Who's Who In The DCU 6.30.03

Guys, I’m sorry about the column being late, but I had some technical difficulties (read: I had no electricity for two and a half days.) But if it’s any consolation that means you will get like two columns this week. That’s kind of cool, right?

Our first question is from LuckyLuke

Are there any plans to revive DC’s Who’s Who series? It sure would save you and me the trouble of bugging you for answers.

DC’s new Who’s Who has been running strong for oh about six years, and they are the perfect place to dip your toe into the DCU (how was that for killing two birds with one stone? I always knew that English Degree would come in handy someday.) Anything with the “Secret Files and Origins” tagline is the new version of Who’s Who. What it lacks in diversity, most issues are devoted to one hero and their associates, it makes up for in depth, you usually get villain profiles as well as a story with the hero in action. Unfortunately these don’t cover the more obscure corners of the DCU. These books only feature characters in current books. For lesser known characters you have to go back to one of the original “Who’s Who” series or one of its many updates.

Truth be told that is how I got hooked into Starman. Years ago I went to the comic shop around the corner from my summer job with some money to spare. I saw the Starman Secret Files and Origins and picked it up. I loved it so much I began reading Starman around #42 or #43. I collected every issue after and got as many issues prior to those as I could. Then I picked up the Trade Paperbacks of the issues I couldn’t find. Now I am hunting down those individual issues. I have almost every issue of Starman, plus the various related miniseries and one shots. All because of that one Secret Files and Origins.

Dave Sippel writes

After reading the first three volumes of the Starman TPB series, I kind of felt diminishing returns setting in after the stellar first installment. You mentioned a couple weeks back that Jack turned his cosmic rod over to Courtney Whitmore and retired from the superhero business. I now find that I’m intrigued once again. Would you recommend that I pick up where I left off in the TPB series, just get certain volumes, or skip it and move on to something else entirely?

Oh my God! Did you not just read the preceding answer? You must go get whatever Trades you can find. Then eagerly await the rest of the series to get collected in trade paperback format. How could you stop reading Starman? Aren’t you curious about Will Payton’s final fate? Don’t you want to know what happens to Mikaal? Believe me when I tell you that when the series ends it wraps up 99% of the plots. Don’t you want to know who the bad dwarf is or the Starman of ’51 for that matter? Don’t you want to witness the final confrontation between Starman and the Mist (and I don’t mean Jack and Nash.) Good God man, go buy the individual issues and get the whole story. (I have to second that motion. The complete run of Starman is one of the best comic series ever. I read the entire run in about 2 days, and have yet to find a series that I liked as much – Daron………The Dark Overlord)

Jeff asks

Say can I get a list of suggested but Underrated Tpbs to look for? (because everyone always has the same ten books in their favorites lists).

For underrated any Starman trade is a good read. Supergirl (although I’m pretty sure that she only has two trades) is also a safe bet. Nightwing is also underrated, as is Robin: Year One.
Outside the DCU you should really look at “100 Bullets.” You will be hearing a lot about this book at the end of the year because the entire team is moving to Batman when Loeb and Lee go on hiatus. Pick up the first “100 Bullets” trade and prepare to be blown away. “Gangland” is also good. “Scene of the Crime” is a great trade by the team from “Gotham Central.”

Jeff, got a follow up?

How about Overrated?

Hm, overrated you say? Well anything that Marvel puts out is clearly overrated. As far as the DCU is concerned I would start with “Hush.” True technically it is a hardcover, but it is way overrated. To me the writing isn’t that great. How hard can it be giving everyone exactly what he or she wants? Great writers can work with in constraints. But DC basically gave Loeb free reign to use everyone Bat related as he saw fit. “Harley Quinn, never mind what she’s doing in her own book, in this story she’s the Joker’s sidekick. Oh Catwoman has her own book too? Well here she’s Batman’s second fiddle and main squeeze.” Boo!
I’ve heard that the JLA is overrated. I’ve actually only read “Tower of Babel” and that was worth the hype. But as I said some people have said Morrison’s run was over hyped. Kevin Smith’s run on “Green Arrow” was much like his movies, hugely overrated. While they aren’t overrated I would avoid any Kyle Green Lantern trades like a person who has SARS like symptoms. Now outside the DCU, Millar’s “Authority” was good but severely overrated. “Fables” was ok, but not worth the hype.

Jeff, want to go for three in a row?

How about favorite snacks to eat while reading comics (buttery popcorn not a good idea?)

Uh, sure. I eat everything while reading comic books. In fact I when ever I read Huntress #1 I remember the pasta dish I was eating when I read it for the first time (my mom went overboard on the nutmeg. But you are a great cook mom. I can’t wait for my next “home cooked” meal.) Now I should point out I have a crazy metabolism, like Flash fast. Being from Arizona I love ice cream. I eat chips, donuts, and cookies, whatever I have close at hand. And yes I do eat popcorn, but I am partial to the kettle corn or home-style variety.

