Friday, July 13, 2012


New Updates are coming, just trying to pace myself a little bit. Don't want to run out of stuff to talk about too quickly. I just got a pile in of comics from E-Bay that I'm planning to talk about over the next few weeks. Thought you might enjoy a quick preview.

Saturday, July 7, 2012


Character Bio
Real Name: Kevin Sydney
Code Name: Morph
Team Affiliations: New Mutants, X-Men, Avengers, Exiles
First Appearance (as Morph from Exiles): Exiles #1 (2001)
Powers and Abilities: Morph is a mutant shapeshifter capable of shifting his mass into any shape he can imagine. His body has a play-dough like quality that allows him to reattach lost limbs or chunks from battle.
Personality: Morph is often aloof, using his shapeshifting powers to make fun or just make esoteric references. Though often playing the fool, Morph has a masters degree in computer engineering, and has been an X-Men and an Avenger.

Background: The character that would become Morph, then known as Changeling, was an incidental character introduced in the early days of Uncanny X-men. Where he impersonated Professor X before being killed. It wouldn't be until many many years latter that he would repear in the pilot storyline of X-Men the Animated series. This version of the character was also quickly killed off as part of that story. He would return again in the alternate reality saga Age of Apocalypse with a whole new look and a more jokester attitude. This version of Morph proved to be fairly popular, and when Marvel launched their new reality hopping series Exiles Morph was made a main character. Except this Morph, though wearing the same costume as the AoA Morph was actually from yet another alternate reality. One where Morph was enrolled in Xaiver's School for Gifted Youngsters, graduated to the New Mutants, then the X-Men. Before becoming unstuck in reality, forcing him to join with a band of alternate reality characters to travel from world to world fixing realities.

Gender Blender Elements: Morph likes to change his shape. A lot actually. Mostly for comedic effect, if not for others then just for the humor of the moment. One thing Morph tends to shift into a lot is various female forms, and sometimes male forms wearing female clothing. Most of these moments are incidental, meant for laughs at how ridiculousness they are. But there sure are a lot of them. Below are some of Morph's best gender blender moments taken from the first 25 issues of Exiles. There are over 100 issues of Exiles, and Morph is in most of them. So more then likely we will come back to Morph's fun with femininity in the future.

Final Verdict: Morph is one of the most fun characters super-hero comics has ever created. While shapeshifting into a woman is a minor thing he does often only as a background gag, its always cute. On top of Exiles is one of the greatest comic series to come out of Marvel in the last decade, with an incredible cast of characters, wonderful story arcs, and fascinating 'What If?' scenerios. Super-Hero comics don't get much better.


Writer: Steve Gerber
Artists: Glenn Fabry (Pencils/Inks), & Garry Leach (Inks)
Cover Artist: Glenn Fabry
Published: April 2002

Background - Back in 2001 Joe Quesada had just taken the reigns of Marvel Comics from Bob Harras (after his unfortunate firing by the Marvel Board of Directors). One of the first things Quesada did was break away from the Comic Code Authority, the long standing group that independently approved comic books being 'fit' for young audiences. Instead implementing a propitiatory rating system so consumers could decided on their own what they were fit to read. This move made way for the launch of the Marvel MAX line. A comic book line for the more 'adult' stories Marvel wanted to sell. Some of these new series even dealt with classic Marvel Universe characters, as well as introducing all new characters. The MAX line launched with such titles as Brian Micheal Bendis's Alias, the western Apache Skies, vampire hunter Blade, tough guy Luke Cage, and... HOWARD THE DUCK?!

Howard the Duck had been created in the 1970s as the brain child of Steve Gerber, as a vehicle to satirize the turbulent times. First appearing in Adventure into Fear 19 alongside Man-Thing (*snicker*) Howard was pulled from his home dimension 'Duckworld' and 'Trapped in a World He Never Made!' ie: the Marvel Universe. Howard was a surprise hit, soon launching his own on-going title. The series would run 31 issues, but Gerber would only write the first 27 before clashes with Marvel over creator rights drove him from the title and the company. It would be nearly 24 years before Gerber would write a Howard the Duck series again.

Enter Howard the Duck MAX. I don't really know the circumstances as to why or how Gerber returned to Howard, as he had spent years fighting for creator ownership of Howard going so far as to create a new series Destroyer Duck as a way to poke at Marvel and their practices. But for 6 glorious issues Steven Gerber and Howard were reunited. Satirizing everything from boy bands to post-9/11 hysteria to DC's Vertigo line to God and most importantly Disney. See, back in the 1970s, during the run of the first Howard the Duck series Marvel was sued by Disney over how closely Howard resembled their Donald Duck character. Marvel not having the will to stand up to Disney in a legal fight agreed to change some aspects of Howard's design. Most notably Howard would never again be depicted not wearing pants. This experience  frustrated Gerber, so during the opportunity the new MAX series granted him he had Howard fall into a 'genetic vat', only to emerge as a giant talking mouse! He would remain as such for most of the series, an obvious shot at Disney's lawsuit. Howard would spend much of the series being depressed by this development, occasionally finding short-term solutions to his problem, but none of them seeming to stick. Until the end when God himself gives him a helping hand.

