Who's Who in the DCU

Tim, I’m still sans computer. How in the world did cavemen ever get any research done?

They didn’t. And that’s why they were eaten by the dinosaurs. And the aliens. And, I think, if I remember my Bible correctly, Adam and Eve.

Let’s jump to the Q&A.

I would prefer to saunter, but what the hell, we’ll try it your way.


Andy needs to know about that other champion of Shazam

Reading Villain’s United recently, I couldn’t help but notice Black Adam…now, forgive my ignorance but… (a) Is he some sort of “dark” or evil version of Captain Marvel? (b) I remember picking up a random TPB of JSA a while back and id;y flicking through it – and I’m SURE Black Adam was a member of the team – he had apparently reformed but was having trouble being accepted by the others. Did I just imagine that? And if so, what’s the story – when / why did he join the JSA, and when / why did he go back to being a super villain?

Which is odd because Parallax2814 does too. That’s like wearing the same cocktail dress to the ritzy opening of a new wing of a museum.

Can you give me a history of Black Adam, how he gets his powers, why he is the antithesis of Captain Marvel and whatnot.

Ok, so way way back in the day centuries ago, Teth Adam was the champion of the Wizard Shazam. And he was good at it.

However when his wife and kids were tragically killed, Teth Adam became a rebel, as well as a force of evil. He went on a rampage and changed his name to Khem Adam. Shazam wasn’t too happy about this turn and revoked his power. Teth Adam died.

Later some guy named Theo Adam was helping Billy Batson’s parents on a dig of Khem Adam’s tomb, when a mystical scarab was discovered. Now, Theo was either A) a descendant of Teth or B) the reincarnation of Teth. Either way he killed the Batsons, grabbed the scarab, said “Shazam” and became Black Adam. Eventually he gained Teth Adam’s memories.

But Theo did manage to reform and play nice for a minute. At least until a tumor in his brain affected him, causing him to turn evil once again. He fought against the JSA, and ended up with the DEO. He escaped and later encountered Johnny Sorrow who promised to remove the tumor if he’d join the new incarnation of the Injustice Society.

Theo accepted. The tumor was removed. Unfortunately for Sorrow, this returned the “good” Black Adam. Thus Adam was like a turncoat, trying to bring about the defeat of the Injustice Society from within.

After their defeat, Adam tried to join the JSA but was rejected. They did allow him to join him on a mission to Thanagar. After that mission he was made a JSA member on a probationary status.

However, Adam came to believe that the JSA was too soft on criminals. With his stance hardening, Adam recruited like minded champions and invaded his native land of Khandaq. This brought him and his champions in conflict with the JSA. The battle ended in a stalemate with numerous lives lost. The JSA agreed to leave Khandaq to Adam.

Currently on the pages of the JSA a rematch of sorts is being waged.

Y’know Tim, as a result of that question, I’ve become a huge Black Adam fan. Have you had an equally enlightening experience?

Puh-leeze. I was into Black Adam way before he was cool. Now that everybody likes him, eh, I’m done with him.

Why?

Because everything popular is bad.

It’s as true with comics as it is with music.

And that’s one to grow on.


Sly Reference wants to take things in a similar but intriguingly new direction

I know that Hawkman, Dr Fate and Black Adam are all tied to a certain point of time in Ancient Egypt. When did this happen? It has to be post-Crisis, because BA was not part of the DC continuity before that.

You completely nailed that one. One of the purposes of Crisis was to make the DCU more compact. And since all three of these characters had those Egyptian roots it only makes sense that they’d bump into each other or at least be acquainted with each other.

Well the first time that we see the “old school” Black Adam is in Power of Shazam! #10. But we don’t see Nabu the Wise or Prince Khufu.

The first time that I could find all three together was in JSA #22 by David Goyer and Geoff Johns AKA “DC’s go to guy for the clearing up of all things continuity.”

Of course in hindsight it makes perfect sense that those three would be connected, however it was a pretty recent retcon as far as retcons go.

Tim, isn’t it kind of cool how those three are connected?

I think it was making the best of a bad situation. Hawkman’s continuity was such an utter mess that it needed to be fixed in a way that actually stuck without making things even far worse. Since Dr. Fate is the reincarnation of Hawkman’s soulless son, he definitely needed to be included in the explanation. The inclusion of Black Adam was an interesting choice.

