Thursday, June 28, 2012

Team Superman Secret Files & Origins #1- Steel Profile Page (May, 1998)

Click To Enlarge

Written by Christopher Priest with art by Denys Cowan and Tom Palmer.

In my not remotely humble opinion, Steel was the best of the Supermen, and that includes when Kal-El turned up with a mullet. I carried the Superman titles for a few months after Clark Kent turned out to have just taken a really super-intense power nap, but he was frankly more interesting dead than alive. Tom Grummett quit drawing The Adventures of Superman so that he could launch a Superboy solo series that lasted the better part of a decade. Dan Jurgens managed to knock out a three issue prestige format Doomsday mini-series every year or so in addition to his Superman duties. Supergirl got a nice mini-series, and then an ongoing by big names like Peter David and Gary Frank.

Steel got a series too, but his best artist and co-creator Jon Bogdanove only co-plotted it with fellow creator Louise Simonson. They produced some of the least adept and most embarrassing work of their careers, plus they were gone before the end of the book's second year. Chris Batista drew it for a while, and he got better as an artist with time, but Steel looked very low rent from the beginning. The title was a mess of conspiracies and plotlines dropped without resolution, as Irons hung out with his extended family in a Washington D.C. neighborhood and fought goofy villains and black ops agents. It was like Hardware for remedial students. Once all the primaries had abandoned ship, the book was written by random moonlighting assistant/editors, and drawn by whoever could hold a pencil for base rates. It was probably the worst looking mainstream book ever to be printed on that really nice glossy stock the companies used to justify a price hike in the late '90s. Somebody overdosed on "urban" cinema like Menace II Society and Juice, so that pretty near the entire Irons family had been wiped out by gang violence/drug abuse/etc.

Three freaking years into the book's run, actual African-Americans took over. Writer Christopher Priest has accused artist Denys Cowan of phoning in his entire run, which was often incongruously inked by Bronze Age Marvel bullpen favorite Tom Palmer. Despite this, Priest turned in what was easily some of the finest work of his criminally under-appreciated career, and Cowan's art did a good job of showing what a rough town Steel had to patrol in Jersey City. Priest used the excesses of previous writers to strengthen the bonds between John Henry and his niece Natasha, who herself received a personality transplant that made her one of the funniest and most caustic characters in comics. This team's Steel only lasted about a year and a half, and aside from a trial run as a team-up book with Guy Gardner: Warrior that ended up dumped into a couple of Showcase issues, the crew was unceremoniously canned after obligatory participation in the "Millennium Giants" crossover. Thankfully, the essence of the book was repurposed into the critically acclaimed Marvel Knights Black Panther, although I feel that book never quite reached the same heights. I cannot more strongly recommend tracking down Steel #34-52, which has never been collected.

Steel Flies & Orbits More Radical Profiles


John Henry was a Reignin' Superman,
He's worked since nineteen & ninety-three,
"Raise 'em up bullies and let 'em drop down,
I'll beat Eradicator to the bottom or die."

John Henry said to Doomsday:
"You are nothing but a base foe,
Before that Cyborg shall beat me down,
I'll die with my hammer in my hand."

John Henry said to Team Superman:
"You must listen to my call,
Before that Cyborg shall beat me down,
I'll jar this Engine City till it fails."

John Henry's Mongul said to him:
"I believe this Coast City is caving in."
John Henry said to his Mongul: "Oh, Lord!"
"That's my hammer you hear in the wind."

John Henry he said to Mongul:
"Your plot is getting mighty slim,
When I hammer through this Engine City,
Oh Mongul will you walk in?"

John Henry's Doomsday came to him
With bony protrusions from his hand,
He laid his hand on his shoulder and said:
"This belongs to a steel driving man."

John Henry was hammering on the right side,
The Cyborg drilling on the left,
Before that Doomsday could beat him down,
He hammered his fool self to death.

They carried John Henry to the mountains,
From his shoulder his hammer would ring,
She caught on fire by a little blue blaze

I believe that Engine City's caving in.
John Henry was lying on his death bed,
He turned over on his side,
And these were the last words John Henry said

"Bring me my cool sidekick before I die."
John Henry had a sarcastic niece,
Her name was Natasha Irons,
He hugged and kissed her just before he died,
Saying, "Nat, do the very best you can."

John Henry's niece heard he was dead,
She could not rest on her bed,
She got up at midnight, donned her own remote armor,
"I am going where John Henry fell dead."

They carried John Henry to that new burying ground
His Niece robot was decked in gray,
She laid her hand on John Henry's cold face,
"Steel, I'll been true to you."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Who's Dat: Sunburst

Real Name: Omar Pairut
Occupation: Oil Tycoon
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: Bakushi, Iran
Height/Build: Approximately 6'0", average
Eyes: Black
Hair: Black
First Appearance: DC Special Series #1 (September, 1977)

In the Middle East circa 334 B.C., before Alexander the Great emerged victorious over the Persians, a wise old man sought to safeguard a "sun stone" that he had been entrusted with. The stone was given to a Scythian slave, who was ordered to flee from the invading Greeks through a hidden passage under the city before Alexander put the old man to the blade. The stone continued to be protected by the same family for twenty-three centuries, until a modern descendant used the money earned from an oil fortune to unlock its secrets.

After eight years of study, Omar Pairut confided the history of the sun stone to a friend who was also Iran's ambassador to the United Nations. Pairut had learned that the stone could bestow unto him great powers, which he intended to use to glorify his own name and recreate the Persian Empire. Transforming into "Sunburst," Pairut ordered Ambassador Karhum to inform the U.N. of his intentions. Sunburst took a test flight over the ocean, traveling half a world away in just forty minutes, before encountering a jetsub piloted by Aquaman. Downing the craft, Sunburst saw Aquaman as an easy target for death in order to demonstrate his new power to the world. Pairut killed some dolphins under the Sea King's command, defeated Aquaman, and then stranded him in a desert.

The next day, Sunburst returned to Bakushi to announce himself as emperor of a new empire before his people. In the intervening hours, Aquaman had escaped his death trap and arrived in Iran to confront Sunburst. After a brief scuffle, Aquaman used a mirror to turn one of Sunburst's energy blasts back on the villain. The feedback reduced the sun stone to slag, and Pairut was taken into custody. Ambassador Karhum felt that Pairut had become a madman, but mourned his friend's end.

