Long term fans of Murciélaga She-Bat have been waiting years for an all-new story. New fans have been excited to see each issue as it’s published. With Murciélaga She-Bat #18 fans see the first new story in ages, well sort of new. Dærick Gröss Sr. stopped by First Comics News to explain what’s new and what’s old in Murciélaga She-Bat #18.
First Comics News: For people seeing Murciélaga She-Bat for the first time in this interview, who is Murciélaga She-Bat?
Dærick Gröss Sr: Murciélaga is an hispanic, bat-themed super-heroine. In her current storyline, she is a resident of Los Angeles and has dedicated her life to helping, protecting and, when possible, improving the lives of the hispanic community. She is a social-worker and immigrant advocate in her day-job, and a costumed vigilante when needed. Most of the time, she operates out of the DRAGON WEST school of matial arts, where she has trained since childhood. The school houses other ‘special’ students, who periodically join together to handle a threat or fight a greater foe.
Dærick: Back in 1988, I responeded to a bulletin-board (remember those?) posting in a local art school where I had been teaching some illustration courses.
Another artist, Brad Parker, had taken on the project of creating a ‘comic book’ for CFW Enterprises, a publisher of Karate and martial arts magazines. The intent was that all the characters were positive role-models and specialized in the Martial Arts. The first publication was called ROBO WARRIORS, and in issue #1 I had a short story about a student who fought crime in the guise of Reiki, the healer. Brad Parker maintained the lead stories with his character team, The Robo Warriors.
In Issue #3, I introduced Murciélaga and Soliloquy Jones into the storyline as other students of the school, and the stories moved forward from there and built a fairly solid world of characters.
Murciélaga was ‘blessed/beseiged’ with hyper-hearing. As a child she could hear a pin drop a city block away … if no other sounds were in the air at that moment. But, those other sounds always were interfering. She literally heard everything and it was nearly maddening. She was enrolled in the Dragon West school to learn internal, emotional and mental disciplines to help her control her hearing and isolate what she heard. This training, along with the martial arts, developed the adult persona…
Murciélaga/She-Bat, choosing the ‘bat’ motif because of her super acute hearing.
1st: How did she end up at Heroic Publishing?
Dærick: After CFW ended their production of the comics in 1992, I let things sit for a bit as I was on several other projects. As I recall, some of the projects were Cover Art with Dennis and it lead to his picking up my ideas, one of which was Murciélaga/She-Bat. She made her debut in her own regular monthly title published in conjunction with Heroic Publishing, after my working out some potential character issues with DC Comics and with Neil Adams. Two issues were initially run with Heroic, when I jumped ship and went over to a ‘better offer’… leaving Dennis and Heroic cold. I will never forget the look on his face when I told him my decision. It still haunts me.
Issue #3 was published through Revolutionary Comics, who folded just as the issue was going to press.
My ambitious stupidity now forced me to shelve She-Bat and my other publishing plans for the foreseeable future.
It wasn’t until 2000 that I was ready. I decided to build a renewed interest in She-Bat with a special 3-issue mini-series…a bilingual flipbook. Each issue had one story in English, with a different story in Spanish when flipped over. Over the three issues, all three stories were in both languages.
This worked and I published a new Murciélaga/She-Bat #1. But that was as far as I could get on my own, due to a fire and ‘life’. So, She-Bat was shelved again.
From 2002 to 2010, I periodically created some new images and art of her on-line, and a ‘guest team-up’ story with AK Comics in 2007, to maintain copyright vitality.
In 2009-10, an incredibly forgiving, understanding and up-beat Dennis Mallonee asked if he could do reruns of the old black and white CFW (now defunct) stories with updated color. I said ‘yes’ and began coloring and here we are.
Murciélaga/She-Bat would not be here now, if not for Dennis and Heroic.
1st: So, is Murciélaga She-Bat #18 a new story or a reprint?
Dærick: Actually, both. Dennis has created a clever blend of existing and new story. The basic storyline is from a CFW ‘crossover’ story with She-Bat’s team, the Reiki Warriors, meeting the Robo Warriors. The story was essentially told in three parts: the Reiki story, the Robo story, and the Team-up story. In this new version, the Robo Warriors are replaced with Heroic’s The Champions in all three parts.
All of the Reiki/She-bat portions are the original art and story with New Champions art substituted for the Robo Woarriors, matching one character from each for the other.
1st: This story is in color for the first time?
Dærick: Yes. Both Henry Martinez and I supplied color and modeling to the line art.
1st: What is all new?
Dærick: Well, it is a mix throughout. The easiest answer I can give to that is: Everything ‘Robo Warrior’ is new in some way. In the Reiki/She-Bat pages, all the character substitutions are new, artistically. All of the Robo Warrior specific storyline is new for The Champions story, but alligned enough to the original as to allow Reiki and She-Bat interaction to function.
Beyond that, my inner George Lucas would not allow me to let a few panels of really weak art go forward ‘unadjusted’. Mostly it was my adjusting some off-kilter anatomy (like excessively long necks) that plagued my early art.
1st: How did the blending process work out?
Dærick: I think it is amazingly effective and entertaining. The story adjustments are smooth and show no signs of being a ‘replacement’ storyline. Artistically, there is some new art for the Reiki Team in their storyline to adjust to the revised story… mostly playing (quite cleverly) with their changing apperances as part of the ‘time wrinkle’ upon which this whole concept was originally based. Henry’s art style and mine are clearly different, but they intermix quite comfortably and do not disrupt the story flow.
1st: The main story continues into League of Champions #18, does Murciélaga appear in that issue?
Dærick: Yes, as in the original story, but she is principally a support character here.
1st: What’s next for Murciélaga?
Dærick: I’m not certain at the moment of the specifics, but there is definitely a future, and some changes lined up, with several proposal-ideas on the table. Regardless of the final outcome, the singular certainty is a stronger application of her heritage and her employment of it.