Ménàge à Trois
Back in 1976 for eight months or so Dave Cockrum and I shared a big, three bedroom apartment in Bellerose, Queens, till I eventually found a nice place of my own in Queens Village. Both of us had worked on the Legion of Super-Heroes, of course. In fact, I narrowly missed having Dave draw some of my stories when in the mid-1970’s when I started writing the Legion again for a while, shortly after he left the series.
Though I was working on staff at Marvel, my boss, Marv Wolfman, graciously allowed me to finish the three or four Legion scripts assigned to me by editor Murray Boltinoff before I took the job at Marvel. Dave loved the Legion characters and was very interested to hear about the stories I was working on and kibbitz a little. Roger Stern, who also lived in Queens and hung out with Dave and me once in a while, chipped in on the plots, too. It was fun. Like a barn raising.
Anyway, Dave and I talked a lot about the characters and series, what I’d done with it, what he’d done. He was proud of the fact that he’d gotten away with giving the Legionnaires individual physiotypes rather than the cookie cutter bodies they’d always had before. He had to be subtle about it. DC in general and Murray in particular did not look kindly upon straying from the herd.
Dave being Dave, he had his own funny/clever nicknames for the Legionnaires. The only one I can remember off the top of my head is the one he came up with for Shrinking Violet: “Itty-Bitty Pretty One.”
At some point, he showed me a two-page spread he’d drawn in issue #200 of Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes. Somehow I hadn’t seen that issue before.
The wedding of Luornu Durgo/Duo Damsel and Chuck Taine/Bouncing Boy. Let’s see, she can split into two of herself so…ménàge à trois?
Or had they lost their powers at that point? I forget. DD had her powers when I used her ten issues later. I think. It was a long time ago….
Dave was very proud of that spread. Dave being Dave, he drew the Martian Manhunter in the background, since the wedding took place on Mars. I love the body language, the acting…great stuff.
I don’t remember much about the story, but by virtue of that spread alone the wedding of Luornu Durgo (times two or not) and Chuck Taine is memorable.
About 30 years later, in 2007, I went back to the future and wrote the Legion of Super-Heroes again for a while. That proved to be one of the most frustrating and disappointing professional experiences I’ve ever had, and this is me, remember, so that’s goin’ some. Nonetheless, I think I wrote some good scripts.
The “regular” penciler, a talented young man, had trouble making the schedule. The editor asked me to come up with a two fill-in stories that were in continuity, at least in a token way. Okay….
Mark Waid, the previous writer (aside from some fill-ins) had left me a little gift, accidentally, I think. In one issue of his run, he had Dream Girl, whose prophesies are infallible, predict that she and Brainiac 5 would get married. Later, he killed off Dream Girl pretty convincingly.
I pitched an idea to the editor, who liked it. I wrote out a plot of sorts, mostly for my own purposes, to get the story straight in my head. Below is that plot and a brief description of the second fill-in, part two of the story. Please keep in mind that this isn’t a plot in the sense of a Marvel plot. It was NOT intended to be given an artist to draw. It was for my use and to get across to the editor what I was up to ONLY. No one else saw it.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
Plot for 22 pages by
Ridgefield Park, NJ 07660
February 10, 2008
Detachable, Two-Part Fill-in
for the “ONE EVIL” Saga
Part 1: “Blind Love”
In the LAB COMPLEX, BRAINIAC 5 works on the replica Alien Destroyer DATA RIPPER he has constructed using info acquired by Chameleon. We establish his brilliance, intellect and scientific “cool.” DREAM GIRL looks on, idly amusing herself with some interesting gizmo—say, a snow globe in which it really snows, thanks to B-5’s miniaturization techniques. Or something.
Dream Girl says she’s getting one of her glimpses of the future. No, there’s no news about the ADs—which is probably a good thing—but…Brainiac 5 is going to be traveling somewhere very soon. It looks like he’s traveling into the past, into an ancient time.
Not likely. Time travel isn’t feasible—yet—says B-5.
Well, she’s got another one. She sees them making love. Real…physical…and ooh-la-la intense.
B-5 is very immersed in his work. “Uh-huh,” he says….
DG complains that B-5 is always working, even when he’s….
Suddenly, the Data Ripper starts to grow a new AD body to go with itself! B-5 has replicated the Data Ripper too perfectly, and has triggered a secret program built into the thing that re-grows the monstrous warrior that once wielded it!
The AD attacks! B-5’s force-shield protects him. The AD turns on DG!
Before B-5 can do anything, the AD is on DG, apparently destroying her. B-5 vaporizes the AD using something instantly jury-rigged—say, for instance, he opens a wormhole portal into the heart of a star and allows a single, concentrated burst of energy to disintegrate the thing. Or something.
B-5 is shattered! DG is no more!
Or is she? Suddenly DG, unharmed, is standing over the weeping, traumatized B-5. She helps him up. She’s fine. He’s puzzled. She explains—this is a DREAM, my love. It’s all in your mind, literally. Nothing can hurt me here…
…she gives him a hug, and adds…
B-5 wakes up. He’s on his cot in the lab. The Data Ripper replica he’s working on is in view.
After ablutions, B-5 dresses. He puts a SMALL GADGET in his pocket. Then, he goes to the Bridge to check on the current status of things. No major developments, though the situation is tense. The Intruder Planet remains, a troubling presence. A U.P. military fleet is deployed around the IP. The IP’s deadly shields remain up. Communications with its mysterious denizens continue, but little of substance emerges. “Peace, peace, peace,” they say in broken Interlac, and little else. B-5’s speculation: they’re stalling, waiting for something…reinforcements? Every Legionnaire is at the HQ or nearby, on alert. Per Secretary of Diplomacy LaFong, the U.P. won’t let the Legion take any overt action, like sending in the Espionage Squad. LaFong believes that “negotiations” with the “Guest Planet” are the solution. All the Legion can do is wait.
We establish the Legionnaires making the best of this somewhat tense downtime, playing Mini-Magno-Ball, working out, making out, whatever. Colossal Boy and Atom Girl are tentatively developing a relationship. Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl are still on the outs.
Princess Projectra is with Phantom Girl. For the hundredth time, PP is demanding that PG tell her the 20th Century comic book story of the original BRAINIAC. (PP can’t read it for herself, of course, because it’s written in ancient English, not Interlac. PG and several other Legionnaires have mastered ancient English, by the way. Wish I could.) PP wants PG to change the ending, to have Brainiac’s quest to repopulate his world and restore his kingdom succeed. PG is creeped out by that a bit, and beginning to be annoyed by PP’s pushiness. We establish PP’s situation—i.e., Orando has been destroyed, and she is enduring “reduced circumstances.” We also establish PG’s good-heartedness and long but not endless patience.
On the Bridge, Brainiac 5 notices the time, says he has an “appointment” and leaves.
PP sees B-5 pass by. At this point, PP empathetic senses have become so heightened that she can read feelings and emotions from across the room. She feels a flicker of suspicion of her cross B-5’s back brain. Just a flicker. (She has been acting strangely.) But, he’s preoccupied with other things—the ADs and…a matter of the heart?
The subject of B-5’s dreams or visions of DG comes up between PP and PG. PP ponders for a moment, then excuses herself.
PP goes to her dorm apartment. There are a number of small “housewarming” gifts there, mostly from Legionnaires. One, however, an Orandoan teddy bear-sort-of, came from a “fan.” PP opens a hidden compartment in the bear and removes a small package wrapped in a thin foil of what I’ll call MAGIC METAL for now. Magic Metal is impenetrable to any kind of transmitted signal or scan. It’s also undetectable—great for smuggling things past security systems—like the HQ’s. Inside, is a LEGION FLIGHT RING—but not a real one. It’s one of the stripped down, “authentic” licensed Flight Rings marketed by Galacticorp. PP creates an ILLUSION of herself sitting in the solarium, reading a holo-book. The illusion can easily be seen from the outside and from many windows of the HQ. She leaves her REAL flight ring beside her illusionary self, puts on the licensed Flight Ring and slips out a window and flies away. Now, not only does she appear to be in her apartment, but the DUTY ROSTER will confirm it, because her Flight Ring is there.
(NOTE: It’s not that licensed Flight Rings aren’t allowed in the HQ or anything—it’s just that PP doesn’t want anyone to know she has one, thereby protecting her alibi.)
