Tag Archives: Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan

Denys Cowan’s Art Goes Missing!!!

You read that headline right! Comics legend and Milestone comics co-founder Denys Cowan‘s original art pieces, twenty seven (27) in in total have gone missing! Said pieces were to be used in the “Milestones: African Americans In Comics, Pop Culture and Beyond” exhibit in the Baltimore museum. The very outspoken Milestone comics Co-founder and friend, Michael Davis had this to say about the situation:


Denys CowanIncluded were irreplaceable work from original Milestone concept drawings to Batman #400 pages other works from both before and after those career highlights.

My work (some of it) arrived at the Geppi on Saturday. Denys’ did not. On Monday UPS says it tried to deliver Denys’s package but the Geppi was closed because of a snowstorm.

On Tuesday Denys’ box arrived. In that box was some damn fine art. Problem was 27 pieces of Denys’ 28 pieces of art were NOT in the box.

Gone. Perhaps, forever.

You can read the whole thing here. Now I don’t know about you guys but this story has pissed me off royally! I’m also urging everyone to be on the look out locally and on the internet for anyone selling Denys Cowan art. The man put his heart and soul into his work and it just goes missing? WTH? I’m hoping and praying that the art shows up, intact to Mr. Cowan.

[Source: Comicmix.com]

Estelle Jackson


Estelle Jackson- Freeman

Created by Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan.

1st appearance: Icon #7, 1993

Nationality: American

Legal Status: No criminal record

Weight: 110 lbs    Height: 5’7

Eyes: Black             Hair: Black

Known Relatives: Augustus Freeman/Icon (Husband), unborn child (deceased), Miriam Freeman (Mother in Law, deceased)


During the Harlem renaissance Icon met and married Estelle Jackson with whom he shared his every secret. Life with Estelle renewed his interest in humanity but he became disillusioned following the failed promise of both the Harlem Era and the post WWII Years. Estelle would keep him in touch with the civil rights movement from the1950’s through the 1970’s, until her death in 1977 from Cancer. She was the first person to propose that he use his powers for humanity’s betterment. His career as Icon is his final belayed gift to her.

Icon #7 Review

Icon #7

Icon #7

When a superhero sidekick finds out she’s pregnant, will she keep it or……..

Courtesy of Dwayne Mcduffie comes this touching tale of a teenage

superhero faced with a life altering decision!!


Icon explains his origins to rocket but she doesn’t believe him. She goes to a clinic for a check up to confirm her pregnancy. She is pregnant and she considers an abortion and adoption, the doctor all but tries to convince her on the first.

Icon meanwhile goes around town doing good. Rocket meets up with him to ask for a loan though she does not specify for what. When she brings up abortion he recounts his dead wife’s abortion and she finally decides she wants to keep the baby despite common sense and logic telling her otherwise. She continues to write her book confident that somehow someway things will work out. icon7 1

The Good

Bold-What can be said about a comic book from the 90’s dealing with a teenage mother considering abortion or adoption with a superhero and a doctor except…BLOODY WELL DONE! The topic of abortions even in the new millennium is taboo. This tale reaches me on a very personal level since I got my girlfriend pregnant while we where both seniors in high school. I still don’t know how Mcduffie got DC to agree to publishing this comic because it deals with a reality that society and the entertainment industry as a whole would rather pretend didn’t exist. Teenagers do shag, they probably shag more than people in a stable relationship (laugh) pregnancy of course is a side effect of enjoying the fun aspect of a shag without thinking about it. I dig the melding of reality here.

A real Icon-The courage of Rocket makes her a role model for owning up to mistakes beyond the paper she’s drawn on. She’s definitely an Icon!

Action-Action fans should also be happy as Icon flew around town helping little old ladies whose purses were snatched adding another

icon7 2Humor- Another huge aspect of Mcduffie’s personality that shone through in this issue was his sense of humor, similar if you can believe it to Joss Whedon in many ways. When Icon pours his heart out to Rocket and she thinks he’s lying was just golden, sure the situation was serious but c’mon it’s always funny when you tell the truth and the person your telling said truth thinks your a liar!

Art- The art continues to grow in stride with nice proportioned characters that actually look like real people as opposed to the clearly fictional proportions of other comics an added bonus was how well it conveyed the emotions of the characters in the various situations connected to the pregnancy and the possible abortion.

