Friday, December 20, 2013

THE PHANTOM HACKER!

Resuming The Adventures of Lucky Vega:  When we left off, Esteban Vega was so upset about something that he was unusually critical of Lucky's testing of the Vega Shield.  As we see in this strip, he has plenty to be upset about.  Who is attacking the IT infrastructure of high-tech companies?  Who is it that works with such mysterious and sophisticated methods that he strikes and disappears like some kind of cybernetic ghost that no one can trace?  And could this be only the merest hint of a super-science threat so strange, so awesome, so terrifying that only the genius of Lucky Vega and his father could possibly be a match for it?  I'd bet on it...



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

25-YEAR HOLIDAY TIME WARP!


The Adventures of Lucky Vega will resume soon.  But first, Quantum Comics Blog is proud to present something special for the holidays.

We’re about to see the always-anticipated unveiling of the annual QUANTUM CHRISTMAS CARD!  But this is a very special year, as 2013 marks the 25th year that I’ve been creating these heroic holiday offerings.  Think of that:  25 YEARS!  For the occasion, before we see the latest edition of the most wondrous Card of all, we first take a look back two and a half decades into the past.  Presenting once again: the first, THE ORIGINAL J.A. FLUDD CHRISTMAS CARD!  Yes, it's a souvenir of that time before the discovery of fire when I would physically print these things on card paper and mail them in envelopes with postage stamps.  It features heroes of the universe in which I first started creating characters, dating back to high school!  (Yes, that far, believe it or not!)  Some of the concepts of this earlier, pre-existing universe still survive in altered forms in my present work.  For this historic occasion, then, a peek way back into history!  Then, after this little time warp, scroll directly down below this post for the official unveiling of this year’s Card!


QUANTUM CHRISTMAS CARD FOR 2013!


It’s QUANTUM CHRISTMAS CARD time again! Can there be a more awesome holiday event than the annual unveiling of the cosmic Card?  Short of the appearance of Father Christmas at Macy's Parade, methinks not!  But this year's Card marks an extra-special occasion, for it is in fact the 25th annual Card!  Our tradition is now a quarter of a century old!  Bear in mind, since not everyone has known me or looked at my work for 25 years, only a very few people have actually seen the Card every year since I started.  And for some years there were actually TWO Cards, one of which went only to gay men and heterosexual women.  It's true.  But this is the 25th year in all that I've been creating these heroic holiday offerings, so for 2013 I wanted to do something really memorable.  So in the midst of production I made a critical decision and called out to the assembled Quantum heroes:  "Okay, lads, costumes off this time!  We're making it a SWIMSUIT EDITION!"

Everyone got on board for this, even Cirrus of the Environauts, who's very straight-but-not-narrow and prefers to strip only for his very fortunate girlfriend.  His little brother Aquarius, who's a model on the side, cajoled him into it.  "Come on, Trey, the Boss says costumes off.  Take one for the team…"  Wild Jon, Draco Rex, and Seastorm (making his debut this year) were game for it on the spot, as their standard or preferred outfits are either very revealing or almost nude anyway.  The World Champion, who publishes a men's fitness magazine, doffed his duds without hesitation.  The Serpent (also appearing for the first time), whose ambition other than to be a hero is to be one of those "octagon fighting championship" guys you see on TV, duly shed his suit; you know those guys do their fighting in nothing but their boxer briefs anyway.  (And this is supposed to be entertainment for straight men…)  And the also straight-but-not-narrow Satellite, another hero making his Card debut, has one of the best costumes ever but was willing to take it off for the entertainment of any ladies watching.  And so, here we have the 25th official Card in all its glory, and the tradition goes on.

As always, the Card is free to share with friends and loved ones as you desire, with my compliments.  Cheers and greetings from Draco Rex, Wild Jon, The Quantum, Idol, Seastorm, Cirrus, The World Champion, The Satellite, The Stone, Lucky Star, The Point, The Serpent, Aquarius, and their creator.  And may you all have a historically happy Holiday Season!

Friday, November 29, 2013

THE SECRET OF THE SHIELD!

Continuing The Adventures of Lucky Vega:  In this latest strip we learn the purpose of the fantastic new technology whose rather creative testing by Lucky and Roger we've been watching.  It turns out to have been made for a lot more than sparring inside of holograms!  




Now we're starting to get into the "meat" and "juice" of our story.  In the weeks ahead, we'll learn to what other purposes Lucky and his friends will put the Vega Shield and the other super-high-tech innovations of Vega Enterprises!  It promises to be a wild ride!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

GET LUCKY AGAIN!

I know, I know, it's been a while.

By way of explanation, I haven't posted anything new in The Adventures of Lucky Vega for the past several weeks because I've been sidetracked by other work and other projects--one of which is this year's mind-boggling Quantum Christmas Card.  And when you see that, I hope you'll think our little hiatus was well-justified.  Also, in the set of new strips for Lucky that I had completed there were a few panels that I wanted to take back for re-drawing because, frankly, I wasn't satisfied with them and I didn't want them going out the way I had them. However, work on the strip is back in progress, so it's time to pick up where we left off.



Next week the Holiday season begins in earnest and I expect to be with you through it with not only The Adventures of Lucky Vega but some other things I hope you'll enjoy seeing almost as much as I enjoyed doing them--including that Christmas Card!  So keep on coming back, hear?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

DECISION BY DISTRACTION!

