Who’s Who In The DCU 10.8.03

Hey, I’m glad you could make it. Can I just say how pro DC I am right now? That whole JLA/Avengers project has me flying my DC flag high. Plus my best friend is a Marvel guy so we really go at each other. Now is a great time to be a DC fan. Or is it?

I was really disappointed to pick up the Superman/Batman Secret Files and read the contribution by Mark Waid. DC seems intent on capitalizing off the success of “Smallville,” much to the detriment of comic fans. Sure Waid has found a way to “fit” Lex into Smallville, but at a cost that undermines “The Man of Steel.” Personally I feel that DC is on a slippery slope (one that they tumbled down before by having “Lois and Clark” dictate the nuptials between the comic characters.) I hope they realize their folly before it’s too late. I just wanted to voice my opinion on the matter.

Now I’m off my soapbox and on to the column.

Of course Mike Z got the lyric so he gets to fire the first question.

When did Nightwing and Starfire break up?

Well let’s be honest they had a rocky relationship. You know what they say, “men are from Earth, and women are from Tamaran.” Dick is a pretty tortured guy. His parents are dead. He’s seen numerous of Titans die under his watch. I guess one of the final straws was when Mirage (a shape shifter) disguised herself as Starfire, and hooked up with Dick (some detective, he didn’t even know it wasn’t his live in girlfriend.) Eventually the ruse was discovered, and Dick had egg on his face. So he did what every guy backed into a corner does; he proposed. Of course since it was going to be a comic book wedding, a villainous Raven disrupted it. The good guys eventually win, but these two kooky kids agree that being together just isn’t in the cards for them. Kory has to go off into space to find herself, leaving a lonely Dick on earth. And this happened right before Dick got passed over to inherit the mantle of Batman. Ben, I know Nightwing is your favorite character, do you need a moment? (Technically The Flash is my favorite, but Nightwing is a close second. You got it for the most part, but there was a very very close call earlier in the Dick/Kory relationship. During the Crisis, Kory, Dick & Jericho went to Tamaran where Kory was forced to marry a prince named Karras to unite the northern and southern lands. Eventually, Kory returned to Earth, with Karras’ blessing, but at first, Dick could not accept the fact that Kory was married and refused to renew their relationship. Dick became more comfortable when he learned it was a marriage of state, not a “real” one, but it was the first serious hit that the relationship took, and some would argue never recovered from, leading into all that Mirage stuff…oh, and Karras? One of the most unpopular characters created in the entire initial Titans run, he bit it in an annual fighting his renegade sister. –Ben)

Hmm, do we have another Teen Titans related question? How about your 411music’s own Aaron Cameron, AKA That Bootleg Guy?

How in the hell did the New Teen Titans of the 1980s not become *the* definitive pop culture supergroup, instead of the X-Men? Great writing, great art, great dialogue. Man, when George Perez left…wait, guess I answered my own question there…

My personal theory is that DC was more focused on putting its house in order. Sure they could have devoted all their attention to promoting a great book in a confusing mulitverse. But they chose to rebuild and refine a wealth of characters and universes into one easier to digest universe. After that the company focused on streamlining Superman, and by that point the Teen Titans had long missed the boat.

But lo, the Teen Titans are hot once again. Some long time fans have even commented that this new title is reminiscent of the fabled Wolfman/Perez run. It is rather good, you should give it a try. (Man, this is my dream column. Perez leaving was indeed the point most would point to as the decline of the Titans. Additionally, Marv was spreading himself thin with Crisis On Infinite Earths, not to mention Vigilante and other titles. It was a brilliant run, but it was lightning in a bottle…Marv stayed on after he admittedly lost his motivation and that was that…but the first fifty issues of volume one and first six issues of volume two of New Teen Titans remain an unquestionably brilliant body of work, in my humble opinion, the finest in the history of comics. –Ben)

Mike Z, you look like something is bothering you.

When did Batman and Bane become friendly?