Pairut's sun stone allowed him to convert solar energy into a field of force, transforming him into a "human sunburst." With the stone placed on his chest, Pairut became a flaming entity that could fly, emit energy blasts, burn with his touch, and lift heavy objects through super-thermal forces. Sunburst appeared to be dependent on the stone's being in contact with his person, and seemed to lose all power with its destruction.

"I go now to give the world a symbol of my power and my destiny! ...A new force is upon the Earth-- and from this day forth, mankind will never be the same!"

Created by: Gerry Conway & Dick Dillin

Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: Beowulf #3

Hey all. It's Anj from Supergirl Comic Box Commentary. And man, I just can't seem to get away from reviewing DC's 70's fantasy books!

The DC Third Wave of new titles was recently announced including a new Sword of Sorcery book. Now the original DC Sword of Sorcery book came out in the early 70s and was a short-lived 5 issues retelling Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser tales. But this new Sword of Sorcery will be headlined by a new version of Amethyst, written by Jem Creator Christy Marx and drawn by Aaron Lopresti.

Now frequenters of this blog will know that I loved Lopresti's work on Wonder Woman, especially the Ends of the Earth storyline starring DC's 70's sword and sorcery characters. In fact, that arc led me to seek out those titles and subsequent reviews of Stalker, Beowulf, and Claw the Unconquered here at Bloodlines.

Imagine how strange it was to hear that there will be a back-up feature in Sword of Sorcery ... a new Beowulf strip written by Tony Bedard and drawn by Jesus Saiz (who was fantastic on the new BoP).

It seemed like a bit of karma that both Lopresti on a sword and sorcery book AND a new Beowulf were both around the corner. I didn't really plan to revisit these sword and sorcery books here but with that much coincidence happening I felt I needed to. So why not take another look into the fever dream of DC's Beowulf book.

Now in both #1 and #2, it is clear that this book was going to be a bit off the tracks, a wild tumultuous ride of zaniness, vivid imagery, and 'that just happened!' moments. And Beowulf #3, by creative team writer Michael Uslan and artist Ricardo Villamonte is no exception. Things are crazy here ... but in a good way, in a twisted way with unexpected moments.

And Villamonte's art so perfectly captures the testosterone fueled, LSD addled feel of the book. The colorist is unnamed but whoever they were, they added much to the book.

I also have to compliment the cover here. Much like Stalker #1's fuscia cover, this predominantly scarlet cover just grabs the eye. I even like that the serpent's orange scales are close to the scarlet as it makes it feel like the snake dominates the space. Add to that Beowulf being in the beast's jaws and the warrior woman Nan-Zee wielding a broad sword ... elements common to many 'barbarian books'... make this cover a winner.

Last issue, Beowulf confronted Satan himself to try to stop Grendel, a devil-spawn bringing havoc and death to Hrothgar's mead hall. Bored with Hell, Satan decided to give Beowulf a sporting chance against the demon sending the Geat on a quest for the black viper's venom and ambrosia of the Zumak plant. These ingredients would make Beowulf equal to Grendel in strength. Of course, Beowulf would need to survive the quests to get that far.

And the journey to the Black Viper doesn't start out well with the ship being attacked by a giant squid like monster. Beowulf and his men ... as well as Scyfling warrior woman Van-Zee, lash out at the tentacle hoping to send to beast to it's final destination.One thing I like here is that Van-Zee is shown to be a fierce warrior, even better than most of Beowulf's troops. And while she is only in a leopard skin bikini, it is similar to the mostly bare, loin cloth wearing Geats.

I have said before that Villamonte's art is one of the draws to the book as he is able to cope with the wild places Uslan's script sends him.

Finally the monster's head is coaxed out of the water. And Beowulf's giant (and I mean giant) mace beings a quick end to it. In fact, in its death throes, the beast basically explodes with mystic energy.

Beowulf is unflinching against this thing, chiding his men for showing some fear of this thing before bludgeoning it to death. Fantastic.

Plus, I have to give kudos to the colorist again. The electric pink and purple backgrounds here give this a completely surreal feeling, adding to the scene more than a blue sky filled with cirrus clouds would have. Wonderful.

For the most part, I have actually enjoyed to bizarre nature of this book. Especially when Beowulf seems to take everything in stride. I mean last issue he cut off Satan's ear and hours later was chilling out drinking mead like nothing big happened.

So this dialogue while unintentionally funny just felt out of place in the book. I mean Beowulf just said that Unferth had a stupid face. That's schoolyard taunting and not befitting the warrior we have come to know here.

As for Unferth, last issue it seemed like he might have turned the corner with having respect for Beowulf, here he is back to his old tricks ... not helping in battle and plotting against the hero. I especially like 'the Silent One', Unferth's cloaked creepy friend. I wonder if we ever find out what that thing is.

The attack on the ship makes Beowulf wonder if Satan even plans on letting him live to start the quest let alone finish it. To get some otherworldy advice, The Shaper, Beowulf's magical bard companion, summons Wyrd to the ship. As Wyrd is basically Fate, everyone seems a bit more at ease when he says they will survive at least to the viper's island.

As I have said before, Villamonte's art is lush when it needs to be. I thought this was a great splash page.

But I also have commented on the insanity of this title as well.

The ship is able to land on the island where the viper nests. Upset that Beowulf continues to best him, Unferth uses his magic to summon 'Little Omen', a tiny sort of Peter Pan like demon.

Judge him not by his size! Little Omen has great powers and immediately brings them to Nightmareland. Most of the 'magic' spells in this book are simply words spelled backwards. So I wonder if this is a riff on Little Nemo (omen is Nemo backwards) taking them to Nightmareland rather than Dreamland.

And it is a nightmarish place lacking boundaries or solidity - just vivid colors and freakish visions.

This again shows how Villamonte and the colorist are able to bring a sense of high art to the book. This surrealism is as powerful as the more photorealistic parts of the book. Again, just a lovely page of comic art here.

The threat of Little Omen is shortlived though. The Shaper is not only able to shake off the effects of this place but also to banish Omen back to where he came from.

Meanwhile, things aren't great back in Hrothgar's land. Grendel has some serious violent tendencies. He isn't happy that his battle with Beowulf has been delayed by Satan's games. He demands that Satan produce the Geat immediately or he will rebel.

