Who's Who in the DCU

Tim, I’m really digging DC cartoons right about now. Cartoon Network has begun showing repeats of the Justice League late night and I’m doing my best to actually catch them. I’m also taking every opportunity to watch both Batman and Superman on Boomerang. I’m really ashamed that I never appreciated Superman when it was actually on. So, how’d your moving go?

Well, it’s done, so that’s good news. Overall, actually, it wasn’t as awful as it could have been. I am, however, thankful to be done with those two days and four flights of stairs. If I never have to move that couch or dresser again, that’ll suit me just fine.


IP Music has plenty of new reviews up!

IP Movies tells you which DVDs are worth your hard earned money.

IP Games should do an investigative report on the whereabouts of the 100 Bullets video game.

IP Figures has tons of sneak peeks!

IP TV is (still) giving away DVD’s!

IP Sports has updates on the Wild Card race!

Moodspins has plenty of voices talking about numerous topics. And poetry too!

IP Culture has reviews and recipes!

Our DC Forums has plenty of theories on Infinite Crisis and other things.

Tim, what links are you going to share with us this week?

Just some stuff I’ve been paying attention to this past week:

Good news for the state I’ve left behind from Yahoo. Looks like the Groton Sub Base will stay open. Here’s to hoping that Newington High School Class of ’99 Graduate and Navy man Matt Thompson gets reassigned there as requested.

Also, feel free to take a gander at the place I now call home Royal Badness (aka Princeton, NJ)

Finally, visit this site to absorb everything about the short lived series Profit that I just completed watching on DVD and is excellent. Big thanks to Tim Sheridan for that going away present.

What I Read Last Week

Detective Comics #810 – So Cluemaster cheated death but Spoiler met it head on? Yawn.

Exactly, Mathan, exactly.

Klarion #3 – This book was a fun treat. Tim I think it’ll make more sense later on.

I’m sure it will too. I didn’t dislike the issue, I was just a little let down by it. It happens now and again.

Batman: Journey Into Knight #1 – While I don’t know if I dig Huat’s new style, I’m certainly digging the rookie Batman.

Human Race #6 – This poor book is being overlooked for Justiniano’s other book, and it’s a shame because his art is really something to look at on these pages. Raab’s also done a solid job with the story.

Manhunter #13 – Great book, but I agree with you Tim; Dylan’s quips got old pretty fast.

Green Lantern #3 – I loved this book. But I am curious why the ring was seemingly hemorrhaging power. And it’s nice to see those GL’s we referenced a few columns back turn up on that last page.

Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #5 – I would vote for Lex again. If he were always written as he is in this mini, the DCU would be such a better place. Damn Loeb and his power suit Lex!

This must be our week to agree on everything. To “Damn Loeb and his power suit Lex!” I say here here. Preach on my Who’s Who Compadre, preach on!

Johnny Double #1-4 – I picked up this mini because it was a light week. I had the trade, but I left it in Baltimore at my best friend’s house (and he’s yet to sent it my way.) Plus what can I say; I’m an Azz man.

Let’s go to the questions shall we?

I cannot conceive of a more perfect thing to do. Lead the way, kind sir.

Thankfully both Brock & Mike S placed the lyric.

Excellent job. Way to pull your weight people. To the rest of you…well, I’m shaking my fist at you. I’m shaking it vigorously.

Mike S drops the ball…huge.

Unfortunately, none of the questions I usually have are springing to mind at the moment. So just pretend I asked the question you most wanted to answer this week and educate your audience, and I’ll try and ask a real one in the future.

I rescind my past words of congratulations. I gave you a chance and you blew it! (Please watch the trailer for Cop Land to hear how, exactly, I am saying that.)

Brock has creepy needs involving snakes

I need some information on Kobra’s death. I hear Geoff Johns killed him in JSA but I need the how, where, when and why. I’m also damn curious as to what happened to the body. Since Kobra used to have access to a Lazarus Pit, I’m wondering why some of his more loyal followers haven’t decided to use old man Ra’s technology to make life hell for his baby girl.

While Kobra died relatively recently (about two years ago), in order to fully appreciate it you’ve got to know what lead up to it.

Over five years ago, in JSA #11 Kobra took control of Airwave (or as he was known then Maser). (Oh my god…that was over five years ago? Wow…I think I just confronted my own mortality.) They want to use him to cause crazy havoc around the world in a bid for blackmail. But in order to be taken seriously they’ve got to “flex their muscles” so to speak. So they downed an airliner, one that happened to be carrying Terri Rothstein, who happened to be the mother of Atom Smasher.