The only part of that story I’ve never really gotten is…what the heck is Metamorpho’s great great great grandfather doing there?


Rich wants to fraggin’ hurt us

Enjoying the crisis but… Where is Lobo?

Ugh, “Lobo?” Lobo’s had some pretty self contained tales in recent years. He’s not had too much interaction with the heroes of Earth. He’s just done his own thing.

That said, your best chance of seeing Lobo is in Rann/Thanagar War or in the upcoming Green Lantern Corps mini series.

Tim, since I hate Lobo so much let’s go topical; do you have a psychological take on Michael Jackson or the jury in the Michael Jackson trial?

Just some fairly pedestrian stuff. We all know Michael (guilty or not) is stuck in a sort of permanent case of arrested development wherein he is eternally trying to capture the wonder of a childhood denied to him by an overbearing and possibly abusive father. However, because he is an adult, not a child, it is a dream forever out of reach. This results in increasingly bizarre stunts, quotes, and quests. Even if only half of what we’ve heard about Michael is true, he is clearly caught up in a sort of delusion (that is only perpetuated by those around him) in which the manner he lives his life is “normal” and not the slight bit a cause for concern.

As far as the jury goes, I’m not a legal analyst so, I can’t speak to their motivations per se. However, an oft echoed sentiment by experts is that the jurors disliked the boy’s mother and that this dislike greatly hurt the prosecution. But the jury couldn’t possibly be that shallow could it? Well, yes and no. Most likely, if the jurors did feel this way about the boy’s mother, but stopped to analyze it they would conclude that it is not a good reason to vote guilty or not guilty in and of itself, so they sublimated it. The feeling does not simply go away. The juror or jurors are now in a state of cognitive dissonance. In order to reach an emotional equilibrium, they need to find a different reason for their feelings. Thus, the mother stops being simply unlikable and becomes a manipulative liar. She is not just abrasive or caustic, but also a woman willing to use her child(ren) to achieve her ends, regardless of how it effects them or others caught up in it.

As I said, these are purely pedestrian, off the cuff explanations. I really haven’t studied any of the people involved.


MarkPoa has star (sapphires) in his eyes

Who’s this Deborah Camille Darnell/Star Sapphire? Did she appear prior to this arc? And since when was she Star Sapphire? I thought that was Carol Ferris?

Oddly enough I’ve touched upon this one in the past. Unfortunately I can’t find that particular column, so I’ll just wing it.

Basically, in the Silver Age there were two Star Sapphires; Carol Ferris who fought (and loved) Hal Jordan and Deborah Camille Darnell who hooked up with the Secret Society of Super Villains.

This Star Sapphire was a regular in Secret Society of Secret Villains. She was so much a regular that she had three identities. She masqueraded as “Camille” a French Real Estate agent and as Debbie Darnell, Captain Comet’s girlfriend.

Her secret origin was to be told in Secret Society of Super Villains #17, unfortunately the book was canceled with issue #15. They had one more appearance (as the main characters) in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #2.

I know that sounds made up, but actually, Mathan is being 100 percent legit with you.

Basically she was a queen from another planet. The Zamarons selected her to be their queen, but she refused. Then they gave her a star sapphire and told her that there were four others in the universe. She decided to collect them all. She came to Earth to get Carol’s, and hooked up with the SSOSV as a means to an end. Of course every bit of information in this paragraph was explained in a letter column in Justice League of America #174.

Tim, what’s your take on the new/old Star Sapphire?

I’m intrigued by the developments over in JLA that find Star Sapphire’s memory returned to her and thus becoming a serious threat to the Justice League. The first issue was fairly rote, but there is a great framework laid down in that first issue as well.

I do kind of wish that Carol was the Sapphire we were seeing as there is added pathos involved there. However, I get that it is mildly silly Silver Age to have Carol return to that alter ego and, with Hal just having returned, a little too soon to do it even if it wasn’t silly.


For Neil, it must be a generational thing

Was Zatara a real Golden Age hero or was he a retcon? Zatanna is the one I’m familiar with, but did we meet Zatara in one a flashback from her JLA days or was he always a character in the
DCU?

