Who's Who in the DCU

Tim, The Warriors is the greatest video game ever! I’ve never loved a video game like I love this one. It fleshes out back-stories for characters and gangs. The gameplay is smooth. It’s just like the movie, only better!

Like the movie, only better. Well, I’m sold! I can barely wait until I have that game in my hot little hands (well hot, massive hands). Then, the Warriors truly will come out to play.

Links (via individual Warriors)

IP Music is clearly Cochise. It’s got flair and style just like him.

IP Movies would have to be Swan. Swan can be silent, or full of action.

IP Games is Vermin. They’ll all about business, just like him.

IP Figures relates best to Cowboy, because both are all about accessories.

IP TV is obviously Fox, because he’s the lookout and it’s a very visual zone, plus they’re both witty.

IP Sports sadly relates to Ajax, given the tough guy slightly misogynistic nature of the field.

Moodspins obviously is Snow, as both can be hard-hitting.

IP Culture and Rembrandt fit perfectly, because what’s more cultured than an artist?

Our DC Forums would have to be Coney Island, because it’s where we mark our turf.

Tim, whatever will you link this week?

Why, I’d be happy to link to the website of my BRAND NEW JOB!!! That’s right, Timothy G. Stevens, Esquire is now a proud Behavioral Health Specialist for Community Hope. How does this effect you, the reader? Not at all. But won’t you feel a bit cleaner reading a column not edited by some unemployed bum. I know that I would, if I was you.

On a less selfish note, go check out the work of gone but never forgotten Ben Morse as he dives into Crisis on Infinite Earths. Why? Because he’s Ben and he damn well has earned your respect and attention. Also, it is interesting.

What I Read Last Week

Superman #222 – One ticket anywhere out of Metropolis please.

Can’t you take me with you?

Green Lantern Corps #2 – I didn’t really dislike the art as much as most people did. As a Green Lantern Corps fan, who has ever mini, series and annual, I’m loving this mini. I love the concept. I love getting back into space. I can’t wait for the regular series to start.

Captain Atom: Armageddon – I’m so glad that stepped out of the Wildstorm universe, because it makes this book so jarring. I feel just like Cap. I dug the recap of his origin and his last few minutes on Earth and in the DCU. This was a solid read.

Manhunter #15 – Great issue. I loved how much history went into the costume. I got a kick out of the links Kate has to the overall DCU. Again, I’m a fan of the multiple art teams.

I dig multiple art teams when correctly applied (and I would say they were here), but what the heck was up with Rags’ art? I could not even detect his typical style in it.

Astro City: The Dark Age #4 – Great ending. Tragic ending. We finally find out the fate of the Silver Agent and it sucks. I really dug how Kurt explains that this was to be his follow up to Marvels on the letters page. That was a neat bit of trivia.

Hyperion #2 – Eh, it was an “ok” issue. I liked the Quantum Realities, in theory but I think I’m going to be disappointed with the concept in reality. I didn’t like the ending at all.

Really? I thought the ending was kind of neat. Perhaps a bit too much like the original Squadron Supreme (but with VIOLENCE!) but I certainly did not hate it.

Klarion #4 – Dude, I so loved this mini. I loved the art most of all, but the story was kosher as well.

Here, here!

Justice #2 – I liked this book. The Riddler hasn’t been this cool in a long while. Tim you must be happy.

Always nice to see Nigma got off the bench.

Hellblazer #213 – Art by Klarion’s Frazer Irving? Starring John Constantine (natch)? Plus it’s a flashback issue. It’s so good that I almost brought this issue up later in the column.

Gotham Knights #70 – So the Clayface virus is almost as dangerous as the Avian Flu? That’s no joke. I’ll admit to fearing for Cassius in the near future.

Batman #646 – Black Mask looks hilarious on the cover. Mr. Li is such a nice touch. And Black Mask’s theories on the Batman/Red Hood relationship are pretty interesting.

Aaron will only accept the best.

What’s the best story you’ve read? Yeah, I know…too many to choose from…that’s why I’m adding this caveat: it has to be a one-shot issue. It can’t be part of a multi-issue storyline. Page one is the beginning, page whatever is THE END, no loose ends, etc.

