Archive for June, 2011

Shirtlifter #3 & #4

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Steve MacIsaac, Justin Hall, Ilya, and Fuzzbelly
Drawn, Out Press
$10.95 (#3) $12.95 (#4)

Review by Joe Palmer

For You O Democracy

Come, I will make the continent indissoluble,
I will make the most splendid race the sun ever shone upon,
I will make divine magnetic lands,
With the love of comrades,
With the life-long love of comrades.

I will plant companionship thick as trees along all the rivers of America,
and along the shores of the great lakes, and all over the prairies,
I will make inseparable cities with their arms about each other’s necks,
By the love of comrades,
By the manly love of comrades.

For you these from me, O Democracy, to serve you ma femme!
For you, for you I am trilling these songs.

Walt Whitman

Approximately 150 years ago Walt Whitman strove to envision an America radically different from the oppressive society of his times. Whitman dreamt of a radically different nation in which his sex positive manifesto,  of lover after lover, is a reality “in every city of these States, inland and seaboard/…The institution of the dear love of comrades.” A little over a hundred years later Whitman’s dream perhaps came closest to actualization with regard to the unbound sex and love in the period following Stonewall. What the poet, with his particular ideal of manhood, would think of contemporary gay society and the greater queer community, our social status shifting over time and geography, and larger goals such as marriage equality is fodder for much speculation though I am certain he would be alternatively amazed and confused by gay society and angered by the doggedness of fear and persecution.

Steve MacIsaac may not be Walt Whitman (those would indeed be big shoes to fill) but a flair for delving into the gay male psyche makes MacIsaac one of the more exceptional creators in gay comics today. Why bring Whitman into my review at all? For contrast I suppose. Whitman dreamt of what could be the ideal place for gay men in America while MacIsaac deals charts the everyday realities of gay identity. My first reading of “Unpacking” was a few weeks ago, and the characters and topics greatly impressed themselves on my mind. The juxtaposition of MacIsaac and Whitman and his ideas felt natural to me when accounts of the poet appeared in a book I’m reading on identity in the American West.

“This is not an instruction manual” is the inscription Steve MacIsaac wrote on the inside front cover to the copy of Shirtlifter #3 that I ordered along with #4 in anticipation of its publication. MacIsaac’s story, spanning these two issues and into the next, is definitely not instructional. “Unpacking” follows Matt after a cross country move from Toronto to Vancouver in the wake of a disintegrated eight year relationship with Michel. He has a job that he likes, a circle of friends dating back a number of years, and the looks that guarantee him the attention of men he wants and some he doesn’t. For all intents and purposes Matt appears to have begun settling nicely into his new life, but only just so on the surface. Beyond this, and to the chagrin of his closest friends, the partnered Kris and Chris, who take great pride in recounting highlights of their semi-domesticated life via an 8 month long home rehab (“Homo Depot is so sending us flowers on our anniversary!”), Matt has done anything but unpack boxes of personal belongings because “it’s all crap [he’s] not using.” Anyone can tell you the process of moving is quite revelatory when one starts to examine sundry items. The boxed up items may be useless, yet he’s drug them along rather than let go. So they remain full while Matt seeks distractions outside of work and socializing with friends. In Matt’s case, these distractions are hookups with men. Big, stocky, bear men and the sex scenes are MacIsaac-style incendiary. Well, save a single instance, with which a fair few readers will likely be able to relate. Heaven knows one just surfaced in my head that I’d rather hadn’t. The metaphor of unpacked moving boxes may be an obvious one, and in the hands of a less skillful writer this would be an otherwise dull story punctuated double exclamantion mark style with steamy sex where reader focus would understandably gravitate.