So how does Lucky and Roger's test of the Vega Shield in the Immersion Room finally end up?  The arrival of Lucky's father decides the outcome of their contest.  But will Dr. Vega be impressed with any of it?  He doesn't exactly seem happy to see what's going on.  Time will tell what's going on with Poppa!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

ENTER...DOCTOR VEGA!

As Lucky and Roger continue their very creative test of the Vega Shield, they haven't yet noticed that they have an audience.  Dr. Esteban Vega, Lucky's Dad, doesn't seem very impressed with what his son is up to.  Is he just annoyed at the way Lucky is using the equipment or could something else be going on?  Future strips will tell!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

WHO GOES THERE?

And now, the start of another reveal and the first little plot twist for the first story in The Adventures of Lucky Vega.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

HAIL TO THE KING!

Quantum Comics Blog will be back after the Labor Day Weekend with more of our preview of The Adventures of Lucky Vega.  Meanwhile, please join me in celebrating what would have been the 96th birthday of the man without whom you'd be surfing some other Blog right now.  At Kirby-Vision, it's Jack "King" Kirby's birthday, and a number of artists and I have contributed a suite of drawings to honor the King of Comics.  Thanks and have a great holiday.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

ART AND TECHNOLOGY

Don't let me hear you say you can't get ideas when ideas are all around you all the time.  Sometimes they're even sitting right in your hand.  Case in point:  Since the lead characters in The Adventures of Lucky Vega don't have super-powers (this is pre-Environauts, remember), I wanted them to have some clever weaponry.  One idea that I came up with was the Vega Shield, the reveal of which we saw last week.  But energy shields are a very familiar idea; I wanted Lucky and his posse to have something that was distinctly theirs.  It then occurred to me that a very clever idea was right at hand--right there in the very materials that I work with as an artist!

Some of you fellow artistic types are probably familiar with the way some inking and coloring pens are made these days.  Some of them are actually two pens in one, with a different kind of point at each end.  Typically, one end will be a marker-type point and the other will be a brush-like point.  In a flash of inspiration I imagined a weapon that would be kind of like one of those pen combinations.  At one end it would be a light sabre, typical of the weapons used as the Jedis and Siths in Star Wars.  But at the other it would be a particle beam weapon, comparable to Star Trek's phasers and any of the myriad other such beam weapons in popular fiction.  This was the birth of the Vega Duoblade!  Problem solved, unique weapon created!  See, you just have to look in the right place for the right idea.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

THE TRUE TEST!

As Lucky and Roger's workout in the Immersion Room continues, we start to discover the extent of the inventiveness of our young hero and his father as Lucky reveals a new technology and challenges Roger to help him test its effectiveness.  What is the true purpose of the Vega Shield?  Is it merely a defensive weapon, or is the vision of the brilliant Dr. Esteban Vega much broader in scope?  Future strips will tell the tale about the Vega Shield and many other things!

Friday, August 9, 2013

A FRIENDLY DUEL

As Lucky and Roger have at it in the Immersion Room, they are surrounded with holographic tableaux of outer space scenes that were suggested by a lot of the things I watch on TV.  I'm a science-documentary buff, and I spend a lot of time on channels like Discover, Science, and History, watching programs on subjects including astronomy, astrophysics, and space travel.  I can't get enough of shows like that, and I incorporate some things that I see on them into my storytelling.  I'm always on the lookout for ideas, and science is one of my favorite places to look!


Thursday, August 1, 2013

IMMERSED

Lucky, who is capable of virtually anything scientific, is about to try out some of his new super-high-tech innovations with the help of his friend Roger.  The Immersion Room is not quite a Holodeck such as you see in Star Trek.  Its tableaux are not solid like the ones aboard the Enterprise.  But Lucky has something planned for this room this morning, as we shall see...

STARTING THE PROGRAM

And now we begin The Adventures of Lucky Vega in earnest.  As we open the first story, young Lucky is about to do something both awesome and fun.
 



Monday, July 22, 2013

LET THE ADVENTURES BEGIN


I know it’s been a while since our last post at Quantum Comics Blog, but since that time I have not exactly been idle.  For that matter I haven’t even been Idol!  I took a break from the Blog for one reason and one reason only:  It’s time to start ramping up to the return of Quantum Comics itself.

It took me some time to figure out how to be productive about this in the way that I really need to be.  I had to shut down the original Quantum Comics Website for reasons of both health and productivity that left me simply unable to keep up with the work.  But I think now I’ve finally hit on the way to get comics done and actually get them out to entertain people, and the project to which I’ve decided to apply my new working methods is the one that I had initiated when I first started this Blog, which immediately went into another stall (which is why we’ve spent so much time here looking at the future of Quantum Comics while not getting to the present!)  My main project on the drawing board right now, and until further notice, is the official Webcomic version of the Environauts prequel, The Adventures of Lucky Vega!


My plan for The Adventures of Lucky Vega is that the series will consist of thirteen stories, presented in Webcomic strip form with a story structure like that of one season of the TV series Dr. Who.  Running subplots and plot threads will unify all the Lucky stories into a coherent whole, with everything coming together in a grand finale for the thirteenth story that will feed directly into the origin of the Environauts and the beginnings of the Quantum Comics super-heroes.  What illustrates this post is what would constitute a cover for a collected or bound edition of the first set of strips in the first Lucky story.  When we return--soon, I promise--we’ll start previewing the sensational strip itself.  I hope you’ll be here for the next phase of Quantum evolution.  You’re finally going to start to see our characters in the actual context of a story, with dialogue balloons and everything.  And keep following along as I will eventually be revealing some other plans for the strip besides just running the installments here on the Blog.

