Who's Who in the DCU (12/23/04)


I’m hoping that you took time out of your busy holiday shopping schedule to make your Wednesday Thursday stop in the DCU. As usual I’m joined by fellow DC fanatic Tim Stevens. Tim, did you give any comic related gifts this year?

Not given”¦at least, not yet. Sorry to be cagey, but I know one or two people on my list read this column so I don’t want to give anything away.

(nothing clever to say about) Links
(by way of things I’m looking forward to)

DC Direct Parallax

The action figure market isn’t usually my thing, but this guy looks quite nice.

The Life Aquatic

The new Styles P.

Fight Club (the game)

The Shield

Kobe vs Shaq

I forgot to mention The Amalgam Tourney and DOL last week. Sorry about that. My bad.

Tim, I’m sure you want to get some linking in too.

And you’d be right.

Given the season, I offer up some games that have gotten me through my long days of work with a snow theme.

First off, we have Snowballing 2

That is followed up by the rather obviously titled Snowball Fight

And because it is never too late to send a loved one a mean spirited Christmas card, check out Modern Humorist

Read Last Week

Gotham Knights #60 – Huge revelation about Hush! It’s a pretty solid issue, even if Prometheus’s rep is further diminished.

Won’t someone do right by Prometheus”¦please? Glad to see him getting work again, but compare this version to Morrison’s from JLA and you’d swear that an entirely different character is in the mask and purple duds.

Madrox #4 – Great issue. Why can’t this be a regular series?

Justice League Elite #6 – Read my review. Why isn’t this a regular series?

Trigger #1 – Read my review.

Watkiss’s art is off the charts good in this book. Pick it up, if not to buy it, just to look at it. You’ll be pleased.

Plastic Man #13 – Review forthcoming.

Hawkman #35 – The new art team is amazing. Tim, try this book.

If Johns/Morales can’t get me interested in Hawk’s solo adventures”¦well, I’m just not sure what chance anyone else might have.

Adventures of Superman #635 Trippy cover. Good issue.

Human Target #17 – Review Forthcoming.

Ex Machina #7 – Way good issue. Vaughan has solidified himself, like Azzarello and David as a writer I will follow. But I’m really interested in Vaughan’s creations. His imagination is very fertile.

I am enjoying a lot of new series out there right now, but this is my favorite. Every issue is great and every member of the team (writer, penciller, inker, colorist, letterer, and editors) has raised the level of their game for this book.

Identity Crisis #7 – I’ve read some folks being disappointed in the finale. While I’m not going to say they don’t have the right to be disappointed, I’ll say that they missed the point of the series and in most cases expected something they had no reason to expect. I found it a very fitting, poignant conclusion.

I suppose this is the time when we begin answering the questions. Tim are you ready?

I believe the term is, “Born ready.”

Clearly no one placed the lyric at the end of the column thus I again have free reign with the column.

Andy DiNunzio, do you have a question about an important character?

Here is a silly question that I was wondering if you would be able to answer. From her initial entrance into the world of comics up through the mid-80s, Wonder Woman always had an eagle on her top. Now some time in the early to mid-80s they changed it to the two W’s. What was the reason given in the books and the real reason behind such a change? It came at a time when costume changes for major characters were rare, if not non-existent.

Well the eagle on Wonder Woman’s costume was originally more of an “American” thing. Y’know the eagle representing the United States and such. So when George Perez took over Wonder Woman immediately after The Crisis he tinkered with Wonder Woman’s origin. He made her more rooted in Themyscria. She’s much more Themyscrian than “American.” Thus the eagle on the costume had to go. It was replace with the double “W” represents the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service and Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, groups that Wonder Woman’s “mentor” Diana Trevor belonged to.

Tim, do you have a favorite costume change, or a hero in need of one?

I know it may be blasphemous, but I really liked Batman’s post-Prodigal duds (sans leg thingies). They were all black (or dark grey) with the old bat symbol (the one with the yellow disk). I’m okay with the grey and blue and symbol without the disk (all hail the new symbol, same as the old old symbol), but that look just made sense to me. Different, but not losing the spirit of the character or his costume.