Meanwhile, Brainiac 5 travels (transmatters?) to New Orleans, and we get a look at the Big Easy of the future. B-5 discreetly disguises himself using the Small Gadget he put in his pocket, earlier, a MORPHER. He also checks an ad in the holo-Yellow Pages, the equivalent of an eighth-of-a-page (cheap) ad in the 2008 Yellow Pages. It says, among other things, “The Marvelous MEANDER, New Orleans’ #1 Spiritual Adviser.”
In the preserved, ancient French Quarter—what DG foresaw that appeared to be the “past”—B-5 arrives at a run-down building. Next door is a much better-preserved, grander building with lit-up, ostentatious signs advertising THE AMAZING AMBROSE, GREATEST SPIRITUALIST IN THE GALAXY. The small, shabby, peeling sign on B-5’s destination says “MEANDER, BEST SPIRITUALIST ON THE BLOCK.” B-5 shrugs and goes to see MEANDER, who’s a Tarot Card Reader, Spiritual Adviser, Life/Death/Afterlife Coach, Astrologer, Wiccan Hedgewitch, Aura Expert, Dream Interpreter, Karma Doctor, Yoga Teacher, Meditation Therapist, Reincarnation Analyst, Feng Shui Designer, Reiki Healer and Sheet Metal Repair Specialist. Her motto: “Enlightenment and Spot Welding.”
Meander is young, pretty, light brown-skinned and dark-haired. She has “thousand-year-old-eyes” that one would swear had seen the pyramids rise—piercing eyes of unusual color.
Brainiac 5 enters. Meander is futuristically spot welding something—maybe the fender of a 1956 Thunderbird. Meander also sells AMWAY.
It seems that on this oh-so-scientific planet, there’s not much call for spiritualists—and the Amazing Ambrose gets most of the traffic. Meander has to make a living somehow. She says she’d do better in the outer rim somewhere, maybe on Rimbor. Even Winath…Sirenia…or Doopa. And it’s expensive here in the French Quarter. The only reason she stays is that the crumbling building has been in her family for a looooong time. Besides, nobody would come to see a spiritualist who lived in one of those futuristic spires or beehives.
Gotta make a living.
Brainiac 5 is way put off, but at Meander’s insistence, goes through with his appointment. Payment up front.
Brainiac 5: “I’ve been seeing this girl….”
Meander: “How long has she been dead?”
Brainiac 5 is taken aback. Meander correctly identifies him, first by what kind of person he is—intellectual, analytical, empirical, scientific, skeptical—then…
M: So, your name is…wait a minute…Brainiac 5.
B-5: How did you know that?
M: Because the girl you’ve been seeing just whispered it in my ear.
B-5: Preposterous! She’s dead.
M: She’s here.
B-5: Then why don’t I see her?
M: You’re awake. And not in touch with reality, like me.
B-5: No one is more in touch with reality than me!
M: Oh, sure, this level. What about the other four?
B-5: Other four? If you’re talking about the primary dimensions, there are ten of them.
M: Yes, I know about those. Mathematical masturbation, if you ask me. I’m talking about the five major planes of existence…
M: …though some say there are seven…or 32…or….
B-5: This is absurd!
M: Am I right? Are you Brainiac 5?
Brainiac 5 sheds his disguise. “You’re good.”
M: “You should have seen my grandma.”
Brainiac 5 argues with Meander. He doesn’t know how she works her scam, but “spiritualism” is bunk. He shouldn’t have come here. This is ridiculous.
Meander has the same sort of disdain for Brainiac 5’s science as he has for her mysticism. “Ingenious fool! You speak with a spirit every night!”
Brainiac 5 hesitates. He starts to ask Meander something. She cuts him off.
M: That’ll be another 50 creds for the next ten minutes, please.
B-5: Nonsense. You haven’t told me anything.
M: You haven’t asked anything. Pay up or get out.
M: Right. So…what do you want from me?
B-5: I’ve been having these lucid dreams…this girl keeps appearing in them…
Meander looks over her shoulder and asks, apparently of thin air: “What’s your name, hon? Nura Nal?
“I see why they call you Dream Girl. Look at you, all hottie-hot…! That face, and that figure…! Yes, I know, the name comes from your having prescient dreams. Every under-ager in the galaxy has heard about the Legionnaires.”
Meander turns back to Brainiac 5. “She’s a dreamboat! A sweetie! So what’s the problem? What do you want?”
M: Okay, let me tell you. You wanted me to be a flimflam. You wanted to “expose me” with your keen scientific eye. You wanted it all to be bogus. So, smart guy, what do you think is going on?
B-5: I…think that my subconscious mind calculates probabilities, comes up with predictions and cloaks them in the guise of dreams featuring Dream Girl. Or, outside, rationally credible forces have beguiled my mind. Or…or….
M: So, you came here hoping to get some justification for your stupid hypotheses/explanations by debunking the truth! Ah, what a comfortable reaffirmation of your worldview, your “sanity” that would be.
B-5: This whole thing CANNOT be real.
M: Wrong, zork-head. Dream on. So to speak.
M: You should have gone to my neighbor, the Amazing Ambrose. He is a fraud. That’ll be another 50 creds, please.
B-5 ponders. Finally, he says, “I want to know what to do.”
M: Do you love her? I know the answer. Do you?
M: How sweet. Does she turn you on?
B-5 sputters. Well, she’s…startlingly beautiful. And, let’s face it, he’s male and humanoid. Of course, he…has the hots for her.
M: Gotta be careful with those id-urges. Some of them can be nasty, wicked and horrible—no matter how nice a person you are consciously. They can be dangerous to her. On the Spirit Plane, nothing can harm her, but by entering your mind, she makes herself vulnerable to…your dark side. Gotta keep that contained.
B-5 isn’t worried. His mind is disciplined.
Meander puts out another of her many shingles: “WEDDING PLANNER.”
M: So…ask her to marry you.
B-5: But…she’s dead, and…!
Meander puts away the Wedding Planner shingle and replaces it with a “RELATIONSHIP ADVISER” shingle. “You’re right. You two need to get to know each other better first. You need to go out on a date.”
B-5: How? Dream up some dinner and candlelight?
M: There is a way…but it costs extra—a LOT extra.
Cut to Princess Projectra arriving at the opulent home of one of her few remaining subjects. She is welcomed in by the owner, BARON BIEHLER, who bows. Other Orandoans present similarly honor their Princess. Among them is the SHAMAN, established in the previous issue. Also there is the THAUMATURGE-ALCHEMIST who created the Magic Metal. There is mention made of a NEW PALACE for the Princess, currently being prepared.
PP sits in council with her devoted subjects. PP and all present hold the U.P. and the Legion responsible for the destruction of Orando. They want retribution and justice. PP’s position as a Legionnaire may come in handy as their plans evolve.
PP is worried that B-5 is suspicious that she’s up to something. He alone is the one she fears, not only because his mighty intellect could, conceivably, suss out any plans she might make—but also, because he is visited nightly by Dream Girl’s spirit. DG still, in post-life existence, is prescient. She might intuit, predict and warn B-5 of any schemes PP and her subjects concoct.
Orandoans are a very mystic, spiritual, “New Age” sort of people. This is not unfamiliar territory. The Shaman says that, first, this “Dream Girl” must be gotten rid of—utterly destroyed, banished to higher or lower planes, or otherwise neutralized. But how? PP could influence Brainiac 5’s id and perhaps turn it against DG, but that would be hard to do without such a mighty, well-ordered and supremely controlled mind sensing interference. On top of that, Dream Girl is probably watching over B-5 constantly. It’s not like spirits have to sleep. Slipping past her vigilance wouldn’t be easy.
Princess Projectra offers that she sensed some…romantic complications troubling B-5. She wonders whether or not this might present opportunity. The Shaman thinks it might. Love blinds one on so many levels. They’ll start keeping close watch on B-5.
Using a crystal ball, the powers of the Shaman and Princess Projectra’s vast new powers, the Orandoans begin to spy on B-5.
Brainiac 5 is arriving home at the HQ carrying a big bag of Amway products….
Later, Phantom Girl zeezees Princess Projectra’s Flight Ring. No response. PG can tell PP’s in her solarium…but the sun has long since set…and there no lights on in the solarium or anywhere in her apartment. PG had wished to apologize for being annoyed about PP wanting the Brainiac story told again, but now she’s worried. Is PP okay?
PG “phantoms” into PP’s solarium. PP seems to be ignoring her. PG tries to tap PP on the shoulder, but her hand goes right through the illusory PP. What?! What’s up with that, PG wonders.
