Who's Who in the DCU

Tim, I live in Las Vegas, and I’ve not seen the sun in like a week. I didn’t move from Baltimore to Las Vegas to experience overcast and damp days. I’ve got to believe the world is coming to an end. But that’s ok because as I’m typing this I’m watching the X-Files episode “Eve.” That was such a dope episode. And now for a completely unrelated question; Tim, how do you score your sneak peak comics?

A mix of luck, skill, and good interpersonal skills.

Essentially, a lot of shops get the First Look packs from DC. Sometimes, using my Comics Nexus stature and my unfailing politeness, I can get a hold of a book or two. No real science or magic to it, sadly.

Lettuce Link
Around InsidePulse, by way of things I’m looking forward to in ’05.

Queens of the Stone Age will be quoted this year, I guarantee that.

Yeah it will!

Batman Begins may actually restore my faith in DC movies.

Yeah it will!

Deadwood is weeks away!

Yeah it is! (Is this getting old?)

100 Bullets has a release date, which means I need a PS2.

DC Direct Parallax will rule my other figs.

(Too bad, cause here it is again.) Yeah it will!

Trash talking Red Sox has me actually interested baseball.

Tim any links for you this week?

You know what…I actually don’t. Weird, huh?

Hawkman #37 – Read my review.

Bizarro World – Way good. It’s much more poignant than its predecessor. But it’s so good.

Adventures of Superman #637 – I hope Pete’s not Ruin.

The Man Who Laughs – It’s a very well done book. The Joker should always be this well portrayed.

Didn’t you cover this last week too? Boy, you must have really enjoyed it.

Ex Machina #8 – This is one book that never disappoints. Vaughan has this book so tightly plotted, it’s amazing. I bet it’s as tightly plotted as a certain other book that Harris co created.

JLA Classified #4 – Talk about bittersweet. This book was excellent, and knowing that it’s magic will never happen again is crushing. As much as I love Identity Crisis knowing that it destroyed this aspect of the DCU really tarnishes it in my eyes and frankly in my heart.

Manhunter #7 – I wanted to like the book, but I found the court scenes a bit fake. Superheroes testifying is phony, and not in Michael Jordan sense.

Huh…it worked okay for me. I liked that the defense attorney was able to use the public v. private identity issue against Superman and Hawkman’s many lives against Carter. That all made sense to me. Sure, costumes in the courtroom seems pretty silly, but only if you think about it. And if you think about it, costumes can seem silly anywhere, really.

Gotham Knights #62 – Read my review.

100 Bullets #58 – Whoa! Whoa! I never expected that to happen. I literally said “Oh expletive as I was reading this book. Man, I’m so glad that I read this title.

Teen Titans #21 – Is it wrong that I don’t necessarily think that Dr. Light is in the wrong here? Yes, he did a horrible thing to Sue. And yes he was punished. But right now he’s just trying to get his rep back, and I don’t really see anything wrong with that.

Speaking in a psychological capacity…yeah, you’re pretty wrong. But hey, good issue anyway.

Well I suppose we should probably answer some questions. Let’s jump right in.

JohnBritton, I think you should set the tone for the column this week;

Am I the only person who thought Jericho was cool? I’ve seen him as a lame hero punchline a few times, and I got kind of embarrassed, because I liked him. Afro, muttonchops, pirate shirt, shorty-poo cape, purple pants — I guess it doesn’t look so good in retrospect. Was this a case where Wolfman did a better job than Perez? Or is it that Perez is so great that he can hypnotize you into thinking that something lame is actually cool, only to have the truth revealed when he leaves the book? And what the heck was Kole’s deal? And that angel guy? With Games coming up, I feel like I should brush up my New Teen Titans.

Lame hero punchline you say? “…but at least he’s not Gunfire Jericho.” Eh it doesn’t really flow. Don’t get me wrong, Jericho is lame (I’ll get into that later) but his still imaginative. Unlike Gunfire, who practically screams unimaginative, (anything he touches he can turn into a gun?)

But Joey is lame. Well maybe not “lame” maybe he just sucks and even then it’s only appearance-wise. You described him perfectly. Fro/Perm? Check. Crazy facial hair? (mutton chops) Check. Ah, let me just give you a glimpse of him over here.

