Who’s Who In The DCU 12.5.03

Welcome to my second Reader’s Response Column. Again I apologize for not answering your questions, but apparently something came up. Or I’m burned out. Either way I’ll be back next week.

Greetings! I interrupt this message from Mathan from the past. I am Mathan from the present. By the time you read this I should be en route to Las Vegas. With all the last minute packing I put this together. I hope you enjoy it. Have a Happy Thanksgiving. (Ok…this is Ben from the real present. The guy who just spoke only think he’s Mathan from the present, but he in fact is Mathan from an alternate past in which he didn’t get a column out before leaving for Vegas and Mon El took Daron’s place in 411 history. We’ll try to get all this time-travel nonsense and retcon crap sorted out, but in the mean time, I’ll let this refugee from another time do his best to fill real Mathan’s boots…)

In the 7/11/03 column I asked what super power you would like to have. Jason Osborne offers this:

Any superpower? It would have to be the ability to kill a yak, from a hundred yards away, with MIND BULLETS. that’d be pretty cool.

In the 8/1/03 column I ran down a list of Starmen and Jeff points out that I missed one:

In regards to the Starman question, I appreciated you not mentioning the great surprise. Thanks. Also, not to rain on your parade, but in Starman 1,000,000 Ted Knight is confronted by a future Starman…who’s evil. And if I recall he mentioned not all Jack and Ted’s descendants were on the side of angels.

The column on 8/8/03 had my question about your favorite DC Direct Action Figure. Dan Martin chimes in on the topic:

To me, Guy Gardner is the best DCD figure. Everything about it is dead-on. He’s even got a slight smirk.
Also very good:
Captain Cold – I don’t normally buy villains but that is just the perfect figure.
Modern Superman – strong sculpt, with a ton of articulation
Green Lantern and Green Arrow from the Hard Traveling Heroes
Blue Beetle – nice goggles, especially
Martian Manhunter – I prefer the lighter colored version from the JLA 5-pack. It reminds me more of the Kevin Maguire/Adam Hughes JLI version.
Kingdom Come Superman – if you can find one with a nice paint job
Silver Age Batman & Robin

Mike Z also has a favorite figure

Favorite DC Direct figure would have to be Alan Scott, with Metamorpho coming close behind.

8/15/03 featured my question about who had the better end of the DCU Alan Moore or Mark Waid and Alex Ross. Charles Hargrove gave me my only initial response:

Thank you for pointing your readers to Twilight. That was an incredible proposal, in my mind much better than Kingdom Come. Any series that uses Constantine in such a glorious manner should absolutely be given a green light.

In that same column I remarked about comic ages, and Dan Harmon wants to point some things out:

First of all, one would be remiss to not point out, in relation to the “ages” question, the ongoing “debate” on the beginning of the silver age. barry allen’s first appearance gets most of the votes, but there are those who INSIST on j’onn j’onzz’s appearance in detective #225 as the start of the silver age (which happened less than a year before barry allen). Personally, i go with the manhunter from mars for the simple fact that he was the first new major DC super-character to appear in 10 years. barry had a more recognizable name, but was more of a reinvention than a new character. Plus, j’onzz practically IS the justice league, the only person to be part of every important incarnation.

E has something to add to the ages debate

Agreed that comic book ages are a tough one. Even the birth of the Silver Age isn’t exactly easy to pick, given that the Martian Manhunter debuted shortly before Barry Allen.

You really have to take other companies into account, though. The decline of the Golden Age had a lot to do with Fawcett and EC ceasing publishing, thus requiring the Silver Age for the industry to rise from the ashes.

Where other companies become very important is the Bronze Age. This is where Marvel overcame DC as the top publisher. It also wasn’t an immediate shift, but then, neither was the shift from the Golden to Silver Ages. We didn’t see what we identify as the Silver Age versions of Superman and Batman for a few years after Showcase #4. I’d set the Bronze Age as starting with Avengers #57 (1968), by Roy Thomas and John Buscema. It wasn’t just that this issue introduced a major character in the Vision, but the entire look and feel of the book changed with this issue. The series was suddenly set at night much of the time, with much realer cityscapes than what we identify with the Silver Age. The stories were more somber, and there was an effort to be more relevant with real life issues of the time. There was also a strong emphasis on continuity and consistency within the Marvel Universe, as Thomas started establishing a working mythos for everyone to work in. Shortly after Avengers #57, Jim Steranko, and then Neal Adams, joined Thomas on X-Men, and (along with Buscema and Barry Smith on Avengers) developed the art styles that we now identify with the Bronze Age.

