My name is Steven Howell Wilson, and I do a lot of different things…

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I’ve written fan fiction and published fanzines. I’ve assumed the role of custodian for my friends who created a fanzine called Contact. I founded a convention called Farpoint, which has run for over two decades. I’ve been a comic book writer for DC Comics (Star Trek and Warlord) and a comic reviewer. I run Prometheus Radio Theatre, and we put out a (mostly) weekly podcast. I’m publisher for Firebringer Press, and a contributor to Crazy 8 Press. Finally, in the mundane world, I’m a recovering librarian, an IT Director and a consultant. And yes, I do all this because I’m allergic to work. I figure as long as I look busy, I won’t have to perform actual labor. It’s worked for nearly half a century so far…

The Colonel’s Plan – The Blue Bathroom, Part 6

September 26, 2017

Dear Daddy—

Now that I had found all the tile I needed, it was time to lay it out. I didn’t want to screw up, so I wanted to sketch it all out. I started by marking and measuring the pieces that were going to go up the wall on the edge of the shower.

What were you planning for the corner at the base, since the baseboard tiles don’t have corner pieces and don’t corner together well? In the one bathroom you finished, corners are formed with special corner pieces, but I don’t have any in blue. And no, I don’t think there are any stragglers left hiding. Big as this house is, I think I have the inventory under control now.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read: “The Traitor’s Triumph” (Adventure Comics #347, July, 1966)

Part two of Jim Shooter’s cold-submission Legion story has artwork finished by Curt Swan, and shows us the Legion’s first battle with Garlak and his Khund warriors, humanoid aliens from a galaxy at the edge of known space. It gives a great showcase to new Legionnaires Ferro Lad and Karate Kid, with perhaps a bit less action for their cohort, Princess Projectra.

This issue continues to show the bigger, hipper, more action-oriented Marvel style being brought to the Legion’s pages, particularly in a second splash page being devoted to the Legion meeting the Khund forces in battle. If ever before a DC comic had present a splash page in the middle of a story, I don’t know about it. It was very rare. And, indeed, even the primary splash pages in the Silver Age weren’t full page—they usually had two to three panels of the story at the bottom. This shows the evolution of the Legion to a more visually gripping storytelling style. Continue reading

Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “One of us is a Traitor!” (Adventure Comics #346)

Here is possibly the most ground-breaking story in Legion history—the one that changed the game forever. For the first eight years of its existence, the Legion had been written by seasoned pros—Otto Binder, Jerry Siegel, Edmond Hamilton. All experienced and capable, but all also years past their teen years. America invented the very concept of the teenager, and it was in the 1950s and 1960s—the era of the Legion’s birth—that teens began to be recognized as a distinct body of people. They weren’t children, they weren’t adults, and it was considered rather difficult to communicate with them, to “reach” them, because they had their own ideas and pretty much their own secret language. Adults who tried to speak that language inevitably came off sounding like oafs. And teen characters written by adult writers came off a little too stiff, a little too-good-to-be-true.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Execution of Matter-Eater Lad!” (Adventure Comics #345 – June, 1966)

Continuing the story of Legionnaires in a prison camp, departing writer Edmond Hamilton reminds us that a Stalag is not a place for amusing hijinx, contrary to what Hogan’s Heroes would have us believe. Some modern readers may not even get that reference to a TV sitcom about Allied inmates in a Nazi prisoner of war camp. Today, many consider Hogan’s Heroes to be in bad taste, since Nazis and their atrocities aren’t funny in the slightest. I was recently told by a friend from Germany, however, that the show is still watched there, and very popular.

We wrapped last issue with Blockade Boy and Matter-Eater Lad, having just escaped, being caught by the villainous Nardo. Now they await death at his hands, but Blockade Boy, heroic to the end, uses his power to transform himself into a steel shield and saves Matter-Eater Lad’s life. Nardo vows to execute the Legionnaire later, to make an example of him.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Super-Stalag of Space!” (Adventure Comics #344, May, 1966)

Edmond Hamilton’s final Legion tale is an adaptation of Stalag 17, a Broadway play which became a film, about prisoners of war in a Nazi prison camp. Word comes to the Legionnaires that Brainiac 5 is a prisoner of war. A team goes to free him, and winds up being captured themselves by Nardo, the commandant, who has nuclear energy in his veins. They’re separated by gender, the boys awakening in a barracks already inhabited by other super-powered heroes from other worlds, including Plant Lad, Blockade Boy, Weight Wizard and Shadow Kid.

The film Stalag 17 opens with two Allied inmates escaping through a tunnel, only to be shot by guards. In the Legion story, a hapless Durlan who is locked by exposure to a chemical weapon in the form of Superboy, tries the same escape and dies on the wrong end of a blast of kryptonite force rings.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “Evil Hand of the Luck Lords!” (Adventure Comics #343, April, 1966)

Very near the end of Edmond Hamilton’s run, and touching on a lot of the bad luck the Legionnaires have had over the past many months that he’s guided them, this is probably his best Legion story of all time. I had reviewed it just a few months ago, as part of the GIANT Superboy #208. So I’ll share that link here, plus the usual accouterments.

