Who’s Who In The DCU 3.16.04

Hey all. I’m still having computer difficulty, but let us not dwell on negativity. Wasn’t last week a pretty good week for comics? I’m sure everyone is still buzzing about Identity Crisis. I thought it was very well done. I was shocked at the death. I had come to love the character during my time reading JLI and JLE. When I heard the rumors I though “there is no way DC would ever allow that to happen.” I was wrong. It was a pretty powerful piece of fiction. B, do you want to elaborate on what you’ve already written about Identity Crisis here? (I would love to, but I’m fighting exhaustion and the flu, so, unfortunately, my contributions this week are probably going to be minimal. I gave my 2 cent on Identity Crisis over in The Roundtable. –B)

Other notable good reads last week were Death and the Maidens #9, 100 Bullets #50, Touch #3. B, I have to say that I thought Green Arrow was kind of anti climatic. It was a good ending, but the build up was so great that the big reveal of how to solve the problem left me feeling “eh.” I am curious how the repercussions will play out. Since I’m still devoid of computer linking is up to B. B, is there anything you want to link? (Well, my review of Green Arrow would probably be a good place to start. Also, my column, the start of a four part series on trade paperbacks, and I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed Did I Think That Out Loud?! this week, check it out. –B)

Nalydpsycho, want to start thing out?

If you were teaching high school English, what graphic novel would you assign in the class?

What trade would I assign? As much as I love Starman and 100 Bullets I don’t think that they would work in a classroom environment. I mean I suspect that I would have to justify whey I’m assigning a “comic book” to students. Therefore I would have to select something that stands on it’s own as a piece of fiction.

Frank Miller’s Batman work sounds like a safe bet. I’m sure lots of folks would say “The Dark Knight Returns,” but honestly I’m more partial to “Batman: Year One.” I love that story so much I have two copies of it. It was the first trade that I ever picked up. Yet I wouldn’t pick it either.

It would really be a battle between two books “The Golden Age” and “The Watchmen.” Both stand alone as stories. And both would be easier to sell as literature. They use foreshadowing, have characters of differing degrees, and the stories have definitive conclusions. Plus the stories wouldn’t be bogged down by the student’s preconceived notions of the characters, so the class could enter with a semi open mind. But since I am a Starman fan I’d pick “The Golden Age” over “The Watchmen.” Plus “The Watchmen” deserves a much more in-depth breakdown. However if you ask this question again in a few months the answer will probably be “DC: The New Frontier” because that book is like my two finalists combined. B, what trade are you going to be assigning? (As far as the best in telling a story and saying something important about the nature of the super-hero, a profound subject, my pick is Kingdom Come. –B)

John Z, do you have a question?

Why hasn’t DC ever give DEADSHOT a legitimate push? Sure he had a under appreciated limited series in the late 80’s and was a featured player in SS. BUT in this day of the angst ridden, self loathing heroes being popular again(ahem…wolverine, batman, punisher, hawkman) DEADSHOT’s would be a perfect fit. it just seems like every time it looks like he could be star, DC riddles him with bullet holes (SS #22 & BATMAN 607).
please be kind this time. i couldn’t stand another bashing.

Why isn’t Deadshot bigger? Lots of reasons. Of course the popularity and notoriety of Deathstroke ranks high on that list. Let’s face it; Deathstroke is more of a threat. I seem to recall Deadshot being in various incarnations of the Suicide Squad, which means he was CAUGHT!.

Another reason why Deadshot isn’t as big a star as you might expect is because for the most part during the fad driven 90’s DC took the high road. DC dabbled in the “bad girl” phase with Artemis and Catwoman. In terms of the grim and gritty Batman got darker, Deathstroke got a book. In terms of ultra violent Lobo was big and Hitman was popular. Clearly that would have been the time for Deadshot to take off, but he didn’t. I guess DC just likes to keep the lines of distinction between heroes and villains very clear.

Now everyone knows Shiva is deadly and to watch out for Deathstroke. But Deadshot is just an also ran, one rung up from his teammate Captain Boomerang. There is a reason they were in the Suicide Squad; they were expendable.

Let’s take a closer look at Deathstroke and Deadshot. Look their names. “Death” that’s just no good. “Stroke” completely debilitating. “Dead”, what, tired? “Shot” isn’t that something a doctor gives you, or are you talking rubber bands? Slade Wilson. That name has power. Floyd Lawton, what are you a barber?

Spike, another Deathstroke question for the column?

I just wanted to know your opinion whether Deadpool Wade Wilson is a knock off on Deathstroke Slade Wilson?
Seems a little to close to me

Y’know I never thought about it that deeply. I mean would Marvel deliberately create a similarly named product in an effort to dupe an uninformed reader? Nah, that’d never happen.

Yeah, they do seem kind of similar, like Spiderman and Batman. Both of those guys lost loved one, both of those guys fight crime. But Deathstroke, like Batman is darker, and Deadpool like Spiderman is more known for his wisecracks than anything else. While Deadpool may have become a knock off of Deathstroke, he actually evolved beyond that into his own character.

