Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Tunes

Well, if my Internet will hold out (no guarantee), I will pass along a few Halloween-themed songs you might not know. I doubt they get much play on the radio.

I would embed "Morgus The Magnificent" by Morgus and the Three Ghouls for you, but that is disabled for this video. This tribute to the New Orleans-based horror host is a nifty little piece of regional rock. And by the way, one of the "Three Ghouls" was none other than Mac Rebennack - Dr. John to you and me.

"Bo Meets The Monster" by Bo Diddley is perhaps one of the most entertaining "monster" songs from the 1950s. It has a sense of humor, but also plenty of Diddley attitude. Makes you wonder if anyone saw THIS coming when the original Purple People Eater debuted.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Owariverse Encyclopedia: Section II - Heroes and Villains (M)

Macro Warriors: The Macro Warriors are giant robots created by Third World, and are the crowning technological achievement of that subversive organization. Of course, that doesn't mean they aren't a little buggy from time to time.

The most notable appearance of the Macro Warriors was when Third World launched a full-scale attack on Major City with a squadron of the mechanical monoliths. This epic battle led to the formation of the super team the Invincible Alliance, which is another example of Third World's exceedingly bad planning.

At least one Macro Warrior has been captured intact and is in the custody of the authorities. This refurbished robot was called into action to subdue a rampage of the giant ape Gargantua Maximus.

Masked Menace: The Masked Menace first appeared in 1941 as a foreign saboteur who fought Thunder Man on the parallel Earth they both call home. Though his initial scheme to blow up American dams was foiled, the Masked Menace quickly established himself as Thunder Man's arch-enemy in the minds of virtually everyone by sheer persistence. And when the United States officially entered World War II, he began to more blatantly express his allegiance to the Axis powers - particularly the Third Reich.

The Masked Menace's true identity was a matter of considerable interest to the U.S. government, due to his fifth columnist activities and apparent ability to travel across the world at will. Suspicions eventually zeroed in on one Wilhelm Krupp, a member of the German American Bund. However, as federal agents sought the Bundist for questioning, they discovered him murdered in his apartment. That evening, Thunder Man caught the Masked Menace planting TNT at a munitions factory.

The end of WWII did not spell the end of the Masked Menace. His anti-American rhetoric faded away, to be replaced almost entirely with a focus on crime. The Masked Menace continued in this vein until 1948, when he was gunned down by his own gang. That seemed to spell the end of the infamous villain.

Somewhat inexplicably, the Masked Menace returned in 1954, claiming to be the original and refusing to explain his resurrection. He briefly espoused a belief in Communist doctrines quite at odds with his wartime views, but later became entirely intent on elevating himself to a position of power. He eventually challenged Thunder Man to a “final” battle in 1977 that ended when he accidentally stabbed himself with his own knife and plummeted from the top of a skyscraper. This seemed sure to be the last chapter, but the Masked Menace's body was not recovered afterward.

The Masked Menace made one final comeback in 1984, and engaged Thunder Man in a fierce duel to the death. He lost, and as he clearly died for at least the third time, the Masked Menace crumbled to dust. He has not returned since, but if history is any indication, it is only a matter of time.

Mr. Metal: It's a story we've all heard countless times. Two business rivals compete in the same arena. One of them is far more successful in his endeavors. The other lags behind and declares bankruptcy. One blames the other for his company's failure and vows revenge. Usually, the results aren't worth discussing. The case of Paul Mann and Louis Schmidt is the exception.

The reasons why Louis Schmidt lost out to Paul Mann had nothing to do with a lack of skill on Schmidt's part. They also weren't due to any unethical behavior on Mann's behalf, but that wasn't the way Schmidt saw it. He felt that Mann's gains in their sector had to be because he was cheating. To Schmidt, there could be no other explanation. He was clearly superior to Paul Mann in every way - at least in his mind.

Especially galling to Louis Schmidt was Paul Mann's career as Captain Satellite. Schmidt complained loudly and often that reporting the Captain's exploits constituted free advertising for Paul Mann's business interests. He demanded equal time, but was rebuffed at every turn.

Bankruptcy was the last straw for Louis Schmidt, and the end of anything passing as “reasonable behavior.” Whether he snapped completely or just was consumed with a lust for vengeance is academic. Schmidt used his company's resources to kitbash the armor that would make him into a super-villain. Now known as Mr. Metal, he swore that he would destroy Paul Mann just the way Paul Mann had destroyed him.

Mr. Metal has never quite achieved his stated goal, but he is a powerful force of villainy. He has been known to form a team-up of convenience from time to time with fellow felon Disco Ball. Neither is very happy with the arrangement, for differing reasons.

Muscle Woman: Elisabeth Huerta (“Beth” to her friends) was an excellent student and promising athlete at El Oceano State University when she gave it all up at the age of 19. Why? So she could run off and marry Len Gordon, a man 12 years her senior.

Unfortunately for Beth, throwing caution to the wind didn’t exactly work out for her, and she wound up being another divorce statistic by 21. Attempting to piece her life back together, she enrolled at Magnifica University (unable to face returning to her former college) and set about the business of graduating. She retained the married name of Beth Gordon both out of convenience and as a reminder to not stray from the task at hand again.