Later, PG is discreetly watching as PP returns (through a solarium window). PG sees PP dispel the illusion and put her REAL Flight Ring back on.
Phantom Girl can’t figure out what that all means, but she resolves to find out.
The next evening, Brainiac 5 primps and preens. He puts on his best, dressiest clothes. He’s as nervous as a teen-ager going on his first date, which come to think of it, isn’t far from the truth.
Brainiac 5 uses the Morpher to make himself appear to be wearing his usual uniform until he’s safely out of the HQ.
Phantom Girl tries to get B-5’s attention, but he’s in a hurry. He’s late. Lightning Lad is too busy. Phantom Girl ends up telling her tale to Saturn Girl. Saturn Girl agrees that PP has been acting funny lately. They’ll keep an eye on her and bring it up to B-5 later. PG urges SG to bring it up to LLad right away—he’d make time to talk to her. No, SG isn’t ready to face him yet.
B-5 Morphs back to his fancy clothes after he is out of sight of the HQ. He meets Meander (who has traveled to Metropolis) on a beautiful promenade in the heart of Metropolis’s Entertainment District, a part of the city rife with bistros, restaurants, nightclubs, shops and futuristic entertainments of all types. This area was first depicted in issue #41, but not well.
The view here is spectacular. There are many establishments on terraces, along the pedestrian boulevards, even floating in mid air. There are waterfalls, gardens, sculptures…it’s beautiful.
Meander is dressed to the nines. These aren’t clothes I would choose, she says, tugging at her daring décolletage. She picked them. She’s here, and I’m letting her take it from this point on.
Meander allows Dream Girl to possess her.
No spirit can wear a sheathe of flesh again without the full cooperation of a living person with the necessary skills—except in rare cases. (Certain empowered spirits, like Deadman, can force a possession…..)
Brainiac 5 is uncomfortable at first. Though she speaks with Dream Girl’s voice, he can’t get past the fact that it’s Meander’s body he’s escorting.
Back at the HQ, Princess Projectra is, once more, demanding that Phantom Girl tell her “the story” again. PG plays along. Saturn Girl is discreetly observing. She won’t invade PP’s mind—she’s sworn not to do that to other Legionnaires—but she can see that this chick, PP, is not quite right.
PP suddenly looks distracted. (She’s receiving a message mystically transmitted by the Shaman, who’s keeping tabs on B-5, that “opportunity” is “presenting itself.”) PP hastens away. SG and PG are worried, puzzled.
PP sneaks out again, tracks down B-5 and discreetly observes.
As the date progresses, Brainiac 5 gets used to the idea that this is Dream Girl—inside, at least. After dinner in an elegant place, there’s a futuristic carriage ride or something similarly romantic. In a romantic setting, they kiss.
Princess Projectra is nearby, watching from a hidden vantage point. Now is her moment! B-5 is as distracted as one could hope for. Dream Girl can’t be watching over B-5 from within, because she’s possessing Meander.
PP invades B-5’s id! (And we go in with her!) In the dark recesses of B-5’s lizard brain, she finds demons to serve her will—one UBERDEMON and THREE HENCH-DEMONS. She undoes B-5’s careful containment of them and frees them. They will do the deed.
(P.S. Killing possessed Meander wouldn’t accomplish getting rid of DG. Her spirit maintained after her own death, and would probably do so after the death of a host body. I’ll make this clear.)
PP leaves unseen, undetected.
After the kiss, Brainiac 5 has a bit of a funny feeling. No, not that kind. Well, okay, that kind, too—but also some little tickle in the back of his mind. Oh, well. He’s never had a kiss like that before…maybe it’s normal.
The next morning, Brainiac 5 strides through the HQ with a jaunty bounce in his step and a song in his heart and a smile on his face. He’s nice to everybody. The other Legionnaires suspect that he’s been replaced by a pod person…. B-5 can’t wait to take a nap later!
Meander wakes up in a lavish hotel room. Her hair is a mess, her sexy gown is disarranged, her makeup is smeared. She has that combo delicious sated afterglow/did-anyone-get-the-number-of-that-truck feeling one has after a wild night. We ain’t saying that they had sex, but we ain’t saying they didn’t. Meander gulps down the last of the champagne from the bottle and tries to pull herself together. Wow. That B-5 must be an animal! There’s a note, one of those thanks-for-last-night-notes from B-5, and a single rose. Meander shrugs. Apparently DG and B-5 had a great time. And she ends up with the headache. Oh, well. She heads home. God, does she want a bath!
Saturn Girl and Phantom Girl attempt to speak with Brainiac 5 about Princess Projectra’s strange, troubling behavior. He has no time. He has to work double-hard to make up for the time he’s taken off.
Later, that night, Brainiac 5 yawns. Time for a nap. (He hardly ever sleeps through the night—usually 20 minutes here and there.)
Brainiac 5 drifts off. He dreams. Dream Girl enters his dream. They kiss, they cling to each other. Their love is beyond measure.
Brainiac 5, on bended knee, proposes. He’s dreamed up an impressive engagement ring!
Dream Girl accepts.
And then, the UBERDEMON attacks. I want to call this guy IDJIT. I see him as almost comical/cartoony in a way, but in a horrific way. That chilling combo of goofy-cute and blood-curdling terror. I never saw any of the “Chucky” films, but I think that’s what they must have been going for. Stephen King’s It and others went a little that way, too. He is the antithesis of B-5’s conscious mind in many ways.
At first, B-5 doesn’t react. He thinks this is like the AD at the beginning, a dream thing that can’t really hurt DG. DG screams! This one is different.
IDJIT carries Dream Girl off to murky depths. Brainiac 5 tries to stop him, but his “power,” the force field, is defensive, and there’s nothing at hand to fight with. B-5 tries to follow….
The HENCH-DEMONS—I want to call them BEATER, BITER and LAFF—see IDJIT’s approach with his quarry. The can’t wait to get their talons on DG.
Brainiac 5 arrives at some nightmare/horror locale in his id. In some pit, out of sight, the Hench-demons torture Dream Girl. Idjit stands guard, barring B-5’s way to save her.
B-5 battles Idjit in spectacular ways I’ll invent. But…B-5 is losing! Idjit is a mighty urge, an inner demon of immense power. B-5 is being cut to bits, eviscerated—his will is eroding, his strength failing. He seems ready to succumb.
Dream Girl’s screams fire his courage and will once more. Nothing he has thrown at Idjit has done much good. He remembers, and focuses on Dream Girl’s words, said re: the “AD” at the beginning. “It’s all in your mind….”
This is his mind! He is master here!
Brainiac 5 rises up. He stops trying to fight and starts taking command. It is his mind…his mind…his mind…!
Suddenly, Idjit cannot harm him. Suddenly, B-5, here, in his mind, is utterly godlike. He is all-powerful.
Brainiac 5 screams “Get out of my mind!”—or somesuch—and Idjit VANISHES! Cast out!
B-5 storms into the pit where Beater, Biter and Laff are working their horrors upon Dream Girl. Glowing with almighty power, B-5 stalks toward them. Uh-oh….
Brainiac 5 utterly destroys the Hench-demons! But…before Laff is unmade, he stabs his claws toward Dream Girl’s eyes!
B-5’s “godlike” glow and power fade.
Brainiac 5 cradles badly-hurt Dream Girl. He’s crushed. This is all his fault.
She comforts him! She knew there were risks. She would face anything to be with him.
It is revealed (probably earlier) that Dream Girl could have escaped the hideous torture at any time by simply allowing her spirit self to “go toward the light”—to be drawn into the highest plane, the BEYOND. Heaven, though we’ll avoid religious references, where she belongs. But, there is no return from there—and so she chose to stay here, no matter what. (Driving her to escape to the Beyond was, in fact the goal of the Demons—the mission Princess Projectra gave them in return for freedom. What better way to be rid of DG forever?)
Brainiac 5 gently carries her out of the pit. She needs medical help—but how does one mend a spirit?
Dream Girl tells him that her wounds will fade—all but two. When Laff clawed her eyes, he blinded her. And worse, his claws struck deep—and took away her second sight as well.
Brainiac 5 is crushed. His remorse is endless, his grief palpable, his guilt….
NO! says DG. No guilt. That’s the key to the door that would free more demons. What happened, happened. It’s over. The important thing is that they’re together.
B-5 thinks maybe she should go toward the light. Being with him, much less marrying him, is probably the worst thing that she could do.
