Category Archives: 90s Comics

Image @ 25 : The Savage Dragon

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In late 1991 a group of Marvel Comics’ hottest artists gave Marvel (and later DC Comics) the collective middle finger and struck out on their own to form Image Comics.  The following summer, Image took the comic book world by storm. I’m looking back at some of the books that changed the industry forever, starting with Erik Larsen’s The Savage Dragon.

In the summer of 1992, I was a couple years into collecting comics.  I started with the usual: Spider-Man, The Avengers, occasionally some DC stuff.  The comics industry was growing and publishers were bringing out countless new characters and concepts, throwing the proverbial crap at the wall to see what would stick.

Boy, was there a lot of crap.

But, hey, I’m not here to throw stones.  I’m here to throw some praise on what I love.  And I loved some of those new guys on the block.  I’m looking at you, Darkhawk!  This guy still loves ya, Sleepwalker!

Y’see, the great thing about the new guys was they were all mine.  I got in on the ground floor and was able to watch them grow from the beginning.  Spidey had been around for near 30 years at that point.  Batman was over 50!  Beat it, gramps, there’s some young blood here to take us into the next Millennium!

Speaking of Youngblood…

The feeling of “All New Heroes Just For Me” took a big leap in 1992 with the launch of Image Comics.  At the time, I was wholly unaware of the inner workings at any comics publisher and had only just begun to appreciate different writers and artists.  So when the much-ballyhooed Image split took place, I didn’t even know about it until I realized that the Youngblood comic was drawn by the guy who used to do X-Force, Rob Liefeld.

While I can’t remember specifically, I suspect it was Wizard Magazine that eventually gave me the scoop on Image and all the badass comics that would soon be coming my way with a bevy of all new characters from artists I loved.  Spawn, Shadowhawk, Cyber Force – they were all in my wheelhouse, and while Youngblood was initially my favorite Image book, it would be a green-skinned strong man with a badge that stood the test of time.

Erik Larsen had followed Todd MacFarlane on both Amazing Spider-Man and then Spider-Man before again following MacFarlane (along with Liefeld and several others) out the Marvel door and into forming Image Comics, the biggest game changer the industry had seen since the release of Watchmen in 1986.

Larsen separated himself from the Image pack right away with The Savage Dragon.  While many of the Image founders relied on what worked for them at Marvel and cribbed heavily from those characters and concepts, Larsen went waaay back to his roots and brought a boyhood creation into the spotlight.

At first glance, it was easy to dismiss Dragon as an obvious Hulk clone.  Upon further inspection, however, the similarities are almost entirely cosmetic.  Aside from the green skin and super strength, there wasn’t much to compare.  The Hulk has gone through countless changes in his decades of existence, but the core concept remains a Jekyll/Hyde dynamic, the brute having little interest in the world around him.

Dragon was always Dragon. He took great interest in his world, which had a large supporting cast, including many he called friend.  Dragon was a Chicago cop committed to the job.  He was a thinker with a strong sense of right and wrong.  He had no patience for ignorance or cruelty.  He was a fully developed character from nearly the beginning, despite having no knowledge of his own origins.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Before diving into the early Dragon years, I want to take a quick look at the first issue of The Savage Dragon mini-series.  Most of the Image guys launched their new books as a mini-series, before starting again with a new #1 (Savage Dragon, Cyber Force) or just continuing on with the numbering once the series was proven to be sustainable (WildC.A.T.s).

Savage Dragon #1 was released in the summer of 1992 (July is the listed month, so it likely was released in May), and I had already been enthralled by Image thanks to Youngblood and Spawn’s debut issues.  I had pretty much decided to get every Image title I could afford, and thankfully my older brother was buying up Image books in speculator fashion, so what I couldn’t get for myself, I still had access to.

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The cover is a bit plain but still dynamic, right?  The Dragon, all muscled up, leaping at the reader, fangs bared.  And TWO TAGLINES!  A lot of early 90’s comics seem to have that going.  “1st BRUTAL ISSUE!” was an effective hook for a 12-year-old, I’ll tell you.  Wisely, Larsen’s name is prominent on the cover, which was rare before Image.  The creators were the draw, not the characters themselves, so it was a smart move.

