Who's Who In The DCU (12/16/04)

(Before we start I’d like to not the passing of Bob Haney. He passed away Thanksgiving Day. He co-created the original Teen Titans, Eclipso, Metamorpho and The Doom Patrol. During the Silver Age, he worked on nearly every DC character. His contributions to the genre can’t be measured. He will be missed.)

I’d be lying if I said that I was completely used to the new schedule. My Monday’s feel so empty. Plus I’m still in shock over the fate of Stringer Bell on HBO’s The Wire. Tim, if you’re a fan of Homicide: Life on the Street you should be watching The Wire. By the way, what was the last “TV Death” that really affected you?

Wow”¦good question. Umm”¦hmm. Well”¦Mrs. Landingham’s death on the West Wing was well done, so that sticks out to me. The death of Buffy Summe’s mom was (psychologically) brutal. Those are the only two that spring to mind to me right now. I am a bit of a heartless bastard, really.

Well I suppose that we should get to”¦

Linkin, Nebraska
(by way of what I can see in my room)

Poster of original Planet of the Apes

DC Direct Golden Age Flash

The Wire Season One DVD

Songs from the Street Boxed Set

Damn, I’m really not a Games guy.

My John Starks #3 New York Knicks Jersey.

Tim, anything you feel like linking?

Since we get into minority superheroes later in this column (wait for it, ye impatient rascals), here is a great resource on the subject, The Museum of Black Superheroes.

Sometimes you need someone to talk to, to ask for advice. If you are like me, that someone is a giant robot dinosaur. And if you aren’t like me, well then I guess that makes you pretty weird, huh?

And if Grimlock can’t make it better, this certainly will: Batman socking a pony. Because sometimes, this time, a pony’s just gotta get hit. Oh, and this further fuels the idea that there is no enemy Batman can’t best.

Last Weeks Reads

Angeltown #2 – This is my favorite new book. Read my review.

JSA #68 – Way good. Tim nailed this one in his column.

Why yes, Mathan”¦yes I did

JLA #109 – I really want to like this book, but it’s hard. The art is growing on me.

I’m in the same place. I love most of what Busiek does and the concept of the CSA is one that I think can handle a whole lot of miles, but this book just has not piqued my interest yet.

Bloodhound #6 – I liked the issue. But I also enjoy Hard Time and Oz.

100 Bullets #56 – Read my review.

Nightwing #100 – Read my review, then read Tim’s thoughts in his column. He adds a new perspective.

Action Comics #822 – This book is garbage. This book is unbelievably bad. Seriously. No one should ever complain about Superman when this is on the shelf.

Aquaman #25 – Read my review. But also buy this issue.

Sadly no one placed the lyric at the end of last week’s column.

Which is a nice way of saying that all of you (ALL OF YOU) are great big disappointments.

Thus I have complete reign to shape this column as I see fit. Who knows what this column holds?

I mean, unless Tim’s already given it away in the teaser.

Anyway it’s on to the questions. Jerry Hizon wants to start things off?

In Identity Crisis, there was a scene where DCU heroes were doing a CSI-like investigation on Sue Dibny crime scene. Pretty cool, I think. But don’t you think that it would’ve been easier if they ask the android Hourman or some other character that can time-travel to go back to the time when Sue was murdered? How about calling on Deadman or any mystical hero (like Dr. Occult) to communicate with Sue’s spirit?

What kind of lazy heroes do you think populate the DCU? The DCU is full of go-getters who take initiative and don’t believe in “coming in second.” They are heroes of action. They don’t sit at their hideouts waiting for someone else to solve the crime.

Plus not only was the android Hourman never a member of the JLA, but he was recently destroyed by Per Degaton. And when Tyler is in the timestream he’s kind of hard to get a hold of.

As Rip Hunter explained in the current issue of JSA time travel is imprecise. You can’t just go back to the exact time you want to, for the most part.

