Cage, Nighthawk, S.O.S., Gargoyle to the Middle East to follow the green guardian (more later), since I think they each would have a unique reaction to life in the emerging Middle EAst.

 But I still can't wait to go back to the first storyline---which I figure would take most of six issues, I think we agree---where the demonized mutants of the Six Fingered Hand battle the mystic cult of the Agents of Fortune, under Vera Gemini, with the Defenders in the middle!


Friday, May 20, 2011

Meet E.L.O.

Well, here they are: the English blokes with the big fiddles. With 27 Top 40 hits across both sides of the Atlantic, some say E.L.O. picked up where the Beatles left off.

I started with the very first E.L.O. song ever made, then their last Top 20 hit in America, which is probably where i started hearing them. In the cue, I moved those songs behind a smattering of their best known hits and good deep cuts. Jeff Lynne took over the band from Roy Wood after three albums and wrote a lot of great music. But don't take my word for it. Plug in.

I'm going to add to the text here further, but this goes out to my friends, the, daughter Abbie's a fan, particularly of "Rockaria," so it's 1st on the list. For that matter, I found a Dr. Who video set to ELO's "Time After Time" so here it is second (and also, at the end of this post! E.L.O. were also Dave Powell's follow-up answer to, "is there anything I'm going to totally love like Blue Oyster Cult?" Full free to roll through these collected videos and also, to suggest whatever I might've missed on the first pass.

Get well soon, Brother Ray.

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

D'n'A t-shirt #1


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

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cult classics

The first 25 songs in this list mostly reflect a lesser-known, but stunningly great, selection of album deep cuts from Blue Oyster Cult. "Flaming Telepaths", my favorite, leads off, followed by late career brilliance in "Here Comes That Feeling," and one of the best cuts from undervalued follow-up to Fire of Unknown Origin, 1983's Revolution By Night: "Dragon Lady."

"The Vigil" is a live cut from the first widely-panned B.O.C. album, Mirrors, a more pop-rock flavored offering from 1979. After that are mostly cuts from Spectres, the 1977 follow-up to their smash record Agents of Fortune, but first, Joe Bouchard's terrific song off Agents, "Morning Final."

"Subhuman" from their first live album On Your Feet Or On Your Knees, 1975, and the Jim Carroll co-penned favorite "Perfect Water" are among the first twenty songs listed here, and then, some of the band's more well-known (and, lately, well-played by us) songs including "Astronomy" and their two Top 40 hits. ---Lue Lyron

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ten very beloved old comicbooks in 60 seconds

Amazing Spider-Man 251,(Jonah's dark secret, final Stern showdown with Hobgoblin aboard his rushing auto-piloted battle van, with the secrets of the original Green Goblin---and Spidey's life!---in balance)

Why did it rock: a new, mystery character had taken over the costume and weapons of the Green Goblin, to become the Hobgoblin. Along with the mystery man's identity, we were treated to his discovery of files kept by the original Goblin villain, with secrets ensnaring many prominent New Yorkers, whose paths cross as Spider-Man tries to understand what's happening. He realizes his own secret identity is also among those files, but he can't know for certain. He can only look for the Hobgoblin. This is the story where's he's got his wish, and it's drawn in a very exciting style by Ron Frenz and Klaus Janson.

Daredevil 219 ("Badlands", a costume-less Matt Murdock in a stand-alone noir classic)
Why did it rock: all the badness and secrets came from ordinary people. The only hero is a biker-leather clad stranger who the sheriff and others want dead, before he blows the top off the sleazy secrets of the town. Definitely the precursor to SIN CITY~!

Cap 332 (Why it rocks: The government tries to take over the identity of Captain America, which they say originated in FDR's office. Cap QUITS!),

X-Men 188(Great battle with Rom the Spaceknight's old foes, the Wraiths, with the mutant inventor Forge in the middle. It rocks due to Kurt(Nightcrawler)'s wavering devotion to the cause, the horrid future shared by their mysterious guest Rachel, and, er, Storm going for a swim)

Fantastic Four #49 (the quartet are so outgunned by Galactus and his emotionless herald, with no solution in sight! The atmosphere: palpable!)

