2010-2011 The Justice League of America 100 Project charity art by Dean Haspiel

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DINO! The man clearly loves his Despero, and he seems down with J'J' as well. These are two great tastes that taste great together, especially when Dino enhances Despero's Vile Menagerie cred by having Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman discover a bloodied Martian Manhunter!

Hero's JLA 100 Project Friday

In late 2000, a consortium of comic publishers came up with the idea to create a financial safety net for comic creators, much in the same fashion that exists in almost any other trade from plumbing to pottery. By March of 2001, the federal government approved The Hero Initiative as a publicly supported not-for-profit corporation under section 501 (c) (3).

Since its inception, The Hero Initiative (Formerly known as A.C.T.O.R., A Commitment To Our Roots) has had the good fortune to grant over $400,000 to the comic book veterans who have paved the way for those in the industry today.

The Hero Initiative is the first-ever federally chartered not-for-profit corporation dedicated strictly to helping comic book creators in need. Hero creates a financial safety net for yesterdays' creators who may need emergency medical aid, financial support for essentials of life, and an avenue back into paying work. It's a chance for all of us to give back something to the people who have given us so much enjoyment.


Please enjoy this gallery of ALL 104 original Justice League of America #50 Hero Initiative covers!

Hardcover and softcover versions of a book collecting all the covers will be available in December, 2011. AND all the originals will be auctioned off according to the following schedule:

• December 3, 2011, Meltdown Comics, Los Angeles, CA: Display of all 104 covers and auction of first one-third
• Jan. 20-22, 2012, Tate's Comics, Lauderhill, FL (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area): Display of remaining covers and auction of second one-third.
• Feb. 17-19, 2012: Orlando MegaCon, Orlando, FL: Display and auction of final one-third.

All covers will be sold via LIVE AUCTION on-site at the venues above. If you cannot attend but wish to bid, proxy bidding is available.
Contact Joe Davidson at: yensid4disney@gmail.com
Deadlines for each grouping are below, and each cover carries a minimum bid of $100.

Special thanks to Firestorm Fan for the notice!


1997 Total Justice in Total Teamwork Coloring Book: Head Gallery

The "story" of this book was told almost entirely without text and with the pages printed completely out of order. This is my best guess at a linear narrative.

Oracle was the de facto leader of the Total Justice team. She called a meeting to explain that an evil villain named Darkseid had partnered with Despero and come to Earth.


Wizard: The Comics Magazine #136: Ultimate DC JLA (January, 2003)

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When Marvel Comics' darker, more general audiences friendly Ultimate line hit it big, everyone was wondering how DC Comics would address the possibilities it opened up. Never mind that DC essentially "Ultimatized" their line twenty years earlier after Crisis On Infinite Earths, but Wizard Magazine felt the universe need a lot more unnecessary Bryan Hitch-style padding/piping on their heroes' costumes...

THE ORIGIN: Clark Kent—Superman—awakes with a start. Standing before him is the ghostly image of a shriveled, alien-looking creature. "He is coming," the apparition states before dissipating in the breeze. "He is coming."

The same strange visitation replays itself to John Stewart as he foils a bank robbery. To Bruce Wayne as he rides an elevator in WayneTech, to Barry Allen, and Wonder Woman, all of them telepathically warned by J'onn J'onzz, the last survivor of the planet Mars (shown bottom right). The same great evil that destroyed Mars is coming to Earth, and this Martian hunts men for a super-league capable of defeating it.

THE CHARACTERS: The Dark Knight, the Man of Steel, the Amazon, the Emerald Gladiator and the Fastest Man Alive come together as the JLA when J'onzz pleads to them for help against an evil no one hero can defeat "Mars burned for 200 years after he came," J'onzz says. "Everyone died. Everyone but me."

The supporting cast section mostly applied to the Atom, but it was also acknowledged that J'onzz would act "as the team's intelligence gatherer, telepathic link and resident technology guru." Heaven forbid that he remain a proactive member when he could be E.T. meets Professor X.

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THE FIRST ARC: "After he destroyed Mars, he came to Earth," laments J'ozz to the newly formed League. "But there was nothing to conquer. He killed the dominant species—your dinosaurs—and marked your Earth as a viable future world to subjugate. His.. .no, its name is Despero, the immortal leader of his warlike race. He comes alone, conquers by his own hand and proves his status of God to his people. I have felt his mind. He is coming."

