le beau underwood

It’s been two years since I first saw the cover of Static Shock #8, drawn by Khary Randolph, inked by Le Beau L. Underwood, and colored by Emilio J. Lopez.

It was the final cover of a title that had been maligned by an artist/editor tandem with no understanding of the original character at all (they never even seen the award-winning animated series) forcing out a writer who not only knew the characters but actually written them for the original publisher two decades earlier. By the time this issue was done, complete with a new writer onboard, the damage was already done and DC decided to kill the book and, unfortunately, any chance of Static or any other Milestone characters being seen in any DC books (aside from the one scene Static was in during the first Teen Titans series and the appearances of Icon and Rocket in the adaptations of the Young Justice animated series, they pretty much vanished without a trace).

When I saw this cover a few years ago, it hit me hard.

I wrote the following to Mr. Randolph because I was a fan and wanted to thank him for making this great image that bridged the Static Shock series with shadows of the Milestone days. The feelings remain the same as it did when I wrote this:

I was 14 when the books were announced. I still have the Va Pilot article with the first sketches and the interview with Mr. Dingle. I read the Milestone books when I could find them. Hardware. Blood Syndicate. Icon.

Static.

Static broke out, and rightfully so because he offered something different. Heck, the entire Milestone line brought out a world of comics that were entertaining with something to say instead of just battering our heads with a morality lesson like a lot of books did. Finally, books where the lead Black character wasn’t an ex-con, an African prince or princess, or a hell-borne demon with some unearthly voodoo spellcasting. They were relatable, and they were real, if not in flesh and bone, then on the printed page and, for 52 glorious episodes, on Saturday mornings.

I think the Milestone books were the reason I wanted to pursue creating my own comics, my own characters, my own voice. I was just lucky I told Mr. McDuffie that while he was still with us. I look at how he and so many others kept Milestone’s legacy alive over the years in other media, and I look at them all with a sense of pride. Proof that in the great cosmic sense of comic book myth-making, we exist. We may be shrouded in shadows most of the time, but when we’re out in the light, it’s a beautiful thing.

I look at this cover, and I see that you feel this too. You see the present but don’t ignore the past, and every Milestone fan out there recognizes that the final issue of Static Shock is AN end, not THE end. He’ll be back one day, but time goes on and the volatility of the market and the unspoken bigotry of the direct comic shop marketplace still exist.

You have made a very impactful cover, Khary. I probably talked way too much here (I have a sickening need to do that from time to time). Much success to you and your colleagues in the months and years ahead.

Catalyst Prime Superb #1

Catalyst Prime Superb #1
Lion Forge Comics 2017
Written by David F. Walker & Sheena C. Howard
Penciled by Ray-Anthony Height
Inked by Le Beau L. Underwood
Coloured by Veronica Gandini
Lettered by AW’s Tom Napolitano

   One year ago, Earth was saved from an asteroid, but a meteor shower hit the world! Youngstown, Ohio, became a Level 5 impact zone, and teenagers are emerging with new superpowers! Kayla Tate has returned to Youngstown and reunited with her childhood friend, Jonah Watkins, a young man with Down syndrome. Together, they’ll uncover the mystery of the superhero and Internet sensation “Cosmosis” and his nighttime battle against the supposedly-benevolent corporation known as Foresight.

   I grew up in the 80’s when the New Teen Titans, the Legion of Superheroes and the New Mutants were in their heyday.  You know what they all had in common they actually felt like teenagers not a stereotype not a cliche, they didn’t seem forced or fake.  David and Sheena bring that same exact feel to the kids we see here.  They feel authentic like teenagers should whether or not they are jerks with uninformed opinions, family bias or that know-it-all demeanor.  These are kids we know, they have good points, flaws and see the world in ways that we tend to forget about.

   There’s something incredible about the whole Catalyst Prime Universe.   They are managing to not only release these books slowly but surely in  a way that makes things easy to follow but also easy to get excited over.  It feels new, fresh andi full of potential and each book has that take to it, that edge or viewpoint we’ve not seen before.  I’m stoked to see where this is going to go and from the level of writing that they have done already I can almost say with unparalleled certainty that you’re going to enjoy it.

   Super surprised and enthralled by the interior artwork here.  The attention to detail is utterly phenomenal!  The way page layouts are utilised through their angles, perspective and all those backgrounds really make the story sing.  The fact that this comes across so much as your classic superhero genre book is extremely exciting because it brings back that feel I had when I was a teenager.  There’s hope in this and you can’t fake that.

   While David and Sheena make this very current for our world and society today in that the Event has made these people afraid and prone to acting stupidly it’s very well done.   Yes there is an “evil” corporation trying to scoop up these people affected by the meteorites for reasons of their own.  Though it’s nice to see that they are ruthless and we don’t know exactly what they have in store we get enough to let our imagination run wild.  This makes me happy and excited because it leaves thing to be discovered while filling my head with worst case scenarios.

   Then there are the kids playing hero.  One in costume and his identity remains unknown right now, i’m not gonna guess because i’ll probably be wrong.  But we are introduced to a number of kids who have potential to not only rock the boat but stand up for what they see and believe in to shake up the status quo.  

   Unlimited potential with some incredibly strong solid storytelling.

After a two and a half year journey, the Smallville Season 11 comic series concludes today. It is worth a read whether you want to know what happens after the Smallville TV series finale or you want to read an alternative Superman comic compared to the New 52. The comic series is availiable as digital comic, comic book or paperback on Comixology, Amazon or your local comic book store.

Smallville: Season 11 (Guardian, Detective, Haunted, Effigy, Argo, Valkyrie, Olympus, Hollow)
Smallville: Titans
Smallville: Alien
Smallville: Harbinger
Smallville: Lantern
Smallville: Chaos
Smallville: Continuity

Thank you to Agustin Padilla, Axel Gimenez, Beni Lobel, Bryan Q. Miller, Carrie Strachan, Cat Staggs, Chris Beckett, Chris Cross, Coral Martinez, Daniel HDR, Diana Egea, DYM, Edgar Salazar, Gabe Eltaeb, Garry Henderson, Gary Frank, J.P. Mayer, Jamal Igle, Jessica Chen, Jim Chadwick, Jorge Jimenez, José Avilés, Julio Ferreira, Kevin West, Kristy Quinn, Kwanza Johnson, Le Beau Underwood, LG Guara, Marc Deering, Marcelo Di Chiara, Marcio Takara, Michael McCalister, Mico Suayan, Pere Pérez, Pete Woods, Rainer Petter, Randy Mayor, Rex Lokus, Rob Lean, Rodjer Goulari, Rodney Buchemi, Ryan Benjamin, Saida Temofonte, Sarah Gaydos, Sarah Litt, Scott Kolins, Space Goat Productions, Vicente Cifuentes and Wendy Broome who worked on this project.