What Beth Gordon could never have anticipated was being kidnapped by Third World agents and subjected to a process they hoped would make her a weapon in their quest for world domination. And remarkably, Beth did not die after being dosed with any number of chemical potions and bombarded by several different unknown rays. Instead, she found that she had gained fantastic strength far greater than possible by normal means.

Third World’s brainwashing techniques were just as efficient as usual (i.e., not very), and Beth soon broke free from her captors with her super strength. Determined not to let them get away with their nefariousness, she threw together a costume and single-handedly broke up the Third World branch that had abducted her. During this case, she coined the name “Muscle Woman” for herself.

Muscle Woman has continued to fight crime and injustice and garnered considerable fame in El Oceano. She keeps her alter ego a secret despite the promise of glamour and fortune, desiring mainly to further her education and maintain a low profile as Beth. However, she does hope to one day meet the superheroes of Major City and work with them to crush Third World once and for all.

Mystery Spaceman: He first appeared in the skies of Major City one crisp autumn afternoon, and alighted atop the towering Mando Building. Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson were called in to investigate, and the Captain dubbed the stranger “Mystery Spaceman” due to the symbol etched into his uniform resembling a question mark. Shelly is still annoyed that her suggested name was shot down: “Space Face.”

The Mystery Spaceman is a riddle. No one has ever been able to discern a motive for any of his actions on Earth. It doesn't help that he (it?) doesn't communicate in any manner recognizable to humans. Mystery Spaceman simply is, and mankind just has to deal with it.

Upon learning of their existence, Captain Satellite postulated that the Mystery Spaceman was an emissary of the Astro-Giants. This theory was demonstrated to be spurious when the Spaceman inexplicably joined Cap in driving the cosmic entities away from Earth. All that case ended up proving was that alien beings can have their own agenda, separate from anything we might comprehend.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Grocery Store Toy Department

This is the toy department in a local grocery store. It's worth mentioning that this is a regional supermarket chain, not a national one. The toy selection is a fascinating array of cheap rack toys, with the occasional well-known brand slipping in somehow. Most of the "name" items are things like Uno (seen more clearly in the picture below) and Monopoly.

They also carry dice. Which, I guess I can see that. There are plenty of perfectly innocent diversions that call for dice.

They even stock items that help teach a trade to the youth of America.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shiera Sanders Is Hawkgirl

I've asked Kabuki Katze to do numerous commissions for me over the years, but they have almost always been of characters I had either created or shepherded through most of their existence. Hawkgirl is clearly not either of those things. So why?

Well, I have always liked Hawkgirl. I especially love the Golden Age Hawkgirl, the original incarnation of the character. She was (I believe) the first girlfriend who transitioned into the role of superheroine. Roy Thomas did some wonderful characterization with her in All-Star Squadron while I was reading that book. In fact, Roy was the first writer to use her in her costumed identity since the Golden Age.

Though I think the Silver Age Hawkgirl design is great, I vaguely resent it retroactively superseding the Golden Age style. Due to the vagaries of DC rewriting their continuity all the time, it was declared at one point that Shiera Sanders Hall was both the Golden Age and Silver Age Hawkgirl. As a result, the more familiar outfit originally identified with the Thanagarian heroine (seen in the Justice League cartoons in that form) became the default Hawkgirl outfit.

I had been thinking about Hawkgirl and how much I wished she had made even a token appearance in costume during the All-Star Comics run that I love so much (she does appear as Shiera a few times). I asked Kabuki to do a picture of her as a result, but specifically requested the Golden Age, Earth 2 version. That meant she would have:

*brown hair & eyes
*one of the older style helmets (though not the beaked model that obscured her face entirely)
*the red top with a bare midriff

There were other references, but the main one was this illustration done by Steve Rude for DC's mid-80s Who's Who series. Of course, Kabuki was given the flexibility to do certain things on her own. You can probably pick those out yourself.

I am quite tickled with the results of this commission, and I do believe Kabuki is, too. Why not go peep out her page for it on deviantArt while you are at it?

Monday, October 24, 2011


With the NBA lockout dragging on with no end in sight, let us return to a happier hoops era. The year was 1984, and Kurtis Blow decided to gift us with one of the first rap songs I ever heard. Yes, boys and girls, they're playing "Basketball", because we love that "Basketball".

It's sort of important to qualify that this song is from 1984. How could Kurtis Blow have known that one of the biggest stars in basketball history was only just entering the NBA that year? Yeah, Michael Jordan is conspicuous by his absence, especially considering players like Nate "Tiny" Archibald and Bernard King get name-checked. Not a knock on those guys, but they are nowhere nearly as well-known as Jordan. For that matter, how could Kurtis have known that Ralph Sampson was about to become second fiddle on the Houston Rockets to an even better big man named Hakeem Olajuwon?

I don't know why, but it never occurred to me until recently to wonder if there was a video for this song. Well, as it turns out, there is:

Friday, October 21, 2011

My World : Muscle Woman

Elisabeth Huerta (“Beth” to her friends) was an excellent student and promising athlete at El Oceano State University when she gave it all up at the age of 19. Why? So she could run off and marry Len Gordon, a man 12 years her senior.

Unfortunately for Beth, throwing caution to the wind didn’t exactly work out for her, and she wound up being another divorce statistic by 21. Attempting to piece her life back together, she enrolled at Magnifica University (unable to face returning to her former college) and set about the business of graduating. She retained the married name of Beth Gordon both out of convenience and as a reminder to not stray from the task at hand again.

