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Thrilled For Thrillbent

A funny thing happened to me on the way to San Diego Comic-Con …

It’s been a couple weeks — a strange, dream-like, couple of weeks — since I won an open mic pitch competition at San Diego Comic-Con to publish an original digital comics series on Thrillbent.

Thrillbent

You can read about it at the New York Daily News (and also see one of the rare decent photos of me in all of creation). Thrillbent Publisher Mark Waid blogs about it, here … and the announcement of the pitch contest that led to this unlikely turn of events is also available for your review.

I’ll give you the short version: I’m now writing an original short comics story for Thrillbent, publication date TBD.

The longer version …

Once upon a time, I wrote comics. I covered that era in the early days of this blog, writing about Rune and a bunch of black & white books that I did in the late 80s/early 90s, and I’ve talked about my work on a podcast or two, but aside from that, Longbox Graveyard has been all about other peoples’ work — the Silver and Bronze Age superhero stories we all know and love.

good old fashioned fun

I haven’t hidden my own brief history as a comics creator, but I haven’t written much about it because, really, there’s not much to write, and it was a long time ago and of limited interest. Having created comics myself gives me a little additional insight when reviewing and appreciating them, but for the most part, this blog has been a fannish activity, without ulterior motive aside from trying to come to grips with having an out-of-control comics Accumulation (since tamed), seeking to rediscover my love for comics (now in full bloom), and only tangentially making peace with my brief and not-terribly-successful time as a comics pro.

This blog will still mostly focus on comics of the past, but permit me a brief victory lap as I return to the comics business for the first time in two decades (excepting only a video-game based story I did for Heavy Metal a couple years ago).

Ta-Da!

I am genuinely thrilled to be working with Thrillbent — not just because of the creative platform it will provide, but because I think Mark Waid is a smart guy and I’ve been a fan of Thrillbent from the start, having kept up with Insufferable week-by-week, and binge-reading everything else on Mark’s site since my magical moment at Comic-Con last month. Mark is a digital comics pioneer who is genuinely interested in advancing the form, and he’s talked the talk (and walked the walk) since his very public announcement at WonderCon 2012 that the future of comics is digital. If you haven’t yet visited Thrillbent, you should do so — it’s a home for digital-first comics that embrace this new medium. They aren’t motion comics, or guided view versions of paper books — Thrillbent stories are their own genre, still very much a comics-reading experience, but employing camera techniques recognizable from cinema (and a few innovations unique to Thrillbent) to tell comics stories in new ways. Plus, Thrillbent features creator-owned content. It checks all the boxes. It’s great. Go look.

Thrillbent

Thrillbent is available on your computer or tablet of choice

So. The pitch.

I like to pitch. I’ve done it a lot and it is a thing I do well. When I saw that Thrillbent was taking cold pitches at Comic-Con, I knew I had to do it — not because I had any great expectation of winning the competition, but because it was the perfect thing for me to try. Comics. Thrillbent. A pitch. My favorite things. I was going to be at Comic-Con anyways, so I decided to give it a shot.

I blew the dust off of a comic book idea I’ve had kicking around in the back of my head for twenty years, an idea that I had tried (without success) to sell to Malibu Comics during their Ultraverse days. I scrubbed through my old files, re-familiarized myself with what I liked about the idea, threw out a bunch of stuff, and over the course of a week or two honed my fifteen second (!) pitch for the panel:

The Powers of Molly Powers is a romantic comedy about a midwestern girl named Molly, who is married to a loveable slacker who’s whole plan in life is to somehow luck into superpowers. When Molly gets powers instead, they spend as much time fighting with each other as they do with the bad guys.

Not bad. I’d still like to do that series someday. But what I realized the night before the panel is that while this was a perfectly good comic book pitch, it wasn’t an especially distinguished Thrillbent pitch … because while it described engaging characters and vivid conflict, and suggested fun plot lines, it was better suited for a continuing series than a one-off short story, and (most importantly) it didn’t take special advantage of Thrillbent’s storytelling technology. This would make a fine paper comic, or a weekly free three-panel webcomic (and if a great artist wants to go in on this with me, let me know) … but it wasn’t the kind of story that might best be told — or might only be told — as a Thrillbent story.

Well, shit.

I give up

I decided not to pitch.

It wasn’t that I was afraid to lose — I just didn’t want to step up to the mic with my dick in my hands. So to speak. The pitch was all for fun but it was serious fun, and I wasn’t going to do it unless I thought I could nail it. In my mind, it had taken me twenty years to come up with that Molly Powers pitch and there was no way I was going to come up with something better in twenty hours.