The JSA gets involved and then comes the tense moment when Atom Smasher confronts the man responsible for his mother’s death. Atom Smasher wants to kill him, understandably. But Starman manages to talk him out of it. The end.

Or so it seemed. In JSA #45 Kobra stands trial for the deaths of those on board the flight. However Kobra is a wily one; he informs everyone that unless he’s released 500 of his followers are going to die. No one wants to see more blood spilt, thus Kobra is released.

Enraged Black Adam and Atom Smasher quit the JSA. Their logic is that Kobra should have been killed when they had their chance. Now justice has been subverted.

The story finally ends in JSA #51 when Kobra’s Himalayan hideout is invaded by Black Adam, Northwind, Brainwave and of course Atom Smasher. This group of heroes is a tad more brutal than the JSA and nothing makes that clearer then when Black Adam rips Kobra’s heart from his chest, ending the despot’s life.

I’m guessing that the Lazarus Pit Kobra had access to was destroyed by Batman, who went on a crusade to rid the planet of pits. And even if it was still around, I don’t know how much use Kobra’s corpse would be without its heart.

But I’m guessing if Kobra does make a reappearance, the Lazarus Pit would seem to be a reasonable explanation for it.

Tim, do you think we’ll ever see Kobra again?

I hope so, although I also hope that it is not the version who is currently suffering from being, literally, without heart. I’d rather see a new, equally compelling Kobra at the helm of that kill crazy cult, carrying on the ultimate goal of bringing about Kali-Yuga. It is too cool a conceit to let fall by the wayside (and, in his heyday, Kobra was too excellent a villain to abandon), but it would be wrong to so blatantly off the original just to bring him back.

Thus, new guy, same mission suits me nicely.

Jon C loves to chase down the thunder

Jakeem Thunder has Johnny Thunder’s old Thunderbolt, right? And that Thunderbolt was controlled by the magic word “Say You” (or “Cei-U,” if you’re some kind of total nerd). But he invokes it by saying “So Cool,” and has done so since JSA started. Now, I know he still had to say “Say You” when he was in JLA, so is the “So Cool” thing because that Thunderbolt merged with the evil Thunderbolt from Crisis Times Five, or did I miss something in the middle?

Jon C, you’re absolutely correct… for the most part. Jakeem Thunder sort of has Johnny Thunder’s old Thunderbolt.

Y’see Johnny’s Thunderbolt is conjured up by saying “Say You.” The Thunderbolt is actually a 5th Dimensional being known as Yz, and “Say You” is the approximation of Yz backwards. Johnny’s Thunderbolt was pink.

Well the JLA arc you referenced (Crisis Times Five for those keeping score) the hero Triumph had fallen on bad times. He conjured up the 5th Dimensional being Lkz, by saying “So Cool”, again a backwards approximation of his name. Triumph’s Thunderbolt was blue.

Anyway during that arc the two Thunderbolts merged into a purple Thunderbolt known as Ylzkz. This Thunderbolt was controlled by saying “So Cool.” Since that arc the Thunderbolt has reverted to the pink color, but still responds to “So Cool.”

And that’s the story of the Thunderbolt’s new magic word.

Tim, what color Thunderbolt would you like to have and how would you conjure it up?

I’d like to think my Thunderbolt would be a strong forest green color and I would conjure it up by speaking the phrase “The Socratic Method.” Why, you ask? Well it is certainly no more silly than saying “Say You,” or “So Cool,” and a lot easier to swallow than the idea that Lkz backwards sounds like “So Cool”.

Chaos is all wrapped up in the (hype) game

I’ve noticed that the majority of the comic trade mags and news sites are pretty sick of the hype around Infinite Crisis, and though at a philosophical stand point it bugs me too, but I swear I haven’t found monthly super hero books this good since I was a little kid… so how do you feel about all of it?

In terms of the hype, I guess I’m kind of oblivious to it. I only frequent Comics Nexus, occasionally visit the DC Message Boards and read Wizard (for my monthly intake of Vitamin B). So I don’t really get the full brunt of the hype machine.

I’m also willing to give DC a “pass” of sorts. The last two times DC has tossed the word “Crisis” in title of an upcoming miniseries,(Zero Hour doesn’t count) the results were pretty solid. I don’t think that DC is willing to tarnish that legacy (like a certain other company did with the term “Infinity.”) (Whatever could you be referring to Mathan? You are being FAR too subtle.)

Since I’m optimistic about the outcome I don’t see it as over hyped.

I will say that I could do without many of the Countdown miniseries tie-ins. While I’m picking up each one of the minis, I’m not going out of my way to snatch up the tie-ins. Nightwing has proved pretty disappointing that regard.