Neil, I thought you knew your comic books? Why is Action Comics #1 so valuable? That’s right; it’s the first appearance of Zatara. It’s also the debut of Tex Thompson, for you fans of The Golden Age. Other big name luminaries to first appear in Action Comics #1; cowboy Chucky Dawson and newsman Scoop Scanlon. There was that one guy who was on the cover, but he quicky faded into obscurity.

Again, I know it sounds made up, but it isn’t.

Scoop Scanlon is by far my favorite character. I love his Silver Age tales of meeting deadlines and tracking down sources. And who could forget Scoop’s battles with Technology? Man, did he hate computers. Ooh and what about the Scoop Scanlon of Earth-Two, who didn’t wear a hat and was left handed?

Okay, now, I’m pretty sure he’s just making $h!+ up.

I do think that the post Crisis revamp Man of News kind of took something away from the character. Updating the newsroom to have computers just seemed to fly in the face of everything Scoop stood for.

Seriously Tim, what did you think of last week’s Scoop Scanlon #625? I was really worried that he’d miss the deadline because he was running a spell check.

#625 was alright, but #626 was the real heart stopper.


Neil is really loving the obscure this week.

Who, exactly, is the Red Bee?

Who isn’t he? He’s only the most dynamic character in the DC pantheon!

Rick Raleigh was an ADA (or Assistant District Attorney for those of you who don’t watch Law & Order) who was fed up with criminals getting away with crime. He decided to put on a costume and fight crime.

True, that does sound similar to what happened to a certain Kate Spencer over in Manhunter, but Rick didn’t raid the evidence room for his arsenal, he got some trained bees and a stinger gun and fought crime.

He made his name, sort of, in the 1940’s. He joined the Freedom Fighters and was killed by Baron Blitzkrieg. In case you’re wondering his first appearance was Hit Comics #1.

Tim, since you love Manhunter wouldn’t you be interested in reading a Red Bee monthly?

That depends. These bees you speak of…how many are we talking? Did he name them? If so, what did he call them? If he had some comical, but ultimately revealing nicknames for them, I could imagine myself being on board for such an endeavor.


Stone King asks a question sure to delight Tim Sheridan (A #1 Animated Series Clock King Fan)

I was watching Batman the cartoon on DVD and Clock King was in one episode. The Clock King I remember though looked nothing like this guy. Did he have a costume change or is this a whole other person?

Yes.

Oh you want a more detailed answer. William Tockman had an invalid sister. Then the doctor gave him six months to live. Realizing that he couldn’t provide for his sister from beyond the grave he decided to begin a life of crime to ensure a bankroll for his sister’s care after he died.

The problem is that the “doctor” that Tockman went to visit actually had the wrong patient file in front of him. I guess he was too lazy to actually check the name on the chart to make sure he was giving a death sentence to the correct patient.

Anyway Tockman went on a life of crime as Clock King. He usually ended up butting head with Green Arrow. He was later part of the Injustice League (or Justice League Antarctica if you choose) during the JLI era.

My favorite appearance of his was in Chase #4. I think that everyone should go out and buy that issue to see what great heights Clock King could aspire to.

Oh wait, never mind he did finally die in Suicide Squad vol 2 #1.

But back to your question; the guy in the Batman animated series is a completely different character, but he could conceivably jump to the comics now that the original Clock King is dead.

Tim, have you had a chance to catch the current Batman cartoon?

Nah. I was going to give it a shot, but missed the first episode, then the second, then the third and I kind of packed it in. I didn’t really care, so I figured it probably wasn’t worth trying to catch up.

I’ve got my three season of Batman: TAS and that’s enough for me.


JohnBritton has got Brainiacs on the brain

So I was pretty surprised to see that Indigo is Brainiac 8. Let me get this straight: Brainiac with the green skin, purple shirt, and white shorts is the now Brainiac from the Silver Age, and the sweet sweet Legion of Doom. In the mid 80s, he turned into a big skull-looking robot/ship. Brainiac 5 is a good guy in the Legion, from a planet full of Brainiacs? And Brainiac 13 was from the distant future and took over Metropolis for a while? Please fill in the blanks and correct me to explain how we got to the big reveal in Outsiders/Titans. And while you’re at it, who’s smarter, Lex Luthor or Brainiac?

JohnBritton, it’s not that difficult.

The Brainiac with the green skin, purple shirt and white shorts was always the Brainiac from the Silver Age. Thus his cartoon counterpart was part of the Legion of Doom.