The fin on his head was a bit of a mystery.  I don’t think I had ever seen the likes of it before.  Mohawks were not cool in this era, but given Larsen had dreamt Dragon up years prior, maybe that was an influence.  Regardless, it helped distinguish Dragon from ‘ol purple pants at Marvel.

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Page one starts us out right in the middle of the action, Dragon leaping at a ridiculously 90s bad guy.  Cutthroat, how I love thee.  A black dude with dreads, an eye patch, absolutely covered in spikes and skulls and knives and knives with skulls on the hilts.  Not only that, but poor Cutthroat is an amputee, missing his right arm from the elbow down!  “Don’t worry, just slap a giant-ass sickle on there, doc!”  Did he cut his own arm off so he could do that?  I think he might have!  I need to know!

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Cutthroat also has the standard scantily clad henchwoman, or partner, who goes by Glowbug.  She never uses her powers, if she has any, but does get clocked by Dragon one good time and is down for the count.  I don’t recall Glowbug ever showing back up again, but I can’t guarantee it.

Dragon gets sliced up pretty badly, but still makes short work of the two losers.  As he escorts them outside, a fellow cop asks if it’s a rough day, to which Dragon replies, “I’ve had worse.”  This leads to a flashback sequence with Dragon lying in a burning field, naked and unconscious.

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When Dragon wakes, Lt. Frank Darling interviews him and we discover Dragon suffers selective amnesia.  Weirdly, Dragon seems to know everything, from who the President is to who won the ’45 World Series, but has no knowledge of his own past.  Early on, he doesn’t know why he’s green and super strong, or even the extent of his powers.

Frank sets him up with a job, and the reader is soon shown how dire the crime situation is in Chicago.  The whole city is pretty much at the mercy of The Vicious Circle, a mob of “Super Freaks” who do as they please because the police force just doesn’t have the firepower to combat them.  Frank asks Dragon to help him out, but Dragon turns him away at first.

Looking at these pages, you can get a sense of Larsen’s writing style.  I think he’s great at dialogue, even if sometimes things get overly talky.  It’s obvious how much Robert Kirkman is influenced by Larsen (a fact Kirkman freely admits).

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It’s just a matter of time before Dragon sees how bad the Super Freaks can be.  A couple of them (including the aptly named Skullface) give his boss some shit, and Dragon has to smack them around.  Look at Skullface, by the way.  LOOK AT HIM!  Red and gold armor, a crazy demon skull, and he’s a ginger to boot!  He’s beautiful.

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Soon enough Dragon is on the force, kicking all kinds of Super Freak butt and even handling the normies when need be.  Take a look at some of these panels in this shootout.  So much energy in the artwork.  I still appreciate it now, but as a 12-year-old?  There was no way I could keep from salivating when I read this stuff.

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Issue #1 ends with Dragon promising the public he’ll deal with the Super Freak problem while the head of The Vicious Circle (unnamed here) gives his lackeys permission to take the fight to Dragon.

Much of the first three issues focus on flashbacks to Dragon’s early days after waking up in the field, mingled with the present day.  It flows smoothly enough, but later Larsen would put everything in chronological order for the trade paperback.

(Disclaimer: I’m not an artist, and have no knowledge of how to properly criticize art, so I won’t.  I just know what I like and what I don’t.)

Larsen’s art seems to be divisive, and I’m firmly on the pro side.  His balls-out action scenes are great, but he can handle the little moments too.  In the bedside interview, he nails some facial expressions, and the lightning effects from the storm outside are a great touch.

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In the back of the first issue is a page-length letter from Larsen to the readers, and it may be the contents of this page that cemented Larsen as one of my heroes.  He goes on at length about how he grew up making his own comics and how Dragon was his favorite boyhood creation, one he would re-invent on occasion but always keep focus on.  Now he was getting the opportunity to publish Dragon professionally, and through Image he would own everything he published.

As time went on, other characters and storylines from the comics he produced as a kid made their way into the regular Savage Dragon series.  Erik Larsen was (and still is) literally living his dream, and I think that’s amazing.  There would be many Savage Dragon spin-offs and ancillary series, but every issue of The Savage Dragon has been written and drawn by the man himself. (Although Jim Lee did Issue #13 as part of the Image X Month event, Larsen later went back and produced his own Issue #13).  He’s still putting the book out to this day with Issue #225 on sale now.