But yeah, the quality of comics is at a pretty high level of consistency. There is the sense that the stories are building to something. And that electricity and enthusiasm is contagious. If, two years ago, you had told me that I’d be reading the Super-titles and Wonder Woman, I’d have called you crazy. But here we are in 2005 and I’m anxiously awaiting the next issue of all four titles.

I think that one of the best parts of the whole Infinite Crisis phenomenon is that the DCU actually feels a bit more unified than in recent years.

Tim, what’s your stance on DC and hype machine?

Well, it’s funny you should ask Mr. Erhardt, since I answered this very question in a Words of Questionable Wisdom entitled On Hype. Feel free to peruse it. (What’s best about this is I didn’t even plan it. Sometimes the chance to pimp yourself just kind of…shows up).

To summarize it in a few less than 1,000 words, my feeling is this: being upset about comic companies hyping their product is like being upset about bears hibernating. They have to do it, they have no choice. Now, obviously, there are degrees that they can go to that might be too far, but overall, getting upset about yet another article on Newsarama about Infinite Crisis is a waste. You don’t have to click the link, you don’t have to read the article. If you are bombarded by hype to the point that you resent it, perhaps it is time to stop away from your computer or leave those comic news sites alone for a few days.

The best comparison I can offer is this. Pat Robertson makes me mad. I think that he has disguised his bigotry as religion for too long and it makes me furious as an American and a Christian. So you know what? I never watch him, I never read his essays, I never visit his website. If hype drives you mad, makes you want to give up comics, etc. then leave it alone. I know, I know, easier said than done. But, if we are truthful, it is hardly impossible.

And now, I step off my soapbox.

Aaron wonders how long the impact of an hour lasts

With all the hubbub over the ending to Identity Crisis, I’m wondering how a certain storyline has aged, with the proper amount of time passed and perspective. It’s been more than 10 years since Zero Hour. Which characters, titles (and even writers) were helped/hurt the most by Zero Hour and, eleven years later, does the effects of that storyline still hold up in the DCU?

Well as one who actually lived through Zero Hour I can say that it’s not aged well at all. Furthermore nearly everything that it altered has been undone.

Here’s a list of some of Zero Hour’s most notable changes;

Who Killed the Waynes? – In order to make Batman’s crusade more poignant, the case of who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne was never solved. Thus Batman is, on some level, still searching for justice for his parent.

Catwoman wasn’t a prostitute! – As detailed in the mini Catwoman: Year One (and published in the trade Her Sister’s Keeper) Selina Kyle was prostitute. But Zero Hour wiped that out. However with the reappearance of Holly, Catwoman’s early years are very cloudy once again.

Triumph – This guy was retconned in as an early member of the JLA. He went rouge in one of the most spectacular fashions in recent memory.

New Starman, Manhunter, and Fate – Chase Lawler, the Manhunter of that era was recently killed. Fate also met a similar end a few years back. Jack Knight proved to be the most popular of that era’s “legacy heroes.” His title developed a cult following and critical acclaim. Sadly that’s still two more aspects of Zero Hour that aren’t around anymore.

New Beginning for the Legion of Super-Heroes – The one of the main reasons behind Zero Hour, the legion got a fresh start that erased their 30-odd year history. But that new Legion’s history was erased earlier this year with the launch of the current Legion of Super Heroes title, making yet another part of Zero Hour moot.

The Death of Hourman, Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite, and essentially Dr. Fate – Extant demolished those JSA vets. And they’ve basically stayed dead. Atom, Dr. Fate and Dr. Mid-Nite never quite returned, although the latter two do have successors to their titles.

But Hourman is a different story. The android Hourman (who had his own title) actually manipulated time (which isn’t a big deal, since that’s his power) and replaced himself with the Golden Age Hourman in the battle with Extant. As a result the android Hourman “died” in Zero Hour, while the Golden Age Hourman is enjoying the present.

Speaking of Extant – He was supposed to be a pretty big deal baddie. But he ended up essentially becoming a JSA foe and even tangled with Impulse in a pretty funny one-shot. In the end, he was killed by Atom Smasher over on the pages of JSA, so he never really lived up to his hype.

Parallax the Threat to the DCUZero Hour was Parallax’s big time to shine. He was finally going to transcend “fallen hero” and move to “powerful villain.” And he did, for a minute. However he never lived up to his hype either. He ended up relighting the sun (how evil!) and recently became a Green Lantern again.

Primal Force? – This was supposed to be an off beat team hero book. It flopped.

Hawkman Become Untouchable?Zero Hour made Hawkman a confusing mess, which would take him years to be extricated from.

