Who’s Who In The DCU 2.24.04

Before I start I just want to acknowledge the passing of Julie Schwartz. He died on Feb 8th. He was instrumental in ushering in the Silver Age, and without him I doubt that the comic industry would look like it does. I certainly wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for him. He is sorely missed.

On a related note Dave Cockrum, without whom last week’s Legion focused column would have looked kind of bare, and every Marvel Handbook would be devoid of X questions, is pretty ill. To help cover the cost of healthcare, some of comic’s biggest names have put together a tribute to the legend. If you are interested you can order here. Cockrum is a man whose work has had a serious impact on the industry. If you don’t believe me go ask Jim in the Marvel Handbook.

On a happier note, 411Music’s own fan favorite Aaron Cameron is a proud daddy. That’s right! By the way I still don’t know why he vetoed by name suggestion of Mxyzptlk. I mean doesn’t Mxyzptlk Cameron just flow off the tongue?

Well welcome back to your weekly jaunt into the crevices of the DCU. I hope that everyone had a good week. My week was pretty kosher. I picked up a few titles. What’s that? You want to know what I thought about what I picked up last week. Sure.

Human Target #7 This comic rocks! It is usually saved for last because it is such a great read.

Outsiders #9 I didn’t hate the issue.

Superman/Batman This is my usually my first read, because it is such a “fanboy” book. This book was way late. I’m guessing because the last page had to be redone to foreshadow an upcoming event. But I basically agree with what Tim said over here

Gotham Knights What can I say? I’m a victim of the hype. I’m pretty sure that this issue makes “The Killing Joke” the Joker’s official origin. The issue was pretty good too, but I didn’t appreciate that aspect.

B, you have any thoughts on last week’s books? (Well, M, you can check out my thoughts on Outsiders #9 at length in the review I did, my first in quite some time. As for other books, I think DC: The New Frontier is one of the most dense and enjoyable reads put out in some time. The sequence with Barry Allen really put a Flash fanboy like me in the moment; I was literally grinning with anticipation from the moment Barry got struck by lightning to the first time we saw the red and yellow in action; Captain Cold was a good choice for Rogue, though he was so far removed from his current incarnation it was weird. But that’s what makes this series so neat, bringing the characters back to their fun Silver Age roots but with a little of the innocence stripped away and viewing it all through a closer lens, seeing the human sides of the DC icons and lesser known folk to a degree people never got back then. The book is a delight. As far as Superman/Batman, I’ve enjoyed this book so much on guilty pleasure value alone and your characterization of it as a “fanboy book” is dead on. I toss my sensibilities out the door when I read S/B and just thrill to the over-the-top action. I didn’t hate this issue for the reason many others, including Tim Stevens, did, simply because I have faith that Lex Luthor is a great villain, whether he’s a smooth businessman, President of the United States, or a semi-mad scientist; the core of the character is still intact and Luthor with his back against the wall can be just as interesting as Luthor holding all the cards. –B)

My review of DC: The New Frontier is up, as is my review of Wonder Woman. Daron made me get Wonder Woman. Speaking of Daron, ya gotta go check out the Adventure of the Dark Overlord. As usual it’s hilarious. I mean who hasn’t given their resume a touch up? B, is your resume perfectly accurate? (I’ve actually got to do some work on it in the next couple weeks in order to apply for a job in the very industry we spend our time covering, and I hope to have more details to share with y’all sooner rather than later. –B)

Y’know B, I noticed that you did a lot of writing for the site recently. Anything in particular you want to plug? (Well, first I’d like to give credit where credit is really due and say that I did not write this week’s Looking To The Stars, that column’s regular writer, the incomparable Matt Morrison, of course did, and a little formatting error gave me the credit; sorry Matt! I did however give my take on the X-Men revamp in a new Watchtower and of course the Best of 2003 continues with Best Villain, so check those out. I’d also like to note they’re testing the fire alarms in my dorm at the moment and have been for two days now; that means a shrill piercing sound is going off in my ears every five to ten minutes. I jumped out of bed the first couple of times they did it yesterday morning, but by #8 I was just planning alternative ways to save myself in the worst case scenario, like shimmying down the tree outside my 4th floor window. –B)

I guess now is when we jump into the questions.

