Who's Who in the DCU

Tim, loved your column this week (as always). I’ve to confess, that I too haven’t the source material for many of the comic movies coming out this year. Take for instance this “Bat-Man,” Do you think that movie stands a chance of doing any big numbers?

Well, it’s going to be a difficult summer, what with the release of indie art house favorite “Star Wars”. However, I think this film might prove a spoiler to the tune of a few million dollars. We shall see.

Well, now is as good a time as any to…

Link

Firstly I want to take the time to give John Babos some much-deserved credit. He singled handedly brought the DC Threads back to life. They have (at press time) surpassed the Marvel Threads in terms of topics and posts. Here’s a list of John’s more popular threads;

Here’s a thread to discuss the greatness of Fallen Angel

If you want to speculate on the upcoming DC Projects just click on the link;OMAC Project, Villains United, Rann/Thanagar War and Day of Judgement.

Pick a character you want Returned to the forefront.

Play the Wonder Woman Dating Game.

Reminice on Canceled Classics.

Ponder Superman’s nature.

Talk about your dream Retcon.

Critique both For Tomorrow & Hush.

Discuss the pros and cons of Green Lantern: Rebirth.

Debate Lois vs Lana.

Post your theory on The Red Hood.

Phew! I’ve got to be honest, I wish I had more time to post. As it is it’s John’s the reason my reviews are so later. Tim, is there anyone who works more tirelessly than John Babos?

That would be you Mathan…that would be you.

Music

Games

TV

Movies

Figures.

Sports.

Moodspins.

Tim anything you’d like to link this week?

Sure, why not! I’ve got a Napoleon Dynamite soundboard for those of you who dug the movie. As I personally have never seen it, I cannot whether this is an amusing site or not, but I am told it is “so friggin’ funny”.

I also have this listing of DC related sites that is sadly in need of an update. Most of the links are still good, but I gotta figure new sites have popped up in the past year or so. Anyway, check out the DCU List

And finally, cause he’s an excellent writer, drop in on Brian K. Vaughan’s site, BKV.TV.

Last Week’s Reads

Fallen Angel #19 – Read my review.

Swamp Thing #9 – I’m a huge fan of Timothy Green II’s art, so I loved this book. I’ve not dropped this book yet, but it’s hovering.

Justice League Elite #9 – Review forthcoming.

Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #1 – The best Lex Luthor since his Unauthorized Biography. This may have been the best book of the week.

I too loved this book. It might have just been a character study of sorts, but the art was excellent and it was the first time Azzarello’s writing has really connected with me.

Legend #1 – Interesting. I bought this for Chaykin, but it’s pretty expensive for a book I didn’t really dig.

Firestorm #11 – Why is Jolley leaving? I’m really loving the balancing act he’s doing on this title. Ronnie and Jason co-existing is a cool concept.

You can read my review of this book here. That is…if you have the balls.

Ahem…sorry. The review really isn’t all that controversial. Unlike…

Deadshot #4 – Read the (controversial) review.

Wow…I was just going to bring that up.

Papa Midnite #2 Way good. While Midnite was smug I really felt for his dilemma. This is a very good read.


Continuing with the theme of paying attention to our Forums this entire column is from questions found on the Forum. They deserve credit for the increase of traffic. (If you emailed me a question, don’t worry I’ll get to it.)


Here’s a question that Warrior Prophet posted;

I’ve just reread Batman: Man Who Laughs which is supposed to be in continuity and there are some time discrepancies with Year One. Also, I’ve read that Catwoman’s prostitution has been erased from history. I’ve also heard it hasn’t but in any case I hear that her origin is now very muddy (much like Joker’s.) So what of Year One can we still say is in continuity?

The discrepancies between Man Who Laughs and Year One are pretty few. The general belief is that Man Who Laughs takes place behind the scenes of the final few pages in Year One.

Y’see Year One was devoid of Bat Villains as part of its design. The idea is that costumed folks didn’t start showing up until Year Two. Thus Batman encounters The Red Hood “off panel” during the final pages of Year One which corresponds with Gordon’s remark about “The Joker” at the end of that story.

However how Gordon jumped from Lieutenant to Captain isn’t quite as clear. In the official Batman Timeline, found in Batman Secret Files & Origins, it states that Gordon didn’t achieve the rank of Captain until Year Two. But aside from that I don’t really see anything that warrants and major disregarding of Year One

Tim, do you think that the discrepancies between the two books take anything away from either one?

Absolutely not. I think Year One is amazing (especially the art, which never gets enough of a shoutout for my tastes) and I really enjoyed the sense of panic that Brubaker brought out in the book. While Joker attacks may be old hat for Gothamites now, it would have been terrifyingly alien then and the script does a great job of reflecting that.