LuckyLuke also asks

Does DC not publish titles called “Captain Marvel” because they are legally obligated not to, or because they wish to avoid any confusion with Marvel’s “Captain Marvel”?

Legally DC can’t publish a title called “Captain Marvel” because of Marvel’s Captain Marvel. But because Captain Marvel was created before Marvel’s Captain Marvel, he can still be called Captain Marvel. What the hell, here are a few more Captain Marvels for good measure. Captain Marvel, Captain Marvel. I think I got all the Captain Marvels out of my system.

Kenibatz, do you still have some Captain Marvel in your system?

Does DC have any idea what to do with Shazam (he seems to be one of the most overlooked DC characters)? Captain Marvel is a powerhouse when you seriously think about it and in Kingdom Come; he’s been credited as
being as strong as Superman (if not stronger since he doesn’t have the
Kryptonite weakness.)

What would you have them do with him? He’s in the JSA. You have to understand the bad blood between Superman and Captain Marvel. Back in the day Fawcett created and owned Captain Marvel. But DC decided that he was too much like Superman so they took Fawcett to court (and people believe that the United States has just recently become a litigious country.) A judge decided that DC was right, and yadda yadda yadda, DC now owns Captain Marvel.
So why would DC utilize Captain Marvel to his fullest? As you point out he may be stronger than Supes (but then he lacks Kal’s kooky eyes.) You are aware that Superman is an icon world round and one of the characters most associated with DC. Gee I wonder why they would keep Captain Marvel in the background. By the way that last sentence was laced sarcasm, it just doesn’t really translate well to the written word.

Scott Kelly do you have a query for me?

What’s happening with Blue Beetle? I saw him having heart problems in Birds of Prey, and then I can’t seem to find mention of him anywhere.

Blue Beetle is still active in the DCU. He is actually in “Formerly Known As Justice League” which comes out this week. It probably won’t be the same characterization as was portrayed in “Birds of Prey.” In fact its even money that Blue Beetle will be returned to the clown that he was in the late eighties early nineties “Justice League” series. It is kind of sad. He was making such progress. He was becoming a respectable viable hero again. But now he appears to have relapsed into comic punch line again. Ah, the circle of life.

Scott Kelly want to go again?

Does Ambush Bug still exist post-Crisis?

Yes Ambush Bug does exist in the post Crisis DCU. He made several appearances post Crisis. I know at least one of his minis was after the Crisis. Plus Arsenal name-dropped Ambush Bug in Outsiders #1. I have even heard rumblings that he has a shot at a book again. Rest assured that I am hoping that rumor is true. (It’s also been stated that he will be appearing in a future issue of Lobo Unbound, I believe – Daron)

Jason P E asks

I have a question regarding the Hal Jordan-Spectre issue. I saw his
death in the Final Night series and saw him in the recently cancelled Spectre comics. My question is when and where did he make the transition to the Spectre.

Hal became one with the Spectre in the Day of Judgment mini series a few years back. Green Lantern fans had been crying for Hal Jordan’s return for years. The Powers That Be must have thought “How can we give the fans Hal Jordan yet still keep Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern?” Viola! A plan was formed. Jim Corrigan, who had been dead for about sixty years, was finally allowed to rest in peace as he and the Spectre parted ways. But who would be the human half of the Spectre now? How about a spirit in need of redemption by the name of Hal Jordan? Hal fans have Hal, and Kyle fans have Kyle. Everyone is happy, right?

Hanes00 emailed me the final question of the week

How did Killer Croc become so mutated?

In the first issue of the “Hush” storyline we are introduced to a radically different looking Killer Croc. He looks much more reptilian. But for how he became mutated is just one of “Hush’s” many mysteries such as; who is Hush, where does this fit in Batman continuity, where does this fit in Catwoman continuity, where does this fit in Harley Quinn continuity, and why do I keep reading it every month?

Resident 411 comedian Daniel J Foery has actually snuck in the final question

Everyone knows who created Superman, Batman, and to a lesser extent, Wonder Women. They’re even credited with their creations in the credits of the Justice League cartoon (BTW, its on Sunday-Thursday at 10). Who created Flash and Green Lantern, and I mean their first incarnations?

The reason why they aren’t credited is because the characters have changed over the years. Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and Kyle Rayner have all been Green Lantern (I know Guy Gardner was too, but I went for the first, best known, current, and new ring bearers.) Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, and Wally West have all been The Flash. Now look at Wonder Woman, Superman, and Batman. They have remained pretty true to their original appearances. Since there is only one version of those three characters, their creator is clear-cut. But when you go to Green Lantern or The Flash, you have to decide which version of the character you are referring to. Martin Nodell created Green Lantern, but more specifically Alan Scott. Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert created the Flash, but more specifically Jay Garrick.

Well that does it for another week. Here is my question for you this week; where can I find copy of Who’s Who (loose leaf version) #14? I really need it. “Are you quick enough to hit this ball, Mister Clean?”

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