In preparation for this article, I went back through all my Savage Dragon trades and re-read the first 11 volumes, which covered up through Issue #58 of the regular series.  Volume 2 starts out with Dragon sporting a wicked sleeveless trench coat, Fu Manchu stache, and some lame-ass spectacles, with the tone and artwork getting extra dark and violent.  The job is proving too much for one Super Freak to handle and some other super powered folks join the department for a short while, but it doesn’t last.

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The next few volumes are a tour de force of insane action and outlandish characters.  Aside from a couple epic tussles with Vicious Circle head Overlord, he confronts one of the most unique rogues’ galleries in comics history.  A shark man (Mako), an ape with Hitler’s brain (Brainiape), and a chicken-headed powerhouse (uh, Powerhouse) to name a few.

Also among the superfreak villains Dragon faces on the job: Dung, who utilizes giant shit-cannons and Heavy Flo, who… um… well, here’s a picture.

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After several years of working as a cop, a few team-ups with the Ninja Turtles, a trip to Hell and back, defending the earth from a Martian invasion, and fathering a child with his super-powered girlfriend, Larsen eventually transitions Dragon into an actual superhero, costume and everything, around Issue #40.  In this role, as part of a government-sponsored team of heroes, he gets caught up in inter-dimensional travels and battles with the gods of legend.

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Also, one time Dragon beat a dude with his own severed arm.

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In the mid-90’s there was even a short-lived Savage Dragon cartoon on USA Network, but it’s…not great.

The trade paperbacks make for generally swift reads, but Larsen made the decision early on to let the characters (at least the ones who survive long enough) age in real time.  As a year passes in what we have to settle for as reality, a year also passes in Savage Dragon land.

My Savage Dragon collection has some holes.  In the early 00’s I lost interest for a bit, partially because Larsen’s art style seemed to change slightly in a way I wasn’t thrilled with, and partially because my local shop wasn’t consistent in getting the issues in.

As years passed, the status quo and cast of characters took on drastic changes, Dragon’s origin story was eventually revealed in the Image 10th anniversary book, and Dragon’s son Malcolm grew up and took center stage as the star of the book.  While I’m not as big a fan of Malcolm, the fact that Larsen is able to do this is so satisfying.  I’m collecting the title now, but while I’m current on buying them, I’ve only read up to Issue #208.

For a number of reasons, the book now is not on par with its heyday of the early to mid-90’s, but I admit nostalgia may well be coloring that opinion.  The focus on Malcolm and more space-faring, dimension-hopping adventures aren’t as appealing to me as the semi-grounded beat cop approach of the early days.  Even still, the book is fun as hell.

Erik Larsen also has always been a fan of drawing well-endowed, scantily clad females, and he made no secret of it.  He likes big, bodacious boobies on his babes and giant, rippling muscles on his dudes.  That’s part of the appeal of his art, overly exaggerated proportions on the men and the women. As time went on, more and more sexuality made its way into the book, including some occasional nudity.  There’s been some press lately about Larsen’s decision to start including some, for lack of a better word, pornographic material in the book.  I actually don’t like it, but it’s Erik Larsen’s book, and I whole-heartedly support him doing whatever he wants with it.  He won’t lose me as a reader over it.

If you’re a fan of comics (especially the outrageous 90’s variety) and haven’t ever read The Savage Dragon, you owe it to yourself to check it out.  The early back issues and trade paperbacks are inexpensive and fairly easy to find.  I don’t think you’ll regret it.  If you dig it like I do, consider adding the title to your pull list at your local comic shop. Independent comics always need support.

Comics is a shrinking medium, but 25 years in, Erik Larsen’s The Savage Dragon has soldiered on.  Here’s to 25 more…

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Slash Fiction: Jason vs. Leatherface

Greetings, Legions of the Unspoken!