With Brainy wounded, Saturn Girl acts as leader again in this story, and is named as “former leader,” when she’s thought to be dead. I always took that to mean that she was, in fact, leader, (i.e. “former” only because they thought she was dead) )when this was the first story I ever read from the Hamilton era. Brainy was listed as “newly elected leader” in #337–an apparently off-panel election making that easy to miss. But the references and interactions were so confusing it’s hard to know if the writers remembered. Maybe Imra was just having trouble letting go of the office. It wouldn’t matter soon, as Invisible Kid was about to take over.

Back in the Day, I Liked – Superboy #208 – “Evil Hand of the Luck Lords”

Roll Call: Sun Boy, Brainiac 5, Invisible Kid, Saturn Girl, Lighting Lad, Cosmic Boy, Chameleon Boy, Light Lass, Duo Damsel, Element Lad, Shrinking Violet, Matter-Eater Lad, Star Boy, Bouncing Boy

Farpoint Weekend Break

So there will be no blogs this weekend, because I’m attending and working the 25th annual Farpoint convention. In case you’re the one person I haven’t told the story to, I co-founded Farpoint with my family back in 1993, and, though I don’t have to write the checks any longer, it’s still a going concern and I’m still working on it.

Back in 2002, we introduced something called the Volker/McChesney Award to recognize fans who had made significant contributions to local fandom. My stipulation when we created the award was that no member of the Farpoint committee would be eligible—in particular, *I* would not be eligible, because I didn’t want to create an award and then appear to be giving it to myself.

But the committee pulled a fast one on me, and this year’s award was presented to both my wife Renee and me. Yes, we were given the opportunity to decline; but we thought that might hurt the feelings of some very nice people. So, last night, we received our award and the following words were read by a young blond man whom I’m told bears more than a passing resemblance to me. (That would be my son, Ethan, who was emceeing with his brother.)

Very kind words, so I share them here.

The Farpoint Committee is awarding the 2018 Volker/McChesney Award for Service to Fandom to Steven H. and Renee Wilson. As the founders of Farpoint Convention, and still serving on its committee, they have provided a long-lasting gift to fandom, a convention by fans, for fans.

Steve and Renee are the second in a 3-generation chain that started with Beverly Volker and Nancy Kippax and now includes Beverly’s grandchildren Ethan and Christian Wilson. The Volker and Kippax families attended the first Star Trek conventions in New York City, which inspired them and others to bring the Star Trek convention scene to Baltimore. Their families all participated in the first ShoreLeave, ClipperCon and OktoberTrek conventions. They also created the Contact fanzine, which provided writing opportunities for many to share and explore their desire for continuing adventures based on Star Trek and the beloved characters. One of those writers being a young man by the name of Steven H. Wilson….(Note from Steve-I never actually wrote for Contact, but Renee did!)

When the final OktoberTrek finished, Steve and Renee were inspired to continue to keep a fandom-centered convention alive in our area. Over the years, they have seen Farpoint grow and evolve, moving to embrace the full of science fiction and fantastic media and all the new technologies that let fans participate in the things they love and also create their own new stories and art. The Wilson family’s participation in today’s Farpoint Convention is a reminder of fandom’s roots, reaching from small groups of fans keeping Star Trek alive to the current mainstream fandom incarnation. Today’s high-profile fan culture would not be possible without the inspiration and dedication of people like the Volker and Kippax families, represented here by their children Steven and Renee and grandchildren Ethan and Christian.

“The Legionnaire Who Killed!” (Adventure Comics 342, March, 1966)

Here’s another story that proclaims readers didn’t believe DC would dare to print it. (What was the last one? Either one about renegades, or…?) Star Boy has killed, and the Legion wants to expel him.

It begins quietly enough, with Star Boy going to visit his parents at an observatory on a distant world. Before he leaves, he’s invited to join the other Legionnaires in a game—asking the big computer to pair the Legionnaires off to kiss each other. Invisible Kid, who never had an on-page romance until literally the day he died, observes that Star Boy has “no time for romance.” Romance? The girls involved in this game—Light Lass and Shrinking Violet—have declared their love for non-Legionnaires already. (And, as we know, would later declare their love for each other.) Seems more like just getting cheap thrills to me.

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “The Weirdo Legionniare!” (Adventure Comics #341, February, 1966)

The second part of the Computo crisis seems to be a tale in search of a marketing ploy. On the cover is depicted “Colossal Boy’s One-Man War!”—a scene of CB apparently killing Sun Boy and Star Boy, and declaring that the entire Legion will die next. On the inside splash, we’re told it’s the tale of “The Weirdo Legionnaire!” although “Colossal Boy’s One Man War!” is again referenced.

I can hear the conversation now:

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Legion of Super-Heroes Re-Read – “Computo The Conqueror!” (Adventure Comics #340,

Element Lad and Star Boy stop by a top secret research facility to visit Brainiac 5, thinking how happy the reclusive young scientist will be to see his friends after what we presume must be weeks of hard work in the lab. Instead of being happy, however, Brainy is furious at the interruption. Wild-eyed, he tells his friends to go away and not come back. He’s not even moved that Proty II has disguised himself as a piece of lab equipment just because he likes being near Brainy. (I guess an ordered mind is soothing to a telepathic animal.) All Brainy cares about is his crucial project—an ambulatory super computer. Continue reading