JohnBritton I’m calling on you first.

How did Green Arrow go from being a Batman clone to a politically aware hero back in the early 1970s? It seems to have happened pretty suddenly. What issues revealed the shift?

The man to credit or blame is Denny O’Neil. In Justice League of America #66 Green Arrow started down his socially conscious path. He started mouthing off about “injustice” no matter the size.

In issue #75, he lost his fortune, further making him a “people’s hero.” Then he hooked up with Green Lantern for some kind of road trip or something.

The reason why Green Arrow became so leftist is because Denny wanted to distance him from Batman. They were really similar characters in the beginning. Both were rich, Both were gadget happy vigilantes with youthful sidekicks. I mean there was even an Arrowcar of goodness sakes! So Denny made a conscious effort to give Ollie a personality of his own. Apparently it took. If you want to get a peep at the old Ollie Queen check out DC: The New Frontier, he has his classic personality in that mini. B, what’s your take on Ollie? (One of my favorite characters of all time, of course; I’m a sucker for the brash and cocky ladies men and I love me some archery. Of course the “secret origin” of Green Arrow v.2.0, if you believe certain people, is that DC saw the success Marvel was having with Hawkeye in the pages of Avengers and wanted to give their archer character more of an edge; the political stuff was pure O’Neil though. –B)

JohnBritton, want to go again?

Until the Peter David run, I would have said that Aquaman was a lost cause. Since then, who holds the title for best known, lamest hero in the DC pantheon?

Lame is very hard to quantify. If you want to use the Aquaman paradigm of misconception in the public eye, I guess I would say Green Lantern. I’m pretty sure that everyone is familiar with the ol’ weakness to yellow. And most think that is pretty corny. So in that way Green Lantern is pretty lame. (To find out more about GL rings check out what B, oops I mean Matt wrote)

However I will never forget seeing Sinbad dressed up as Black Lightning on SNL. It was hilarious and sad at the same time. Clearly some people know Black Lightning, and a lot of folks consider him a joke. So you could make an argument for him.

My vote goes to Green Arrow. He might not be a widely know hero, but I’m guessing that outside of the comics fans he is viewed as lame. I mean, he shoots arrows. Geena Davis shoots arrows, but she’s not a hero. Accuracy with an arrow seems kind of lame to me. B, who do you think the lamest known DCUer is? (On public perception, Peter David or no, there is no way Aquaman gets a get out of jail free card on this one…ok, there’s the damn alarm again…sorry. But if I had to go with another character considered a joke in the eyes of the general public, I’d say Hawkman is right up there thanks to that Baby Ruth commercial from a few years back and more because people who don’t actually know the characters just see him as a guy with big, goofy wings in a universe of people who can fly without them. As far as who is the biggest joke to fans and creators especially, since the Giffen/DeMatteiss JLI is now considered en vogue again, I’d have to go with ill-fated “New Blood” hero Gunfire, who has been an in-joke based on his lameness in the pages of both Hitman and JSA, two more different titles I believe you’d be hard-pressed to locate. –B)

Asif do you have a multi media type question?

The current Justice League cartoon on Cartoon Network (and YTV here
in Canada). What are your thoughts on that show? How close to the comics are the characters on that show? I’m only familiar with Batman, and he seems to be true to his comic book character (from what I remember). What about the rest of the cast, and the villains?

Well my thought on the show is that it rocks! I love that show. It was the reason to watch TV on a Saturday night, or at least set the VCR. An hour of action packed DCU action? What more could you ask for? That one with the parallel dimension JL slayed me. I was in complete fanboy mode for the whole hour.

Let’s see how the characters match up;

Superman: He’s basically the same. I guess he’s a bit more arrogant on the show. And more headstrong.

Batman: Bats is always Bats. Great characterization.