As the team races to learn everything they can about Despero and the Martian/human technology of the JLA's Manhattan HQ, Despero crashes to Earth in a fiery ball of death. Towering over seven feet tall, the alien wreaks havoc through the U.N., brutally killing every delegate inside and donning the UN's flag as a symbol of his power. His next step is to murder the U.S. president, as Despero cuts a path of destruction through all U.S. resistance. Eventually catching up to him, the hastily assembled Justice League face the would-be conqueror as their first mission...and their first failure. Even though they eventually defeat Despero, they may soon have to contend with an entire race of Desperos; having retreated behind Saturn, the rudderless army gives pause to ponder what to do with the one planet that's managed to defeat their god.

THE BIG PICTURE: A few storyarcs in, Superman decides the League members need to know more about each other to work better as a team. As the members reveal their secret IDs and powers, the spotlight falls on a reluctant Batman, setting the stage as the untrusting Dark Knight turns his back on the League...and then systematically defeats them all, just in time for a new villain called The Key to unlock the gates of Hell!

I don't mind the changes to Despero, although it does sort of weaken him as a unique character, unless all the other "Desperos" are more like the Silver Age model. By the way, when exactly did Despero go from a mutant on a race of green-haired humans to an average Kalanorian with an extra telepathic eye? That's been bugging me for years.

Ultimate DC Day continues here...
Ultimate Atom @ Power of the Atom
Ultimate Batman and Aquaman
Ultimate Wonder Woman @ Diana Prince
Ultimate Green Lantern, Flash, and Superman @ DC Bloodlines


Middletown Season 1, Episode 1: "Pilot"

In Metropolis, at their secret headquarters, a meeting of the newly christened Justice League appears to commence. However, Clark Kent (Tom Welling,) Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley,) Dinah Lance (Alaina Huffman,) Arthur Curry (Alan Ritchson,) and John Jones (Phil Morris) are in a trance state. They speak a continuous oath, first in turns, then in unison, swearing their allegiance to the unseen Despero (Andrew Robinson.) The camera finally pans in for a close-up on a grim, blank-eyed Manhunter from Mars.

Fifteen year old CeCe (Raquel Castro) wakes from the nightmare after spending the night on a park bench. In her shock and disorientation, CeCe shrieks as violent reds, greens and purples swirl over her skin. The brief commotion draws the attention of a police officer patrolling the park, so CeCe makes herself scarce.

Cut to the waiting room outside the human resources department of an office building. CeCe notices one of the drones eying her warily. She approaches a receptionist, and asks how long it usually takes to schedule a job interview. CeCe is gruffly dismissed, and excuses herself to the bathroom. She washes her face with soap from a dispenser, looking rather pitiful, then dries with a paper towel. As she exits, she spots the woman meant to interview her with a police officer at the receptionist’s desk, and realizes someone must have called her in as a runaway. CeCe sneaks out of the building down the emergency stairs.

Raquel Castro as CeCe

CeCe waits at a booth in a Big Belly Burger until the manager returns to sit across from her with a sack lunch and her job application. He offers the meal to the girl, then explains that she’s clearly too young to be on her own, and his attempts to confirm her references went nowhere. The manager asks CeCe about her family, whether she was a runaway, and explains that he intends to call Metropolis Health & Human Services to help her out. CeCe starts making her way toward the door, as the manager pleads with her to at least let someone drive her to a shelter, but she bolts.

CeCe ends up sitting on a stoop, crying her eyes out. A group of well-dressed plastic girls walks by, snickering at her raggedy clothes and laughing that they’d be crying too if they looked like that. The girls continue to prattle on as they walk along the sidewalk, unaware that an unseen force is extracting the wallets from their purses as they wait for a crosswalk signal. As they continued on, CeCe is seen ducking into an alley, examining her spoils.

Exterior shot of a Middletown Police Department station. Interior of the office of Captain Harding (Larry Drake,) as a knock comes on his door. Enter homicide Detective Diane Meade (Victoria Pratt,) complaining about her new partner, John Jones. In the three months they had been working together, Meade had learned virtually nothing about Jones, noted his constant unexplained absences, and felt excluded from their investigations. Harding champions Jones’ record with the Metropolis Police Force, offers his already impressive performance with Middletown P.D., and asks that Meade give the situation a little more time. Meade snarls that Jones still wasn’t back from his weekend trip to Metropolis, and that at least with him gone, she might get to be a cop again.

Victoria Pratt as Detective Diane Meade

CeCe hits the department stores, buying all sort of lavish apparel. She then goes out to dine at a fancy restaurant, but a mean-spirited waiter makes rude comments about how clothes and perfume were no substitute for bathing and grooming. CeCe orders the most expensive dishes on the menu, then disappears before the check comes.

