Who’s Who In The DCU 11.19.03

Welcome back to our happy column. Sorry if I was kind of snippy last week. I was kind of stressed because my writing partner (Jason Torres, a name that long time readers might be familiar with) and I were working on writing a pilot for a kid’s show (yes, I do lead a crazy wacky existence.) I’m pretty much caught up on my writing. But I’m way backed up on my reading as the only comics that I’ve read these past two weeks, have been the ones I’ve had to review. Pity me. Ben, how’s your life going? (Happy fun stress as well. The college newspaper I run has come under fire from the theater department for daring to print a negative review. People have said we’re “unprofessional” since the kids who do theater aren’t pros and don’t get paid. And here I thought we had a responsibility to the public to let them know what is good and what sucks, not to mention the actors who actually want to, I don’t know, get better and go out until the real world where negative reviews are a pretty common thing. But what do I know, I spend my early Wednesday mornings editing this garbag…er, poetry. Otherwise, things are dandy. –Ben)

Well I don’t have much else to talk about. So I guess we should jump into the column. Unless you have anything you want to say Ben? (Hey, Captain Redundant, that’s like the same question you asked me at the end of the last paragraph…like two lines ago…-Ben)

Shivkala was the first one to get the lyric right. So what do you have for me?

“What is the story behind the Pied Piper reforming and becoming Wally’s friend? I’ve been reading Flash for years now, but I don’t remember the circumstances, which writer introduced the idea, and how Flash reacted (now he’s cool with it, but was he wary of a former Rogue before?)?”

Well you came to the right place. I have every issue of the current series. Unfortunately I don’t have them in my immediate possession. I’m pretty sure that the reformed Piper showed up first in Flash #20 written by William Messner Loebs (one of my favorite Flash writers). I believe Wally accosted him, thinking him up to his no good old ways. But Piper was in actuality helping people doing something kind of “socially activist-y.”

Piper explained that after Barry died the rogue thing wasn’t the same. The rogues were kind of Barry oriented. It was a game with them. Without Barry around to pester Piper went on to do good. Wally accepted that and the two have been buds ever since. But the Piper was last seen about to undergo a covert mission (With fellow “reformed rogues” Heatwave and the original Trickster, James Jesse. –Ben), so who knows how these two will be towards each other when the next meet.

Does anyone have a question about another character that begins with “P?” Shivkala?

What about the Phantom Stranger? He’s always been a favorite of mine, though he’s different every time we see him (different powers, different outfit, one minute he works for the Lords of Order, the next he’s a free agent.) What’s he been up to recently (the last I remember seeing of him was in Final Night) and have there been any recent changes to him?

I can’t think of too many Phantom Stranger appearances lately. I think that this is due to the fact that Hal Jordan is the Spectre.

DC made such a big deal about Hal returning and has decided to use the Spectre every chance they need a mystical guiding hand. Phantom popped up in the current Dr. Fate miniseries, but so did nearly every DC magical character (except for Bloodwynd).

I’m guessing that DC figures Hal/Spectre has more fans than Phantom Stranger (although not enough to sustain a monthly) so Phantom sits on the bench. They have a point. If I see Hal on a cover I’m more apt to buy than if I see a fedora. But couldn’t the Phantom Stranger have done just a well as the Spectre did in the closing issues of Supergirl? Ben, I know you have an opinion. (The only real times Phantom Stranger makes big appearances now is as part of the Quintessence, that body of godlike dudes that debuted in Kingdom Come and also includes Zeus, Highfather, Shazam & Ganthet. They show up in the Superman books every once in awhile. I think you’re pretty dead on with your Hal-as-Spectre reasoning. Too bad, always liked PT, from back in his old Justice League of America guest spot days…years before I was born…never mind. He was great in Legends and also in the Sentinel one shot during Underworld Unleashed. Great character, but he needs to stay mysterious to work, so maybe less appearances isn’t the worst thing. –Ben)

Shivkala, you got a follow up?

If you have his issue of Secret Origins, what was your favorite P.S. origin?