No, says DG. He proposed, she accepted, and she desperately wants to be his wife. Even if he reneges, she will remain with him. Unless he casts her out, she won’t go.
The dream they’re in starts to dissolve. Something is waking him up. An alarm, DG says. There is an emergency in the real world for which he is needed. She wishes she could tell him what it is, or how things will go, but….
B-5 is loathe to leave her. Do what you must, she says. She never thought she’d hear herself say these words, but…“Get to work!”
Brainiac 5 awakens. He’s grim, serious, hurting badly inside, but forcing his mind to focus on whatever the problem may be. That is his super-power. (The problem is, of course, that the Intruder Planet/ADs are attacking.)
In the home of Baron Biehler, Princess Projectra, the Shaman and others celebrate their victory. Better if Dream Girl had been driven out, but blinded will do.
In a dark, grimy alleyway on the lowest level of the city, IDJIT pulls himself to his feet. He touches his arms, his face and things around him. There’s no doubt. He exists in the real world! Cast out, indeed! What to do now…? What to do…?
END PART 1
Part 2: “Mystical Union”
The gist of the wedding issue, #50, is this:
It takes place immediately after the ADs are defeated. (And, therefore, there’s another small “break.”)
Brainiac 5 is taking lessons from Meander re: the mystical realities. He’s determined to understand all there is to understand about the un-realities so that he can make absolutely sure that nothing menaces Dream Girl ever again.
This issue will be almost entirely devoted to the wedding and events leading up to it. The bachelor party, the rehearsal, whatever. Fun stuff. The Legionnaires participate by means of shared dreams.
I envision a “four-page spread” for the climactic wedding scene. Don’t panic, Mike, I’m not asking for a fold-out. I figure to do it the way Steranko did—two consecutive two-page spreads designed so that if you bought two copies and laid the books side by side, one opened to spread “A” and one opened to spread “B,” they would fit together to make a four-page-wide spread.
On that four-page spread, I propose to feature a horde of people and characters. The Legionnaires, of course, Meander, other heroes I can logically justify (especially any who are dead), a few non-DC characters hinted at discreetly, other notable fictional folks, AND Shelly Moldoff, Curt Swan, George Klein, E. Nelson Bridwell, Edmond Hamilton, Otto Binder, Al Plastino, Jack Abel, Win Mortimer, Murray Boltinoff, Dave Cockrum—you get the drift. NO LIVING CREATORS! This ain’t about self-aggrandizement. Also, a super-fan, the late Rich Morissey. I’ll ask LSH expert Glen Cadigan to help me with the list. I might throw in Julie Schwartz trying to crash the party.
The presiding official…? Don’t know yet. Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson? Harry Donenfeld? Sol Harrison? Mike Marts? Dan Didio? Paul Levitz? Dave Cockrum? President Kieselbach? R.J. Brande? A made-up character?
There will be action via an opportunity provided by one of the guests—either the guest him/herself will cause a ruckus that is quelled by the Legionnaires and other guests, or some “hitch-hiker” that tagged along with a guest will cause a disturbance. This won’t be as grim and serious as the set-up issue. The “threat” will be colorful, the action will be fun, but nothing dire enough to really mar the occasion. Potential “foes” might be the dreaded “Y-ZINGER” (as in Mort), or the ghost of the SUN-EATER. Or whatever. Whoever/whatever will be defeated or destroyed by the Legionnaires and the guests. I see the artists doing battle with spear-sized pencils and pens, the writers—who are chained to their typewriters ball-and-chain style—swinging them like medieval flails, and the editors shouting orders.
Possibly IDJIT plays a role, or attempts some mischief in the real world and is rebuffed—but he’ll be back.
The good guys win, the reception is a blast and the honeymoon…? Ooh-la-la.
On the downloads sidebar you’ll find the finished script. It’s the “balloon placement” script, which has some adjustments and modifications in the copy I had to make to accommodate the fact that the penciler, Rick Leonardi, ignored some scene descriptions, ignored some reference, added panels, eliminated panels, failed to allow room for the copy—working from a full script!—and otherwise made my life difficult. Just like most other artists these days, who seem to take full scripts, approved by the editor, as suggestions.
There was never time to have art corrected at DC, and it was always okay to keep me up all night rewriting to accommodate the artist’s “editing” of my story.
Here is a supplementary package of reference I provided for this story.
WARNING! SOME OF THE REFERENCE PHOTOS ARE OF AN UNCLOTHED MODEL! If you find such things offensive, please avoid the following supplementary reference package. P.S. the editor and artist did not find them offensive.
I thought this script was one of my better efforts. I wish I’d gotten to finish the story. It would have been fun.
DESIGNS REQUIRED FOR ISSUE #47
Meander is young, pretty, light brown-skinned and dark-haired. She has piercing eyes of unusual color—“thousand-year-old-eyes” that one would swear had seen the pyramids rise. Facially, Amel Larrieux, could be Meander, perhaps with slightly lighter skin:
I see Meander as slender, graceful, sylphlike, distinctly smaller-busted and thinner than any of the Legion girls! This girl’s body is perfect:
Meander wears “retro” 21st Century clothing. Please avoid Goth clothes—don’t want to make her look like Death from the Sandman series. I see her as wearing a very tight baby tee shirt that doesn’t quite reach to her waist, allowing us to see some yummy tummy between it and her extreme low-rise, super-tight jeans, which are rolled up above her ankles. Here are two baby tees:
Maybe the tee has an iconic 20th Century image on it. A smiley face?
She also wears lace-up sneakers with no sox. She might sometimes wear a hat. Could be a bonnet, a baseball cap, a beret, a bicorne, a tricorne, a sombrero, whatever. On top, I’d suggest that she wear an opera cape:
Key features of the opera cape are the hood and the slits that allow the arms to poke through.
NOTE: When Meander becomes a Legionnaire, her uniform will be different. This is just for now. Though we might keep the opera cape, if you like it.
Idjit is an Uberdemon, the manifestation of all the twisted, dark, depraved yearnings in the blackest corners of Brainiac 5’s id. He’s all of what Brainiac 5 tries to repress given form. I see him as tall, thin—even a little gaunt—handsome in a bad boy sort of way, human-looking, possibly with some subtle differences. I don’t know what—something to give him a devil-ish aspect without resorting to the cliché symbology (horns, tail, pitchfork, etc.). I think we could do pointed, Mr. Spock-like ears without looking too corny, but…dunno. I think it would be good to do something subtle but interesting with his eyes—say, make them vary from yellow to orange to red when seen from a distance, and in very close up shots show, literally, fire inside them! Or something…. I don’t know. They might even literally be smoldering—that is, there might be tiny wisps of smoke wafting from his eyes, visible only in extreme close ups.
The above is when he’s “normal.” When aroused, in anger, in combat, he’ll become bigger, stronger and more dangerous-looking. Then, possibly his eyes are really ablaze, then, possibly his nails grow clawlike, and, what the hell, maybe he sprouts horns—unique and interesting horns, not the Hot Stuff cutesy kind.
As for clothes, I picture Idjit wearing some subtly kinky, fetish-y stuff, like a leather harness over his bare chest. He wears leather pants and boots. He probably has on women’s lingerie under the pants.
Here are a couple of leather harnesses, just for (lame) example:
Over the above I see him wearing a coat sort of conceptually similar to the one Neo wore in the Matrix—something that flows and blows, cape-like. We have to do something distinctly different than Neo’s coat, of course. I’m thinking maybe we could base his coat on a cutaway tux jacket:
BEATER, BITER and LAFF—the “Three Stooges” demons:
I see this guy as a demonic version of a redneck brute. Here’s a scribble:
Big Popeye forearms and big hands with oversized, rock-like knuckles. Stupid-looking. He wears a wife-beater tee-shirt!
I see this guy as an anthropomorphized pit bull. Here’s some pit bull ref:
I see this guy as a big, fat, demon with really nasty-looking knife-like claws. Here’s a scribble:
UNITED PLANETS SPACE FLEET SHIPS
U.P. Military Spaceships appear in this issue, and I don’t think they’ve ever been seen before. They’ll pop up here and there, and will be important at the climax of “One Evil.” I think it would be a good thing for you to design them, since they’ll be around for a while. They include:
SMALLER “ESCORT” WARSHIPS
Another item that will appear in one of your issues first, but that Rick will be drawing before you do, is the “Intruder Planet.” It’s described in the script as a “gas giant” (like Jupiter) but “strange.” I sort of picture it as a planet that has a lot of odd “features” like Jupiter’s famous “red spot.”