In Middletown, Meade knocks on John Jones’ apartment door. When no one answers, she uses lock-picking tools to let herself in. Meade is unnerved when she finds the apartment covered in newspaper clippings, magazine articles, and specialty journal pieces related to the wealth of phenomena to be found in the bent berg of Middletown. Almost as disconcerting is the fact that Jones has almost no personal effects in the apartment, and his pantry is filled with nothing but Chocos sandwich cookies.

Bart Allen (Kyle Gallner) wakes from the same dream that CeCe experienced. As Impulse, the young hero races with super-speed to the Justice League meeting room. Impulse tries to rouse the members of the team, but most (specifically Aquaman, Black Canary and Green Arrow) turn on the kid. As Bart struggles against their grip, Despero’s voice is heard from off-screen, and a partial view of the villain is allowed. As Despero continues, Impulse’s resistance fades, and he begins to speak in unison with the alien.

CeCe checks into a hotel with the credit cards stolen from the plastic witch she most closely resembled. She takes a shower, and relishes sleeping in a nice bed. In her dreams, CeCe sees visions of green-skinned aliens on another planet, assessing the situation following a coup d'├ętat. The bald one with a pronounced brow is identified as the Manhunter from Mars, last survivor of that world turned intergalactic bounty hunter. The Manhunter meets with Sarana (Alice Greczyn), the daughter of the orchestrator of the rebellion, who escorts him to her father, Jasonar (Ethan Phillips). Both are natives of  Kalanor, and much more human in appearance. The Manhunter has been enlisted to track down the former dictator, the purple-skinned mutant Despero, who had managed to escape the planet for parts unknown. Jones plead out, having already helped to overthrow Despero. Jones was now compelled to finish some business on Earth, where he had promised to look after a friend's son, and deal with some old enemies from his days working with Jor-El of Krypton.

Alice Greczyn as Saranna

There’s a loud knock at CeCe’s hotel room door. The police would like the girl to open up, and when she doesn’t, they let themselves in. The cops find a closet full of clothes and an unmade bed, but no one actually inside. The hotel’s manager speaks with the officers, advising them to visit the building’s security office to review camera footage in order to determine their wanted person’s whereabouts. The manager stays in the room after the police depart, and asks the “little gypsy” to come out.

CeCe recognizes the manager from her dream as Saranna, although she now appeared fully human. Regardless, CeCe remains out of sight. Saranna explains that she knows about the gypsy’s chameleon powers, but that they would not protect her from the elements should she try to escape in her night gown. Saranna asks that the gypsy hear her out, and then she would allow her to leave with her clothes. Saranna explains that the alien despot that CeCe had been dreaming about had come to Earth for conquest and revenge. Despero had already captured the minds of our world’s most powerful heroes, and any who directly opposed him would likely fall victim to his mental control. John Jones was able to partially resist, thanks to his telepathic abilities, and had attempted to psychically contact individuals who could help with their plight. One such soul had rushed in where stealth was needed— the kind of care gypsies are better suited for. Saranna was interrupted by a police officer, who excitedly explained that cameras had picked up bizarre footage of suitcases in the lobby opening up spontaneously, and clothes disappearing.

CeCe was barefoot on the street in a hideous green and white dress she’d grabbed on her way out of the hotel. All of the money she had was back in "her" rooml, so she would have to scrounge up some more. She found herself a decent looking stoop to sleep on for the night.

The next morning, CeCe was back in the department stores, but her gaudy outfit was attracting the wrong kind of attention. Mall cops were no problem, but when real ones started shooting at her inside the store, CeCe didn’t know what to think but “run.” She made it out of the building empty-handed, but while skulking around invisibly, began to notice that there was a much stronger police presence throughout the city.

In Middletown, Detective Meade and company watched news reports of the mayor of Metropolis announcing martial law in the wake of his police department discovering terrorist cells throughout the city. Evidence suggested that there were more such cells in every major city in the country, with the mayor offering assistance to other authorities in the matter. Captain Harding points out to Meade that Detective Jones had a pretty good excuse for running late all of the sudden.

Larry Drake as Captain Harding

CeCe is grabbed from behind and pulled into an alley. As she turned invisible and struggled for release, Victor Stone (Lee Thompson Young) covered her mouth and explained that he was here to help her. CeCe tried to escape when Stone first released her, but his cybernetic eye was able to trace her heat signature and recapture her. CeCe refused to give up her name, referring to herself simply as "Gypsy," but she agreed to go with Victor to an abandoned nightclub. There, Gypsy was reintroduced to Saranna and her father. Jasonar explains that Despero’s influence was already spreading, and that there would soon be no place for Gypsy to run away to. The two Kalanorians were immune to Despero’s mental powers, while Victor’s cyborg brain offered him partial protection, and Despero could not affect the minds of anyone he couldn’t see. Gypsy replied that she could take care of herself, but wasn’t prepared to take on an alien dictator. Jasonar couldn’t risk another super-powered individual falling under Despero’s control, so he told her to hide out at the club for the rest of the day. If his group wasn’t back by nightfall, Gypsy would truly be on her own.

