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Boy I've been posting a LOT this weekend haven't I? And I'm not quite done yet.

August 12th is two sad anniversaries for comics fans; (Postscript - Having just heard of the passing of the legendary Joe Kubert today, that's THREE sad anniversaries for the 12th August)


On August 12th 1996 we lost Mark Gruenwald the writer/editor/fwllow fanboy who raised comic geekdom to a genuine artform, and who is still generally held to be the Patron Saint of Marvel Comics. For a fun sumamrtion of the man himself, try this link.

On August 12th 2007 we lost Mike Wieringo, artist extraordinaire, co-creator of Impulse, and by most fan (and pro come to that) accounts one of the nicest guys you could hope to meet at a convention. (His website is still maintained in his honour, and will more than reward a visit if you haven't been there before, his pencil work is never less than awesome).

And breaking news is that Joe Kubert has passed away aged 85. He is best known for his Silver Age work for DC, including the likes of Hawkman and Sgt Rock, as well as founding a highly respected art school.

So all in all, August 12 is not a happy day, but in the immortal words of Dr Seuss "Don't cry because it's gone, smile because it happened".

In their memory, Tom Brevoort is organising M-Day, a donation drive for that worthy comic-related charity, the Hero Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping out those members of the comic book creative community who have fallen on hard times financially.

If you have a buck/pound/Euro/other negotiable currency to spare and you have enjoyed the work of either creator, you might consider bunging it in their direction. Or not, this is a suggestion, not a guilt trip.


Regular visitors to S_D will know that I like to champion certain creators who are perhaps not as widely known as I feel they should be, and Mark Gruenwald has always been one such creator. I've posted from his Quasar work, and have started a series on the Serpent Society from Captain America, and a trawl through the tags will highlight others from myself and other posters.

However, there is one series that has NO representation on s_d and that's been bugging me for a while, and the announcement of this drive has prompted me to do something about that.

Back in 1986, to celebrate their 25 anniversary, Marvel launched the "New Universe" imprint. The tagline was "The world outside your window", and the intent was to create a new world, where there had been no previous superheroes, or supervillains, no aliens, no supertech, no lost civilisations and introduce new characters who would have to live in a world without unstable molecules or containment suits or the like, and where jumping into a spandex costume is NOT the first thing that one thinks of when developing powers. A mysterious white light in the sky had shone on every point on Earth with no viable astronomical explanation, but shortly therafter certain people started discovering that they were no longer quite as they had been.

The titles were met with varying levels of success (not helped by Marvel's big bosses slashing the budget on the titles, which meant they couldn't get all the top level creators they had planned) Psi-Force (psychic teens discovering they are a gestalt) had some excellent moments, Justice (Alien cop) started rather generically by had a revival under PAD's pen when he changed the entire premise of the character (He WASN'T an alien), Starbrand wasn't a bad example of "ordinary guy gets incredible powers" genre, but Kickers, Inc. (American football stars turned heroes for hire, with a superstrong leader), Merc (It does what it says on the tin), Nightmask (a brave if odd series where a counsellor discovers he can enter his patients dreams and help them deal with their problems directly), and Spitfire and the Troubleshooters (woman with battlesuit and team of earnest college intern assistants battle evil corporation) never found an audience and were cancelled quickly, though some of the characters remained around the New U.

In my opinion, the best of the titles was Mark Gruenwald's "DP7" (Which stood for Displaced Paranormals 7, paranormal being the catchall term for those affected by the "White Event")

DP7 000

Interesting looking bunch, no?

We open issue 1 in a hospital ER, when a giant of a man is wheeled in, and intern Dr Randy O'Brien is on duty. The giant has OD'd on painkillers and he's not responding well to the medic's ministrations...

DP7 001

Dr O'Brien tries to convince himself that the shadowy hands were no more than him being overtired and stressed out, but he's not quite convinced and then goes to see his patient, whose name is David Landers. Randy mentions that they've been in touch with David's girlfriend and she can't offer than much help...

DP7 002

That's a surprisingly dark direction to take a character in so soon, especially in 1986.