Unless … I could.

One of the reasons I haven’t worked in comics these past two decades is that I’ve been in the video game business, designing games and creating original characters, stories, and worlds for gamers. It’s been fun but it’s even further afield from this blog than my comics career, so I haven’t mentioned it much. But something I learned from games that I think applies here is that good design springs from constraints. Having firm limitations in terms of deadlines, budgets, and hardware capabilities focuses creators on what is possible. As an engineer friend once told me, “We can do all of this stuff, but we can’t do ALL of this stuff!” Creating means choosing, and the wise creator chooses a subject that works (and hopefully thrives) within the limitations he is handed.

I decided to give it an hour, to work backwards from Thrillbent’s specs, and see what I could come up with.

I made up a little list. First, I knew I wanted this to be a comics story, first and foremost. It wouldn’t be a movie trying to tell itself in comic book form, or an internal novelistic story with pictures, or a talking head teleplay with minimal visual appeal. It would be the kind of story that comics do better than any other form — a story that married the relentless visuality of cinema with the internal story of a hero we can cheer for. This gave me a litmus test for any wild-ass ideas that came to mind. Regardless of subject, the story had to meet my idea of what comics do best, or I’d reject it on the spot. Fine.

Next, I thought about what Thrillbent does well. Thrillbent does a lot of things well … but one of its most distinguishing characteristics is how Thrillbent stories extend the information value of a comics panel by manipulating text and changing (sometimes subtly) the content of an otherwise-static image. Sometimes this is a change in a character’s expression, other times it is some surprise bit of action with a character bursting into frame, sometimes it is an inset panel that spins the man composition in a different direction. When Thrillbent is at its best, it creates a kind of storytelling velocity or persistence of vision through the power of the reader’s imagination.

I wanted some of that.

I flashed on the idea of precognition. A Thrillbent story about a character who could see the future as a series of cascading possibilities that collapsed into one fatal certainty would be visual and a lot of fun.

The problem with knowing the future is that it’s dull.

No-No Nostradamus!

Gilbert Gottried told a joke years ago about being frustrated over lunch with his friend Nostradamus, because every time he tried to tell a story, Nostradamus cut him off by saying, “I know, I know.” Paul Muad’Dib aside, people who see the future are either dull, or madmen. If they can see into the future with perfect clarity, they buy a lottery ticket, and their story is over; if they see into the future in riddles or flashes … well, that can be fun, too, but it lacked the snap I needed for a short tale.

But what if you could only see a few seconds into the future? Hmm.

We all “see” a few seconds into the future. It’s called planning. It keeps us alive, and it distracts us from the zen ideal of living in the moment. But what if you could see, with a certainty, what would happen just a few seconds from now? It’s potentially the most useless superpower in the world, but for a clever character it opened up all sorts of vivid and visual possibilities. It wouldn’t make you omniscient, but it would give you a little edge. What would you do with that edge?

I worked up my pitch, saved it to my phone, and went to bed.

The next day, while riding into Comic-Con with my old pal and creative partner Chris Ulm, I laid both pitches on him — Molly Powers, and this new one that I’d come up with in an hour. Chris liked the Molly Powers pitch, but rejected it in favor of my new idea — and not just because he vaguely remembered Molly from when I’d pitched it to him while Chris was Malibu’s Editor-In-Chief all those years ago! He liked my second idea better — more precisely, he liked the first part of my second idea better, but he rejected the second half because it took things in a direction he didn’t like. He liked the premise of limited precognition, but not what I’d done with it. He said the second half of the pitch should tell me the emotional stakes of the story and define a relationship that was important to the hero.

I took his advice to heart and re-worked the pitch. Six hours to go. No problem!

Over lunch, Chris and I caught up with Matt Wilson, the very smart and talented guy who runs Privateer Press. Most people know Matt for his Warmachine work …

Metal On Metal, by Matt Wilson

… but what few people know is that Matt is a veteran of dozens (hundreds?) of Hollywood story pitches, having worked the town for years as a screenwriter. Like Chris, Matt is a guy I respect and trust so I laid my pitch on him — he thought about it, and agreed with Chris that the premise was strong, but my resolution was weak. He said that I had a hero who could do something “just in time,” so her conflict should be that she didn’t have enough time to do something, like pull off a job that would save her life.