Thanks as always for visiting Quantum Comics Blog.  Now is the time when you most especially want to keep coming back.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

THE BIGGEST LITTLE HERO

Not every Quantum hero is from the good old US of A.  Some of them are from the other side of the Pond.  Great Britain is the home, for example, of the most mysterious of heroes, Hero X.  In time the British government will put together its own team of costumed super-champions, whom the media will dub "Her Majesty's Heroes".  They will officially be called the Battle Line, and they will rightly be considered every bit as powerful as the Wonders, the American team that will include the World Champion, Draco Rex, the Satellite, and the Bearcat.  We'll meet Hero X and all of the Battle Line as we go along.  For the moment, however, we direct our attention to another battling Brit.


Physics student Eric Quill, a native of Woking, outside of London, is called THE POINT.  He is my own personal take on the archetype of the "shrinking hero".  The Point has the power to reduce his volume--i.e. shrink in size--until he is about as big as a .38-calibre bullet.  The analogy to a bullet is especially apt since when he reaches that size, the tendency of electrons to repel each other does something equally remarkable.  It sets up a powerful energy flux in his body that the Point can utilize to make himself shoot through the air like a projectile.  His mass remains the same and the energy flux gives him an invulnerability power as a side effect, which enables young Eric to punch his way through walls, doors, ceilings, objects, and--in the most potentially dangerous effect of his power--other people.  This, as you can imagine, is why when Eric's xenosome-given power manifests, he isn't eager to share the news.  In fact he spends a great deal of time by himself, practicing his powers until he is absolutely sure he can use them safely without the risk of "bulleting" himself through innocent persons!  When he first acquires his powers, his isolation probably costs him a girlfriend (he's another of the straight ones), but it's necessary.

I imagine us first encountering the Point in an Environauts story in which the Nauts travel to England to investigate a strange cosmic phenomenon and wind up battling native English arch-villain Graeme Grimstead.  I see the Point being drawn into this battle and teaming up with Earth's greatest adventurers to help them against their greatest foe.  I also see Eric winning a research grant from Vega Enterprises and deciding to come to California to work on whatever super-project he has in mind.  Once he's in LA he meets up with the Champ and his sidekick, the All-Star (you'll be meeting him in some future post), as well as Draco, the Satellite, and Giantess (a heroine to whom I also have not yet introduced you) in a dire super-emergency to be announced, and the lot of them decide to stay together and form a new team; this, then, is the origin of the Wonders.  The Point and Giantess become a couple in the bargain.  (And yes, there will absolutely have to be a storyline in which the Wonders meet, battle, and team up with the Battle Line; that simply must happen at some time.  It's too irresistible.)


As for Eric's background:  As noted above, our young lad grows up in Woking, England, which happens to be one of the initial settings of one of my favorite stories, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, and which happens to have a statue of a Martian tripod commemorating that classic novel.  Eric, as a little boy, is captivated by the statue and becomes a huge Wells fan.  Learning that some of the things in Wells's stories have gone from science fiction to science fact (laser weapons, tank warfare, nuclear fission, atomic weapons, and at least the theories of time travel) spurs him towards science as a profession.  Otherwise I thought it would be intriguing to make Eric a "regular, everyday guy"--not someone common, classless, unrefined, and uncultured, but rather someone who, except for his chosen life's work and the "super" life for which destiny chooses him, would be just a regular bloke who likes to watch football and have a pint at the pub.  He'd be a character who would participate in super-hero life while standing a bit "outside" of it and reflecting and remarking on it from the perspective of someone closer to the average man.  The inspiration for the idea actually comes from a song--the British pop hit "Our House" by Madness.  It describes an English family and home life that are perfectly ordinary in every respect, but very special to the parents and children who belong to it.  Eric is one particular line in the song:  "Brother's got a date to keep; he can't hang around"--just a regular, middle-class young Englishman who lucks into a life that's far more than "regular".  And that is the point of The Point.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

THANK YOUR LUCKY STAR


With a Webcomic version of The Adventures of Lucky Vega now in thumbnailing, I decided it was time to have a set of final master drawings of the lead characters of The Environauts, both as they will appear when they acquire their super-powers and become Earth's most awesome adventurers, and as they'll appear in the prequel.  With this post, the coloring of these model sheets is complete.

The powers of the Environauts reflect the spheres of the natural environment through which life has evolved (or will evolve as man advances), from Ocean to Land to Sky to Space.