That’s Connor taking the intiative

Where Whitman delighted in writing affirmations of his attraction to and encounters with men and envisioning a society in which the “love of comrades”  is a celebrated part of its fabric, MacIsaac focuses on the nuances of his characters’ interior lives while their exterior world is in a state of flux. Matt is very determined to continue a series of NSA hookups rather than to look for a relationship until he meets Connor, who’s in Vancouver on an extended business trip. Both men find the sex so intense  their first time together that they decide to continue to play together; this despite, for Matt, Connor’s shocking confession of being straight and happily married to a woman. As the two men try to bond in other ways things get messy. Assumptions and attitudes are exposed and tempers flare as the men attempt negotiating their unconventional relationship. The tension spills over to Matt’s friendship with the two Chrises. These emotionally dynamic clashes is where MacIsaac is having the most fun examining the notions of how we identify ourselves. If being gay is defined simply as having sex with a person of the same sex then Connor must be gay and in denial, or is he bisexual? Yet he refuses to be labeled. And is it wrong to be defined by a sex act? Heterosexuals certainly define themselves by co-opting procreation. On the macro level how is the driving force toward marriage equality changing gays and lesbians individually and culturally? Is the the best route for full civil rights when gays have been denied any positive social roles at all in our society? And implicitly, how do changes (and our desire for them) affect bisexuals and the trans community? MacIsaac prefers to play the provocateur in his storytelling by avoiding answers.

The art is on equal par with the writing. The men MacIsaac draws are big, muscular, and hairy. The same type of man that Whitman described as “blood and brawn”. They may be idealized bears, but they look and act real and their settings are likewise beleivable. His ability to convey subtleties in facial expression and body language reinforces character and dialog credibility. Thought bubbles are part to good use in one scene to show Matt’s interior fantasies. Color in issue #3 is limited to cool greys. A suitably refined color palette provides finishing touches in issue #4.

In the latter issue MacIsaac discusses his creative process. Foregoing the option of working from a full script, MacIsaac creates drafts while keeping key visuals from the project’s inception in mind as touchstones for the characters. From there he’ll edit out panels or even full pages and sketching out any revisions. This loose method gives him the freedom to explore areas piquing his interest. This process is harder he says. No doubt, though my assessment of these chapters after back to back reading is one of a seamless and unflawed story. Artists are rarely entirely satisfied with their work. As proof that he shares this artistic temperament, MacIsaac quotes lesser known 20th century painter Arshile Gorky: “I never finish a painting – I just stop working on it for a while.” A pleasantly surprising reference for me since I’ve come across few people outside of the academic art world who know of the Armenian born painter. Not to worry. Staying true to his critical eye means we’re rewarded with a story that is anything but pretentious.

Three stories by other artists are included in the anthology format. Fuzzbelly offers a story in issue #3 and Ilya follows suit in the following. One chapter of Justin Hall’s “The Liar” appears in  both. The addition of other cartoonists was my excuse for not ordering the third installment of Shirtlifter. It was a simple matter of me being selfish in wanting all MacIsaac. I still do, but circumstances dictated a different approach and I found myself being entertained by Fuzzbelly and Ilya, both whose work was unfamiliar to me. Both short stories provided very pleasant introductions to people whom I should’ve known.

Fuzzbelly’s “F Buds” relates his artistic block with a project. He decides a diversion with his stubby cocked f bud is just what he needs to get past the block. It’s a simply told story in which he conveys a sense of frustration with erotic stereotypes, intimacy, fun, and human vanity. The art style is loose and curvy. If you like your men big bellied and bearded you’ll enjoy the story even more. View some of Fuzzbelly’s work at his blog.

Ilya’s “Dick” is a strip that appeared in the British gay weekly Boyz ten years ago. A collection of seven strips titled “The Dinner Party” appear here. Mild mannered librarian Colin is having an intimate dinner party for friend Ivan, a hunky silver fox, and a hot young boy. It’s fun to watch Colin become increasingly exasperated as sparks fly between Ivan and the young stud. There is a happy ending though not quite the “happy ending” Ivan hoped. It’s better! MacIsaac writes that Ilya and he are discussing a collection of the strips tentatively for 2012 and based on this short piece it will be something to which I’ll look forward to reading.

A brief bio of Ilya may be read here.

The remaining contribution comes from Justin Hall. “The Liar” appears in both issues and I believe will conclude with the next issue. Barry, a hunsband and father of two, is driving alone on a trip to the Grand Canyon when he picks up a young hitchhiker named Ariel who’s headed for San Francisco. Ariel impresses Barry with his aura of freedom and stories while Ariel has his eyes on Barry’s big package. Barry’s  life has become so settled and boring that a kiss and a blow job is all it takes for him to start lusting for the enigmatic stranger. Whatever Ariel symbolizes for Barry, it isn’t who and what he is. Hall clues us in that Ariel has used others, men and women, before. The reader can rightly assume the title refers to Ariel, but Hall doesn’t stop there with his examination. Barry confesses his secrets and lies to his wife to buy more time away as he allows himself to become undone. I’ve enjoyed Hall’s work since his “A Sacred Text” from 2001. Halls uses the serialized, longer format story to his advantage and had me wanting more with each chapter’s conclusion. It looks like I’ll have to patiently wait to find out what happens to Barry and Ariel. Visit Justin at All Thumbs Press.