Three hours to go, but I was feeling fine. Assisted by creative godfathers like Chris and Matt, I felt like I was loaded for bear.

with friends like these ...

that’s me, Farzad Varahramyan, Matt Wilson, and Chris Ulm … creative godfathers all (Farzad did the header for this blog, which is like asking Michelangelo to work with Play-Doh — love these guys!)

I showed up for the panel early, sitting through the Thunderbirds presentation with only half an eye on what was happening (and what I saw looked very cool!) — but mostly I was tweaking my pitch on my phone, and trying to commit it to memory. The Thunderbirds panel ended, and the Thrillbent guys streamed in, and a very nice person asked me if I intended to pitch, and asked me to sign a release. I did, and I did.

The panel began. Mark gave some quick Thrillbent updates, and put the dozen or so Thrillbent creators he had with him on his panel on the spot by asking them to pitch their current series in fifteen seconds or less. Then it was time for the audience to pitch, with Mark saying this was his attempt to democratize the creation of comics, and apologizing that we’d only have fifteen seconds to do our stuff — but there were a lot of pitches to hear, and concision was the soul of a good idea.

I was the second of the hundred-odd pitches in the session. That made me a little nervous, but what the hell … it meant that my idea would definitely be heard, and it also gave me a slight advantage in that if I could set a high mark, every pitch that followed would automatically be compared to mine, constantly reinforcing my title and my pitch in the minds of the panel.

I stepped up to the mic, and said,

4 Seconds is a noir thriller about a petty thief who discovers she can see four seconds into the future. That’s just enough precognition to get into trouble, but not nearly enough time to pull off the heist that will save her sister’s life.

That’s about 14.8 seconds — I know, because I timed it — but time seemed to stretch toward infinity in the silence that followed. And that was fine — it was my job to make the pitch, not to judge it. Once the pitch is made, it’s like you’ve shot an arrow. It will find the target, or it won’t, but it is out of your hands.

If you’ve shot the arrow to the best of your ability, all you will feel is bliss.

Hawkeye

I had plenty of bliss. And I was very pleased when Mark said, “That’s a great pitch!” I also knew I’d hit the target, because Mark immediately called out how my idea was strong because it would work so well with what Thrillbent does best. I’d taken a little risk because nothing in the pitch said how 4 Seconds would use Thrillbent to best advantage, but Mark had instantly seen how a story about precognition would work on his platform. Score.

Mark asked me to come up and stand in front of the crowd while he heard more pitches. Most of them were pretty good, and a few were excellent. On another day, several of them might have won, instead of me. Only a couple people got buzzed out for going over time. Nearly everyone had put a lot of thought and heart into their pitches (and Mark has gone on record about how pumped up it made him feel to realize there is such honesty and creativity out there, trying to make it into comics). Several other creators hit the target and made it to the “elimination round.” It was an honor to stand up there with those guys — most of them younger than me, with less experience doing this kind of thing. I tried to high-five or congratulate them all.

I knew I had a good chance to win, but I wasn’t hung up on it. It was all about the pitch. I made a great pitch! If it wasn’t right for Mark, I could take it somewhere else, or just put it away in a box, mission accomplished. Several of the ideas that I heard were just as worthy as mine and they might easily have been chosen instead of 4 Seconds, but I was fortunate to emerge on top in the second round (which mostly consisted of our re-stating our names and titles while the panel conferred). A fist pump, some handshakes, some nice people congratulating me, and then I got the hell out of there! I’d won, and sticking around could only screw things up!

There was a nice woman standing right behind me when I won — she was also in the final group, and had given a strong pitch. In a good-natured way, she whispered that it was a shame about my car accident … and suddenly I felt like Miss America, because I knew if I failed to follow-through on this idea, there were a host of runners up ready to take my crown.

there she is ...

okay, this is getting weird

But I will tell you what I told her — that everyone was a winner, just by having the courage to pitch. They’d all passed through this thing and they would come out the other side stronger for it. I also told her and anyone else that would listen that this didn’t have to be the end for their idea … that they should email Mark and thank him for the chance to present their idea, and network the hell out of their fifteen seconds and that sooner or later, something would happen for them.

For my part, I feel less like Miss America than I do this guy …

Excalibur!

I pulled the damn sword from the stone! Now, what do I do with it?

I have finished fifteen seconds worth of 4 Seconds. I’m working on the rest. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanks for reading!

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Longbox Graveyard Podcast: Iron Man 3

And here’s how the Longbox Graveyard Podcast ends — not with a bang, but with Iron Man 3!