The unquestioned leader of the Environauts, Lorenzo Roberto Miguel Vega, mainly called Lucky Vega and known in his super life as LUCKY STAR, is the "Space" character and the embodiment of science and the future.  If you can imagine the elastic leader of another very famous comic-book foursome as a 22-year-old Latino, that's Lucky.  Unlike that character, however, Lucky is not quite so verbose, much more emotionally open, and has an aggressive edge to match his scientific brilliance.  Lucky would have been the youngest of three children if his older brother and sister had survived; the third time Dr. Esteban Vega and his wife Rosita tried to have a child, they finally got "Lucky".  Young Lorenzo, the heir to a computer and technology-industry fortune larger than the budget of the United States, is every bit his father's son.  Esteban Vega, a genius at computers and everything scientific who had a vision of perfecting the human race for its destiny in space, was determined that his only boy would be a man of pure science, free from all superstition, dogma, prejudice, and magical thinking, and embracing higher human principles (not invented supernatural authority) as the source of all human virtue.  That's how Lucky was raised  (which came between his parents when Rosita turned back to the Catholic Church, which Esteban absolutely rejected) and that's who he has become.  Lucky is either personally capable of anything scientific, or able to summon masters of any scientific discipline to his aid.  His scientific genius and resourcefulness are virtually super-powers in themselves and the potential undoing of many a villain.  Lucky is filled with wonder at the incredible things he encounters in his adventures, things that would overwhelm or terrify most other people.  Confronted with aliens, monsters, mysteries of the universe, and strange new technologies, Lucky smiles and uses his favorite expression:  "This is amazing!"  Lucky's amazement is always greater than his fear, which makes him the greatest of heroes.  The ironic thing about Lucky is that for all he has and for all he is capable of doing, at heart he wishes he could be "a regular boy" and wants nothing more than to have the things in his life--friends, girls, sports, fun--that regular boys have.  Lucky is attracted to older women and in love with his college physics professor, Elise Hall, whose ex-fiance, Graeme Grimstead, becomes Lucky's most personal enemy and the arch-foe of the Environauts.  The most touching part of his relationship with his three closest friends and partners is that while he affords them a life beyond their wildest dreams, they in turn are his touchstones to a life that he would otherwise never know.  The bond of loyalty and friendship between Lucky and the others is actually the greatest "power" that the Environauts possess.


Lucky Star can become a living, incandescent body of plasma like that in a neon sign or the Sun.  In this form he can fly as fast as 300 MPH and emit beams and bolts of plasma energy, or give off powerful electromagnetic pulses.  Like a star, he is also a strong source of heat and light.  His corona can melt weapons and projectiles that come near him, and he can dissipate the discharge of energy-based weapons or attacks from energy-powered opponents.  His one vulnerability is to strong magnetic fields, which can disrupt him and force him back to human form, but he's working on that.  Lucky is always working on something, which always keeps his friends' lives exciting and interesting.  When Lucky Star calls his friends together, they know they'll soon be heading into something awesome.  


Monday, May 13, 2013

AGE OF AQUARIUS

With a Webcomic version of The Adventures of Lucky Vega now in thumbnailing, I decided it was time to have a set of final master drawings of the lead characters of The Environauts, both as they will appear when they acquire their super-powers and become Earth's most awesome adventurers, and as they'll appear in the prequel.  These model sheets are in the process of coloring right now, but I'm continuing a preview of them here.

The powers of the Environauts reflect the spheres of the natural environment through which life has evolved (or will evolve as man advances), from Ocean to Land to Sky to Space.


Roger Blaisdell, a.k.a. AQUARIUS, is the youngest Environaut and the team's embodiment of the "Ocean."  Indeed there is not much that Roger loves better than the sea; whether he's surfing at a semi-professional level or working as a lifeguard, he's happiest in or near the ocean.  He's an aspiring actor and model as well; typically his favorite thing to model, as you might guess, is swimsuits.  Roger would like to be a movie star, but his life as a hero may keep him performing on a very different stage.  Roger skipped a grade in school and is almost as intelligent, in his own way, as his best friend and the Environauts' leader, Lucky Vega, a.k.a. Lucky Star himself.  Roger is the person that Lucky loves and trusts the most (except for Lucky's lady love, Professor Elise Hall) and is the second in command of the team in spite of being the youngest.  Taking the lead is a role to which Roger has long been accustomed; in his very dysfunctional family he was always running interference between his alcoholic mother and big brother Trey and their emotionally withholding father.  Roger and Trey tease each other back and forth, but an unbreakable bond of love runs through their relationship and extends to Roger's interactions with the team; Aquarius is the emotional "glue" that holds the Environauts together.  Perhaps because of his home life, Roger has always been romantically attracted to girls who are different from his family:  black girls, Latin and Asian girls, girls of every type but blonde and Caucasian.  His greatest love will not even be from Earth:  Nerelle, the ocean-exploring alien lass who is directly responsible for the origin of the Environauts!


Aquarius has the power to transform himself into a body of living liquid and perform a variety of water-related power stunts.  He can become waves and sprays of water that can hit with the force of most powerful waves that surfers ride, or the discharge of the strongest fire hose.  He can envelop a foe in his own liquid body or use his body to protect one of his partners from falling or being thrown.  Perhaps his coolest ability is the power to control his own surface tension.  Aquarius can pass through another body of water without dissolving into it, grab and hold onto something while he is liquid, or flow up and down walls and across ceilings.  He can also assimilate moisture from the atmosphere or an outside source if he needs to replenish himself.  When Aquarius is on the job, the surf is up and the bad guys are sure to go down.


SKY HIGH WITH CIRRUS

With a Webcomic version of The Adventures of Lucky Vega now in thumbnailing, I decided it was time to have a set of final master drawings of the lead characters of The Environauts, both as they will appear when they acquire their super-powers and become Earth's most awesome adventurers, and as they'll appear in the prequel.  These model sheets are in the process of coloring right now, but I'm continuing a preview of them here.

The powers of the Environauts reflect the spheres of the natural environment through which life has evolved (or will evolve as man advances), from Ocean to Land to Sky to Space.



