Who’s Who In The DCU 12.31.03

Greetings all. I hope you all had a decent December 25th. Everything was pretty kosher here. B, how were your holidays, did you get anything comic related? (Actually, my mother did get me an X-Men coloring book as a joke. The irony being that an ex-girlfriend got me the same coloring book as a joke last year. You’d think it would be weird for a 21 year old to say to his mother “I already have this X-Men coloring book” on Christmas morning…and you’d be correct. –B)

I got a lump of coal, but it was shaped like Batman’s insignia, so that was kind of cool. Before we wade into the questions this week, I urge each and every one of you to venture to the Comics Message Boards. There are usually some good discussions going on over there, and it gives you a chance to allow your voice to be heard. Plus you get to see the 411Comics writers make fools of ourselves. Or is that just me B? (They see me as unto a god. –B)

Um, let’s jump to the questions.

Since I appear to have stumped everyone with last week’s lyric I’m just going to pick a question to start with. I’m going for something holiday themed.

Shivkala do you have something in that vein?

A la “Near Mint Memories” this week, which DC products would you and Ben say should be avoided at all costs, I’ll break it down by group: Ongoing Series (current), TPB, Crossover, DC Direct Product, and overall worst idea by DC in the past 5 years.

Worst Ongoing. Hm, that is a toughie. Lobo doesn’t have a book anymore. Aquaman is between creative teams so it wouldn’t be fair to blast him. Green Lantern isn’t my fave. I guess I’m going for Superman, and that is based strictly on last week’s #200. Talk about getting hosed! I’ll admit to getting caught up in the hype. But that issue sucked. B, what is comic book that you would take to the bathroom with you, to use as toilet paper? (There are so many, but I’ll say Titans just based on the fact that I bought every issue of the series out of blind loyalty…which taught me how worthless loyalty to anything is. –B)

Worst Trade. I’m going for “Green Lantern: Reign of Fire.” That took a really cool potentially great concept, and turned it into a month long event. I certainly would have used the main enemy of that story in the regular series, and built him up. It would have been a crazy cliffhanger when his identity was revealed. It certainly would have been better than GL’s current storyline. B, trade would you take in the bathroom with you, to flush down? (I can’t think of any really bad trades, so instead I’ll just ask what possible reason DC has for not publishing a Legion Lost trade by now? –B)

Worst Crossover. Easy. Green Arrow/Green Lantern from earlier this year. It was so bad that I don’t even want to look up to see what it was called. It was a six part weekly crossover that was blasted every week on this site, in the reviews section. It was horrid. B can you think of one worse than that? (If I could, I would probably quit this job. –B)

Worst DC Direct Product. They are all pretty classy. I love my replica Green Lanterns. I love my action figures (if anyone knows where I can find the Superman characters DROP ME A LINE!) That Krypto stuffed animal was DC Direct right? I’m going to say that. It was kind of cheesy. B what DC Direct thing is at the bottom of your “must get list?” (Have never gotten one, but my birthday is still coming up later this month and none of the 411 staff got my jack for Xmas. –B)

Worst Idea in the Past Five Years? So that’s going back to 1998? Lots of books have been canceled. Chase, Resurrection Man and Anarky spring to mind. Was the Peyer, Waid, Morrison pitch for the Superman titles in the last five years? If it was then that was a pretty bad decision. Want another one? DC shredding all those comics Elseworld’s 80 Page Giant, and that issue of League of Extraordinary Gentleman. That last shredding lead to Alan Moore putting the kibosh on Watchmen DC Direct Action Figures, and who wouldn’t have loved to see those. Yet another bad decision, not making the Cosmic Rod replica prop. I would have paid way too much money for one of those. But I guess DC’s worst decision was it’s treatment of Peter David. I don’t remember why he left Aquaman, but he was the best person for that title. And how Supergirl was canceled was a travesty. So dissing David is my vote for worst decision in the past five years. B, you have a difference of opinion? (Those are all pretty good ones. I could do a much longer list of Marvel mishaps, I do believe. The way the whole Supergirl situation was handled was pretty boneheaded in my opinion, from canceling the book to the creation of Cir-El. I expound further in The Watchtower this week. –B)

Sorry ladies JohnBritton is off the market (Congrats on the nuptials, JB. –B), but he has a question for us.