Dr O'Brien (who I will refer to as Randy from this point on, and risk the snickering that I know such a name is likely to engender) discovers that the Hospital's Chief Administrator plans on keeping David in their care, so they get the kudos for investigating his unique case. Randy feels that this is unethical, and that David needs to be transferred to a larger hospital which will have better facilities for helping him. The Administrator tears Randy a new one for presuming to argue with his superiors, and as he turns to leave, this happens....

DP7 003

And so we discover that his shadowform reacts on instinct, but can also obey orders, and can transmit experiences it has gathered back to Randy.

Later on, at home, Randy tries to find help, he doesn't want to go to the staff psychiatrist at the Hospital for obvious reasons, but finds this in the small ads...

DP7 004

Long sequence short (It's a 26 page comic, but even then I'm pushing the 1/3 limit) Randy takes David, without permission, to the Clinic, which is a plush upstate resort. There they check in under assumed names. It's obvious that they both have Paranormal abilities (we see the Clinic being quite scrupulous and professional about it's testing of candidates, so a kid whose parents claimed he could bend spoons note that he does predict Zener cards a little better than the average, but he couldn't bend the spoons under laboratory conditions, so they don't feel he isn't a paranormal).

They also see the facilities, which are very impressive and shortly thereafter, meet their therapy group...

DP7 005
DP7 006
DP7 007
DP7 008

Her powers do indeed stop the pain of the muscles coming in.

And so we meet our team, and interesting range of powers and even ages (I love that Lenore is a senior citizen).

I also like that they address some of the impacts of their powers in a way the MU hasn't had to deal with for ages; Scuzz's powers corroding his clothing, Jeff (though it's not mentioned here) has the problem that because his metabolism is so accelerated, he tends to smell kind of rank rather quickly. Stephanie is also has the problem that her husband is a rather unpleasant, controlling type, and had her committed rather than checked in, because he doesn't want her near their kids.

DP7 009

Not ALL is well though, we see that Voight, the owner of the Clinic has plans for some of his patients, and he has three primary underlings on staff to help with that in the guise of orderlies; Hackbarth, who can regulate physiological process, Charne, who can control mental processes and Speck who can see through the eyes of other people, so she can always tell what they're doing. None of the patients suspect them of being paranormals though, so are unaware that they are being monitored and conditioned to suit Voights plans

Hackbarth is the most ruthless of the three, and his whole manner tends to annoy people, especially Randy...

DP7 010

Cute guy in short-shorts (and a doctor too), I regret nothing.

That night, the shadowform leaves Randy, and goes off exploring

DP7 011
DP7 012

The shadowform reports back to Randy what it's heard, but it's spotted and Hackbarth goes down to stop Randy from telling anyone else, but the shadowform has already passed on the info, and on Randy's instructions left on another mission.

DP7 013

None of them are pleased by the news, but the conditioning they've already received makes them reluctant to leave to a certain extent.

DP7 014

Hackbarth arrives and goes on a bit of a power trip to show his superiority as "the ultimate paranormal" (He's actually probably not even a contender for the top 100 Paranormals, but it IS an effective power)

DP7 015

Whilst he's threatening the shadowform, he's distracted enough to allow David to backhand him across the room, cancelling his powers affect on the others.

Randy recovers, and comes up with a name for his shadowform

DP7 016

And so our seven paranormals all leave the confines of the Clinic (Hence the "Displaced" bit in the title), uncertain where they can go and how they can cope with the world as it is now for them, but knowing they'll be working it all out together.

Oh, and for those who insist on such things, they do end up using codenames, so that they aren't immediately identified by their real names; Randy is "Antibody", David is "Mastodon", Jeff is "Blur", Scuzz is... well, "Scuzz", a name he likes, Charley is "Friction", Lenore is "Twilight" and Stephanie is "Viva" (Though she later changed it to "Glitter" due to the way she always sparkles). Perhaps uniquely amongst supergroups I'm a fan of though, I always think of them by their civilian names, not their codenames, because they always come across as people, rather than superbeings.
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