Visit MacIsaac’s website for previews and to buy the comics or purchase them from Amazon.

Kevin Keller #1

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Dan Parent Writer/ artist
Rich Koslowski Inker
Digikore Studios Colorist
Jack Morelli Letterer
Archie Comics $2.99

You’d have to be secluded in the mountains of Myanmar since March of last year not to have heard of Kevin Keller, the first gay character in the history of Archie Comics. We’ll leave aside the jokes about Jughead, Moose, Ethel, and is it Reggie I’ve read speculation about, as closeted characters. Keller’s injection into the Riverdale gang was so popular that Dan Parent returns to the blue eyed, blond haired Kevin in a four part story.

Last year’s big news with Kevin was simply that he’s a gay teen and the debut story dealt solely with conveying a positive message of inclusion with Archie and friends readily accepting the new kid in school. With this new four-part story beginning here set just before and during July 4th festivities, Parent begins to flesh out Keller’s personality and his background with introductions to his family and friends Wendy and William who visit Kevin in Riverdale. The pair of old friends are a convenient device for Parent to flashback to the days when bad hair, bad skin, and body image issues united the trio of social outcasts as friends at a previous school, calling themselves the “Muska-dweebs” to hear Kevin tell it. Sticking together is exactly what they do. Big hearted Kevin goes the extra mile for Wendy to avoid her heart being crushed by the little scoundrel she’s fallen for. They seem equally supportive, or at least unfazed, of Kevin after he confides “my type is more David! Or maybe Scott!” than Brenda or Jackie. If not for Kevin’s father Thomas, an Army colonel, they’d have stayed thick as thieves.

Supportive and positive messages abound in this first chapter, as they should. A friendship thrives without mistaken or mixed signals between a gay boy and a straight one. Family stick by Kevin when he shares his secret with them. Thomas sees Kevin as a son with “heart and courage” and most important, telling Kevin how proud he is of his son. A July 4th parade as the setting for the meeting of Kevin’s old and new friends is pure Americana, implicity stating LGBT people belong just like everyone does. A competitive pie eating contest squaring off the bottomless stomachs of Kevin and Jughead gets thrown a monkey wrench by a ditzy decision from Veronica. Within the context of Archie, I can’t think of anything more exemplary of American culture unless Kevin had hit a home run bringing the team in for a win. Whether as the awkward gangly dweeb or the blond, blue eyed cutie with the winning smile, the message is clear that Kevin is the boy next door. And nothing could be truer and more important to convey since all too frequently we are told that we are somehow defective and less than our straight peers. Everyone of us, however we identify ourselves, whether coming out now or at some point in the past was the kid next door. In the world of Riverdale Keller is on equal footing with every other teen just as he should be. There’s even a two paged “Stylin’ with Veronica & Kevin” page inviting readers to send fashion ideas in. It’s picture perfect.

And yet that might be a concern. I don’t wish to seem unappreciative or ungrateful for the work and attitude from Parent and Archie Comics in their decision to have a gay character in its cast of lovable, tried and true characters. Keller as a character is nothing short of remarkable. As a twelve year old I desperately needed an image like Keller, but in 1970 this would have been impossible. Parent quite impressed me with his earnestness as a panelist on Andy Mangels’ Gays In Comics panel at last summer’s Comic Con.  Their effort seems nothing less than sincere. but there is something that bothers me a little. It isn’t suspicion of motivation. Kevin seems as devoid of a marketing gimmick as can be or tokenism, though it potentially could be if Kevin remains the sole non straight person in Riverdale.

