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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

NuPerspective: BLACK VULCAN (SHANGO)

Annnnnnnndddd we're back!! As you may or may not know, NuPerspective is the column where me and my writing collaborator Fabian Wood revamp and update various underdeveloped, underutilized, cheesy and/or all-but-forgotten Nubian (black) comic book and pop culture characters. We stay within continuity for the characters as best we can and then take the stories and art to places we think will showcase them in cool, fresh, contemporary and exciting ways both visually and story-wise.  

For some reason May became the unofficial Cartoon themed month, and for this edition of NuPerspective we just knew we had to tap into classic cartoon history of the Super Friends show to bring you: BLACK VULCAN!!!

Original design of Black Vulcan from the Super Friends cartoon


Originally Black Lightning was supposed to be in the cartoon, but due to legal issues, the powers that be created this substitute character. As a result there was a lot unknown about ole B.V, so here's what we did. Enjoy! 


NuPerspective Black Vulcan (renamed Shango) design by Shawn Alleyne

Real Name: Jabari Mukasa
Alias: Black Vulcan (former); Shango (current)
Identity: Secret
Occupation: African history professor
Place of Birth: Uganda
Base of Operations: Mainly Uganda but the continent of Africa
Affiliations: Justice League International (honorary member)
First Appearance: The All-New Super Friends Hour – “The Whirlpool” (1977)
Original Creators: Jeffrey Scott (Voice by Buster Jones)


Story: Born in the East African country of Uganda, young Jabari took pride in his African heritage on a fundamental level, but never put much thought into the life he grew up in. An academic prodigy, Jabari was urged by his parents at a young age to study abroad in America to “gain a better life for himself”. Overseas, Jabari excelled in his studies but also became enraptured with American lifestyles and superhero awe, putting his African traditions behind. In the last year of his schooling Jabari partook in a study on superhuman cell potential to gain extra money. Unexpectedly, the tests and drugs unlocked his latent powers of electrical control. Jabari decided to use his gifts to help others, bringing him to the attention of the prestigious Justice League where he debuted as the electrified superhero “Black Vulcan”. After many adventures Jabari semi-retired from the superhero life, choosing to return to his studies and graduate. Which he did, becoming a professor in Africology and African-American studies. One day, while appraising African artifacts for a museum, Jabari came into contact with a ceremonial axe that happened to in fact be a powerful ancient relic once belonging to Shango – the African god of storms. Blessed with ancestral revelations Jabari discovered he was a long lost descendent of the African prince who was later deified to godhood. The axe also bestowed upon Jabari a deeper understanding and stronger control of his powers. With newly opened eyes Jabari was dismayed over the lack of African awareness and relevance, as well as the prevalence of racism, in the American superhero community. This revelation was overshadowed by a distressing message from his homeland that his widowed mother had tragically been killed in the crossfires of political rebel fighters. When he mournfully returned to his birthplace, Jabari’s idealism that had blinded him those many years abroad were further shattered. Faced with the harsh realities that plagued his people such as corruption, in-fighting and other atrocities of injustice, Jabari was compelled to do something about it. Now resolved to fight for his people, Jabari must contend with both the ills of the Western world that have infiltrated his country as well as the treacherous and malicious nuances of Uganda and the wider African continent. Shedding the title of Black Vulcan, Jabari is reborn as Shango, with a new mission to become the foremost advocate of Afro-centrism both in the classroom and in the geo-political scenes, choosing to a superhero AND teacher to his people.

Powers/Abilities: Jabari has vast electro-magnetic powers that can be utilized in a variety of ways. Besides absorbing and discharging large amounts of electrical energy, Jabari can augment the ambient atmosphere to generate localized thunderstorms. He can also “see” electric currents, even a person’s bio-electric aura, operating like thermal or night vision. He can convert his entire body into pure electrical energy, allowing for self-propelled flight, light speed traversal and teleportation through the air, and intangibility. He can generate powerful electro-magnetic barriers and exhibits magno-kinesis, control over metal. Due to his Shango lineage and new knowledge, he is so skilled with his lightning powers that he can form lightning tethers/whips and hurl lightning rods. Jabari has genius-level intelligence and has also intensively studied international politics, African history and economics.

