Monday, February 27, 2017


I had a very enjoyable talk with Kevin Volo of the Heroes, Villains and Sidekicks podcast, discussing the life and times of J'onn J'onzz—with a focus on the 1988 Martian Manhunter mini-series I did with Mark Badger.  You can listen to it below.  Enjoy!


  1. Lets be honest, the world of comics is weird. The only thing that may be weirder are the comics themselves. AS such, There are a few things I expect to happen or find out.

    -When it seems Stan Lee s going to die, he is actually ging to become pure thought and energy, becoming a comic book diety, complete with prayers and miracles. And of course faces on grilled cheese sandwiches.

    -Steve Ditko is a fugitive from another dimension, and that is the explanation of his style, and why he won't talk to any one with a camera.

    -Chris Claremot is actually a mutant from the Marvel universe.

    Ann Nocenti is somehow the non-biological little sister (that sounds like something from a 70s kung-fu comic) of Steve Gerber.

    -That Jim Starlin was taken into space by aliens,killed and then resurrected in the heart of the sun. (either that or he has severe clinical depression or PTSD, but that is really more sad than anything)

    -Jim Shooter got his EIC job at Marvel by wrestling a bear.

    -Warren publications folded due to demon interference.

    Wait, didn't you say that you never read CREEPY or EERIE? so you never read Starlin's version of Dr. Strange (sort of)? Darklon?


    1. I look forward to reading your ALTERNATE HISTORY OF COMICS, Jack.

      And, no, I never read Darklon.

    2. Alternate history? Are you telling my that any of this would not only make perfect sense, but more than the reality we are supposed to accept. Especially 1 and 4?

      As for Darklon... is weird. It does everything you expect Stalin to do. Weird family issues, death, bizarre art, an odd ending whee the cosmic comes crashing down onto the mundane, death, clear inspiration from Kirby and Ditko, and of course death.

      It is also the second time in the decade that he in an indie (for lack of a better term) killed himself in the story. The first of course being star reach #1. Of course, this one is a more honest suicide, and takes place in a chapter where his creation walks in on him afterwards.

      If you ever get a chance... Eerie #76, 79, 80, 84, 100, it was also reprinted in by PAcific comics.

      Here you go, if this doesn't peak your interest, then nothing will...


    3. You don't have to sell me on 70s Starlin! Looks great!

    4. Stuff like Darklon is why you shouldn't have spent your youth turning your nose up at indie books.

      I guess you could theoretically find those Eerie issues on comixology, or the reprint by PC for like a buck or two.

      Have fun not reading it again.

      Though, if I had to pick one 70s indie Starlin comic it would be his works in Star*Reach #1.

      Now, lets back up to my first point

      Are you really saying that don't expect Stan to become a deity at some point?

      You are willing to swear on whatever book you find holy that Ditko is native to this dimension?

      That Nocenti and Gerber being somehow related wouldn't make, just a bizarre amount of sense?

      You really would really rather believe that Jim Starlin probably has or had some serious psychological issues?

      Well, then I don;t want to live in the same reality as you. And I defy you to not see those as likely possibilities after you ponder them for a while.

      I hope you'll join me on the right side... one day.


    5. I wouldn't be surprised if Ditko came from another dimension. Or at least had regular contact with one.

      And Stan is already a god, isn't he?

    6. Lee hasn't made it to deity yet, his consciousness is still very much centered in California. One day.

      Once you are willing to admit I am right about the rest, I will be waiting.


    7. It IS possible that Stan is existing simultaneously in California and on other planes of existence.

      And I think we've taken this one as far as it can go!

    8. There was a boo that came out in 6006-07, around there, called The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril. In it Walter Gibson and Lester Dent (the creators of the Shadow and Doc Savage respectively) come about to thwart an evil scheme on two fronts.

      The book has cameos by L. Ron Hubbard (the somewhat unwanted sidekick of Gibson) H.P. Lovecraft (as a reanimated corpse who set Gibson out on the whole thing, since they had been friends in life), Orson Welles as Gibson's pal, and even Jack Kirby as Jacob Kurtzburg: NYC paper boy! and mentions his pal Stan who has family at Timely.