The Bronze Age finally hit DC in ’70 and ’71, not coincidentally when Marvel talent was imported, such as Adams and Denny O’Neil. We’d see their landmark run on Green Lantern, Batman shake off the Adam West TV show and return to his roots, and Curt Swan allowed to open up and make Superman his own. And, of course, there was Kirby’s Fourth World. Some holdover Silver Age fans complained of “the Marvelization” of DC, but this gave the classic icons new life, and made them relevant to a new generation of fans.

Figuring when the shift to the next age is even trickier (Do we even have a generally accepted name for the next era?). For DC, of course, it starts with the Wolfman/Perez Titans, but the Titans primary influence, Chris Claremont’s X-Men, had been running strong for a few years, and Frank Miller was already doing his innovative run on Daredevil. So, do we start the Iron Age (or whatever it’s called) with Claremont starting on X-Men in 1976, and the start of independents like Elfquest and Cerebus? Or, do we pick a moment, like Action Comics #1, Showcase #4, and Avengers #57, where there was a specific major event that would send shock waves and set the tone for everything to follow? The early part of Claremont’s X-Men run was very Bronze Agey, so where did things change? X-Men fans can tell you exactly where: The Dark Phoenix Saga (1979 – 80). Suddenly, we were in a much darker, and more mature, world. The heroes were now very fallible, the lines between good and evil not so clearly defined. Claremont and Byrne immediately followed Dark Phoenix with Days of Future Past, setting the stage for Icons in Dystopian Futures trend that we’d see in such series as The Dark Knight Returns and Kingdom Come.

We seem to have shifted from that age into something new, but what we’re in, now, hasn’t really been determined, yet. It’s too soon to call when the current age started, because it hasn’t been clearly defined.

Again in this column I made a comment about my love for doppelgangers. Cheeze offers me this juicy tidbit:

On the doppelgangers question, there two others you may want to mention, I can remember when i was a little kid getting a load of battered dc comics from the son of one of my mums friends that (by the look of them) were from the sixties. If memory serves, one of them had a worlds finest story of Supes and Bats going up against two mystery super villains called the anti-batman and anti-superman (both wearing identical costumes except darker, with anti superman also wearing a zorro style mask, i shit you not). The pay off was these baddies turned out to be none other than commissioner gordon and perry white respectively. Apparently, they were on a tour of supes’ fortress and inhaled some gas making them evil and giving them abilities to rival their hero buddies. Just thought I’d mention it as an interesting footnote.

In the 8/22/03 column I opened up a can of worms with my question about The Dark Knight Strikes Back. Let’s open the floodgates shall we. First up is Nathaniel A Hensley:

How did I feel about the Dark Knight Strikes Again?

I felt it was lackluster in every sense. For every great image or page layout (such as the excellent sex between Supes and Wonder Woman that shakes the world) there were 20 pages of filler.

I gave it a chance, each and every issue, because I kept saying “this is building to something” but it DIDNT build to anything, other than the creepy scene where Bats wants to hook up with his protégé.

It seems to me that Frank Miller made that book for the money, and it showed through with a serious lack of … well, all it lacked was the storytelling and go-for-broke attitude that made the original a classic.

Jon also wants to add his voice to the choir.

“How did you feel about the Dark Knight Strikes Again?”

I felt a little ripped off, actually. As my nephew said, it seemed as if, instead of Frank Miller saying, “I have this story that needs told, can I do it?” he said “Sure, I guess I could write a sequel to that… but I gotta get some PHAT cash for it.” (Do I get props for using “phat” in a sentence for the first time ever?)

See, it was still written by Frank Miller, so it didn’t, y’know, absolutely suck. But it kinda seemed to me like one of those times when you feel like you SHOULD be taking a dump, as opposed to those occasions where you have to run as fast as you can to make it from the car to the bathroom in order to stave off a Code Brown alert.

Yo gods, people like me should NOT make up their own metaphors.

