A few words about my favorite Milestone character...


 I am on record as identifying SHADOW CABINET as my favorite Milestone comic book. The Shadow Cabinet was an organization of superhuman operatives led by Dharma, whose powers allowed him to sense the past and future of any object he touched. A methodical application of Dharma's abilities allowed the Shadow Cabinet to predict and prevent catastrophic events before they happen. At a publisher committed to progressive diversity, as well as to the grey area of post-modern superhero narratives, Shadow Cabinet took the feminism of the X-men, turned it up to 10 and broke the nob off.
So my favorite Milestone character is Shadow Cabinet's Palestinian ferro-kinetic field leader Iron Butterfly.  At the time this character was created, Storm was leader of the X-men, and an incredible bad-ass in an age of incredible bad-assery. Iron Butterfly represents a naked attempt to create a character to equal Storm's heroic ruthlessness, and I would say they succeeded. Part Joan of Arc, part Magneto, Iron Butterfly was the right hand (wo)man of Dharma, the Cabinet's enigmatic leader.  The dynamic tension between Dharma's borderline insane precognitive motives and Iron Butterfly's sense of justice and loyalty drove a lot of Shadow Cabinet's narrative, as often Dharma's plans (known only to him) were at odds with the interests (and survival) of Iron Butterfly's teammates.

For the record,Sadly, comics I truly love pretty much universally get canceled, so Shadow Cabinet was doomed from the start to a very short run. Because her book didn't last long enough, Iron Butterfly never reached the stature that Storm enjoys, even among Milestone fans, which is a shame, because series artist John P Leon never seemed to tire of drawing her weathered visage. I imagine the average comic book dude did not find her all that appealing, but I was ready for a female warrior whose armor actually looked like it provided some protection. Maybe it was just me. Anyways, I found the way Shadow Cabinet ended (especially Iron Butterfly's reduction to Dharma's crazy girlfriend) to be rushed and not really befitting of the characters. The only good thing I saw in DC's  New 52 reboot was the possibility of reforming the Shadow Cabinet (especially Iron Butterfly) free of that forced ending.

Maybe we will see Iron Butterfly and crew return in that Milestone revival I keep hearing about. We'll see, right?

Peace,
-samax
Samax Amen draws people, places and things for fun and profit. He is the artist of many great comics you never heard of like Herman Heed, Champion of Children, The Brother and The World As You Know It. He even writes and draws his own comics, like Dare: The Adventures of Darius Davidson, Spontaneous, and Manchild when he gets around to it. Because making comics is hard and stuff, he started GhettoManga as a blog in 2006 and as a print magazine in 2008. 
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9 comments:

Philo Stein said...

It's like standing in front of a mirror that speaks your mind! I say Ditto to all, from IB's image analysis to the sentiment of her return. I think the way Milestone diversified the mainstream w/o sequestering (or playing) themselves is something we could use more of now...

samax amen said...

Right. One of the things that I think is lost on people is how truly avant garde Milestone was. Milestone was so far ahead of its time, that now that we are seeing the pop culture machine trying to diversify, they are fumbling around trying to do what Milestone made look easy.

Phillip Magana said...

Iron Butterfly was one of my faves, along with Donner and Blitzen. Milestone was, as you said, ahead of its time. They touched on everything that was "taboo" in comics. DC and Marvel ARE pitifully trying to play catchup with what they did, but just very piss poorly.

Honestly, I hope DC leaves Milestone locked in a vault, never to touch again. They'll never, IMHO, have the caliber of writing and artistic talent to do any Milestone book justice.

samax amen said...

Donner and Blitzen were the shit! Midnighter? Apollo?
Who's that?

I am pretty bored with most of what Marvel and DC are doing, but they are making a few good moves. I think Ms. Marvel is pretty dope. I recommend that. I'm always down with GL John Stewart. Felipe Smith's Ghost Rider book is dope.

It's my understanding that there is some sort of Milestone revival in the works, headed by Reggie Hudlin and Denys Cowan. I need to read up. If so, will reserve judgement.

I think they would be better off scouting new talent than poaching Marvel and DC creators. Mainstream comics are kinda bland to me right now.

samax amen said...

Except Mikestone has GOTTA get Felipe Smith on a book!
Son is the TRUTH!

Phillip Magana said...

From what I got, DC's gonna TRY to bring more Milestone characters in after their "Convergence" storyline. Like you, I feel mainstream books are bland as hell right now. Only thing I'm reading currently is Lazarus. I was reading Ultimate Spider-Man, but if I want to read STATIC, I got all the Milestone issues. :P

If Felipe Smith goes to any Milestone related book, I hope it's BLOOD SYNDICATE!

Nick P said...

I know this is old as heck, but I was so surprised that someone else's Milestone favorite was Shadow Cabinet. I thought I was the only one. I felt everyone else was sleeping on it. It was like X-men with a dash of Vertigo comics vibe.

I dabbled in most of the series back then and ended up buying Shadow Cabinet, Static and Blood Syndicate on the regular. That's pretty much the order I liked them too.

samax amen said...

Thanks, Nick! Yeah, I fux with Shadow Cabinet! As I say, I always like books that get canceled.

One of the great things about the internet and social media era is the ease with which people who have similar niche interests can fund each other.

samax amen said...

Felipe Smith on BLOOD SYNDICATE would be SO SICK!
I also happen to know that Sophie Campbell LOVES Blood Syndicate!

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