      It was all part of that brief pulp revival point in history. You remember.

      Something like THAT is the furthest you could go with this.

      And now that I see it in print I won't rest until that description of Ms. Nocenti enters teh public sphere... or Shooter releases a tape of the bear thing. Of course it was the 70s.


    9. The more time passes, the more I realize what an astonishing decade that was for comics. Len Wein's SWAMP THING and JUSTICE LEAGUE, Thomas and Smith's CONAN, Kirby's FOURTH WORLD, GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW, TOMB OF DRACULA, MASTER OF KUNG FU, Starlin on CAPTAIN MARVEL and WARLOCK, Gerber on MAN-THING, DEFENDERS and HOWARD THE DUCK, Englehart on CAPTAIN AMERICA, DOC STRANGE, JUSTICE LEAGUE and BATMAN. And on and on...!

    10. ... and Buckler's Deathlok, Gerry Conway on Spider-Man, Warren publications EERIE, CREEPY, and reprints of the Spirit, the birth of Weird War Tales, Claremont's beginning on X-men Jonah, the Lee-Kirby reunion everyone forgets happened Hex...

      But there were also a fair number of pitfalls in the decade. There were dizzyingly high peaks and valleys so deep that the Star Wars comic had to bail Marvel out and keep it from ceasing publications forever. o, without that you might not even have a career, and I never have picked up comics in the first place.

      It was a complicated decade for the industry, there are no two ways about it, though I do believe the Fourth Worlds out weigh the Kirby back on Captain Americas.

      What shooter brought to Marvel was consistency... and the necessity to meet a deadline. That all may have come at a cost of a certain bit of experimentation (though given the uniqueness of Spider-man for that decade, Miller and Nocent's Daredevils, the X-Men, Epic and more not enough to steal the magic), but the books were out on time and the depths of the valleys were shrunk.

      Was that all for the best? Complicated. It certainly kept the stream of reader more steady, but perhaps robbed Marvel of the chance to form its own post-crisis like take on characters.

      One example I can give is that eh Captain America story whith eventually became Life and Times of Savior 28, probably would have been published under the Marvel of the 70s. However, there then would have been the challenge of getting people behind a new Captain America which may have caused a lot of fans to walk away, having seen the character get a period at teh end of his sentence.

      However, what I meant was that, since Shooter took over in the 70s, and therefore would have wrestled the bear int eh same decade, a tape may not be available. Video recording materials were less widespread then than they would be just a few years into the 80s.


    11. I think you should take all your bear questions to Shooter directly.

      The Lee-Kirby SILVER SURFER graphic novel is a favorite of mine. But your probably know that.

    12. How would I know that?

      Lee did something amazing. As I have stated before he did Vertigo before Vertigo. After doing that, he put a pretty heavy cap on the character, to the point where there are only maybe 20 silver surfer appearances not penned by Lee in the 15 year period between the volume 1 and 2.

      This created a sort of idea in creators mind (possible in their mind's forefront, possibly not)that Silver Surfer was a character that you had to bring something new and smart for, there was an extreme reverence for the necessary weight it took. With only a few exceptions that continued until about 2014.

      That is pretty impressive feat in a landscape like comic books.



    13. The first six or so issues of the Lee-Buscema Surfer are among my favorites ever. (And the first Mephisto story is one of my favorite single issues.) The problem after that was, having knocked down that first wall and created something new, it seemed like Stan wasn't sure where to take the book. It started to repeat itself and lost steam. Still an amazing achievement, a high point of Stan's career, but comics in the 60's just weren't ready to go full-out Vertigo.

    14. I have to disagree, I think that the possible team-up would be the F.F. and Cathy. "Galactus is on Earth!? ACK!"

      But on to your SIlver Surfer points...

