Who’s Who In The DCU 6.23.04

Good news, by the time you read this I should probably be back on my own computer again. The bad news of course is that it needed a complete operating system reboot. The worse news is that I don’t have any of the software for the cool programs that I had on good ol’ puter. Alas my days of editing video and burning cd’s are over, at least until go out and buy some more software. So hopefully we will get back on track.

This means that you will see me returning to the message boards, so I better see y’all there. Congrats to Shiv’kala on the 500th post (and what seems to be the last twenty by himself, sorry bout that.) Thanks for keeping the dream alive.

Now allow me to add my two cents to the Azzarello bashing that went on over at The Roundtable this week. Under the banner of Jim Lee may be running behind, some of 411’s writers took the liberty to not bash Jim Lee for not keeping up with the schedule, but rather to attack Brian Azzarello’s writing.

I don’t see why everyone is down on Azzarello. Personally I really dig his stuff. “Broken City” was a really enjoyable read, and while some folks may think that Bats wasn’t in character, I would argue that Azzarello truly understands the Bruce Wayne/Batman dynamic like no other. Of course following “Hush” (a fanboy’s wet dream) “Broken City,” a story that actually has to be read might seem confusing and a let down, but I thought it was great.

As far as Azzarello’s Superman title, it’s my favorite. Action is cool with Gog, but the message that Superman is hip is as subtle as a drunk guy hitting on a girl. Adventures has an interesting mystery villain, but all that Clark Kent is just awkward. Superman on the other hand is all about character. Are there lots of things blowing up and action? Nope, is the story so full of subtlety that it demands multiple readings? Yup. And that is what I call getting my money’s worth.

For the comparisons between Winick and Azzarello, it’s like comparing a summer blockbuster to a film. A summer blockbuster is cool for what it is; a distraction a nice way to escape. But a film is something that you want to watch again for the finer points. Winick on Superman is “Superman/Batman”, Azzarello on Superman is “Fallen Angel.”

Let’s see, what’s Winick’s favorite plot contrivance, after disregarding continuity of course? Demons. Demons in Outsiders? Check. Demons in Green Arrow? Check. Demons in Batman? Apparently check. Hm, isn’t Superman vulnerable to magic? I’m betting some demons will pop up in his Superman run as well.

Well enough of me ranting. As ususal B, my relationship with the net is tumultuous at best, so you have to link what else should our readers should be reading. (Holy diatribe, M, gimme a sec…ok, I’m back. Check out the best column on 411, besides this one, written by me, as well as an extra-long edition of The Roundtable and Daron’s interview with comics legend John Romita Jr.. That should keep you busy for awhile…then read everything else on the site when you’re done, seriously, it’s all good, baby. –B)

I’ll try to get back in the swing of things by giving my thoughts on last weeks read.

Human Target #11 Wow, this book never fails to impress. I really dug the layout of the book. This could be my favorite title, everyone should be reading it.

Ex Machina #1 An impressive first issue. I’m a sucker for Tony Harris’ artwork and Vaughn has proven himself to be full of ideas. This future looks bright.

Hawkman #29 It’s going in a brand new direction and I’m loving it. The art and story really have my attention.

Another Nail #2 Is that “too” as in too much going on? This book is full of action, but I can make neither head nor tail of it.

The Outsiders #13 This issue looked great. I am really liking the new thing they are doing with colors. It really stands out.

Gotham Knights #54 I’m glad that someone isn’t afraid to touch Alan Moore’s work, but I’m disappointed that things didn’t turn out better. It left me “eh.”

Sea Guy #2 This is a deep and fun book. Really.

For the first question of the week we turn to none other than 411Music’s own Aaron Cameron.

the last 20 years…what’s the single most influential title, character, mini-series, writer and artist in the DCU? And, no fair going with the bandwagon selection of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns…be original, dammit.

Man, Aaron that is a very thought provoking question. But I’m lazy so I’m just going to freestyle this one.

Most influential title, I’m going to say Batman. Does anyone remember Batman #400 in 1986? That was the cool anniversary issue that created a brand new status quo for the book. Who started off the whole “year one” craze? Batman, and his first year was arguably the best one of the bunch. Where did Robin die? On the pages of Batman, which ushered in the “interactive era” of comics via a 1-900 number.