On paper Jericho is a cool character. He’s got a tragic story. He’s got a decent power. But visually he’s horrendous. He’s an eyesore. I didn’t actually read “New Teen Titans” during it’s heyday, and maybe his look played a role in that.

You are also correct when you say that Perez is an amazing artist, and everything looks great. But with that you have to consider how much of a role Perez played in Jericho’s look.

Let’s face it; Jericho being without his body is perhaps the best thing that ever happened to him. And while were admitting things, we should also admit that while Terra may have betrayed the Titans first, I’m betting they’re most ashamed of letting Joey into their ranks.

Tim you want to get in on the discussion of Joey before we move to Kole?

Only to say that mutton chops are always excellent, never lame. And that his ability is pretty damn excellent.

Kole’s pop was a scientist. Unfortunately he was the of the “mad” variety. He was convinced that nuclear holocaust was going to happen that he spent his time trying to create a way for mankind to adapt to the post nuclear holocaust world. He was so driven he even tested on his wife and daughter.

He used the nifty DCU element Promethium as part of his experiment as well as silicon and carbon grafting. Kole, thus was able, not only to create but control silicon crystal. The Titans and Able Weathers, Kole’s pop, battled. Abel and his wife evolved into an insect life form, Kole decided to hang out with the Titans.

Before she could officially join the Titans, she died during the Crisis.

But a new Kole turned up over in Team Titans only to be written off as part of Monarch’s scheme.

Yet another “but”; in The Titans Secret Files & Origins #2 there was a two page spread of The 1,000 and their surveillance of various Titans. They even listed dead Titans. Under “Kole” it read “Data Inconclusive.” Oooooh ominous. Maybe she’s still alive.

Tim, you’re best friends with Geoff Johns, does he have any plan on being Kole back into the fold?

Well, given that I’ve never even heard of him…probably not.

Ah Azrael. That’s the winged guy you referred to. Well all that anyone knows about him is that he’s an alien who crashed on Earth in the past. Maybe it was twenty years ago. Maybe it was twenty centuries ago. It happened in the past.

His ship was found and the folks at S.T.A.R. Labs discovered him, fortunately. Cyborg’s mom helped thaw out Azrael, and he was released into the wild, I mean society. He hooked up with Lilith. Lilith left the Titans. Azrael got convinced by the Church of Blood that he was “Azrael” the angel of death. But he really wasn’t. When Brother Blood as defeated, Azrael dropped him off at a monastery.

Az was last seen during the Technis Imperative.

Tim, your Best Friend Geoff Johns worked his magic on Hawkman, could he do the same with Azrael? I mean he’s got wings and a headband.

And that’s just a recipe for success, isn’t it?

Iain, you corral the Nexus writers for The Roundtable, got something on your mind?

Just something that’s been bugging me for a while now that you could hopefully clarify… The Raven that is currently appearing in TEEN TITANS is made out to be of high school age… And yet, she was in NEW TEEN TITANS back in the day… So, shouldn’t she be roughly the same age as Cyborg and Starfire? Or is this an entirely new Raven? Or the same Raven in a younger body? And if so, why is she hanging with the kids as opposed to the older members of the group?

A little over a year ago I was asked a kind of similar question.

From the 1/07/04 column;
Ok for Raven we have got to go back in time a bit farther than usual. All the way back to the 1960’s, when a young woman was lost adrift the turbulence. She ended up in a satanic cult. But it’s not easy summoning up the dark lord, and they accidentally got a wrong number. Instead of Satan they got Trigon, and other dimensional demon. He altered his form, and to be honest he didn’t look half bad. He has been described as a redheaded Adonis. (Mostly by you, to be fair. -B)

Anyway, he put the moves on this woman, and after the two hooked up he reveled his true self, that of a typical demon, horns and all. Of course the woman was less than happy. I guess insane and suicidal would be more accurate descriptions of her mind state. But before she could actually kill herself she was wisked to another dimension, called Azarath. This peaceful place mellowed her out, and nine months later she had a daughter. The natives called the woman Arella and she named the baby Raven.