Always go with Alan Moore (whose name isn’t nearly as cool when you say it.)

Starmatt would you like to add something?

Just thought I’d add that there was another “Wrath” in Young Justice, who was Peter David’s attempt to create a Prometheus like villain for that team. Sadly, (or perhaps fortunately) he was killed by his own father, who decided to kill his own son rather than take responsibility for the man he might become if he reached maturity.

That characters name was Harm. He was very interesting indeed. He first appeared in Young Justice #4 and died in #5. And in between he dismantled the team with incredible precision. After his death his back-story continued. He turned out to be the Secret’s brother with Buzz (from Supergirl.) He even confusingly returned in the final few issues of Young Justice, in what I’m sure was an abbreviated storyline. (Yeah, gotta think PAD had more planned for him. He made a few cryptic appearances to imply he had merged with Secret’s father, then died off-panel in between the last two issues. I still miss Young Justice. –Ben)

Wence sent me an email. But it was funky and I couldn’t cut and paste it to the column. It basically asked what the deal was with Slobo and Lil’ Lobo, and how they got cured to become Lobo.

Ok, Lil’ Lobo and Slobo are two different characters. Lil’ Lobo was a memember of Young Justice. The team went to Apokolips during Our World’s at War. There Lil’ Lobo was massacred. But as you know every drop of Czarnian blood (Lobo is the last son of Czarn) becomes a clone, so there ended up being countless Lobos. They fought the enemy, then they turned on each other, and the last Lobo standing is the current Lobo.

“But Mathan”, you say “based on what I know about genetics if there is one Lobo stronger than the others shouldn’t there also be one at the other end of the specrum, a weakest one?” You are correct. That is where Slobo comes in. Slobo is from the shallower end of the gene pool, the runt of the litter if you will. He had enough instinct to get out of the frenzy, and sought shelter on Impulse’s ship. So you see Lil Lobo and Slobo are two different characters. (And where is Slobo now? Glad you asked, M-Life. In the final issue of Young Justice…which I still miss…he charged at Darkseid in an attempt to “save” Secret and got nailed with the Omega Effect, only to end up trapped in a statue of himself in the 853rd century base of Young Justice 1,000,000. Poor bastich… he most likely will not appear in Teen Titans. –Ben)

Mike Z someone beat you to the lyric this week, but you still got it right. Ask away.

So Alan Scott could kill Superman then, if need be?

Yes, yes he could. This fact is particularly interesting when you couple it with the direction that DC has been taking with Alan. Sure DC de-aged Alan and made him change his name, but around the same time anther book came out that altered the perception and role, of Alan in the modern DCU.

The Golden Age, while an Elseworlds tale, set the tone for Alan Scott. In this story Alan was portrayed as the big gun of that era. He is the powerhouse, the hero’s hero.

In the post Crisis DCU that is exactly the role Alan would have played. With no Last Son of Krypton, or Amazon Princess (in the beginning at least) the next most powerful hero would be the guy with the magic ring.

And currently everyone reveres Alan Scott. A young Bruce Wayne idolized him. Alan is now given the respect he deserves. Now if only Martin Nodell got some of the same. Ben, want to chime in on this? (Alan Scott is a fantastic character and I love that he, along with Jay Garrick, is one of the most respected heroes in the DCU. They’ve earned it. Also, his power is magic and he would have Superman crying like a little baby within seconds. That said, he’s got that dumb weakness to wood, so of course Batman would have a protocol that would beat him even faster. –Ben)

Speaking of Batman and Superman, Kenibatz do you have a question?

I’ve read about three storylines where a confrontation between Superman and Batman always lead to Superman’s defeat, whether it was circumstantial or thoroughly planned out. This is all well and good for Bats since it justifies him being on par with Supes, but the consistent defeats makes Supes weak and dumb. Was there every any time in any of the various DC universes where Superman had to and soundly beats Batman?

