Who’s Who In The DCU 8.15.03

Hey guys. First let me apologize to Mike Z. See, he knew were the music quote that ended last column came from. He got it quick too. But I accidentally erased his email, so I don’t remember what he asked last week (but it had something to do with the Ron Marz/Green Lantern controversy. So Mike Z if you’re reading just drop me a line again, and I promise this time I won’t erase it.

Now before you read any further I urge you to go here. This is where JohnBritton explains his view of DCU’s most iconic figures. It is very interesting. Y’all should really check the message board, there is some exclusive stuff there that doesn’t get into the column.

Also I want to thank Damon Muraida and Richard Duncan for reminding me that the Justice Experience made an appearance in Martian Manhunter #17. I do actually have that issue, but I forgot all about it being so far from home and all. So for all of you JE completists pick up Martian Manhunter #17.

And another thing a few of you out there scoffed when I said that Bruce Wayne didn’t know who killed his parents. I said some light would be shone on the subject in the new Superman/Batman series. Everyone said “Mathan you’re crazy look at Batman Year Two. He clearly knows it was Joe Chill.” Yet I pick up Superman/Batman and what do I see in the recap of Batman’s origin? That he doesn’t know who killed his parents. I have messed up in the past, but y’all gotta have some faith.

Mike Z wants to know

Could you give me the lowdown on Ragdoll? He seems like a very intriguing character.

The Rag Doll was originally one of those wacky Golden Age villains, which no one really cared about because he wasn’t really a threat. But he became a threat when James Robinson got a hold of him. Starman #11 told a tale of a Rag Doll at the peak of his villainy. While he may not have been the most physically formidable foe, his true gift was his sway. He gathered a following and soon he had an army ready to tear apart Opal. But the JSA banded together to stop him, but at a terrible cost. That issue is a great one. That’s why I was so irked at Wizard labeling Rag Doll being a “mort of the month,” because they obviously weren’t aware of the depth given to the character.

JohnBritton ask a deep question?

Assuming that someday, all heroes will retire, what do you think they’ll do with all their free time?

Very few heroes actually retire. They don’t want to give up the good fight. Who is retired? Well Iron Munro is. This Young All Star is, I believe, a Senator for Hawaii. Greg Saunders aka the Vigilante is also retired from the super hero gig. Booster Gold and Blue Beetle recently came out of retirement in Formerly Known As Justice League. Max Mercury was kind of retired, he really only did the superhero thing to train Impulse. Training Impulse leaves little spare time. Jack Knight is retired, and as much as I would love to read his exploits, he deserves this. In his spare time he is a full time daddy, and probably has a new shop up and running. Supergirl retired, although some suspect that she and Lee of Fallen Angel are one and the same. Northwind had retired, but apparently he has returned in the pages of JSA looking mighty Kingdom Come-esque. The Tarantula is retired, living in Dick Grayson’s apartment building, and inspiring a new hero(?) to take the name. In his spare time he writes. Over in Young Justice the Arrowette retired. She didn’t like how the gig made her feel. In her spare time she is a gold medal winning Olympian.

JohnBritton do you have a fun question for me?

Flash has Zoom, Superman has Bizarro, Captain Marvel has Black Adam. Who else has a doppleganger like that? I know Joker is sort-of the anti-Batman, but I mean who all has someone with the same powers in a similar but “evil” outfit?

Oh I love doppelgangers. My favorite episode of StarTrek is when Kirk goes to that dimension where Spock has the goatee. Actually my favorite episode of any TV show is when they have an evil twin or a twin cousin. Or when they get conked on the head and undergo a dramatic personality shift. But I digress. Here are some of the ones that I can come up with in different categories. In terms of costume and powers you have Jay Garrick and Rival (he appeared in JSA All Stars #1.) Impulse has Inertia (from Impulse #50.) Hawk and Dove have Kestrel (from the Hawk and Dove mini series.) Hawkman has Darkwing no not the duck (he appreared in Hawkman vol II #7.) Captain Atom and Major Force are arch enemies (he popped up in Captain Atom Annual #1, remember annuals?) Batman had Catman (there is no denying the costume similarities.)

Batman also has the Wraith. Let me tell you about this guy. 25 years ago (precrisis) a married thief duo was working when rookie cop Jim Gordon caught them red handed. He ordered them to stop they shot at him. He shot back and killed them. Little did he know that their eight year old son and followed them and witnessed their killing. He vowed to avenge his parents’ death and go after law enforcement. His goal was to kill Jim Gordon on the 25th anniversary of their murder. Well Batman got into the picture, and Wraith was killed in the ensuing battle. Oddly enough both kids lost their parents on the same night. Whoa. Check out Batman Special #1 for the whole story.

There are also some others you may be interested in. The JLA has the Crime Sydicate (from Earth 2.) The JLI had the new Conglomerate (from Justice League Quartley #8) Hal Jordan had Sinestro. Kyle Rayner had Nero. Martian Manhunter had Malefic. Nightwing has Nite-Wing (who makes a brief appearance in #84) and Shrike (from Robin:Year One and he also turned up in Nightwing.) Supergirl even had a Bizarro Supergirl!

Ok, I thought Captain Atom and Major Force were bitter enemies…now I really don’t get the end of Superman/Batman #1. What the hell is going with that last page? – Daron

JohnBritton I know you have another question for me

Personally, I think superhero stories about magic generally blow. It seems too easy, that you can just put a spell on the earth and solve your problem. What do you think are the best ones, if I should ever want to try again?