Warren "Trey" Blaisdell III, the sexy CIRRUS, is the "sky" character.  Trey, the oldest of the four friends, is the classic "reformed bad boy," a once wayward youth with a heart of gold.  A recovering alcoholic and drug addict who's done prison time for possession and sale of illegal narcotics, Trey is the member of the Environauts who feels as though he has the most to prove to the world, and to his friends.  He's also been by far the most sexually active of the lot; by his own reckoning he has bedded every girl he's met since he was 14.  His adventures in the circle of Lucky Vega will bring him to the one girl that he'll want for life--if he can convince himself that he deserves her.




Cirrus possesses the power to become a living body of water vapor and charged particles, a human storm system who can shape himself into fog, invisible water vapor, a thunderstorm, freezing rain and hail, gale-force winds, even a small tornado.  He can generate lightning at will and has been known to threaten to show his opponents "what ball lightning tastes like".  The most aggressive member of the team and the one least patient with fools and authoritarians, Cirrus is the one that the other Environauts are most likely to have to hold back for the good of everyone.  To his credit, Trey is unswervingly loyal and would unhesitatingly lay down his life for the others, especially his little brother Roger (Aquarius), whom he calls "the Squirt".  Though he is a loose cannon, Cirrus always has everyone's back.



Friday, May 10, 2013

SKETCHED IN STONE


With a Webcomic version of The Adventures of Lucky Vega now in thumbnailing, I decided it was time to have a set of final master drawings of the lead characters of The Environauts, both as they will appear when they acquire their super-powers and become Earth's most awesome adventurers, and as they'll appear in the prequel.  For this and the next three posts we'll see the official model sheets for the Nauts.  These model sheets are in the process of coloring right now, but I'm giving them a preview here.

The powers of the Environauts reflect the spheres of the natural environment through which life has evolved (or will evolve as man advances), from Ocean to Land to Sky to Space.


Biracial Illinois native Lionel Marshall, the stupendous STONE, is the "Land" character, both the super-strength member and the gay member in the group.  Lionel's African-American mother is a physician; his Irish-American father is a University Dean.  Lionel started out as just black; I've evolved him in this way as a response to the growth and change in my own family and to what's happening in American society in general.  America is turning varied shades of "brown" before our eyes, a fascinating process to watch.  Lionel is a prep-school graduate and a college boxing champion whose romantic life hooks him up with at least two other major characters:  hardbody martial-arts expert Travis Roykirk, who becomes the super-hero World Champion; and super-powerful time traveler Prince Declan Draco, a.k.a. Draco Rex.  



Belying cultural expectations and assumptions about large, physically intimidating black men, Lionel, an English major in college, is the most urbane, erudite, articulate, and cultured of the Environauts, and is the appointed spokesman and media representative of the team.  But as noted above, the voice of the Nauts is also the muscle of the Nauts.  In his super-powered role as the Stone, Lionel can become a body of indestructible, super-strong living marble.  Imagine a certain Russian mutant in another comics universe, but in marble instead of steel.  Strong enough to lift 85 to 90 tons, invulnerable enough to resist heavy artillery, and skilled in hand-to-hand combat, the Stone is one of the most formidable members of the Quantum cast. 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BEYOND THE SEA


Since our last post I’ve gotten a couple of interesting responses to our maritime marvel, Seastorm.  His costume--what there is of it and the way it’s cut--seems to have raised a couple of eyebrows among my mates over at Facebook.  Now it’s time to learn some more about how this awesome ocean-goer came to be.  Take a deep breath and let’s jump in...


I think I’ve mentioned in prior posts that I sometimes look outside of comic books for ideas; for example, to film, books, magazines, music--and television.  It is to cable TV that I owe the starting point for the origin of Seastorm.  A while ago, I think it was on Animal Planet, there was a fictionalized “documentary” about the natural history of mermaids.  It was called Mermaids:  The Body Found, and it expounds on something called “the Aquatic Ape Theory”.  This theory--unsubstantiated, to be sure, but incredibly fascinating to think about--contends that at some point in Earth’s natural history a group of pre-human apes that lived near the sea began to gravitate back to the oceans and, over the eons, were naturally selected for a completely aquatic life!  This, then, is the actual origin of what we call mermaids.  According to the fictional account on the show, what humans have seen and mythologized as people who were fish from the waist down was actually a race of beings who were more like dolphins from the waist down.  (And don’t tell me you don’t know dolphins aren’t fish.  Come on, you’re smarter than that.)  The way this theory was presented and illustrated in the show got the engines in the ship of my mind charged up to full power.  Watching this show I couldn’t help but think, I have GOT to find some use for THIS!  And as it occurred to me that I hadn’t yet perfected my own oceanic hero, I naturally looked in the direction of this concept.

What it comes down to is something a bit like the first act of the movie 2001:  A Space Odyssey, except with prehistoric “aquatic apes” instead of land-dwelling primates.  And in place of the mind-stretching Monolith, Earth’s oceans all those millions of years ago became the home of something called a Farwanderer.  

The Farwanderers are among the most mysterious beings in the universe.  They are either completely noncorporeal, or they are noncorporeal life in artificial, semi-organic host forms.  Whatever they are, they are ancient beyond imagining.  They teleport themselves across interstellar space seeking out planets containing only pre-sentient life.  Once they find such a planet, they set about raising the consciousness and directing the evolution of the highest existing life form.  The Farwanderer that came to Earth chose to work on the aquatic apes.