I can’t think of too many times that Supes has won. He did a pretty good job in the way underrated Red Son miniseries. There was a year when all the annuals were Elseworlds stories. Krypton had colonized Earth. I think it was Action Comics Annual #6 that featured a Batman getting beaten.

The important thing to remember is that Batman can’t do it himself. In DKR he had help. During Hush he had help. So if it’s any consolation, Batman fights dirty. Just like Ben. (Whereas Mathan usually goes the Aquaman route and just desperately looks for water. And of course the future Superman whooped Batman in Superman/Batman #2 after complaining about pretty much the same thing you mentioned, Kenibatz. –Ben)

Brandon R, do you have a rather long rant of a question that is related to the previous one?

Two, some friends and I were discussing this and even started talking about it with my comic book store guy and some random people there. It came to our attention that Batman does not lose, ever! I mean he lost to Bane after weeks of fighting other villains and to Prometheus once the first time they met. We had also said he had never beat Lady Shiva one on one. Then he went in and did that over in Batman/Superman. She was mind controlled is what they will say no doubt. Wonder Women has also beaten him but even then. He has taken down such people as The Hulk, Kingpin, Superman, Killer Croc, Prometheus, Even Carnage, with just Kung Fu no less, no fire or sonic, plus 3 white Martians. Can Batman lose and did I mention all the times he did would be the question?

Of course he has, but not necessarily the way you think. Batman has been captured, tortured and beaten many times. But to truly beat Batman you must break his will. This happened in “The Cult.”

Now I don’t want to give too much away, but Batman basically joins a cult, and is brainwashed. It’s a great read and a scary story. Buy it and read it.

Batman “lost” other times. He lost do the Joker during “Death in the Family.” You could argue that he lost during “Hush.” Not only did Hush escape, but he almost crossed the line with the Joker and lost Catwoman. It doesn’t sound like Brucie won does it? Hey Ben when else had Bruce been beaten? (I’m sure there’s been other times, but my personal favorite was when Shikari, a Legion member created less than two years ago and who looks like a giant dragonfly, was tooling on a simulation version in that Legion issue where they went to Warworld and encountered a virtual JLA. That was funny. –Ben)

ParallaxNero you want to ask the next logical question?

None of my friends like Batman, as they say he is a loser without superpowers. That he’s not even in the same league as Superman. I try to argue that Batman is potentially the most dangerous man in the JLA, but I have no argument. I know he can be dangerous and has defeated the JLA (somewhat in Tower of Babel) but other than that i have no idea. What makes Batman so dangerous?

Batman is so dangerous because he is so driven. Most heroes are who they are out of luck. Bruce is who he is out of fear and pain. He never want to be as powerless as he was when his parents were killed. As a result he is prepared.

Bruce sees the worst in people and expects the worst. He has trained ever aspect of his being, from an early age, for this moment right now. His gifts aren’t natural, he had to hone them and keep has to keep them in shape. And it’s that determination to be better than everyone that makes Batman dangerous. Is that the same stuff that makes you so dangerous, Ben? (That and boy band good looks on par with 411 head honcho Jonathan “JC” Widro. –Ben)

Geez does anyone have a question that isn’t Bat related? Shivkala?

In the mainstream DCU (i.e. not counting Vertigo), what was the best example of magic being used and conversely, what was the worst example of it being used? To me, at least, it would seem that a magical character would be the hardest to write, since a lot of the things they can do, regular heroes can do also (teleportation, flight, energy bolts, transmutation, phasing through objects, etc.) and a lot of the time, writers either use magic in some grand way (i.e. the Ultra Humanite using the Thunderbolts magic to remake Earth) or as just random energy (the recent Dr. Fate mini is guilty of this, we don’t see Hector charge into battle weaving spells, he’s just shooting Ankh-bolts), so which writers have gotten magic right and which have really screwed up the idea of using magic in a storyline?

Great, again with the magic. For me Peter David writes a mean magic story. From the Atlantis Chronicles to Aquaman to Supergirl to Young Justice, I have always found his portrayal of magic to work the best. I’m particularly fond of Empress’s use of Vodun in “Young Justice.”