Ol’ Dean Compton is back, and I do apologize for having been away so long.  Life has separated me from the 90’s comics I dearly love and treasure, and it has also separated me from all of you, but that shall happen no more!  We hope to be back on track around here in time for early summer, and my portion starts right here with the rather fun (and gory) Jason vs. Leatherface from Topps Comics!

I’ve been obsessed with Jason Voorhees (although not as obsessed as I am with some things) ever since I was about 4 or 5 years old.  I don’t recall which Friday the 13th movie it was, but one Saturday morning in the middle of the serenity that only Saturday morning cartoons can bring a youngster, the slasher invaded.  This had to be a mistake on the part of the station, but all of a sudden I was seeing a commercial for a Friday The 13th flick!  I was so scared that I had nightmares about it later.

Whether this had anything to do with it or not, movies like Friday the 13th and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were banned in my house growing up.  The only Jason stuff that ever made its way into ComptonSpace was the NES game.  Ask Emily or anyone who knows me: I am goddamn obsessed with NES Jason and will purchase just about anything to do with him, from NECA figures to Funko customs.  For me, that game was Jason, in all of his purple and neon blue glory.  Later, as a teenager, I’d be able to watch some Friday the 13th movies, and whole some of them are scary, most are just funny and a blast to watch.

I didn’t have the same affinity for Leatherface.  I never got to play the Atari Texas Chainsaw Massacre game, although I am pretty obsessed with it now, to the point of having bought a NECA Atari Leatherface.  (I bet you’re starting to think NECA paid me to put them in here, but nah, they just have great stuff.  Of course, should they want to sponsor the site, come on, fellas!) I didn’t see Texas Chainsaw Massacre until I was 22.  It’s a good movie, but I always sort of thought of Leatherface as the least of the slashers until recently.  Thanks to various action figures, I have started to really dig Leatherface, so when I learned of this mini-series, I Just had to see how these two horror icons did against one another.

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The covers to this mini-series are excellently done by Simon Bisley, who displays from the get-go why he was the perfect artist for such a task.  Also, Jason’s machete sort of looks like the one he uses in Jason X, making this even more badass.

Published in the waning days of Topps Comics, Jason vs. Leatherface had a very low print run, making it highly desirable these days.  From what I can tell from my research (which is done on little sleep and a shoestring budget, so please correct me if I am wrong), this is the only time in any medium that Jason and Leatherface squared off in an “official” manner.  That sort of makes it sound like they had some sort of government sanctioned duel.  That is decidedly not the case; this is much, much more fun.

Nancy Collins writes a fun story in which Jason is caught up in corporate malfeasance.  A corporation has been using Crystal Lake (the perpetual home of Jason’s massacres) to dump toxic waste.  They are moving on from the area, and the EPA has confirmed that something must be done about the waste.  The CEO decided to just drain and dredge the lake and then use the land to build high-priced development housing.  AND THEY SAY JASON VOORHEES IS THE BAD GUY!

Of course, Jason is at the bottom of the lake from the end of one of his last massacres, and he’s just waiting for something or someone to free him.

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Remember that Southern Rock compilation CD “Going South”?  I bet Jason hates it.

The man in charge of the dredging makes it clear to all involved that he is not a nice man and that he is there because he works cheap.  While they are in the process of dredging the lake, a local arrives and warns them of the danger that is Jason Voorhees, but the contractor laughs it off.  Of course, as he is scoffing at the idea that a crazed and unstoppable maniac is at the bottom of the lake, what does his crew pull up with a large crate of toxic dirt?  If you guessed anything but Jason, turn in your badge; you’re off the force.

The dirt gets hauled to a train where it takes off for the desert. Joining the dirt on this journey is a hobo and his dog, and being honest, these are the most likeable characters in the entire book.  Sadly, Jason kills them rather quickly, and this is the moment that really reminded me that while we all like Jason, we really shouldn’t  He murders harmless and defenseless people for no good reason.  This hobo offers him some booze, which is like money to hobos in pop culture, and Jason hacks his arm off.

Of course, what will really get to most folks is when Jason hacks the dog right in half.

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Of course, the hobo was just telling his dog about how happy he was that they had been riding the rails together, which meant they were about to die.  Being happy in a horror comic or movie means instant death.

