Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Clarissa Project: The Secret Origin of Ms. Megaton Man!

Reposted from the Megaton Man blog!

Starting out as Stella's Ann Arbor roommate sidekick in Megaton Man #4 (June 1985), Clarissa James has evolved into one of the most prominent characters in the Megaton Man narrative.
A sophomore infatuated with Yarn Man in Return of Megaton Man #1 (July 1988) and subsequently present at the birth of Megaton Man and Stella's son Simon in Return of Megaton Man #3 (September 1988), Clarissa realizes she has Megapowers and dons the primary-colored costume to become Ms. Megaton Man in Megaton Man Meets the Uncategorizable X+Thems #1 (April 1989). Initially attributed to a sexually-transmitted Megavirus, Clarissa learns that the true reason for her Megapowers derives from the fact that she is the "love-child" of Silver-Age Megaton Man Clyde Phloog and an African-American hippie mother in Bizarre Heroes #13 (September 1995), making her the second cousin once removed (or something) of Trent Phloog, the Baxter-Age Megaton Man. In the current work in progress (release date TBD), we will see Clarissa emerge as one of the most powerful Doom Defiers, the Megatropolis team that emerges after terrorist attacks deplete the city's Megahero population.

Clarissa James in her very first appearance, registering for her sophomore year in Ann Arbor with Stella Starlight (Megaton Man #2, Kitchen Sink Press, February 1985). Original coloring by Ray Fehrenbach.

Originally, Clarissa was just a sidekick whose sole purpose was to show former See-Thru Girl Stella the ropes on campus as she adjust to post-Megahero life (from MM #2; recolored in 2015).

Clarissa was also a highly studious student and something of a Megahero skeptic, or at least someone who thought of Megaheroics as a distant distraction. In any event, the notion of giving her Megapowers was the furthest thing from my mind, and in fact, she doesn't appear again in the first ten issues of Megaton Man. Nonetheless, the collegiate iconography of Ann Arbor already seems to subconsciously foreshadow her Megaheroic future (from MM #2).

Once Clarissa realizes who Stella is, she is somewhat starstruck by her celebrity status (from MM #2).

With Trent Phloog, as a de-Megapowered Megaton Man, Clarissa has joined the communal Ann Arbor household by the time of Return of Megaton Man #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, July 1988).

By this time, Clarissa has become the roommate of Megatropolis exiles Stella (now far along with her pregnancy) and Pamela Jointly, as Trent struggles with his returning Megapowers (from Return #1).

Infatuated with Yarn Man, Clarissa cannot restrain herself when Megaton Man's pal appears at the doorstep (Return #1).

Fun with Clarissa and Yarn Man from Return of Megaton Man #3 (September 1988).

Protecting civilian Trent from a toppling stack of firewood, Clarissa strikes a Jack Kirby "Big Barda" pose, and realizes that she now, somehow, possesses Megapowers. Subsequently, Stella sews her a primary-colored costume patterned after Megaton Man's.  From Megaton Man Meets the Uncategorizable X+Thems #1 (Kitchen Sink Press, April 1989), originally in black and white, colorized in 2015.

Clarissa assumed that her Megapowers were somehow sexually transmitted from Yarn Man, but learns from her African-America mom that she is in fact the "love child" of Clyde Phloog, the Silver Age Megaton Man. From Bizarre Heroes #13 (Fiasco Comics Inc., September 1995), originally black and white, colorized in 2015.

Clarissa in Megatropolis Central Park with Megaton Man, Rubber Brother, Phantom Jungle Girl, and Yarn Man, as a bronze monument of the allegorical figure Columbia, a pre-Liberty national symbol for America from the 19th century, comes to life. From "Megaton Man and the Liberty Alliance: Columbia Rising," in Liberty Annual 2010 (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund/Image Comics, October 2010). Coloring by Paul and Mary Fricke.


Clarissa gets tested by Preston Percy, Yarn Man, and Rex Rigid in the headquarters of the Megatropolis Quartet (unpublished).
What I like about drawing Clarissa is that she is a much more dramatic superhero character, and a nice foil to the irreducibly comedic Megaton Man! -- Don Simpson.


More about Clarissa James!

All coloring by Don Simpson except where noted.