Wonder Woman: She’s pretty spot on, but the Diana on the show is still pretty new to the “Man’s World” so it’s a little different. She’s still got that feisty warrior princess thing going on.

Green Lantern: Well John Stewart is featured more prominently in the JLA comic book than in Green Lantern. And his role there came after is appearance on the show. I don’t read the book, but I do know that a lot of fans of the character were disappointed with how amateurish he was being portrayed in JLA. In the current DCU, John wasn’t a military guy. So while he looks the same the characters are kind of different.

Flash: The Flash on the show is modeled after the Flash from 1987, when Wally West was thought to me a flake and didn’t really take the hero thing seriously. He actually charged people to help them! Currently the Flash is one of the most respected heroes in the DCU, except no one knows who he is.

J’onn J’onzz: J’onn has a tad more personality in the comics. He likes Oreo cookies. But the two are essentially the same character.

Hawkgirl: She is completely different, kind of. In the comics the current Hawkgirl isn’t an alien. She also isn’t interested in John Stewart. But she is a ruthless fighter. Hawkgirl is no joke, in either incarnation.

Lex Luthor is pretty spot on, especially after last week. The majority of the villains are pretty close. Except for the Shade, he’s not quite a villain anymore. Eclipso is kind of different in the comics but the principle is basically the same.

Aquaman used to be like he was in the cartoon, but now he’s not quite the monarch he once was. But that may change.

(I agree with more or less everything M said; the cartoon rocks and he covered the characters differences and personalities pretty spot-on. My only complaint is they take such long breaks between seasons! –B)

Asif, you look as though you still have more cartoon questions.

The animation for JL seems to be the same as the Batman and Superman
animated series from a few years ago. The voices also sound the same for Bats and Supes. Did any of the other characters ever have their own
show? Flash would seem to be a good enough character to carry his own

Only Batman and Superman have had their own shows. But a Green Lantern showed up in the Superman series. And I think the Flash did too. Bats has the same voice, but Supes doesn’t. I agree with you about the Flash having his own show, but that basically because I’m a huge Flash fan. (Flash did indeed appear on the Superman animated show. And of course there was Superfriends…but that’s a column unto itself. Back in the way old days, Flash and Aquaman also both had their own spots in a sort of DC Super Heroes smorgasboard show that featured little fifteen minute shorts with those two, Superman, Batman & Robin, and the Teen Titans lineup of Wonder Girl, Aqualad, Speedy, and Kid Flash; interestingly enough, Wonder Woman and Green Arrow got nada, though their sidekicks got their own toon. –B)

Oh my loyal readers, we have a surprise guest. 411Comics own John Babos has dropped by to ask a question.

Explain who the following are and their relationship to one another:
> Hawk
> Monarch I
> Extant
> Hawk II
> Captain Atom
> Monarch II

And, who these folks are and their relationship to one another.
> Dove I
> the pre-Armageddon 2001 Dove II
> the Dove that appeared recently in the JSA (is it Dove II or IV)
> Dove III
> Unity

Ok I think I can do this.

Hawk was Hank Hall. He and his brother became Hawk and Dove, the crime-fighting duo. But then Dove died (more on that later), and Hawk was just Hawk. Then he met a new Dove, a female Dove. It turns out they were meant to be together (more on that later.) But then there was this crossover in all of the DCU annuals in 1991. The kicker was that ten years in the future (three years in our past) a hero from their present would kill all the other heroes and take over the world. He would take the name Monarch. Hawk first popped up in Showcase #75.

So this dude called Waverider tried to prevent that future from happening. Now Monarch identity was supposed to be a big secret. But word got out that is was going to be Captain Atom. So rather than have the surprise ruined for everyone, the good folks at DC decided to change Monarch’s identity to Hawk. Did they fool you B? (I was a nine years old and only reading Marvel…so no. –B)

So the Monarch from the future came to 1991 and killed Dove in front of Hawk. Hawk then killed Monarch (who was actually his future self.) Then he became evil and also became Monarch. Monarch first appeared in Armageddon 2001 #1.