      I went back and flipped through my Silver surfer MArvel MAsterworks. Some beats were hit over again, but it still pushed forward.

      I think the issue was that after a year he could analyze the sales figures. It probably didn't sell as well as the rest of Marvel (which Vertigo never did compared to its mainstream counterparts) there was most likely n attempt to get it higher.

      The issue with Spider-man showing up has the books mission statement in it, that comics aren't just fluff or for kids. Unfortunately, it was delivered by an elementary schooler and in a book trying to capitalize on a more popular character. It was desperate, it was trying to both bring in new and tell what the book was all about to the old. It was also #14 in an 18 issue run.

      I think the changes that happened around 13-14, were intended to be temporary. Stan Lee wasn't Jack Kirby, he actually understood that you have to bend to what s commercial at times.

      Unfortunately, Superheroes were being replaced by horror, so new readers were less likely... especially since the space angle was no longer drawing people in. Street level and the supernatural was the name of the game.

      Those changes may have worked even five years earlier. However, it probably alienated the older audience that Stan had cultivated with the rest of Marvel and wanted to write for with the Surfer.

      However, Englehart, Starlin,and Gerber all said that they were inspired by it, more importantly they showed it. All of who started there careers just a few years after the series ended.

      There is no doubt that Man-thing, Howard the Duck, Doctor Strange, Warlock and Captain Marvel held similar views on the potential of comic writing.

      TO say it wasn't ready, well... its hard to say.


  2. I often wonder how different the world would be if more people had both done manual labor and worked freelance at some point n their lives.

    Both certainly give you certain viewpoints of the world. They did and have for me.


    1. Once upon a time, there were lots of people who had "real" jobs and knew they'd be in them for life. Freelancer, on the other hand, were constantly (as I like to say) tap-dancing on quicksand, living with uncertainty and always scrambling for the next gig. But then the economy shifted and lots of people with "real" jobs learned that they, too, were tap-dancing on quicksand. So, in a way, we're all freelancers now. (Up to a point: You need a certain kind of nervous system to survive in the freelance game, just as you need a certain kind of nervous system to do a 9 to 5 gig year after year. I possess the former, but never possessed the latter.)

      Manual labor? I've never had that kind of job so I can't speak to it.

    2. Manual labor teaches you a lot of lessons. Not the last of which that comics are over prices, and the value of working inside in extreme temperatures.

      As for the freelancer thing...

      I do think the economic downturn made a lot of people sympathetic to the issues we deal with everyday.

      One example is something currently being debated in Washington, we won't mention it for civility's sake. However, I think that little issue made people realize what happens when it isn't automatically provided for by you employer month in and month out.

      I do get a lot of "so you work part time" and assumption that I am a slacker. Any freelancer can tell you that those are anything but true. And they certainly don't know what it is like to be unable to ever collect unemployment... no mater how bad things get. Now there is a kick in the ass.

      But, let's be honest, freelancers are weird. Even crazy. We chose the wrong answer to the question of security vs. freedom, and the world will often remind us of that. We don't care though. he control our destinies in a way no other job can understand.

      Of course, this all reminds me of something I wanted to say about something more in line with this site... comics.

      Does this make you feel homesick?



    3. Not ALL freelancers are weird and crazy. I'm sure there are some out there somewhere who aren't. Not around my house, but somewhere.

      H.P. Lovecraft sat next to me in homeroom.

    4. I know you right about guys with superpowers and talking dogs in a nanite caused apocalypse for a living, but a well adjusted freelancer? I suggest you take sometime to reintroduce yourself to the real world.

      That H.P. Lovecraft thing is impressive since he died about 20 years before you were born and grew up in Rhode Island. Also... he had a kind of complicated view of Jews. And I mean complicated.

      Should I take that as a sign that you approve of the song?

      Now, onto my Spider-babble...


    5. H.P. died and was resurrected by a dark god who plopped him down in the center of the Midwood section of Brooklyn. He was a changed man after that.

      Yes, song approved.

