Who’s Who In The DCU 6.30.04

Finally I’m writing the column from the comfort of my own room. It is quite a relief to know that I can actually stay up until 6am to write the column, rather than trying to adjust my schedule to get everything done by 10pm. It’s quite the luxury. (Meanwhile, in a turn of events so shocking you know it can only take place right here on 411, where the magic happens, I’m now stuffed in a cubicle doing PR for my old man’s health care firm until I find a real job, so I will be dropping my twenty five cents of knowledge directly from the corporate world! -B)

Now I can finally return to linking other great things from the 411 family:

DOL is back! Apparently we were both gone for a bit, but now everything’s straight.

Hayhurst is the movie guru at 411Movies, hit him up for some answers.

Mike Z has also returned. Man, there must have been a cosmic conspiracy.

And of course this week’s Roundtable rocked.

What are you going to link B? You’ve got to link your new column. I’m kind of lazy and don’t want to read the parts individually, d’ya think it’ll be collected in the future? (Oh, M, such a card you are, A CARD! Indeed, my column this week was another edition of the TPB guide, but with a special twist this week, as it was all-JLA and featuring my top ten Leaguers and JLA villains…so before you ask that question here, get the answer there. And yes, the Roundtable did indeed rock this week. -B)

Wow as I’m typing this I’ve just seen a commercial for the Catwoman flick. Looks interesting. (That’s one incredibly diplomatic way of putting it…-B)

We also get the official return of my thoughts on last week’s comics.

Fraction #3: This book is far too good to be canceled. Read my review.

The Losers #13: I wouldn’t have guessed that I’d still be reading this book, but it is addictive. Diggle knocks Millar out of the box when it comes to action.

Hellblazer #197: This is really building to something. Read my review.

Flash #211: This is one of the most striking covers I’ve seen in a minute. The issue is pretty good too. (I reviewed it, though I was late, so it’s not on the site yet, but sadly, I did not share your enthusiasm…did dig the cover though. -B)

Common Grounds #6: This could be one of the best miniseries of the year. You should really read Chris’ review of the book.

Superman #206: I’m telling you, this has the potential to be one of the definitive Superman tales. (I’m still not convinced. -B)

Teen Titans #12: I didn’t dig this storyline, but I’m not a big Raven fan. That last page was creepy. (I thought it was a very strong overall issue with a lot of neat moments that make TT a good book. The way they trapped Jericho though…very Silver Age. -B)

Wanted #4: The book was ok, but read Ian’s review.

Challengers of the Unknown #1: Very interesting. Kind of compelling. I can’t wait to see how things end up.

Kintetic #4: This book is in danger of being canceled and it’s really growing on me. Read my forthcoming review, and then read this perfect portrait of a single mother.

Before we get to the questions I’m going to offer everyone the opportunity to voice their opinion on a debate that’s raging over on the Message Boards. Apparently Daron has taken the stance that The Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns are overrated (man, does the hilarity ever stop?) I urge everyone to go and chime in on the topic. Personally I think that those two rightfully occupy two slots high on the comic pantheon. B, what’s your stance? (I’ve got to make a shocking admission…I don’t actually own either collection and have never read either all the way through, though I do plan to, so rather than enter the fray against Daron, who is notoriously exhausting to debate with, and as his co-E-I-C nobody knows that better than I, I’ll plead the 5th…for now. -B)

Ah the joy of no one guessing the lyric at the end of the last column, which means there aren’t any questions that I absolutely have to answer. I get to decide where to start.

Shiv’kala do you have a long ago asked question?

I missed out on “Day of Judgment” and DeMatteis “Spectre” series, though I’ve heard a little about what happened in both. How about a rundown of The Afterlife of Hal Jordan?

So everyone knows that Hal Jordan sacrificed himself to fix the sun during “Final Night.” Now if this were another medium that would be the end of his story. But this is comic books so it was just an intermission.

The next time we see Hal is during the “Day of Judgment” miniseries written by Geoff Johns. In issues #3 & 4 we meet up with Hal’s spirit in purgatory. He makes his pitch to be the Spectre. He gets roughed up by Asmodel, but eventually gets to the Spectre force. As you would expect, an all-powerful force like the Spectre force needs to be sure about the spirit that it merges with. The reason that it picks Jordan is because of his desire to atone for the crimes that he committed. So everything was cool right? Wrong.