What Beth Gordon could never have anticipated was being kidnapped by Third World agents and subjected to a process they hoped would make her a weapon in their quest for world domination. And remarkably, Beth did not die after being dosed with any number of chemical potions and bombarded by several different unknown rays. Instead, she found that she had gained fantastic strength far greater than possible by normal means.

Third World’s brainwashing techniques were just as efficient as usual (i.e., not very), and Beth soon broke free from her captors with her super strength. Determined not to let them get away with their nefariousness, she threw together a costume and single-handedly broke up the Third World branch that had abducted her. During this case, she coined the name “Muscle Woman” for herself.

Muscle Woman has continued to fight crime and injustice and garnered considerable fame in El Oceano. She keeps her alter ego a secret despite the promise of glamour and fortune, desiring mainly to further her education and maintain a low profile as Beth. However, she does hope to one day meet the superheroes of Major City and work with them to crush Third World once and for all.

Muscle Woman was created in the late 1970s/early 1980s as a female partner for a character named Muscle Man. I am sure I drew inspiration from the likes of Hawkgirl and Bulletgirl in this artistic decision, but the reason I chose Muscle Man for a distaff counterpart is a mystery to me today.

Anyway, I never did much with Muscle Woman even at the time, and she would have been consigned to the limbo of unused characters permanently alongside Muscle Man had it not been for the twin towers of Sara and Kabuki again. Sara, in particular, wanted to use all the superheroines I had ever created, but it took time for me to concoct a backstory that I felt worked. Credit also to Kabuki Katze for her amazing work in updating Muscle Woman's look for a new century.

Speaking of that backstory, there are elements of it that were devised in tandem with Sara back in 2009. This necessitated some creative thinking on my part when I decided to go in a different direction than I had originally envisioned. Specifically, Muscle Woman wasn't always Latina, and I had to then figure out a reason for the "Beth Gordon" name when I decided she should be. This led me to a whole origin story that hadn't been in the cards until I stretched my mind a little. I'm pretty happy with the result.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Owariverse Encyclopedia: Section II - Heroes and Villains (G-L)

Gargantua Maximus: Ladies and gentleman, children of all ages, presenting the wonder of our age -- Gargantua Maximus! This giant gorilla is another creation of the mad Dr. Sandor Varkoff. Gargantua Maximus is not inherently evil or belligerent, but can become violent when provoked. Given his size, he is nothing less than a menace that must be contained. On one occasion, Captain Satellite used a confiscated Macro Warrior to accomplish that task.

Gargantua Maximus has been relocated to a small island in the South Pacific. It is hoped he will remain there.

Girago: “RAAAAWR! Flee, puny Earthlings! I am Girago, of the planet Goomador! I have arrived to conquer your planet and enslave the human race! Resistance is futile! Not even your Captain Satellite can save you from my awesome power! Soon, all of you shall bow before GIRAGO!”

Will Girago triumph? Or can our heroes Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson thwart this terrorizing titan? Well…what do you think?

Invincible Alliance: It was the day when it seemed that Captain Satellite would surely lose. Third World had launched their most outrageous and potentially devastating raid of all time. An entire squadron of the mammoth Macro Warriors landed throughout Major City and threatened to tear the hero's home base apart. Against one or two of the giant robots, the Captain might have stood a chance. But six? While Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson unhesitatingly leapt into the fray, they knew their chances of survival, much less winning, were slim.

But just as Third World found strength in numbers, so did the forces of good. From out of the “Minors” district came Urban Nightmare. From MTI's campus came the trio of Blue Behemoth, Drone Man, and Firegirl. And from our nation's capital, the government dispatched the Ultimate American on his very first mission. Gathered as a united front, these seven heroes defeated the Macro Warriors, and dealt a blow to Third World's plans.

After the dust had settled, a proposal was put forth by Drone Man. Why couldn't they join together on a full-time basis as a team? His partners Blue Behemoth and Firegirl agreed that they would come on board such a venture, and Ultimate American too allowed that the idea had some merit. The other heroes, however, weren't quite so sure. Captain Satellite offered that he could join on a part-time basis, but he was so busy that he couldn't make any commitments (never mind that one of the other potential members was his ex-girlfriend). Shelly Ericson, on the other hand, flatly declined to be part of what she termed their “glorified pajama party.”

And Urban Nightmare? He merely cryptically muttered that he would call them if he ever needed them before slipping away.

Despite this slightly shaky start, the Invincible Alliance was officially formed at this impromptu meeting. Captain Satellite and Urban Nightmare would be listed as part-time members on its roll call, with the Nightmare's parting statement interpreted as an acceptance of membership. Captain Satellite deferred the offer of leadership of the group, nominating Ultimate American in his place. Ultimate American was voted into the role handily, much to his dismay. His fellow Alliancers apparently think he has been on the job a lot longer than he has, and don't realize he is essentially the rookie.

Since then, the Invincible Alliance has grown and prospered in its fight against evil. Captain Satellite joined them on select cases, but was just as unable to be a part of the group's nucleus as he predicted. Eventually, he resigned his membership entirely, and recommended the robot Elektroid as his replacement in the ranks. Elektroid's membership led to some friction with Blue Behemoth, but eventually the man-beast came around. Even the Urban Nightmare has returned to fight alongside the IA on rare occasions, solidifying his nebulous place on their roster.