Raven was shunned by the people of Azarath, but taken in by Azar, a goddess. The goddess taught Raven the secret of inner peace and how to use the powers that she was born with. But as usually happens, with great powers comes great responsibility. Raven had to remain emotionless. If she ever lost control of her emotions especially anger or passion Trigon would take over her body.

Trigon would tempt Raven throughout her life, but she remained in control. When she learned of his plan to attack Earth she left Azarath, to inform Earth’s heroes of the impending doom. This would lead to the recreation of the Teen Titans. She has battled her pops many times. Sometimes she won; sometimes she lost, and then won. Eventually his power over her overwhelmed her bringing her in conflict with her fellow Titans. She messed up some lives and possessed others. In that final confrontation she lost her physical form, and is now only soul. She was recently spotted in the Teen Titans. You can read all about her in “The Terror of Trigon” trade as well as in the New Teen Titans series. She also had very good story in Legends of the DC Universe #18. B, did I get everything? (To flesh out the details a bit, she’s officially battled her old man twice. At the beginning of the first series of New Teen Titans, the good guys won, but Arella got stuck in another dimension guarding Trigon. At the beginning of the second volume, Trigon came back for more and took over Raven, making her evil, destroying Azareth and nearly Earth in the process. The Titans, Arella & Lilith eventually defeated four-eyes, but not without Raven seemingly sacrificing herself in the process. When she came back, it was under the control of Brother Blood, but the Titans eventually saved her, and for the first time ever, she was able to explore her emotions without worrying about unleashing Trigon, who seemed to die with her. But the souls of the once nice folks from Azareth turned nasty and possessed Jericho, turning him evil, leading Deathstroke to “kill” him, which we recently learned didn’t take, then the souls hopped into Raven, destroying her body. Ok, it gets more complex…Raven took over the body of some other chick, still under the influence of the “evil souls of Azareth” and fought her old buds the Titans a few times. In the end, the Titans beat Dark Raven and her body was destroyed again; in the process, it was discovered that it wasn’t the souls of Azareth possessing her, but the remnants of Trigon, who, again, seemed to be destroyed. For awhile, Raven was just a soul, but a good one, with no body…now she’s reappeared, new body again, and seemingly tied to Brother Blood again, but a new one. Also, she’s absorbed the consciousness of Jericho into her soul self after he came back through his father, Deathstroke, and tried to kill the newest group of Titans. Phew. -B)

In the current Teen Titans title, Raven was reborn in a teenage body, due to the machinations of the new Brother Blood. She was due to marry Blood, but the Titans intervened. The new body that she inhabits is a younger body, which explains why she’s not the same age as Vic and Kory.

Tim, what do you think about the character of Raven?

I find her, in her current form to be intriguing, but I bit difficult to sink my teeth into (metaphorically) yet. I think that we are in for some pretty interesting character development with her in the months to come.

MarkPoa, do you have a Titanic question?

As for Titans Tomorrow… one thing that bothered me was the line said while in the Flash Museum that implied Bart and Donna never worked together. Weren’t they in the same New Titans team that had Kyle Rayner/Green Lantern? Or did I read that wrong?

I reread that part of Teen Titans #18. Starfire says “Portraits of The Flash’s Allies…Rose Wilson. Max Mercury…and Donna? To which Wonder Girl responds; “Donna…? But Bart never…What does that mean, Kory?

To me it seems clear that the implication is Bart never worked with Donna. This was probably meant to foreshadow Donna’s inevitable return to the DCU.

The only problem is that you’re correct; Donna and Bart not only worked together, but they were teammates on a previous incarnation of the Teen Titans. This is both a huge and subtle editorial gaffe.

However one could pose the argument that Bart has strong feelings for, and even loved both Max Mercury and Rose Wilson. With that link Donna is kind of the one that doesn’t belong. Wonder Girl could have been saying “But Bart never loved or had strong feelings for Donna at all, why is she showcased in the Flash museum?”

Tim, do you think that’s too much of a stretch?

Here’s how I read it. Despite Impulse and Donna Troy working together on a previous Titans squad, they were never particularly close. Thus, why would she be in a trio of important people to Kid Flash at the Flash Museum of the future (this is your hypothesis above). I would also add that just because those two were on the same team once does not necessarily mean that everyone is aware of it. In other words, just because I once worked with coworker A does not mean that later, when I work with coworker B, she is aware that I worked with coworker A. That Titan squad, after all, is certainly not the most well known or oft referenced installment of the Titans.