Believe it or not Batman and Bane could be brothers! There was a chance that these two occasional combatants were related. In Gotham Knights #33-36 Bane came to Batman for help in destroying a Lazarus Pit and drops the bomb that not only was Thomas Wayne in Santa Prisca (Bane’s home country) but Tommy even carried on a romance with a local. Holy Moley! They take a blood test, which reveals that they aren’t related. But Bane saves Batman’s life so everything ends kosher.

Gary asks

Thanks for the update on Firestorm in the old column. I am still wondering if they ever have said how he turned from the fire elemental back to the Firestorm of old. Did they just scrap it and pretend that it never happened?

Actually the Stein elemental version of Firestorm is still out in space somewhere. I believe he was last seen in Green Lantern: Reign of Fire. But do yourself a favor and skim that one over at you local bookstore, I thought it stunk.

Mike Z, you got anything else for me?

Who’s this Nitewing character?

Ah poor ol’ Tad. Tad Ryerstad was is another victim of a child services organization. He was abandoned as an infant and was taken into Bludhaven’s foster services. Since he was a John Doe, he got the name Tad from his puny size (Tadpole) and Ryerstad came from the name of a local beer. At the age of twelve he ran away to the streets, where he got is education. He was essentially raised and taught by our culture. Every thing the learned he got from comic books and movies. Of course it doesn’t take a shrink to realize that this type of environment (no loving figures, hyper violent stimuli) leads to unhealthy behavior. Tad fancies himself a hero, but his methods are often brutal. He was the pawn of Torque, and framed by the new Tarantula for a killing that he didn’t commit.

Nalydpsycho, do you have anything on your mind?

Does Dick Grayson have any enemies that are not also enemies of Batman?

Sure ol’ Dickie boy has villains of his own. The aforementioned Nite Wing was an adversary. Double Dare is a pair of acrobatic thieves who do occasional work with Blockbuster. Other people under Blockbuster’s employ include; Brutale; a former interrogator who is nice (in a bad way) with knives, Lady Vic; a British merc, and Stallion; a former NFL player. Torque, a former corrupt cop, was a menace to Nightwing, until he was killed. Shrike is perhaps Dick’s oldest foe, and near equal. Their beef goes back to Robin’s beginnings (see Robin: Year One, a great read.) Dick’s most recent for is the new Tarantula.

Grimace, which is my favorite facial expression, asks

What’s with Batgirl? Like, has her past been revealed? And why the hell can’t she read?

Cassandra Cain was raised by her assassin pop David Cain to be the perfect killer. Somehow he denied her vocal stimuli, and trained her to communicate in violence. She did have a conscience though, and she escaped to Gotham where she hooked up with Batman and his “family.” Of course she now has some language skills. Barbara Gordon (the former Batgirl) even gave Cassandra the blessing to inherit the mantel.

Brian asks

My question is…what is Catwoman’s origin ? Also what exactly are her powers (if she has any)?

Forget Jay-Z, Selina Kyle had a rough life. She came from a fractured family, her mom committed suicide, while Selina was still a child, and Selina ended up in the Youth Authority. She left that environment when she was 13 and took to the streets. There she survived by being a …thief (not a prostitute, shame on you.)

Now this may sound familiar but one night she was inspired by a bat to strike out at those who prey on the weak. Well actually it was Batman, but it still inspired her to dress up in a costume. She used her skill as a thief to increase her own wealth, by taking from the affluent. But she has since re-devoted herself to looking out for the downtrodden. She doesn’t really have any powers. She’s like the rest of the Bat-family.

Mike Z, anything on your mind?

How long has Slam Bradley been in Catwoman?

Slam Bradley was hired by Gotham’s Mayor to track down Catwoman. But Catwoman confronted him and explained her actions. He has become one of her aides and confidants. He popped up in Catwoman #5. Although chronologically Selina’s Big Score predates that appearance. (I believe he also appeared in a series of back-ups in Detective Comics which led up to the new Catwoman series. –Ben)

S. Kelly, do you have a Green Lantern question for me?

How many functional Green Lantern power rings are there in the DCU right now and who possesses them? I’ve seen Jade and Green Arrow walking around with power rings recently, and got to wondering.