The Invincible Alliance has been organized as a non-profit foundation through donations by Paul Mann and other wealthy individuals and interests sympathetic to their cause. It is not aligned with any country (despite Ultimate American's ties to the U.S. government), and it carries on its activities through a United Nations charter granting it special status. This allows the Invincible Alliance to function as a truly global troubleshooting force, and to tackle such disparate problems as dinosaurs emerging from the streets of Paris, space invaders appearing in Tokyo, and the dreaded Backwards Plague in Bulgaria.

The Invincible Alliance has established a string of embassies across the world, to allow them to have a central base wherever they need to go. You can be sure to find Blue Behemoth loafing around at whichever embassy is serving as the IA's current headquarters, and Drone Man trying to make sure his buddy doesn't cause too much trouble. Firegirl is usually out enjoying the good life, and Elektroid is trying to satisfy his curiosity about the human experience. As for Ultimate American? He does his best to hold it all together. That's a full-time job.

King Zaur: King Zaur is the emperor of the Reptile People, a race of humanoid dinosaurs that dwells in a mysterious kingdom referred to as “The Hidden Empire.” While the gateways to this realm are scattered all over the globe, the Hidden Empire itself actually occupies an other-dimensional plane where physical laws operate somewhat differently.

King Zaur first appeared on Earth with designs for conquest 40 years ago, and he was bested by the ingenuity and cunning of Joe Truman. This led to a series of showdowns between the two opponents which culminated in a battle in Antarctica that ended when King Zaur was trapped in an iceberg off the coast of the continent.

However, King Zaur measures his lifespan in millions of years, so decades are of little consequence to him. He broke free from his frozen tomb recently, and subsequently butted heads with the Invincible Alliance. This adventure was further complicated by the fact that the IA's leader Ultimate American is the brother of King Zaur’s old foe Joe Truman, though the reptilian rogue has no way of realizing this twist.

The Alliance turned back the challenge of King Zaur after a hard fight, but the wily dinosaur man slipped away. Now our heroes must prepare for his return, and the one person who could give them advice on how to defeat the villain is missing in action.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

High Seas Hijack

It's tempting to say that no one has ever seen HIGH SEAS HIJACK. That's untrue, of course, but I have never talked to anyone who has seen it. What makes this odd is HIGH SEAS HIJACK is a Toho special effects film - though I don't know how long it took for the Japanese sci-fi fandom to recognize this fact. I'm still not sure that it does.

It begins with 東京湾炎上 ("Tokyo-wan Enjo"), a 1975 film directed by Katsumune Ishida, and already the confusion starts. See, this title has caused no end of problems for people over the years. I don't think I've come across Toho's actual international title, but "Conflagration" seems a likely candidate. I just can't see that word coming up otherwise without some Toho involvement. As for a translation, it seems pretty obvious to me that the best choice is "Tokyo Bay Inferno". Remember a little movie called THE TOWERING INFERNO? I highly suspect Toho was gunning for something reminiscent of that American blockbuster.

As you might have guessed, TOKYO BAY INFERNO was another Toho disaster movie. After SUBMERSION OF JAPAN in 1973 and PROPHECIES OF NOSTRADAMUS in 1974, it makes sense that they would make a play for another big, splashy disaster flick. All I know about it is what I've gleaned from written sources (book and online) and the following videos which I recently discovered. I can tell you that it stars Tetsuro Tanba and Hiroshi Fujikoa and features the likes of Kenji Sahara, Kazuya ("Zone Fighter") Aoyama and gaijin favorites Willie Dorsey and Osman Yusuf. In fact, as you will see below, Fujioka and Dorsey get a chance to face off with one another again after crossing paths in 1974's ESPY.

A word about the first video, and an explanation of the title HIGH SEAS HIJACK. It is claimed that this is a trailer, but sure looks more like edited highlights to me. It has the familiar Hong Kong English dubbing, but accompanied by subtitles. The title given is HIGH SEAS HIJACK. This was the name given the film for its obscure U.S. release by "Cinema Producers Alliance, Inc.", though again, I wonder if perhaps Toho had a hand in this moniker. What is not obvious at all from the clips is the inclusion of newly-shot footage starring Peter Graves. Given the very nature of this project, I am certain it is not a highlight of his filmography - if he even remember it at all.

(None of this was a new idea, going as far back as Raymond Burr's insertion into the first Godzilla movie. However, the likely influence at play here was Lorne Greene's appearance in TIDAL WAVE, New World Pictures' re-edited version of SUBMERSION OF JAPAN.)

Here then is a taste of HIGH SEAS HIJACK:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Where Did The Avengers Go?

As you may recall, I had made a project of reading all 7 volumes of Essential Avengers. There were several entries pertaining to the Avengers as a result, but the last of these came at the end of June. What has happened in the interim?

Well, the last entry discussing Avengers came while I was reading Volume 6. I started Volume 7 shortly afterward, and made my way through a good portion of it. Then, I just sort of...stopped. And I haven't found the motivation to return to the book, despite being only about 10-12 issues short of the conclusion.