Paraphernalia: Upgraded through a Wayne Industries benefactor, Shango’s suit is insulated and reinforced to be bullet-resistant and fire-proof. The unique material also enables him to blend well into shadows or low-light areas.


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And there you have it. Check out Black Vulcan's...ahem, sorry, Shango's's original look and adventures in the cartoon and let us know if you like what we did with this revamp. Then see ya sooner than later for another Nu-Perspective. But wait, before you go, check out this Q&A below with yours truly as I dive deeper into my process, complete with bonus sketches.

Sketch of the new costume
What do you like most about the character?
My favorite NuPerspective characters are the ones that have an open background. There's so much Fabian and I can do then.  

Did the character pose a challenge to update and if so what was the hardest part of the redesign? 
I guess the hardest part was a self-imposed challenge of pushing the design to incorporate the Orisha Shango and some African designs. Luckily I feel pretty good with the results. 


Working out the poses. I always seek to create motion with my art

In hindsight is there anything you would do differently now? 
Nothing I can specifically pinpoint but I worry I didn't push the design far enough.

What was the most fun part to redesign?
Adding pants. lol 

In regards to the story aspect of the update, what was your main inspiration for the direction?
The main direction was to get this guy as far away as possible from the Westernized Caucasian design sensibilities as possible. Once Fabian established the character as a more African man than African-American, I knew what I wanted to do. Tying him to Shango was the final cherry on the dashiki. I googled character renditions of Shango, African fabric, and went from there.    
Is there something in particular you want to point out? 
Yes. The fact that this guy needs to make a reappearance in the DC Universe proper.

First pass at the final pose. Discarded cause it felt too stiff.
Fine print: All characters are copyrights and trademarks of the respective publishers and creators. This column is used solely for artistic enjoyment. We aim to showcase Nubian characters in fresh, contemporary and exciting ways both visually and story-wise.


NP

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Thursday, April 30, 2020

NuPerspective: HAIRBAG


Peace peeps. Hopefully everyone is as good as can be during these crazy times. Fabian and I are back with another sanitized, safe-distance edition of NuPerspective. 

What IS Nu-Perspective you ask? Well I'm glad you asked. This the column where me and my writing collaborator Fabian Wood revamp and update various underdeveloped, underutilized, cheesy and/or all-but-forgotten Nubian (black) comic book and pop culture characters. We stay within continuity for the characters as best we can and then take the stories and art to places we think will showcase them in cool, fresh, contemporary and exciting ways both visually and story-wise.  

Seems we got an animal theme this month...last post was Gamecock and now we're back with Marvel's HAIRBAG!!


Hairbag appearance in X-Factor drawn by Larry Stroman


And now, the NuPerspective revamp...


NuPerspective Hairbag design by Shawn Alleyne


Real Name: Michael Suggs
Current Alias: Hairbag
Identity: Secret
Occupation: Agent for Mr Sinister
Place of Birth: Krakoa
Base of Operations: Krakoa
Affiliations: Nasty Boys
First Appearance: X-Factor #75 (1992)
Original Creators: Peter David & Larry Stroman