This image proved oddly appropriate for my whole podcasting experience …

 

Iron Man 3

Actually, that isn’t fair.

I had a GREAT time being a podcaster, and this final episode — when comics pal and Iron Man aficionado Chris Ulm and I dissected Iron Man 3 — was just one more good time among many.

I greatly appreciated my listeners during My Podcast Year, and of course I was especially indebted to Mo Kristiansen at We Talk Podcasts for producing my show. But after a year of monthly podcasting, I had to admit that it wasn’t my passion — at least, not to the same extent as blogging here at Longbox Graveyard.

And so I let it go.

But it was fun while it lasted!

Join me one last time for … the Longbox Graveyard Podcast!

(And thanks to all of my listeners — past, present, and future).

Click here to listen!

Longbox Graveyard Podcast: The Few 52

Everything new is old again as Chris Ulm and I review a select few titles of DC now not-so-New 52 in the Longbox Graveyard Podcast!

I suppose it’s kind of sad that one of the books I most enjoyed from the big relaunch has now gone to the cancellation grave …

Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

We liked a few books that survived, too, but it was more fun to hear us argue about Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.!

We were so young, then … when the New 52 was truly new!

Click here to listen.

Top Five Ultraverse Comic Book Movie Properties

Longbox Graveyard #112

Editor’s Note: This week’s guest blog is a special treat — a look at the buried treasure that is the Ultraverse from two men who were there at the start! Along with a host of high-powered comics creators, Chris Ulm and Tom Mason played critical roles in the foundation of the Ultraverse, which might just be the greatest comic book universe you’ve never heard of! In an age where Marvel is bringing Ant Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy to the movie screen, the time may be right for the Ultraverse’s return!

Take it away, Chris & Tom!

Hey, Disney executives and producers with a Disney deal in your hand or a desk on the lot — have we got some ideas for you! As you know, your Marvel Comics properties are all locked up and tied together to create a Marvel Movie Universe that mirrors the founding comic books.

Ultraverse!

But, if you look on the fringes of Marvel’s super-hero properties, you’ll find a few gems in the Ultraverse, a universe of comic books that Marvel purchased from Malibu Comics back in 1994. There are several titles that could be pulled out to start their own tentpoles separate from the Marvel Universe.

Here (in no particular order) are our top five!

Mantra

Mantra, Adam Hughes

Creator: Mike W. Barr, debut issue pencils by Terry Dodson

High Concept: Ancient Warrior Knight Reincarnated In The Body Of A Soccer Mom!

There’s nothing you guys love more than a body-switching movie. It’s been a reliable box-office performer ever since Freaky Friday. Sometimes, you have such a switch-crush that you’ll make two of them in the same year. In Mantra, an eternal warrior named Lukasz is killed but reincarnated into the body of a woman, Eden Blake. Now, you’ve got a manly-man warrior with the attitudes of a guy from centuries before stuck in the body of a single mom with two kids and an ex-husband. However you pitch it, it’s Highlander meets Switch and that’s either comedy gold or high drama.

Firearm

Firearm

Creator: James Robinson, debut issue pencils by Cully Hamner

High Concept: Film Noire Detective Hunts Super-Heroes

Too many super-heroes? That’s what the so-called pop culture critics say. Somehow four super-hero movies in one year is too much for them and they need more idiotic rom-coms or weepy historical dramas instead. If you’re one of “those” people, then Firearm is your antidote: he hunts super-heroes. He’s no angry vigilante, though. He used to be in a British secret agency called The Lodge, but he “retired” and moved to California to set up shop as a private eye. But his cases are far from normal and usually involve crossing paths with both good and bad super-heroes, including the super-hero serial killer called Rafferty.

Prime

Prime, Boris Vallejo

Creator: Gerard Jones and Len Strazewski, debut issue pencils by Norm Breyfogle

High Concept: Boy Living In A Man’s Body

The big man of the Ultraverse, he’s Superman and Captain Marvel all in one. A boy named Kevin Green transforms himself into a super-hero by “building” a super-strong hero shell around himself. The shell is built from organic liquid skin that ejects from his body. And when he transforms back, the body withers and spits him out. But that’s not the best part — he’s super strong and has basically all the powers of Superman, but he’s controlled by Kevin, a 14-year-old boy, with a boy’s experiences and emotions. So the world’s most powerful super-hero is an inexperienced, hormonally-charged teenager. The teenager never goes away — he’s always trying to masquerade as an adult. Once again, that’s either comedy gold or high drama.