In this story though there is an air of ease, a sense that being gay has moved past “it gets better” right to “life is nearly perfect”. Aside from good-natured rivalry and fairly tame disagreements, it’s my impression that bad things rarely happen in Riverdale though now I vaguely recall that Miss Grundy or another long running character died. Excluding the fight he gets in with Wendy’s jerk of a prom date, Kevin appears unscathed in both physical and emotional senses. Coming out can often be a difficult process, but neither Wendy and William nor his parents and sisters had trouble accepting Kevin’s news. Sure, Kevin had concerns telling his father, as unfounded as they proved to be. A best case scenario, which is what we hope for as a reaction in telling family and friends. It can happen, it does happen, and one day none of this will matter at all. Until then, family is all too often where we first experience homophobia and cuts the deepest. In any scenario coming out affects everyone and people often need time to adjust. Please don’t get the wrong message here. An idealized story like Parent tells here is wonderful. However, I think Archie missed an opportunity to include an op ed piece (Dan Savage anyone?) listing resources and giving some advice based on practical experiences. The chance a twelve year old kid in my hometown of Lincoln, Illinois will likely face different reactions to hers or his coming out compared to a peer in Seattle is highly likely, as well as the number of available resources. LGBT youth (and adults) who are rejected by their families are at more risk for becoming HIV positive. Read Olivia Ford’s “Homophobia and HIV Risk: What’s Family Got To Do With It?” for an understanding of the connections.

One note that may or may not be relevant: The cover sports a logo specific to Keller with a big #1 emblazoned in red. Just above it is a smaller #1 in black. Next to this is a grayed out 207. The indicia lists this comic as Veronica Presents #207, not Kevin Keller #1. Archie is simply telling Keller’s story in the pages of another, long running comic, and perhaps technically not giving Keller a stand alone mini series. The reasons for this decision could be numerous, and in any case, remain unknown to me. Is it important? The answer is no on many levels, unless one wants to split hairs or in a narrow historical sense.

Visit Archie Comics.

Burly’s Bludgeon Comic

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Bludgeon #0 is here!

After a somewhat fair amount of ado… Bludgeon #0, the first in a new comic series from Burly Press, is printing!

• Each issue signed by the artist.
• Standard comic size – 6 5/8″ x 10 1/4″
• Full color cover on bristol stock
• B&W interior on quality paper
• 24 pages

This is a #0 issue for a reason. It’s the story of Mike MacKay first arriving in Albuquerque, NM after a nation wide search for… something… and meeting an over-enthusiastic barista who will also play a part in the future of the series. It is an introduction to character with a few hooks and glimpses into the coming story.

The website has been updated to include a 6 page preview of the book in the gallery, and the store has been updated for purchasing the book as well (along side BURLY #1 and the 50ft Brute print). This is a pre-order of sorts… orders that include copies of Bludgeon will ship starting 6/28/2011 (a couple days after the convention).

And speaking of conventions…Come see me at the Albuquerque Comics Expo June 24th – 26th! I’ll be at table C7.Copies of Bludgeon #0, Burly #1, and the 50ft Brute print will be sold as well as some bookmarks I’ve printed up for the convention table. Hope to see you there!

Two Spirits – Fred Martinez

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

This afternoon I had the opportunity to view “Two Spirits”, a documentary focusing on the life and brutal murder of Navajo youth Fred Martinez. In a life too short, Fred discovered that he couldn’t limit his identity and the ways in which he expressed and presented himself. One day he was a boy, the following day a girl. In traditional Navajo culture, Fred was nádleehí: a male bodied person with a feminine nature. Dilbaa is the corresponding word for female bodied people with a masculine nature. Whether nádleehí or dilbaa, such people were revered within the Dine’é (the word the Navajo use to refer to themselves) culture and given important roles within its social structures. Fred was murdered because of this unbounded nature. “Two Spirits” also provides revealing looks at a culture’s history not ruled by binary roles and glimpses into the lives of other Native two spirits.

The documentary will air starting this Tuesday, June 14th, on PBS. Visit PBS for more information and show schedules in your area. Please also visit the Two Spirits documentary site.

Minor & Personal Musings On Change

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

By Joe Palmer

Last week much of the comics world was dominated by the news of DC’s planned relaunch and the subsequent reactions of its readers. To say that shocked was one of the most common reactions is an example of the proverbial understatement. The more rumors started to become fact last Wednesday for the comics reading public (apparently retailers were aware of changes on Tuesday, at least my shop guy was) the more it seemed that I was experiencing disbelief and and a feeling that was creeping toward anger. After a few hours and some distractions I decided to try to reach some objectivity.