If you’d rather leave any or all of this stuff to Rick, I understand, but I hope you can squeeze it in.
|Francis Manapul’s interpretation
NEXT, OVER THE WEEKEND OR MONDAY: Disney Adventures
Thanks, Scott. I wish my LSH run had been all it could have been. I wish I was smarter, better and more talented. I wish everyone had done his or her job better. But so it goes.
I finally got around to reading "One More Day" and "A Brand New Day," and though I admire the skills of the creators I didn't recognize any of the characters.
Open note to Joe Quesada and the Marvel creative staff: If you don't understand who the characters in your care are, call me and I'll clue you in.
Yes, that's a snarky comment. Yes, I'm that appalled by the thing.
Jim, when Marvel did the One More Day story and erased the Spiderman marriage, I dropped the title and specifically chose to replace it on my pull list with a DC book, just as LoSH #37 came out. I picked up your run and liked it well enough. I thought it was a fun, stand alone title, that you had given a good mix of action, story progression and melodrama. I'm sorry it was so frustrating for you, and I dropped the book when you quit.
Rick is a good artist in many ways and his style is appealing. I'm glad you liked the issue. Rick made the changes, not the editor. It's not that I think the issue is horrible or completely ruined. My irritation has to do with hours and hours I had to spend cutting, rewriting and/or shifting copy around and otherwise accommodating changes cavalierly made. That, and time wasted finding reference that wasn't used. Yes, I think too many editors these days fail to supervise the artists. Sorry, I'm not going to post the earlier iteration of the script. I don't want to debate this line by line. Were some of the changes Rick made an improvement over what I called for? Sure. Some, however, compromised clarity or drama, and pretty much all of them left me in balloon placement hell.
The debate about how much sexiness, and what kind, is justified in comics is an interesting one. The majority of both fans and creators are male, and males are not terribly critical about what kind of sexiness they get, such as whether it's realistic or idealized or even poorly drawn. Generally, I think a lot of people (mainly women, but also some men) are annoyed by overt, in-your-face-for-no-reason-but-cheap-titillation sexuality, and while I agree that it is sometimes (often, even) in poor taste, I don't believe it is a bad or reprehensible thing in and of itself. People who protest loudly against sexual objectification tend to forget that human beings are sexual creatures – to an extent, we all *are* sexual object, and the natural and healthy thing is to embrace this. I think the kind of shock we can get when confronted with overt sexuality and provocative nudity is often a very positive, radical thing that can shake us out of our conventional and consevative attitudes, waking us up to a better and more natural and realistic attitude. As long as sexiness is presented as a good and beautiful and, sure, arousing thing, I think it's for the best, and not to be scoffed at. So bring it on, I say.
1) Can you go into detail about what he ignored and why you think the story suffered because of it? I remember that issue and at the time the story & art seemed well done to me. That was my first LSH comic and it led me to buy the subsequent issues.
2) Could you post your original, pre-modification script? It'd be interesting to compare the original intent to the finished product.
3) In some ways it seems like an editor issue. I wonder if an editor okayed changes and didn't bother mentioning it to you thinking why argue with you about it if he can present to you a fait accompli. Or, generally, is there a lack of editorial interest in making sure the penciller does what he is contracted to do?
Francis has replied to this post on his Tumblr blog, and I, inturn, have replied to him:
"Gentlemen, there are four ways to do something: The Right Way, The Wrong Way, The Navy Way, and My Way. Henceforth we will do things my way. If we can do that, we'll get along."
"Gyrich sounds a little you you when you became EIC at Marvel …?"
I was just thinking that too!
Very interesting to see the behind-the-scenes communications on the Legion run. Might we see similar from the Korvac sequel?
…Jim, obviously frustrated and rightfully so, commented somewhat along these lines, albeit verbatim:
"Fill-in artist Lopresti draws slickly, and the audience will assume that he drew what was intended, since they didn’t read the script. Apparently, neither did he."
…I guess it's safe to assume that since you didn't go into a lengthy diatribe/checklist of what Aaron screwed up that it was too lengthy to go into here and/or would have been moot since Aaron was just a fill-in artist?
…Jim, attempting to be polite and considerate, disclaimered thusly:
WARNING! SOME OF THE REFERENCE PHOTOS ARE OF AN UNCLOTHED MODEL!
…Considering the unclathed one's lack of "endowments", was that sort of chest arrangement what you intended for the character in question, Jim? 😛
Rick called me after he finished, but before I saw the job, to say how much he enjoyed working with me. We had a nice catching-up chat. I haven't spoken to him since then. No reason to. He was the first artist considered by boss Mike Richardson and editor Chris Warner for Turok at Dark Horse. I resisted. Fortunately, Mike Richardson once had a similar experience on a story he wrote. Not with Rick — it was with another artist, a "name" pro you'd expect would know better, but Mike totally understood the frustration. We went with other artists. They came each with their own set of difficulties, but I preferred to try someone else rather than go through a repeat performance with Rick.
In some ways, Rick is a very good artist. He has an interesting, highly stylized approach that I find it appealing. I do not understand why, given an approved, full script, he doesn't follow it. Or even call to discuss things he thinks would be better done differently.
When Rick worked with Bill Mantlo on Cloak and Dagger it was from plots, Marvel style. To some extent, writing Marvel style, a writer expects and even encourages the artist to do some interpretation and provide some input. Rick must have stayed within reasonable limits on C&D because Bill never complained, and it wasn't because Bill was shy about complaining about artists.
Thanks for the kind words.
I'm going to have to pull these comics out and read them. Thanks, Jim.
Jim, that is just so crazy that so much was ignored or altered from your script. Can't believe the lack of respect, there. Did you ever get the chance to tell Rick off, at least?
I really only know Rick's work from Cloak and Dagger back in the day. Did Bill Mantlo ever complain about Rick being so cavalier with his scripts?
(I love the behind-the-scenes look at your scripts and layouts, by the way.)
The cover is bad and doesn’t reflect the story event it’s based on.
PAGE TWENTY-ONE: Two alien tourists are introduced here that look different than they do in issue #41. They would have looked even more different if I hadn’t noticed the discrepancy and caused a last-minute partial fix to be done by the colorist.
NOTE: A few corrections were made by the letterer, but for the most part, the Duty Roster is still hard to read.
Fill-in artist Lopresti draws slickly, and the audience will assume that he drew what was intended, since they didn’t read the script. Apparently, neither did he.
Then there’s the Flight Ring Feature. This is my e-mail to you when I found out it was totally screwed up:
I don't know whether you check your office e-mail on the weekends, but in any case, I wanted you to get this ASAP.
I delivered the Flight Ring feature script on June 13, 2007. You had TEN MONTHS to get it sorted out. But, it came to down to a last second sprint to the finish.
The first I knew that it was going to run in issue #41 was mid-afternoon Thursday when JD sent the coloring in. It was obviously much different from what I had planned, and obviously the copy that had been delivered TEN MONTHS EARLIER would need big changes to accomodate the art. I told you I'd do what was necessary, and I stayed up half the night to do it.
But, for nothing apparently. It appears that you didn't receive or chose to ignore my revision; that you and/or Jeanine did a rewrite on my original and that's what's going to press.
That is unacceptable.
Here's what I want:
1. Push the book back a week and fix the thing, or
2. Pull the feature and have the printer strip in whatever's in the lineup for other 22-story page books that week, or
3. If there are credits, GET MY NAME OFF OF THEM. Have the printer strip it out.
It's not that you and/or Jeanine did such a bad job. It's that those are not my words and I don't want my name associated with them.
You had my words for TEN MONTHS. There's no excuse for this.
That’s just the gist of it. There’s more.
And that was just the tip of the iceberg, as it turned out.
Panel 3: Please do something to highlight the garage where Colossal Boy is heading. Nothing too artificial and contrived, please–but give the readers a fair chance to guess his destination.
Panel 4: Why put an important character (the girl, Min) in gray clothes? Especially when so much else is gray?
Panel 1: More gray clothes. Feh.
Panel 1: The glowing stick on the ground is largely irrelevant and way too prepossessing. Please quiet it down.
Panel 1: I don't know how anyone could possibly guess that Ultra Boy is swooping in to throw his (invulnerable) body between Kublai's gun and Colossal Boy, but that's what's happening here. Any effect you could add to suggest the swooping in thing would be appreciated.