Rune

Rune, Barry Windsor-Smith

Creator: Chris Ulm and Barry Windsor-Smith, debut issue pencils by Barry Windsor-Smith

High Concept: Twisted Twilight

Rune was a walk on the dark side. Rune, an ancient energy vampire, had many guises through the history of mankind: alien, sorcerer, beast, god, devil. Now he is dying of cancer and only the blood and energy of super-humans can stave off imminent death. Rune has it all: secret societies, government conspiracies, teenage romance and a story that spans the history of humanity.

The Strangers

The Strangers, Rick Hoberg

Creator: Steve Englehart, debut issue pencils by Rick Hoberg

High Concept: Passengers Assemble!

Random passengers on a cable car get struck by energy and find themselves changed beyond recognition, with strange powers. Who becomes a hero? Who tries to hide? Who uses their newfound powers for evil? These are the questions that drive the strangest collection of super-heroes ever assembled. While suited to film, this property seems tailor-made for episodic television in the tradition of Lost or Under The Dome, with seemingly random characters thrown together, and then tested in the crucible of paranormal circumstances!

Malibu Comics Co-Founders

Malibu Comics Co-Founders Tom Mason, Chris Ulm, Dave Olbrich, and Scott Rosenberg at their 2012 Comic-Con Reunion

Drawing from classic super-hero comics, hard science fiction, horror and epic fantasy, the Ultraverse was known for its epic premises and imaginative takes on classic tropes. Many of the best concepts could not have been realized as movies because the state of the art for CG was not up to the task in 1993, and the audience was not sufficiently literate in all things comics. Now, that’s all changed — comic books drive box office world wide and it’s about time the strange and wonderful corridors of the Ultraverse were explored on the silver screen!

Are you listening Disney?

About The Authors:

Chris Ulm was a co-founder of Malibu Comics and the Editor-In-Chief of the Ultraverse, which was based on his original development. He co-created the Ultraverse title Rune with artist Barry Windsor-Smith. Chris Ulm is now CEO and co-founder of Appy Entertainment, a leading mobile games development studio.

Tom Mason was a co-founder of Malibu Comics and the company’s Creative Director. He co-created the Ultraverse title Prototype with writer Len Strazewski. Mason is currently an Emmy-winning writer-producer in the big, wide world of television.

Thanks, Tom and Chris, for making your case why the Ultraverse is ready for its close-up! What do you think of their list? Did they forget your favorite Ultraverse character? Should Marvel go with their own C-list characters rather than develop these Ultraverse properties? Does the loyal devotion of Facebook’s Ultraverse group indicate the Ultraverse still has the capacity for mass appeal? Sound off in comments, below!

IN TWO WEEKS: #113 Ben Urich: Role Model in a Sea of Heroes

LONGBOX GRAVEYARD TOP TEN LISTS

Iron Fan

Longbox Graveyard #98

Editor’s Note: With Iron Man 3 in theaters this week I could think of no better time for a guest blog from my old pal Chris Ulm, who is a fine writer, a giant nerd, and the biggest Iron Man geek I know. Take it away, Ulm!

Iron Fan: A Think Piece About Brotherly Warfare, Armored Noses and Atomic Roller Skates

As I write this, we are exactly seven days away from Iron Man 3 hitting the big screen. Despite my inappropriate level of disappointment with the various trailers that have been released so far, I will be first in line. Why?

Because I really have no choice. See, the …

Invincible Iron Man!

… has haunted me since the fateful day that I saw issue #47 on the racks at the slightly disreputable Sweet Liquor store in Culver City, CA:

Iron Man #47

My father reluctantly bought the tattered and beat up issue (in those pre-comic book store days, all of the comics I bought were characterized by embedded dents and folds from being pressed into wire racks and fondled by filthy urchins such as yours truly). I was instantly enthralled.

Entitled “Why Must There Be An Iron Man,” this re-telling of Iron Man’s origin was written by Roy Thomas and illustrated by Barry Windsor Smith. The story absolutely captivated me and turned me into a comic book nut. Thomas did a masterful job of recapping Tony Stark’s ill-fated journey into Vietnam, his subsequent ambush and race against the clock to build a weapon of vengeance with the help of kindly Dr. Yinsen. As I breathlessly read the issue, the first nine years of continuity exploded into my brain. I learned about Iron Man’s friends, lovers and enemies. About the Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D., the rogues gallery — all the sturm und drang typical of Silver age Marvel under Stan Lee and Roy Thomas.