In the mid 80’s he did turn into a robot. Actually that’s not quite true, he was always a robot. Y’see back in Superman #167 it was revealed that Brainiac was a robotic spy created by the Computer Tyrants of Colu to, well spy. He was given a kid, as part of the cover, a kid named Vril Dox. Brainiac went on to a life of interstellar crime.

Then in Action Comics #544 Brainiac had to build himself a new body and went with the more robotic looking form from the mid 80’s.

But that’s the Silver Age, back in the current DCU Vril Dox wasn’t a robot. He was just a smart scientist from Colu. He was killed by the Computer Tyrants of Colu, kind of. Actually his body was destroyed, but his mind traveled light years to Earth and found a home inside mentalist Milton Fine’s head. Milt was dubbed Brainiac and with Vril’s powerful mind in control havoc was wrought.

Back on Colu Vril’s son/assistant Vril Dox II later overthrew the Computer Tyrants.

On Earth Brainiac was busy being a bad guy and forcing Lex Corp folks to clone him a nifty new Coluan body. But that didn’t work out too well and he soon abandoned human form and adopted a robotic form dubbed Brainiac II.

He later revealed he had put a virus in Lex Corp stuff that would make him more powerful. Actually it just allowed Brainiac 13 from the 64th Century to get to the present. While here 13 “upgraded” Metropolis. Brainiac 2 then took to inhabiting the body of Lena Luthor, Lex’s infant daughter. Facing defeat Brainiac 13 retreated. He popped up again during Our World’s At War.

After that Brainiac 2 left Lena’s body and Brainiac 13 was sent back to the Big Bang. Superman later met Brainiac 12 and found out that everything 13 had done was to insure that 12 would become 13, but Superman stopped that apparently.

Here’s a rundown on Querl Dox

He comes from a planet, Colu, where the average person is about a gazillion times more intelligent than anyone on Earth, and he’s head and shoulders above them in terms of smarts. So this guy is one of the most intelligent beings in the known universe.

Plus, based on the way he was talking in the issue, there’s a reason to believe that Brainy had something to do with the creation of the Legion. So in theory, there may not have been a Legion without him.

Querl Dox is a descendent of Vril Dox. Vril Dox was a genius on Colu and he worked with the Computer Tyrants. He plotted to overthrow them; they spread his atoms across the cosmos. Vril’s consciousness was so strong that it stayed together and made its way to Earth and grew to cause problems for Superman as Brainiac.

Vril’s son, Vril Dox II helped overthrow the Computer Tyrants, freeing Colu of their… um… tyranny. He also went on to found L.E.G.I.O.N., who help keep the peace galaxy-wide.

Colu isn’t full of evil “Brainiacs” its full of smart “Brainiacs.” They’re way smart, but not really evil. They’re far to focused on the accumulation of knowledge to worry about evil, but that also means they don’t worry about “right” or “wrong” either.

So basically we’ve seen Brainiacs 1, 2, 5, 12 and 13. Now we have Brainiac 8. I think this is the first time that we’ve seen the Vril Dox version of Brainiac in a few years, so that’s kind of a big deal.

As for who’s “smarter” I’m going with Brainiac, though I think Lex is much more clever.

Tim, your thoughts?

So. Many. Brainiacs. Ears bleeding. Dizzy. Feel. So. Cold. Time to go sleepy.


Chaos has found the one question more complicated than the one above

Where is the idea that Power Girl may come the future get brought up… If Arion knew her mother, wouldn’t that screw that idea all together..? And who started the child of Wonder Girl and Superboy rumor – the idea is absurd, makes Karen the grandchild of Lex, Supes, and a Greek god – nuts… if from the future maybe Kara Zor-El’s future child – ouch… brain hurts…

At this point I think it’s pure speculation. However we will have answers shortly.

I can’t remember reading anything about Power Girl being from the future, but then again I tend to block out things I don’t care for.

I don’t think that Power Girl being the spawn of Cassie and Kon is all that bad. I would have preferred that the origin be something that we could go back to and read between the lines, and you can’t really do that with stories set in the future.

Actually the more I think about it, the more the Power Girl being the product of a Supes/Wondy coupling is making sense. I’m sure that I’ve read it on the fan boards that people wanted Kara to be the future child of Clark Kent and Diana, and this seems like a decent way of making everyone happy. You get the Wondy/Supes paring without damaging the Lois/Clark relationship.