In all the decades that  comics have been one of my primary interests and passions there have been times of dissatisfaction for me. The source of this was quite often  a change in  an artist or writer with a favorite character (or sometimes that there wasn’t a change). Less frequently a change of direction was involved. As a example, I’ve read comments from a few Wonder Woman readers who expressed their love of the story in which Wonder Woman underwent trials to re-join the Justice League. I remember reading those comics at the time and hating them both for the art and the insipid handling of what is supposed to be an iconic character in its own right. Other times  my interest in a character had waned, but I was too hooked into the stereotypical completist mindset to stop reading the comic(s) in question, and either save my money or try different comics. A few years ago as my collection, now 44 years old this summer, was rapidly taking up more and more space I began to break this mentality with baby steps: selling or giving away odd and ends, dropping a comic here and there from  my pull list, and as a result of those decisions I started to find some measure of more enjoyment in reading the remaining comics. It lasted till about a year ago and my lack of happiness manifested itself again at least once a month as I looked through Previews. It wasn’t just DC, though it has been my publisher fix of choice for longer than you care to know.

The simple truth for me is that during the past few months I had begun wondering how many mainstream comics I’d be reading come this winter. Two comics that really had my interest weren’t even published yet, Batwoman and Static Shock, and they’d both been pushed back under vague circumstances that frustrated me. Wildstorm and its series had vanished, though the stories and characters had languished. Sure Jim Lee had said the characters would return some day — that’s one of the cliches in comics, unless the character is LGBT — but it was easy for me to get the impression that DC was systematically shutting itself down all the while Marvel seemed to do the opposite. It seems Jim Lee was speaking as openly as possible at the time now that there has been news of various Wildstorm characters with either new solo or team books  seems he was speaking as openly Speaking of Marvel, two of the few books I enjoyed, Runaways and Guardians of the Galaxy, were canceled some time ago. When DC recently canceled a number of comics my pull list shrank even more and I wasn’t feeling compelled much at all to “reinvest” the money in other comics.

Then came that damned news from DC. That news that had me mentally saying “What the hell! How could they do this?” By “super compressing” the seven stages of grief process, aided by the numerous new comics teased in following press releases, I think I’m past my feelings of anger and abandonment. A good number of them are piquing my interest and a fair few aren’t. Hawk and Dove is One of those that won’t get my money because of Rob Liefeld’s involvement. His art style isn’t to my liking and my personal opinion of the man, based on his comments about Shatterstar being gay (read here and here), is that he’s an ass. And Mr. Liefeld, should you read this, you can think likewise of me if you want. I promise my feelings won’t be hurt. I digress.

I’m happy now to see Batwoman, Static Shock, and Midnighter and Apollo, presumably still gay and a couple, on the list of new releases. And other LGBT characters like Obsidian and Mikaal Tomas? Too soon to tell though I’ll guess that Mikaal at least is shuffled off to limbo. On the other hand, I have a theory that Obsidian is somehow the catalyst for Eclipso to vanquish the heroes fighting on the moon, providing him the opportunity to bring down the curtain on DC’s universe as we’ve known it. Like many readers, I will miss Oracle as the strong role model into which she was made. The importance of a character who has refashioned herself and doesn’t accept ableist social limitations or define herself by those limits can’t be stressed enough. I trust Gail Simone’s ability as a writer, as well as her empathy for characters. Even so, I think DC is making a serious mistake if Oracle is undone and not a part of the new universe. Gail Simone and Jill Pantozzi, who writes for the Newsarama blog had a frank discussion about this change that was posted after I took a break in writing today. You can read it here, and you should if you have any interest in Oracle or Batgirl.

There has been a lot of unhappy comments from fans about what little is known of the changes. Certain costume designs or tweaks come to mind, and some of the choices do indeed seem questionable to me. I could spend time making a list of points that I’ve read concern expressed over, and as valid as I think those opinions are, I’m trying not to be influenced by them. There just isn’t enough information yet for me to form a solid opinion. Pictures may say a thousand words, but often those words are up to the viewer’s interpretation. As things are right now, the relaunch isn’t a jumping off point for me as I wondered it might be. Not that I’m blindly buying into this massive change; that would’ve been the old completist me. Rather, I see this as an excuse to re-examine my relationship with comics, not to wholesale dump them, but to be more discerning in choosing the stories that I feed my to my imagination and as importantly, why.


Saturday, June 4th, 2011

By Mike McDermott

[Note: this profile dates from its original appearance on this site and does not reflect any info or events from the Annihilation mini series or Guardians of the Galaxy comic.]