As far as changes”¦ maybe Power Girl? That peek-a-boo window just seems wrong to me. Other than that, most of the DCU characters have such iconic looks it is hard for me to imagine anything but slight tweaks.

One costume that should never be touched expect for the most superficially is Superman’s. Even I know that his duds aren’t out of date, they are timeless.

JohnBritton, do you have a follow up?

I really like Rucka, but I can’t stand the Mythological angle of Wonder Woman, and run whenever I see Olympus on a WW cover. What’s been going on over there?

I actually don’t read Wonder Woman. I know she’s been fighting Medousa, after a couple of harpies brought the old snake head back to life. But that’s about it.

That said, I don’t really see a problem with her battling mythological entities. I seem to recall some guy named George Perez who did a very similar thing on his run.

I like the idea of a book where there aren’t super villains running around. And given Wonder Woman’s roots, the mythological slant seems like a natural fit. Personally I kind of respect anyone who tackles mythology. Anyone can create a bad guy, but using mythology to fit into your story gets my admiration.

But I guess I have a soft spot for mythology. You could even call it my Achilles Heel.

Tim, top that. I dare you.

I’d like to, but after that pun”¦I think I might be sick.

JohnBritton, do you have another Wonder Woman query?

There’s always a lot of talk about how Superman has evolved over the years in terms of power. Move a planet in one era, struggle with a train in another. Batman’s moods also get discussed. Goofy sci-fi, vengeance personified, human perfection. Has Wonder Woman gone through similar transformation? Through the ages, has she changed as radically as the boys? Which era’s WW would win in a fight? She seems pretty tough right now.

Wow. I never actually considered this one before. But I did some research and found out some very interesting things.

When Wonder Woman first appeared her creator William Moulton Marston wanted to provide an alternative to the uber masculine characters that were popular. So in that regard she represented the idea of the powerful, able female.

Wonder Woman often saved women, and taught them to defend themselves, stick up for themselves and provide for themselves. She was a real female role model.

(Many claim that Marston placed Wonder Woman in positions of bondage because of a fetish on his part; especially since she was often bound her own lasso and she had those bracelets. But Marston claimed that those items were actually objects that represented the strength of femininity.)

The introduction of the Diana Prince secret id is a very nifty device. Much like Bill’s speech in Kill Bill vol 2 “Diana Prince” is how Wonder Woman sees women, in this culture. This just reinforces the idea that Wonder Woman was an iconic role model, and “Diana Prince” was the cover.

In her early years Wonder Woman was also a patriotic image, complete with her eagle chest plate and star spangled skirt.

After Marston died Wonder Woman changed a bit. In fact after WWII Wonder Woman mirrored the role of women in this country. They were asked to return to the homes and let the returning men return to their positions as the breadwinners. Women were once again subservient. Thus in the comics, Steve Trevor was constantly pressuring Wonder Woman to consent to marriage. “Diana Prince” started getting more time in the comics, and eventually Wonder Woman disappeared from the title.

In the late seventies, after Wonder Woman had returned, she was once again the epitome of women, but this time it was the Feminist Movement. Accordingly she was often portrayed as out of control and a threat, much how the Feminist Movement was viewed.

In the eighties Wonder Woman became glamorous, and feminine in the idealized “model” sense. Then Crisis happened.

When George Perez took over the relaunch he reinvested in the feminine aspect of the character, and introduced mythological elements into her history. She was also given the subtly feminine goal of diplomacy, as opposed to the perceived masculinity behind her original origins purpose of aiding a war effort.

With Perez behind the book it remained on course. But when John Byrne took over he made the book a generic hero book again. She battles super villains, and becomes much more sexualized. Since then Wonder Woman has lost her way, as a character and is basically just a female hero, as opposed to a feminine hero.

Apparently Greg Rucka is aiming to return to Perez’s revised vision of the character.

