Thursday, September 18, 2014

JL #36: "The Polaris Gambit: Part II End-Game!" Afterward

Don't read this Afterward until you have read the story! many of you guessed that this story was going to bring Hawkman and Hawkwoman back into the ranks of the Justice League? I mean, similar to THE SEARCH FOR SPOCK, could you imagine this story happening and then Thanagar sending the JLA back to Earth *without* their two favorites? I suppose it is possible, but as the writer I knew the whole point of this story was to get Katar and Shayera back on Earth. Hopefully there was enough suspense about it so at the very least when you got to the end you smiled and thought, "I hoped so!"

So what else is there to say about this story? First of all, I hereby declare that I will *never* write another alien invasion story! This story with the lizards and purple brutes, and the earlier story with the Queen Bee and her bee-men...let's stick to super-villains and their ilk for awhile, shall we?

Speaking of which, this is the first issue that somebody new came and played in my sand-box. Another hearty THANK YOU to cyber-pal Luke Daab for providing such a great cover to this story. I loved being the editor to his freelance artist...although the hardest decision I ever had to make was to CUT Aquaman to make space for the Hawks!! Now that Luke has broken the ice, so to speak, I am happy to announce that next issue will be a story drawn by me but written originally by another friend, Rick Duncan! And the issue after that is a collaborative "Marvel Style" story by me and Andy Kapellusch. I am having so much fun!

And now a few random thoughts about what I think I did well this issue and what I think I could have done better...

I did extensive research on Thanagar and the Hawks to write this story. I borrowed the HAWKMAN ARCHIVES from the library and also read up on the characters on Wikipedia and Being Carter Hall . So I *think* I got all the main facts right, atleast as they relate to the Silver Age Thanagar. For example, the Veil of Valmorra really (?) is a waterfall resort. It's where Katar and Shayera met for the first time and began to fall in love.

There are a few different versions of Despero out there, and when I investigated which "look" I liked best, I was actually surprised to find that the number of "fins" on his head kept switching between five and seven! I finally went with five, but I had to be conscious of this or I would accidentally give him seven! I ended up liking my take on Despero, too....creepy, strong, and dangerous, but not a Hulk-ing mess.

However, drawing him and his fins in profile *was* a pain in the ass. 

You know what else was a pain in the ass? The damn chess board. I had to be careful when drawing it to keep track of where the chess pieces were, and how many spaces there were in each direction. Because I do the art piece-meal, a few pages or even a page at a time, this was a huge bother. When I was nearly complete with everything I suddenly realized that the board was not consistent in-between "shots," so I pulled each page that featured it and re-drew most of them. So like my alien invasions embargo mentioned above, I hereby announce that I will never feature a chess-board in a story again!

In a story like this the "little moments" in the original script are the ones that have to disappear first. Still, I managed to keep a few in....such as the "wink" moment between Katar and Shayera as they agree to challenge Despero to his deadly game. I liked how that turned out. Another scene was this one below: it appears simple, but with a touch and a quick comment, it conveys the trust and friendship of these characters. I specifically didn't draw a background in this panel because I didn't want to take anything away from the two women and their moment.
As for Aquaman and his Thanagarian Finny Friends...I love how I colored this scene. Like the shark in JAWS, you never see anything, but you are still very conscious that *something* is in the water. So you had better listen to Aquaman, fellas!
I'm sure I've said this before, but I'll say it again. It seems like every time I draw the Flash, I have to draw him a dozen times. Here he is once, but in fact i had to draw him FOUR times! Sheesh. Is that why I'm happy about the next issue, when he loses his super-speed? Well...yes, yes it is! 

My favorite bits in this story are the ending and the scenes with Green Arrow and Green Lantern fighting to free the Thanagarian Hawk Guards. When I did my research on Thanagar and tried to find three or four places that Despero would want to take over, it made sense that one of them would be the police headquarters. And then as soon as I decided on that location, I *knew* I had to assign Green Arrow to help free it. His comment about "isn't it ironic?" made me laugh out loud as I was writing it. And John's statement about having enough arrows in his quiver is something I always thought when I read GA adventures...
As for the ending, I think Green Arrow and Hawkman have enough of an antagonistic relationship to constantly tease each other, but it made sense to me that Hawkman, with all the stress he had to have endured over the last two issues, would cut through Ollie's crap and give him a big hug. No?

I like the following panel. This is something I think Batman would *always* think as he attacks armed bad guys, whether he shouts it or not, it's his mantra....

When I started plotting this story I originally considered following the DC history of The Shadow War of Thanagar, where the planet becomes more militant under the control of a minor super-villain named Hyathis. However, I abandoned this idea pretty quickly because I didn't want a military Thanagar plot hanging over my characters. In the end I decided that the best way to over-rule the command to the Hawks to return (shown in #31) would be for the king to over-rule the bureaucrat(s) who had ordered them back in the first place. So now the Hawks can come and go as much as I may need them to...!
Hope you enjoyed this story and I hope you like that Hawkman and Hawkwoman are now back in "my" Justice League! Next issue, they play a pivotal role in their first adventure back. And in what seems to be a trend for me, the story is one that was written waaay before anything you have already seen!

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