When she was three years old, Heather Douglass and her parents were driving back to L.A. after a short vacation. They saw in the sky a scout ship belonging to the mad Titan named Thanos. In order to prevent them from telling anyone what they saw, he attacked their car, forcing it off the road, and killing both of Heather’s parents. Heather was the only survivor of the crash. She was rescued by Mentor, ruler of Titan, and Thanos’ father who opposed his son’s violent activities. Mentor took Heather back to Titan, where she was placed in the Shao-Lom monastery. She was raised by the monks, and taught their extensive physical and mental disciplines, as well as helping her develop her latent psionic abilities. She grew up to become an accomplished athlete, martial artist and geneticist.

Upon reaching adulthood, she took the name Moondragon, and joined in the fight against Thanos. This fight brought her into the company of the Avengers, whom she briefly joined. Being raised apart from humanity, and having attained physical and mental perfection, Moondragon considered herself a goddess, and superior to most of her teammates. Her somewhat arrogant attitude prevented her from fully fitting in with the team, and she stayed with them only a short time, although she remains an ally.

During her time with the Avengers, Moondragon learned she had her physical and mental training had been part of preparing her for the role of the Celestial Madonna. The Celestial Madonna was to be a perfect human woman who would mate with the perfect plant-being and become the mother to the Celestial Messiah, who would herald in a new golden age for the universe. Moondragon was one of two women who were groomed for this role. The other was the Avenger known as Mantis. Although the two of them possessed equal training and skill, Moondragon was found to be lacking in humanity, so Mantis was chosen instead.

Moondragon’s had a tumultuous career as a superhero, and was even briefly a villain, when she was corrupted into imposing her will on others “for the greater good”. She even enslaved the entire population of an alien world, but was defeated by the Avengers. She was eventually freed from the corrupting influence, and has since made every effort to atone for her past mistakes.

More recently, she returned to Los Angeles to help train the new Captain Marvel, to properly control his cosmic awareness. During her training of Captain Marvel, she also got to know his friend Marlo Chandler Jones. When it was revealed that Marlo had developed a potentially dangerous ability known as the “death wish”, Heather began training Marlo to safely control this new ability. Heather and Marlo became close during this process, and even shared a passionate kiss, which came as a shock to both women. Although Moondragon had past relationships with men, they were lacking any real emotion and were mostly a means to an end for her. Marlo was the first person whom Heather really made an emotional connection with. Marlo explained the situation to her husband, and she and Moondragon began to explore their new relationship.

They spent a few happy months together, but eventually Marlo decided she wanted to return to her husband. Moondragon understood, and they agreed to remain friends always.

At this time, Marlo and Moondragon were targeted by the Magus, an evil sorcerer who is an enemy of Captain Marvel. Marvel’s younger sister, Phyla, was sent to bodyguard Marlo while he went into the future to deal with the Magus’ schemes elsewhere. Moondragon was gravely injured fighting the Magus, and he saved her life, to make her indebted to him so that he could continue to manipulate and control her in the future. During his time travelling, Captain Marvel saw a distant future where Moondragon was a faithful servant of the Magus.

In the present day, after the Magus was defeated for now, Moondragon moved out of the apartment once her relationship with Marlo ended. She also told Marlo and Rick that Marlo’s attraction to her was the result of the Magus’ manipulations; that he had been stimulating emotional responses out of her to make her easier to manipulate, and that due to her telepathic powers, that spilled over and affected Marlo as well.

However, this was simply a story Moondragon came up with in order to allow Marlo to find happiness again with Rick, without their brief affair complicating matters. Phyla overheard the story, and told Moondragon that she knew it was a lie–and that she found that noble sacrifice to be very attractive. She apparently became attracted to Moondragon while helping protect Marlo, and now that Moondragon was single, wanted to pursue a relationship with her. Moondragon was interested, and they were lasted seen heading off together into a spatial portal into an unknown adventure.

Moondragon has had a number of past involvements with men, but they all were lacking any emotional connection. She once unsuccessfully pursued Quasar as her “perfect mate”. That was more about conceiving a child rather than any kind of relationship.