I read a lot of Brave and Bold and DC Presents in my day, and saw a lot of team-ups. Many were ridiculous, and most were poorly written excuses to throw Superman in with Haunted Tank or some other awful property. Some of them must have been good. Regardless of where they appeared, what team-ups have been the most pleasant surprises, and which ones plain old kicked ass?

When Captain Marvel showed up in Starman, starting with #39, it was a pleasant surprise. Speaking of Starman, when Batman and Scalphunter teamed up in the Brave and the Bold #171 I liked it, then and now. Batman and Impulse in Impulse #51 wasn’t too shabby. Batman and Green Arrow teamed up in Batman Chronicles #5 for a pretty good story. When Hawkman and Animal Man fought Byth a few months back it was surprisingly good. I also liked when Animal Man popped up in Aquaman #35. And since we are doing the Vertigo/DC thing when Swamp Thing turned up in Aquaman #33. Any team up catch you off guard B? (Of all time? That’s pretty tough. I’ve enjoyed pretty much every JLA/JSA team-up, as well as the recent guest appearances by Green Arrow and Hawkman in their respective books, but I suppose those aren’t really “pleasant surprises.” Any time Robin gets to team with somebody other than Batman, like when he did a stint with The Flash, it’s pretty cool. I think the dynamic between the current Batgirl and Superboy is also pretty neat. The Green Arrow/Aquaman pairing back during the Kevin Smith run was a pretty random but cool team-up, as was Shade’s guest appearance in the same title during “The Archer’s Quest.”–B)

As for the team up I loved., Jack Knight and Wes Dodds teaming up in Starman “Sand and the Stars” was phenomenal (as was Ted Knight in Sandman Mystery Theatre.) When Wally West and Captain Cold had to team up in “Wonderland,” it had a pretty good affect and set up Johns’ run on that title. Hawkman and Green Arrow teaming up in Hawkman #5 & 6 was a great read. And who could forget when Supergirl and Mary Marvel teamed up in Supergirl Plus Mary Marvel. Another good plus, Flash Plus Nightwing. Legends of the DC Universe #6 featured Superman and Robin in a great issue. For some more Dick Grayson and Kal El pick up Nightwing #30. B, I know you have some team ups that you loved. (I’m with you on the Superman/Nightwing team-ups, can’t get enough of those, with another excellent one in a Chuck Dixon-written issue of Action Comics I own. As mentioned before, all the JLA/JSA events, any time Green Arrow and Hawkman tangle, and that kooky New Teen Titans/Outsiders teamup back in the 80s was clutch. –B)

Mike Z, I know you want to contribute to the final column of the year.

Which hero has suffered the most?

Who has suffered the most? That is a difficult question. What do you consider “the most?” Sure Dick Grayson watched his parents die, but he hasn’t died as many times as Hawkman. Yeah Kyle Rayner found his girlfriend stuffed in a freezer, but Barry Allen lost one wife to his nemesis, and almost lost another, which resulted in his being put on trial for murder. Alan Scott had to battle his son, but Wally West’s wife can’t have kids, anymore. Jay Garrick thought is wife had cancer, but Bart Allen lost his true love in the streams of time. Jack Knight was raped, but Aquaman lost his hand, and his son. Northwind has been transformed into a monster, but Robotman is a robot, man. Hal Jordan lost his hometown, his title and his sanity but J’onn J’onzz lost his race. Valor spent a thousand years in limbo, but Kal El is an alien on a world where he doesn’t quite fit in, and he can’t even remember his home planet. It’s not really fair to compare tragedies. But I’ll try.

In terms of suffering the most before becoming a hero you have to say Batman. Bruce witnessed his parents’ death, effectively ending his childhood. It is what drives him to this day. That moment haunts his dreams.