Incredible Hulk 260, (tense battle with Bruce's rival for Betty, erupting volcano, Japanese monster movie robot, mysterious other culture and Japanese director character)

Thing 22 (the end of Battle World from Secret Wars, and Grimm's relationship with Tarianna and the tragic end of Ben Grimm),

Avengers 276 (Eat it, Masters of Evil! a huge superteam of villains gets awfully close to destroying Earth's Mightiest over several issues of plotting, sabotaging, and ambushing...awfully close),

Hellblazer 43 (Knob this, three aspects of Hell! British streetwise mystery man Constantine's classic cancer struggle comes to a satisfying, menacing, meta-physical ending),

Conan “Red nails” wherever that first appeared.

Boom! That's Ten! I didn't even get

Marvel Team-Up 133 (Doctor Faustus attempts to destroy the mind of Reed Richards)

Peter Parker 76 (Black Cat brutalized by Doctor Octopus; the copy I read was almost as banged-up!)

Captain America #40 Cap's successor Bucky takes on the Skull's stand-in for Cap, in the middle of a politically-intriguing effort to launch a third party candidate for President!

Hulk 340 goes in there, too, mostly for being the best of a very intense run I watched for like few others!

What would I really bump, though? I think this is the spirit in which my friend Colin proposed this idea. So very many also-rans. It's usually a series, for me. I have made the unfortunate discovery, going from this list, that ten to twelve really is the golden age for these things, but now making my own comic is the excitement! Fortunately, not all my list is from that period. After all, I had not yet read Doctor Strange, or Grant Morrison!
As it is, I still haven't read the new SHIELD, Agents of Atlas, FF, and many others; that's just my list of stories that hit me like no others, top of my head. It is easier to list runs I liked, for some reason, but here you go, thanks!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gene Colan and the Black Widow

Over on IMWAN, my friend Marcus Kelligrew put up some comparisons between the art styles of various embellishers, working over the pencils of comics great Gene Colan. Fans of this column may know him from Howard the Duck, and arguably his career pinnacle was his work on Tomb of Dracula, but Gene drew for both Marvel and DC. His earliest work I've seen was on Iron Man; he also had a fondly - remembered run on Daredevil for several years at the same time, the mid-to-late '60s.

These pages were inked by the creator of the Submariner, Bill Everett. I've never read these issues of Amazing Adventures but the art on Black Widow alone suggests it was lovely and graceful and gritty at once.

I particularly like her face.

Love Bites...and so does MIRACALLA!!! Coming from Integr8d Soul Comics, copyright 2011.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fearsome Friday: it's the Blue Oyster Cult

I hear there's a Tardis at the beginning?

Celestial the Queen, by Joe Bouchard and Helen Wheels

Unknown Tongue


The Vigil

pAIN, steel, a plot of knives, the Transmaniacon, from the first album, Blue Oyster Cult (*I find this video irritating, for repeating the images, but I always have some other screen up while these play unless I can see Buck playing!)

ME-262, the story of an altered human being, reincarnated again and again as an evil doer, to test mankind...

Finally, the creepiness ends with the words of Wings Wetted Down, which will be an inspiration when I write my next most fearsome story...but my own life has taught me things of late that help me understand fear in myself and perhaps as it is for others.

But wait! Here's tattoo vampire...that's right, I do have a ghoulish blood drinker on the loose, however vile the premise of the story sort of IS to me...

These days, would it be...."Now Snooki has risen from the grave?" Oprah? I don't know, who's got the Mommie Dearest action going on in celebrity land? I wasn't around for that phenomenon...I was being a little kid in little kid world...but here's a catchy if competely tongue in cheek offering from the band of creeps and savaged heroes everywhere.

Return of the Defenders: The Mystic Order

Braband/ Disharoon Defenders of the Order Mystic

I sent my Defenders fan friend Joe some rough ideas for re-vamping one of his favorite comics, complete with the obscure Devil-Slayer as the enigmatic team leader and Sif, fresh from the new THOR movie. I gave him my list of characters and some ideas, and quickly he shot back a plot for the fresh start.

When I saw how the after effects of the Illuminati/ Hulk struggle might spell the end of the traditional Defenders, even as Nighthawk tries to reassemble a team, I recognized plenty of big guns to kick off at least the first issue, where we assemble Nighthawk and Hellcat before Devil-Slayer arrives needing help (possibly testing them to see that they are who they say). He may at this point bring in Sif, as well. I told Joe:
“Your plot to assemble the non-team is perfect. I'll contribute what I can, but the first story seems like your show!” (I do have a villainous cat’s paw in mind from my own creations, but basically the Six Fingered-Hand are organizing one of many factions of demons and evil doers---but why?