Crossover among all of a character’s titles? Bats may not have been the first but his have been the most successful, “No Man’s Land,” “Contagion,” “Bruce Wayne: Murderer” and of course “Knightfall.” Who could forget “Knightfall,” where the Bat was broken. Yeah Superman died first, but you can recover from death. How do you fix a broken back? Last Year Batman brought back multiple covers and Jim Lee pencils. That’s why Batman has my vote most influential title. (I wasn’t sure what I was going to answer, so M’s good answer helped sway me to maybe agree with Batman, but I’d say the re-launched Grant Morrison JLA was hugely impactful on the DCU as a whole as well as influential on the comics industry in the larger sense. –B)

Geez for character, I want to say Batman for all the reasons I said before, but I’ve got some time on my hands so I’ll say Superman. Just a wee bit over twenty years ago, Supes had a couple of good movies; Superman and Superman II. In 1986 Superman lost his cousin and everyone felt his pain. After that some guy named Alan Moore wrote a story called “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” that was the final chapter of the Silver Age Superman, which drew some media attention.

What drew even more attention of the character relaunch with “Man of Steel” which landed on the cover of Time magazine and on several newscasts. “Lois and Clark” was a hit on television. In the 1990’s Superman again garnered attention, through his “death.”

Of course in recent years Supes has been more an example of what not to do with a character, but people generally regard Action Comics #775 as an example of Superman done right. Currently Superman is experiencing a resurgence with new creative teams on his regular books, “Smallville” on the small screen and the miniseries “Birthright.” (Again, M comes up with a good enough answer for me. –B)

Let’s see it’s 2004 right, well then that means that “Crisis on Infinite Earths” will hold down the most influential miniseries slot for a couple more years. “Crisis” was the mega crossover event that impacted everything. Characters died, characters were altered, and worlds died.

“Crisis” is the miniseries that every other company chased after. “Legends,” Zero Hour,” even “Secret War” wants to be “Crisis.” Plus it streamlined the DCU. Only one Earth, no multiple dimensions, no multiple Supermans. As a result of “Crisis” we got a brand new Superman and Wonder Woman, a JSA that inspired the JLA, more focused DCU, a messed up future, and lots of angry fans. But rest assured the DCU as we know it wouldn’t exist had it not been for the “Crisis.” (Another ditto. –B)

I doubt writers get more influential than Alan Moore. “The Watchmen” is probably the second most influential miniseries in the last 20 years. The aforementioned “Whatever Happenned To The Man of Tomorrow” is frequently mentioned as one of the best Superman tales ever. “For the Man Who Has Everything” also ranks high on the list great Super stores. Like Batman tales? Moore’s got them too. “The Killing Joke” gave us a glimpse at the Joker’s origin, a partial origin for Oracle and it’s still referenced to this day (peep the current “Gotham Knights” issue.)

His run on Swamp Thing was nothing short of groundbreaking. He even managed to tell a refreshing Green Lantern story. But back to “The Watchmen.” That book showed everyone that any character can be interesting, even those who aren’t widely recognizable. He also have use characters in shades, the shades between “good” and “evil,” between “sanity” and “madness.” As a matter of fact if I hadn’t already committed to “Crisis” I’d probably give the miniseries nod to “The Watchmen.” (I kind of covered this in a column I did awhile back and gave many of the same reasons naming Moore as the most influential guy of the 80s and 90s into today. –B)

Artist is a hard one. This is the most difficult one of all. I guess you have to say Todd McFarlane. In my mind Todd was the first “superstar” artist. He was the first artist whose work really superceded the writer. Everyone knows “Clarmont and Byrne” and “Wolfman and Perez,” but McFarlane was just “McFarlane.” Who wrote those issues of Amazing Spiderman anyway? Marvel even gave him the adjective less “Spiderman.” Man that was a stinker. If a kid reading the book can’t stand the writing (or lack there of) you are in trouble. He went on to say good bye to “The Big Two”, create Spawn, co-found Image Comics, and set sales records. Spawn proved very successful, spawning a movie, an adult cartoon, and a toy line. Then about a decade ago he stopped drawing to live in his 24 carat house, sleep on his mattress filled with thousand dollar bills and swim Uncle Scrooge style in his pool filled with gold coins. (Following M’s logic, I’ll swerve slightly to say Jim Lee, if only because he has most of the same credentials as T-Mac, but remains very relevant today. –B)

Shiv’kala is there a question that is imperative that I answer for you?

Gorilla Grodd’s recent history has me confused, I just re-read the Gorilla Warfare crossover between Flash and GL (In honor of the upcoming Rebirth mini, I am re-reading my Hal issues) back in the early 90’s. At the end, he wound up having a body similar to Hector Hammond’s (though Hector now had a neanderthal body) but with the intellect of the average gorilla.