Jason proceeds to kill everyone on the train. Even without being an engineer,  I know a train can’t run without one, and it doesn’t take long before the train, toxic dirt and all, blows up with our favorite maniac walking away from the carnage.

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IS HIS MACHETE ON FIRE?  JASON IS THE COOLEST.

Jason’s train has crashed in Texas.  Sawyerville, Texas, to be exact, which just happens to be the home of Leatherface and family.  Jason comes upon one of their intended victims trying to escape.  The victim implores Jason for assistance, which is sort of like asking a demon for assistance with the devil.  Leatherface and family quickly make their way onto the scene, desperate to hold onto their meat.  The victim is terrified as Jason and Leatherface make first contact!

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The moment you have been waiting for since you read the title.

Jason and Leatherface square off in a slash clash of terror titans!  Jason manages to overpower Leatherface and force the aberration to lose his grip on his famous chainsaw, but then rather than killing Leatherface and his kin, Jason kills their intended victim and then hands Leatherface his chainsaw.  Leatherface’s kin introduces himself to Jason as Hitchhiker, and he convinces a confused Jason to join them back at their house for supper.  Jason has never felt anything but hate and anger, even at that awesome hobo who just wanted to get him drunk, so the fact that he doesn’t want to kill these people immediately is foreign to him.

He goes along with them, and after being introduced to Cook and the rest of the family, he finds himself feeling a kinship with Leatherface.  The rest of the family, especially Hitchhiker, picks on Leatherface the way Jason was picked on.  Upon arriving at the house, Hitchhiker immediately makes fun of Leatherface for losing his saw to Jason, which is really not anything to be ashamed of, what with Jason’s super-strength and all. (It’s like a baby losing an arm wrestling match to Hulk Hogan.  That’s just how it is gonna go down.) The taunt leads Leatherface to run away to his upstairs bedroom and fling himself on the bed in the way that teenage girls do in sitcoms, although Leatherface has decidedly fewer posters of boy bands and kittens on his walls.  (He does have a sweet poster of what seems to be Conan or Franzetta’s Death Dealer above his bed.) Jason’s kinship with Leatherface grows, and he heads upstairs to offer his friendship and understanding.  Jason was tormented too, and seeing Leatherface in anguish is reminding Jason of his own torment and somehow making him show empathy and sympathy for another human being.

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This is the beginning of a very ugly friendship.

Cook tells Jason that he is glad that he and Leatherface have started to become pals, and he introduces Jason to the rest of the family.  Jason, being mute, reaches back into his memories and finds a way to reveal his name to his new “family”.

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For someone who gets a rap as being mindless, that’s not awful blood penmanship from Jason Voorhees.

The second issue centers around the Texas Chainsaw Massacre family settling in with Jason and Jason settling in with them.  Cook opens up to Jason about his desire to one day own a fancy restaurant (that I presume would serve people) while he just rakes in the cash and lives in a doublewide trailer.  Hitchhiker shows Jason his dog, which Hitchhiker killed but still keeps on a chain.  Hitchhiker doesn’t care for Jason for lots of reasons, including that he has taken up for Leatherface, but it seems to me that what bothers Hitchhiker the most is that Jason doesn’t eat.  This scene meanders back and forth between what seems like Hitchhiker trying to get to like Jason and Hitchhiker trying to intimidate Jason.  It makes little difference, as Hitchhiker has to head for the gas station where the family makes its income and meat.

A lost couple stops in for gas, and after Hitchhiker makes sure they won’t get far, Hitchhiker and Jason (at Cook’s request and Leatherface’s reluctance) set out to murder the couple when the car breaks down.  Hitchhiker loves the game aspect of this, but Jason is just brutally efficient.  After choking the wife in the couple to death, Jason gets chastised by Hitchhiker for not taking enough time.  Hitchhiker is somehow the most despised character in this book, as his love of sadism means that he wants to hear his victims scream and beg before he kills them.

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You’d think that in a comic book full of cannibals and mass murderers that you’d have trouble picking the one you hate the most, but it’s surprisingly easy.  Hitchhiker is the worst.