Emotional-The reality of abortion that this book brings to the forefront of the mind is daunting considering this came out November 1993. Rocket walks through the women’s clinic and has this moving talk with a female doctor who had an abortion many years ago. The doctor warns her of the complications that can occur with an abortion if she waits any longer she also alludes that her own pregnancy that she got rid off may have prevented her from becoming a doctor but you also get that she still feels the loss ever so often. Icon later tells Rocket about his own wife’s abortion to save her life that neither of them got over. This also brought up allot of my emotional baggage from my teen years as my then girlfriend had an abortion after her father found out she was pregnant and neither of us have ever gotten over that, despite her being married and me now being a jolly dad to a beautiful young lady. Thus is not a decision that one makes lightly!

The Bad

The art will turn some off as well as what some will perceive as the slow paced story.

The Ugly

Deeply moving and way ahead of it’s time! 4/5

Starlight-Stella Maxwell

Starlight-Stella Maxwell

Starlight-Stella Maxwell

Created by: Dwayne McDuffie, Matt Wayne and John Paul (JP) Leon

1st appearance: Shadow Cabinet #7, 1994

Nationality:  American

Team Affiliations: Shadow Cabinet

Legal Status: Unknown

Height: 5’8                     Weight: 120 lbs

Eyes: Brown                    Hair: Black

Relatives: unknown

Skills and abilities: Skilled mathematician.

Powers: She can manipulate and project various electromagnetic energies

Stella was a girl who always had an aptitude for mathematics, to this end upon graduating from High School she enrolled in a college level degree of said subject. It was here that she witnessed her college professor using an experimental Tachyon telescope for a teleportational experiment. It went horribly wrong and he was being bombarded by cosmic rays. Fearing for his life she pushed him out-of-the-way and took the full brunt of the cosmic rays and radiation. She was transformed into a human pulsar. She was found by Hardware who used his technology to help stabilize her powers and help her control them. Hardware also introduced her to the Shadow cabinet team which she joined (Shadow Cabinet #7). Here she gained control of her powers somewhat and was the crush of Payback. When Darma went mad she joined with a few teammates and Static to form “Heroes” the first public superhero team in Dakota (Heroes #1).

When Star breaker wrecks havoc in her world she joins a newly formed shadow Cabinet with Icon, Rocket, Hardware and boyfriend Payback to aid the JLA in ending his threat.  Her current whereabouts is unknown.

Buck Wild-Rufus T. Wild

Buck Wild

Created by: Dwayne McDuffie

First Appearance: Icon#13, 1994

Nationality: American

Team Affiliations: Icon and Rocket II

Alias: Mercenary Man, Buck Goliath, Jim Crow, Buck Lightning, Icon II, Buck Voodoo

Legal Status: U.S citizen with criminal record.

Weight: 320 lbs    Height: 6’4

Eyes: Dark black      Hair: Black

 Relatives: Unknown

Powers: He has superhuman strength though not on the scale of Icon. He is also near invulnerable but can still be hurt with sufficient force. His leg muscles are also sufficiently strong that he can leap long distances giving the impression of flight.


In 1972 Rufus was wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, he plea bargained down from the crime he did commit and sentenced to jail. Inside he was abused by the prison guards, realizing he wouldn’t survive his sentence he volunteered for an experiment  involving cryogenics. Unfortunately the experiment went terribly wrong, only his brain was frozen before his containment unit was  unit exploded. A side effect of this he got superhuman powers. Escaping from prison he went through a series of identities until setting on “Buck Wild: Mercenary man” who aided the community granted they could pay for his services. His villains included  Lysistrata Jones, SweetStick Max, Cockroach Andy among others. He met and befriended Icon and Rocket while facing off with Lysistrata. When Icon left earth and Rocket’s pregnancy prevented her from being a hero she recruited him to be Icon 2. Along with Rocket 2 he protected Dakota until he was killed in battle with Oblivion.



First Appearance: Blood Syndicate #1, April 1993

Publisher: Milestone Comics

Created by: Dwayne McDuffie, Ivan Velez Jr. and Denys Cowan

Nationality: Jamaican

Weight: Variable    Height: Variable

Eyes: Variable           Hair: Variable

Known Relatives: Older Brother (Deceased), Unnamed Mother, Little sister

Notes: Masquerade was comics first transgendered superhero. Born biologically female the powers gained from the Big Bang allowed the change to a biological man.