Why? Boy, I don't know. I just hit a wall shortly after end of Steve Englehart's tenure as a writer, and it became increasingly harder to get into the story. There's also the little fact that I was hitting the thirteenth year of the title by the time I stopped. There was an undeniable fatigue that set in on me, especially since Marvel comics never, ever end. No, Marvels just almost unfailingly lead into the next story. This inevitability can be a strength, but it can also be a weakness.

I'm sure I'll finish this book eventually. I'd probably even buy another volume. But man, how do people keep going on the same book for thirty years? I don't think I could.

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Life is a trip"

"I mean, who is a hippie? We were stoned freaks. Noise-wise, we're sonic warriors working the outer limits of sci-fi rock."
"We've raised funds for brain scanners, and actually saved four rhinoceroses in Zambia. The game warden sent us pictures. We've yet to meet them, but look eagerly forward to it."
"[...] We use our computers as a barbarian would. [...] The music moves, you know, like a ship - a spaceship - sailing along the seas from one setting to another. Like life itself, it's all alike. But everything is different. I don't know if there's progression. We've been at sea now for what seems like light-years. I hope there is progress, but sometimes I wonder."
"I'm not bothered by people being stoned out, but we're not encouraging it. Personally, I don't need them. Life is a trip."

--Selected quotes from Dave Brock of the band Hawkwind,
From Cult Rockers (Fireside, 1995)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dogs Wearing Bow Ties & Why Lou Reed Is Great

I have been joking with my sister Amy that I want to see her dogs wearing bow ties, because that would make me happy. If you knew her dogs, you'd realize this isn't much of a stretch. They are...well, crazy. But the good kind of crazy.

So earlier this evening, she sent me the link to Bad Dog Hats, and lo, it seems possible that my wish may be granted. The top hats would be amazing, but I'm not sure they would last 10 seconds. And it seems even these people cannot figure out how to fit a dog with a monocle. Probably just as well.

In other news, I got 5 hits today for this specific search:
why is satellite of love by lou reed such a great song?

It just is, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar.

Oh, and to the person searching for "Sally G/Ringo Starr", "Sally G" is a Wings song. I don't know if you are confused, trying to confuse me, or if there really IS a version of it by Ringo. Just throwing that out there.

I'll be back...sooner or later.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Owariverse Encyclopedia: Section II - Heroes and Villains (E-F)

Elektroid: Mad scientist Dr. Sandor Varkoff had the best plan of his life. He had created an electronic android - an “Elektroid,” in his terminology - that was powered by its own mini-generator. He would send his Elektroid to disrupt the set of a movie produced by Ivan Walters through funding from Paul Mann, and demand a sizable sum of money to prevent further such attacks. Yes, this was his best plan ever. We told you he was “mad,” didn't we?

Unfortunately for Dr. Varkoff, his plan hit a series of snags:

1) Paul Mann and Shelly Ericson were visiting the set the day Elektroid arrived. That meant the robot's rampage was challenged by the might of Captain Satellite and his more-than-capable partner.

2) Elektroid had a design flaw that caused it to short-circuit. This did not disable it, but instead allowed the machine to discharge excess power from its generator via its computer brain. This development would have been advantageous if not for...

3) The short-circuit and subsequent power bursts irreparably altered Elektroid's computer brain. When the robot cornered film starlet Kimber Rachelle, it did not attack her as ordered. It instead realized it was being used for evil purposes and permanently broke its original programming.

Captain Satellite and Elektroid joined forces to locate Dr. Varkoff's secluded lab and fended off the mad scientist's last ditch efforts to stop them with prototypes hastily converted into Elektroids nos. 2-5. But when the case was over, there was yet another snag. Elektroid had developed free will, and he was still around - faulty artificial brain and all.

Captain Satellite's solution was to introduce Elektroid to the Invincible Alliance and recommend the electronic man as his replacement on the roster. Although Blue Behemoth grumbled a little that Cap was using the IA to babysit the robot, the entire membership welcomed Elektroid with open arms. In time, Elektroid was accepted by the public due to his association with the respected Alliance.

Today, Elektroid, nicknamed “The Robot With The Exploding Brain!” by the hyperbolic press, continues to seek his place in a world never meant for something - someONE - like him. He has kept in touch with Kimber Rachelle since their first encounter, and though both deny being more than “just friends,” there are those who wonder.

Enemy Alien: There have been two different Enemy Aliens on planet Earth. Though virtually identical to the casual observer, their circumstances are far different.

The original Enemy Alien was an explorer whose starship crash-landed on the outskirts of Major City only two months after the debut of Captain Satellite. Though suffering from partial amnesia, the extraterrestrial astronaut still remembered enough to know that he needed to repair his vehicle and return home. Spied by witnesses as he gathered the necessary raw materials for this task, he was immediately labeled “Enemy Alien” in sensationalistic reports. Concerned by the UFO sighting and subsequent accounts of its occupant roaming the countryside, Captain Satellite decided to investigate the area.

Unfortunately for both Captain Satellite and Enemy Alien, gangsters found the marooned traveler's ship first. The criminals extorted the hapless Enemy Alien into battling Captain Satellite by threatening to blow his ship up with crates of TNT they had stolen from a local ammunition dump. During the resulting fracas, the gangsters were collared, but not before Enemy Alien's starship was accidentally blown to smithereens. The explorer disappeared into the night, uncertain of whether he could ever return home.