As far as discrepancies, if costumed folks didn’t start appearing until Year Two and Gordon didn’t get made Captain until Year Two and this story concerns the Joker’s debut on the villain scene, where is the discrepancy?

As for Catwoman, things get a bit less clear.

In Batman: Year One Selina Kyle is definitely a prostitute, about that there can be no question. DC further nailed this point hope with the 1988 miniseries Catwoman: Year One which filled in some of the blanks of Catwoman’s origin.

Everything was all well and dandy. But then Catwoman got her own title and became successful. Thus DC was at a quandary; they have a popular title featuring a character who was a former prostitute. What to do?

Luckily a little thing called Zero Hour happened. One of the little known changes from Zero Hour is the wiping of prostitution from Catwoman’s origin. And there you have it, everything was perfect, right?

Wrong. When Ed Brubaker relaunched Catwoman he reintroduced two characters from Catwoman: Year One Madeline Kyle and Holly. This caused many to speculate that the prostitution was back in continuity. However this was all cleared up when Catwoman Secret Files & Origins stated that when Selina hit the streets she was a thief or cat burglar who adopted the role of prostitute to separate marks from their valuables.

Tim, which do you find more damaging to the character; the idea that she used to be a prostitute or Jim Balent’s, um, “endowed” vision of the character?

While everyone appreciates a giant set of breasts, bigger than the one who possesses them’s head, I’d have to point to Balent. The proportions were ridiculous and did a great job of reinforcing the “fanboy as horned up nerd boy” stereotype.

The prostitute angle, on the other, I could merely take or leave. I used to find it very disconcerting, but I have come to realize that that has a lot more to do with the other “Catwoman as prostitute Batman redefining story written by Frank Miller” called The Dark Knight Returns. The scene of her all beat up in the Wonder Woman costume…ugh…I hate it. For me, for whatever reason, it is the only misstep of the series. Completely took me out of the action.


Now at this point in the thread the discussion goes to various other Batman “Years.” The comment was made that Year Three wasn’t in continuity, to which TGC asked;

Why is Batman Year Three no longer in continuity?

Batman: Year Three is still in continuity. The story has been fleshed out a bit in subsequent stories such as Robin: Year One and Robin Annual #4. So don’t fret, that precious story still means something.

Tim, do you have a favorite Robin, and I mean other than Robin Williams.

Well Tim Drake and I came up together so really, he’s the only Robin I’ve known. I do enjoy Dick Grayson as Nightwing though. Jason Todd has two great stories to his name (The Cult, Death in the Family) but I haven’t read enough other books featuring him to make a call. He’s a great symbol, to be certain, but I can’t really comment on his Robin-ness.

Oh, and Spoiler never got a fair shake.


As the discussion of Bat-Years progressed the notion that Year Two wasn’t in continuity was brought up. Superstar John Babos posed the following question;

I don’t think Year Two is fully out of continuity. Just parts I think. Why would it be fully out?

Year Two is a quagmire. I’m pretty sure that there are three major lines of thought when it comes to Year Two

Numero Uno – Year Two never happened. With Zero Hour retconning Bat’s origin so that he never discovered who killed his parents, it kind of makes ruins Year Two. Especially since Joe Chill was a huge part of Year Two

Numero Dos – Year Two did happen with no changes, Batman was just wrong. There are a few fans who think that Year Two still happened and the events of Zero Hour caused him to realize that Joe Chill didn’t, in fact, kill his parents and he was blaming the wrong man.

Numero Tres – Year Two did happen, but we, as readers have to disregard the parts that don’t gibe with current continuity. Completely erase Joe Chill from the story if you like. Or pretend that The Reaper told Bruce that Joe Chill didn’t kill his parents and murdered Joe for the thrill of it. However it works, make it work for you.

Now I’ll critique the three takes.

The first one sounds pretty solid and easy to do. And when you factor in that other Barr penned tales Son of the Demon and Bride of the Demon where excised from continuity it kind of sets the precedence that Year Two should be forgotten.

But as a guy who enjoyed Year Two I like the second option. I really want the story to remain in canon. I really dug how Bat mythos were expanded upon. However I think that if this theory were true, Batman would probably feel more than a little guilt over his part in the death of Joe Chill, who for all intents and purposes, was innocent (he wasn’t proven guilty.)

The third option is probably the best way to keep you from going crazy. It’s the way we can appreciate televison shows like The Simpsons or Seinfeld so why not use it for comics?

Tim, what do you think happened during Batman’s second year under the cowl?