Powers: Granted the power of shape shifting from the big bang. Masquerade can shift his molecular structure into virtually any form though he usually chooses that of a variety of animals. His powers were later amplified to an unspecified degree.


Born biologically a woman, most of his is past shrouded in mystery. From an early age he realized that his gender identity did not fit with his biological makeup, he was a man trapped in a woman’s body. He joined Holocaust‘s gang the Paris Bloods alongside his older brother who accepted his lifestyle. Only his brother knew he was a biological female dressed as a man in the gang. On Paris island during the Big Bang his brother was killed and he gained the power to shape shift and immediately used his powers to make his body reflect what’s always been in his mind, he changed his biology to match is gender identity, becoming a man (Revealed in Interview with Ivan Velez).

As Masquerade he joined the Blood Syndicate (Blood Syndicate #1, 1993). He was one of the more bloodthirsty members often reveling in the slaughter of their enemies (Blood Syndicate #2-3). Masquerade was also present when Tech-9 died suddenly and witnessed the emotional breakdown of Fade (Blood Syndicate #4). He kept the secret of his biological gender from his teammates for a long time becoming fast friends with Fade and often mocking the budding relationship of Brickhouse and Third Rail (Blood Syndicate #5-6). Despite his seemingly outward happiness he still visited his mother and little brother in animal forms (Blood Syndicate #6). While the team battled the Demon Fox he overheard Fade‘s secret that he was homosexual, Masquerade was also the last member of the team to fall (Blood Syndicate #8). Fade found out her birth gender and he freaked out despite Fade agreeing to keep his secret (Blood Syndicate #10). Not trusting that Fade would keep his biological gender a secret he blackmailed him saying “I’m not the only one with a secret. I heard what the demon said to you before he got to me. I heard every word. I know you’re a faggot!”, after this he added if the Syndicate found out his secret then he would be sure to disclose Fade’s (Blood Syndicate #11).

Mounting Paranoia

Growing increasingly insecure Masquerade considers leaving the team one night most members went clubbing (Blood Syndicate #14). Tensions with Third Rail started to mount when Third started referring to him as “BottiBoy” a Jamaican diss to homosexual men. Third Rail and Masquerade almost had a throw down one night while the team was eating as a result (Blood Syndicate #19). All of this increased anger was because he thought he would be found out and not accepted. He tried to accept an invitation to join the Shadow Cabinet but was turned down (Blood Syndicate #19). When the team collected money from a during ring Masquerade’s insecurity reached a  tipping point and he tried to steal the money and leave the team. Too late did he realize there was only five thousand dollars int he duffel bag and regret his actions (Blood Syndicate #21). He had to battle System on his own, despite fighting valiantly he was injured and captured (Blood Syndicate #22). Masquerade would later escape when their experiments went wrong, while here he was exposed to more quantum Juice which enhanced his powers to an unspecified degree. He managed to escape with the newly created Bang Babies but didn’t know where to go.

Leading the Syndicate

He decided to return to the Syndicate but thought they would not accept him so he assumed the shape and identity of Tech-9. Dogg realized the ruse so Masquerade wounded him and threw him off the side of the building (Blood Syndicate 24-25).

While in his Male form he was caught stealing from the Syndicate by Flashback and got chased down by his former teammates before escaping (Blood Syndicate #27). He took over leadership of the syndicate, flirted with Fade and caused the destruction of Utopia Park while battling Holocaust; now Pyre; and his team (Blood Syndicate #29-30). When Dogg returned to the team he outed Masquerade for posing as Tech-9. He quickly took on Flashback and Dogg to keep his secret safe. The demon fox then revealed that he was the one who had come to Masquerade and using magic by making Masquerade drink from Tech‘s skull he assumed his identity and even his powers. After the team defeated the fox Masquerade finally revealed his biological identity to the team. They were upset he pretended to be tech even though under his leadership the team had been more united and focused. He finally decides to leave the team and try to make it on his own since “They aint shit” (Blood Syndicate #34-35).

Masquerade has not been seen of heard from since February 1996.