So for me, the situation reads as this, “How is Donna Troy important to Kid Flash when…” either option A, “they barely worked together” or option B “they barely knew each other.” Just because a character is not aware of the relationship between two other characters does not make it a continuity glitch.

MarkPoa, care for another go round?

Why did the past Titans teams (Arsenal’s New Titans, the Teen Titans, Nightwing’s Titans) break up/fail? At least, comic book story wise (but hey, if you can give some inkling on what happened behind the scenes…)? I remember liking the roster of Nightwing’s Titans team when it was starting… but never really followed it.

The first Teen Titans book, from the 1970’s, ended with the team disbanding to pursue solo careers in issue #53. The New Teen Titans evolved into New Titans. New Titans #114 saw Arsenal take over the team and align the team with the government, with New Titans #0 being the introduction of the new team including Impluse and Darkstar.

The New Titans ended with #130, but in The Titans Secret Files & Origins #1 we got a glimpse at some “lost pages” that shows that groups failure to act as a team with a minor threat, cost them their government backing. After that everyone agrees to go their separate ways.

The Teen Titans featuring a youthful Ray “Atom” Palmer ended with issue #24. It involved aliens, a shocking truth, a treaty with aliens and the team disbanding when they return to Earth.

As for The Titans the final storyline, while involving no closure, involved alien mind manipulation that could blocked by wearing hats made of tinfoil.

Let me repeat that; the Titans defeat aliens with the help of tinfoil hats.


That book made me feel dirty. You know the stereotypical “guy is embarrassed to buy condoms scene” on TV and in movies? That’s how I felt when buying that book every month. I wanted that book in a brown paper bag, so no one else knew I was reading it.

And I’m not the only one ashamed. Comic Industry Big Shot Ben Morse had this to say:

I wear a tin foil crown when reading my old issues of Titans, not to protect against aliens, but so reading said issues of Titans is not the most ridiculous thing I’m doing…maybe

Incredibly well put Ben.

You know how bad The Titans was? I loved Young Justice with all my heart, and even though it’s gone I don’t lose any sleep at night, because I know that while I lost Young Justice I was spared another dreadful issue of The Titans.

As for the behind the scenes stories of why the books ended, I’m guessing it’s nothing more than poor sales, with the exception of The Titans which ended because DC was going to utilize some of the characters in Teen Titans and Outsiders. But believe me, I’m not complaining about that.

Tim, do you have a favorite Titans team?

Well, obviously, there would be Teen Titans series right now if it wasn’t for the Wolfman/Perez era. However, I have read those issues retroactively long after they were released, while I have gotten to read Johns run from the ground up as it unfolded. Thus, while I think the Wolfman era probably broke more ground and is more “classic” material, Johns’s stuff is closer to my heart.

Plus, as you like to point, Johns and I are apparently now best friends.

John Babos do you have a question that you didn’t necessarily post for me, but I felt like using it in the column anyway?

I was curious after I read TT #21 pg. 10. Is Cyborg referring to former Titans, e.g. Flamebird, etc. or to other “teen” heroes from around the world? Are all former Titans considered reserve Titans a la the JLA experience?

He’s talking about former Titans, as opposed to every teen hero. Here’s my theory. And it’s pretty well explained in the JLA/Titans miniseries. The Titans are a family. The JLA battles threats to the world, but the Titans grow together. The JLA is a team that deals with menaces, but the Titans actually hang out together.

Titan’s have a pretty large membership and as witnessed in the JLA/Titans they rival the JLA.

Remember the idea is that the current Titans get together on the weekends. So who knows what’s going on during the week? Maybe other Titans show up and hang out on weekdays.

Tim, what do you think that Vic was referring to?

I think you pretty well nailed it. The other possibility is that he is referring to the oft-rumored second Titans team (Titans East, if you will) that several people have, from time to time, predicted would be getting a title soon. Especially in light of the Titans East popping up in the Titans Tomorrow storyline. However, I think that theory is pretty much bollocks.

Troy Robinson, do you have a final Titanerific question?

Where is Mal?