Panel 3: The Duty Roster, per the script.
Panel 4: Only Brainiac 5's Duty Roster Detail should appear, with enough room for the copy. That other rectangle should not be there. The background should be the regular Duty Roster, per the script.
Panel 5: Make sure there's enough room for the necessary copy. Again, the background is the regular Duty Roster. I'm not sure how much of this is your territory and how much is a production person's.
Panel 2: Phantom Girl's legs should look more phantom-y.
Panel 4: The Duty Roster, per the script.
Panel 5: The Duty Roster, per the script.
Panels 1 and 2: The Duty Roster, per the script.
Panel 3: "Transmatter" on the sign spelled correctly.
Panel 1: Princess Projectra is dismissing her illusion of the former opulence of this room. Please show her illusion-effect around her right hand, and improve the "vanishing" of the few luxury items seen. Right now, it looks like the pillar may be fading out, which wouldn't happen.
Panel 1-3: Depth, please! There are distinct foregrounds and backgrounds in these three panels, all medium values and running together, as is. Also, it's very difficult to see Princess Projectra and grok what's going on.
Panel 3: The story being told here is that the Robots were never firing at the Supervisor, and that he has without (real) reason, blasted them in their backs. The drawings don't get that across very well, but maybe you could help it by adding some smoke, sparks, even licks of flame coming from the damaged parts of the robots.
Panel 1: We're supposed to be seeing the "informative screens" seen in Panel 3 of Page Seven of issue #38. Is that a production thing or your biz?
Panel 3: The DUTY ROSTER IS A LIST. NO HEADSHOTS. A LIST. I don't know how or why my description of the thing was ignored and my carefully written copy was left out, but it should be a LIST, as described in ALL the scripts to date. For this issue, it is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL that it is a LIST, AS WRITTEN. Whatever your role may be in making that happen, please do your part.
Panel 4: You have left NO ROOM on the Duty Roster Detail for the COPY as written in the script.
Panel 5: Ditto. And ONLY Saturn Girl's Duty Roster Detail should be showing. Nothing else should be seen except part of the Duty Roster–which is a LIST–behind SG's detail, i.e., NO Princess Projectra detail.
Panel 1: The thing on the Journalist's shoulder is a camera, not a flashlight. Per the script, the remains of the Alien Destroyer he's filming are:
"…starting to evaporate! It’s decomposing down to the quark level. We need an interesting, dramatic, small-but-spectacular effect for this."
Panel 2: More of the same. The AD is evaporating into sparks and sparkles. A mini-light show.
Panel 1: In the Duty Roster Detail, we should see a headshot of Colossal Boy with room for the copy in the script.
Panel 2: Ultra Boy is supposed to be using Penetra Vision to peer through the floor. See script. Effect needed.
Panel 4: The holo-book was supposed to be foreground so that its title was readable. That didn't happen, so I asked for the letterer to show some of the book as if it were in the foreground official's hand with the title readable. That was done. How you coordinate re: this I don't know, but we MUST be able to see the book cover and title.
What made that experience difficult?
Here's a list I sent to the editor after issue #41:
Issue #41 is my fifth issue of LSH. All five issues have significant production errors and other mistakes overlooked, ignored or caused by editorial. A partial list is appended.
PARTIAL LIST OF EDIT/PRODUCTION MISTAKES
PAGE FOUR and elsewhere, where screens appear, meaningless images rather than the ones called for are used, though reference was provided.
Panel 4: This is supposed to be the introduction of the DUTY ROSTER, which plays a major role in this and many subsequent stories. The Duty Roster is a LIST. Mike, we went back and forth about whose names and what information should be on it. What was printed is a grid of random images unrelated to the story. It’s unbelievable. I never got to see this page before the book was put to bed, but surely someone did.
Panel 1: This was supposed to show a “Duty Roster Detail” that gave more information about Princess Projectra. Instead it’s BLANK. There’s nothing there. Who looked at this and thought it was right? Also, my LIST is now inexplicably a grid of headshots.
Panel 3: There’s that grid of headshots again. I never asked for a grid of headshots.
Panel 4: This was supposed to be Colossal Boy’s Duty Roster Detail. The copy I wrote was left out, though it’s important. Again, there’s the unwanted headshot grid.
Panel 7: Headshot grid. Also, this panel isn’t in the script. Francis decided to play editor and that, apparently is okay, without anyone even mentioning it to me.
Panel 8: Headshot grid.
Panel 1: There is supposed to be a sign on the Safety Shelter identifying it. I noticed that it was missing when I saw the coloring for this page and asked for it to be inserted. What I got is a crooked caption that says “Safety Shelter” that’s not near the shelter—confusing, amateurish non-functional. Twice after that, when the Shelter appears, there is no sign, crooked caption or otherwise.
Panel 1: Headshots instead of my Duty Roster again.
Panel 2: I called for Princess Projectra’s Duty Roster entry to be shown. What I got was another BLANK SCREEN, this one colored green.
Panel 3: Headshot grid.
Panel 4 and on: Francis changed a male character into a female character. It was too far gone to change by the time I saw it, so I renamed the character to accommodate the art.
THROUGHOUT: The Duty Roster is a headshot grid. A “Safety Shelter” sign was added at the last minute, at my request, but is barely visible.
The book was pushed back a week to accommodate the new colorist, who had a personal crisis. I’m fine with that. First things first. However, the book still went down to the wire and NONE of my color/production notes, a copy of which is provided below, were addressed:
PAGE ONE: Per the script, Princess Projectra's home is "utterly dark." No indication of lights in the windows. To dramatize this, there should be, again, per the script, "…lights in some windows," of the less-damaged buildings.
Also, Princess Projectra is so small here, as are the Science Police Supervisor and his Robot helpers guarding her erstwhile house, that they may be missed. (…) I asked Francis to draw her "medium" depth, i.e., more in the foreground, but he gave me microscopic. (…)
Panel 4: The idea here is that the "great room" pictured here has been stripped bare and is dark and desolate compared to the same room as recreated in its glory by Princess Projectra in Panel 7 of Page Three.
Panel 6: The plan here was for Princess Projectra to be medium or close medium depth and be making a distinctive illusion-casting gesture, accompanied by her illusion-casting effect. None of that happened….
Panel 7: this shot should contrast with all the other shots of the great room.
A little *like* you…!
'Gyrich, as I wrote him, was supposed to be a tough, strict security guy who cleaned up the Avengers' sloppy operation, ultimately the best friend they ever had, though he happened to come along at an inconvenient time for them.'
Gyrich sounds a little you you when you became EIC at Marvel …?
No. "Menage" also means a "Common life of a couple", since the XIIIth century.
The housework sense came later XV-XVie century "everything concerning the domestic life.".
"Ménage à trois", when like in Jules & Jim, the couple is a trio.
Ps: My original answer was to say "No: It also means a couple". Having at hand what is necessary for a more complete answer, I choose to go with it.
Because it's fun.
someone once told me that the literal translation of "menage a trois" is "3 to do the housework".
Did you, Dave and the other roommate EVER do housework? 😉
The Nightcrawler mini-series from 1985 was absolutely wonderful. Too bad Dave didn't found in himself strong enough a story to do a second one, like he intended.
On the whole Starfire/Catwoman thing… I saw the pic of Starfire before I read Laura's article and wondered if they'd given her a boob job or something. She was always well endowed but the art makes it look someone used a porn star as a reference.
Mark Waid established thoroughly, over a number of issues, Dream Girl falling in/being in love with Brainiac 5, and eventually his falling in love with her to the point that he obsessively tried to bring her back to life after she was killed.
The reasons Dream Girl had to be blinded and depowered had to do with the larger story, of which "Dream Wedding" was a part. It was necessary for the reasons stated by the perps who inflicted the damage. If I had continued on the book, I might have had Meander find a way to restore Dream Girl's power.
There was no lack of communication with Leonardi. He simply, high-handedly ignored the editor-approved script and the ref in places and did what he wanted. That seems to be the norm for artists these days.
Thanks for the kind words.
You've got a birthday coming up this Tuesday, so… just in case…
Happy Birthday, Old Man!!
Thank you, JayJay. My thoughts pretty much. And for those who don't think women aren't turned on by naked body parts must have somehow managed to ignore the romance novel industry. And it's a HUGE industry, boys. Wake up!
@ Jay Jay
I am in love with the concept that women with different body types and personalities can still be sexy and appealing.