When Satan says Beowulf will return by the next full moon, Grendel issues an ultimatum. If Beowulf doesn't show, Grendel will descend into Hell and kill Satan! That just happened!

As if dealing with Little Omen was bizarre enough for this issue, the people of the island ... pygmy head hunters ... swarm Beowulf and his group trying to kill them. The pygmy king worships the Black Viper and doesn't want harm to come to it. He even sends out the pygmy version of Goliath (who looks about Beowulf's size) to fight the hero.

A giant squid, Little Omen, and pygmy head hunters all in one issue! Standard Beowulf fare!

At first Beowulf threatens the king with beheading as a way to stall the fight. But then he tells the king he has no intention of killing anyone without cause.Amazed at Beowulf's ethics, the king immediately changes his mind about the viper. He tells Beowulf where he can find it.

Because it is his quest, Beowulf denies anyone to come with him. He will face the viper alone.

I have to say that I like the Van-Zee character. Throughout the book she is shown to be a fiercely independent and deadly warrior woman. But it is also clear she has feelings for Beowulf as well. In a time when comics could veer to stereotypical damsels in distress or she-devils with swords, Van-Zee is actually fairly well rounded.

I also love this panel as Beowulf enters the Black Viper's pit. Just wonderful work by Villamonte giving detail to such things as pillars and booty as well as showing that this pile the viper rests on is a bed of bones.

Of course, to add to the difficulty level, Beowulf went in unarmed. The best way to kill the viper? Crawl into its maw and break its jaws from the inside out!

With a satisfying crack, the snake is killed and Beowulf drinks deeply of its venom. Luckily, Satan held his side of the bargain. The venom doesn't kill Beowulf. He is halfway home to his quest.

I don't know what I can say about this book anymore. It is such a wild ride, a mix of sheer psychedelia and wild barbarian fun. The art work is stellar. And even the characterization, while not nuanced, is consistent and solid.

Do I take Beowulf at all seriously. No I don't. But from a sheer entertainment value it is superb. It is the guiltiest of treats. I think I simply need to hunt down the remaining issues.

Unfortunately, that means that the new Beowulf has a high water mark it will be judged against.

Overall grade: A

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Animal Man #1 (November, 2011)

Buddy Baker was a stuntman, had dabbled in acting with an independent picture, and was getting back into super-heroing after a bit of a hiatus. At home, he fretted over how he came off in a magazine interview while his wife Ellen cooked dinner. Daughter Maxine was obnoxiously persistent in trying to get a pet doggy with a bit more life than her stuffed doll, Mr. Woofers. Buddy explained once again that his animal powers would zero in too much on an in-house pet, plus the death toll on previous pets was already at two. Son Cliff ran into the kitchen with word of a hostage situation on the news, so Ellen let Buddy fly off as Animal Man to check it out. Besides, it was a role her husband had just too much fun playing.

Detective Krenshaw greeted "A-Man" at the children's hospital where the grieving father of a deceased cancer patient was in denial and demanding the return of his daughter. Animal Man entered the building and tried to reason with the guy, but when shots were fired, he swiftly tapped into the morphogenetic field to survive and conquer. However, Buddy's eyes began to spontaneously bleed. After getting checked out by a doctor, Buddy returned home to his sleeping family.

Slipping into bed, Buddy had a nightmare about being in a twisted, dead forest. Cliff had been eviscerated by Maxine, who was being served by a mammoth Mr. Woofers. Maxine was on the run from "the hunters," and hid in a river of blood. Buddy's body deteriorated into nothing but brain and nerve endings, and he was caught out in the open by terrifying creatures.
"We are the Rot in the Red."
"We are flesh made sickness."
"We are your child's true fathers. The Hunters Three."

Buddy woke with a start in the night, only to find his wife gone. Hearing a call from the back yard, Buddy found his horrified family. Maxine was kneeling on the lawn, Mr. Woofers in her lap, petting one of the ten animal corpses that she had reanimated. "I-I'm sorry, daddy. I just wanted a pet of my own."

"The Hunt Part One: Warning From The Red" was by Jeff Lemire, Travel Foreman and Dan Green.

New 52's Day

Friday, June 15, 2012

Direct Currents: Friday, June 15, 2012

Jim Lee To Relaunch WildCATS? And Other Fourth Wave Rumours

The Comics Journal's 1987 Alan Moore Interview in Full

Race + Fandom: When Defaulting To White Isn’t An Option

When a non-white cosplayer colors outside the lines, there’s a risk of getting an awkward look...

Breaking Down the Big Reveal in 'Batman' #10 [Spoilers]

ComicsAlliance Reviews 'Steel' (1997), Part One

Beyond Watchmen

Set in 2010, the story starts on the night of President Gore’s third inauguration...

Comics Australia: then and now, and the tech in between

From the writer's desk to your anxiously waiting hands, technology is changing the world of comic books.

Ms. Magazine Celebrates Its 40th Anniversary

Brian Haas Explores Superheroine Secret Identities With New Prints [Art]

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 06.11.12

Will Romine’s Cosplay costume as Starro

Awesome Art Picks: Mysterio, Captain America, Harley Quinn and More

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 06.07.12


Amazon Princess
Wonder Woman fan film on Kickstarter

The Aquaman Shrine
Aquaman Art Gallery: Marcio L. Castro
Justice League of America #2 - Jan. 1961
Aquaman Shrine Fundraiser--Joe Prado Original Art!
DC Super Friends: Crime Wave!
Super Heroes Stock Art by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez
DC Super Hero Stamp Album - 1976
Aquaman Art Gallery: Mike Kevan

Are There Any More Cookies?
Dear One Million Moms:

Being Carter Hall
Warhawk's Origin in Justice League Beyond
Read: Earth 2 #2

The BLOG from the BOG ...SWAMP THING
Breaking Cincinnati Comic Expo News!!!!