I believe Deadman is still hiding somewhere trying to live down his last failed attempt at a monthly book, so clearly he was M.I.A. Dr. Occult was too busy waiting to be called for the next Sentinels of Magic get-together. He looked at the Caller-Id®, saw it wasn’t Blue Devil and didn’t pick up.

Why doesn’t Batman use the same methods to find out who killed his parents, or to say one last “I love you” to them; because it wouldn’t be right. It would be like cheating. Batman wants to earn his closure. And the heroes of the DCU want to earn this closed case.

Tim, do you think I was off base with my answers?

You were actually a lot more in depth with it then I would have been. My answer would have been, “Because where is the story in that?” If we applied that logic to all cases in the DCU, it would be a damn boring place to read about. No one would ever truly be in danger, all diseases would be cured, and all bad things purged from the land. Could any of these heroes that you suggest been tapped? Sure. Could they have solved the case in a few seconds? Probably. Would you buy such a comic? Almost certainly not.

Rotem, do you have an Identity Crisis question that I’ve not answered because I didn’t want to spoil anything, but since #7 came out yesterday I figured I’d finally answer the question?

One question concerning the Suicide Squad connection to Identity Crisis: Don MacPherson from Fourth Rail stated in his review that “The Suicide Squad connection to the killings becomes apparent by the end of the issue, at least for those of us who read Suicide Squad”. Can you please explain what he meant?

Well there are plenty of links to the Suicide Squad. Two of the major players in the series; Captain Boomerang and Dr. Light were both members of Task Force X. The Suicide Squad also boasted a member named The Atom. Adam Cray stole a shrinking belt from Jean Loring’s second husband and took up the mantle of The Atom.

Now if Ray’s shrinking tech is that easy to get a hand on, than anyone could be a suspect at this point.

Well, not actually at the point that you’re reading this because it posts on Thursday, a day after Identity Crisis #7 comes out. But at the point that I’m typing this, it’s really an open race.

Tim, do you have any last minute guesses as to who left those footprints in Sue’s noggin?

Sadly, by this point, I’ve already read the book, so I can just give it away.

And, as predicted by me (and many others), the killer was”¦”¦”¦”¦.NIGHTWING!

The last issue says otherwise, but trust me on this, it’s Nightwing and soon the whole DCU will be shaken to its core by this revelation.

Ryan Albrecht, do you have an Identity Crisis question as well?

The question that I have for you is whether or not there is another character that can duplicate the powers of the Atom (Ray Palmer). I can’t find any answer for this question and thought I would as the 2 wise men about this.

Well there was a group of bad guys called the Micro Squad. They were CIA operatives who tried to make the Atom become a spy for them. Unfortunately the tactic they used to make him join was to kill the entire race of “little people” that Ray was living with in the Amazon.

Ray got mad and made a shrinking ray, and shrunk his foes down to six-inch size. They formed a squad and vowed revenge. The team consisted of Sting, Mr. Bailey, Ms. Hubbard, Blacksnake, and Ginsburg. Four of the members are dead (two, Hubbard and Bailey were killed by a fellow member, Blacksnake.) Sting is still alive.

But they didn’t really have access to the shrinking tech, they were more victims of it.

Paul Hoben, Jean Loring’s other ex husband did had access to the shrinking belt. He’s at large I believe.

Adam Cray was the third Atom. He worked with the Suicide Squad. Until he was killed by Blacksnake.

Jean also had access to the tech, as we all read in Identity Crisis #1. (Isn’t shrunk a funny looking word?)

One of the really sad things to come out of Identity Crisis is that (the bottle city) Kandor is currently under Martial Law, at least until issue seven comes out. I mean, you’ve got an entire city of suspects there.

I don’t understand why Superman just doesn’t fill that bottle with water and drown those scary little people. I mean, I know they’re not clown or mall Easter Bunny creepy, but they sure as heck aren’t comforting. Martial Law is taking it easy on them, as far as I am concerned.

