Who’s Who In The DCU 2.10.04

Howdy folks. It’s that time of the week again. Time for you weekly foray into the DCU. I thought that last week had some really good comics come out. I’m not a big fan of Birthright, but I was a solid read. Plastic Man & Y the Last Man blew me away with their greatness. Hard Time & The Monolith had very good debuts. And there was a little comic, with the initials S.P., published by a company with a Q&A column on this same site, which was also pretty good to read. B, you have any faves from last week? (Right now I just think ‘Black Reign,’ the crossover between JSA & Hawkman is one of the best stories in years. Geoff Johns is juggling multiple characters, producing surprising and impressive moments in every chapter and actually tackling the whole “pro-active vs responsive” thing that comics creators have been trying to cover for at least twenty years. I won’t give much more away, but go pick up the issues now unless you want to wait for the Trade, which could be a long time coming. –B)

So, B, what’s the feedback from 411Comic’s Best of 2003 features look like so far? (It’s been great, and we appreciate it. The coolest feedback by far of course has been from #1 writer of 2003, Geoff Johns who simply responded “Dude, you made my night.” I’ve got to thank all the 411 staff who has put so much hard work into the project, as it’s been beautiful and I hope you’ve all enjoyed it. The best is yet to come. –B)

Don’t some of the 411Comics guys also have another venture going on over here? Y’all should check it out. It’s a funny strip. And rumor has it the team of M & B will be appearing, in one form or another. (Daron and others have worked their collective arse off on 144Anima, and it’s looking great, incredibly professional. Spread the word, gang, tell your friends. It’s spiffy now and it’s only going to get better. –B)

B, is there anything else I was supposed to plug? (Remember that Johns guy I mentioned earlier? Remember myself and Tim Stevens seemingly ridiculous plea to him to come get drunk with us and do an interview? Well, all I can say is, it may not have been as ridiculous as we thought, stay tuned…-B)

Well then now that all that’s done let’s get started.

Shiv’kala was the first to correctly get the lyric at the end of last column, so he gets first query answered.

As for a question, quasi-Transformers related, what things can the following sets of armors do:

Steel (John Henry Irons)
The Imperiex Armor (worn by John Henry Irons)
Steel (Natasha Irons…saw it in Superman/Batman #5 and the most recent Superman arc, “Strange Visitor,” where in the latter, she was able to increase her size using it)

Well let’s see the S.T.R.I.P.E. armor is your basic armor. It can fly and it enhances strength. It has some offensive capabilities. But that thing is very clunky. It looks like what people in the ‘60s thought robots would look like. However it does have a fridge and satellite TV, so it has that going for it. I seem to recall that Pat was always tinkering with the armor, like it was a work in progress. It can be found in the Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. series, written by Geoff Johns. Hm, B why does that name sound familiar? (This would be a good time to clue you guys in on exactly how M and I put this column together. See, M does the whole column and then sends it to me with these little questions just assuming I’ll have something witty to say, and, of course, I always do. However, I just post it from there, so M doesn’t have a chance to go back over and see if I wrote something that embarrassed him or if perhaps I already answered a question earlier that he poses later in the column. Normally, in the latter case, I’d just delete the redundant Q&A, but I figured I’d take this opportunity to educate y’all. In this case, M was probably hoping I’d mention the whole Geoff Johns thing here that I already mentioned a few paragraphs up. And now you know. –B)

Steel’s armor is a bit more form fitting. His armor is also computerized to increase strength. He had your basic boot jets, y’know to do the whole flying thing. He also had this cool thing with his hammer, so that the farther it traveled the harder it hit. It had something to do with its damping field. He also had magnetic capabilities, and the ability to fire projectile from his wrist thingies. You can catch Steel in his own book, and in some issues of the JLA.

The Entropy Aegis Armor that Steel wore was mighty cool. It was a super powerful thing. But what would expect from a gift from Darkseid. Dude, this armor was way powerful. It allowed him to bend space and time to appear in Kal’s defense when the Linear Men put him on trial in Man of Steel #118. He also reduced Doomsday to basic elements in Superman vs Darkseid; Apokolips Now. But alas the Armor was no good, as it was making John Henry Irons an Entropy machine. But for a while it was the only think keeping him alive. Like I said, it’s wicked powerful.