After returning from what they call “getting groceries,” Hitchhiker decides to show Jason his hobby, which isn’t collecting baseball cards or Pogs, you 90’s kids, but instead, he has this odd fascination with making things out of body parts. I guess that really isn’t too odd, seeing as how he is batshit crazy and a murderous cannibal, but you know for folks like you and me, we’re not so enamored with such things.  This fascinates his brother Leatherface, who is hiding among the macabre creations as Jason and Hitchhiker chat.  He tries to sit in a bone chair, and when he breaks it, he is discovered.  Hitchhiker goes to abuse Leatherface over this transgression, only for Jason to recall his own past as an abused youngster, and he also recalls when his mom cut his dad’s head in two with a machete, leading to a lifelong (and deathlong, I suppose) obsession with murder and violence for Jason.  This abuse, though, isn’t a pleasant memory for the Crystal Lake killer, and he decides to step in and spare Leatherface any more abuse.

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Jason knows that mass murdering icons gotta stick together.

After Jason’s siding with Leatherface, Hitchhiker gets really mad.  Like, 1990’s Nine Inch Nails Mad.  He then says he doesn’t care that Jason has taken sides with Leatherface (who Hitchhiker often refers to as a “retard” among other things.  In addition to being a homicidal cannibal, Hitchhiker just isn’t very nice.)  because Hitchhiker believes he cannot be hurt.  He demonstrates this to Jason and Leatherface by driving a pocketknife through his hand without wincing or grimacing.  Rather, as would befit the stature of such a madman, he just talked about he is invincible and how nothing can stop him.  Jason, never one to turn down a challenge, picks up a sharp piece of bone and decides to find out just how invincible Hitchhiker really is.  He picks Hitchhiker up by the throat and goes to stab him, only to be stopped by Leatherface.  Out of respect for Leatherface, Jason decides not to murder Hitchhiker.

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This is the first time in his life that Hitchhiker has known fear.

Hitchhiker thanks Jason by calling him chicken and then letting Leatherface know that he doesn’t care.  Things are building to a head between the members of the family that aren’t Leatherface and Jason, and Cook attempts to try and soothe matters by apologizing on behalf of Hitchhiker, but Jason’s newfound patience is just about at an end.  The third issue has Hitchhiker getting angry with Leatherface again, this time for reading his comics and leading fingerprints on them.  Of course, many comic book fans have felt rage over this, but Hitchhiker lashes out at Leatherface and slices his arm with a pocketknife.  I’ve been angry at my family for ruining comic books of mine, but I have never sliced anyone over them.

Jason’s had enough, and he tosses Hitchhiker across the room.  Now Hitchhiker has had enough, and despite Cook’s protestations that this conflict not occur at the dinner table, Hitchhiker stabs Jason in the heart with the pocketknife, which has about as much affect on Jason as a BB Gun would have on a tank. Cook defends his brother with a meat cleaver, but no one can now save Cook and Hitchhiker from Jason’s wrath…except Leatherface.

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CHAINSAW VS. MACHETE!

The family is able to overpower Jason due to their numbers and take him out temporarily.  Rather than eating him, they dump him in a lake.  Jason recovers and makes his way to the surface.  Rather than going to kill them, he decides to go home, as he’s had enough of the world outside of Crystal Lake.

This is a fun mini-series.  I wish there had been more of Leatherface and Jason actually fighting, but three issues of this was probably a risk at that time anyhow, and to get anymore fighting we’d have needed a fourth issue.  Nancy Collins tells a fun tale that actually is much deeper than anything one could have expected with this title, and the covers alone are worth the price of admission.  Simon Bisley does a great job.

The worst thing about the series is that it shows us how fun Topps Comics was, publishing everything from this to X-Files to the Kirbyverse (covered here and here, and we also look at another Jason appearance here) with a large number of really good comics that drew from all sorts of source material.  It’s a shame that Topps didn’t survive to do sequels to this or to keep their other great titles going.  Alas, such is the fate of many a comic book company, especially during the 90’s.

Hope you have had a great time reading about two maniacs trying to kill each other!  We’ve got more great stuff around the bend here at The Unspoken Decade, so stick around!!