I can’t say for certain, but I can say that I have a strong distaste for that particular bit of ret-conning. Granted, I would have never greenlit the Year Two story in the first place, if I was DC. I like the idea that the man responsible for Batman is an unknown, random criminal. However, once that genie is out of the bottle…

At the end of the day, for reasons like the question above, I just don’t think DC thought it out enough before they pulled the Zer Hour trigger. They thought as far as, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if we could make it so Batman didn’t know who killed his parents again?” and then just all nodded and went to work on it. It’s just sloppy.


Yet another question that I culled from this thread came from Nexus’ own Iain Burnside;

Didn’t he (Batman) find his parents’ killer in SUPERMAN/BATMAN?

In Superman/Batman #1 Superman arrives in Gotham with news for Batman. In #2 that “news” is revealed to be that John Corben was in Gotham the night that the Wayne’s were murdered. Furthermore Corben was a known petty thief.

However in Superman/Batman #6 on page #21, it’s revealed that the link between Corben and the murder of the Waynes was planted to distract Batman, by none other than Lex Luthor. Thus Batman still hasn’t found what he’s looking for.

Tim, what are your thoughts on Superman/Batman?

I’m done with that book and have been since the end of the Supergirl story. I hated the portrayal of Lex Luthor in the opening arc and it definitely affected my enjoyment of the rest of the story. By the end of it, I was just glad it was over.

The robots issue featuring Superboy and Robin I actually kind of dug so my faith was restored.

Then the Supergirl arc came along and I realized that a.) I had no interest in yet another Supergirl being introduced in the DCU and b.) I was terribly bored. So, the arc conclusion came and I dropped the book.

You can’t like everything, right?


The final question that I’ll answer from that thread is from Warrior Prophet;

How much time is there between Batman: Year One and Robin: Year One?

Well, again referring to the trusty Batman Timeline® from Batman Secret Files & Origins, it appears that The Flying Graysons were murdered during Batman’s second year and Dick became Robin in Bats’ third year. So let’s just say between a year and a year and a half. But I’m no good with figures, my degree’s in English.

Tim, do you have a favorite “Year One” story?

Why yes Mathan, yes, I do. Thanks for asking.


John Babos also wanted to bring this to my attention;

TGC wants to know (as do I) where are all the New Guardians today? (You may want to add how the their series ended, but I don’t want to tell you how to do your j-o-b. )

Oh, and in your opinion, why aren’t the New Guardians part of the GL: Rebirth mini-series?

I’ve addressed this topic before. But I’ve no problem rehashing it.

I do, but it’s your column, so go nuts.

From the 4/26/03 column
As I mentioned last episode the Guardians of the Universe went on a vacation. One Guardian and his lovely lady popped into his dimension to see how things were going and to help in the creation of new immortals here on Earth. They picked a rag tag multicultural bunch of people and brought how their inherent gifts. One of these new immortals turned out to be a bad guy. Surprise, surprise it was the South African. He made some mutants or as he called them “neo hybrids.” He also kidnapped Tom Kalmaku (former sidekick to Hal Jordan), and threw him in the pit with the neo hybrids.

Fortunately Tom survived. The New Guardians tried to save him but ended up under the control of Janwillem Kroef, the evil South African. Tom rallied the neo hybrids to battle the duped New Guardians. Tom and is crew won. Suddenly the Guardian and his woman came back and revealed “oops, our bad. The “real” New Guardians are actually the neo hybrids.” The New Guardians ended up hanging out the neo hybrids guiding them towards their destiny.

So where are they now? Who knows? This is like the series that never existed. The New Guardian Floro went back to the Green (it’s a Swamp Thing thing.) Tom was last seen as a washed up loser in the Legacy hardback. Another New Guardian, Ram, was seen as a casualty of Roulette’s games in JSA. But as far as the others I have no clue. The New Guardians didn’t really have any lasting effect on the DCU so it is kind of easy to dismiss or ignore. But it will always be fondly remembered by me as one of the first books I subscribed to, and I still have the autographed #1 to prove it.

(The New Guardians also appeared in Green Lantern #32-35 to help Hal fight Entropy.)

Allow me to revise that last part; I meant “always be fondly remembered” in a childhood way. Like the notion of gorging on Halloween candy and the joys of Scooby Doo. Honestly the book doesn’t really hold up too well after all these years. It seems very quaint and is clearly a snapshot of the era. Its references to HIV/A.I.D.S., drugs, Apartheid and racial equality make the book seem pretty dated. Not that these problems aren’t still relevant, but the dramatic nature in which the book portrays these topics that are now either accepted aspects of life or topics relegated to history books.

