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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.

Date: 2012-08-12 10:45 pm (UTC)
julian: Picture of Julian Street. (Default)
From: [personal profile] julian
What the hell, Kubert? Man. August 12.

(I loved DP7. Given as I was, as usual, getting it in back issues, I didn't read the later bits of the book, but it felt very down to earth in enjoyable ways.)

Date: 2012-08-12 11:00 pm (UTC)
silverhammerman: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverhammerman
Pfft. RANDY.
This looks neat though, I've never been one for this sort of status quo, what with the sinister conspiracies and so on, but the characters do seem to be rather charming.
And now, my commentary; Scuzz is a weird name seriously. And a high school Latin teacher? Was that a thing that used to exist? Are we chalking my not having had one to the degradation of the public school system? David/Mastodon has some epic facial hair, but I wonder if he's bitter that the rest of his body got super hairy but he STILL stayed bald. That is some 80s as hell fashion, those shorts, a dude in a half-tank. Wow.
This also reminds me of the newuniversal stuff from Warren Ellis. I'm still a bit disappointed that never went further.

Date: 2012-08-12 11:20 pm (UTC)
silverhammerman: (Default)
From: [personal profile] silverhammerman
Whether or not it has a basis in his name or not Scuzz is still a weird thing to call yourself. It's like calling yourself Sleazeball. I guess someone could grow to like it though.

Depressing about the Latin though. I only recently graduated and I remember that we lost a course due to lack of interest, so we jumped straight from the fall of the Roman Empire to Post-WW2. It's okay though, because I'm fairly certain that nothing happened between those two points in time. Depressing.

I never got to read Newniversal, I just saw some pages and thought it looked neat. I thought it was a bit too dark as well though, I mean, the fact that they had a Tony Stark and then killed him off to show how dark and gritty things were annoyed me. I still would have liked to see it develop further, and the new Justice probably could have made a decent villain for the other characters given time.

Date: 2012-08-12 11:38 pm (UTC)
victory_or_death: (Default)
From: [personal profile] victory_or_death
They still offer it in high schools in the U.S. I took three years of Latin and was in the Latin Club.

And it's where I learned a two of my favorite Latin phrases:

1. Semper Ubi Sub Ubi - Always wear underwear. (okay okay, it means exactly squat in Latin as the actual translation is: Always Where Under Where)
2. Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam. - I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.

And the theme poem of Latin?

Latin is a dead language
As dead as it can be
It killed all the Romans
And now it's killing me
All are dead who wrote it
All are dead who spoke it
All die who learn it
Blessed death - they earn it

Date: 2012-08-13 01:10 am (UTC)
arysteia: (Default)
From: [personal profile] arysteia
And a high school Latin teacher? Was that a thing that used to exist? Are we chalking my not having had one to the degradation of the public school system?

Well, I still teach it now... It's admittedly not common anymore, but it certainly was in the 80s, and was still pretty standard when I was at school in the 90s.

Date: 2012-08-13 01:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fredneil.livejournal.com
"And a high school Latin teacher? Was that a thing that used to exist? "

Still does. I guess not in every school if you didn't have one, but at least some of the schools I've worked in have had latin teachers.

Date: 2012-08-13 02:33 am (UTC)
deleonjh: (Default)
From: [personal profile] deleonjh
The newuniversal thing was supposed to be a reboot of this New Universe. I believe Ellis' laptop with all his notes crashed and he's apparently too distracted with other projects to get back to it.

Date: 2012-08-12 11:27 pm (UTC)
alexanderlucard: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexanderlucard
I wish they'd release another trade of this. They only did one trade for DP7 back in 2007 and it ends on a cliffhanger, which is very annoying.

Date: 2012-08-12 11:34 pm (UTC)
curlyjo1: Shrinking Violet (Default)
From: [personal profile] curlyjo1
What the heck is with August 12th? Who do we need to wrap in bubble wrap next August?

Date: 2012-08-13 12:37 am (UTC)
crinos: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crinos
Gotta say, Liking DP7.

They will definitely someone I may be using as NPC's.

Date: 2016-03-07 11:57 pm (UTC)
junipepper: (Default)
From: [personal profile] junipepper
Substitute "Jewish" for "Black" and I actually had a guy say that to me once. That's exactly what it was like, a punch to the gut.

(It may have been in the 80's. Early 90's at the latest. )

Date: 2012-08-13 02:35 am (UTC)
robinzegblu: A robot with tank treads instead of legs. (Default)
From: [personal profile] robinzegblu
I skipped straight to the scans and I thought I was reading an old revamp of Doom Patrol. I mean, their name has "DP" in it and that one guy looks like negative man... I guess the "Marvel" logo should have been a tip-off.

Date: 2012-08-13 02:39 am (UTC)
queenrikki: (grandsons)
From: [personal profile] queenrikki
Today's my birthday. Yesterday I was complaining to my sister about all the sad remembrances I see every year from the comic creators I follow. And now I see that was a horrible and selfish thing to say.

I will say that I really did love DP7 when I came across those books in my uncle's comic collection.

Date: 2012-08-13 10:34 pm (UTC)
crinos: (Default)
From: [personal profile] crinos
Incidentally, I had a hunch, so I checked Marvel digital, and they have the first nine issues of DP7 up. Sadly, the last one was put up in 2009, so I suspect we wont see the rest any time soon.

Date: 2012-08-14 12:43 am (UTC)
beyondthefringe: (Default)
From: [personal profile] beyondthefringe
This was definitely one of my favorite of the New Universe series. Sure, it did have some weak moments, but there was a lot of awesome going on. The characters were memorable, the paranormal powers varied and intriguing, and the interactions fun to watch.

More importantly, this was a series with a fairly decent mix of races and types. There were some thoughtful plotlines involving racial tension in the Clinic (which didn't exactly end happily for all) and I always thought Charley and Randy would have made a great couple, except for Randy's conservative nature.

A later addition, Mutator, was a real trip to have around.

The whole series kicked ass, and I still pull it out for a re-read every so often, and sigh at the way Marvel sort of shoved the entire New Universe under a bus when they blew up Pittsburgh.


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