Brian Bolland's Blog
Vamps unused cover rough
Unused Wonder Woman rough

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
2012 Wonder Girl Donna Troy Houston Comicpalooza Cosplay

Diversions of the Groovy Kind
Superman in "My Son...Is He Man or Beast?" from Action Comics (March 1971)
"Look into my Eyes...and Kill!" from House of Mystery #216 (May 1973)
The Three Musketeers in DC Special #26 (May 1976)
Human Target from Action Comics #'s 422-423 (January-February 1974)
Batman in Limited Collectors' Edition C-25

Every Day Is Like Wednesday
25% of all DCU comics will be Batman comics

Firestorm Fan
Firestorm Rogues Gallery Cubees

Girls Gone Geek
Alan Moore by Frank Quitely

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
JLA 100 Project: Tim Seeley & Mike Norton
2011 Martian Manhunter Convention Sketch by Kelly Yates
2011 Miss Martian color art by Ozzie Rodriguez
Martian Manhunter Mego-Style action figure & box by Black Knight Customs
2012 Martian Manhunter Comicpalooza Commission by The Reverend Dave Johnson
Comrades of Mars: Jornell
2012 Roh Kar Comicpalooza Commission by Thom Zahler

Justice League Detroit
2011 Zatanna color art by Ozzie Rodriguez

Kevin Nowlan
Monsters in the Closet: page one
Batman and Solomon Grundy Page 19
Batman and Solomon Grundy: two-page spread
Superman vs. Aliens cover art for "FAN" magazine

Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine
Joe Certa's vampire and werewolf
"The Secret Fate of Adolph Hitler!" from Strange Adventures #3 (1950)
Captain Marvel Adventures #150 (1953)
Sierra Smith, Western Detective story from Dale Evans Comics #2 (1948)
Blackhawk in Modern Comics #59 (1947)

Subject : THE SUICIDE SQUAD (Task Force X)
Suicide Squad #10 review: Ok, I'm loosing my patience

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
DC Nation Magazine: SBFFs
Review: Superman Family Adventures #1
Help Oliver Nome
Review: Worlds' Finest #2
Review: Action Comics #10
A New Supergirl Movie?

Tower of Fate
History of Dr. Fate Part 7
New Dr. Fate HeroClix Figure
Earth 2 News & Plea to not change Dr. Fate
JSA Art by Jay Piscopo
Earth 2 #2 Review

Review Section

The Buy Pile by Hannibal Tabu
Comic shop comics: June 13 by J. Caleb Mozzocco

Comics Of The Weak by Tucker Stone
Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care by Diabolu Frank

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review: Claw The Unconquered #1

Hello again. It's Anj from Supergirl Comic Box Commentary. And once more, I am going to thumb through the long boxes and dust off some 70s DC Sword and Sorcery comics to review here at Bloodlines.  My interest in these comics took root in my youth when I would see visually interesting ads for these books in the 'safer' Superboy and Legion of Super-Heroes books from that time. But they didn't really bloom until Gail Simone's wonderful Ends of the Earth arc in Wonder Woman. Here Diana teamed up with all those heroes who I dreamed of reading.

And from the WW Earth arc here on Bloodlines, I reviewed Stalker #1 and #2. And I reviewed the wildly interesting and semi-bizarre Beowulf #1 amd #2. That left Claw the Unconquered as the only character from Simone's story that I hadn't covered ... until now.

I stumbled across Claw the Unconquered #1 recently and figured I should complete the set.

In Ends of the Earth, Diana is coerced by Stalker to save his soul by killing the demon warrior god D'Grth. To do so, she needs to team up with all these 70s characters ... Stalker, but also Beowulf and Claw. But Stalker is pulling the strings and isn't exactly trustworthy. During this adventure, Diana becomes as cold and bloodthirsty as Stalker and then as cursed as Claw.

In the end, the warriors come together as a team and defeat D'Grth.

But now, having read Claw, this panel where Claw warns Diana not to betray him, resonates louder. Claw doesn't trust her. Now I know why.

Claw the Unconquered #1 was released in the spring of 1975, one of a few sword and sorcery books out at that time, including Marvel's Conan books. The book was written by  David Michelinie, who also wrote the early Starfire books and got acclaim later on with Iron Man. Art is lavishly rendered by Ernie Chan. Chan's stuff seems tailor made for a barbarian book.

Having reviewed these DC offerings, I have to say I like this cover the most. For one, the bold use of electric pink really pops, grabbing the eye and really accentuating the darker purple monstrous shadow that Claw is standing in. While I think the red title gets lost amid the more garish surroundings, the logo itself is solid with the trademark red gauntlet anchoring 'the unconquered. Add to that the 'barbarian with big sword towering over (preparing to mount?) the near naked comely lass' motif which seems standard issue on these sorts of books and this cover is a winner.

The book starts off with Claw, whose name is Valcan, strolling through Ichar the throne city of Pytharia. He is barely covered in some fur which makes the crimson gauntlet he is wearing stand out. It seems out of place and clues us in that its use is more than protection of a sword hand.

As a newcomer, he seems a mark for a pickpocket who almost gets away with Claw's gold. Instead, the thief gets tossed through the wall of a local tavern, providing Claw an unorthodox entrance into the establishment. Within 2 pages we have learned a lot. He is hiding something with that gauntlet. He is incredibly strong.

Michelinie wastes no time in showing us what is under that glove. A serving girl carelessly pours wine on the glove and when she takes it to clean she uncovers Valcan's secret and why he is aptly named Claw. His hand his a webbed demonic hand. No wonder he keeps it hidden.

The woman might have initially been flirting with Valcan, lavishing him with compliments of his good looks and battle prowess. But the sight of that hand sends her reeling a bit and shows where her true loyalty lies.

She immediately informs her master, Tarmag, about Valcan's demonic hand. There is a bounty on anyone with a deformed clawed hand and Tarmag intends to collect.

Tarmag gathers some brutes and attacks Claw in a dark alley. But Claw is very proficient in combat and kills the thugs. Tarmag barely escapes with his life.

And if the bounty can't be claimed directly, Tarmag hope that information about Claw's existence can get him some coin. He heads straight to King Occulas, he of the yellow eye, and tells him that Valcan is in town and has the dread demonic hand. For that info, Tarmag is rewarded with a knife to the back.

It turns out that back when he was Prince Occulua, the king heard from his Wizard advisor Miftung that he will rule but that his time as King will come to an end by someone with a 'webbed hand like a dragon's claw.' Thus the bounty on someone fitting Valcan's description.

We flashback to Occulas' rise to power. First, he kills Kregar, a farmer loyal to King Occulus the first but also possessing a clawed hand. Prince Occulas wants to eliminate the prophecy before he even takes the throne.

Unfortunately, Valcan (then just a baby with a clawed hand) goes unnoticed by the assassins. He is rescued by a mostly unseen by definitely ghostly figure. So a nice little mystery is started. Who is this guy? And what does he want with Valcan? What did he do with him?

