Who’s Who In The DCU 5.26.04

Today I had the day off, similar to last week. But lest you think that this week’s column will be supersized like last weeks was, realize that I also purchased Double Dash for the Gamecube. That means that I wasted the day away trying to find out what tandem with which vehicle works the best for me. Man, that game is addictive. B, what was the last game that you played that made your thumbs sore? (Back in the days before I graduated college on Sunday, I learned to love Madden 2004 for Playstation 2 alongside my buddies. But no game is closer to my heart than Mega Man 3 for the original Nintendo, which me and my friend Jordan spent most of our sophomore year conquering. –B)

Well let’s jump straight to the links.

Hayhurst answers all your movie questions.

Mike Z has info on Batman from abroad.

is always filled with goodness.

Black is full of new names. But my personal favorite is Bradford.

DOL is full of hilarity.

And that’s about it. B, anything of note you want to link up to this column? (I’ll forego the linkage and apologize straight up for not posting a new column last weekend. This graduation nonsense takes up more time than I realized. This week for sure. –B)

As for my views on last weeks comics.

Human Target #10 Seriously, go buy this book. Read my review, and then buy the book.

Fraction #2 The entire DC Focus line deserves your attention. This book is really picking up steam. Read my review.

JLA: Another Nail What a great story. All Elseworlds should be this good.

Adventures of Superman #628 This one is a slow burner. But I really liked how Clark was portrayed in this issue.

Outsiders #12 Interesting. Very interesting.

Hawkman #28 I am really digging the new team on this book . The art is spectacular and the story has a cool hook. I can’t wait for the next issue.

Superman/Batman #10 Dude, Harbinger better not be dead. I’ll be pretty upset if she is.

Gotham Knights #53 I can see why folks dislike Prometheus’ portrayal in this issue. But I can also see how others love the story. Both sides are right.

Seaguy #1 More zaniness from Grant Morrison.

Geez, who knew there were so many Weezer fans out there? Charles was the first to place the lyric at the end of the column so he goes first.

What the hell is all the talk about the Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age? Could you fill me in a bit on what all these mean?

That is a tricky question. The Golden Age began with Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman. The Silver Age ushered in a new era of comic books with super heroes returning to the forefront.

See, in the 1950’s horror comics were pretty popular and were quickly deemed inappropriate for kids. As a result of the popularity of other genres (western, romance, true stories) super heroes were passé. But after the crackdown on comics, superheroes slowly started to return to the magazine racks.

People debate when the Silver Age began. Some believe it was Martian Manhunter’s first appearance, others believe it was the first appearance of Barry Allen. Since I’m a Flash fan I’m going with the latter.

The Bronze Age is ever more difficult to narrow down. Chances are it isn’t even a DC comic that brought the Bronze Age into existence. I don’t even know what milestone marks the Bronze Age. I’ve heard that it was Conan #1. But I’m just guessing. I couldn’t tell you what he characteristics of the Bronze Age are, or if it has ended. But I am pretty sure that it exists.

We briefly touched upon this last year in the 8/13 column. B, can you help this man differentiate his Ages? (You did a pretty good job, M. I’d say that the Bronze Age came to an end in the 90s and that we’ve had two more ages since then. I don’t think there are really names for ‘em or definitive start and end dates, but for the sake of argument let’s say the first post-Bronze age kicked off with X-Men #1 and was the 90s event-driven age that nearly killed the industry with its cheap events, bad cover gimmicks, and lack of depth. I’ll say the second post-Bronze age was the revitalization of the industry that saw good storytelling revived and I’ll say three events served as catalysts: the re-launch of JLA, the third volume of Avengers and the removal of Bob Harras as Editor-In-Chief of Marvel. We may be entering a new age of nostalgic tricks as we speak with all the 80s/90s revivals, we’ll see. –B)

Brian do you have a question about a current comic?

In the most recent issue of the Flash, Superman seems to be able to go as fast as the flash. I thought it was established in the DCU that the Flash was faster than Superman!!! Wally talks about hoping he’d lose Superman at one point, but Supes keeps up. What gives?