Unfortunately that’s all I could come up with. I guess not too many folks have shrunk. But does it really come as a surprise to anyone? Who wants to get smaller? There is a reason why Barry Bonds is making headlines, and it’s not because he wants to get smaller.

Ooh, ooh, I forgot about Amazo. He was mentioned in the first issue, and he has the JLA powers.

And since most readers are going with the premise that we’ve already seen the killer, it looks like Jean is the most likely suspect. I mean other than Ray.

Tim, did I miss any notable shrinking folks?

Well, the original Atom was a very short fella to start with so that might kind of count. Oh, and old timers like Ma Hunkle or Alan Scott might be experiencing osteoporosis which will cause them to shrink as their bones lose mass and density”¦

“¦but I am guessing that is not what you are asking me. Let’s move on.

Vortex, do you want to take a trip down memory lane?

Mathan I’m pretty sure you gave us the history of Null and Void. Do you know which article that was? They were a pair of interesting villains (especially when the timid Null beat superman in a fight) who were part of a bigger story arc involving 3 immortal pirates, yet I can’t remember a damn thing about them other than that.

Ah, Null and Void. What a fun time the Pre-Crisis DCU was.

During WWII a guy named Solomon got shipwrecked in the Caribbean. The island is less than hospitable, what with the war going on and everything. Anyway he meets Peter. Peter comes up with a plan for them to escape the island. They end up on another island, where the natives brand their hands with a strange mark.

Apparently that mark was also on a meteor that landed on the second island a long time go. In actuality the meteor was an environmental adaptor that a space pirate sent to Earth as part of his plan for ruling the planet. But the device burned up upon entry.

Anyway, Peter and Solomon discover that if they press the brands together they get super powers. Solomon becomes Null, who can negate senses and Peter becomes Void who can teleport an object from one hand to the other. Gee, what nifty powers.

Ah, but with those nifty powers comes a catch; the powers wear off, so they’ve got to be pretty close to each other in case that happens.

They basically only embark on a life of crime so that Solomon can get capital to start a business. But he’s not the best businessman, so that’s a pretty frequent occurrence.

Batman and Superman find out their scheme and they tussle. But Sol and Pete aren’t hardened criminals, they even save Batman from harms way. Later the World’s Finest Duo catches up with Pete, and put him on trial. But Pete, who has the legal mind of F. Lee Bailey or at least David E. Kelley, claims that they can’t testify against him because no one knows their secret identities. Take that justice!

But then things get wacky.

Y’see there’s a block of frozen time that contains a few other characters (and since it contains people, I’m thinking that it’s really a block of frozen space and time, but I only have a degree in English, not theoretical physics.) Who are those three characters? Why X’ult, the space pirate who wanted to be the ruler of Earth, and Swordfish & Barracuda two folks who also have the brand, but are heroes.

To make a long story short, Null and Void break up. Null hooks up with the good guys, Void hooks up with the bad space pirate. The good guys win, Superman makes sure that the three time displaced folks return to their proper time period. And lastly Null turns himself into the cops and dimes Void out.

The good news is that this story is no longer in continuity. The bad news is that with the return of Kara Zor-El, can the return of X’ult and Null & Void be too far behind?

Tim, is there any concept or character from the Pre-Crisis DCU that you really don’t want to return?

Mathan, I could fill a book with them. Besides the aforementioned space pirate, I could have done without the ending of Supes reign as the last Kryptonian, the reminder of a Composite Superman/Batman, and the return of crazy battlesuit wearing Lex Luthor. Sadly, those have already all occurred and I missed the boat on stopping them. Of those that haven’t, I would encourage DC to avoid bringing back Rainbow Costume Batman, the “has every power in the book and then some” Superman, and any situation that would require Batman, Superman, and Robin to play a game of pick up baseball. I appreciate heroes being a presence in the community, but the line needs to be drawn somewhere.