As for the worst I’d say the current Aquaman. I have no idea how the Thirst dehydrates people. When I say the magic words Ben will give us his opinion. “Alakazam!” (I really enjoyed Dr. Fate & Mordru’s duel, as written by David Goyer & James Robinson, in the early issues of JSA. Paul Levitz & Keith Giffen also wrote some mean magic tales with Mordru and others back in the 80’s in Legion of Super-Heroes of all places; their White Witch is one of my favorite magic users. And not to cross the line too much, but Kurt Busiek did some cool Scarlet Witch stuff in Avengers. –Ben)

Mike Z do you have another question for me?

Which DC character do you think could be the most commercially viable reboot?

The best reboot would be my idea for a book about Captain Comet. It would also feature Colonel Future.

Now I know you are thinking I’m being ironic or funny, but I’m not. I’m dead serious. Of course technically for Comet it isn’t a reboot, but Colonel is definitely a reboot.

I do have a fan base, and I’m sure that all of you loyal readers would pay money to read a book written by me. So I’m going to accept that as “commercially viable.”

What would I like to read? I’d love to read about a new Starman. Maybe it’s Danny Blaine or maybe it’s Mikaal Tomas. Maybe it’s in Opal, maybe not. But I think that it’s time for a new Starman. Ben, you want to rebut my reboot? (Aside from Young Justice? I think Guy Gardner is due for a reboot of some sort. He’s a great fan favorite character who has been retooled so many times and somehow always landed on his feet. Give him a good creative team and a consistent direction and he’d be cash-money, baby. –Ben)

JohnBritton, ol’ buddy ol’ pal, do you have a question?

Dollar for dollar, what’s the best deal in new comics right now? How about the best deal in back issues? Not as an investment, but for pure reading pleasure.

Dollar for dollar, I’m going to say Teen Titans. You see characters that for the most part don’t appear elsewhere in the DCU. It has a sense of history, but also the freedom to take chances. It also seems like the Johns is really enjoying writing the book, which is always a good sign. (JLA/Avengers is a close second, but since it doesn’t really “matter” it loses a point).

As for the back issue I would say Starman, but I’m sure that y’all are tired of hearing me sing the praises of that book so I’ll take a week off.

The last Aquaman series was great, until Peter David left. There are some fantastic stories that gave us a glimpse of the greatness of the character. If you like Aquaman’s appearances in the Justice League cartoon, pick up Peter David’s run on Aquaman. It has Mathan’s stamp of approval. I now turn it over to Ben so he can amaze you with his picks. (First off, I’ll be all controversial and disagree with Teen Titans. I like the book, but it moves at two awkward a pace to be considered a “best deal.” I will however agree with JLA/Avengers, even if it “doesn’t count;” with that book, you get everything you paid for and more. For me, the best deal on the market now is either JSA or Flash; the first has so many great characters and the second is just a great read. Both provide a lot for their cover price. Don’t laugh, but when it’s good, X-Treme X-Men is the best value in comics just because it has the most words in it. And if you’d asked me this question a year ago, my answer would be, you guessed it, Young Justice. Best deal of all time? New Teen Titans and New Warriors, volume one of each, plus the first fifty issues of Avengers volume 3. –Ben)

Shivkala, you started the column, you want to finish it?

What former DC super-hero title would you most want to see revived (I’m talking single Super-hero, though I’m sure everyone is clamoring for a return of Extreme Justice )?

I vote Chase. Clearly the DEO is a presence in the DCU. DC pulled the plug on that book too soon. It had great art, fascinating characters,, and some interesting stories. DC really dropped the ball on that one. What would you like to see Ben? (Like I said earlier, Guy Gardner is up there. I also think a new Superboy book, with the kid in Smallville, could be cool and successful given the current Teen Titans and Smallville cash cows. –Ben)

Well that does it for another column. Remember to email your questions, and feel free to post them on the boards as well. Here is your question: Who has the lamest super power?

“Don’t go to bed with no price on your head.”

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