Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cool Poster: Legion of Superheroes

The poster was reprinted in the Great Darkness Saga TPB with the following introduction:

introduction to the poster

Back in 1983, at roughly the same time the stories in this volume were first published, DC Comics issued its first retail poster – featuring THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES. Conceived and penciled by Keith Giffen and inked by Larry Mahlstedt, the poster originally measured 40”x 15” and featured virtually EVERY character that had ever appeared in a Legion story to that point – 275 characters in all. The poster was a big success and went out of print within a year.

While a dream come true for the diehard Legion fan, the poster was a bit daunting for the average comic reader as it did not come with an identification guide for the characters. Sure, everyone knew who Superboy and Supergirl were, but who could identify Gmya Wazzo or Atro, Brain Lord of Khann? (Or, for that matter, why was Super-Turtle included? The answer to this earth-shattering question is unknown to this day).

Legion fan Arthur Lewandowski realized the problem and, soon after the poster was first issued, Arthur came up with his own self-published identification guide to the poster, which circulated throughout Legion fandom. Arthur divided the characters into several categories – Legionnaires, Legion Allies, Villains (major and minor) and Friends and Foes (mostly good guys and misguided souls) – and drew up several identification guides outlining all the characters. On the following pages, we present the first “authorized” guide to the Legion Poster, based on the original guides prepared by Arthur. Thank you, Mr. Lewandowski…We couldn’t have done it without you.

Unfortunately, due to space limitations, we cannot go into detail on the background of each character. Those of you interested in the rich lore of the Legion should seek out WHO’S WHO IN THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, a seven-issue guidebook to everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Legion (but were afraid to admit). It was first published by DC during 1988 and back issues should be readily available at your friendly local comics shop.

A couple of notes – The guides reflect the status of all characters as they were when the poster was originally published. Many changes have taken place in the Legion since, including births, deaths, and changes of allegiance. On a more technical note – There were several minor coloring errors in the original poster that we, unfortunately, were unable to correct. This fold-out poster is an exact reproduction of the original printing – warts and all.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wanted TPB by the Dork: The Immortal Doctor Fate

Artist: Various
DC Comics (1940s-1980s)
The Immortal Doctor Fate #1-3

Clipped from Wikipedia:
In the early 1980s, Roy Thomas incorporated this into his All-Star Squadron series, set in late 1941, as an explanation of the changes in the character's helmet and powers. (In a caption box on the final panel of All-Star Squadron #28's main story (Dec. 1983), Thomas indicated an explanation of how and why Nelson returned to the full helmet and possession by Nabu when the JSA reactivated in the 1960s was forthcoming, but it was never published). This led to Kent and Inza, combining into one Doctor Fate, featuring in a series of back-up stories running from The Flash #305 (Feb. 1982) to #313 (Sept. 1982). Cary Bates wrote the initial story, with Pasko taking over as writer in issue #306, aided by Steve Gerber from #310 to #313. In 1985 DC collected these back-up stories, as well as a 1978 retelling of Dr. Fate's origin by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton & Michael Netzer (Nasser) originally published in Secret Origins of Super-Heroes (DC Special Series #10, 1978, in the indicia), the aforementioned Pasko/Simonson story from 1st Issue Special #9, and a 1940s Doctor Fate tale from More Fun #56, in a three-issue limited series titled The Immortal Doctor Fate.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Wanted TPB by the Dork: Vartox, the Freddie Mercury of the DC Universe

Vartox was created by Cary Bates and Curt Swan in 1974
Includes: Superman #281, Action Comics #475 , #476, #498, #499, Superman #356, #357, #373, #374, #375, #389, #390, #391, #392 , Action Comics #583, and Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #25

Vartox needs his own trade paperback. For one he is a homage to Sean Connery's great sci-fi film Zardoz. Two, because he seriously is the most funky looking 1970's super-hero EVER! I mean the guy has a mustache, a receding hairline, is old, wears a vest with bikini briefs and thigh high boots and is hairy as a mofo.

Vartox was actually one of the most powerful beings in the DC pre-crisis Universe. His power was called Hyper-Power; which gave him Hyper-vision, Hyper-senses, Hyper-teleportation, Hyper-remote-control-blows, Hyper-obliteration-charge, Hyper-body (astro-projection), super-strong, invulnerable, can fly, transfer his powers to others, can communicate in space via ultra-waves and can temporarily dematerialize solid matter, including himself.

I remember reading Superman stories with Vartox in them and thinking, "What the hell is he wearing and WHY!?" But I also remember enjoying the stories, because they were a strange take on the typical super-hero. Vartox was a more complex hero then Superman, whom he eventually became friends with, but started off as more of a villain. Also there was some kind of weird love affair (triangle) between Lana Lang, Superman's childhood sweetheart, and Vartox.

Why does Vartox deserve his own TPB because in his own words,
"What a fine pair of champions we make, my Kryptonian friend. Both of us hail from supremely advanced races --both of us wield the might to rend solar systems asunder..." So there!
Update 2010: Vartox has appeared again Post-Crisis in his kind-of Pre-Crisis identity in Power Girl #7 and 8. It is totally worth picking up!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Review by the Dork: Power Girl TPB

Writer: Geoff Johns (JSA Classified), Paul Levitz (Showcase)
Artist: Amanda Conner (JSA Classified), Joe Staton (Showcase)
Cover Artist: Adam Hughes
Publisher: DC Comics (June 7, 2006)
: $14.99 (Softcover)
Format: TPB
Includes: JSA (1999) #32, #39, JSA: Classified (2005) #1-4, Secret Origins (1986) #11, and Showcase (1956) #97-#99

This trade paperback is exactly the right way to handle mixing the new with the old. It is a CHARACTER driven trade paperback not a series based one. I don't know who is responsible, more then likely Paul Levitz, but I LOVE this kind of trade paperback. Here is why...

It doesn't just give us the typical collection, it gives us more to chew on, bits and pieces of history. It's a collection that is well thought out, from Adam Hughes amazing cover to Geoff Johns continuity saving story.

It starts us off at the beginning with the Pre-Crisis Showcase appearances. Then leads us to a post-Crisis origin story and tops it all off with the JSA: Classified story; which thankfully wipes away all the crap in between and brings us back to the beginning of who Power Girl is and should be...the cousin of Earth 2's Superman. A thumbs up to Geoff John for steering this ship back on course and a finger to those who F'd it up.

My only real negative comment is that it's not for the casual Border's reader. But to quote Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams, "...so we told him to stick it!"

Wanted TPB by the Dork: Powergirl

Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Rick Hoberg
Publisher: DC Comics (June 1988)
Includes: Power Girl Issues #1-4

I have not read this mini-series so why the hell would I want it in a trade? Because...I have not read this mini-series. I don't want to track down and buy the single issues. I just want to buy the trade. If the story is good, then I'll deal with Ebay.

Beyond that...with the "reintroduction" of her original origin in JSA: Classified issues #1-4; which corrects all the crap that came after Crisis, Power Girl has come into her own and is getting her own series written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and drawn by Amanda Conner, who also drew the JSA: Classified issues.

If you have read the mini-series and have an opinion...post it.