Story: Not much of Michael Sugg’s past is known prior to him being part of Mr. Sinister’s “Nasty Boys” – a personal strike force in direct opposition to the government-funded mutant team called X-Factor. No match for their X-Factor counterparts however, Hairbag eventually found himself in league with the Mutant Liberation Front – a small anarchistic cell of disillusioned young mutants – before returning to the Nasty Boys ranks. After the cataclysmic “de-mutation” of M-Day, Hairbag was fortunate to retain his powers. Unfortunately, he was hunted down and brainwashed by a cybernetically-enhanced anti-mutant zealot William Stryker. Freed by Sabretooth’s iteration of the X-Force, Hairbag wound up on the opposite side of where he started, becoming a reluctant crusader for mutants. Tragically, this was short-lived, as he perished at the hands of a clandestine mutant gang known as the Upstarts. This however would not be the end of Hairbag; as once the thrall of mad mutant geneticist Mr. Sinister, Hairbag’s DNA has always been part of his repository. With the recent events of “House of X” and “Powers of X” (the latest gambit to save the mutant race involving a draconian takeover by the triumvirate of Magneto, Professor X and Moira X) Mr. Sinister finds himself elevated to the nascent Krakoa government’s auspicious Quiet Council – both an overt and covert hand of authority and law on the budding mutant nation. This leads to Sinister being tasked with leading a new group of mutants under the name Hellions. However, knowing full well he cannot truly trust his benign benefactors and duplicitous colleagues, and always having his own personal agenda, Mr. Sinister has cloned, and ostensibly resurrected, his Nasty Boys with some slight improvements. Used as his private espionage team to spy on the Krakoa oligarchy and harvest new mutant samples in secret, Mr. Sinister plans to usurp the control of Krakoa and dominate an entire empire of mutants!

Powers/Abilities: Hairbag has feral wolf-like characteristics, such as fur, fangs and claws. He innately has strength, speed, stamina, senses and a healing factor significantly above normal human limit. Of particular note, he has nocturnal vision and is an exceptional tracker. His hair follicles are particularly sharp like a porcupine’s and he has demonstrated a degree of control over them. Since his re-cloning, Hairbag’s DNA has been enhanced, greatly increasing his previous powers by a factor of five. This has also granted Hairbag a high resistance to diseases, poisons, toxins, venoms and lethal gases (he is still vulnerable to powerful narcotics). He also now possesses a heightened resilience to extreme temperatures and his denser physiology makes him more durable to harm or injury. In addition, his claws have been tipped in adamantium as well as his fangs, making them both virtually indestructible and able to slice/sever any material. An added augmentation to his genetic makeup also makes him both immune and invisible to telepaths. The only drawback to his new spliced DNA is that prolonged adrenaline in his system can cause him to enter a berserk state of mind

Paraphernalia: None



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And there you have it. Check out Hairbag's original look and story in those X-Factor issues (great stuff) and let us know if you like what we did with this revamp. Then see ya sooner than later for another Nu-Perspective. But wait, before you go, check out this Q&A with yours truly as I dive deeper into my process, complete with bonus sketches.

 
Costume design and pose sketches by Shawn Alleyne
 
 
What do you like most about the character?
Unfortunately Hairbag was never a fav of mine, but if I had to pick something I would say his weird design. He was different. I like the fact that he was this little ball of fur and didn't have to look "cool".

Did the character pose a challenge to update and if so what was the hardest part of the redesign? 
The hardest parts were self-imposed artistic challenges. Such as trying to capture Larry Stroman's amazing insane energy. Also drawing the close-up face in the pic; just could get it for some reason. I also wanted to make sure I retained that short unique stature. Last, I wanted to make his facial feature more dog-like but I don't think I'm satisfied with what I did. 

 
In hindsight is there anything you would do differently now? 
I wish I had come up with a pose that showcased his costume more. I had a fun "Guilty Gear" influenced design that I would like to see highlighted. I also wish I had contacted Larry Stroman about his memories and thoughts on designing Hairbag.
 
What was the most fun part to redesign?
I like were-wolfs so this was a nice close challenge.
 
In regards to the story aspect of the update, what was your main inspiration for the direction?
Well, despite what I said above I wanted to see how I could push the canine aspects of him but not make him look too much like a werewolf.
 
Is there something in particular you want to point out? 
Just the fact that Hairbag is Jamaican. We need more Caribbean representation. 
 
 

Fine print: All characters are copyrights and trademarks of the respective publishers and creators. This column is used solely for artistic enjoyment. We aim to showcase Nubian characters in fresh, contemporary and exciting ways both visually and story-wise.


NP

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