Moondragon’s recently revealed lesbianism possibly puts her mentoring of Patsy Walker, the Avenger known as Hellcat, in a new light. Like Marlo, Patsy was an attractive, brave red head. When Moondragon first left the Avengers, she took Patsy with her and trained her. While it has never been suggested that there was any kind of romantic relationship between the two, the physical similarities between Patsy and Marlo does raise a few questions.

As a very powerful psionic Moondragon is very capable of projecting her thoughts to others, reading other people’s thoughts and even taking control of their minds. She also has telekinetic abilities, allowing herself to fly, and move objects with her mind. She can also project bursts of pure mental force, or create a Her body is trained to ultimate human perfection, and she is a master of martial arts.

Moondragon has served as a priestess, and as a superhero she has been affiliated with the Avengers, Defenders, Infinity Watch and most recently the Guardians of the Galaxy. On Earth she was based in Los Angeles, New York, and Colorado. Off Earth she as was located on Titan and the Knowhere, a space station situated in the head of a dead Celestial.

Her first appearance is in Iron Man #54 (vol 1) and her sexuality is shown in Captain Marvel #32 (vol 3).

See the entries for Phyal-Vell and Quasar.


Friday, June 3rd, 2011

By Mike McDermott

Phyla-Vell is a heroine who has taken on various identities during her adventuring career, frequently trying to live up to the legacies of others.  She is the daughter of the original Captain Mar-Vell, and trained all her life in combat in order to follow in her father’s and brother’s footsteps as a hero.  She eventually got her chance when her brother Genis, who was carrying the “Captain Marvel” legacy at the time, went insane from his Cosmic Awareness.  Phyla adopted the Captain Marvel name and uniform and fought to subdue Genis and help restore him to sanity.  Phyla fought alongside the recovered Genis for a time, along with his ally Moondragon (Heather Douglas).  The two women soon become involved, and left to explore the universe together.  After Genis’ death, Phyla realized she was not yet ready to carry on the “Captain Marvel” legacy, and willingly gave up the title.

Phyla was one of the many intergalactic heroes who joined forces to fight the Annihilation Wave invasion of our universe.  During the final battle against Annihilus, Phyla gained possession of the quantum bands of the fallen hero Quasar (Wendell Vaughn).  Feeling that the bands had chosen her, Phyla decided to become the new Quasar.  She and Moondragon also helped battle the Phalanx invasion of the Kree Empire, but Moondragon was killed in action.

As Quasar, Phyla was one of the founding members of Star-Lord’s team of interstellar heroes, the Guardians of the Galaxy.  While on leave from the team, Phyla and Drax the Destroyer (Moondragon’s father) rescued Moondragon from the realm of the dead and restored her to life.  In exchange for Heather’s resurrection, Phyla made a deal with Oblivion to become the new avatar of Death, replacing the late avatar, Thanos.  Phyla kept this deal secret from her teammates and took on the new identity of Martyr, relinguishing the Quasar identity and quantum bands back to a newly-resurrected Wendell Vaughn.

Becoming Martyr seemed to affect more than just her powers; Phyla was more aggressive and violent, bringing her into conflict with team leader Star-Lord when she became insubordinate.  To fulfill her agreement with Oblivion, Martyr attempted to assassinate her fellow Guardian, Adam Warlock.  However, Warlock survived the attempt–but transformed into his own dark reflection, the Magus.  The Magus captured Phyla and several other Guardians, tricking their teammates into believing that they were killed.  However, Phyla’s psychic bond with Moondragon allowed Heather to learn that Phyla was still alive.  Martyr and the others managed to escape, but Phyla was killed by Thanos when he was resurrected and resumed his role as Avatar of Death.  Whether or not Phyla will manage to cheat death yet again remains to be seen.

Phyla’s powers varied from identity to identity.  Her natural-born powers as a Kree/Titanian hybrid include flight and superhuman strength.  As both Captain Marvel and Quasar she was able to absorb and project large amounts of energy.  As Captain Marvel she possessed cosmic awareness (a form of psychic link with the universe itself), but that ability faded away for unrevealed reasons.  As Quasar she was able to create constructs out of quantum energy, limited only by her imagination–anything she could visualize, she could create.  She frequently used a sword constructed out of quantum energy–a weapon she that continued to use after she became Martyr.  If she had gained any new powers as Martyr, they were unrevealed at the time of her death.

Read a more in-depth profile of Phyla at this page. Please also read the Moondragon profile.

© and ® Marvel Comics. All rights reserved.