The armor that Natasha Irons, John Henry’s niece wears is basically just a customized version of the original Steel Armor. She can be seen from time to time in the Superman titles, and popped up in Superman/Batman #5. Oh did I mention that this armor can become towering giant robot. How does she do it? Um, technological advances? B, can you add anything to help me out here? (Not a bit, M. I’m actually more curious when Natasha officially became the new Steel. I know she first donned the armor in that Superman vs Darkseid one shot, but my impression there was that it was a one shot deal and her uncle wasn’t going to let her do it again. I don’t read all the Superman titles regularly, so maybe I missed it. I’ve got nothing against Nat as a hero, she’s a cool character, but I do miss John Henry Irons as Steel, he always had that cool “Shaft if he was much much smarter” vibe. –B)

Onestar, does this beg a question for you?

What happened to Steel? I hear his niece has taken over the mantle of Steel, but what happened to John Henry Irons?

Well during Our Worlds at War Lex Luthor recruited John Henry to join the Suicide Squad. What was their mission? To break Doomsday out of his prison on the moon, so that they could unleash him upon Imperiex. Well the mission didn’t go was well as planned or maybe it did, they are called the Suicide Squad. Anyway John Henry died. But when the Black Racer came to take his soul Supes intervened. The Black Racer decides to let Steel live. But Steel is still messed up. Darkseid offers the Aegis Armor, John Henry accepts. But it ends up controlling him. He becomes a pawn of Darkseid, who eventually releases him. But the armor was keeping him alive. So when he gets back to Earth the tries to resume his life. But his nervous system can’t handle being a hero anymore. He retires from the game. But his niece picks up the mantle. That’s all I have to say. But perhaps you would like to add something B? (See what I said about that me asking/answering questions earlier in the column that get brought up later? –B)

Jerry H, you look like something is weighing heavily on your head.

I know that Superman is virtually invulnerable but what about his clothes? It seems he can get hit with any powerful blast and his cape may fray a little but why do his clothes remain intact? Are they Superclothes?

Ah, the old wear and tear on the costumes. That is like the #2 expense for heroes. It’s right behind healthcare, no one wants to insure super heroes. Supes has been around since 1938, and as any grandparent will tell you, back then they made clothes to last. Those clothes could take a beating. And that is way his costume survives all that assault.

Oh, you didn’t like that answer. Wait, how about this? Back on Krypon, in the House of El, Jor El always wanted to be a clothing salesman. His dream of “super durable fabrics at low, low prices” and “Red K Special” went unrealized. Jor’s pop didn’t want his son to be a family outcast like Ty El, the cousin they never talked about. As a result Jor was pushed toward the sciences. However Jor’s knack for textiles was passed on to young Kal. As a result Jor’s legacy is a son with a gift for creating incredibly durable costumes. (B, did that one go over well?) (Pleading the fifth. –B)

Um, he follows the directions on the tag to a “t?”

Hold on. Maybe it’s an extension of his invulnerability. Perhaps he has an aura of invulnerability that extends less than an inch around his body. It’s like a biochemical aura that his body exudes. It’s kind of like the Flash’s aura that protects him from friction, only Supes’ is omnipresent. That is why his costume remains relatively undamaged, while his cape is in tatters. Check out the Man of Steel trade to hear Kal tell it.

Does anyone else have any Super questions before we turn the column over to Captain Marvel? You, over there 411Comic’s own Kyle Litke.

Bibbo Bibbowski seemed to be a big member of Superman’s supporting cast around the time of Death of Superman. Is he still around, and what happened to him between now and then?

Ditto Dan Turpin. Where’s he?

Ron Troupe? The last time I remember seeing him was when Bloodsport returned…I recall him shooting off two missiles, one aimed at Jimmy and one at Ron, saying Superman could only save one. But then I never actually picked up the next issue. I seem to remember seeing Ron one more time afterwards, so I assume he didn’t die there…he still alive? What’s he been up to?

And the Guardian too, how about him?

Dubbilex? I know he was with Superboy in the beginning of his series, and I vaguely recall seeing him in Superboy 100 (although that may have been a flashback, I can’t remember). Is he still alive, and what’s he been up to since Death of Superman?

Ron Troupe? You mean Clark’s brother in law? The father of Clark’s nephew, Samuel? Ron married Lucy Lane. They had Samuel, which finally earned them the approval of Samuel Lane. Last I heard was that he was working I at a shelter in Suicide Slum. But that was a while ago.

Guardian is yet another clone. During in Superboy’s book around the 80’s he was cloned for a third time. That guy has more puberties than a Middle School.