Icon #6 Review


Icon is about to be done in when Rocket comes to the rescue. She holds her own briefly before being overwhelmed and Icon saves her. They all call a truce and Icon speaks with DMZ about being stranded on the planet. Icon and the blood syndicate leader cease fighting and meet in the middle of both their territories. They call a truce once Icon asks them what they plan to do with their power now that they have all of their territory to themselves.

The Good

Action heads this is your issue! Lots of action with the exposition cut back to expose a lovely tale which struck a great balance.

Icon makes a great symbol to aspire to but not a very practical relatable day to day man. He’s far too aloof more often than not. This issue was good in using him in small doses, he’s great at giving speeches and when he does so he’s great!

Raquel shows here why she’s the go to girl and the person carrying this series. When she walks up to the blood syndicate talks to them on their level posture and all they can’t do anything but just stand and stare. They eventually do decided to knock her around but this shows two things 1) her feistiness and 2) the difference between relating to people from a high horse like icon as opposed to Her who spoke to them in the language and style they are familiar with.

Again she shows why she is a hero to watch as she never back down from a fight and can more than hold her own against just about anyone even if just briefly. She also shows her selflessness in all but sacrificing herself for Icon in this battle.

The pissing contest between Icon and Wise son was also quite good and showed a more human side to icon than we’ve seen before. His concern for her unborn child and her own well being was also very humanizing and well written. Icon also shows that he’s more powerful than we’ve given him credit for thus far, which bodes well for his fight showings in the future.

The Bad

Art was ok…adherence to style is one thing but c’mon!

The Ugly


Icon #5 Review


Rocket laments that her life may have just become a best seller, superhero, expecting a baby, and her Grandmother has found out she’s pregnant and her mother will pretty seen as well.

Elsewhere Icon and Blood Syndicate fight and He recognizes that one of their members is an alien like himself stranded on this planet.

Rocket’s grandmother explains to her how she came into this world and laments that if she keeps the child she will have to grow it herself.  She confronts the would be baby father with disastrous results.

Icon is left at Blood Syndicates mercy when he refuses to go all out and they are out for blood. As he lays unconscious they decide to kill him.

The Good

Great action for those who desire more beat downs for their bucks! The blood syndicate are shown as a very capable team and all their powers are used to great effect, it was also nice seeing that Icon is not the only Alien on our planet. They also came off exactly as a bunch of thugs and gang bangers who happened to now have powers. They also don’t trust Icon thanks to his rescue of the mayor and his very proper manner of speaking which is predictable. Anyone who knows ghettos or rural areas knows if you speak differently you’re the “alien” and treated as such.

The speech of Rocket’s grandmother to her was moving and also very relatable as children often make the same mistakes their own parents did and in cases like teenage pregnancy the girls usually get sassed about being just like their mothers. It’s a psychological thing though as abandoned women are usually attracted to men who will abandon them and abused become abusers. It’s the nature vs nurture debacle.

I also loved seeing the would the baby father and the dreaded question every man has asked at one point or another “is it mine?” lol that brought back some very funny memories for me dating back to high school. Great stuff McDuffie! ;)  also of note was the trip down memory lane with the boyfriend’s hair style lol a jersey also known as kid and play back in the 90’s, thanks for the memories Duff :)

Art continues to hold true to series standards.

The Bad

Icon again gets his ass handed to him although that may be an exaggeration on my part :P but seriously he’s been slapped around every issue thus far. Perhaps McDuffie is poking fun at the “superman” mythos :)

The action seemed to take over most of the book when frankly Icon really ain’t that entertaining without Rocket front and centre.

The Ugly


Wise Son

Wise Son

Wise Son

Publisher: Milestone Media

First Appearance: Blood Syndicate #1, April 1993

Created by: Dwayne McDuffie, Ivan Velez Jr. and Denys Cowan

Real Name: Hannibal White

Nationality: American

Weight: 190 lbs    Height: 5’11

Eyes: Black              Hair: Black

Relatives: Esme White (mother), Edmund White (son), Cornelia White (sister)

 Powers: Wise son possess a super dense molecular structure granting him a high level of invulnerability and resistance to injury. A side effect of this is his enhanced strength. He is also able to extend this invulnerability to those he touches but has little control over this.