Monarch then hooked up with some rogue Green Lantern named Hal Jordan. He was like the Desaad to Hal’s Darkseid (Although not quite as sniveling and with far more power –N). Monarch got some nifty time powers and became Extant. Extant came to be in Showcase ’94 #9.

Extant made the mistake of killing three JSAers; Hourman, Atom and Dr. Midnight. This made him an enemy of the JSA for life. Atom Smasher killed him in JSA #15.
Hawk II is Sasha Martens, she was a military brat. She had leukemia. But the same government project that Wiley was in cured her. The reason that she and Wiley were the only subjects that took to the project was because of the “Godwave” from Genesis. She had the same powers as Wiley. Who’s Wiley? Keep reading. Anyway she first appeared in Genesis #2.

Captain Atom was this Nathaniel Adam, a good little soldier who was framed for a crime and had a choice between disgrace or a pardon. He went for the pardon and underwent a government experiment that thrust him into the future and gave him powers. He was supposed to be Monarch. He first appeared (in the DCU) in Captain Atom #1.

But wait apparently Captain Atom wasn’t really Nathaniel Adam, but rather his quantum twin. The real Nathaniel Adam was still trapped in the Quantum Field. He got out with Monarch’s armor, and became Monarch II. He first appeared in Extreme Justice #6. B, which is better Quantum Twins or Quantum Leap? (Scott Bakula peaked with the movie Unnecessary Roughness; go with the twins. –B)

Great now we get to do the Doves.

Dove I was Don Hall. He was Dove to his brother’s Hawk. But the folks that gave Hawk and Dove their powers didn’t like how things had turned out. So they took Dove’s powers away. Unfortunately it was while Dove was saving some kids from a collapsing building. Don Hall died. He first appeared in Showcase #75. He died in Crisis. Pick up that trade if you haven’t already. B, wasn’t Dove just a wimp? (You are so insensitive. The guy died saving a kid’s life, have you ever saved a kid’s life? And the beauty of the format of this column is he can’t answer that for a week. –B)

Dove II was Dawn Granger. She got her powers when Dove I lost his. She hooked up with Hawk they had a career, and then Monarch killed her. She first appeared in the Hawk & Dove mini series #1(drawn by Rob Liefield!) She died in Armageddon 2001 #2.

Or so we thought. Apparently she wasn’t dead, she was just beaten up. See Mordu drove Hank crazy making him become Monarch by making it look like Dove, the love of his life (more on that later) was killed. But she wasn’t. In fact she was full of life, as she was carrying Hawk’s baby. (That baby got the soul of Hector Hall, and became Dr. Fate.) B, is that even more confusing than it sounds? (Incredibly, no. –B)

Dove III was is this guy named Wiley Wolverman. He was part of a government program when he was a kid. Y’know the old story; given a mysterious drug, later they get powers. In his case he got wings that come out of his back whenever he wants. He can also use a sonic shriek. And last but not least when he’s with his partner he has more strength and endurance. He also appeared in Genesis #2.

Off in a different dimension called Druspa Tau, a Lord of Order, Terataya and a Lord of Chaos, T’Charr decided to stop all the fussin’ and a fuedin’ between the two houses. They decided to make an expiriment. They would both bestow two humans with powers that represented their houses; Order and Chaos.

The first set were the pair of brothers Hank and Don Hall. At first it was cool. There was a balance. But then Don started deferring to his older brother Hank too much, giving the chaotic Hawk too much sway. The decided that perhaps the brother route wasn’t the way to go. So they took the Dove aspect away from Don, causing his death. They gave it to Dawn Granger. Dawn and Hawk had much more of a balance going on.