Once in Earth’s oceans, the Farwanderer itself took the form of an immense, whale-like cybernetic organism, kind of a cross between a Grey Whale and the submarine Nautilus.  And as the aquatic apes evolved, losing their legs and developing a lower anatomy resembling that of a dolphin while becoming more human-like from the waist up, they lived under the guidance of the Farwanderer, which gradually enhanced their intelligence.  They created a civilization for themselves in the sea--but not one like what you see in Sub-Mariner and Aquaman stories.  It bothers me to see undersea civilizations in comic books where you can stand up and walk around or use furniture and utensils on the ocean floor as if you were still on land, and drapes and fabrics hang as if they were in air instead of water, and so forth.  I have an understanding with myself that if I have beings who live underwater it’s going to be more natural and logical than that, and it’s not going to work that way.  But I’m getting off track here.  The point is that these beings, whom we’ll call Cetusians for want of a better name, have a civilization in the ocean that is older than any civilization on land and even more advanced than our own.  

The Cetusians are without aggression beyond self-defense and have no interest in dominating nature or the planet.  They have only intelligence and curiosity.  With the help of the Farwanderer, they have learned to project their minds out of the ocean to explore both the far reaches of land and the depths of outer space.  The Farwanderer has shown them planets and parts of the universe that humans have not yet imagined.  And at times the Farwanderer has allowed some of them to take human form and move discreetly, secretly, among our kind to learn about us in person.  There have been humans throughout history who have unknowingly met and been acquainted with Cetusian explorers.  

And this is all very well and good, as you can surmise--until something happens.  What happens is the story to which so much of the Quantum Comics Universe links up:  the origin of the Environauts.  The invasion of the Ardemian Rief Clan threatens both the surface and the oceans of Earth until Lucky Vega, a.k.a. Lucky Star, and his friends repel the aliens.  But in the wake of the danger, the Farwanderer is disturbed.  Advanced as they are, the peaceful and pacifistic Cetusians would have been subjugated by the Rief if they had been discovered.  What if another such threat should arise and this time not even the Environauts could see it off?  Something, the Farwanderer reasons, must be done.  The Cetusians need a protector, but the Farwanderer is not willing to try to change the Cetusians’ nature to produce one.  It wants its proteges in Earth’s oceans to remain as they are.  Fortunately, the Farwanderer has other options.

In its travels, the Farwanderer has had occasion to study--discreetly--those humans who have ventured into the sea.  And sometimes it has come upon scenes of disaster where the sea has claimed human lives.  In its curiosity the Farwanderer has seen fit to collect samples of the DNA of humans who have perished this way, and store them away for study.  So it is that when it decides to create a champion for the Cetusians, the Farwanderer reaches into its store of human genomes and re-creates a human who lost his life in the depths.  It alters the subject and endows him with mighty powers--and creates a being who will be known as Seastorm!



The reconstruction is not perfect.  The Farwanderer’s creation has the now superhumanly empowered body of a human who died at sea, but the memories are badly corrupted and almost gone.  What Seastorm knows is that he is the creation of the Farwanderer and that he is the friend and protector of the Cetusians, the defender of Earth’s oceans, and the wielder of the powers of the sea and the tempest.  (Our last post includes the full rundown of his powers.)  When he tries to remember anything more about himself, he recovers only vague memories of a life on land, and of a name:  Jonas.  As you can tell from the way Seastorm is outfitted, the Farwanderer is not impressed with human taboos about the body.  Jonas shares Wild Jon’s aversion to excess clothing.

Nevertheless, everyone who encounters Seastorm--including the Environauts themselves, with whom he soon crosses paths--is duly impressed with him!  Whatever he’s wearing (or not wearing), this is a guy to be reckoned with.  Defy him at your peril!

Who was Jonas?  Where did he come from?  What was he doing at sea and how did he perish?  Is there anything of his life remaining on land?  Is there anyone alive who would even remember him?  Indeed, how long ago did he even live, and to what part of human history did he belong?  The answer is...I honestly don’t know yet; this is brand new material that will take a while to work itself out.  But I wanted to get it at least to the state I’ve described above because the idea has really taken hold and I wanted it officially worked out in some manner.  What I’ve determined so far is that Jonas was gay and there was a man he loved and lost.  Whether he’s alive now or where he is, remains to be seen.  But it appears that Jonas/Seastorm is going to have one thing in common with the other aquatic heroes before him:  he’s going to be pulled in two different directions, devoted to the sea and the Cetusians and the Farwanderer, but always drawn to life on the land.  And sometimes those two different callings will be in conflict.  (Indeed the way he dresses--or doesn’t dress--is likely to be a conflict in itself!)  All of which makes this pelagic powerhouse another fascinating addition to the Quantum cast.  As Herman Melville wrote:  “There is one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seem to speak of some hidden soul beneath.”

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

THE PERFECT SEASTORM


Here’s another one of those characters without which a cast of comic-book heroes is not complete.  You’ve got to have the sea-going, aquatic hero, the champion of the ocean.  For the Quantum Comics Universe, that character is more than just a tempest in a teapot.  He’s a full-on Seastorm.

For the excitingly enigmatic Seastorm, I wanted a character who would be a match for a certain well-known Avenging Son.  That character’s theme song from an old animated TV series that was my first attraction to comic books still gives me a tingle whenever I remember it:  “Stronger than a whale, he can swim anywhere./He can breathe underwater and go flying through the air...!”  So, for my Seastorm, I wanted a character who would be the successor of that Prince of Atlantis--but of course he had to be a distinctly “J.A. Fludd” creation.  I thought I had the character exactly right for a while, but just in the last few days I came up with a better approach to him than I originally had, and I took down the initial concept and did a complete rebuild from, shall we say, the shoreline up.