I think the major reason why the book and characters aren’t referenced is because the book was in shambles, emphasis on sham. The concept was flawed from the start. Remember that Terra was one of “The Chose”, yet the Guardians didn’t know A) she was dead and B) she was bad. Then came the idea that “The Chose” were supposed to number 12, but when only 7 were available the Guardian was like “Huh? Seven? Whatever, we can work with that, let’s get things moving.”

The premise of the characters was neglected once the book began. It was more about “what issues are relevant” than about “how can we salvage the premise.” At the time I was a kid who was desperate for anything Green Lantern related, but now I’m an older more experienced reader who pretends to have discriminating taste. I can see how the book failed and not let my childhood eyes and mind get in the way. And I think that this is one of those aspects of GL mythos that I doubt even Geoff Johns can salvage.

Sorry if I was a bit too honest with that one John, but I’m sure you’ll have a counter point to keep this discussion going.

Tim, do you think I was too hard on the New Guardians?

I don’t remember them at all, so perhaps I am not the best to issue an opinion on this matter.


Neil do you have a question you’d like answered?

I’m re-reading most of the Post-Zero Hour pre-DnA Legion of Super-Heroes and I’ve got a question.

In LSH #100 Sister Andromeda encounters what she calls “the fire of creation.” In Legionnaires #57, Brainy is taking a team to investigate, when Kinetix asks Cos to join, saying that he and the Legion, shortly after they were formed investigated a space-anomaly. The editors note “That’s a mystery for another time.”

So did they ever explain this? Was it related to either the Fires of Creation or to the Time Trapper?

Sadly I don’t have the issues in question. I’m pretty sure that some of your questions can be answered by reading Legion of Super Heroes #104. I don’t want to spoil it for you in case you haven’t read it. So if you aren’t satisfied after reading that issue, I’ll be happy to spill the beans next week.

Tim, I didn’t want to ruin the book for him and I wasn’t sure if he read it. Am I wrong for not answering the question?

Horribly, horribly wrong.


Neil wanna go again?

Hey, it’s the least we can do for him after blowing off his last question.

What ever happened with Tinya’s third body? Did they ever find it?

I kind of addressed this a while ago and in order to really get the answer (and the question) you need some back-story. So here we go;

From the 11/26/03 column;
Ok, the story was revealed in Legion of Super Heroes Annual #1 and L.E.G.I.O.N. #23.
Mordu was destined to take over the 30th century. Glorith wanted to prevent that from happening. So she was instrumental in putting the prices necessary to prevent his rise to power together. This included one displaced Durlan. Fortunately Glorith had the power of time displacement. So she plucked the Durlan from the 20th century and placed him in the 30th century where he eventually became RJ Brande, the guy who basically created the Legion. And of course the Legion bested Mordu on numerous occasions.

But as you know, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Meaning, if someone made the trip from the 20th century to the 30th century, then someone also had to make a trip from the 30th century to the 20th century.

Enter Ultra Boy who had been a thorn in Glorith’s side for a while. She really wanted to hit him where it hurt. So why not make Phantom Girl take that return trip, and make it look like she died in an explosion? Well that is what Glorith did. Jo was in pain, because he lost his wife. But she actually became Phase, a member of L.E.G.I.O.N. Of course this was all pre Zero Hour. What really sucked was how the use of the Durlan made it possible for the Legion to exist without relying on a Superboy that never existed. It was a real clever twist.

As for the current explanation. Apparition is half Carggite and half Bgtzlian. That means that she can become intangible and split into three different bodies. Well when she first manifested her triplication powers her deadbeat gambler dad sold two of her selves to the Luck Lords to pay a debt. Well one of her selves got sent to the past and became Phase. Apparition died but her soul survived. When the Legion visited the 20th century Deadman helped her become alive again. But she was unable to dematerialize. Then she met Phase and the two became one, who while unable to become two again could now become intangible again.

So that’s the back-story. Now for your answers; I don’t know and nope. Those questions were never answered. Honestly I can’t be too mad and you shouldn’t be either. Look at how large the cast of characters in any Legion series was. Those teams were literally composed of Legions of Super Heroes.

Look at it this way, at the most Legion had two books telling their tales at the same time you can’t expect them to wrap up every storyline. Over at the Marvel U, X-books come by the armload and still can’t wrap everything up. The Legion had a few dangling plotlines and Tinya’s third body was one of them. Sorry.

Tim, how do you feel about the recent Legion relaunch? Do you think its positives shine through or negatives weigh it down?

You just love to call attention to the fact that I don’t buy Legion, don’t you?