    6. Well, like all great origins, everything you need to know about Spider-Man is right in Amazing Fantasy 15.

      The question keeps coming up of why Peter Parker keeps working freelance. Well, the obvious answer is that he is written by freelancers so... why not take advantage of that? Complain and get paid as it were.

      But I maintain there is another reason.

      I am reminded of something PKD once said. He mentioned that his friends pointed put he could make more money doing something else. There are plenty of jobs. He said that he does it because he likes it, even with his well documented money troubles.

      That is what Peter Parker does. He chose Freedom over security. But why?

      Well, first off, he knows what fame and fortune does to him. He gets caught up and becomes a dick. He doesn't want to be that again. But there is more.

      Peter doesn't do what he does out of guilt, but because of a lesson learned. Stan Lee said this himself. It is simply reinforced by the loss.

      However, Ben's death did have an effect on him. He was raised in something around working or middle class conditions. He urns for this, a life of simple pleasures. The kind he knew in his age of innocence.

      He is no t concerned with what neighborhood he lives in, which practically makes him an alien n NYC. He is never shown to actually sweat and strain for much other than easing the burden of those close to him.

      Think of your own run and beyond, and before. He loses MJ's pad in Michilline's run. HE cares not for the loss of affluence, but rather how to support his wife and not burden his aunt.

      Now on to yours. Has Peter ever been known to show contentment ever, except in the presence of his wife and Aunt? No. never. they are all that he really desire. The most basic luxury of all.

      Did you know they have done studies that show that after a certain amount of income your life becomes more complicated? Its true. They calculated the ideal salary, and it isn't astronomically high.

      So why freelance? There are plenty of other jobs that could pay that amount. Well, aside from the previously mentioned reasons of being at the whims of freelancers, and that it makes teh most sense for a super hero, it all comes down to that origin issue.

      Society rejected Peter. Sure, it was High School society, but society none the less. Pete has never been fond of groups, and groups not fond of him. He is a loner by nature who wishes to go as he pleases. Thus the world of a freelancer tailor made for him.

      He chose what would be best for him for decades.

      Now, because I am the one writing this, I will explain why that one issue justifies MJ as his soulmate.

      Even in that one issue it sets up a dichotomy. Peter and Spidey are two side of the same coin.

      Gwen Hated Spider-Man and found him terrifying (also lacked a personality). Betty Brant had a similar problem. Black Cat hated Peter Parker and found him boring. MJ however liked and accepted both parts of the identity. And that kids, is called a healthy relationship.


    7. Lovecraft was complicated. His antisemitism is documented, but his wife was Jewish, so like I said, complicated.

      I once saw a documentary that made the point that his contempt for New York, and specifically Brooklyn, was actually about the fact that he saw a world of people from different backgrounds working well together perhaps even in harmony, but he knew he didn't fit in. He was an odd guy.

      I just can't figure out why the dark gods chose to bring him back as a teenager.

      And, in case you are wondering what Metro Detroit growing was like (and no one ever seems to) here is an auditory glimpse if you have the time:

      It i a hodge podge, with none really encompassing it, but I think together it gives an accurate-ish view.

      I wanted to include Jesse Palter's Happiness, since I think it represents a certain idea that good times that still exist, however I couldn't fins it online.

      So enjoy Metro Detroit's native Jazz songbird, who loves that home town (well not Detroit proper) with this...

      Hey, its only fair.

      listen, don't. Doesn't matter. I did my part.


    8. I was hoping to hear you thoughts on my thoughts on Spider-man. Oh well. I suppose you do have that blizzard the news is talking about to deal with.

      Blizzard, pfft. that's a Tuesday in July in the Midwest. Wait... July is the one Christmas, right?


    9. Sorry for the lack of commentary. Supposed to be leaving for a convention tomorrow, but the snow's thrown a question mark over everything, so I've been dealing with all that.

    10. I do look forward to your thoughts on my views of the wall-crawler when your head is more in its proper space, but no hurry.

      Relax. I insist. Tell your editor I said it was okay.