Well Wally is faster than Superman. But the funny thing about Superman is that he’s in a state of flux right now. What was Krypton like? Were Lex and Clark friends growing up? Does Clark eat meat? I guess the more important question is; is Birthright continuity yet?

Birthright returns Superman to his Silver Age-y roots. That makes him a mite more powerful and perhaps even a match for Wally in the speed category. Now if we were dealing with the Byrne Superman then clearly Wally, with the speed he has now, would blow Kal out of the water.

It didn’t really bother me that Superman kept up with Wally. Superman was determined to catch the Flash, but Wally wasn’t too determined to lose Superman. Wally was more focused on finding Linda. He was distracted. Plus it made for a decent story. B, what’s your take on Superman vs The Flash? (Flash is faster, both because it keeps him relevant and because the last few years of Flash stories have established it. If you want to really get down to it, Flash can steal the velocity of others, so there’s no way Supes could beat him in a race. –B)

John Maclachlan, do you have something that you want to get off your chest?

Did it bother you as much as it did me to have Superman manage to keep up with Flash speed wise in a current Flash book? Can’t they just give one hero any sort of physical superiority over Supes? Secondly, in the last issue of JLA Robotman is told he now has equivalent strength to Superman. Isn’t this a bit ridiculous? We have spent decades making Superman a god and then we just make a robot that is just as strong? Why not just make dozen’s of these robots if it is that easy?

But if they did that then one would probably end up in storage at S.T.A.R. labs. Then a damaged robot from the future would come to the present looking for other artifical life to help repair itself. The damaged android would inevitably activate the robot created with Superman’s strength. The Superman robot could snap a fourth rate hero’s neck, and then proceed to decimate a youthful team of heroes. Of course one second rate hero would step up and sacrifice herself to stop the robot. (I’ll uncharacteristically step in mid-answer here and say there is no way in hell Donna Troy was a second rate hero. –B) But it would probably end with the damaged robot stopping the rampaging robot with Superman’s strength.

Nah, that’d never happen. B, why don’t they make a fleet of robots as strong as Superman? (Because the DCU would become a very boring place. –B)

Matt, did I do something to offend you?

I am astounded that you would not recommend Preacher. Not only is it currently being reviewed on your site but it was this book that got me back in to comics in general. This book constantly amazes me and I think you should give it props in your next column since Jesse Custer was slighted in the last one.

I have a confession to make; I’ve never read Preacher. Furthermore I don’t really have plans to either.

Ok, see I’m not much of a “jump on the bandwagon” type guy. When Preacher began I was a diehard super hero guy. You couldn’t get me near that vertigo stuff. They made the Doom Patrol and Animal Man all weird. In fact I was probably only really reading a handful of titles at the time.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Preacher. In fact I’ve heard such great things that I doubt it could possibly live up to what has been said about it. I’m sure it’s an amazing comic. But honestly it’s not too high on my “must read” list. There are far too many books that I’m actually interested in for me to just decide to jump into Preacher. It may happen someday, just not one day soon. B, convince me to pick up a Preacher trade next week. (Uh…I never read it either. I’m just not a Vertigo type of guy. But I heard good things. –B)

Schlaf, do you have a question that is probably on everyone’s mind?

I’ve loved comics since I was a kid, and I’d love to get involved some way. But as a writer, i’m not sure how to get a foot in the door. Any suggestions from you or one of the creators you’re friendly with?

Dude, if I knew the answer to that, you had better believe I wouldn’t be writing this column.

It’s funny that you think that I have contacts in the industry. Daron has numerous contacts, and B was actually mentioned in a comic book. Me, I get the occasional creator feedback from a review.

As for how to get into the industry there are several paths to take.

Path #1 Self publishing. Make your own comic. Find an artist and create your own comic. If it’s popular enough DC and Marvel will take notice and give you an invitation into the big dance.

Path #2 Be big in another industry. Brad Metzler, the author of the highly anticipated Identity Crisis writes novels. Darwyn Cooke, the man behind DC: The New Frontier, came from animation. Judd Winick wrote a comic strip. Geoff Johns worked in the movie industry before becoming a hot writer. And over at Marvel they love “outside” creators.