With Kregar killed, Prince Occulas poisons his father and ascends to the throne. But his hears of the clawed hand consume him.

I absolutely absolutely love that last panel. There would be many ways that Occulas' fears could be shown but this picture, the clawed hand engulfing Occulas, surrounding him, practically devouring him just wonderfully shows how suffocating this fear is. Just fantastic ... and why comics are such a great medium.

Back in the present, the serving girl who betrayed Claw earlier seems to help him avoid both the authorities (who want to question him about the murder of Tarmag's men) by taking him through the city.

She seem to be more trustworthy here, stating she wishes to thank Claw for freeing her from servitude under Tarmag.

Also interesting is that Claw has no recollection of his life other than the last few days. He only has a nagging sense that he is to play an important part in this world. Where was Claw all this time? Who trained him with the sword? Gave him the gauntlet? Sent him to Ichar? I wonder if any of the mysteries here are answered in subsequent issues.

But the woman turns out to be traitorous to Claw again. She leads him to the Temple of Kann, where Occulas' right hand man Zedon has used a mystic gem to bring forth the old god Kann, a sort of Cthulu-lite tentacled demon.

Despite her treachery, Claw actually saves the woman from being eaten by Kann and then kills the god with a well placed spear. It is a nice page of small interlaced panel which bring a feeling of action to the battle.

In another way of showing just how foul Occulas is, we discover that he sent his man Zedon on a suicide mission. Raising Kann cost him his life.

The woman has now failed her master and Occulas. She has no where to go and so begs Claw to let her travel with him. She even offers her 'charms' ... a way to make a long journey more comfortable. Ahhh ... feminine wiles. Despite having betrayed him twice, Claw can't resist such an offer.

No surprise here. After a short reprieve of ... ahem ... comfort, she betrays him again. At a desert oasis, she tries to slip a dagger between his ribs.


And then Claw acts like a barbarian. She has betrayed him three times. Rather than kill her himself, he leaves her to the jackals of the desert and a presumed grisly death of being hunted and eaten. Brutal ... fitting. She has tried to get him killed three times in a couple of days. No wonder he doesn't trust Diana.

In the end, this is sort of your standard barbarian fare. Some common plot themes - unscrupulous dictator, man with no history destined to bring things right - are here. But the idea of the clawed hand adds an interesting layer, especially given that we get so little of what it means here in this first issue. We know much more about the villains in this book from this premiere issue than we do about our hero. He has a claw. He is a tremendous warrior. But we have no back story because he doesn't know it himself. Instead we know much more about who Occulas is here.

Ernie Chan brings a sort of more realistic style to the book despite the seedy locales and older gods present. Certainly this isn't the imaginative layouts we saw Ditko bring us in Stalker.

Still, this seems like a cookbook warrior book. It lacks the absolute zaniness and fever dream feel of Beowulf. It lacks the hook of the spurned soulless warrior and the dynamic Ditko art of Stalker. It doesn't have the hodgepodge sword and sci-fi feel nor the original character styles of Starfire (or Ironwolf - another book from this time period). Of all these books, I think Claw is the one that grabbed me the least. And that despite the great cover and the 'engulfing clawed hand' panel which simply stands out.

Overall grade: B

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Doom Patrol #9 (June, 2010)

The beast left with the brick, nearly taking Father Rocky's hand with it. Robotman pursued, thrusting his arm down the beast's throat and retrieving the brick. Back at the airfield, Larry Trainor revealed that he had been practicing a technique in which he released his Negative Man form just enough to cover his physical body, allowing him to fight the pan-dimensional contractors. The new trick was not enough, as soon Larry, Rita, Cliff and Danny the Brick were at the mercy of their surveyor.

The Doom Patrol continued to play pass the brick, with Danny introducing itself to Rita, and Farr being freaked out about it. Finally, Robotman threw the brick across Oolong Island, where Crazy Jane carried Danny to a pleasant enough point for it to reorganized itself into "Danny the Bungalow." Danny then fired an imposter brick out of its fireplace back to the airfield.

The surveyor determined that due to this dimension's constant Crisis events, it was too stable to build upon and expect a profit. The dimension was condemned to use strictly for refuse dumping. The contractors then took their counterfeit brick and left.

Believing the matter closed, Jane and company wandered back to where the Doom Patrol were staying. An unwanted visitor then appeared before Danny with a "POP!" Ambush Bug and Cheeks the Toy Wonder had arrived to take up residence.

"Thick as a Brick" was by Keith Giffen, Matthew Clark and Ron Randall, with inker John Livesay. They offered a snazzy looking Bug without a line of dialogue, though he did wear a button emblazoned with the optimistic "Sales Bump." Not a bad storyline, but I think it would have been more entertaining in one issue, rather than in two.

Brave New World

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Direct Currents: Thursday, June 7, 2012

DC comics penciller Oliver Nome needs your help.

"I found out that I have a golfball size brain tumor..."

RIP 'Static' Writer Robert L. Washington III

Jim Lee To Leave Justice League

A New Phantom Stranger Comic in September?

Ethan Van Sciver And Gail Simone Bring Back Plastic Man… On The Side.

Worst Comic Book Ever!

While superheroes dominate the box office, the medium that birthed them has moved on.

James Robinson Confirms: Original Green Lantern Alan Scott is Gay

Justice League And Wonder Woman Movies On Again, New Writers Hired

The Choose Your Own Adventure Book Where Tiny Batman Fights a Kitty Cat

Best Cosplay Ever (This Week) - 06.04.12

Awesome Art Picks: Batman, Emma Frost, Green Lantern and More

Best Art Ever (This Week) - 06.01.12


The Absorbascon
Sing along to "The Alan Scott Song!"

Amazon Princess
Wonder Women cosplayers

The Aquaman Shrine
The Fire and Water Podcast: Episode 20
"It's Never Too Late to Have A Happy Childhood"
Aquaman Art Gallery: Wescoast
Justice League of America #1 - Nov. 1960
DC Poster by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez - 1979
Aquaman Stock Art by Tom Grummett, Pt. 2
Mego Catalog Display - 1973

Armagideon Time presents "Saturdays with Streaky"
#9, #10, #11, #12, #13

Atomic Surgery
"The Human Time Capsules" from Strange Adventures #31 (April, 1953)

Being Carter Hall
Read: The Savage Hawkman #9
Joe Bennett's Savage Shayera?!