InsidePulse Music’s own Aaron Cameron asks;

How in the hell did The Riddler find out Batman’s secret ID? The
Riddler? Yeesh.

Y’know Aaron, there’s been a lot of talk about this lately. And since Tim has come out of the closet as a fan of the Riddler, I’ll let him give you the answer you ever so desire.

Tim, take it away.

Okay, so here’s the deal. The Riddler, suffering from a brain tumor, took a bath in the Lazarus Pit to cure him. Characteristically, post Laz dip, the cured go a little nutty for a bit. Edward Nigma, however, experienced what alcoholics like to call a “moment of clarity” (ahh, look at me, stealing from movies) and realized the answer to the biggest riddle of his life: the identity of Batman. The “normal” snap of madness that the Lazarus Pit induced somehow jangled all the right pieces loose in Riddle’s head and he saw the puzzle come together for the first time. Which makes Nigma pretty damn smart. And that means, you can take your scoffing “yeesh” elsewhere my friend.

And this inspires my own question, Mathan. And since I edit this column now, it is like you have to answer it. Ahh, power. Anyway, how about you rattle off the top 3 best and worst Riddler moments/stories, in your opinion? That’d be grand.

JohnBritton, do you have a completely unrelated question?

I think Kid Flash had one of the best costumes ever, but I think the Bart Allen version is kind of spoiled by the extra lines and ornamentation. He kind of looks Trumped: over-gilded for no particular reason. Am I right about that, or am I just not appreciating the improvements?

In stereotypical rebellious teen-ager voice
Man, you just don’t get it. All you old timers talking about “back in my day.” You think he’s trying to be cool, well he’s just trying to be himself.

You think you know everything because you’re an adult, but I guess you’ve forgotten what it’s like to be young and free.

He doesn’t have to live by your rules of what a costume should look like. How square would that be? Everyone would be running around with their underwear on the outside.

If people didn’t try their own things, no progress would be made. Maybe he doesn’t want to follow in the other Kid Flash’s footsteps. A failing marriage, a squandered youth. Maybe he wants to chart his own course and find his own destiny.

But I guess that’s not good enough for you. Nothing is ever good enough for adults.
End stereotypical rebellious teen-ager voice

Personally I think it is a bit extra. But it’s cool enough. Tim Drake has his distinct Robin costume. And Wally even tinkered with the Flash costume a few times before settling on the one he has now. Like I said, it’s extra, but not enough to annoy me.

Tim what’s your take on Bart’s new look?

The changes are so minimal, I barely notice them. So, I guess they’re okay with me.

Jerry Hizon, do you have a question along the same line?

Don’t you think DC should adopt the Slade costume in the Teen Titans cartoon for Deathstroke? I think he needs an update, he is too colorful for a hired killer (Queer Eye anyone?)

I’ve actually only seen it a few times. It’s cool, but I don’t have a problem with Deathstroke’s current look. It’s “classic” and “vintage.”

I also liked the look Slade rocked a few years back in Nightwing #17-18. It was a darker hued outfit and made him look more menacing. The cartoon Slade’s costume ranks fourth on my list, right after Wilson in this birthday suit, because while the first two are threatening, that third one is truly frightening.

Tim, any thoughts on Slade’s outfits?

The dark blue and black outfit he rocked for a short time probably would make more sense if Slade was a real live assassin. However, in the world of comics it was a bit generic. I liked it just fine, but, with the exception of the blue portion of his mask, he could have been any old ninja in a black outfit. The blue and orange makes more sense in the comic book context, plus it is pretty cool in its own right.

I don’t watch the Teen Titans cartoon (the theme song is just too much for me) so I couldn’t tell you about that one in specific.

Ryan Albrecht do you have a related question?

What do you think of the new Justice League Unlimited series on Cartoon Network? I dislike it due to lack of character development and also due to the lack of Marvel, Spectre, and also the fact that we no longer get to see the Flash or Manhunter do anything on the show.