Comparing cheesecake pictures done by Rob Liefeld and Adam Hughes can be an interesting exercise. Hughes invariably comes out on top in any such comparison because he knows that a woman's beauty is as much in her hands (eyes, ears, feet, grey matter) as it is in her torso.
@ Jedi Jones
Half-naked male superheroes don't appeal to female readers the same way that half-naked female superheroes appeal to male readers because women are not nearly as often turned on by the sight of the opposite sex's naked body parts as men are.
No offense, but you don't talk to very many women, do you?
re: the art. I don't mean it looks awful to me because I don't like the style or whatever. I mean the way Catwoman is introduced visually, and that it all leads up to cape sex with a Wrestlemania-looking Batman, and this is supposed to be an adult relationship or something? It feels very much a wank fantasy for a teenage boy masquerading as something it's not. Like I said, to each his own, but it is very difficult to justify either Catwoman #1 or Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 as anything other than what Laura has rightly called it out as.
Dear JayJay Thank you for writing this: "Too often in recent comics I feel like the latter is predominant. And I find it troubling that no one much seems to care. "
I too find it troubling. That these comics came out the way they did and Lobdell seems genuinely confused by the reaction is just so disappointing. How is it possible people can't see this?
Dear JediJones, with all due respect, I think you really missed the point of Laura's article. I don't think she made the points you say she made or that the article has a "anti-men" bias. I'm a man (and not even a particularly feminist one, to be honest, not that I'm sexist or anything, just PC-ness particularly grates me so I often find myself rolling my eyes at "anti-man" analyses, which do exist, absolutely, sure. I don't think this was one of them.) and I was offended by those two comics and very supportive of Laura's analysis. Maybe it's just a matter of taste. You say the Catwoman art looks "stylish and compelling." To each his own, of course, but man, not for me. It's the epitome of awful, to these eyes.
My niece is a teenager and getting into comics, and this whole discussion has gotten more personal to me. I think Laura's analysis is better than mine, so I'll just leave it there.
You guys (and Steve Bunche) got me curious to read this Laura Hudson article. Much of what she has to say really resonates with me. Especially this part:
"And the problem is that when I look at these women, I would very much like to see confident ladies who enjoy sex and are having a fun sexy time. But what I see instead are women who give me the same impression as creepy dead-eyed porn stars mechanically mouthing "oh yeah, I want it." And that feeling of coerced sexual enthusiasm is the creepiest, saddest, most unerotic thing I can imagine."
That quote partially sums up why I feel alienated when I read (or try to read) many DC, Marvel and Image comics and why I love Love and Rockets. When I read Jaime Hernandez' stories it feels like they were written by a guy who knows women, loves women and is interested in his women having an actual personality. Same reason why Meander is probably my favorite character Jim has ever created. Too bad she wasn't drawn the way he described. That would have been cool.
I am in love with the concept that women with different body types and personalities can still be sexy and appealing. Even Hopey, in her own way! Even Tank Girl. I find Keira Knightly and Queen Latifah both incredibly sexy. What's wrong with that? The female characters in recent Marvels, DCs, Image Comics and in stuff like Lady Death, Lady Mechanika and the like is just creepy and offputting to me. It feels like masturbation material produced by and for guys with stunted adolescences. I'm a female comics fan, have been since I could read, and those books make me feel excluded. Like a boy's locker room. Like 75% (or more) of the comics being produced today are very much not for me. And this is coming from a woman who is a long time fan of sexually explicit comics like Heavy Metal, Ironwood, Birdland, The Pro, Omaha the Cat Dancer and even Big Black Kiss. And who subscribed to Playboy for almost 20 years. Because I find sexuality interesting. When it's interesting, that is.
I don't know if the comics Laura writes about are demeaning to women. But there is a fundamental difference between a sexy character (male or female) whose appeal derives from personality and one whose appeal is purely based on appearance. Too often in recent comics I feel like the latter is predominant. And I find it troubling that no one much seems to care.
I fell in love with Nightcrawler when Dave Cockrum wrote the limited series. That story captured my imagination. You can laugh, but so did Elfquest. I saw beautiful, sexy characters in those stories with interesting personalities that brought them to life for me. My heart went out to Red Sonja when I read those early comics. Red Sonja captured a LOT of girls' imaginations back then. The recent series from Dynamite… not so much. A case can be made that it's not the way women are portrayed, but just bad writing combined with bad drawing that is exclusionary (perhaps even to people of both sexes), but in some comics it feels like there's more to it than that. There's a sickening shallowness in the way male AND female characters are portrayed. Maybe it's an outgrowth of the way our culture in general is headed. I don't know. But it has gotten a lot harder for me to find comic books to enjoy in the past decade.
I just read Laura Hudson's article and have no use for her criticism. This is just another permutation of the same thing comics went through in the '50s during the "Seduction of the Innocent" phase. I don't care if it comes from conservative religious types or liberal feminist types, I don't want one person's individual sense of morality forced onto my entertainment through guilt, shame, the law or promises of a better society. Of course she's free to criticize whatever she wants, but I neither agree with her premise nor her conclusions.
If her criticism was just about the story or characters, it would be useful. But it's not, as evidenced by telltale lines like, "Starfire isn't being promiscuous because this comic wants to support progressive notions of gender roles." I don't care if a comic is progressive, conservative or libertarian, I care if it entertains me.
The dichotomy she sets up between male superheroes not taking their clothes off as often as female superheroes is a false one. The design she posts of Hal in a skimpy costume totally undermines her point, because women would obviously laugh at that, not be turned on by it. Half-naked male superheroes don't appeal to female readers the same way that half-naked female superheroes appeal to male readers because women are not nearly as often turned on by the sight of the opposite sex's naked body parts as men are. She's essentially complaining that she doesn't like how human biology works. My recommendation for her is to accept that the world is round rather than try to make it flat just because she likes flat better.
Moving on, she writes, "they didn't make her a stripper because they really wanted to create a positive and well-rounded portrait of sex workers and how they exist in our culture." When I read a line as nonsensical on its face as that, I know that the writer is coming from the standpoint of being totally and completely steeped in ideology to the point of losing the capacity for rational thought. Everything she writes is twisted to point to a predetermined political conclusion.
All that being said, she may have a fair point when she says that eroticism in comics is geared to appeal to men more than women. But then EVERYTHING in comics is more geared to men. Even in the boom of the '80s, comics weren't booming much with women. It's a problem that should be addressed with more diverse content.
Where I strongly disagree with her is when she implies this is somehow demeaning to women, e.g., "Because I know that institutionally, they don't treat men like that," "that feeling of coerced sexual enthusiasm," "as long as I do it in ways that feel inauthentic and contrived to appeal to men and kind of creep me out." Erotic content that appeals to men does not demean women simply by virtue of the fact that it appeals to men. That unfair, biased, anti-male point-of-view is the lifeblood that flows through the veins of her entire article.
If she had just said, "I want more comics that appeal to women," that would be fine and dandy. But implying that men are somehow wrong, immoral, or loutish oafs for simply enjoying what naturally appeals to them is explosively biased. How would she feel if a guy read some of the erotic content that appeals to her and said he felt demeaned and degraded that men were being used to appeal to women sexually? She'd either laugh at him or be insulted that he didn't think she deserved erotic entertainment. Scratch that, reverse it, and you have my opinion of her opinion.
Judging by the samples she posted, my opinion is that the Red Hood comic looks pretty darn cheesy but the Catwoman comic looks stylish and compelling. I applaud DCnU for putting out some risque, mature material and not being afraid of getting negative press over it. My takeaway from this review is that I'm now more curious and interested in giving this new DC universe a closer look.
@Ray Cornwall: Thanks for pointing me towards that Laura Hudson article. Very on-target critique.
Having the Legion era ships designed by Manapul was not my call.
Gyrich, as I wrote him, was supposed to be a tough, strict security guy who cleaned up the Avengers' sloppy operation, ultimately the best friend they ever had, though he happened to come along at an inconvenient time for them. It was my way of addressing things that made no sense to me related to having a super hero HQ in Manhattan that had previously routinely happened in the Avengers book. Nothing recycled about him.
I love the story, but I do have two problems with it.
1. Why has Dream Girl fallen for B5? Other than Mark Waid saying that she foresaw the wedding, is it just her accepting fate? Is there any real love in her heart for B5 other than "I saw it will be"?