Brian Bolland's Blog
Rejected Wonder Woman cover rough
Two for the price of one today. Unused roughs.
Ragged Robin rejects

The 5 Year Fix: Young Justice
Bronze Tiger and Iron Fist

Diana Prince: Wonder Woman
1992 Wonder Woman Corner Box Figure by Brian Bolland
2006 Wonder Woman Art Book Piece by Brandon Peterson

Diversions of the Groovy Kind
"The Nightmare Maker!" from Superman #266 (May 1973)
"Chariots of the Stars!" from Beowulf #5 (September 1975)
Ragman #4 (November 1976)
"From Beyond the Grave! from House of Mystery #252 (February 1977)
"Born Loser" from House of Mystery #194 (June 1971)
"Hell of a Place!" from Secrets of Haunted House #10 (November 1977)
Man-Bat in "Cinemattack!" from Batman Family #14 (July 1977)

Every Day Is Like Wednesday
Oh man, now I can't wait to meet the new Doiby Dickles!
Is superhero decadence a chronic condition?

Firestorm Fan
Slipknot Triumphant!
Francis Manapul Draws Firestorm
Alan Moore Wrote Firestorm
How to Draw Firestorm

Girls Gone Geek
Delirium by Javier G. Pacheco
Liberty Belle by Stephanie Buscema

The Idol-Head of Diabolu
One Year Later...
2009 Miss Martian Heroes Convention Sketch by Jason Sobol
2010 “Smash: Life on Mars?” by Daniel “Mercury-Magic”
The Vile Menagerie: THE SWARM
2012 Phoenix Comicon Miss Martian Cosplay
The Villain's Journey: Despero vs. Malefic
2012 “Heroes + Villains: Martian the Manhunter” photography by Philip Bonneau

J.M. DeMatteis's Creation Point

Jim Shooter
To Kill or Not to Kill
Sex and Drugs

Justice League Detroit
2012 Zatanna Comicpalooza Cosplay by Nadya Anton

Later I Will Destroy This Earth!
The Atomic Sleepwalker Presents: The Complete History of the Atomic Knights Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V

Kevin Nowlan
Jack B. Quick (and Batman) cover art for Comic Book Artist magazine
Curses! Broiled Again!
Superman card art
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #50 pin-up
Superman Gallery cover sketch

Pappy's Golden Age Comics Blogzine
Hoppy the Marvel Bunny #1 (1945)
Bulletman #4 (1942)
Blackhawk #94 (1955)
"The Three Mouseketeers" from Funny Stuff #1 (1944)
Tomahawk in Star Spangled Comics #70 (1947)

Power of the Atom
The Atom (Ray Palmer) Mego-Style action figure & box by Black Knight Customs

Silver Age Comics Captain Compass

Subject : THE SUICIDE SQUAD (Task Force X)
Ok Dale, here's my sorta gay posting

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary
Legion Of Super-Heroes #9
Superman Family #188
Superman Family #189
Superman #9
More Superman Family Adventures Process Pieces
Supergirl By Mahmud Asrar
Supergirl #1,000,000

Tower of Fate
JSA Art by Michael Bair
Dr. Fate & Green Lantern art by Heubert Khan Michael
Fun Friday Post
Dr. Fate Art by Troyer
Dr. Fate and the Ankh Symbol

Review Section

Comic shop comics by J. Caleb Mozzocco
Comics Of The Weak by Tucker Stone
Wednesday Is Any Day For All I Care by Diabolu Frank

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Comicpalooza 2012: Sunday

For Sunday, my Saturday pal and I invited another decades-long friend who's been saving up for a new house, so we gifted him a ticket. In return, he picked me up at 8:30, and we went for our third party and breakfast at the House of Pies (which was featured in the film Reality Bites.) I had a surprisingly excellent chilli omelet, and our waitress was great. We parked free in front of Toyota Center, and despite fears prompting our early arrival, there was no line to speak of. I wanted to check in on my commissions and initiate a few more that could be finished that day. One was done, but two hadn't been started yet, including one from an artist that arrived rather late that day. What, me worry?

As I've mentioned in the past, I was hoping for a commission when I first heard Joe Kubert was coming to town. My bubble burst once I realized that he wasn't doing sketches, that I likely couldn't afford them if he were, and that he wasn't even going to be around on Friday. I missed him on Saturday, but was surprised to find him still shaking hands and signing autographs on Sunday. The problem was, I don't have any strong emotional ties to Kubert's work. I enjoy it like everybody else, but he's not a big super-hero guy, and I'm not a big war comic guy. I never read any of the books he wrote, so what do I do, say "good job" on that Punisher story arc he did twenty years ago? I figured hey, it's neat to stand a few feet from the man for half a minute, but it's time to move on.

I spent a while on Sunday trying to track down Legos for the girlfriend. She'd found a booth that sold an older series of the mysterious MiniFig packs for $3, but I had trouble figuring out where it was. The guy with large bins of loose figures didn't have any, so I tried to scoop out the basis for a custom figure to paint up for one of my blogs. However, I was distracted by a phone call telling me that one of my commissions was ready for pick-up, and by the time I returned, kids had swarmed the area. I might fight a kid for territory when I'm going through back issues (as I did at the next booth over, scoring a 1988 Punisher: Circle of Blood tpb for $4,) but I had to surrender toy space to their intended consumer. Besides, there really weren't that many kidcentric areas of the geek-skewing con, so I wasn't going to step on this one. I finally located the cheap MiniFig packs, plus I bought some $5 earlier series at Bean Pot Toiz. Given the hundreds of dollars my girl had spent there in 2010 on stuff like glow-in-the-dark sheep and Tim Burton figurines, I figured $30 was getting off cheap.

One of my friends was a big time art geek in school, and we'll easily spend a day at MFAH and want for more at surrounding galleries. We both dug a boldly colored impressionistic U.S.S. Enterprise at Bye Bye, Robot, but pretty much nothing else, so of course it isn't even on their web site.

Mad Irish and Fearghal Blades seemed to have a decent selection for your feudal needs, but barring my getting locked in the basement of a pawn shop with sodomites or masking my scent with leashed zombies, I think I'll be alright with just the fists. They were selling some steampunk jewelry though, so a friend decided that was the gift to get for his girl.