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Dream Come True (Part 1)

midsummersnightmareGreetings, Legions of the Unspoken! It is I, your loyal Symbifan, back with the first installment of my newest article just in time for my birthday! And what better way to celebrate than to share my passion with you, the readers, for the timeless DC classic Justice League: A Midsummer’s Nightmare?! No better way! So, without further ado….

rco009_1467648953Our tale begins with recent Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, taking a break from writing/drawing a new page for his assigned comic book project. He seems to be having some difficulty deciding exactly which direction he wants to take with his story. And I mean, who can blame him with a lame character name like….Green Lantern?! Wait! Whaaaaaat?! (Sorry, Family Guy moment!) Anyway, he becomes discouraged and decides to go out for a cup of coffee. While his editor is blowing up his answering machine in his apartment, he meets up with a friendly neighbor lady and talks about his slump. They both enter the coffee shop, purchase their drinks, and say their goodbyes as she leaves for work. It’s a pretty typical day until she shoots off into the air and shapeshifts into a bird to join the hundreds of other flying people milling about their average work days! (Insert Twilight Zone music here!)

We then cut scene to The Daily Planet where reporter Clark Kent, sporting a stylish ponytail (What do ya want? It was the 90’s!), is currently enduring a lecture his from publisher, Perry White, about his work on a recent article about superpowered people (AKA “metahumans” to you Marvel mutant nuts). As Perry gets frustrated and storms off, Clark admits to a co-worker that he actually requests these types of stories, but when he attempts to write them, they seem less “real” to him.

RCO012_w_1467648953_kindlephoto-11141688At that moment, another co-worker enters with a gift for Perry, a paperweight. This is when Clark panics as the rock strikes a stunning resemblance to kryptonite! He quickly excuses himself and bolts though the office. As he make his escape, he hears several names spoken in other conversations that seem familiar to him. The readers know them to be the secret identities of some of DC’s other costumed adventurers. As he ponders what this means, we once again cut scene, this time to Wayne Manor.

RCO014_1467648953_kindlephoto-16583370This scene begins with Bruce Wayne reading the local newspaper and looking rather distressed. His assistant, Lucius Fox, senses his boss’s distress and exclaims that this must be due to the front page story about a bad business deal Wayne Enterprises was recently involved in. Wayne shows little interest in this and shows Lucius the back story about a recent horrific murder in the fair city of Gotham. (Big surprise, right?!) Bruce then orders his assistant to cut a check to make sure the survivor of the crime (A boy named Jason Todd! Cool huh?! I mean, huge fan of the Red Hood right here! There was this one time…..oh yeah, the article! Sorry! So embarrassing…..) want for nothing for the rest of his days. Lucius then remarks that Wayne can’t save everyone that has been a victim of a violent crime. To which Bruce replies in what I’m guessing is his dark and terrifying “Batman voice,” “Yes Lucius. I can.”

We are next transported to a scene of great danger and panic. A red-garbed figure streaks through an inferno at speeds so great that lightning follows him! As he runs, he thinks about how he is too late but doesn’t remember what for. He also thinks that there should be others with him. Who? He thinks he spies another in the flashing energy. He reaches out. This is when Wally West wakes up for school. Late again for class. What a slowpoke, he thinks.

RCO019_1467648953_kindlephoto-17448482I bet you “wonder” who’s next! (See what I did there? I just gave you a clue. Okay. Bad joke. Um….moving on.) We now find ourselves at the Themyscira School for Girls. The students are in the process of playing tug-of-war with a large rope, overseen by Headmistress Diana Prince. As the game begins, one girl pulls so hard that literally all of the other students are thrown as if the weighed no more collectively than a feather! Yes. They have a metahuman in their midst.

RCO022_w_1467648953 (1)_kindlephoto-33518579The girl, obviously frightened at the large mutated arm that has just replaced her average one, panics and smashes it through a tree! Diana, without thinking, flips through the air and blocks all of the girls from the onslaught of splinters with her bracelets! She then lassos the girl with the rope and forces her to calm down. Afterward, both headmistress and student both recover from the incident, utterly confused.

Meanwhile, in the boardroom of the Red Tide Tuna Company, (Anyone else think this company is in desperate need of a name change?!) the members of the board discuss their Vice President of Environmental Concerns, Arthur Curry. There’s a catty back and forth about how Arthur was only appointed his job and title to save the company from an inevitable lawsuit. It seems Arthur had lost a hand while working for the company.

