Among my favorite things about my favorite comics is the level of detail the creators have gone to to create their comics. I love reading Comics Alliance’s dense annotations to G-Mo’s Batman. I love looking at the notes at back of Finder. With ‘Super Wizard’ I’ve tried to craft a comic with enough prewriting and world building built in to justify a similar thing.
And one more detail… This comic is based on public domain characters. Technically, the aspects that I’ve added to the Stardust mythos, Sirius the Stardog, Sunspot, the name Rosemary Redgrave, and everything else are owned by myself. But I’m a kopylefty. And these characters wouldn’t exist without the original public domain characters being viewed through the cracked lens of comic book history.
As such, I’m placing all my characters in the public domain. Bear in mind, I intend to retain copyright on ‘Attack for a while longer. (Not too long. I’m a kopylefty who is willing to put his money where his mouth is. I’ll release everything into the public domain in twenty years. I think that puts it at September 2030).
Page 1: Across the Gulf of Time
The framing story is my attempt to channel as much of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All Star Superman as possible. Obviously, Stardust isn’t Superman. He’s darker. Grittier. More Conservative. And insane.
Right off the bat we meet Sunspot and Sirius the Star Dog. I’ll get to the origin of Sirius a little later, but at least in the text itself Sunspot’s origin remains a mystery. Not to say too much, but Sunspot was a member of Stardust’s Sixth Column, a child army he fielded in one of his last stories in Fantastic Comics. Sunspot is the last remaining member of this Sixth Column. But I don’t want to say too much. I think I’m going to do a follow up comic at some point about Sunspot.
Introducing Big Red McLane. He’s another one of Fletcher Hanks’ creations. Paul Karasik, the editor of the collections of Hanks’ work that Fantagraphics put out, seems to believe that the McLane stories were closer to Hanks’ heart than his other stories. He has a number of reasons for believing this, one of the more important ones is that they don’t rely on the same formula his Stardust, Space Smith, Fantomah and their ersatz brethren do. I picked up something completely different. In his original stories he’s a man of monolithic stature and ability. He’s some kind of Super Mary Sue. In the course of nine issues he goes from a crazy logging drifter to a billionaire industrialist boxing champion. And since he’s merely a mortal man, I felt like he’s a really good foil for Stardust himself.
Meet the rest of the cast. The two most important introductions here are Fantomah and Rosemary Redgrave.
Fantomah was the first female superhero (and also created by Fletcher Hanks). She was pretty much a female, jungle themed version of Stardust and that turned into a horrible skeleton monster whenever she used her powers. Once Fletcher Hanks disappeared from the comic book industry Fantomah degenerated into just another generic jungle girl. My original intention, meta-continuity wise, was to drop that and assume she continued uninterrupted. I’ve waffled on that and now if I ever show a version of Fantomah from the late Golden Age again I’ll portray her as the “Daughter of the Pharaohs” version.
Also note the other characters created by Hanks, Space Smith and Buzz Crandall (originally exactly the same guy with two different names) and Tabu the Jungle Wizard. Tabu continued long after Hanks ditched him. I feel like the character would ultimately have evolved into one of those ancillary JSA chumps that always gets killed off when they show up to show off how dangerous the villains are.
And as for Rosemary Redgrave; she showed up in the Stardust story in Fantastic Comics #12. She isn’t named there, but she’s a convenient reason to keep an insane alien space god on Earth–Earth girls are easy. More on her later.
Enter the villains. It was hard to come up with a villain that could justify Stardust assembling an army of himself from across continuity. The solution I chose was an army of beings roughly equivalent to him. Merlin is a mashup between a (non-Hanks) Golden Age superhero named Merlin and Alan Moore. Most of the annotations of Grant Morrison’s recent work have invented some avatar through which he could talk smack about Alan Moore’s affect on the comic book industry. This is sorta a meta-reference to that.
I feel like Lovecraft dovetails nicely with Stardust in that Stardust is pretty much an eldritch abomination from beyond imagination that’s become obsessed with Superman. That’s why you get an ersatz Nyarlathotep (Chaos Crawler) and a guy who looks like a classical Cthulhu (S’nn Gorr). The other guy is just a Hanks-infused lizard man. If I had it to do over again I’d replace S’nn Gorr with some kind of Kirby space god.
At least I got to reimagine Azathoth merged with Galactus.
Page 9: Stardust VS Max Mustache
This story shares some similarities with the story from Fantastic Comics #2, at least in that it’s based obviously on World War 2. The difference here is that in the former story Stardust wants America to avoid war at all costs, but once the war actually kicked to life I can’t help but imagine him waffling and deciding war is good after all.
This is the introduction of Max Mustache. Various versions of him will show up from time to time. His ultimate fate informs his eventual transformation into a monstrous space god.
Page 13: Newspaper Gag Strip
Really big time comics nerds will instantly recognize this as a play on the Mickey Mouse suicide comics. They’re famous pretty much entirely because Disney wouldn’t have the balls to let a cartoonist do such a thing with their iconic mouse these days.
Page 15: Rosemary Redgrave
I wanted to do a story covering the horror and crime comics of the 50′s. Honestly, I’m not too happy with the results. Don’t expect this story to survive into the trade paperback I’ll eventually produce.
Page 19: Nebula the Hyper Engineer
This is an example of me planting seeds and watching them grow. Nebula the Hyper Engineer will eventually evolve into Black Hole, and be my ersatz Miracleman/Apollo of the Authority fame. As it stands, he’s just a Marvelman version of Stardust.
Page 20: The Big Three
One of Fox Publications other books during the golden age was The Big Three Comics. In my view, in the world of Fletcher Hanks our Big Three (Blue Beetle, Samson and The Flame) would be preempted by Stardust, Fantomah and Big Red McLane. This story is also meant to capture the essence of those early Justice Society stories at the dawn of continuity.
This page name drops the Evil Stardust from the Dark Side of the Universe. He’s going to show up very soon in the actual comic. The idea is that in the Golden Age continuity the universe was divided into two identical halves, one side good and the other side evil. Later on this idea was deemed stupid, so it was retconned that the Evil Stardust created a duplicate solar system and uses this evil Earth to occasionally mess with Stardust.