(If you’re interested in reading more about this I suggest you visit This site.)

Now as far as eras of Wonder Woman, physically you have to say that the current Wonder Woman would demolish both the Golden Age and Diana Prince versions. But in terms of strength of character, I’d have to say that the Golden Age Wonder Woman was the purest. Marston had a goal and he kept that in mind when writing the stories. Over time that ideal has been diminished, and Wonder Woman, while still an icon, isn’t really the icon she was meant to be.

Tim, anything you want to add to this?

Just a couple of quick notes. First, what Mathan calls the Golden Age Wonder Woman has now been ret-conned (I love that, as comic book folk, we’ve created words) to be Diana’s mother Hippolyta. She was the Wonder Woman that fought alongside the JSA. Diana’s founding role on the JLA was also eliminated and she was replaced by Black Canary in the post-Crisis DCU.

There is no longer a Diana Prince. There is only Diana.

Denny O’Neill was in charge of Wonder Woman’s relaunch in the 70’s. He immediately stripped her of her costume (don’t be dirty now) and her powers. She began to study martial arts under an aged Asian mentor (is there any other kind?) and became a more street level type of hero. It was not taken very well and many rejected the change. Most interesting of those that rejected it were members of the feminist movement who resented the weakening of the most powerful and well known female superhero. O’Neill intended the message to be an affirmation of Diana’s (and women in general) abilities (as she had no need for powers to be a hero) but it just did not translate that way to the readers, apparently.

Nalydpsycho, do you want to close the portion on Wonder Woman?

Are there any great villainous acts committed by Wonder Woman villains?

Wonder Woman doesn’t really have too many rogues. But I do seem to recall that little story called War of the Gods that involved Circe. It was a company wide crossover where the major threat was a Wonder villain. I’d like to see Kyle Rayner or Wally West manage that.

Ares is also a major player in the DCU. But what else would you expect from the God of War?

Cheetah is the final major Wonder foe, and s/he rarely venture out of their vendetta with Wondy.

Gee, Tim Wondy’s rogues seem to be pretty slim pickings. Is there a hero whose rogues you’d rather battle than hers?

Hmm, let’s see. A rogue’s gallery that includes a god, a demi-god, a human/cat hybrid, and, until very recently, a woman who could turn you to stone with a look”¦yeah, I think I’d like to steer clear of them.

If I had to choose a group of villains to look horns with, I think I’d choose Gunfire’s. Because, honestly, if he could take ‘em, I could probably have all rounded up by lunch.

Hurlbut, do you have a question about an obscure team?

During the Silver age, the Blackhawks got super powered identities. What identity and power did each member have? Were these comics really that terrible?

Ah, the wacky Silver Age.

Apparently there was a government agency called G.E.O.R.G.E. They decided to test the Blackhawks to see if they were up to speed for the Cold War of the 1960’s. Thus the Blackhawks had to test their mettle against a robot, as was standard in those days. The robot soundly beat the team (to give an example of how “terrible” the book was; being ticklish is what brings down the strong man of the team. A robot tickled him. Strike One!)

Now a G.E.O.R.G.E. (and we still don’t know that it stands for Strike Two!) wants to give the ‘Hawks their walking papers, But that crafty Blackhawk himself is able to get them a second chance and promises that his squad will be ready for the new era in seven days.

(I don’t know about you, but I can’t do much in a week. Once I worked 120 hours in eleven days. I’ve taken an idea all the way to full script form (90 pages) in eleven days. But seven, that’s way too much for me.)

I once conquered a small South American country in 7 days. But it was pretty small, so I don’t know if you’d count it or not.

The Blackhawks managed to come up with new identities in seven days though. They are as follows;

Olaf became The Leaper, because he got some bouncy shoes.

Chuck became The Listener, an expert in communications.

He also proved very popular with the ladies. They were always commenting on how great it was to talk to him and how happy they were he was a friend”¦before going home with some guy that would treat them poorly and not even remember their name the next time he saw them.

Hendrickson became the Weapon’s Master, complete with huge gun.