And if you look at it from that perspective you can see how while Geoff was building the Cassie/Kon romance over in Teen Titans he was laying the groundwork for the origin of Power Girl. And when you factor in how much of a role time travel has played in their courtship (Kon was abducted into the future on their first date, Titans of Tomorrow) it all seems to fit pretty well.

And you are correct in your assessment of how damaging the effects of theorizing future parentage can be on the brain.

Tim, do you have any clue what your best bud Geoff Johns is planning?

If I did, I could hardly tell you, could I? Wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise, would I?


Chaos asks the million dollar Crisis question

If the multi-verse is coming back, does the mean retro whip lash across the board? What will happen to current continuity? What will happen to the volumes of stories spent trying to make amends in all the various continuities?

Chaos, you worry way too much. I swore that I read a statement from Dan DiDio stating that Infinite Crisis wasn’t a continuity cleaning up event. It’s more a unifying event as opposed to drastically altering the universe.

Isn’t the current thinking that every DC book is going to jump ahead a year, ala Azzarello’s run on Superman? That’s what I’ve been reading over on the DCMB’s.

Tim, any insight on the future of the DCU?

The jumping ahead a year device is in fact the legit plan for the books going forward. There is also no indication that DiDio is lying/mistaken about this Crisis being a continuity clearer.

However, I do think Chaos’s question does speak to a certain concern that many fans of the post-Crisis universe share. Overlooking evil, evil Hypertime, the real fear is not a return to multi-verse but rather a general regressing to past characters, plotlines, etc. The two most public indications of this thus far are Hal Jordan’s return and Meltzer’s “recapturing” of Silver Age tales through the revelation of mindwipes in Identity Crisis. We can also add Ollie’s return to life and being the primary Green Arrow, Canary getting her cry back, and anything Loeb has done with Superman in the past two to three years.

There are also those who fear that the current trend in DC books is leading us back to the grim ‘n gritty era of comics. They point to character deaths and the dissipation of “fun” in the DCU.

I would say the jury is out on both matters still and that, ultimately, while there may be some truth to both, the Silver Age and the grim ‘n gritty era are not returning for a second go round. Aspects of them may pop up, but I don’t think either is omnipresent enough to pronounce that the DCU is making a return to either style.


Colin wanders into the dangerous world of low budget fan films

What’s the deal with the internet trailer for Grayson? Sure it looks (ultra) low budget, but it also looks as though they must’ve had some financing, as they have locations and military vehicles in the movie. It looks poorly acted, but it has fanboy goodness with Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Joker, and Batgirl. Is it some movie that tried to get off the ground but can’t, because they didn’t get the rights to the characters and no studio will distribute it? Did the writer/director/Robin just finance enough for a trailer with his own cash? Good to see GL in a movie, but it looks like the ring just flashes; no special effects for a real ring power. And the movie looks like it’s supposed to be dark and brooding, but Grayson goes back to his colorful pixie boot Robin costume to avenge the death of Batman.

Sadly I’ve not seen the trailer. I’m still without computer, but hopefully I’ll be back with a PC this weekend.

I can say with some degree of certainty that this wasn’t an actual flick. No one would be foolish enough to actually invest in a movie that couldn’t be made. I mean except for the writer/director. This seems to be more like something that was put together as a way of getting his name out there and building a buzz. In this era of the internet, its easy to disseminate information.

There are several examples of musicians who have had their albums put on the fast track because of interest on the internet. And there where those guys who made that short film about a plane landing on the freeway, which got them some publicity.

Based on what you’ve described I’m guessing this is the latter, because it seems to have a decent budget. Of course, this could just be a fan film that wants to win annual Wizard contest.

Tim, have you seen this trailer?

I’ve only seen screen captures. It sounded interesting plotwise, but the way it looked in the photos didn’t do anything for me so I didn’t pursue it further. Near as I know, it is the work of a fan with creativity, equipment, and free time who gave it a shot for the heck of it. I haven’t heard of him having further motive about it than that.


I’m calling it a column. We’ll be back next week with more of the usual things.

My question for you this week; What did you think about Batman Begins?

“They were looking for god, but found religion instead.”

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