“Who did Zero Hour help?” It really helped James Robinson. Robinson was the writer and creator of the aforementioned Starman who gained a huge following as a result of the title. Ironically for an event that retired several Golden Age heroes, Starman would lead a resurgence of interest in Golden Age characters in the long run.

The Legion was also helped, in the short term. Freeing the title from years of sometimes confusing continuity made the title accessible to new readers.

Sadly those are the only “winners” that I can think of from Zero Hour.

“Who did Zero Hour hurt?” Hawkman was practically radioactive after Zero Hour. He had a messed up continuity half life of like eight years.

Golden Age fans were also hurt as a result of Zero Hour. With the Golden Age Flash and Green Lantern both retiring, and Dr. Fate, Dr. Mid-Nite, Atom and Hourman all effectively “dying”, it was a dark day for fans of those characters.

I suppose Ray “Atom II” Palmer also suffered, since he was reverted to being a teenager again (because doesn’t that sound like a good idea?)

Yup, Aaron Zero Hour hasn’t held up well over the past decade. While it may have had solid intentions at the time, it just appears that DC wasn’t committed to making the renovations to the DCU stick.

Tim, I know you’ve got something to add to this one.

If I’m honest, I never had much love for Zero Hour. There were some good stories to come out of it, certainly. Ollie shooting the arrow at his former friend Hal (Parallax) that wins the battle for the good guys, the Green Lantern #0 issue that had Parallax and Kyle tangling on Oa, that issue of Legends of the Dark Knight called “Viewpoints” that had nothing to do with Zero Hour but was still a #0 issue…okay, so maybe there weren’t as many good points as I thought.

Another person that was hurt by Zero Hour was the artist, Jerry Ordway. Find any interview where he talks about it and his comments always amount to “hey, I did what I was told,” with the not said but definitely implied, “and I very much disliked it,” hanging over the statement. In particular, if I recall correctly, he had a hard time with the classic JSA’s fate.

A warning, however, this is mostly based on my interpretation of his past words, so I could be way out of left field on this one.

Julian reminds us that even though lead paint chips might taste like cherry doesn’t mean we should eat them.

Anyhow…think back to Invasion! where anyone possessing a meta-gene got sick. Remember the invasion of the Daxamites? What is the fate of the Daxamites in ‘present day’ DC lore? Are they confined to their planet due to lead-poison issues?

Sure the Daxamites were involved in Invasion! but they were more observers than participants. They were worried that if the alien alliance conquered Earth, Daxam might be their next conquest.

Even before Invasion the Daxamites weren’t the friendliest of aliens. They were rather xenophobic and didn’t really leave Daxam. But after finding out about their weakness to lead, has caused them to further resist leaving the planet. It’s not so much being confined, as it is being content.

Of course it the fact that the majority of the Daxamites who left the planet ended up dead certainly might discourage those who might be inclined to leave Daxam.

Tim, do you think we’ll ever see Lar Gand in the current Legion of Super-Heroes title oops, I forgot you’re not reading one of the best books out right now. Tim, what’s your favorite alien race in the DCU?

Ahh, I just love how you work that weekly Legion and “Tim’s not reading it” reference in. Well done…well done. (The Emphasis)

My favorite alien would have to be Ultra, the Multi Alien. (For those of you who do not know of whom I speak, here he is gloriously rendered in toy form.) He was so awesome that one race could not contain him! Which, really, if you think about, is a message of hope for all of us. If Ultra exists then that means, at some point, in some future, we all can put aside the idea of race and simply exist.

*Sniff* Excuse me…I seem to have something stuck in my eye. I’ll just be a moment.

So yeah…anyway…Ultra rocks. Here’s to you, Ultra. Thank you…for hope.

Aaron feels hunted…Manhunted!

Remember the “Manhunters” storyline? I never fully understood if these
Manhunters were sleeper agents lying in wait or if they killed the “originals” and replaced them with Manhunters. OK, that doesn’t make any sense. For example, The Outsiders had an associate named Dr. Helga Jace. She was revealed to be a Manhunter and nearly destroyed the group before Metamorpho sacrificed himself to save the team. Was she always a Manhunter? Did they “get” to her? I’ve always wondered about this.

That’s a very good question. In actuality the Manhunters utilized three different approaches when dealing with infiltrating the hero community. The first was indeed to replace actual people with android duplicates, as in the case of Helga Jace. She was an actual person when at some point she was switched out with a android duplicate.

Another approach they took was to brainwash people for the cause. This is what happened to Lana Lang and Jim Gordon. Those two characters were loyal to Superman and Batman respectively. But both were also brainwashed into becoming pawns for the Manhunter scheme.