Chop Chop became Dr. Hands because he had super large hands that were also strong.

Andre became M’sieu Machine, a handyman.

And Stan became the Golden Centurion, who could coat anything with liquid gold, but the kind that hardens fast. Strike Three

Blackhawk was too cool to change his style so he stayed the same. But the rest, ugh.

C’mon, “large hands?” Liquid gold, as a crime-fighting tool? I’ll forgive the Silver Age for lots of things. But I won’t forgive this. And neither should you.

Tim, would you rather be a member of the Silver Age Blackhawks or the Justice League Antarctica?

Depends. Can I call dibs on the huge gun?

Julian Smith, do you have a question that begs for an equally “lame” answer?

Which character in the DCU has the most useless power?

For the sake of argument I’ll exclude the Silver Age Blackhawks.

I’d have to say Dr. Midnite. His powers suck. He can see in pitch darkness? When is it ever that dark? He can see in a room with no windows and no lights on? Oooooooh, coooooool. Who wants that power? Lame.

(I do like the character though.)

Tim, got a different opinion?

Hell yeah I do! Midnite is lame?! You must be out of your ever loving (my apologies for Ben Grimm) mind!


B’Wana Beast has the pretty weak ability to combine two animals. It doesn’t matter how cool Morrison made it seem in Animal Man”¦that’s a pretty lame power there. At least for a hero anyway. As a villain, you could have that Dr. Moreau thing going on.

Least creative (and thus lame) would be Gunfire. I know we give the guy crap around here a lot, but there is a reason. The “anything he touches becomes a gun” is just”¦boring. In terms of adding to the drama of the comic, it is pretty “useless”.

Julian, you look like you want to cause some trouble?

And just to stir up some debate, which hero has a GREAT power but fails to utilize it to the full potential?

Well up until he became part of the JLA, I would have said Major Disaster. He was great in Aquaman. But since he’s being utilized in JLE I’ll find another.

Maybe Cyborg? I’d expect him to be more of a dominant force tech wise. The way I envision the character, he could rival Oracle as a hacker and source of information. I mean, Vic is tech right? And tech is always upgrading right? So shouldn’t Vic’s abilities and limits also be expanding?

But what do we get, Vic who’s strong and blasts white noise at people, just like he did during Crisis which was basically 20 years ago. In a world full of tech like the modern one is, Cyborg should be so much more.

Tim, who do you think is squandering their abilities?

Identity Crisis did a great job of showing us Ralph Dibny the man, but it has been quite awhile since I have seen Ralph Dibny the hero done well. Probably Starman. And before that”¦never? I’d love to see Dibny out there showing his skills. And by skills, I mean his brilliant deductive mind. His stretching ability I have no problem with his utilization of.

My other pick would be the Martian Manhunter. He’s a character with a ton of abilities and a great vibe about him and yet, more often than not, his biggest contribution is being the superhero world’s conference call operator. In addition to being a Superman level hero (he possesses super strength, flight, “Martian Vision”, and various telepathic abilities) he also has an incredibly keen deductive mind, ranking up there with Bats and Ralph, and a great talent for strategy. Keeping him on the sidelines is a shame.

JM, do you have a very relevant question?

What does DC stand for? Please don’t tell me it’s Da Comics!

That’s easy, it stands for “Detective Comics.” It’s true.

Tim anything you want to add to this?

Nah”¦brevity is the soul of wit and all that.

George Metcalf, do you have a monkey question?

I saw Primeape on that Justice League Christmas episode and he seems pretty damn funny. Is he always like that, as that was my first introduction to him; any info would be helpful.

Sorry for the follow-up but I’m worried I didn’t get the character’s name right about the smart gorilla in the Justice League cartoon. He was the grey one, with two brains. Unfortunately I’ve only seen the episode twice so my memory is probably bad. If I got the character’s name wrong I do apologize for my error, just don’t ravage my ego for it; I don’t know if it could take such a blow.

Dude, if you’re talking about “ego ravaging” you want DOL, he’s a couple of columns over.