Mal is still around. Mal was just a regular Joe when he first teamed up with the original Titans. He later got the Gabriel Horn and became the heroic Herald. The Gabriel Horn would open portals in space.

He married Karen “Bumblebee” Beecher and basically retired from the hero gig.

He currently is the owner of a coffee house, The Buzz, while Karen brings in the big buck from S.T.A.R. labs.

In the pre-Crisis continuity Mal adopted the identity of The Guardian (he wore a costume that was identical to the Jim Harper version of the character). But in the current DCU he never took up the mantle of that The Guardian.

Speaking of the Guardian, Tim are you curious about the new Seven Soldiers storyline?

I am totally psyched and wildly intimidated by it. This thing is going to be running until next April! My mind is pretty close to being blown by that fact alone.

Andy Logan, you’re a Nexus alumni, do you want to go in a different direction?

My question is this – I’ve recently treated myself to the entire back issue run of Superman/Batman, all seventeen of them, and I’m really enjoying catching up on the story so far.

However, something has just occurred to me…Batman knows Superman’s “secret” identity, and vice versa…how?

Did Bruce deduce (groan, sorry!) that Superman was Clark? Or did Clark…I can’t think of a decent rhyme…realize Batman was Bruce Wayne?

Or did they both “confess” at the same time?

And regardless of HOW the secrets came out…when did it happen???

First off I want to give you credit for trying to rhyme “Clark.” I’m sure that you spent long minutes on it. I know that many of my attempts at humor require hours of tinkering with. And for those of you say “what humor” my reply is; “sit on it Potsie.”

It’s a pretty interesting story. Y’see Ma Kent had been very proud of Clark’s exploits before he made his debut as Superman. And as mothers tend to do, she secretly kept a scrapbook. Unfortunately that book was stolen and made its way to Metropolis. Yadda yadda yadda, Superman got it and gave it to Batman to try to determine who had been keeping the book of his exploits. Superman handed the book over to Bats in Action Comics #594.

Then in Adventures of Superman #440 Supes stops back at the Batcave to see how the progress is going. Batman says; “the only absolute fact I was able to glean from the thing … is that you’re Clark Kent”. Superman then regrets not putting “the world’s second greatest detective” on the case.

But Batman is cool enough to say that he won’t spill the beans. Before he leaves Superman replies; “Oh, I’m quite sure you won’t do that … Mr. Wayne.” Batman then ponders why he even bothered to line his cowl with lead.

It’s a pretty fun scene. It’s both lighthearted and kind of menacing, just like Tim.

Tim could you whip us a quick psychological profile for both Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne?

Could I…? Wow, way to not put a guy on the spot. Here goes:

Bruce Wayne: Bruce is driven by a terrible sense of survivor’s guilt. It began, obviously enough, when his parents were slain. He both feels that he should have died with them and that it was his desire to go to the theater that led to the mugging that cost them their lives. Even though, in recent history, he has appeared to come to terms with his role in their leaving the house that night, it is a belief he carried around with him for years and thus informed much of his decisions.

Sadly, this guilt has been further deepened by the deaths or tragedies of those around him. He has buried two Robins, seen another nearly shot to death by the Joker. He employed a man to imitate him while he recovered from a back injury. Because of this job, the man, Jean Paul Valley, lost his mind a bit and spent the rest of his rather short life trying to recover it and make amends. He may have indirectly led to the creation of the Joker, an act that then led to the death of countless innocents (including Commissioner Gordon’s second wife) and the crippling of Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. Despite these events being largely out of his hands, he sees them as being his fault. Those people and things he care for, in his eyes, will meet tragic and brutal ends.

This explains his often overwhelming desire to force out all those close to him while at the same time desperately needed people to be close to. He believes himself to be a bad luck charm of sorts, but he also longs for the stability of his old life, a life that included family. He thus finds himself trapped between his desire to save everyone and his desire for a stable life like that of his early childhood. He cannot imagine a way that he could achieve both at the same time.

Clark Kent: While Clark does hail from a now long dead world, it occurred far too early to inform his future beliefs and actions (unlike Wayne). Instead, his moral code was shaped by his adoptive parents, the Kents. Thus, he became Superman not out of guilt or an attempt to prevent what happened to him from ever happening to anyone else (Batman’s two primary motives) but rather because this is what people with gifts do. He sees being a superhero as an occupation, similar to being a surgeon or a biochemist. You do what you can to help the human race and the planet. You are a hero, in Clark’s mind, because you can be. It is this belief that makes Superman the most humane of heroes, despite the fact that he is not human.