Enemy Alien eventually reappeared, misunderstandings were explained, and he was even able to collaborate with Captain Satellite in finding a method to get back to his world. He has retained the Enemy Alien name in his dealings with the select Earthlings that know his true nature, as his proper name is unpronounceable by humans. He is, however, content to never return to Earth.

Months later, Enemy Alien inexplicably showed up stealing rare gems in select locations around the globe. Puzzled by this bizarre behavior, Captain Satellite contacted his friend by space wave transmission and learned that the Enemy Alien responsible for the crime spree was a new claimant to the name. He was an outlaw who had stolen both a ship and a pressurized spacesuit from the exploration corps that the original Enemy Alien oversaw. His reasons were simple - he was eluding the authorities on his planet, and he saw Earth as an easy mark.

Both Captain Satellite and the Invincible Alliance have shown the second Enemy Alien the error in judgment he made in targeting Earth for larceny. Still, he is persistent, and an expert at rocketing away before he can be captured. He knows that it isn't jail that awaits him, but a one way ticket back into space.

Firegirl: Fiery reporter Roxanne Prize was not only one of the first people befriended by Paul Mann when he arrived in Major City, but she soon became his girlfriend as well. Outwardly, they seemed the very picture of a happy couple, but both of them were keeping secrets. Roxanne's secret was that she was trying to dig up clues to the mystery of Paul Mann's background.

Although Roxanne had initially become involved with Mann to learn more about him, she grew to genuinely love him. That made it a gut-wrenching decision when her research was finally completed and she had reached her conclusions. Should she release the story, or should she just forget it? In the end, her (somewhat unethical) journalist side won out over her personal side.

When Roxanne's exposé on Paul Mann broke, it drove a wedge between the two of them that was impossible to overcome. To make matters worse, it soon became clear to everyone that Roxanne's reasoned deduction of Mann's “true” identity was, in fact, wrong. Having lost both the man she loved and her already iffy journalistic credibility due to her deception, Roxanne more or less went into hiding. She retreated to the west coast and began writing for celebrity gossip magazines under an assumed name.

When Paul Mann later created his Captain Satellite persona, Roxanne Prize saw an opportunity to make amends for what she had done. Returning to the east coast on “special assignment” for one of her client publications, she turned up on the MTI campus ostensibly to interview Mortimer (Blue Behemoth) Kane and Danny (Drone Man) Graham on their recent exploits. But she had an ulterior motive - she pleaded with the two newly-minted heroes to make her a superheroine.

After considerable convincing and arm-twisting, Kane and Graham relented and pooled their resources to help Prize develop her own super identity. The result of their efforts was the flame-discharging gun tagged the “Pyro Pistol.” With this weapon in hand, Roxanne fashioned her own flashy heroine costume. Weeks later, Blue Behemoth and Drone Man had a new partner in their crusade when Firegirl, the Princess of Pyro, made her debut.

Firegirl has sought to use her return to the limelight to redeem herself for her past transgressions, and perhaps make the world a better place in the bargain. She is known far and wide as a strong woman who is ingenious, courageous, and more than a little flirtatious. She even has her own super powers now, as an especially bizarre case gave her mastery over fire and rendered the Pyro Pistol superfluous. Firegirl is a founding member of the Invincible Alliance, and has distinguished herself time and again.

Captain Satellite and Firegirl appear to have finally made peace with each other over their failed relationship. However, Roxanne seems oblivious to the crush that the Blue Behemoth harbors for her. Will the blue-haired beast with the mind (and heart) of a man be able to confess his true feelings?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sean Moore PSCs Return, Part 2

As you might recall, last week I posted a trio of new PSCs from Sean Moore. Well, here's the promised Part 2! It includes Amazing Girl, Muscle Woman, and Black X.

Wait, Black X? But he's not part of the Owariverse, right? Well, not right now, but who knows what the future might hold?

Thanks again for your amazing work, Sean!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Is She Really Going Out With Him?

Pretty women out walking with gorillas down my street

--Joe Jackson, "Is She Really Going Out With Him?"

I happened to hear this song on the radio one day when my mind was working in overdrive. The result was that I began to muse that the first line fit my characters Blue Behemoth and Firegirl almost perfectly. This led me to wonder if my friend Kabuki Katze would be interested in depicting the pair on a date.

I almost didn't ask. I mean, it was a little bit of a crazy idea. But when I broached the subject to her, she was all for it! You can see the truly amazing results here! Or, you could check it out here!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

There Were Seven Soldiers of Victory

The Seven Soldiers of Victory don't get a lot of respect compared to their Golden Age contemporaries in the Justice Society of America. That largely stems from the fact that the JSA was the first super team, while the Soldiers were more of a "me too" operation that couldn't even count (they had eight heroes show up every issue) or decide on a name (paging the Law's Legionnaires). There's also the little matter that they are the superhero group equivalent of the Village People, with the Knight, the Cowboy, the Archers, and such. So the meme developed over the years that the Seven Soldiers of Victory were second-rate, and this accepted wisdom even found its way into at least one DC "Greatest Stories" collection (was it the Team-Ups or Golden Age?) which dismissed their entire run out of hand.

After putting together a set of all three Archives of the stories from the pages of Leading Comics, I have to add my voice to the collective that feels this is an undeserved reputation. Yes, the Soldiers lack the power levels and fame of the JSA (Green Arrow is the most famous member). No, I don't think these stories represent some kind of watershed moment for the comics medium. HOWEVER, there is a lot of good (and occasionally great) artwork, and several of the stories turn out to be exceptionally clever.