Why Must There Be An Iron Man?

The story was told with economy typical of Thomas’ work. It probably helped immensely that In 1972, Iron Man has only been around for nine years and the Marvel Universe was only a tad older. To put it in perspective, Hollywood brought Marvel’s Spider-Man to the screen ten years ago, and the comic book Marvel Universe is now over 50 years old. Back then, ol Shellhead’s back story felt both infinite and containable to my young mind.

Set as a series of flashbacks at a funeral, Barry’s art knocked me out. I loved the different incarnations of Iron Man and the sense of progress that was held within the strip. Much later, I would have the privilege of co-creating Rune with Barry during my long tenure as Malibu Comics Editor-In-Chief.

After consuming this issue, Iron Man instantly became my favorite character of all time. I knew it in my guts — but I couldn’t have told you why — at least not then.

Iron Man was born the same year I was — 1963. He debuted in Tales of Suspense #39 and was created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck and Jack Kirby.

Tales of Suspense #39

Stan is reported to have wanted to create a businessman hero patterned after Howard Hughes (in Hughes’ glory days). Lee wanted to create a rich industrialist, a munitions maker, that would be exactly the kind of character that the readers would reject.

“… I thought it would be fun to take the kind of character that nobody would like, none of our readers would like, and shove him down their throats and make them like him,” Lee explained.

Which was actually very true. Tony Stark was pretty damn unlikeable but his creation was awesome. Iron Man was instantly more captivating to me than any of the other Marvel pantheon.

Iron Man!

I admired Captain America. A lot. As a young pre-teen, I found that green trash can lids made excellent Adamantium shields and my brother Eric made an equally excellent Red Skull — it was actually amazing how far trash can lids can be flung with enough determination. So Cap was great. And he was right in Tales Of Suspense next to Iron Man.

And Spider-Man was likeable and funny. Couldn’t get enough of Spidey.

But I didn’t want to BE Cap or Spidey. I liked to read about them. When I read Iron Man, I imagined myself in the role of Tony Stark. It actually helped that Tony was a cipher. Really, Tony was either Reed Richards with a welding helmet, Don Draper with a pimpy mustache or a whiny drunk in need of therapy. Sometimes he was all three in the same issue.

Tony, Tony, Tony ...

(In fact, my secret shame is that I didn’t like Tony Stark at all until Robert Downey Jr. so brilliantly gave him a personality injection in the first Iron Man movie.)

But I didn’t need to.

In the Silver Age, Cap was a Goody Good, Spidey was a Loser, Thor was a Shakespearean Stiff and Ant Man was … well … ANT MAN.

Tony Stark may have been a giant douche but Iron Man was AWESOME.

Unlike the vast majority of the Marvel Universe, Iron Man was not a radioactive accident or a product of faulty cosmic ray shielding. Nor was he created by the activation of a happenstance X-gene or being born to the right All Father. No, what I loved about Iron Man is that he is the only Silver Age Marvel character that created himself.

(I refuse to count Ant Man).

Ant Man doesn't count!

Iron Man changed all the time. Iron Man had the same advantage over the other heroes that Homo Sapiens had over the rest of the hominids. Now there were some misfires, most notably the nose:

on the nose!

But by a large, Iron Man bootstrapped his abilities by using his brain to build better tools. Repulser Rays? Check! Uni Beams? Check! Jet powered roller skates? Check and check again!

rocket skates!

See, if you want to be Batman, you have to take on a lot of emotional baggage. There is no Batman without the death of Bruce’s parents. There is no Batman without the ongoing evil of Gotham City to motivate him. Not true for Iron Man. Stark can be tinkering in the sunlight of Malibu in between assignations with strippers. Even Stark’s problems are all self-created. He’s a drunk. He treats women like dirt and can’t commit. He throws away his money and lets evil corporations buy him out. All his own fault.

I just knew I could have done so much better, given a big slice of genius and inexhaustible resources.

And in a sense, I have, with my very own Iron Man suit. My good friend, a gifted artist and partner in Appy Entertainment— Farzad Varahramyan — was all too aware of my Iron Man fetish and, after my twin daughters were born gifted me with his own interpretation of the Golden Avenger:

Farzad Varahramyan

Iron Man 3 opens on my birthday. I’ll be there.

Iron Man!

Thanks to Chris Ulm for this week’s blog!

NEXT WEDNESDAY: #99 A Secret Wars Apologist

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