Who’s Who In The DCU 1.28.04

Hey gang, it’s that time again. I get to answer your queries about the DCU with the one and only Ben Morse, who recently celebrated the anniversary of his birth. B, how did was that occasion? (Oh it was great, man. I was pretty wasted, not sure how much I remember. You were there, weren’t you, M? Man, I hope so…I didn’t spend all night talking to some girl about last week’s column and whether we were more like Batman & Superman or Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid…did I? –B)

Um, my gift is in the mail. Allow me to delicately change the topic.

Everyone needs to buy Human Target #6. I did a review for it that should be up tomorrow. But I’m serious, that is one of the best single issues I have read in years. The story is so compelling.

On a related note, this edition is (for the most part) focusing on questions where we can see the examples of answers in recent comics. This isn’t something that you can plan, it just fell together. (That’s called “synergy,” M. I’m an English major, yessir. –B) I saw that a lot of characters or scenarios that I had received questions about appeared this within the last couple of weeks, so I ran with it. I hope you enjoy an impromptu “theme” edition.

As usual there are a few exceptions to every rule.


The first comes from Matthew Justus (whose name sounds like a secret identity.) Mr. Justus correctly identified the lyric that closed the last column, so he gets his question answered first.

What ever happened to Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet? Around what era did she use it, and why doesn’t she need it anymore. That thing was
classic.

Which is funny because a while back someone else by the name of Matthew Justus asked me this

What’s the deal with Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet? I know that now she can fly, making it obsolete, so when did she get rid of it, and what happened to it when she did? Where did she get it in the first place?

Ok, so you both want to know about the Invisible Jet. Well, it’s more like an invisible plane. It first appeared in Wonder Woman #117, when Diana went digging around in the Antarctic. She met up with the Lansinarians. They gave her the morphing disc as a gift. When Hippolyta took a trip to the ‘40’s to be Wonder Woman with the JSA she fashioned a plane out of the disc. Once Hippolyta came back to the present she returned the mantel of Wonder Woman to Diana, and gave her the Lansinarian life form, which could take any form it was willed to. The life from bonded with Diana and even (through the machinations of a villain) gave Diana her subconscious wishes come true.

Eventually in Wonder Woman #141 it became the Wonder Dome, a floating HQ for the Amazon. I mean she can fly under her own power; she doesn’t really need an invisible plane. Last I heard it was helping with the new Paradise Island. If you want to read more about the origin of the Wonder Dome check out Wonder Woman #159. B, did you get a Lansinarian morphing life form for you birthday? (Actually, I got a humidifier. It may sound nerdy, but it’s changed my life. I’m becoming Aquaman-like in my inability to survive more than an hour without proper humidity and find myself frequently complaining that everywhere I am but my dorm room is just too dry. On a side note, Tim Stevens hates that invisible jet, mostly because he hates women. –B)


Superfan John23 asks

In Watchmen, what Charlton characters were initially intended to fill the roles?

Here it is quick and easy.

The Comedian- Peacemaker
Silk Spectre- Nighthshade
Nite Owl- Blue Beetle
Rorschach- The Question
Dr. Manhattan- Captain Atom
Ozymandias- Peter Cannon Thunderbolt


Superfan John23 do you have something else on your mind?

What is the proper order to read the Batman mega-crossover No Man’s
Land? How do the Bat-related books fit in (Robin, Nightwing, Azrael,
Batman Chronicles)?

I’m not going to get into that, it’s just too tedious. However I will tell you that you should visit here. That site is full of answers. B, aren’t you glad they don’t do Bat crossovers anymore? (Kinda. I love crossovers, but I’ve never really been a proponent of one guy having as many books as Batman has anyhow; crossing over between all the titles just seems silly, it would be better to have one creative team tell the story and not force readers to get titles they don’t want, even if that takes a bit longer. The best crossovers are between books that don’t usually associate. –B)


Mike Z, from the past, asks

What’s happened to the Tattooed Man?

Well the Tattooed Man is a tricky guy. He’s one of those characters who actually had a presence in over on the Vertigo side of things. But more on that later. Let’s get to the background.

Abel Tarrant was your typical Silver Age villain, a petty crook who stumbled onto something great. He was doing a break-in at a lab and discovered a chemical that, if he focused and gave it a shape, could become what he willed. Later he got more of the chemical and painted various things on his body with it, for future use.

In his career of crime he came across Green Lantern/Hal Jordan. They fought Hal won. This went on for years. Eventually Abel faked his death and retired from crime. He set up a nice Tat shop in NYC. He even made a family out of his tats. Life was cool, until Guy Gardner came in to get some ink done.

Guy got on his nerves. Abel wanted to teach him a lesson. This was during the period when Guy was a major thorn in Hal’s side. Hal showed up, got rid of Abel and continued to fight Guy. Abel ended up working on a fishing boat. You can read all about it in Green Lantern #2. After that his appearances were pretty sparse.