Path #3 Go the Image route. If Erik Larsen likes your proposal Image will publish your comic book. Essentially you take Path #1, but submit it to Image. Lots of big talent comes from Image. Bendis from over at Marvel had lots of success at Image before he became a big name.

Path #4 Go to conventions. First you have to have a spec comic script (This is basically a short comic story. It has to have a beginning middle and end, and can’t really alter the status quo of an established character. This is just to show that you can tell a story graphically.) Then you find an editor and ask if they would take a look at it. They’ll look it over and give you some tips. If you are really luck and impress the heck out of them, they just may ask you to submit a full story to see if you can really write.

Path #5 Find a hook up. If you know someone in the industry that you are cool with and who has some decent connections you could possibly get hooked up. If you can call enough favors in to get the ear of an editor at Marvel or DC you just might be able to skip all the footwork involved in Path #4 and just submit a story straight to someone’s desk. But that would take quite a few favors.

Personally I think that it’s easier to make it as an artist than it is to be a writer. It is much easier to impress someone at a con with your portfolio, than it is to get someone to read all of your scripts. Plus there are so many writers who want to tell stories. I wish you the best of luck. And if you do make it remember the advice I gave you when I come asking for a hook up.

Justin do you have a question?

My fave GL was Guy Gardner, but I haven’t really followed him since he became Warrior, it was just too lame for me. What the heck is up with Guy?

Ouch, you dissed Warrior. B, this one is all yours. (To be fair, a lot of people didn’t like Warrior, but since you did like his previous incarnation, I’ll give you a pass and help you out, Justin. During the Warrior phase of his ongoing series, Guy discovered that he was part-Vuldarian. “What is a Vuldarian?” you may ask. Vuldarians were essentially the Green Lantern Corps before there was a Green Lantern Corps; an ancient race of aliens with the abilities to morph into any weapon they could think of that went around protecting the galaxy from various threats, most prominently an evil group of aliens called the Tormocks. The Tormocks eventually started hunting down the Vuldarians, and when the battle started going south, the Vuldarians began trying to mate with the females of various races in hopes of producing offspring somewhere down the line. Earth was the only planet in which the mating process took, and years later, Guy was the product. Once he was told all this, Guy’s latent Vuldarian powers were awakened and he took the name Warrior, with bitching morphing powers. He wiped out the last of the Tormocks with the help of the JLA and opened his own superhero themed bar called Warrior’s. His ongoing series ended and Guy had a few guest appearances here and there that ignored the fact that he matured considerably after learning of his heritage and usually recast him as the obnoxious jerk of the JLI years. During Our Worlds At War, Guy was skewered by an Imperiex probe and dragged down into the mystical/nuclear hell outside of Pokolistan called The Gorge. Guy’s morphing powers kept him alive but horribly disfigured him. He tricked Superman and Kancer into locating him, then saved the Man of Steel by tricking Kancer into taking his spot on the “throne” of The Gorge, restoring Guy’s appearance and powers. After that, Guy gave something to a shadowy figure, presumably Manchester Black, and warned him not to hurt Superman too bad. Guy hasn’t been seen since then, but is supposed to be showing up in I Can’t Believe It’s Not Justice League, the sequel to the awesome Formerly Known As The Justice League, and he’s supposedly going to have regressed powers-wise to having a power ring again, so you can just pretend all the Warrior stuff was a bad dream, I suppose. –B)

Ed, I know you have a question about a Golden Ager.

The question is in regards to Jonathan Law a.k.a. The (Golden Age) Tarantula. Somewhere along the line, I got it in my head that he died. I don’t read Nightwing, but I heard that he was in the book as Dick Grayson’s neighbor a year or so ago. What’s the deal?

It does indeed appear that Jonathan Law is dead. Blockbuster was responsible for the destruction of Dick Grayson’s apartment building. Apparently Law was inside and perished. But Nightwing doesn’t have to worry about Blockbuster anymore.