The final way of infiltrating the heroes was just by recruiting people to the cause. The Suicide Squad’s Karin Grace wasn’t brainwashed or an android. Neither was Mark Shaw. Both were willing participants in the Manhunters plan to wipe out the Chosen.

Tim, have you got a favorite Manhunter?

Well, I am a fan of the Martian variety, but I am guessing that isn’t what you mean.

I guess I’d have to go with Kate Spencer. Yes, she is a newbie, and she doesn’t have the history of, let’s say, a Mark Shaw or robot from outer space Manhunter. However, she is the first Manhunter who’s title I’ve actually read, she’s complicated and interesting, and the writing and art on the book have been stellar. Oh, and just to upset Dhaise, I’ll say Chase Lawler too. Granted, I’ve never read a Chase Lawler Manhunter book, but whatever. CHASE LAWLER FOREVER!!!

Chaos loves to see us name drop

Doesn’t Tim know Geoff Johns or something – can he ask him why Courtney, Stargirl never seems to improve on her skills… I mean correct me if I’m wrong, but she’s had the rod long enough to be able to do more than just fly, right? Is it cause Ted’s dead, that the secrets of the full powers of the Cosmic Rod have been buried or something?

Well I’m going to pretend that she’s just more comfortable using her belt. Sure she could learn how to use the rod, but that means she’d have to disturb Jack Knight, who’s doing the whole “family thing” right now. And you know how lazy kids are. Why do you think that she’d really travel across the country to track down Jack just to look like an amateur? Get real.

But I’ll also add that she hasn’t had the rod for too long, plus she’s got a full regular life. She’s got to be a daughter, student, sister and hero, which doesn’t leave much time for training.

Tim, care to add your brilliant two cents to this?

My brilliant two cents? Ahh, it is so nice to see you finally come around Mathan. So nice, indeed.

Anyway, I think it is a matter of Courtney thinking of the Rod as just another tool in her arsenal, in much the same way Superman probably views his heat vision (which is a better question, I think. Why the heck doesn’t Supes melt more stuff?). She’s more comfortable with the belt, so she relies on it more.

It is also hard to gauge, exactly, how much and for what Courtney is using the Rod. Don’t forget that she is part of a giant ensemble cast and, for all we know, could be going buckwild with that thing off panel all the live long day. I expect not, but it could be the case.

Anyway, your question is not wholly accurate. In JSA #68, she pretty well cooks a member of the Red Morgue’s arm. And by pretty well, I mean she takes the flesh right off the bone. I’m not sure how often besides that she has utilized the Rod in such a manner (probably never as brutally), but it at least demonstrates that she does have the skills.


Did you ever see the Human Target TV show? Was it any good? Any comments?

No I never did watch the Human Target on TV. It might have had something do with my history with the show’s star.

Y’see Rick Springfield and I had a falling out of sorts. I was actually “Jesse” of Jesse’s Girl fame. Way back in the day Rick and were good friends. But he was always coveting my girl. So I had to cut him off, because true friends know when to keep their feelings secret.

Anyway, as he became more successful the girl in question began showing her interest in him. Eventually our relationship ended and Rick ended up with the girl. He substituted “Jesse” for “Mathan” for the sake of clarity and my feelings, but I knew who he was talking about.

But how dope would it have been to see Alfred Molina as Rahad Jackson singing Mathan’s Girl?

Years later, around 1998 Rick and I met up and talked things out over a couple of Fruitopias®. Everything is kosher now.

Ok, so I made the whole story up. I’ll admit it; I never watched The Human Target because the property wasn’t cool until Peter Milligan got his hands on him.

There! Are you happy now?

Tim, would you rather watch Rick Springfield as The Human Target or listen to Rick Springfield sing Mathan’s Girl?

See, Mathan says to you he made the story up, but believe you me, I’ve heard it about two dozen times at our cocktail parties. Yes, we have cocktail parties. At them, we discuss things like the metric system, the worth of yen against the dollar, can man really neither create nor destroy matter, and what is the true nature of self. Mathan and I are two very erudite individuals. So don’t act all shocked. We do have other interests besides the funny books.

To answer your query, my cohort, as long as Mathan’s Girl had a good hook and I could dance to it, I’d most certainly prefer it over the Human Target TV series. I have seen it once, I believe it was the pilot. Believe me when I tell you that the term “cheesy” does not even begin to encapsulate the experience of watching that program. On the other hand, Mr. Springfield does have very pretty, very feathered hair.

On that note of absurdity, let’s end this column.

You say absurd, I declare it art!

Be sure to visit the thread devoted to this column, where you can post your comments and questions.

My question to you this week; what do you think Infinite Crisis is about?

“Still doing this edited like dude in Wild Style.”