Friday, December 15, 2006

Getting a little Justice in Society

Before we get started, let me be the first to wish our Jewish readers and friends a happy Hanukkah, which begins this evening at sunset. May your candles burn brightly and your dreidels spin with flair over the next week.

Today's Comic Art Friday is dedicated to the late Martin Nodell, the artist who created Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, back in 1940. Nodell passed away last Saturday at the age of 91. Outside of comics, Nodell's claim to fame lay in the fact that as an advertising illustrator in the 1960s, he was part of the creative team that developed Poppin' Fresh, the Pillsbury Doughboy.

To honor Nodell's memory, we feature Green Lantern Alan Scott in this spectacular scene, conceived and drawn by Anthony Carpenter. Alan's partner here is Saturn Girl, from the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Of course, in superheroic life, Alan Scott can usually be found in the company of his fellow members of the Justice Society of America. The JSA, comicdom's original superteam, first saw action in 1940. It continues as a vital crimebusting force more than six and a half decades later. Indeed, for this old-school comics aficionado, the JSA's adventures in JSA Classified and the recently relaunched Justice Society of America are among the most entertaining reads in comics today.

When the JSA gathers to strike fear into the hearts of evildoers, the heroes on call might include...

Power Girl, depicted here in typically fine form by artist Ron Lim, whose work is currently on view in the Marvel Comics series Avengers Next.

Power Girl began her career as an alternate-universe analog of Supergirl, whose powers she shares. Power Girl also boasts one of the more prominent bustlines in comics, a legacy that began with legendary artist Wallace Wood — when drawing the character's early adventures, Wood decided that he would draw Power Girl's bosom progressively larger in each issue until someone on the DC Comics editorial staff took notice. Several issues later, Power Girl had attained the prodigious mammary accoutrements she retains to this day.

Mister Terrific, displayed in fighting trim once again by the talented Ron Lim.

One of the most brilliant intellects in the DC Comics universe, Michael Holt — modestly known as Mister Terrific — is frequently the field leader of the modern-day JSA. Although he possesses no superhuman powers, the "third smartest man on earth" is a skilled surgeon, a martial arts master, and a technological wizard.

Liberty Belle, here paired with another patriotic heroine, Liberty the American Girl. Scott Jones, the artist who created this striking panel, signs his work with the nom de plume Shade.

The original Liberty Belle, Libby Lawrence-Chambers, derived her superhuman strength and speed from the actual Liberty Bell. Whenever the old relic was rung, Libby powered up. In the newest revision of the JSA, the character Liberty Belle is a legacy -- Jesse Chambers, the daughter of the original Liberty Belle and her husband, super-speedster Johnny Quick. Jesse formerly used the fighting name Jesse Quick, but recently adopted her mother's costume and identity.

Doctor Mid-Nite, brought to life here in dramatic fashion by artist James E. Lyle.

A physician like his teammate Mister Terrific, Doctor Mid-Nite is also one of the few blind superheroes in comics. Unlike most blind people, however, the good Doctor can see perfectly well in complete darkness. He employs special infrared goggles to help him navigate in regular light. Perhaps Doctor Mid-Nite inspired Nicholas Marshall, the protagonist of the TV series Dark Justice, whose motto was, "Justice is blind, but it can see in the dark."

If there's any justice in this society, we'll have another Comic Art Friday seven days from now.

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