2. Why does DG have to be blinded and depowered? I'm a wee bit tired of the trend to depower, maim, rape, and kill women in superhero comics, and this just seems to be one more example of a trend I really hate. Combine that with the additional trend of turning strong female characters into blatant fanboy wet dreams (see DC's horrid Red Hood and Catwoman comics this week, and Laura Hudson's masterful critique of both on the Comics Alliance website a few days ago), and this just seems unnecessary and sad. If anything, B5 needs a strong, fully powered woman by his side to challenge him, especially with his ego.
I do love the character creations and the ideas for the actual wedding ceremony. I also loved the reference material you pulled out for Leonardi; it's a shame it wasn't used properly. In this day and age of instant communications, I'm always flabbergasted by the lack of communications between a creative team.
I hope my critiques don't come off as Internet whining. I really like a lot of the plot, and I thank you for sharing this. It's nice to see the curtain pulled back!
Since this was a slower week for blog entries, I'm posting some links I found of some lengthy Jim Shooter interviews you can pass the time with. A lot of topics are covered in this first one, many that have come up on the blog, but also details on the New Universe and other stuff. The other interview has incredible and extensive details on the rise and fall of Jim's Valiant effort.
All-encompassing interview from 2000, Part 1:
Big Valiant interview from 1998:
…The only complaint I have about those sample designs, is that I still strongly believe that Dave Cockrum's "30th Century Constitution-Class Cruiser" design should still be used today – hell, even Giffen was still using Dave's designs as the basis for the Legion Cruisers during the Great Darkness Saga, which shows you how apropos the design was for the team and their universe.
…On a side note, yet still relating to recycled designs…Jim, by your recollection, was Henry Peter Gyrich based on and/or intended to be a grown-up version of Marvel's take on your short-term nephew, Dennis Mitchell? Was Gyrich supposed to be Peter the Little Pest 20 years after Marvel had last reprinted back in the late 60's? Been meaning to ask you about this, as Byrne claimed he didn't have a clue when someone asked him about it a while back over on the Byrne Boards.
I followed your recent run on the Legion.
The first issue was awesome. Everything i want to see in a Super-Heroes/SF comicbook like the Legion.
Story, text, fantastic art, fantastic worlds. great space opera.
The rest of the run, while entertaining, was.. not as much of my taste. as if you got orders to make it more decompressed.
No misunderstanding here: I liked the run. But i like to have text in my comics, and that lot of thing happen in each issue.
On this level the first issue was by far superior to the rest of the run.
Manapul: Pretty good artist, but his art too was better on the first issue than on the rest of the run.
Rick Leonardi: I love his work. He may complicate the work of the writer, but the result is worth it.
What a great plot. If it were executed by today's comic producers that story would span 12 issues.
Neat. Don't know if I want to gush or blush.
Superboy starring the Legion of Super-Heroes #200 was one of the first back-issues I ever pursued, as a pre-teen.
Dave's artwork was amazing. I also remember gushing over Amazing World of DC Comics #9 Special All About the Legion Issue, which included the wedding pin-up.
Note: Duo Damsel still had her powers, but there was, at the time, a rule against married Legionnaires, so the happy couple were kissed off.
What can I say but wow.
Now, the blush …
Neat plot Jim. Could actually visualize some of the action and seeing dabs of Cockrum, Grell, Sherman, and Starlin in my wee imagination. Also, elements of Ditko and so on. Beauty of reading a story, is it leaves nothing to said imagination.
Of course, I never did get back into the Legion after some Giffen 90s stuff, so I missed your return. Did Dream Girl die? Guess I missed that.
Anyway, it would have presented interesting challenges to draw. I'll look at the final script, and maybe that #47 sometime.
I guess what i want to point out was the charm of those old cookie-cutter uniforms and characters. There was a certain disconnect associated with fantasy that told a good story in an enjoyable way.
Getting into the whole psycho-sexual stuff leaves me a lot more leery. Being more familiar with Watchmen, as it tried to navigate some of that real-world resonance, was seldom found titillating, although that seemed to be the intent.
Oh well, I'll leave it there. To me, there is a cringe-factor exploring people's fetishes, but I've certainly met lots of people grappling with their own demons. I did like your description of Brainiac 5's demons.
Dave Cockrum's interview in The Legion Companion (in which he tells the story about the wedding artwork) is viewable on google books here: http://tinyurl.com/4xw2wsp
I believe you are correct about Dave leaving DC over the wedding double-page spread. Anyone out there have a clearer memory of the details?
Yes, the Duo Damsel/Bouncing Boy 2-page spread is indeed legend. The other tragedy is that DC didn't even print it as a 2 page spread. It was reduced and turned on it's side to fit onto one page!
And Jim, those are some DETAILED plots.
Keith, that's pretty much the story Dave himself told in his interview in The Legion Companion. Dave actually was already doing occasional work for Marvel at the time he was drawing the Legion, but the incident over the 2-page spread caused him to give up the Legion assignment and stop working for DC altogether. A huge bummer, because it meant my all-time favorite Legion writer and artist missed working together by just a few months.
Forgive me for going a bit off-topic here, but that Duo Damsel/Bouncing Boy wedding spread that Dave Cockrum drew ultimately caused Dave to quit DC. As Jim described, Dave put his heart and soul into that spread, and if I remember correctly, he even used oversized artboard to draw it, which meant Dave had to pay someone to scan it down for the printer, a task that Dave paid out of his own pocket. The story goes that after Superboy #200 had been published, Dave was in the DC offices and saw the original art for that wedding spread. He asked Murray Boltinoff if he could have the original art, considering how much hard work he put into it. Boltinoff was ready to give it to Dave, but [then DC Comics publisher] Carmine Infantino overheard the discussion and overruled Murray on the basis that DC's firm policy at the time was that DC doesn't return artwork back to the artists. From what I understand, Dave quit DC on the spot and went over to Marvel who first had Dave ink John Buscema's pencils on Avengers before putting him on the New X-Men launch. And the rest is history. (Of course, Jim can correct me if I'm getting any of the details wrong.)
I read your plots for the wedding two-parter. I am so sorry the second half never materialized. I would have loved to see the greats of DC participate in a DC story. And Rich Morrissey could have been in the same shot as M'rissey! *And* DC could have had its first (?) four-page spread. What a shame …
Your script for #47 isn't up in the sidebar yet, but I've got my LSH Enemy Manifest TPB ready for … gulp … comparison.
"the penciler, Rick Leonardi, ignored some scene descriptions, ignored some reference, added panels, eliminated panels, failed to allow room for the copy—working from a full script!—and otherwise made my life difficult. Just like most other artists these days, who seem to take full scripts, approved by the editor, as suggestions."
Wow, Jim, I just had a flashback to working with Leonardi on THE RAMPAGING HULK comic series. Apparently, he hasn't changed one bit.
Sorry, I meant post-Zero Hour and "Threeboot" versions of Luornu Durgo or Triplicate Girl who didn't become Duo Damsel in those newer continuities.
I was wondering who the three in your title were going to be. Normally that sort of thing wouldn't be Comics Code-approved.
Dave Cockrum even drew Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tars Tarkas in that wedding spread! Hard to imagine the new X-Men without his sense of cosmic design.
I've long thought Duo Damsel was interesting because she was one (or should I say two) of a kind after her accident. People from Cargg would look at her strangely, unable to imagine how she could cope with the loss of one of her bodies. She could develop an irrational fear of computers, a dread of becoming single-bodied. Everyone from planets other than Cargg can obviously cope with an total inability to split, yet the thought might scare her. Who can she talk to? Are there others on Cargg in her situation? Shunned by their society? Could she become their public spokesperson, someone who rehabilitates the image of the "two-bodied" in the eyes of the people of Cargg? I haven't read a lot of Legion stories after 1970 apart from your return to the series, so maybe some of this ground has already been covered. I see that the post-Zero Hour and the "Threeboot" Duo Damsels have new twists on her splitting.
I had no idea you intended Meander to be a Legionnaire!
I've read all of your Legion stories, but I don't recall seening Francis Manapul's design work before. Thanks for sharing! I look forward to reading your plots.
I enjoyed your 2007 Legion run. I was actually excited to see your work again and that you were revisiting a past success. I bought several copies of each issue.
What made that experience difficult?
My apologies, I should have stated that the warning that you posted might be better positioned at the beginning of the article.
Might possibly be a good idea to post a suggestion that some of the photos used as demonstration for character design might be considered as NSFW.