For example, in "The Treasure That Time Forgot", the usually cordial Soldiers end up fighting among themselves. This sort of superhero battle through misunderstanding become commonplace with Stan Lee and Marvel Comics in the 1960s, but it was practically unheard of among the more straightforward mystery men of the Golden Age. I swear, the darn story is like a blueprint, and I'd almost be half-inclined to wonder if Lee had read it (not that he would remember if he had).

There's also the little matter of "King of the Hundred Isles", in which the various heroes get paired off with different partners than usual, and in one case, two sidekicks get paired off together. Given the dynamic of the Soldiers (three of the eight are sidekicks), it's an ingenious way to wring a new story idea out of what had by then been established as a set formula. Given the nature of these sort of books (promoting features in other anthology titles), I'm actually surprised they got with it at all.

So yeah, the Seven Soldiers of Victory turned out to be much better than advertised when you take the time to read the stories. Who knew?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Wild Thing" by Fancy

The somewhat unusual cover version of "Wild Thing" by the band Fancy was another of my weekend AT40 discoveries. I was so enthralled with it, and vexed by my inability to buy it on mp3, that I went ahead and purchased the reissue CD of Fancy's first album. And guess what? Despite some misgivings, I really liked it!

The thing that strikes me about Wild Thing the album is the same thing that caught my attention about Fancy's "Wild Thing" the song - namely, that it would not have been at all out of place during the "new wave" of the latter part of the 1970s. Though Fancy was originally a studio creation, their sound was very much new wave before there was such a thing.

I am thinking I may now need to invest in the reissue of BOTH albums from Fancy on import. Here are the liner notes from that particular release, with more insight into this band. And here's a little something from the site of one of the people who made it all happen. Finally, you'll find videos below of both "Wild Thing" and "Touch Me" (Fancy's follow-up hit). See what you think!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Owariverse Encyclopedia: Section II - Heroes and Villains (C-D)

C.H.I.E.F.: C.H.I.E.F. (Command Headquarters International Espionage Force) is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government which is primarily charged with investigating and, if necessary, addressing what are deemed “anomalous situations.” They are responsible for handling reports of UFOs, monsters, super-villains, and other out-of-the-ordinary phenomenon. Due to Third World's reliance on unorthodox tactics and weapons, C.H.I.E.F. has also been charged with containment functions in opposition to that subversive organization.

C.H.I.E.F. was formed in 1947, under circumstances which are still classified. It has been acknowledged, however, that C.H.I.E.F. is the successor to a branch of the government referred to only as “Department 27.” Department 27 was established at some undetermined point prior to the United States' entry into World War II. It is best known for its unique countermeasures against Axis weapons based on both super-science and sorcery.

C.H.I.E.F. has offices in major population hubs across the United States, and maintains bureaus in many nations. C.H.I.E.F. cooperates with other U.S. government agencies, and with intelligence services abroad. In light of a dearth of similarly-equipped organizations specializing in paranormal occurrences, C.H.I.E.F. has been called into action on foreign soil on a number of occasions at the request of the country in question.

Though C.H.I.E.F. engages in numerous covert activities, its existence is well-documented to the public at large, and many of its more notable cases have been widely reported in the press. Though the agency's heyday was during the “spy hero” era, it still plays a vital role in both national and global security. C.H.I.E.F. works closely with the new breed of superhero that has emerged in recent years, and was responsible for the training of Ultimate American (who acts in the role of independent contractor for the organization).

Rex Coronado is the current director of C.H.I.E.F., and is based at their central offices in Pongo, Virginia. He answers to the President of the United States and the top secret Monarch-12 executive committee that oversees C.H.I.E.F.'s operations.

Devil Dynamite: Harrison Otto (“H.O.”) Godfrey is a former Third World agent who decided to strike out on his own. Stealing a prototype copy of Captain Satellite’s digital powersuit from a Third World laboratory, he christened himself “Devil Dynamite” and launched a noted career of villainy. Due to his origin as Devil Dynamite, H.O. Godfrey holds the distinction of being a rival of both Captain Satellite and Third World.

Devil Dynamite styles himself as the Captain's “evil opposite.” His more outlandish claim is that he is actually Captain Satellite's counterpart from a parallel universe. This particular yarn is his attempt to conceal his true identity, and play mind games with the hero. It is effective enough that Cap has gone so far as to quiz Thunder Man (an actual native of a parallel Earth) as to whether Devil Dynamite hails from his world.

The one saving grace for everyone is that Devil Dynamite’s ambition outstrips his effectiveness. The prototype powersuit he wears is notoriously unreliable and prone to malfunction. This leaves him perpetually in danger of dropping like a stone in mid-flight, which would make a more prudent thinker reluctant to take to the sky.

Devil Dynamite has thus far been unsuccessful in his efforts to rally his own paramilitary force dubbed the “Anti-Satellite League” (ASL). His powersuit currently on the fritz, he has recently been reported as making his living in the wrestling rings of Mexico as the masked luchador Diablo Dinamita. He makes no bones about the fact that he is plotting an elaborate comeback scheme.

Disco Ball: Disco never died! At least, that's the premise of Vance McGuire, who has chosen to call himself Disco Ball.