When Hawk and Dove eventually went to visit Druspa Tau, they met up with their benefactors. Terataya and T’Charr became one being, Unity. What a beautiful love story, don’t you agree B? (If you ignore all that Hawk going crazy and killing everybody stuff from a few paragraphs up…still no. –B)

Hey all this talk of Hawk and Dove gives me an idea; if we ever decide to abandon our “M” and “B” codenames, we should to a “Hawk & Dove” bird motif. I can be Cactus Wren! What’s your state bird? (I don’t know, but my state has the Super Bowl champions and I for one am getting sick of sharing them with these fair weather fans I got to school with in Connecticut. The Whalers are dead, let it go! –B)

(As you can see John Babos’ question has taken its toll on my sanity. Damn you Babos!!!!!!!!!!)

JohnBritton, you look like you’ve got a serious question, fire away.

When a book is bad or unpopular, it usually gets either shifted or canceled within two years. If it makes it past that, it’s kind of a hit. Some books made it past that two-year mark and beyond, and sometimes I have no idea why. In the mid-nineties, I didn’t understand how Superman could keep blowing month after month, year after year, yet there it was still publishing, unchanged, and selling better than ever. What run on a book mystified you? What run on a book disappointed you that it didn’t go on? Why did you like it, and why was it canceled?

Let’s see I really enjoyed Reign of the Zodiac, even though it’s not quite done yet. I’m sad that it ended before its tale had been told. Sure it wasn’t as easy to read as say, Nightwing, but it was a quality read.

I was also fond of Black Lightning series from the mid nineties. The story and art were really doing wonders for the character. That book dealt with the character of Jefferson Pierce in a way that hadn’t been addressed up to that point or since. He was actually a complex individual. I miss that book a lot.

Impulse was a fun read, and it ended on such a tough note, with Max in limbo. I really wish that story had been resolved.

Two books that were canceled due to politics also had good runs. Peter David’s Supergirl was building toward a new direction and gaining steam. It was a very compelling story that was cut short. I miss its colorful cast of characters that I grew to love in the course of its run. I still miss its humor and heart.

The Pre Zero Hour Legion of Super Heroes is one of my favorite books of all time. The huge cast, the joy of piecing together the event of the missing years; it was all a joy to read. After investing so much into that title I wish I could have seen it end naturally or continue indefinitely.

But the book that I miss the most is Chase. The art was beautiful. The stores captured my imagination like none other. An agent who resents heroes is assigned to investigate them. Oh yeah, her pop was a hero killed by a villain and she has a power too.

This book provided insight into the other areas of the DCU, from the washed up hero to the Z list villain. Want to know more about the Justice Experience or how Mr. Bones became Director Bones? The answers probably would have turned up in this book. The book had so much potential. It’s particularly frustrating considering the praise books like Powers and Gotham Central get. Chase was canned before it was a year old. B, I know you have some canceled faves. (I think I’ve given considerable air time to my grievances over Young Justice and Guy Gardner: Warrior meeting their demise before their time in this column before. I really miss the Kesel/Grummett Superboy as well…making it as good a time as any to mention that I’m delaying my first part of that series retrospective another week just because this column is already running long. –B)

I never under stood the allure of Azrael. The only issues I ever read featured Ra’s al Ghul. They were written by Denny O’Neil, the creator of both characters and they still didn’t interest me too much. But it was a “Bat book” written by Denny so I can see how it went on for 100 issues.

Lobo on the other hand completely mystified me. His appearances in JLI were funny and he filled a role in L.E.G.I.O.N. served a purpose. But a solo book and a slew of minis? What’s up with that? I never read past the first mini, I got the point. But I guess it was pretty popular. B, what books popularity escapes your logic? (It’s not that I don’t understand the popularity of The Authority, it’s just something I’ll never get behind. I hate the “old school superheroes are lame, everything needs to be either really violent or really artsy or it’s passé” attitude. –B)

And now for the random question of the week from 411Comics own Tim Stevens.

Whatever happened to artist extraordinaire Rodolfo DiMaggio? His work on Batman and Green Arrow was excellent and I just miss it like crazy.

Rumor has it he is working in Hollywood. At least that is what I hear.

And we come to the close of another column. Be sure to come back next week. And as always send questions my way. Your question for the week; What book are you most looking forward to this year?

“How do we know it’s so? Cause everybody, everybody sleeps.”

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