Sadly I don’t really watch Justice League Unlimited. I’ve seen a few episodes. I watched the classic “For the Man Who Has Everything” (I’ve never been more “fanboy.”). I saw the one with the kid Leaguers, and the one with Circe. But that’s about it.

My main problem with the show is the programming. The last season of Justice League, I could catch when it reran Saturday at midnight. But this new season of half hour episodes is difficult to catch. Thus I’ve fallen out of touch with the show.

I will say that I enjoyed what I’ve seen. It’s a fun show.

Tim, have you been keeping up on JLU?

I am in a similar boat. I have seen the Circe and the “For the Man Who Has Everything episodes as well, but that is about it. I don’t really know what it is on and DC’s animated franchises lost me about the time that Batman:TAS changed its style. “Man” was just excellent and Wonder Woman as a big was silly, but fun. I couldn’t tell you how it stacks up to the old series though because I probably saw about as many episodes of that one. Sorry.

Joe Brown sent me this question
I never read much of DC comics except for Superman, Batman, Flash, and Green Lantern, but I always loved the Superfriends cartoons. Through the great gift of the Boom network, I am watching them over and over again. I’ve been wondering”¦did any of the Superfriends TV characters ever make any type of memorable impact in the comics world? I know Supes, Wonder Woman, and the like did, but what about folks like Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, Super Samurai, and El Cid(I think it’s his name. Some Hispanic hero). And what about the villains in the Legion of Doom?
Sadly those heroes didn’t really cross over into the DCU. (But it’s a pretty commonly accepted theory that the only reason Black Vulcan isn’t Black Lightning is because DC was trying to screw Tony Isabella over.)

The Legion of Doom were all major foes in the Silver Age. Except Giganta. She first appeared in 1944, but she’s not had the impact that her other Legionnaires had. It’s a sad story.

You can occasionally catch Black Vulcan and Apache Chief on Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law. Of particular interest would be Black Vulcan talking to Peanut about the transition from sidekick to hero (a puberty metaphor that is so unsubtle and yet so funny) and Apache Chief’s reaction whenever a coffee cup is anywhere near him.

Now for a quick follow up from Jerry Hizon.

Thanks for answering my Space Ghost question! I agree that Blue Falcon and Birdman may seem out of place in the current DCU, unless somebody does a real good interpretation of them. But I was thinking of the “minority” heroes from the Superfriends series: Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, Samurai and El Dorado, even the Wonder Twins. Do you think they have a future in the DCU? A few modification/update here and there like Samurai, looking like a true ninja. And I also heard that Joe Kelly’s Manitou Raven was inspired by Apache Chief. Your take?

I suppose that those characters could be revisited. But why? DC has plenty of other minority characters that it’s ignoring right now, with actual histories. Let’s take a look shall we?

Rising Sun, Sunburst and Dr. Light II are all Japanese heroes who deserve some more attention.

Black Lightning (again, who Black Vulcan is based on), Vixen, Bloodwynd and Empress are all Black heroes who aren’t really in the spotlight.

El Diablo, Gangbuster and Reverb (brother of the horrible Vibe) are all Latino heroes that we haven’t heard from in years.

Owlwoman is a Native American hero, but most folks probably don’t know who she is.

So there you have it. That’s eleven minority heroes, off the top of my head, that I can think of who aren’t being utilized right now. I think that DC should focus on what it has rather then trying to introduce something new. (I really think that DC should get around to resurrecting Amazing Man II. I really have a hard time believing that he’s actually stayed dead. And come to think of it I’m really pissed that Orpheus was killed. What a squandered character.)

As for Apache Chief providing the inspiration of Manitou Raven, I have heard that as well. I’m glad that he decided to introduce another Native American hero into the DCU. And I’ll get to the Wonder Twins next.