The character you’re referring to is Ultra Humanite. And no, he’s not fun at all. In fact he’s one of the most ruthless villains in the DCU. He’s been around since the Golden Age, and has transplanted his brain into various bodies, including an actress and an albino gorilla.

Now if you want to read up more on this character, and I’d suggest you should, pick up the JSA trade Stealing Thunder as he plays a huge role in that. He also plays a minor role in the amazing Elseworlds The Golden Age. He doesn’t play a big part, but the story is amazing.

Tim, you how do you dig your swapping; brain ala Ultra Humanite or personality ala Smallville?

Personality. It seems less”¦permanent. You know, just in case you regret your choice.

JohnBritton, you again?

What are some of the great truisms of comics? I have a few: Barry Allen stays dead, Batman never solves the Wayne murders, Batman never uses a gun to fight crime. I’m sure there are others that are interesting. Got any?

I managed to eek out ten. It was tough work and it drained me to the core.

Well Superman can’t kill. While he did technically kill a few other dimensional Kryptonians, he can’t kill again.

For that matter killing is forbidden for many DCU heroes, including but not limited to; Batman, Nightwing, Green Lantern, Flash, and Robin. Real heroes don’t kill.

However, death isn’t permanent. Aquaman, Hal Jordan, Kilowog, Guy Gardner, Hawkman, Rex Tyler, Jack Knight, Superman, the Joker, and Wonder Woman have all died. But they’ve also returned to life.

But death is permanent if you’re a hero linked to a larger hero. See: Aquagirl, Spoiler, Katma Tui, and Jason Todd.

Don’t forget Supergirl. Err”¦umm”¦nevermind.

As a matter of fact; comic love interests aren’t so much “love interests” as they are “targets” and “potential (eventual) victims.” See: Vesper Fairchild, The Spoiler (again) Alex (Green Lantern) Dewitt, Domina (Hawkman) Paris, and perhaps the most infamous
Sue Dibny.

Aquaman needs his water. It’s one of the reasons many people regard him as a joke, but it’s true. The guy needs to be hydrated.

Martian Manhunter is afraid of fire. Whether it’s an irrational, psychological fear, or a genetic key programmed by a race of immortals, J’onn J’onzz is afraid of fire.

Paralysis can be overcome. Both Batman and John Stewart were paralyzed at one time or another. Both are upright and walking again.

But, Barbara Gordon is paralyzed. She was shot by the Joker, and even if this is an imaginary universe full of aliens and super powers, Barbara Gordon won’t walk again.

Robin’s gotta be a kid. Batman can’t have a sidekick that’s older than he is.

Oh, here’s an extra one; Pete Ross will always be white. No matter how much influence Smallville has on the DCU (Lex and Clark going to school in Smallville together, Clark getting powers at an earlier age) DC will never allow Pete Ross to be Black.

Those are just the ten that I could think of immediately. I reserve the right to revisit this question as more pop into my head. Tim, can you think of any that I missed?

Two. Batman will always hassle a new hero (particularly if he or she has the nerve to show up in Gotham), but, by the end of the arc, have developed a grudging respect for him or her.


No matter how many times Alfred leaves, he’ll always be back.

Isn’t interesting how, even in your list of truisms, there were exceptions. Gotta love comics.

Julian Smith, I need a simple question to answer.

Is Amazing Man really dead?

Yes, yes he is.

Amazing Man II is dead despite the fact that rumor has it James Robinson provided easy outs for all of the deaths in Starman #38. Despite Blue Devil being resurrected, Amazing Man hasn’t.

But rest assured that if I ever get a chance to write for DC, my first act will be to bring back Amazing Man II. If you’ve got plenty of time and would like to read a thread that’s plenty of ideas about how to bring back Amazing Man II, among other things, check this out.

Tim, are there any comic character deaths that you’re lamenting? I mean, besides Aztek.

Besides Aztek?! Like it is no big deal?!