Somewhere around Green Lantern Corps #223 or 224 quite a few GL rings stopped working because Sinestro had been killed. This lfet Hal Jordan with a ring as well as a few others throughout the universe, including Guy Gardner. Years later Hal was charged with recruiting for the Corps, so a few more rings were introduced into the galaxy, but before that point basically only Hal, Guy, John, and Alan had operational rings. Oh yeah, and G’nort. But then Hal went loony; devastated the Corps he helped build, took their rings, destroyed the Central Power Battery, and became Parallax. Now at this point any ring that wasn’t destroyed during Hal’s rampage would have still been functional, but out of power.

Then Kyle became Green Lantern. That gave the universe a total of one working ring. Hal and Kyle teamed up through the miracle of time displacement, and Hal gave Kyle an additional ring. This is the same ring that Kyle gave to Jade, and that Anarky used. And that John uses now. Kyle became Ion and not only fixed Oa but the Central Power Battery as well. So now every former GL that saved their ring and personal battery as mementos of there time spent as heroes (such as Raker of Apokolips and is next month’s “Formerly Known as the Justice League” is any indication, G’nort) now has a fully functional ring. Even Ollie has a functional ring; he just doesn’t have a battery to charge it with. But to answer your question I’m guessing five; Kyle, John, Raker, G’nort, and Alan all have rings. Does my math add up Ben? (Sounds good, although Alan’s ring is of course slightly different and not affected by anything happening on Oa. Also, the new Oan Power Battery that Kyle made can presumably spit out unlimited new rings. And does Killowog have a ring? –Ben)

Gee I wish I had a question for info on an obscure hero. H.A.L.L.S.Y. you got anything?

How ’bout some info on Skull and Bones?

As part of a Soviet battalion in Afghanistan, Andrian Trofimovitch saw his share of death. Hell, he and the rest of his crew wore skeleton outfits. Of course all that reality took its toll and Andrian eventually hooked up with the CIA. He dragged is old uniform out of retirement to stop a deadly virus from being unleashed that would decimate the population. Who was the criminal behind such a heinous act, you ask. None other than the guy who created Trofimovitch’s unit. Talk about your drama.

Mike Z any last questions?

Why is Blue Devil considered a pariah in the DC Universe? Is he dead? Is it Mike Carlin’s fault? I heard he was ashamed of creating the character, and thought it was too campy of an idea. That’s ok though, it just means that he isn’t that good of a writer. This is what I don’t get; he then decided that bringing back Superman Red/Superman Blue was a good idea.

Dude, Blue Devil sucks. He is a very difficult character to make cool or interesting (for more on the difficulty of making a character cool check out the message board over in the Forums section.) He’s not dead. Sure the Mist killed him in the infamous Starman #38, but Faust resurrected him during “Day of Judgment.” (He did again during JLA: Black Baptism, but was almost immediately resurrected…again…-Ben)Not only was he brought back to life, but also he’s now a full-fledged demon. He popped up in JLA #68. He spends his time sending demons back to the underworld with his trusty trident of Lucifer.

Mike Carlin should be ashamed, a stuntman trapped in a special effects suit sounds like a lame SNL skit. And I’m betting that Superman Red/ Superman Blue started innocently enough. Around that time there were all sorts of winks and nods to Silver Age comics. Supergirl had Comet in her book. Superboy had Krypto. They probably just wanted to do the Electric Supes look, and realized that this was an opportunity to do Superman Red/Superman Blue and took it. C’mon, even New Coke, Crystal Pepsi and Pepsi Blue “sounded” good. Cut the guy some slack.

Well that is going to do it for another column. Next week will see the return of JohnBritton and his thought provoking questions. Thought provoking questions…why it must be that time of the column where I pose a deep question for you to answer. Here it is; what is your favorite comic book cover of all time? Well remember to email or post your questions and I will get them answered.

“Where I go, I just don’t know. I might end up somewhere in Mexico.”

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