Cyborg takes point, connecting to city computers to control traffic lights, bridges and such to restrict traffic around the Justice League’s headquarters. Stone then leads the rush into the building, while the armed Jasonar and Saranna spilt up to search the building. Saranna trades fire with Green Arrow, the distraction allowing Black Canary to take out the intruder. Jasonar is initially faced with Aquaman, but John Jones comes to his rescue. It seems the strain of controlling so many minds had taken its toll of Despero’s psychic grip, freeing the Manhunter to join the offensive. Cyborg manages to knock out Green Arrow, but the combined power of a sonic Canary Cry and Impulse’s super-speed blows brings Victor low. The Manhunter is seized by Clark Kent, while Impulse rushes Jasonar into a seat before Despero.

Ethan Phillips as Jasonar

The despot is pleased to finally confront the men responsible for deposing him on Kalanor, and begins plotting the tortures in store for them. However, Despero is struck by a ray gun blast from out of nowhere-- literally. The pain proves too great a distraction for Despero to maintain his mental control, and he suddenly finds himself surrounded by a rather perturbed Justice League in full command of their faculties...

Jasonar and Saranna board their spaceship bound for Kalinor, the greatest criminal in that world’s history secured in lock-up. Jasonar expresses his gratitude to the League for finally seeing justice done, and then the aliens depart. The Leaguers thank John Jones and Victor Stone for liberating the rest of the team, while Bart Allen expresses regret over rushing into the situation foolishly. Clark takes John aside and asks him about his move to Middletown. Jones explains that like Smallville and Metropolis, Middletown has proven to be a magnet for unexplained phenomena that has not been properly studied, or as needed confronted, in the absence of its own Superman. Clark wishes John the best, and once everyone else appears to leave, John calls out to Victor to confirm where in the room Gypsy is hiding.

The girl reveals herself, and is applauded as the unsung hero of the day. Cindy isn’t feeling it, as her first inclination was to flee, until curiosity simply got the better of her, so she tailed Jasonar’s team. John explains that what was important was that she had stepped up to the challenge, then asks about her past and future plans. CeCe continues to offer “Gypsy” as her only name, refusing to discuss her history, and figuring jail was her fate if she stayed in Metropolis. John offers Gypsy a safe place to stay in Middletown until she can come up with a better course, and she agrees. John asks Victor to keep Gypsy’s participation in the affair a secret for the time being, and the trio exit the headquarters to face a new day.

I didn’t much care for this premature "pilot." The show’s called “Middletown,” but the whole damned episode seems to take place in Metropolis. John Jones has had more face time in Smallville guest spots than here, and what was with Diane Meade’s disappearing act? It seems like the episode spent so much time making Gypsy sympathetic and excusing her later actions, there wasn’t enough of her trademark sarcasm. Most of all, I was really looking forward to Despero and some Justice League action, but they took up comparatively little of this cheap ass show. Probably best, as the make-up job on Andrew Robinson was pretty lousy. Of course they had to radically redesign Despero's fins, but all they accomplished was obstructing Robinson's swell performance. I really hope things pick up next episode, or I may not keep watching.


2010 Batman: The Brave and the Bold Despero Temporary Tattoos

Here's another exhibit of why Martian Manhunter and Despero belong together as superman and archfiend: animated Despero can't have a Silver Age, either. He may not be rocking a finhawk like it's 1985, but from the barbaric baring of flesh to the steroidal bod to the bad attitude, that's a fairly modern Despero for such a retro show. I'm not really complaining though, in part because my non-TV watching self will be speaking from ignorance until I get the DVD hook-up, and partly because I approve of what I've seen of this edition. Aside from working the classic fan fin, B:TBATB-D seems reminiscent of my favorite incarnation, the immediately post-rebirth version from the mid-80s. Also, I love that freakin' badge they came up with for this set. I'd have flipped it for the fan-fin-effect, because I'm cheeky like that, but it's still great!

Our pal the Irredeemable Shag of Once Upon a Geek offered these scans and more, so check out his comprehensive first post, and if you're so inclined, partake of character spotlights on some of my other blogs. Also, I've got additional stickers in there, and we all love stickers, right?

Firestorm & Company Temporary Tattoos @Firestorm Fan
The Atom (Ryan Choi) @Power of the Atom
2009 Sandylion Batman: The Brave and the Bold Sticker Bits @Justice League Detroit