Gender Blender Elements - As issue 3 opens Howard and his (human) girlfriend Beverly are getting kicked out of a cheap hotel for being broke deadbeats. Their previous home (see: shack) having been demolished by federal agents who believed the pair to be terrorist sleeper agents (long story). Destitute on the streets the pair run into an old high school acquaintance of Beverly's, police detective Suzi Pazuzu. Coincidentally Suzi had been looking for Bev and Howard  in connection to the busting of an illegal cloning operation involving genetically manufactured boy bands (again, long story). Meanwhile, a creepy man named Ian Wippingham has been tailing Suzi. His interest is in the jeweled bracelet Suzi wears. No ordinary piece of  costume jewelry, it is in fact the mythical artifact known as the DOUCHEBLADE. A sacred weapon that grants its host impractical armor that leaves all vital areas exposed, long blades, and vastly enlarged bosoms. The Douchblade having been passed down the generations to notable women from history, until finally finding its way into Suzi's possession.

After Bev and Howard are interrogated down at the police station by Cleveland's finest they follow Suzi home. Just in time to see her going into a strange trance, its just this moment that Ian strikes! In the confusion the Doucheblade bracelet goes flying, only to end up on Howard's wrist! His chest swells up to absurd proportions, and he's overtaken by the spirits of all the previous wielders of the Doucheblade. Howard goes a little crazier then usual, killing Ian with a well placed knife through the head. Howard then turns his attention to Ian's unwilling partner, and Beverly's ex-husband, the nefarious Dr. Bong (who's name suggests exactly what you are thinking... His head is a giant Bell). However Howard's new assents turn out to be heavier then expected, so he we tires to move he ends up crashing through a coffee table. Bev acts quickly, removing the Doucheblade from Howard's wrist. She threatens Bong, telling him to get lost and that their marriage was a sham anyway. Dr. Bong begrudgingly leaves, meanwhile Howard starts to come back to his senses, though he seems to recall carring something really heavy on his chest, though he can't remember what. Suzi is also a bit befuddled, but figures things are confusing enough then keeping a giant mouse and his girlfriend around too.

Final Verdict - This is a pretty fun story, that isn't subtle about the fact that its poking fun at the 'bad girl' comic book heroine archetype, in this case specifically The Witchblade and its kin. Howard isn't possessed by the Doucheblade for very long, nor is he presented as very attractive, being a mostly naked sixty-pound mouse with twenty-pound boobs.

In all this series is worth reading if you're a fan of Howard the Duck, or satirical work in general. Though it is starting to feel a bit dated, with most of its satire targets having been in vogue in the early 2000s. The great tragedy is after this series Steve Gerber would never have a chance to work on Howard the Duck again with his death in 2008. Since then, no other single writer has ever 'got' what Howard the Duck is really about. Currently Howard is fighting zombie super-heroes in the 6th or 7th Marvel Zombie mini-series. As Howard would say, "WAAUGH!"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Writers: Mary & Tom Bierbaum
Artists (Issue 13): Frank Fosco (Pencils), Waid Von Grawbadger (Inks), & Ron Boyd (Inks)
Artists (Issue 14): Chris Gardner (Pencils) & Dennis Cramer (Inks)
Cover Artist: Adam Hughes
Published: April & May 1994

Background - Legion of Super-Heroes as a franchise is often criticized for being overly 'complicated' in its continuity. And while there are certainly a few... road bumps throughout its long storied history (most of them caused by outside factors like editorial mandated Crisis events and company wide relaunches) I personally have never found it particularly difficult to get into. All of its various relaunches have fairly clear starting and stop points. And exploring the various incarnations of the Legion of Super-Heroes is a very rewarding experience.

That being said, these two issues take place during a period that needs a little bit of explanation. So bear with me. Back in 1989 Paul Levitz, having wrote Legion of Super-Heroes regularly since 1981, stepped down to let Keith Giffen , returning iconic Legion co-writer and artist, take a crack at writing Legion of Super-Heroes. This newly relaunched 4th volume of LoSH would be a depature from the traditional concept of the Legion. Five-years having passed from the end of the previous volume this new, and more grown up, Legion would face assassination of their former comrades, a stealth invasion of Earth by the Dominion, and eventually the complete destruction of the planet Earth leaving humanity to survive in an interconnected series of massive space stations.