He had an appearance in the Vertigo miniseries “Skin Graft: The Adventures of a Tattooed Man.” He was apparently back to his villainous ways. And let’s just say the mini ended with a decidedly different Tattooed Man. You should pick it up, it’s a decent read.

Back in the DCU, in Green Lantern #81, he showed up at Hal’s funeral. Then he popped up in Chronos #6 at Chronos’ funeral. He tried to use the criminals time travel equipment to go back and scare a young Tarrant straight. It didn’t take. But even then it appeared that he had put his criminal ways in the past. Until a week ago.

RANT WARNING

Now let me first say this; I like Judd Winick, as a person. I’ve met him; he’s very nice and accommodating. He’s even a pretty good writer, as long as you don’t care about characters or continuity. See, the thing about a column like this is that I have to be pretty aware about continuity. You miss one issue (like Birds of Prey #42) and you hear a lot about it.

Last week Abel Tarrant appeared in The Outsiders. He was in prison, for trafficking stolen goods. Huntress and Nightwing interrogated him. That was it.

Now couldn’t Judd have used another character for this cameo? Someone who hadn’t in every DCU appearance he made in the past, oh, decade been portrayed as s character who had regretted how his life had turned out, and just wanted to be a normal person? Here’s an example. I have a stack of “Who’s Who” lying around, I’m going to reach in a grab a random issue and find a character better suited for this foolishly small role. I grabbed #20. What a coincidence, this issue also features Sabbac, the main villain of that issue of the Outsiders. But it sucks because it’s got the Secret Society of Super-Villains too. That’s kind of cheap. Now I’ve got the ’88 Update #3. Oh, the Prankster. How about the Puppeteer? The Rat Catcher perhaps? I don’t think these guys have been shown as regretting their life of crime.

But maybe I’m being too harsh on Judd. Maybe he actually has grand plans for the Tattooed Man, a role that only the Tattooed Man can fill. But I’m tired of waiting to for Judd to prove himself. B, am I being too hard on Judd? (Not at all. I’m digging Outsiders, but little things like that seem to be the ones everybody looks to when trying to figure out what’s holding it back from being the best title it can be. Judd has always seemed like a cool guy, but let’s be frank: if you and I, who do this for free, can figure this stuff out, a guy getting paid to write comics can take the time to do his homework. Heck, he could just e-mail us. It’s always a treat for obscure characters to show up, but you owe it to their fans to do the research if you’re going to use them. –B)


Shivkala you always have a question right?

How many times have heroes gone the “we know what’s best for humanity/the universe, give us total control and we’ll set things right” route?

When have heroes tried to take over? Let’s see, didn’t Superman: King of the World feature something like that? I think that Batman: No Man’s Land could kind of be seen in the same light, although Batman was only trying to keep is city together. Hal Jordan tried to make a perfect universe in Zero Hour. And although it’s not in continuity Superman: Red Son is a really great portrayal of Superman in power. But of course the most recent example is happening over in the JSA/Hawkman Black Reign crossover, where Black Adam and his crew, including Atom Smasher, Northwind and Brainwave, have taken over Kahndaq. B, can you think of any other heroes taking over? (There was this thing called Kingdom Come, you may have heard of it. Of course the biggest example isn’t a DC one, it’s a Marvel one: Squadron Supreme, and it just so happens there’s a column on it coming soon from yours truly. –B)


JohnBritton, I couldn’t have a column without you right?

This “Black Reign” crowd looks pretty interesting, but it can’t be the first time heroes have gone over the line. Vigilante certainly did. So did Jean Paul Valley. Who else? Are they still around? Will they join the team?

Crossing the line is a delicate thing. Here are some examples of folks who have or as close as they’ve come. You mentioned Azrael, who was a pretty vicious Batman. The Guardians thought that Hal Jordan crossed the line in Green Lantern #48, but I think it was actually in #49 when he demolished the Corp. Batman came pretty close to crossing the line with the Joker in Batman #614, with a brutal beating. Speaking of brutal beatings, some folks didn’t take too kindly to Nightwing beating Gorilla Grood in the Outsiders I think it was #2 (written by Judd.) I’m guessing that Nightwing will come closer to that line in his own title the way things are going. (Nightwing also came pretty darn close to killing The Joker himself during The Last Laugh…but people are kinda trying to forget that crossover still. –B)

Atom Smasher killed both Extant and Kobra in JSA #15 and #51 respectively. Barry Allen snapped Prof. Zoom’s neck in Flash #324. Kyle went wild on the guys who beat up his assistant in #154 (written by Judd.) Black Lightning killed a guy in Green Arrow #31 (written by Judd)

But the most recent example would have to be in Hawkman #23, where Hawkman chopped off Matter Master’s arm. That is kind of like crossing the line, right B? (I’ll say. Green Arrow also killed a guy years ago and it was the beginning of a very long fall from grace; it was a major plot point when Ollie was in heaven during Kevin Smith’s run. Captain Marvel also demonstrated during Stealing Thunder in JSA that he would have killed Johnny Thunder if necessary to stop the Ultra-Humanite; they made a point of Cap being a guy willing to do whatever is necessary in the end, which will hopefully come up during Black Reign. –B)


Another Mike, not Z, asks

Remember MYSTERY ISLAND (later renamed MONSTER ISLAND) from those old STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES comics? It was an island full of huge Dinosaurs and other prehistoric monstrosities that soldiers would occasionally land on during WW2. Is it still around in the DC universe? Has it been visited, mentioned, or seen since those old comics from the 60’s?