RCO025_1467648953_kindlephoto-37120101While this juvenile exchange is taking place, Arthur’s chair is of course empty. He is still within his office. He knows how they feel about him. What a joke he is to them. While deep in thought, he looks out his office window and sees the large groups of environmental protesters. He thinks about how he, in actuality, belongs with them.

We now set our sights upon the red planet of the Milky Way Galaxy. That’s right, Mars. But it seems as if this barren and uninhabited wasteland is anything but as a Martian child is pictured running down the red dunes toward her mother. The child exclaims that she was told today in a learning ceremony that there may just be life on other planets. She then asks if such a thing could be possible and if her father believed this.

RCO027_1467648953_kindlephoto-37213557That’s when her father scoops her up in his arms with a smile and replies that he only believed in what he could see or touch but that it mattered little to him as long as these “aliens” never interfered with his happy life. (All I can say is, Martians need to invent a little something called….clothes! I mean, the red strap over the chest hardly hides anything! Have some shame, people!)

RCO028_1467648953_kindlephoto-71064149Meanwhile, we see a purple-haired, yet pixelated (You read that right. Pixelated! As if having purple hair isn’t enough!) man strolls right past what seems to be military guards in a presumably secret compound. He walks between the guards without notice and, in fact, right through the door as if he were a ghostly apparition! He descends the stairs beyond where a male in a helmet resembling a skull and tattered clothing sits. He is strapped to a high-tech chair in heavy restraints. The purple-haired man speaks with a smile to the prisoner about how the appearance of metahumans coming into their power is on the rise. He then asks what the strange captive has to say about this. The trapped man cries out in pain as if in reply.

RCO032_1467648953_kindlephoto-71150222We then rejoin reporter Clark Kent as he is finding cover during a metahuman battle in the center of Metropolis to record his thoughts into a handheld tape recorder. The carnage is truly epic as the two superpowered gangs tear up the city, putting countless civilians into harm’s way. While the battle reaches its height, a stray energy blast from one of the attackers hits the large golden globe above the Daily Planet building! As the landmark explodes into shrapnel, Clark has a flashback of another time. Of another life. He leaps into action, saving several civilians. The rubble narrowly misses them. An onlooker, seeking to save the hero, starts lifting a piece of the building’s wreckage. He finds no one because Clark has taken to the skies!

We then reenter the home of Bruce Wayne. As Bruce watches the news with obvious disgust, his parents enter the room! (Okay, DC! Now you’ve gone too far! That’s right, folks! The parents of Bruce Wayne are alive and well! Has the world gone utterly mad?! Has it?!! I’m sorry, but my mind is officially blown! Excuse me a moment while I take my meds…..)

RCO040_1467648953_kindlephoto-89388935(Okay. I’m back and feeling like my old Symbifan self. Continuing on….) His parents, completely unaware of Bruce’s shock, blather on and on about how he should give up his charity, travel the world, and basically enjoy his fortune. It’s then that his mother unknowingly snags her pearl necklace on the statue of a bat-like creature within the study. As she lifts her head, the necklace snaps and pearls fall everywhere. That’s when Bruce Wayne remembers and starts to wake up. He immediately starts looking for the secret entrance into the Bat Cave behind an old father clock. He finds nothing! He then turns and sees the awe-inspiring form of the Man of Steel hovering there in full costume! He tells Wayne to wake up. That he believes in him.

RCO042_1467648953_kindlephoto-89460374But before Bruce can say much in reply, a group of metahuman looters scale the gate to Wayne Manor, looking for an easy score! They picked the wrong mansion! Superman rushes out and easily dispatches of these young upstarts until one meta, in invisible form, tries to sneak up the Last Son of Krypton.

RCO047_1467648953_kindlephoto-89534572Before Superman can react however, a Batarang cracks the hoodlum in his see-through skull! The Batman has officially returned! (Time for a “World’s Finest” team-up, y’all!) The two speak seriously on the state of this nightmare of a world. It is decided that if they’re going to triumph this time, there going to need help.

End part one.

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