Y’see Hal and the Spectre force had a tough go of it at the beginning (as seen in Legends of The DC Universe #33-36). Hal was unsure of his new role and the force was overpowering. Some times the wrath would take over and do some pretty brutal things. But during this story he gained a few things: a better grip on the role of Spectre, a confidant in the form of the spirit of his Green Lantern predecessor Abin Sur, and he also changed the Spectre’s mission from vengeance to redemption.

That lead to the Spectre series. In that series Hal’s role as the Spectre became known to the people in his life most notably Helen, his niece and Carol Ferris, his former lover. The series also dealt with Hal meeting other aspects of the Spectre from across the universe and Hal meeting folks from other planes of reality. After an accident that killed his brother and sister in law Hal “adopted” Helen. Abin Sur was still around to give advice.

(I believe that the reason Abin Sur’s spirit was floating about was because he was responsible for giving Hal the ring that caused all that “Emerald Twilight” mess, which damned him.)

A major adversary for Hal in the series was Monsieur Stigmonus, another powerful mystical being. Sinestro also popped up to plague Hal, courtesy of Stigmonus (who looked way cool.) But mostly Hal dealt with inner turmoil. The series ended.

Hal then showed up in Flash #200, written by Geoff Johns, where he granted a wish for Wally West. In that same issue Barry Allen made a cryptic remark regarding Hal’s future.

In JSA #60-62, written by Geoff Johns Hal’s neglecting of the Spectre’s mission of vengeance caused the souls the Spectre condemned to hell over the years to return to the earth, to catastrophic results. In the end Hal returned to being the spirit of vengeance, much to his own dismay. (Also, I was a zombie. -B)

Now clearly Geoff Johns has a plan in store for Hal Jordan, and we only have a few months to see what he has planned.

How about another question about a recently canceled series, Kevin Thackaberry?

What exactly is the story behind the Doom Patrol? I’ve only heard of them in vague terms, but I seem to remember something about them being fated to die or something along those lines, and I thought that was an interesting concept. Could be that I’ve got em confused with someone else but either way I’d like to know a bit about them (members, series, etc).

Ah the Doom Patrol, what a lucky bunch. Originally it was The Chief, Elasti Girl, Negative Man and Robotman.

Well Niles Caulder was the leader of the team. He also happened to be a genius. He was conducting experiments for some rich guy, when it turned out the rich guy was some crazy dude who was trying to recreate the immortality serum that had kept him alive for the past few centuries.

With the truth out about the guy, General Immortus needed to insure that Caulder would still be a team player. So he did just what your or I would do in that situation, he planted a bomb in Caulder’s chest. Of course only Immortus could remove the bomb, thus loyalty was guaranteed.

This didn’t sit well with Caulder, so he set up a scenario where Immortus would have to shoot him, essentially killing Caulder. But Caulder had a robot programmed to remove the bomb once he was clinically dead, and resuscitate him. Well as often happens with robotic helpers, things didn’t quite work out as planned; he had the bomb removed, he came back to life, but was paralyzed from the waste down. But really, two out of three ain’t bad. Since he was the brain of the outfit he was called The Chief.

Larry Trainor was a test pilot who passed through a radiation field that irradated him, to the detriment of others. Trainor would have been stuck in a lead cell, but Caulder made some nifty bandages that confined the radiation to Trainor’s body. Of course this made Trainor look like a mummy, and really when have mummy’s even been fashionable other that ancient Egypt? One of the cool things about his accident was that he could now separate an energy being from his body that could fly and had an explosive effect. But it could only be separate from the body for one minute, or Trainor would die. He hooked up with Caulder and became Negative Man.

Rita Farr was an actress shooting a movie on location in the jungle. During one scene she fell into a river and went down stream where she inhaled volcano fumes that not only gave her the ability to grow and shrink but also shortened her lifespan. Geez, couldn’t they come up with an original origin? Caulder was working on a cure for her lifespan thing. She took the code name Elasti-Girl.

Cliff Steele was a daredevil, whose body was destroyed in a racecar crash. And as was typical procedure back in the day his brain was transplanted into a robot body. What did they call him again? Oh wait, Robotman.