Anyway, I think the positives win out. But then, I’m a pretty positive guy.


RoamDog, you’ve got something on your mind, I can tell.
I stopped reading comics in 1980 and sold 9,000 of my 9,100 books. Was in a used bookstore recently and purchased the Death of Superman compilation. (1) So, I just have to know, how did they bring him back?
And even more important, what has happened in the last 20 years? Did Spiderman’s girlfriend also come back? What about Captain America’s sidekick? (Cannot remember the names).
Actually, now that I have a tiny bit of disposable income, I would like to catch up on some reading.
(2)So, what stories/titles are worth picking up? I do realize that many of the books in the 70s were drivel (and probably many now?), but I did like some stories from J. Starlin, M. Grell (although I cannot remember if I just liked his art or the actual stories), and Roy Thomas (at least the stuff that was not about golden age characters–he seemed to be preoccupied with that theme for a while). (3)Seems like there were some good Batman storylines as well as Daredevil.
(4)Is there anyplace that sells junk condition books for cheap (not looking to collect, just to read)?
Not even sure where to start. Given my preferences before, (5)What would you recommend for my reading list? And why? I am a bit older and probably will enjoy the more complex stories now.

#1) Well he wasn’t really dead. He was just dead tired. He used up all of his energy fighting Doomsday and was in a kind of Kryptonian coma.

#2) For the sake of this question I’ll focus on trade paperbacks. Well, you can’t go wrong with Batman: Year One. I’d also recommend reading Superman: Man of Steel. I think that you might enjoy The Flash: Terminal Velocity, it’s a pretty cool storyline.

As for stories by those specific creators I think the best you’re going to find are Mike Grell’s Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters and Jim Starlin’s Batman: The Cult.

Tim I know that you’ve got some ideas of stories you think he should pick up.

Sure. I recommend any of the following for your favorite creators: any part of Grell’s long run on Green Arrow, Starlin’s A Death in the Family, and any issue of Infinity, Inc you can hunt up to feed your Thomas fix. If you dig Starlin’s more cosmic stuff, I suggest Cosmic Odyssey which still ranks as one of my favorite crossovers. You can find that in trade format.

#3) Again, I’d suggest Batman: Year One. Batman: The Killing Joke is also widely considered a classic. If you want some Batman tales that didn’t necessarily “happen” try Gotham by Gaslight, Holy Terror, and The Dark Knight Returns.

C’mon Tim, you’re up again.

Wow…there’s a ton of good Bat stuff out there, some of which Mathan hit above. For some more suggestions, check out Batman: Ego, Long Halloween, any of the Demon trilogy (Birth, Son, Bride), and, if you can find it, a two issue arc called A Gotham Tale that ran in Batman #477 and #478. It is one of my favorite little know Batman stories. And with Batman, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty more great stories out there.

#4) On this one I don’t know if I can help you out. I know that most comic shops have “bargain bins” where comics are greatly discounted. Most comic conventions also have cheap books readily available.

I also know that in Tucson (my hometown) there’s a place called Bookman’s where the comics aren’t in the best condition and are well priced. Though I don’t know too much about your neck of the woods (including where “your neck of the woods” is.)

Tim, do you have any ideas for this man?

I echo your sentiments.

#5) I would heatedly recommend Human Target (an excellent look at America) which is a Vertigo book. (Vertigo is DC’s more mature imprint.) I also love 100 Bullets (a book about huge conspiracies), Y The Last Man (what would happen of every male on Earth died at the same time, except a lovestruck magician and his pet monkey), and Ex Machina (a former hero, become Mayor of New York City).

If you want thing of a more “super hero” nature, I’d suggest Manhunter and Fallen Angel both books with female lead characters and both approach the hero genre from a unique point of view. I’d also recommend Batman: Ego which takes a very serious look at Batman’s inner turmoil.

Tim, time for your opinion again.

Man, I love Ego. That’s why I recommended it above. But I’ll recommend it again here. I also echo Y, Human Target, Ex, and Manhunter. I’d also throw in Fables from Vertigo and, if you dig Batman, Gotham Central. The best advice I have though is just pick up what catches your eyes. Some of my favorites are things that I just kind of picked up on a lark. Once you get more into it again, you’ll start to find favorite writers, artists, etc, but for now, just follow your gut.

Well folks the time has come to bid farewell. I hope everyone enjoyed this week’s jaunt through the DCU. Hit up the Forums and email me some questions and comments.

Here’s my question to you; Do you think the alleged Crisis II is a idea or bad one? Explain

“Well, everybody wants to go forever/I just wanna burn up hard and bright.”

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