While many interpret the fact that he is an alien, but desires to be human as the reason why he would wear “the mask” of Clark Kent, they could not be more wrong. Clark Kent is Clark Kent first and foremost. Although now and again he might ponder his alien-ness, for the most part he views himself as he was raised: a human being. His costumed identity is a natural extension of his humanity. There is no dichotomy between Clark Kent and Superman except in appearance. Neither is the mask. Think of Superman as simply Clark Kent’s nickname.

Well, there you go. I know, I know, a bit pedestrian. Sorry, I am working with a deadline and I didn’t have time to do a lot of research.

Andy got another question;

Regarding the identity of the “Red Hood” in Batman…the Azrael theory makes a sack load of sense, but YET AGAIN – Jason Todd (in Nightwing ish 103) is making an appearance (albeit a flashback one), following on from his apparent resurrection’s in both the “Hush” arc, and the recent “As the Crow Flies” story-line. Do you think this spate of Jason Todd references is a way of filling in newer readers – and reminding older ones – of Jason’s tragic story and demise, so that his return as the Red Hood would shock and enthrall readers both new and old?

Or am I just reading too much into it, and seeing things that aren’t really relevant?

Ok, I’ll give you both the “Hush” and “As The Crow Flies.” But you can’t really count his appearance in Nightwing. Firstly, as you pointed out, it’s a flashback. But secondly I’m sure it’s going to play a role in Dick creating the Nightwing identity. I tend to think that it’s more an essential part of the Nightwing mythos than yet another hint that Jason Todd isn’t resting in peace.

I can’t remember the last time that Jason’s story was “tragic.” Every time it’s mentioned he’s shown as a fallen soldier. Whenever he’s brought up, it’s usually just Batman looking at his costume on display. But Jason was a jerk. In all likelihood he tossed a man off a balcony to his death. He disobeyed Batman and was reckless. While I felt bad for Batman’s loss, I wasn’t mourning Jason at all.

The hints that Jason Todd is alive in the DCU, are meant to give us readers hope so, and make us salivate and question “who” and “when.” I think that Jason Todd is a decently viable suspect for The Red Hood. The “training” that Batman mentioned and the fact that the current Batman arc and “As The Crow Flies” were both written by Judd Winick also seems to give credence to the “Jason Todd is The Red Hood” theory.

Personally (at least this week) I’m leaning toward Anarky. Anarky is a skilled hand-to-hand combatant. He would object to drugs being sold to children, but wouldn’t have a problem with them being sold altogether (one of Red Hood’s stipulations with the drug lords was that drugs weren’t sold near schools.) And despite what I said about Jason Todd being a jerk and possible murderer, as far as the DCU is concerned he’s as angelic as Barry Allen. I don’t know if DC would be quick to tarnish his rep by making him an official murderer, what with the decapitations committed by the Red Hood and all. Anarky on the other hand, is in limbo, couldn’t support his own title, and doesn’t have a huge following, thus is expendable.

Tim, any ideas who the Red Hood is or if Jason Todd is alive?

I think that all these hints have to be leading up to something and that Todd will most likely be resurrected sometime in the near future. What I am less sure about is whether or not it will have anything to do with Red Hood. Even I was to guess, I would say that Red Hood is not Todd, but that fairly quickly after Hood’s identity is revealed, Todd will show up. Double whammy surprise.

The other thing I’ll throw in here is that over in Gotham Knights, we still don’t know Hush’s identity. It is possible that that red herring way back when (when it turned out it was just Clayface imitating Jason) was more of a hint then we had originally guessed. Not really sure about that, just something else to chew on.

Alas you’ve come to the end of another column. I hope that you enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed writing it. Send me your questions or post them on the forums, I can always use more questions. Last week’s column created quite a stirring debate on the thread, so visit and chime in.

My question to you this week; Do you think that DC is planning on releasing too many high profile/high quality books in 2005?

“And it makes a king feel like some nutty, coo coo, super king”