JohnBritton, I know you have a question for us.

The current Aquaman series is a great book, and is certainly one of the character’s highlights. Is it THE highlight? Has Aquaman ever fared better? What are his creative highs and lows?

Aquaman is really good right now. However that may be really good compared to how the first year on the title went. That was a miserable read. It was like swimming in a public pool, it was one of the least appealing books out, and I have every issue. Right now Aquaman is like swimming in a neighbor’s backyard pool. It’s great and refreshing, but who knows how it will look next month. While I’m really enjoying the book, Aquaman is one of those characters who have a great cast of supporting characters, and we haven’t seen any during this story. If Pfeifer can juggle them and Aquaman then I’ll bump it up a few notches.

As for when it was at its worst, in my mind that would have to be the Erik Larsen era. Lagoon Boy, Piranha Man, Dolphin and Tempest pregnant and married? That was like swimming in the Baltimore Harbor. IT was so full of garbage, it made you want to take a shower after every issue. Eric Battle is permanently linked to that trash in my mind, so I may never give his art a fair shake.

When it was at it’s best, was Peter David’s run. “Time and Tide”, “The Atlantis Chronicles” and the regular title were all great. He gave such depth to the character and his supporting cast. A great back story was given, and David had a clear vision of where things were going. It is by far my favorite Aquaman era of all, it was like swimming the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean. Well B, I’m all out of water references, do you remember when I actually claimed, during the first year of the new book, that it was the best book out? (Sure do, that was one of the great unpublished treasures of 411 history. –B)

Nalydpsycho, got another Aqua-question?

The JLA is often referred to as having the Big 7, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Flash, Wonderwoman, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. And that the best stories have the big 7 and that sales are highest with the big 7. My question is, would the loss of Aquaman and Martian Manhunter really have any noticeable effect? I could see a JLA lacking any of Batman, Green Lantern, Superman, Wonder Woman or Flash being considered lacking and loosing sales from the fans of those characters. But Aquaman and Martian Manhunter, not that their bad characters, but they don’t exactly strike me as characters that inspire sales.

Personally I do believe they are great characters. I’d argue that the reason they seem to pop up so often is because 1) Aquaman is so associated with the JLA (via the Superfriends cartoon) in the public consciousness that he seems to just belong there, and 2) Martian Manhunter is a loser whose only friends and/or family seem to be in the League.

Ok I was a little harsh on J’onn. His enigmatic persona and the fact that even though he’s been around for almost 50 years(!) he’s been left relatively unexplored in terms of character and powers. That’s why it was so believable when J’onn took down Despero, back in Justice League America #41, readers didn’t know any better. Who knows what he’s capable of? Every team needs a telepath, and he’s malleable in every sense.

Aquaman is kind of in the same boat (yes, squeezed one more out.) He too is pretty much an untouched canvas. I mean he’s had a failed marriage, buried a kid, and he’s still believed to be bland.

But it’s tough to write these characters who are essentially aliens. Batman, GL and Flash are human. Superman was raised on a farm, and Wonder Woman knows about the world. But Martian Manhunter and Aquaman both came of age in different worlds. They are tough characters to get a grasp on.

I’d imagine that writers want to use J’onn because he’s so versatile and powerful. They see Aquaman as a challenge. But neither seems to play a major role in Identity Crisis. B, what are your thoughts on our two misunderstood heroes? (I wrote a column on J’onn, I refer you there. The League has done fine without Aquaman for several years now. –B)

Al George asks;

Is it possible for you to explain the difference between StormWatch, Authority, and Planetary?

This is a tough one. Ok, Stormwatch and Authority were written by Warren Ellis and Planetary still is. Good enough? How about this; Authority is a monthly book, Stormwatch is canceled and Planetary comes out sporadically? Not good enough?

Authority is about a team of heroes who are much more proactive than the JLA. They have no qualms about killing or going after dictators.

Stormwatch was a team of super heroes who were sanctioned by the U.N. This book is where many characters from Authority first appeared in that book. The most recent incarnation of that book was about a team “normal” people who dealt with super powered threats.

Planetary is about three adventurers who try to unravel the secret history of things.

I have/had the first few issues of the original Stormwatch and through some accident the first year of the most recent version of the book. It was cool, but it wasn’t my type of book. I read from the Quietly issues of Authority to the end of the book. It actually lived up to the hype around it at the time. I never got into the Planetary, but I do intend to pick up a collected edition in the very near future.

Sorry for the brevity, but I’m like a computer hobo, jumping on when I get the chance. Hopefully next week will feature me back with my old computer, new and improved. At the very least next week will feature the return on Grodd. Email and post questions on the message boards. Your question of the week; Can you think of a single issue that shows comic books at their greatest?

“You’re eating dirt cause, you like getting dirt from a graveyard, you put gravy on it.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,