I think it’s a pretty cruddy end for John Law. But since it’d be pretty easy to “resurrect” John I really hope that Devin Grayson does just that. Even I, a guy who doesn’t write comics (but would really love to) can come up with a way for Law to survive the disaster. C’mon Grayson do the right thing. B, do you think Law is really dead? (Unfortunately, yes. Tarantula was never really my cup of tea outside of The Golden Age, but his role in Nightwing was a neatly appropriate one for a retired Golden Ager. –B)

I caught up with fellow 411er Mike Z on AIM and he asked;

Whatever Happened to Cary Nord? (he was an artist)

Cary Nord is the artist on the new Conan book. I hear the book is pretty good, so you should probably give it a shot.

Jacob S, do you have a “quick” question?

I’m becoming a fan of The Flash, but I guess I just don’t know too much about the history, and one important concept: The Speed Force. Can you give me, the incompetent reader, at least a little background on this “force of speed”??

The Speed Force is where all the speedsters get their power. It is almost like a dimension. It is certainly on another plane of perception. All of the speedsters in the DCU draw their power from the Speed Force.

At times it almost seems sentient. Occasionally it grants the power of super speed to the person who happens to be the fastest person on the planet at the time, as was the case with Savitar. Sometimes it’s just fate, as with Jay Garrick.

The Speed Force is where all speedsters end up after their life ends. Johnny Quick is in the Speed Force as is Barry Allen. It is sort of like the destination for all speedsters. Max Mercury heard it beckoning him early in his career. However the second before he entered the Speed Force he hesitated, and was bounced through the time stream.

The Speed Force is also like a prison. Savitar is stuck in the Speed Force. Rival was too, but he has since escaped.

Basically the Speed Force is whatever the writer at the time wants it to be. Geoff Johns doesn’t seem to be too big a fan of the Speed Force, as it hasn’t played too big a role in his run on The Flash. B, is The Flash better with the Speed Force or without? (I like the Speed Force; super speed, despite being my superpower of choice, can get kind of boring. The Speed Force makes it seem a lot more special and gives a nice explanation as to why it is a fairly common power that doesn’t seem like a dumb coincidence. –B)

Hallsy, is there a character you are curious about?

Max Mercury — I never did know the story behind that guy.

Max Mercury was a fort messenger in the 1830’s who was cool with an Indian tribe. But as was common during that time the tribe was massacred. The dying shaman hooked up the messenger some magic that gave him a link to the Speed Force. Thus the messenger became Windrunner.

Then like I said earlier he bounced through the time stream. As he jumped forward he adopted different guises and names. He actually retired from the hero gig for a few years, but Jay Garrick brought him back during the “Return of Barry Allen” storyline. He isn’t as fast as Wally, but he is very agile, especially for his age. Plus he can vibrate though things without them exploding.

411Comics own Tim Stevens, do you have a follow up?

Hey, whatever happened to Max Mercury. I think he died, but really I have no idea why I think that. Any info?

Oh, see back when Impulse ended Rival had returned. But since his physical form was gone he needed a body that could withstand the punishment of moving at super speed. And since Max had an uncanny link to the Speed Force he made the best host. So the last time we was Max Mercury was in the last issue of Impulse, as Rival took off in a time machine. We later saw Rival (presumably still inhabiting Max’s body) in JSA All Stars #1. He’s not dead, he’s just a forgotten subplot. B, what was your favorite memory of Max Mercury? (When he first showed up in The Return of Barry Allen and Wally just thought he was a crackpot hippy until Max showed him some nifty moves. All his interactions with Impulse were classic as well. –B)

Alan do you have a final Flash question?

I have just recently begun reading Flash, and am curious as to what his powers are? (Beyond ridiculous speed)

Wally can run really fast. He can also lend objects speed. He can even borrow speed from things. He can vibrate his molecules through solid objects, but then the objects explode. Um B, he sounds pretty boring, what else can he do? (He’s an awesome character: the everyman who became a super hero. He doesn’t need a million powers, Wally West is just cool. –B)

Well I’ve got to go to work pretty early this tomorrow so I’ve got to call this a column. Next week will most likely see the return of Green Lantern to the column. I thank everyone for his or her feedback and questions. Make sure to visit the message boards; it’s like the bonus disc full of the extras that comes with your DVD. Post your questions there or email them to me. Your question of the week; Now that all the Super titles have a couple issues with the new teams out, what do you think about the titles?

“Whatever you do, don’t tell anyone.”

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