Comic Art Friday: First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers

Shame on me — I haven’t posted a new Comic Art Friday since the dawn of the Internet. Okay… it hasn’t been quite that long, but it’s been a while. So, let’s rectify the omission, shall we?

In a Facebook group to which I belong, comic art collectors were recently asked to identify the greatest comic artists alive today. Along with the names you’d probably guess first — Neal Adams, George Perez, Adam Hughes, John Byrne — Tom Grummett garnered several mentions, including one from your Uncle Swan. Which is appropriate, because Grummett is one of the best in the business today, even though his name hasn’t quite reached household status outside the core of comics fanatics. Deftly blending old-school power and personality with a sleek, thoroughly modern sensibility, Grummett’s work on such titles as The Adventures of Superman, Superboy, New Titans, New Thunderbolts, and X-Men Forever has been dazzling readers for more than 20 years.

As you can see below, I pounced on the opportunity earlier this year to commission Tom for my Common Elements theme. (Click the image for a close-up look at Mr. Grummett’s spectacular drawing.)

Josiah Power and She-Hulk, pencils and inks by comics artist Tom Grummett

Featured in this potent panel are two of comicdom’s most prominent practitioners of the legal arts (that’s “attorneys” for the prosaically minded among us). On the left is Josiah Power, co-created Tom Grummett and writer Kurt Busiek as the star of DC’s Power Company series. On the right is mean, green Jennifer Walters, better known as the savage and sensational She-Hulk.

It’s tough to think of a more atypical superhero than Josiah Power. He doesn’t use an alias or secret identity, wear a costume, or even employ his awesome metahuman powers — seen in full display in Grummett’s artwork here — very often. Josiah prefers to work behind the scenes as leader of the Power Company, a team of superheroes for hire that’s structured like a law firm. He’s usually depicted in his normal human form, nattily attired in business suit and tie. Only on rare occasions, when his team is severely threatened, does Josiah explode into action in his transmogrified state — a gigantic, golemesque monster with skin like stone, crackling with energy. Even Superman himself stands in awe of Josiah’s might, describing him as one of the most powerful beings he’s ever encountered.

Josiah is also one of a small number of openly gay heroes in mainstream comics. He’s half of a stable, long-term couple with his partner Rupert. It’s refreshing to see a gay character portrayed in a superhero universe who is in no way stereotypical, and for whom his sexual orientation is an incidental aspect of his overall person, and not a device for sensationalism.

She-Hulk rates mention as the last major character created by Stan Lee before his retirement as the main man at Marvel. (Stan has “unretired” on a frequent basis since, both for Marvel projects and his own independent works.) Spawned during the television network run of The Incredible Hulk, She-Hulk served as a preemptive strike against the TV show’s producers, who were considering introducing a female counterpart to the Green Goliath. To enable Marvel to retain the rights to any such character, Stan and artist John Buscema concocted Dr. Bruce Banner’s lawyer relative, who gains her own emerald awesomeness via a blood transfusion from Cousin Brucie. Unlike her infamous family member, Jennifer not only controls her transformation into her super-sized self, but also retains her own personality and emotional balance while Hulked out. In fact, Jennifer eventually decides that she prefers her green Amazonian body, and simply stops changing back into her “normal” appearance. She continues to both practice law and fight supervillains in her tall, muscular, vividly verdant persona.

Also unlike her cousin, Jennifer is a social creature. She’s been affiliated with most of Marvel’s non-mutant superteams at one time or another, including the Fantastic Four (stepping in for an absent Ben “The Thing” Grimm), the Avengers, Heroes for Hire, and SHIELD.

Tom Grummett outdid himself in pitting his legal-eagle creation against the self-described “baddest babe in the universe.” Wouldn’t it be cool if this scene actually took place in the middle of a trial? I think our judicial system would be infinitely more entertaining if all lawyers settled cases by transforming into superhuman warriors and duking it out in the courtroom. Heck, I’d volunteer for jury duty just to watch.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Comic Art Friday, SwanStuff, That's Cool!

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