Then, here's what I want to do with the second one: "Kid Fears," where whatever Defenders we've assembled fall into a trap, a test, by Vera Gemini, where they resume their childhood identities and their worst fears and confusion. (For Patsy, it's actually about vampires: she notes she wasn't a very anger or bitter or fearful person and didn't know those emotions until Buzz Baxter and Damian. She wins the day largely because her chlldhood was kick butt and she was fearless!)

The general idea: We brainstorm on the whole thing and try to do what's coolest for the strip. Issue One is yours, and feel free to toss in Vera's monster unleashed, the Harvester of Eyes, if you need a marauder, but I suggest you begin the influence, if not actual appearance, of the Six Fingered Hand.

Two, "Kid Fears," feel free to hop in co-plotting, but I want to take whatever team you've assembled in ONE and throw them into their childhood terrors. I like existential crisis as a useful metaphor for accessing the "battle demons" idea, because, really, the point of "demons" is misunderstood, they could be turned into anything, really, and that's where I want to wrap up our first trade. They are like an encounter group in therapy---not that I know about professional therapy so much, but you get the idea!

So, in three, you take the gang to Hell. At this point, they realize several factions are vying for power in this gambit, it's like they're the ball in the occult villains playoffs! So, 6 Finger, Vera, and this corner of Hell that puts us back in touch with Daiman's legacy, these are all in the mix, while at least two more work behind the scenes, unless Dormammu's involved, too, but anyway...we don't have to wait until 3 to bring in S.O.S. but he should defintely be there by now. Then, we get a scene telling us some Asgardian sorcerers are in the mix, too, setting up Sif and our next issue in Rutland, VT, with Hela present.
In four why not give Skourge a cameo (I miss Kurse, that was a cool engine of destruction with an unlikely turn, during Unca Walt's run of THOR), if not the good ol' Enchantress? The Earthly pawns involved are the resurgent Undying Ones, which doubtlessly sets up the anticipation of Valkyrie, and while I'd like to show her, I think a fresh character with recognition would be a suitable new Defender----nothing against Val, she was my favorite under Gerber. But the Undying Ones minions are smashed between the monsters and Agents of Fortune of Vera Gemini , and whoever you have to represent Six Fingered Hand.

I'd like to do something with the Headmen, but they only succeed when they have confusion and surprise on their side, as they are not a fighting group, safe for the capable Ruby Thursday. i really want to save them for the next storyarc or better, the third one after or so, as though we "forgot" then pit them against the Serpent society across the backdrop of the whole world!

In five, why wait, you reminded me you can have the Avengers/ Defenders clash in a single issue! I WANT to do the seven part epic thing one day, but I thought, "what if I just had a six issue pitch?"

So, Cap, and whoever else you like, Joe. Bang, Pow, Zok! We might include a brand new Nebulon with a new self-delusional mission. We should throw in a few off the wall self-help philosophies, indeed, Nebulon started the Celestial Mind Control Movement in #34-38 and the Annual back in '75, '76., and the occasional pop reference,

issue six---unless we only do one part, but why rush? Let this be the issue where the heroes fight the actual bad guys---I want to wind up a nice web of plot threads, resolving only the bare minimum necessary, so as not to simply discard this storytelling engine designed here by us, but really wrap it up while leaving a good start to seven or #1 as they say these days as often as possible.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

B and C list characters I'd give a shot creatively: the cartoon and TV list

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Star Blazers

Deputy Dawg the cartoon

G-Force (do they count?)

Dungeons and Dragons cartoon team

Thundarr the Barbarian

Mighty Mouse

Felix the Cat

The Fall Guy (TV)

The Starriors (the toys)

Richie Rich

For that matter, Power Man & Iron Fist/ Daughters of the Dragon would be such a great Saturday morning cartoon! Well, the Daughters adventures would need a little less crime, huh...
PM/IF would be terrific, my first thought, especially if they focused on a very young Danny Rand, maybe Luke pretty young, too, but Danny, I'd make a teen for sure.

Spectra Man (Japanese live action TV)

Here's a surprise, I'm sure. When's the last time you heard of THESE adventurers?

From Comics:

Black Widow (the hot SHIELD agent from IRON MAN 2, AVENGERS and comics)

Richard Rory (from Man-Thing and Omega the Unknown---the rock DJ)

Star Spangler (Bowie-esque degenerate rocker, killed in the Man-Thing story that introduced him)

the Fool Killer (I love his signature cards he leaves to potential victims, to repent the foolishness of their lives in their last 24 hours.)