Pegasus Publishing had some fun shirts displayed well, but my friends and I collectively sneered at $22 for a friggin' tee. Everybody from Target to Old Navy has geek chic available at sweatshop prices these days, so it's tough to pay that kind of premium. Hell, even the overpriced stuff in Previews seems to retail for less than that, or at least there are discounts to be had. Ditto The Pixel Spot, which was even more expensive and niche.

Texas Art Supply had a very professional and spacious display. It seemed to be well trafficked, but I didn't need anything, so I can't get into specifics on their stock. They had a girl getting body-painted throughout each day. Once, with her teased hair and her chest done up in black with a yellow symbol, I asked if she was going for the Wasp. She said no, that she was a robot, and the cybernetics looked quite good once the painter got her finished up.

Sunday really felt like things were drying up. There was still some roller derby and lady wrestling going on, but whatever novelty that might have once held was long gone. The Braggart Family had some guy singing a song about Cannibals for Jesus at one point, which I thought was pretty daring for sabbath in the Bible Belt, but it didn't actually get any chuckles. I never got around to checking in on how the bellydancing classes went, and had zero interest in screening movies behind a curtain with garbage sound.

The soloist from Arc Attack did another set of alt-hits, and later, we watched most of a performance. The stage was roped off, and the band played around Tesla coils that would fire electricity at a specially outfitted guitarist. Later, audience members were placed in a cage that was struck by bolts in time to music. That was kind of fun when some dude dressed as Darth Vader chilled to the Imperial March, or this one guy who danced with conviction through a song. The main problem was that the band seemed to use the coils as a gimmick while playing their full length compositions, which got boring. It was only worse when they'd toss a static middle-aged housewife in the cage. Point being, it's the sort of spectacle that helps bring people into the con, but it takes up an awful lot of space and time without necessarily keeping up audience interest for an entire set.

Much of the day was spent checking in on the progress of commissions, and avoiding eye contact with those I'd passed on. I tried a bit more shopping in general, but was burnt out by the same sights and a general aversion to fingering through longboxes after too many years of doing so professionally. I regret not sampling the wares of more small press publishers or talking to more artists, but by day three everything ached and I was basically done with this thing.

I had three final commissions to wait on, and my party was hungry and bushed. Every year this happens-- there's always at least one lingering hold-up. We ended up leaving to visit Sparkle Burger, a converted house turned restaurant with terrible service but massive, juicy patties. Waiting for 20-30 minutes for our order under a steaming sun with no shade on a dilapidated bench brought home the desire to wrap things up. We'd all seen The Avengers a few weeks prior, and noshing in silence, we were aware that this was our moment of shawarma. After my grousing, I added a bit of crow to my dinner by returning to the convention center to find all three of my remaining pieces finished and ready to roll. They were very good to boot, so take that, cynicism.

Happy to finally be free, we drove a ways out to see the neighborhood my friend hopes to get a house in, then went to a friend's pad to watch Battle Royal and Punisher War Zone. Yeah, somehow I got five Punisher references into one post on a DC blog about a convention. Synchronicity is weird like that.

Artist Kiriska offers Con Report: Comicpalooza 2012

Artist Marcio Takara is back from Houston, etc

Artist Thom Zahler likes Comics, Palooza-style and Texas-fried!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Comicpalooza 2012: Saturday

Another nice picture I stole from the Comicpalooza site

Saturday was supposed to be "my" day at the con, on my own. A buddy had a three day pass though, and after missing each other Friday night, we made plans to meet up that afternoon. In the meantime though, I had to drive past plenty of construction in search of decent parking under the inflated $15-20 "event" range. While I was searching, an artist called to tell me one of my pieces was ready for pick up, and I explained that I was on the way. Finally found a space on the other side of Discovery Green for $10. I was worn the hell out from Friday, so plans to hit the show at its 10 a.m. opening were rounded up to sometime well into noon. Lines ran nearly to the end of the block by then for registration that had opened at nine, so I was mighty glad that I could just stroll right in with my weekend pass. I got the number that I was called about, and it turned out well, but I hesitated to ask for another until I figured out who else I wanted to work with. I picked up my most expensive completed piece with the same subdued vibe in which it had been initiated. Another was done, and turned out quite well, so I ponied up seconds from the same guy in part because he cost nearly half as much as the first guy. The black and white art from my last Friday piece was done, and it was coming along great, but colors would take time.

This is the best my phone was capable of.

By about this time, my friend showed up, so we wandered around talking and scoping the celebrities. All the actors were located at the far left of Plaza A. Kristin Bauer was near a corner, so I blew by her a number of times. I occasionally spied Claudia Christian, Sean Patrick Flanery, Richard Hatch, Admiral Motti, Anne Lockhart, Peter Mayhew and Kevin Sorbo. Never spotted Teal’c, but I probably wouldn't recognize him if he wasn't all dolled in his make-up. There was a roped off partition this year, so I rarely got closer that 20+ feet to any of them, since I wasn't about to stand in any line. I don't care about autographs or glossy photos, and I don't actually have anything to say to random genre actors, so my kicks usually come from strolling by the stars on my way to something of greater interest.

My friend's was better. Ish.

If there's one thread linking the majority of the cons I've been to, it's Peter Mayhew. I think that guy was in town for my first show in the mid-90s, I'm pretty sure he was at my one trip to SDCC, and I think he's hit all but one Comicpalooza. He's tall. He played Chewbacca. Never uttered a word to the guy. What would I say? "Ahhhrarhhhgh!?!"

Chandler Riggs from The Walking Dead had longish hair, and appeared to be quite the precocious little raconteur. An old buddy I ran into at the con had a print signed, and the kid added "Stay Human." As I understand it, the show is filming now, but pretty much the entire cast flew over Houston in favor of Phoenix Con. If anyone there wondered (as folks are wont to do) "Where's Carl," now you know.

Ernie Hudson was running around in a Ghostbusters uniform with a proton pack strapped to his back. We split. That's not legal. It's sadness incarnate.

All the cartoon voice actors were in the back corner, with an alley between them and "real" actors that accentuated a sense of their being on some sort of thespian skid row. A buddy of mine became a really big temporary fan of Richard Horvitz when he happened to be in the line of sight of a particularly bootylicious cosplayer. I personally wasn't ready for that jelly, but my friend could not get enough of eying Horvitz. I basically had to drag him away.