Fine. Besides Aztek, I would highlight a couple of recent causalities during War Games. (God, I’ve been hitting the Batman well a lot this week) First, Orpheus. Finally the character has a purpose and an identity and is getting a pretty high profile for not having his own book. And then”¦single shot to the head. I think the goal was to establish Black Mask as a threat, but really it just proved he was willing to throw a sucker punch.

Second is Spoiler. She is tortured by Black Mask for most of the 20-something parts of the series and then, upon escaping, dies in the hospital. The torture was senseless and excessive and her death arrived with such little impact it was almost criminal.

Either death might have been okay with me if they had been handled differently. But they weren’t.

JohnBritton, I’m turning to you for a question that’s out of left field.

Now that Ken Jennings has finally lost on Jeopardy, baby, who in the DCU would hold off all contenders? What category would be the DCU champion’s Waterloo? Who would give them their toughest challenge? Put Mr. Miracle in charge of security so there’s no cheating.

(There was a time, in college, when I was like Rain Man about Jeopardy. I couldn’t miss it. I would murder my boys when we played against the television. I was a beast, sadly those days are gone.)

Anyway on to your question. Here are some folks who’d be unbeatable;

Batman, because he’s the most well rounded hero in the DCU.

Mr. Terrific, because he’s second only to Bats.

Dr. Midnite, he’s much in the same mold as the previous two.

Brainiac 5 has to be there, his noggin is his power.

Steel is a pretty intelligent guy.

Kid Flash has an entire library’s worth of information in his head.

Lastly Tim Drake is no slouch in the smarts department.

I think that would your “tournament of champions.”

Now here are some categories and the heroes they’d stump.

John Stewart – anything regarding Hip Hop (conversely he’s run a category on Barbara Streisand.)

(Actually a category on Hip Hop will stump about 95% of the DCU, so let’s say that’s a given.)

Aquaman – Primetime TV or At The Movies (the guy can’t get out of the water.)

Guy Gardner – Etiquette

Adam Strange – Pop Culture anything.

Superman – Airline Travel, The Daily Commute, Safety

Flash – Anything (Wally doesn’t have the patience for Jeopardy.)

Arsenal – Steady Relationships, Good Parenting.

Hal Jordan – Fear

Conner Hawke- Pop Culture

Superboy – Chores, Father/Son

Kyle Rayner – Homecoming and Kitchen Appliances (I’m betting he’d freeze up on those two.)

Tim, it’s time to add yours.

Oliver Queen- Monogamy

Mr. Terrific (current)- God and Religion

Supergirl (Superman/Batman version)- Conservative Clothing, Staying Dead

Jakeem Thunder- Grammar

Arsenal- Abstinence, Avoiding Drug Use, Choosing One Costume and Sticking With It, Dammit!

Nightwing- Abstinence

Raven- Emotions

I think that is a good list for now. What do you think, dearest readers.

Oddly enough Dr. Victor Von Doom is going to close the column out.

Where did Geoff Johns write before? He is now probably my favourite mainstream comic writer but I can’t remember much of what he wrote before. I see on his site he did STARS and STRIPES (don’t remember a thing about that title) but what else did he do?

Hey Tim, don’t you know Geoff Johns? Wanna take this one?

I do indeed. Let’s see what I can do here.


The Flash
Green Lantern: Rebirth
The Day of Judgment miniseries
Stars and STRIPE


Avengers Icons: Vision
The Avengers


The Possessed

If I’m forgetting any, I am sure hot Wizard up and comer Ben Morse will catch it and toss me a little help on the boards. And for that, we will owe him a debt of gratitude. Eternal gratitude.

On that note we’ll close the column. I hope everyone has and has had a happy and safe holiday season. Next week will be a “very special” column. Be sure to tune in. After that we’ll ring in the New Year, with an emphasis on “New.”

As usual post your comments, questions, and elaborations over on the Forum, or email them to me. My question to you is; Who do you think Batman is carrying on the cover of the Countdown 80 Page Giant?

“This is that new song, I told you about twenty years ago.”