So, Seastorm is stronger than a whale and can breathe anywhere, and yes, he can breathe underwater and go flying through the air.  But his powers go way beyond that.  The man otherwise known only as Jonas is strong enough to give a serious battle to the strongest Quantum heroes like the Stone and the Satellite, even the Bearcat.  He can resist the pressures and temperatures of the most extreme ocean environments, and indeed “swim anywhere” there is water enough to swim through.  He can see underwater at any depth.  His lean and perfectly sculpted body extracts oxygen directly from the water into his bloodstream.  But from here onward he gets even more awesome.  

Jonas can control any fluid medium.  Not just liquids--fluids.  Scientifically, a liquid is “any substance having a consistency like that of water or oil.”  A fluid is any substance that flows, which covers both liquids like water and gases like the air around us.  Jonas’s powers cover liquids and fluids.  In water, he can change, direct, accelerate, or slow down the movement of any current.  He can actually alter the density and pressure of water to use it as a weapon.  Imagine being swept up in an irresistible whirlpool, or dragged down to the ocean floor by an undersea vortex, or dashed against a reef by a super-powerful current.  Seastorm can do that, and can also torpedo himself through water at super-speeds over great distances.  On the surface of the ocean, he can summon a waterspout.  On land, he can create vortexes, gales, or focused thunderstorm or typhoon effects.  He can change water from liquid to vapor and back again with a thought.  He can also lift himself into the air and fly as fast as an Air Force jet.  With this and his strength, this is not a guy you want angry with you.


And then there are his other powers.  Seastorm can communicate with all cetaceans--the family of marine mammals that includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises.  They’re all his allies, meaning if you must battle Seastorm you may also have to contend with a posse of Orca whales who have his back.  And there are other beings in the sea who are Seastorm’s friends and also under his protection.  Who are they, and how did Jonas become their champion?  If you think they’re the denizens of an “Atlantis” like the one ruled by that other Prince of the Deep...come back for the next Quantum Comics Blog where we’ll all “fathom” together the awesome origin of Seastorm.  It’s 20,000 leagues above boring!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

BAD BOY, BAD BOY, WHAT'CHA GONNA DO...?


So, as we learned last time, Dr. Esteban Vega led an expedition into the rain forests of the Amazon in search of rare, possibly endangered, biological treasures that might be a boon to humanity and an aid in his initiative to make humans more ready for life in outer space.  With him were his then-teenage son, Lucky; and Lucky’s fitness and self-defense instructor, Paloma Reyes.  Accompanying them was one of Esteban’s associates in the space project, Jack Samson.  The world’s greatest health, exercise, and fitness mogul, Samson owned a national chain of gyms and had his own best-selling line of exercise and workout gear and fitness supplements, and was the publisher of Samson Magazine, the men’s exercise bible.  Jack had come into Esteban’s project as a consultant on the aspect of helping space travelers retain muscle mass and bone density in space.  And tagging along with Samson was his own son, Todd, a handsome and buffed young lad learning his father’s business.

The expedition’s guide brought them into an area where few white men or outsiders had ever visited, deep in the forest.  Here, the group’s botanist found a species of plant that she had never encountered.  Before she could study the unidentified flora in detail, the group was set upon by a group of youths who could have stepped right out of a Brazilian edition of Samson.  The youths, led by one named Cabroro, accused the Vega party of trespassing on the lands of the Xiil Tribe and attacked with the intent of capturing them.  In the ensuing melee, Lucky used battle moves taught him by Paloma to knock down Cabroro and get the upper hand over him--until more natives arrived and interrupted the whole tableau.  These were members of yet another tribe, the Paramati, who disputed the Xiil’s claim over this part of the outlying territory in the part of the rain forest that both tribes shared.  Which side was in the right?  Cabroro didn’t care; the outsider called “Lucky” had personally humiliated him in his attempt to defend the borders of the Xiil, and as Prince of the Tribe he would have satisfaction.  



The Xiil withdrew for the time being, with Cabroro’s threat hanging over Lucky.  The Vega party went with the Paramati to the heart of their territory and began to learn the incredible secrets of the advanced societies living hidden in the rain forest.  The Paramati and the Xiil both possessed a command of science that would have done Esteban himself proud, and they owed it all to the amazing properties of the Rumutu plant and how it affected the two rival tribes in mind and body, a heritage passed down over centuries on both sides.  The Paramati and the Xiil knew all about the outside world and had in fact been observing the nations of North America and Europe for years, but they had maintained their isolationism to protect the secret of the Rumutu from possibly dangerous foreign hands.  But now Zavio, leader of the Paramati, judged that it was too dangerous to keep Dr. Vega and his son in the dark:  for the aggressive and headstrong Cabroro would soon seek his revenge on Lucky for daring to strike him down in battle, and the Vegas must know what they were facing.

Sure enough, Cabroro and his father Guldaan, leader of the Xiil, came barging into the Paramati Royal Court, demanding a duel of honor between Cabroro and Lucky--a battle that Lucky would surely never survive.  The Vega party would not be permitted to leave the rain forest until the duel was ended, and if they tried to escape or the Paramati aided them in such an effort, it would end the truce between the two rival tribes.  His back to the wall, young Lucky had no choice but to accept Cabroro’s challenge.  However, Princess Ixia of the Paramati fancied the young American and decided secretly to help him.  She arranged a clandestine meeting in which she served Lucky a Rumutu tea that would fortify him enough to stand a chance against the Xiil Prince.  Lucky spent that night in the Princess’s bed, a fitting “first time” for the brilliant and exceptional boy.