Bibbo is still around. He showed up in Action #811. You are aware that he hit the lottery and opened his own pub “Ace O’ Clubs.” Well apparently, according to the Metropolis miniseries it’s now a yuppie hang out. It’s a coffee bar! B, you ever visit Bibbo’s place? (I gave up coffee a few years back after I developed a wicked caffeine addiction. If we ever do a 411: True Hollywood Story, that will be the section where I have my drug problem and everything falls apart and Daron seizes power…we reunite in the end of course, after he crashes and burns, and just do smaller venues. –B)

As for Dan, I’m assuming he’s still a cop in Metropolis. I couldn’t find anything to say otherwise. The same for Dubbilex. I’m guessing that he is still doing the whole “Project” thing. B, you have any insight on these two? (Dubbilex was last seen in Superboy #100. He’s in the Himalayas somewhere studying to be a monk after all the stress of the last few years. He contemplated going back to help Superboy, as he sensed he was undergoing trying times, but ultimately decided he had enough faith in Kon El to take care of himself after the years they’d spent together. –B)

JohnBritton, do you want to pop in for a question?

I’ve never read much Shazam, but Alex Ross is in love with him. What issues can I pick up that will let me see why he’s considered top four in the DC character pantheon?

I would pick up The Power of Shazam hardcover. It is widely recognized as a great Cap story. The miniseries Legends is Cap’s first appearance in the modern DCU. It is also a character defining appearance. B, can you think of any great Cap appearances? (If you don’t find it too confusing, check out Kingdom Come, where Cap really shines in the end and even punks out Superman. Also, Cap was hilarious in the early issues of the Giffen/DeMatteiss Justice League, but it was hardly his finest moments. –B)

Nayldpsycho, do you want to mine the same vein of question?

Does Captain Marvel have any weaknesses? And if so what are they?

Well he doesn’t have weaknesses like wood, yellow, fire or kryptonite, but he does have weaknesses. For one he second-guesses himself sometimes, as witnessed in Legends. He may have the Wisdom of Solomon as Captain Marvel, but as Billy he’s just an average kid. As we saw in the “Black Reign” crossover, he’s susceptible to mental attack. And if you happen to know he says a magic word, like Black Adam does, then that can come in pretty handy. As with all heroes, he has a weakness of for innocents. Hostages can be used to manipulate Cap. So while he doesn’t have an actual Achilles Heel, he is far from being without weaknesses. B, can you think of any other areas where Billy is vulnerable? (The big one is the one that you kinda alluded to: somebody tricks/coerces him into saying “Shazam” and he’s suddenly helpless Billy Batson, the boy of one red sweater. –B)

Back to JohnBrittion

So, how old is Captain Marvel? I thought he was around 12 years old, but if he’s old enough for Courtney to be romantically interested, he’s got to be like 16, right? When he’s all Shazammed up, is he any more emotionally mature, or is he just the same old kid in a bigger body, with a little more knowledge? Honestly, I could barely control myself when I was 16, and I acted like a dope. Billy seems to keep it together pretty well.

I think Billy is between 15 and 17 years old. He is just a kid and a man’s body as Captain Marvel. And he doesn’t really have more knowledge. He just has Solomon and other gods giving him advice. If you pick up the “Black Reign” crossover you see that as Marvel he isn’t really aware of the impropriety of a grown man flirting with a teen age girl.

He is more “all together” than a normal kid, but that is because he was homeless and sold newspapers after school, when he was younger. That tends not only to instill a fair amount of discipline, but also ruin a childhood.

And now for the unrelated question of the week, it comes from Mathaniel A Hensley (actually his name is Nathaniel, but everyone assumes my name is Nathan when they read it so I figure turnabout is fair play.)

Can you give me the scoop on why the HELL I haven’t seen a new issue of The Losers recently? Has it been cancelled, or is my local comic shop just asleep at the wheel?

Dude, your shop is asleep at the wheel. The Losers is a great book. The in the last couple of issues we got to see what the group does after a mission. It was a really good read.

Hey, maybe your shop is just selling out of the issues really quick. I suggest that you camp out in front of the shop every Tuesday night. That way when they open on Wednesday, you are the first one in to get your books, and hopefully your brand spanking new copy of the Losers. B, how else can he guarantee himself a copy of that fabulous book? (I haven’t actually read The Losers, but if you want a great story about the original non-Vertigo incarnation of that team, pick up the first issue of Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier. That probably wasn’t terribly helpful. –B)

Well guys that is going to do it for another week. My AOL has crashed about ten times during the writing of this column, and I have to be at work in less than seven hours. As usual keep sending your questions in. Since I got such good feedback from last weeks question I will give one in the same flavor. How would you defeat A) John Stewart and/or B) Kyle Rayner?

“Do you want him, or do you want me, cuz I want you.”

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