Disco Ball is on a crusade to discover the evil possibilities of disco. Which are legion, as you might imagine. Utilizing weapons powered by his Discotech System, he has racked up some impressive criminal credentials. He made world news with his takeover of the famous Studio 69, declaring that he would turn it into “Studio 86” if he wasn't paid off extravagantly.

Captain Satellite and Shelly Ericson put a stop to that plan. Disco Ball has soldiered on though, in spite of the setbacks. Sometimes he works solo, sometimes in tandem with villain Mr. Metal, and sometimes commanding henchmen he insists on referring to as the Boogie Knights. The henchmen are why he carries a swagger stick. And yes, it's a “swagger stick.” Not a pimp cane.

Doppelgirl: Doppelgirl is the codename used by Judy Gourrier, a C.H.I.E.F. agent gone rogue. Or is she really a deep cover agent infiltrating the underworld through deception? If the latter is true, C.H.I.E.F. director Rex Coronado isn't talking.

Doppelgirl is an unparalleled disguise expert. She boasts that she can impersonate anyone, male or female, regardless of age. She is fluent in an array of languages, and an uncanny mimic. Though not a trained or disciplined fighter, she is lithe and athletic, and more than capable of giving an opponent a run for their money.

Doppelgirl first surfaced as part of the super-villain community under the alias of “Spookette.” Working as an underling for the Phantom Rogue, she was captured by Firegirl during an ill-fated robbery. Turned over to the authorities, Spookette disappeared from her holding cell overnight. No explanation has ever been offered.

After that first encounter, Doppelgirl turned up using her familiar identity and outfit. More recently, she has been reported as calling herself “Madame Troika” and claiming allegiance to Third World. Is she truly affiliated with Third World? Or is this merely another ruse by a woman who has mastered the art?

Drone Man: Everyone at MTI knew that Danny Graham was a technical whiz. They also knew he was a total flake. Despite being a certified genius, the only one of his graduate student colleagues who even deigned to associate with him was Mortimer Kane. And Mortimer was just as lacking in social skills as Danny.

Things started getting interesting for Danny when his friend Mortimer was transformed into the creature who became known as the Blue Behemoth. Kane's attitude changed along with his appearance, and this worried Graham. This so-called “Blue Behemoth,” his formerly mild-mannered friend, was going off and taking lots of crazy chances. Danny designated himself the Behemoth's watchdog, but keeping up with the big lug proved to be no easy task. Danny Graham decided that the best way to handle his problem would be to create a super identity of his own, based on his affinity for gadgets and gizmos. And bees.

Thus was born Drone Man! OK, not the most awe-inspiring superhero name. It points up the fact that, while Danny has a good heart and brains to spare, he falls a little short in the sense department sometimes. In fact, the only reason he even settled on “Drone Man” was because Blue Behemoth managed to talk him out of his first choice. The blue-furred man-beast didn't think “The Bumbler” would strike anyone as impressive.

Drone Man's uniform is equipped with, but not limited to, the following specs: body armor, insulated helmet, two-way radio antennae, multi-purpose compound lenses, anti-gravity boosters, navigation wing pack, and sting beam disc system. So you see? He has the skills to create a dynamic and powerful set of gimmicks; he just can't come up with a catchy name for himself. That's the way it goes sometimes.

Drone Man joined Blue Behemoth in his crimebusting, and the pair earned considerable praise for their good works. He also assisted Kane in creating a super alter ego for reporter Roxanne Prize. Drone Man was one of the founding members of the Invincible Alliance, and is considered among the core members of the group. When not out doing the hero bit, he can usually be found at Alliance HQ, still doing his best to keep Blue Behemoth out of trouble.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oh Hey, Chaos Theory

So I opened up my newspaper this past Friday morning and discovered this on the front of the entertainment section.

And THAT, lads and lasses, is "St. Alia" from the Saints of Dune series by our friend Kabuki Katze in the Lake Charles American Press. As I observed on Twitter at the time, I have imagined many things, but seeing my pal Kayleigh's work on the front page of my local paper's entertainment section was not one of them.

The opening of the show went great - there were plenty of people and plenty of fantastic art. I am still hoping to document as much as I can, but I elected to hold off Friday night due to the crowd.

I did, however, manage to capture this:

"The Saints of Dune", hanging together and being awesome. Is that a vicarious thrill for you? It was for me.

If you are in the SWLA area, there's really no excuse NOT to see Chaos Theory if it sounds like your speed. It's free, it runs until November 11, and they MAY even give you cookies (no promises, though). You can read more about it at the Chaos Theory Fan Page!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sean Moore PSCs Return, Part 1

I recently commissioned our pal Sean Moore to do another batch of sketch cards of my characters. Here we see Tregaa the Tree-Thing, Girago, and the Azure Ant in all their eeeeeevil glory. In fact, this is the first rendition of the Azure Ant at all! But I do have a pic in the works of him. And yes, any resemblance to someone else is purely intentional.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Eagle of Heavy Metal

Here's what I don't understand. You're making a movie called HEAVY METAL. It's based on the eponymous magazine, but there's also an entire genre of music that carries the name "heavy metal". In fact, you've enlisted several famous artists of heavy metal music to contribute to the soundtrack. Why is it then that when deciding on the film's title song, you slam your fist on the desk and say, "Get me DON FELDER!"