This team had lots of adventures; some even involved two unofficial part time members. Steve Dayton wasn’t only the world’s fifth richest man; he was also a professor of psychology! Because of his studies he found a way to harness mental power through a helmet of his design. He not only became Mento, but he also married Rita Farr. He however was not a tasty candy, nor was his slogan “The Freshmaker.”

Garfield Logan has a really smart father, and your typical mom. So when Gar caught a rare illness, his pop turned him into a green monkey to prevent the illness from progressing through an experimental procedure. Natually when the danger had passed Gar didn’t return to all the way to normal. His hair and skin had turned green, and he could change into any animal he could visualize. Then his parents died. Rita and Steve eventually adopted him.

Like I said lots of adventures were had including a very fateful one. Two of their enemies; Madame Rouge and Captain Zahl pinned the four full time members the Doom Patrol down on their island headquarters. Then Rouge gave them a choice; they could either allow Zahl to blow up their island or he would blow up a fishing village containing 14 folks. Even though was it only a village the heroes do the heroic thing and sacrificed themselves. They all died in the explosion. Or did they?

Their exploits took place in My Greatest Adventure #80-85, (which became Doom Patrol) and Doom Patrol #86-124

(I’ll jump in here and talk about my favorite sorta Doom Patrol story from New Teen Titans v.1 #13-15. Mento has gone missing and Gar has sent Robotman, who was found and rebuilt by Dr. Will Magnus, to find him. He tracks him down in a jungle and the Titans enter the scene to help out, as Mento has located Rouge and Zahl. Of course, continued use of the Mento helmet has driven Dayton nuts, for the first of many times, so the first order of business is to clear his head. But after that, you get a showdown between the Titans and Zahl/Rouge, with the new Brotherhood of Evil, making their first appearance, intervening as a third party. Ultimately, Gar is faced with a life-changing decision where he must choose revenge or being a hero…I won’t give away his choice or the ending, but it’s a fantastic story with great vintage George Perez art. Back to M…-B)

A little time later Arani Caulder came to the United States. Y’see way back, Niles Caulder was studying abroad in India and he met Arani. They got married, but when he became suspicious of Immortus he cut her out of his life to protect her. During his time with the Doom Patrol, she was off discovering that she had powers. She could shoot extreme cold with her right hand and equally extreme heat with her left.

After The Doom Patrol died, Arani came to the United States and tried to keep Niles dream alive by starting a brand new Doom Patrol.

Joshua Clay served in Vietnam. He was a mutant with the power to fly and project a powerful blast. He actually deserted the military, which made him a wanted man. He adopted a new identity and went into hiding. He decided to hook up with the New Doom Patrol, under the name Tempest.

Valentina Vostok was a Russian test pilot (ah the Cold War) who tried to defect to the United States. She did ok, but she crashed on the island that the old Doom Patrol called home. That crash awakened the energy being that lived in Larry Trainor. It took up residence in her. Initially she didn’t need to wear the same bandages, but eventually she did. She took the name Negative Woman. Speaking of folks that died on the island…

Robotman survived the explosion. The remains of his body washed up at the feet of Will Magnus (of the Metal Men fame). He repaired Robotman’s body. Robotman hooked up with Doom Patrol shortly after they formed, much to everyone’s surprise, because they thought he was dead.

This team had some adventures but no real title of their own until 1987.

This team consisted of Celsius, Negative Woman, Robotman, Tempest and a few other members; Wayne Tarrant, Karma, who has the ability to mentally thwart anyone attacking him in immediate area, Rhea Jones, Lodestone, who has your typical magnetic powers, and Scott Fisher who generated heat with his hands.

They also found out that Larry Trainor wasn’t dead, just comatose. A bad guy had captured him. He and Valentina had a tug of war going on for the Negative creature; Valentina won and Larry was cured. For a time.

They also hooked up with Dorothy Spinner, a girl who could create bring her thoughts to life.

Around this same time lots of things happened. For one The Chief was also revealed to be alive and well, so that only Elasti-Girl really died for those folks. Apparently his wheelchair had shields that saved him from the blast all those years ago. For a while he was a presidential advisor, but he hooked up with the new version of the Doom Patrol. Not only that but he claimed to have never married Arani. He said they met but weren’t married.