And in terms of after becoming a hero I would have to say… surprise surprise Batman again. Wait hear me out. He lost Jason Todd and the original Batgirl to Joker, a guy he had a hand in creating (more on that later.) He had his back broken. He got framed for his ex’s murder, and had two of his closest allies Barbara Gordon and Tim Drake question his innocence. His former handyman Harold betrayed him, and he is to distrustful he can’t even accept Catwoman as his woman. Did I mention that the guy can’t get a good night’s sleep? B has anyone suffered more that Bruce Wayne? (Number one: great list, number two: it’s hard to conceive of anybody who has had a tougher run. Here’s one out of left field though: Beast Boy aka Changeling of the Teen Titans. His parents died, then he was adopted by the Doom Patrol, most of whom died even though many came back but not his adopted mother, his adopted Dad has gone crazy and tried to kill him on more than one occasion, his best friend was turned into a mindless robot for years and ditched him to go into outer space twice, another good friend put a demon in his body to make him go nuts after he was already pretty crazy from using his dad’s telepathic helmet to try and help aforementioned best friend, the first girl he ever loved had to leave him twice because of her father, and the second girl he ever loved turned out to be using him to infiltrate the Titans and really hated him then died trying to kill him and his friends. Also, he’s green. Man…Bruce should stop whining, nobody has had it harder than Garfield Logan. –B)

Brian you look perplexed, have you something on your mind?

I have a question regarding the Joker. Is his skin painted white? Or is it like that from the chemicals? Is all his skin the white color? Also what is his origin? Finally, is there a link between the clown prince of crime and good ol’ Bats?

Ah the Joker. His skin is indeed that pasty chalky white. As to his origin the only thing we know for sure is that he was once the Red Hood the leader of a gang who were committing crimes in Gotham. They were robbing a chemical factory when Batman showed up. A fight ensued and the Red Hood fell into a vat of chemicals. When he emerged he looked like guy we know and love, and fear the Joker.

But perhaps his story is deeper than that. He has told lots of origins over time, he has a fuzzy memory so who knows what really happened. I urge you to pick up The Killing Joke for one look at what may have driven an average guy to put on the Red Hood. Granted it is only one possible explanation for how he became the Joker, but it is essentially accepted as gospel, since Alan Moore wrote it. You want more. Brian Bolland, cover artist extraordinaire did the art chores. Need another reason? It was a turning point into Barbara Gordon becoming Oracle. Get the book already!

Even though I miss his former pseudonym, Hallsy still gets love tossed his way, and even an occasional answer.

Who is the Creeper? Where did he come from and where is he now?

The Creeper you say, well lets get it started. Jack Ryder was an investigative reporter. Snooping around was his “thing.” So while looking for a story he crashed a local mob boss’s costume party. I mean how could that backfire? Well apparently some of the boss’s underlings recognized Ryder and got it their minds to kill him. But in order to prolong the magic they first injected him with a drug. Not a heroin like injection, but more of a LSD type injection. Then to make him even more hallucinogenic they put him in a nifty yellow and red costume. They dubbed him the “Walking Creep.” Then the beat him senseless. After the beating they took him out to the woods and shot him dead, or so they thought.

Strangely enough Ryder woke up looking normal, and in the company of Emil Yatz. In case you were wondering Yatz was the scientist that the mob boss had “hired” to build a device that could store the sub atomic blueprint of inorganic material, which could be retrieved later by attaching the device to a power source. Trust me it will make sense later. The good doc explained that in order to save Ryder he had to operate immediately which meant that Ryder still had the costume on. And since he had Ryder open already, the doc decided to hide the device in Ryder’s chest, since allowing the mob boss to have it didn’t seem as safe a bet as giving it to a guy in a red and yellow costume. As a bonus he implanted the power source in Ryder’s wrist.

Then some goons burst in. They shot the doc and killed him. But Ryder activated the device in his chest and was transformed back into the that costumed guy (because the device captured the blueprint of the costume.) Unfortunately for Ryder, or the thugs, in this state Ryder still had the drugs in his system as well. He was also kind of crazy. He killed the thugs. But when Ryder awoke, he had no recollection of what happened. Eventually Ryder discovered the truth about his unbalanced alter ego. Their relationship is a strange one. He popped up in the Metropolis miniseries. And if you want to read the best Creeper story, not about the Creeper pick up the Vertigo miniseries “Beware the Creeper” one of the best minis of the year.

Well I’m going to call that a column and a year. I hope everyone has a fun New Year’s Eve. Which brings me to your question of the week; Pick a hero, any hero and give me what their New Year’s resolution should be.

“Everything falling out the sky on top of you, now what you do?”

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