George Takei was scheduled to talk on the main stage, and an announcer asked the crowd if they were ready for him. Well, that was too bad, because he'd been moved to Sunday and replaced by David Della Rocco from The Boondock Saints. I wasn't there, but a friend said there was much groaning and the dispersion of most of the crowd. Said buddy has quite a few gay friends, who were apparently all atwitter over Sulu's partying at local clubs. Coincidence?

I'd forgotten my camera at home, and my phone takes awful pictures, so I mostly relied on my buddy's. It didn't take long before I started stealing away from my friend to work out commissions. I'd met some really cool artists who were fun to talk to and had good rates, so I tended to go back to them for second and (by Sunday) third pieces. I do have to point out though that artists are not good at math. The term "full figure" apparently registers as ¾, which I'm fine with under $50, but kind of irks me at the $75+ range. Half-ups seem to drift into busts, as well. I understand if you just run out of space, but the guys who start in the middle of a page without a background? Premeditated!

Another thing that bugged me were the artists who were just plain bad businessmen. In my experience, few artists know what they're really worth. They either charge too little and make me feel bad for taking advantage, or they charge too much and I feel ripped off. The good thing about getting a lot of commissions is that it all works out in the wash, or if you're really savvy, ultimately favors the patron. The most frustrating are the guys who can't even decide which side they're on. Several times, I tried to talk rates with artists, and got so many contradictory statements and such elusive pricing that I threw my hands up. You're a commercial artist. Look to your left. Look to your right. Figure out which artists are most comparable to you, and copy their quotes. If you don't do any business, you overestimated yourself. If you are turning people away due to an overburdened schedule, consider raising your rates. Just don't hem and haw until your buyer loses interest entirely. Don't leave money sitting on the table.

Not a single day of the con passed without my standing next to someone interested in Action Figure Laboratories, hearing their spiel. I put it under Saturday because my buddy was egging it on, asking various questions. "Action" is a misnomer, since what they really do is take a three side view of your face and graft it onto statuettes of various sizes and body types. They had their 3D printer in a clear box on display, perpetually reconstructing a gamer's die. Apparently, up close you can see each granule of the meticulously constructed recreations.

Game Over Videogames was a novel throwback to the cartridge gaming era, and their prices seemed reasonable enough. I lost interest in gaming in the late '90s though, so unless we're talking SingStar, I'm hopelessly out of touch.

I didn't spend much time at all with Venus Envy, which touts plus-size costumes & accessories. I just thought the name was a fun pun, and wanted to share.

I brushed past Weird Paper, which specialized in pulps and Golden/Silver Age comics. I know I'm out of my depths when it comes to that sort of pricey collectable. So much of that stuff is freely in the public domain, the reader in me is perfectly happy with digital presentation.

I attempted to attend exactly one panel in Plaza C, which was supposed to be about managing intellectual property. Of the four people scheduled to be on the panel, only two showed up, with a couple of other artists filling in. There was no sound system, and the IP lawyer present spoke softly and infrequently with a heavy foreign accent. No one could hear, especially since the wrestling match nearby overwhelmed all audio in the region. The audience was ordered to huddle together at the front of the panel changing room, and the panelists sat on the folding table a couple of feet away from the front row. The curtains were falling down in places, so random people would peek in on us for minutes at a time. The replacement artists took over the show by virtue of speaking loudest and most often. They spent most of the forty-five minutes banging the creators' rights drum, giving an example or two of being screwed on a contract, but otherwise talking in ill-defined circles. The third guy got to speak for maybe two minutes about actually defending his copyright, although technically he'd already broken Marvel's copyright when his Black Lantern Hulk drawing was stolen by a t-shirt company. Oh, and the IP attorney specialized in music. It was your basic debacle.

I don't believe that I saw Howard Chaykin on Friday. I ran into an old pal/former customer in front of his spartan table on Saturday, and since this buddy had been "talking his head off," Chaykin took advantage to take a bathroom break. We stood off from one side of a nearby table and yakked about geek stuff for probably 45 minutes. I try to leave out identifiers to protect the guilty, but Chuck is trying to promote his "Westernpunk" presentations, so I figure he'd be more offended by a lack of ink. In a Seinfeldian moment, a friend got all the credit for attending Chuck's talk on modern western horror films while I was otherwise occupied, even though I was the one who talked him into going in the first place. It was apparently pretty good, since my buddy now wants to see Ravenous and The Burrowers. I never did make it back over to Chaykin that day, and by Sunday actively avoided him. I'd planned to talk to him about an elaborate take-home commission, but was soon too broke to put any money where my mouth was. I might have gotten a $30 head sketch, but I wasn't really enthused about those, and I was scoring full color commissions for that price and less. It's a shame, because I figure Chaykin would have been fun to gab with, but I didn't have a "line" to start with if I wasn't getting any work done.

Shane Davis was selling a bunch of prints, and was adding a Superman shield drawing in silver marker to the inside cover of his sketch book as they sold. I asked about commissions, but he was charging a c-note for penciled busts, so I marked him off my list. His table mate was Michelle Delecki, who had some dishy Nagel-esque prints of naked ladies that if displayed would insure I'd never see one in the flesh again. Next booth over was another name penciller at DC, whose portfolio I'd already skimmed but who kept too busy for me to feel comfortable hitting up for some art. It was late in the day, but I asked him how full his dance card was. Quite full, as it turned out, but I talked him into adding me to it to the tune of a $100 full figure (and I made sure to specify head-to-toe this time.)

As for the cosplay, there was far more of it on Saturday, but it was also much more family friendly. I think that was for the best, but I did miss the Friday tramps with their butts hanging out of high cut clingy things usually reserved for gentlemen's clubs. I overheard a couple of women pointing out that this was the only place in town that you could get away with dressing like that in public. Think of the children! Speaking of which, two Captain Americas and a host of USO dancers paraded around soliciting donations for the Ronald McDonald House and a veteran's charity. Good show!

My friend maid the terrible mistake of wearing sandals, and my shoulders were killing me from lugging a laptop, reference, and assorted purchases in my bag plus my oversized cardboard envelop for commissions. We were done. Time to gorge ourselves on Dimassis Mediterranean Buffet. Huzzah! Here's one more Birds of Prey. I'd also recommend getting a better look at Helena, Dinah and Pamela, courtesy of the Houston Press