Then some aliens tried to invade Earth. Celsius and Scott Fisher died during “Invasion.” Lodestone was put into a coma. Then things got really weird.

Grant Morrison took over writing the book as of #19 and The Doom Patrol eventually moved over to being a Vertigo book. Crazy Jane, a hero with multiple personality disorder and a different power to go with every personality, joined the team. Rhea Jones awoke from her coma, accompanied the team to space and then left to explore it. Larry Trainor and his doctor Eleanor Poole were merged by a sentient negative energy, to become Rebis, the first hermaphrodite hero.

Of course in Vertigo anything goes, so Grant had field day writing. Exploits got stranger and stranger. The Chief even killed Tempest, and decapitated himself. Eventually the book ended with #87. Robotman decided to go for the simple life.

But then a new book was launched in 2001. Again Robotman was the sole member of any of the previous teams to be a part of this one. The new members included Negative Man II or Fast Forward who could see a minute into the future, Fever who generated incredible heat, Freak who had control over a dark force, and Kid Slick who could negate friction. It was later revealed that the Robotman who appeared in the initial issues wasn’t the read deal but on created by a comatose Dorothy Spinner. However the real Robotman was dug up and returned to action. This series lasted 22 issues and had its fair share of zaniness.

So there you have it. That is the Doom Patrol. Geez that was long. B, didn’t that read like a skim Near Mint Memories? Now B, what’s the best part about all that stuff I just typed? (I’ll give you a hint; it goes on sale today.) (Wait for it…that it doesn’t matter in the least!! John Byrne is re-launching Doom Patrol with a new #1 featuring the original team and ignoring forty plus years of continuity…what a guy. -B)

David do you have a question?

Read your column, and was curious about something- If you have Who’s Who in DC Universe looseleaf #4- I’m missing Troia and Ultra the Multi-Alien. They seem to have been replaced by duplicate pages of Flashbak, Maxwell Lord, and Laurel Gand. While I can’t complain about having extra Laurel, I do want to know if this means I should go buy ANOTHER copy of #4 or if this is a prevalent error.

I actually do have that issue, but I took mine out and put them in binders for the whole quick reference thing. I have both Troia and Ultra in mine so I guess you have error. I do know that both Maxwell Lord and Laurel Gand were reprinted because the color of the heading on their profile page was the wrong color. Originally Laurel’s heading was blue (signifying “supporting cast”) and Max’s was red (signifying “hero”). In the final issue they reprinted both Laurel and Max with the corrected headings, which may account for your duplicates. I don’t know what happened to Ultra and Troia, nor do I know what’s up with Fastbak. Sorry that I don’t have a better answer. If I had a scanner I’d hook you up with what you’re missing, but my computer still isn’t 100%.

Nalydpsycho is there something on your mind?

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

Well there are many ways take down Captain Marvel. He’s vulnerable when he’s Billy Batson. So if you can get him in a situation where he can’t say “Shazam” then you have him.

But say he does say “Shazam” what can you do? Well if you can move really fast you can prevent that lightning from striking him and transforming him. Check out the Young Justice Secret Files and Origins to see Impulse do it.

But say you’re not that fast. Now you have to actually deal with Captain Marvel in all his glory. If you have mental powers you can wreak havoc on the guy. Just like we saw in the “Black Reign” storyline the guy is susceptible to mental attacks. If you can make him say “Shazam” and revert to Billy he’s all yours. There is one option that could work.

In the future Thunder (she joined the Legion in #110) is vulnerable to fragments of the Rock of Eternity. So in theory Captain Marvel would also be vulnerable. But how would anyone in this era have access to rocks from the future? B, how would you take out Cap? (The same way I take out all DC heroes, M: call Iron Man. -B)

Seriously, that whole Doom Patrol question tucked me out. I’m beat. I didn’t think that it would be that tough. Anyway, next time I’ll actually get to Titans in the JLA, the Joker, Azrael and that one question that’s on the tip of your tongue, provided you email it to me or post it on the message boards. Your question of the week: are the Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns overrated?

“We so for real in the hood we make candy rain.”

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