Well Tim, where do you stand on the subject; should DC try to revitalize cartoon concepts or work on what they already have?

Those Superfriends characters always wreaked of the animators saying, “Let’s be multi-cultural” but putting no further thought into it than that. They were basically stereotypes that people were supposed to accept as “progress” because, hey, everyone was white before.

So, no I would not bring them into the DCU. Better to give that spot to one of the characters mentioned above that grew out of something a little more legitimate or a whole new character.

And yes, Orpheus’s death was a big fat waste, but then, there was little in that crossover that made me happy.

Loyal reader Michael Fermin asks the similarly themed;
Which DC comics characters were introduced in a cartoon series then appeared in the comics?
Well here are the most notable examples (that I cribbed from a previous column)

From the 10/29/03 column
If it weren’t for the Superman and Batman Cartoons, we wouldn’t have Mercy or Harley Quinn, and I’m pretty sure that Lockdown also first appeared on the Batman cartoon. The popularity of Batgirl on the cartoon lead to the creation of the current character. Don’t you think that John Stewart would still be a paralyzed former Green Lantern as opposed to a full fledged (if under utilized) JLA member if it weren’t for the Justice League cartoon?

Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins first appeared in the Super Friends cartoon. They first appeared in the DCU in 1995, in Extreme Justice #9. They were developed pretty well, as well as they could be considering where they came from. They also popped up in Young Justice #50

Unfortunately I’m not too much of a cartoon watcher, thus those are the only examples that I know of.

Tim did I miss any?

You’re right about Lockdown, he debuted in ‘Tec after an appearance or two on the Animated Series. Besides the ones you mentioned though, I’m drawing blanks. Mister Freeze’s current look in the comics draws heavily from the TV show and Aquaman probably would not have returned to life after Our Worlds at War if it wasn’t for the first JLA series, but these are more examples of TV influencing the comics, not creating whole new characters.

Marc Poa asks;

Whatever happened to Alpha Centurion over in the Superman comics, anyway?

I kind of liked the Alpha Centurion. He seemed kind of cool to me.

His story was that when he first appeared, Superman was visiting a different timeline, where Superman never existed. The Alpha Centurion was the hero of Metropolis and he was dating Lois Lane. Supes eventually made it back to the proper timeline.

Once back the Alpha Centurion from this timeline appeared. It seems that some dude from ancient Rome named Marcus Aelius had been selected by some aliens to study with them. So he went with them for a few years and learned lots of nifty thing, including how to use their technology and how to pilot flying saucers.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, there was a time discrepancy involved with the travel and whatnot. As a result Marc arrived on back on Earth quite a few centuries late.

But he became a hero nonetheless. He even tried to hit on Lois Lane, to no avail. When Superman was put on trial, Alpha Centurion got a group together to save him. Lex Luthor discredited Alpha Centurion. He left Metropolis (much like Gangbuster) and ended up in D.C.

(Sigh) If only I knew how much his first appearance was worth.

Wait a minute, Tim you know Comic Insider Big Shot Ben Morse, so how much is the first appearance of the Alpha Centurion worth?

If I knew his first appearance, I could have that info for you in a heartbeat. Sadly, I barely ever read the Supes titles so”¦I got nothing.

Well that’s going to be the end for this column. I’m sorry if I didn’t answer your question yet, but trust me I’ll get to it. Every last one. Heck ask Tim, I even answered his question about Rodolpho Dimaggio.

And it only took like 6 months.

I’ve honestly got no idea what next week’s column holds. But I can tell you that Vertigo and New Gods will get spotlights relatively soon, and DCU crossovers will also be covered.

Before we go I’ve actually got two questions for you this week; 1) How do you feel about the ending of Identity Crisis? 2) What comic related gift would you like for the holidays?

Why do you ask? Is Santa Mathan going to send it to me?

“The Heavy Hitter is the way to go, dial 8-7-7-1-5-0-0”