Wise son was one of the founders of Nur Al-Allah (Lamp of God), the Islamic contingent of the Paris Bloods. As a gang member in Dakota he was present at the Big Bang event.When the tear gas hit the gangs he was knocked out cold. When he woke up he heard the sirens and fled instinctively. He got as far as Willis Avenue when he ran into some cops. Hannibal thought he was busted but the cops fled as their van blew up. Pinned by the truck , he should have died but instead found himself unharmed. The shock of the event caused him to wet himself [Blood Syndicate #3].

The Origin of Wise Son from Blood Syndicate #3

The Origin of Wise Son from Blood Syndicate #3

When he discovered he was indestructible he took it as a sign of a ‘holy mission”. With a new lease on life he decided to stay away from the gang life and returned home to his sister. Holocaust hunted him down and threatening his family forced him to join Wise Son’s new gang. Together they busted up a drug ring and recruited Masquerade. Together they formed the Blood Syndicate [Blood Syndicate #9].

His past with the Paris Bloods made him one of the more Bloodthirsty and often sexist members of the team. He constantly got into it with teammate Brickhouse [Blood Syndicate #1]. When Holocaust challenged Tech-9 it was Hannibal who made sure no one interfered in the fight regardless of outcome [Blood Syndicate #2-3]. After teammate Tech-9 died he took the mantle of leadership [Blood Syndicate #4].

Hannibal had a hot-tempered nature which lead to conflict with Icon and Rocket though they later called a truce [Icon #5-6]. He is a hard-line Islamic fundamentalist in many respects and continuously attempts to steer the Blood Syndicate towards these beliefs.

Milestone Forever

He later clashed with Holocaust over leadership of the team; he defeated him and maintained leadership and later saved Icon from an ambush. He also had a son named Edmund.

Holocaust/Pyre-Leonard Smalls Jr.

First Appearance: Blood Syndicate #1, April 1993

Created by: Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan

Nationality: American

Team Affiliations: Blood Syndicate and Star Chamber

Legal Status: U.S citizen with criminal record

Weight: 250 lbs    Height: 6’7

Eyes: Black             Hair: Black

Known Relatives: Unknown

Skills and abilities: Skilled street fighter.

Powers: Increased durability and Strength able to go toe to toe with Superboy. His primary power is Pyrokinesis, able to start and control all kinds of flames or fires. His body is also hotter than a normal human one enabling to start fires with saliva and even his blood. He is also immune to fire and heat. On occasion he has been shown to blow things up by heating them from within.


Leonard smalls Jr. was the son of Dakota mayor and her husband Leonard Sr. He was always a sadistic and cold man who on his sixteenth birthday killed his father with his own hands (Milestone Forever #1). He then left hem and joined the ‘Paris Bloods’, Dakota’s most powerful gang. Leonard gained a reputation as a high-ranking warlord of the Paris Bloods, who made his reputation and status as the ice-cold ‘enforcer’ for their drug dealing operation (Card 32).

After the Big Bang he gained supherhuman physical attributes and the ability to project intense heat and fire. He was tracked down by Tech-9, Flashback and Fade who were on a recruitment drive while on Paris Island. While he initially turned down the offer after careful consideration he saw the merit of being involved with a superhuman gang. He went to the house of Wise Son and threatened his sister to force him to join the gang with him. Fade, Tech-9, Flashback, Third Rail, Wise son and Holocaust then christened their new gang the Blood Syndicate since they were made up of the remnants of the Force Syndicate and the Paris Bloods. While on the first mission they met Masquerade who also joined the gang (Blood Syndicate #9).

Tension between himself and Tech-9 soon started to mount as he was sadistic, cruel and wanted to still be a criminal and Tech wanted to turn the team more toward heroics. While rescuing citizens and torching drugs he engulfed the whole building despite being told by Tech-9 to just burn the drugs. He then challenged Tech-9 for control of the syndicate in a ‘trial by combat’ (Blood Syndicate #1) and lost.

On his own he joined the Star Chamber and tricked Rocket into turning against Icon and battling the Shadow Cabinet briefly. He learned the secret behind the Big Bang and managed to get a vial of pure quantum juice though he was defeated by Icon (Icon #9-10). clashed with Static.

After the original blood syndicate disbanded he created a new one with members from the original and his new gang. Here he tried to take over Dakota and clashed with Icon. Later on he clashed with Black Lightning who had shut down his casino he was defeated again and later clashed with Static shock and the teen titans.


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