Then the next issue I have is the Final Night crossover in Supergirl, where he’s back to his regular body and intelligence.

But then at the end of that, he’s been impaled. After that I have Geoff’s issues of Flash with Grodd, the latter one which revealed that Solivar had died?

So what happened to Grodd, Hammond, and Gorilla City since the early 90’s?

Well after Grodd hooked up with Hector Hammond he appeared in “Underworld Unleashed”, which could probably account for his returning to form. Grodd then appeared in Supergirl, where he apparently died. But he didn’t die because he popped up over in Titans, before it really stunk. He was a member of Tartarus, a group composed of individual Titan’s foes, that consisted of Red Panzer, Vandal Savage, Siren, and Lady Vic. I don’t believe that there was an explanation for how he wasn’t dead, but Vandal Savage was involved so who knows.

Then over in Bludhaven, Blockbuster needed a heart transplant. Where do you go to get a heart big enough for a guy the size of Blockbuster? Why Gorilla City of course. So Grodd was involved in that story which took place in Birds of Prey #23-25. Then Grodd turned up in the first Outsider’s storyline, where he got pummeled by Nightwing. Of course I left out all of his appearances in The Flash, but that is basically the gist of Grodd. He is a popular character, which accounts for his frequent appearances in the DCU. But that popularity also leads to writers who don’t really pick up where his last appearance left off.

Now for some reason Solovar revealed Gorilla City to the public in order to do the whole “diplomacy thing.” But he was assassinated by one of Grodd’s cronies. It was part of Grodd’s plot to have Gorilla City start a war with mankind. Gorilla City was damaged with an internal war, but it has been rebuilt. Once again it is hidden from mankind, and now not even Wally can access it. For more on Grodd and Gorilla City check out the JLApe Annuals. B, any more thoughts on the Grodd affair? (Just to confirm that you are correct in guessing Underworld Unleashed was where Grodd regained his intelligence. He didn’t have a Hector Hammond body when he showed up there, though, near as I can see. –B)

Is there someone new who has a question? You over there, Pierre Tossel.

Now to my question. It’s about Identity Crisis. I really enjoyed the first issue even if I didn’t know most of the cast but obviously, I’m missing something because of my limited knowledge about the DCU. At the end of the book after everyone is gone searching for the murderer, Ollie and the others are speaking about some events from the past and I would really like it if you could help me understand since I don’t know what they’re talking about.

That’s part of the joy of Identity Crisis, no one knows what happens. Everyone is all hung up on the death, and not concerned with the story. Whatever those Satellite Leaguers did is unknown, only that it happened to Doctor Light. I really wish I knew more, but sadly I don’t. However I’m guessing that it involves two words; atomic wedgie.

JohnBritton, do you have a question that absolutely needs to be answered?

If the old Green Lantern Corps decided it was going to invade earth, how the heck would they be stopped?

I don’t think that you can beat the Green Lantern Corps. Your best bet would be to paint everything yellow. Actually your best bet would be to hook up with all the telepaths and whatnot. They could attempt an attack mentally that would render the Corps helpless, or at least unable to use their rings. You could also mount a simultaneous attack on the Central Power Batter of Oa, that could leave the rings powerless. Wait, B don’t you have a suggestion that includes a slew of Iron Men? (Very funny…actually, if Tony had a swarm of his original yellow armors operated by remote control, maybe he could defeat the entire pre-Kyle Corps…-B)

Shiv’kala, you got anything else for us?

Whatever happened to the Quorum? Ron Marz set it up early in his GL run and the issue of GL that crossed over with GG:W seemed to be the last time I remembered them.

The Quorum wasn’t really cleared up at least on the pages of Green Lantern. It was an interesting subplot that should have been advanced, but was just dropped. However I’m betting that Marz is doing something with that group in his current Green Lantern storyline. A mysterious agency that has all sorts of pull. They have a beef with Kyle. Sounds kind of Quorumtastic if you ask me. But again I’m just grasping at straws here. B, what happenned with the Quorum over in Guy Gardner? (They tried to kill Guy with various agents right up until the final issue. Presumably they gave up after Guy killed Major Force for, like, the eight time. –B)

Well I’m going to call it a column. Hopefully I’ll be back on my old computer reading this column when it goes up. Next column’ll probably have some JLA and Titan connections, the friendliest villain in the DCU, and some other questions will be answered too. How about you answer one of mine? What’s your beef with “Broken City?”

“Have gun will travel, reads the card of a man.”

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