Hm, I don’t really like magic either. But I did enjoy the Atlantis Chronicles. It is a great story that was really the foundation for the Aquaman series prior to this one.
The Tempest mini series was also magic oriented and good. It was by Phil Jimenez, what do you expect. Both Ragman mini series are pretty good. I enjoyed the original Kubert character, but the update is cool (although not as good as the original.) But that is pretty much it for me. If I think of any more I’ll post on the message boards.

JohnBritton asks

What were the greatest deaths in the history of DC? I guess this has two categories: death and “death”.

Now I’ll get to “deaths.” As far as fake deaths you know that Superman died. Joker was killed by Nightwing in Last Laugh #6. Hal Jordan died in the Final Night. Kilowog was killed by Hal Jordan in Green Lantern #50. Metamorpho dies every other month (more on that next week.) Every member of the original Doom Patrol except for Rita Farr has come back to life. Dove was killed in Armageddon 2001 #2. Jack Knight died in Starman #52(I think.) Guy Gardner and Aquaman died in Our Worlds At War.

Nalydpsycho needs to know

How did Jason Todd die?

Jason Todd was killed by the Joker who beat him savagely with a crowbar (while Jason’s mom watched) and then blew up the warehouse where Jason lay wounded. This was after the Joker shot Barbara Gordon, but before he shot Jim Gordon’s wife Sarah. Check out the Death in the Family Trade. It was a very good story. Groundbreaking even.

JohnBritton is feeling kind of old

Let’s say the average comic book reader is 14 years old. I don’t know if it’s true, but let’s say. What does that reader think of the events considered the greatest of all comic books? My father’s generation might have been floored by the reintroduction of Barry Allen, and my most enthralling moment was the Crisis on Infinite Earths. What serves as that kind of event for today’s reader?

Some big events for this generation of comic fans, that is kind of difficult. I can’t think of one definitive moment or series but I can think of some that come close to those that you mentioned. The Death of Superman was a pretty big story, but it didn’t really have a lasting effect on the DCU. However his return did have some effects as seen in Green Lantern #50. Emerald Twilight could be considered a huge event because it really did alter the status quo like Crisis and Showcase #4 did. JLA #1 was kind of huge, but I never read the issue. Blitz, over in the Flash, is another storyline with ramifications. I think that Kingdom Come is also a heavy hitter. While the story didn’t really “happen” it was a huge event, as scene by the new DC Direct action figures. And did you see the cover of Toyfare this month. Pretty cool.

Brian asks

My question is in regards to the Ages of comics. Whats the difference between golden, silver and bronze age comics?

Comic book ages are another tough one. Since I’m the DCU guy I will go strictly by the DCU. Generally everyone agrees that Action Comics #1 is the birth of the Golden Age. I would say that Showcase #4 (the first appreance of Barry Allen) is the birth of the Silver Age. Now this where things get tricky. Firstly, I don’t know if anyone uses a DCU comic to define the begininning of the Bronze Age. Then you have to determine what defines ages. Are ages defined by the first appearance of a character, or by breaking the status quo? Showcase #4 and Action Comics #1 did bother things. I can’t think of a recent book that does both.

So I will start with the first appearance of a new character. DC Comics Presents #26 is the first appearance of the Teen Titans. These are the heroes who are teaching the current Teen Titans. They are like the generation between Batman and Robin. You could also use Tales of the Teen Titans #43 because this is Nightwing’s first appearance, and it is the first appearance of a real next generation hero coming out of their mentors shadow. (i.e. Wally West as the Flash, Garth as Tempest, Roy Harper as Arsenal, Donna Troy as Troia.) Of course if you use this then we are probably into another age now. With the current Teen Titans (Robin, Impulse, Wonder Girl, and Superboy) we have a new generation of heroes. Perhaps this age began with Adventures of Superman #500 (Superboy’s first appearance) or with Impulse #1. Only time will tell.
Now if you go by altering the status quo, I would go with Dark Knight Returns, The Watchmen, or Batman Year One. Anyone of those stories altered DC accepting the fact that there is more than black and white, and sometimes the grey area pleases the gray matter.

Well that is going to do it for me. But as usual you have a homework assignment. Which is the better end of the DCU; Kingdom Come or here? As always email me your questions and don’t forget to visit the message board!

Jeff Rush III butts in

What’s the deal with Valor / Mon-el??

D’oh. I forgot to get to M’onel. For the record it’s 5:30am, and I have to be at work at noon. But I said I would get to him. So here goes the way abbreviated Hemmingway version. Lar Gand’s pop sacrificed his life to save Earth during Invasion. Lar wanted to find out what made Earth so special. So he came here and found out about lead (lead affects Daxamites like Kryponite affects Superman) the hard way. He put some of the human experimented on during Invasion on various rim worlds, planting the seeds for the United Planets of the 30th century. He joined L.E.G.I.O.N. Virl Dox gave him an anti lead serum. Lar came back to Earth took the name Valor and hooked up with Lex Luthor. He toured the galaxy, but the serum wore off. He was placed in the Bzgtl Buffer Zone until a permanent cure could be found. A millennium later it was. He joined the Legion of Super Heroes. He is worshiped in the 31st century as a god because of what he did in the 20th (21th?) century.

Can I go to bed now?
“You gave me more to live for, more than you’ll ever know.”

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