During all of this, a second group of Legionnaires were introduced. Known as the 'SW6 Batch', they were the Dominators' secret weapon. Clone duplicates of the Legion of Super-Heroes, brainwashed to fight for the Dominators once they had complete control of Earth and the United Planets. As it happens the brainwashing program was interrupted and the SW6 Batch was released. These Legion doppelgangers had the physical appearance of the classic teenage Legion of Super-Heroes. These disoriented teens would be dumped in the middle of open war with the Dominators on Earth. Some were killed while trying to save lives. Others had awkward run ins with their adult counterparts.

As Legion of Super-Heroes vol, 4 neared its 50th issue Keith Giffen exited the title leaving co-writers Mary & Tom Bierbaum to take over full time writing duties. At this time it was decided to launch a companion series to LoSH, titled Legionnaires. While LoSH would continue to tell the stories of the adult Legion introduced in Legion of Super-Heroes Vol.4 #1. Legionnaires would be about the new Batch SW6 teen Legionnaires finding their feet. This new series would capture some of the youthful enthusiasm of the early Legion of Super-Heroes comics had, which the adult Legion got to deal with adult problems.

Legionnaires would end up being a testing ground for a major Legion of Super-Heroes reboot to occur with the early 90s DC event Zero Hour where all of previous Legion continuity would be wiped out. Legionnaires would only run 18 issues in the previous continuity before Zero Hour, then would continue until issue 81 staring the new Legion reboot team.

Clear on all that? Don't worry, its not really that important to the TG related story elements contained within.

Gender Blender Elements - While the A-Plot of this story deals with a number of Legionnaires dealing with anti-alien hysteria going on as a result of Earth's destruction at the hands of the Dominators, elsewhere Legionnaire Kono, introduced as a new character in LoSH Vol.4 #1 as part of the new Adult Legion, has a secret mission that requires the talents of Tenzil Kern. Aka, Matter-Eater Lad. As his code name suggest Tenzil has the ability to literally eat anything. He's also a complete egomaniac totally in love with himself, and often gets easily confused when he's not the center of attention. Kono needs Tenzil to help her infiltrate a crew of vicious space pirates who originate from her home planet of Sklar. There's just one problem, Sklar space pirates are universally female as part of their matriarchal culture.

Getting some of her Sklarian friends to help, Kono dolls up Tenzil as a Sklarian and inject him with the Gender-Reversal Disease, a virus that results in temporary gender reversal in anyone infected by it. Clueless as always, it isn't until Tenzil wakes up the next day, and the virus has taken its full effect, that he realizes what has been done to him. Complaining about how uncomfortable bras and boobs are 'Tenzi' and Kono travel to make contact with the space pirates, using manufactured backgrounds to be recruited. After making contact the pair arrive aboard the pirates space craft. Kono gets assigned to gunner duty, while Tenzil get stuck on trash detail. His ego getting more bruised by the second, Tenzil make a number of boneheaded flubs when it comes to his fake background. This gets the attention of the ship's crew, and its not long before Tenzil is staring down the barrel of a gun.

In the next issue Tenzil has been captured, strapped to a gurney, and examined. The pirates realize to their horror that not only is she not a Skalarian, but she's not even female! They start debating whether they should just kill him, or sell him to flesh slavers for a tidy prophet. While they're arguing Kono comes to the rescue, using her mass altering powers to make the pirates weapons to heavy to hold, then broadcasting a signal to her Legion teammates and the Science Police to come get them. During the confusion of being boarded Tenzil gets arrested along with the rest of the pirates. The story ends with the pirates locked up in a holding cell going crazy while Tenzil keeps babbling about his exaggerated exploits as a super-hero.

Final Verdict - Conceptually, this isn't a bad little diversion. The Legion has a history of these sorts of humorous side stories. The fact that this one has to do with gender-swapping is really just icing on that cake. Unfortunately its never really goes far enough to really explore the ramifications of gender-swapping, or even titillate. In truth, the best part about this story is the brilliant Adam Hughes drawn cover of issue 13. It promises a lot, but doesn't really deliver. Issue 13 page 19 is probably my favorite single page, where we get to see Tenzil all dressed up and complaining about his situation. And it might be a nice looking page too, if it wasn't hampered by some really mediocre coloring. I really wish I could find the uncolored original artwork for that page.

This story is probably one of more infamous gender-swap tales to come out of a major publisher (with that Adam Hughes cover really making it stand out), and they aren't expensive to track down.

Monday, July 2, 2012


Welcome to Comic Book Gender Blender. For a long time now I've had a long interest in two things; Comic Books and Transgender Fiction. Interestingly enough these two interests crossover more then you might think. For a long time now I've been keeping an eye on various professionally published comic books that involve crossdressing, male to female transformation, forced femination, and general gender bending themes. And this blog is going to a place to showcase these that I have found and collect my various thoughts about them. Whether that takes us from the big guns at Marvel and DC, the cutting edge of Dark Horse and Image Comics, the obscure territory of the independent comics scene, or even across the oceans to Europe and Japan.

So welcome, I hope fans of this sort of thing will find my incites interesting.