Dan adds

“Dark knight strikes again?” sigh…

1. What was the point?
2. What the f#ck was going on?
3. What?
4. No, seriously, what?

So, in conclusion: I’ve read it 3 times and I’m still lost as to what going on in the middle. I LOVE DKR (don’t you have to?) and I love a majority of miller’s stuff; so I’m not prejudice… it seemed like he began rewriting it halfway through. It focused more on superman than batman and was far too “cosmic.” the mood was entirely different from the original. In fact, it should have been called “the justice league strikes again.” the last issue kind of wrapped things up, but it couldn’t save the rest of the train wreck. Personally, I don’t like to think of it as a sequel, cause it makes the original just look bad. I sincerely hope he got a lot of money for it.

In the 8/29/03 column I wrote on the period of Aquaman that fans pretend never existed. Scott Keith gives me his opinion:

I hate to keep letting my comic geek roots show, but I believe the horrible Aquaman period that no one wants to remember is the brief run in the 80s after he left JL Detroit where he got all new-fangled by swimming around in an ocean-blue leotard to replace his former costume.

In my 9/3/03 column I asked what canceled book people missed the most. Slade Wilson responded:

Cancelled book that I miss the most? Superboy by far.

Scott has a different book on his mind.

What canceled book do you miss the most and why?

I’d have to say “Hawk and Dove,” (the one with Hank and Dawn). It had so many fun storylines and ideas. Dove’s Christmas crimefighting in the toystore issue is still one of my all-time favorite holiday issues. And it was fun to have a hero like Hawk who was a jerk, yet you cheered for him anyway.

I probably wouldn’t miss the book so much if it hadn’t ended so terribly. Dove being pointlessly killed so that Hawk could become a truly lame villain… bleh! So disappointing…

Only recently has JSA made attempts to make up for this unforgivable end to a great book. I have to admit, it got me more hooked on JSA than ever, and excited to see what would happen. Maybe someday Hawk will be restored as well! I mean, it’s not like death is very permanent in the DCU…

In the 9/10/03 column I asked what DCU distinct locale would you like to reside in.

My favorite Peruvian Renato answered:

About this week’s question for me; if you could live anywhere in the DCU (DCU distinct cities, real cities, other planets) where would you reside and why? I would like to live in Keystone City, it should be cool live in a city that everyone knows who is the hero 🙂

GoatenBoy replied

If i could live anywhere in the DCU it would definitely be……..Gotham City!!!!!!!!!

Onestar said

To answer your question, where would I like to live in the DCU? Good one…I’d have to say OA, at least the current OA. Hey, I really want to be at the center of my universe. 😉

In the same column I made a comment about Superboy not aging. Well Nick Piers (who y’all should all be familiar with) sent me this:

The recent Who’s Who was stating that Superboy no longer ages. This is actually false.
There was a short run of Superboy that Ron Marz wrote. He was the one that established Superboy as never being able to age due to the aftermath of a disease he had. It was similar to the clone disease that was in the Superman comics around the time of the Battle For/Fall of Metropolis. Anyway, so Superboy has this disease and dying and all that fun stuff. Then it’s discovered that one of the supporting cast, Roxie, has his blood type (or similar genetic make up, something) to cure him. It killed her in the process, I believe (not 100% sure on that), but he was left all squeaky clean…and not able to age.

This went on for awhile, until the Sins of Youth event week that involved Young Justice. When all the kids aged, Superboy didn’t. Then, in his own comic, he fell to the ground and appeared to be dying. They removed the genetic material that made up his cure, he turned into an adult and was hunky dory. So when he went back to a kid again, he was okay again. Oh, and he lost his powers because of the change back. I think it was explained, but I stopped reading it by that point.

Confusing? Yep, and that’s probably part of the reason Superboy was cancelled.

Bill Fitzmaurice added this to my comment in the same column about potential offspring:

As for super-offspring names, Wally would never name one of his kids
“Rudolph.” He hates his father. Maybe hate’s a little strong, but he has no love for him really.

As for Bats, in Kingdom Come it was inferred that Ibn al’xufasch was actually his child with Talia from “Son of the Demon” and that he never had any or much contact with him until KC. He was actually raised for some time by his grandfather Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins.

Now for this week’s question; What super hero has the hottest (most attractive) costume?

(Ok guys…it was tough and took way way more Hypertime than I would have liked…and far too many alternate Matt Morrisons…but I found Mathan passed out drunk in pocket universe Smallville…so now we have two Mathans…next week, find out which one inevitably goes rogue or is killed off in a megacrossover! –Ben)

“And when I feel I can’t go on, you come and hold me.”

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