The duel proceeded.  As Esteban and company watched, powerless to do anything else, Esteban gave orders to Paloma:  “No matter what happens, we are not going to let this strutting fool kill my son.  If it becomes necessary, you will save Lucky by any means you must, we will get him out of here, and we will let the Paramati and the Xill fight it out between them.”  Paloma understood and accepted her employer’s orders.  As fate would have it, the Rumutu-enhanced Lucky faced Cabroro in a furiously fought battle with both tribes watching--and in the end, Lucky fell at Cabroro’s feet!  But in a twist, before Paloma could step in, Cabroro himself, battered to the limit of his endurance, fell along with his opponent!  Cabroro had triumphed--but he had not won cleanly and decisively as he vowed!  His Princely honor now stained, Cabroro now had no choice but to accept banishment from his own tribe until such time as he redeemed himself in the eyes of his shamed father!



The Vega party left the land of the Paramati and Xiil, but the fallout of this encounter would go on for years to come.  Esteban took a sample of Lucky’s blood and preserved it before the Rumutu derivatives in his blood could break down; these extracts would be a vital component of the hormone-enzyme cocktail in the Samson-Vega Patch, which would eventually be what transformed Olympic champion Travis Roykirk into the World Champion.  And the fallen Prince Cabroro, with his loyal entourage of young male Xiil courtiers, left the tribe and traveled into the outside world, where he would gather wealth and resources for himself, and plot and scheme and wait and bide his time, until the moment came for him to strike back at Lucky Vega and take his ultimate revenge.  So it is that one night, Cabroro is ready.  He and his followers stand on a hillside overlooking Los Angeles at sunset, and as the sky darkens and the city lights up before them, the vengeful Prince vows, “Before we have departed this city, the accursed Lorenzo Vega shall have learned at last that Cabroro, Prince of the Xiil, is his master!”



Pride and power make a dangerous combination--and never more so than in the person of an angry young Prince.

WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG...

We interrupt this comics Blog to bring you a message from another dimension, whose boundaries are those of the imagination.  There's the signpost up ahead; it's J.A. Fludd in...The Twilight Zone!


Friday, March 29, 2013

THE VILLAIN FORMERLY KNOWN AS PRINCE


I hope you’re in the mood for some more evil, because I’ve got another purveyor of perfidy to bring a little menace into your life.  And if you thought Graeme Grimstead was something, here’s a heavy you’re sure to find hot!

In delving into the backstory of Lucky Vega and his friends before they became the Environauts--stories to be chronicled in the Environauts prequel, The Adventures of Lucky Vega--I looked for what Lucky, his father Esteban, and Lucky’s friends were up to before the four boys acquired their powers.  The idea is that before they became “super” they were still heroes.  And as I sought the adversaries of their pre-super-powered past, I came across someone as sexy as he was dangerous!



You’ll recall from previous posts that my most frequently occurring character theme is a type of character that I call “the Prince”--the man with exceptional, extraordinary qualities beyond his Quantum-worthy looks that truly put him over the top.  I defined the Prince as “the man you most want as a champion, a rescuer, a leader, and a lover.”  Until I discovered this character we’re meeting here, all of my Princes were good guys.  It didn’t occur to me that I didn’t have an evil Prince--and then along came Cabroro, Prince of the Xiil!


This kid is every bit as bad as his looks are good:  proud, arrogant, entitled, aggressive, vindictive--and dangerously intelligent.  Prince Cabroro belongs to one of a pair of rival, secret civilizations that live deep in the Amazon rain forests of South America.  They are advanced, possessed of technologies to rival Esteban Vega and Graeme Grimstead themselves.  And they are isolationists, living outside of the civilizations of the rest of the world, but routinely spying on us to ensure we pose them no threat.  



How did these cryptic cultures get that way?  Well, science is aware that there are natural resources in the Amazon rain forest that have gone yet undiscovered and untapped by the nations of the “civilized” world--things with miraculous properties that could cure otherwise fatal or crippling diseases and transform the quality of human life, if only they were not destroyed by the short-sightedness of the world’s governments and corporations.  One such is the wondrous Rumutu plant.  The roots of the Rumutu can enhance the human body, improving a person’s ability to accrue lean muscle, increasing the endurance and resistance to pain, boosting the immune system, healing diseases and disorders, even preventing birth defects and harmful mutations.  The flowers of the Rumutu affect the brain, the nervous system, and the intelligence.  Extracts from Rumutu flowers sharpen the cognitive functions, the memory, and the reflexes, and enhance the health of the brain itself.  Users of Rumutu can become borderline-superhuman.  

The Rumutu plant is one of the best-kept secrets in the world, a secret known only to two hidden Amazon tribes, the benevolent Paramati and the aggressive Xiil (pronounced “zeal”)--until one day when an expedition from America, led by the scientific visionary Esteban Vega, comes to the Amazon seeking biological secrets that might help man in his conquest of space (and which could have saved Esteban’s late wife Rosita, Lucky’s mother, who died of cancer).  Esteban, his son Lucky, and their companions stumble upon the two tribes and their secret, which sets off a dangerous rivalry between young Lucky and the proud, arrogant Prince of the Xiil tribe!  It’s a rivalry that leads to the fall and expulsion of a Prince--and the Prince’s deadly vow of revenge.  We’ll learn more about that in the next post of Quantum Comics Blog.