Well I looked and I looked. I searched everywhere. I found a reference to Monster Island in an issue of Robin from awhile back that sounded oddly like Dinosaur Island; only it was closer to Gotham, and fake. Unfortunately I guess that geographical spot is nowhere atoll (ouch) in the current DCU.

But I can tell you about Dinosaur Island. It’s an island in the Pacific full of dinosaurs. Now I know you are thinking “how come no one has made a big deal about this island?” No one can see it from the air because clouds, as a result of its active volcano, cover it. It was finally discovered during WWII because some subs had gone missing. A team is sent to look for survivors. They landed on the island, and discovered dinosaurs, that had apparently been held in suspended animation. The same earthquakes that caused the subs to disappear awakened them.

After that the military tried to use it as a strategic location. They send numerous military types there. The Suicide Squad went there, as did the Creature Commandos and G.I. Robot. I’m not kidding. Of course Dinosaur Island played a role in last week’s New Frontier. That book rocked! It is so worth the price. I urge you all to pick it up. B, did you get that book? (Yeah, very solid read. That Losers story was one of the most poignant I’ve read in ages. Johnny Cloud’s final words are incredible. –B)


Hordeprime, I know you have a question that has been inside you for years.

What ever happened to the small group that Catwoman led? I think it was in her self titled comic where I remember her hooking up w/ some characters named Slyfox, Mouse, & Mr. Giz. What happened to them?

I believe Slyfox was someone who had a beef with Catwoman. I don’t think they were allies.

Ah, Mouse and Giz. They ran with the Catwoman from the 90’s book, when she was a criminal. They were pretty good with computers. They are currently working for the boss of Bludhaven, Blockbuster. They turned up in Nighwing during the Hunt for Oracle storyline, in #45. They most recently turned up in Nightwing #89, as explosives experts, apparently. They blew up Dick Grayson’s apartment building, as part of Blockbuster’s plan to destroy Nightwing. Sadly it appears as though John Law, the original Tarantula, was among those who died in the explosion. B, what’s you take on the current Nighwing storyline? (I don’t normally read Nightwing, despite my love for the character, but as a fan of The Golden Age, I’m saddened to learn of Mr. Law’s death. As a sarcastic writer with a drinking problem, he was a hero to most of us here at 411. –B)


Tim Bolland do you have a question for moi?

Who is Huntress? I have not read much Bat stuff over the years but have managed to grasp the ID of all the other players but what is her origin, how does she fit into the Bat Family?

The Huntress is an interesting character. Y’see she actually comes from a crime family. Her pop was Guido Bertinelli, a very powerful mob boss. When she was six she was kidnapped by a member of a rival family, in order to persuade Guido to seeing things their way. When she was returned it was clear the experience had traumatized her. Before the abduction she was outgoing and optimistic. Afterwards she was distrustful and reserved. She realized that her lavish lifestyle came with a price.

She tried to make a place of herself in the world, and went to college. Her pop worried about her and sent a bodyguard, Sal, along with her. She resented his presence and ditched him to go to a family gathering. Well someone else also attended the gathering, Omerta the Silencer. Any you’re right he does sound like a killer. In fact he killed the entire Bertinelli clan, except for Helena who survived by playing dead.

But she wasn’t safe for long, as her survival was found out. Fortunately Sal showed up and trained her in that art of self-defense. He even taught her how to use a crossbow. Eventually she adopted the identity of the Huntress and sought vengeance for her family.

Well it turned out that Omerta was none other than her family’s consigliore, their lawyer and counsel. But he was also working for Mandragora who wanted Guido’s fortune. She took them both down. After that she was with the Justice League for a spell. Then she joined the Bat family, kind of. Her methods are a bit extreme, even to Batman. She’s teamed up with Robin on some occasions. She joined the JLA, on Batman’s blessing. She was even Batgirl during No Man’s Land, for a short while. Oh, and she and Nighwing “hooked up” in the Nightwing/Huntress miniseries. She is currently part of the “Birds of Prey.” Oh yeah, she was in last week’s Outsiders.

For some good Huntress reading, pick up her series, but specifically the first eight issues. Her first solo miniseries was really good. So was her mini with Nighwing.


Yet another week has come to an end. Next week marks the Return of Hallsy! Superfan John23 has another question. And also (potentially) the answer to your question provided you post it on the message board, or email it to me. Oh, you want me to ask you a question; Was I too hard on Judd?

“It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, as long as it was deep.”

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