Aaron, that’s such a tough question to answer. I’ve been reading comic books for a minute; as a result I’ve read a fair share of books. Thus I’ve got to give you more than one and I’m going to break it down by story types.

Bad Guys, Great Stories

Supergirl #58 – This isn’t the most “standalone” of all issue, but it’s one of my faves because it explains how Buzz became who he was. It spans centuries and paints quite the sympathetic portrait of an evil guy.

Superman #9 – Sure, the Joker is on the cover and hogs all of the main story, but the real gem of this issue is the back up story. It features a truly evil Lex Luthor. This is the issue that really sold me on Lex Luthor.

The Killing Joke – Speaking of sympathetic portraits, this one shows how the Joker may have come about. It’s a pretty sad story that really makes you feel for him. However it’s juxtaposed against a (then) present day Joker in all of his vicious madness.

Unauthorized Biography of Lex Luthor – Lex appears on the list again. This time we get to see how Lex rose out of the poverty of Suicide Slum to become the most powerful man in Metropolis. We also see Clark Kent framed for murder, just for asking too many questions. It’s a great book with more Clark Kent than Superman and even more Lex.

Birth of the Demon – Ok, so this is more of a book (hardcover and all) than an “issue” but it’s still one tale that tells the origin of Ra’s al Ghul. See how Ra’s went from being a knowledgeable man of virtue to a guy who wanted to kill half of the population of the world.

Gunshot One-Shots

Black Lightning #5 – The previous issue saw Jefferson “Black Lightning” Pierce shot. This issue finds him resting in a hospital and reflecting on his life. He ponders his regrets and his failures. It’s as close to Astro City as the DCU has ever gotten with its unique take on super heroing. The black and white sequences of the issue still blow me away.

Outsiders #11 – Arsenal had been shot five issues back, but now we finally get to see how he coped with it. We see him dealing this his trauma and his scars (both physical and emotional.) This is the issue that made me respect Arsenal, just a bit.

Typical Heroes, Atypical Stories

Starman #4 – This issue details a day in the life of Jack Knight. We find him searching for “junk” and trying to find a deal. Eventually there’s a confrontation with an antagonist that ends unconventionally.

Aquaman #5 (vol 5) – Major Disaster was a lame character. Underworld Unleashed was a lukewarm crossover. Aquaman is considered a joke. But you mix the three of them and you have yourself a great issue. Major Disaster’s power has never been used better. This is just a cool issue. It’s got a cliffhanger, but this single issue is a solid read.

Impulse #19 – Impulse has A.D.D. times 1,000. He’s also got super speed and happens to be a teenager. Well, this issue offers a peek into his dreams. It’s funny and creative.

Extra-sized Issues

J.L.A. #200 – This is the 1st comic book that I ever had. This is the one that made me a fan of Hal Jordan and Barry Allen (as well as Brian Bolland and Joe Kubert). It features original Leaguers versus the satellite Leaguers, with a pinch of mind control.

Sandman Mystery Theatre Annual #1 – One of the few Vertigo Annuals and a phenomenal read. It tells the tale of one of the Golden Age Sandman’s cases, from several different perspectives. It’s well written and features a myriad of artists.

Batman #400 – This is an amazing issue. It’s an anniversary issue with a creepy cover. Basically Ra’s al Ghul breaks everyone out of Arkham and Bats has to deal with the ensuing mayhem.

Superman Annual #11 – This is a classic issue. “For the Man How Has Everything” is pretty much a “dream” issue, but it’s tragic. For his birthday he’s given his heart’s desire, but that’s not a good thing.

Human Target

Human Target #6 – I loved this title and I still mourn its passing to this day. This issue dealt with the tricky topic of molestation. It’s a killer issue of a remarkable series.

Human Target #10 – This issue features Christopher Chance helping a friend breakout of prison so that he can spend some time with some former lovers before he dies. It’s an issue that is a “must read.”

Human Target #18 – Racism masquerading as patriotism is exposed this in this haunting issue. You really feel for every character in this issue. And that ending, man what a tragedy.

So there you have it. Those are 17 issues that popped in my head. I’m sure I could think of more if I could unify my collection and flip through it. But I can’t and this column needs to be finished so that’s going to have to be it.

Tim, I’m sure you’ve got some “stand alones” you’d like to add to the list.

First, let me just say that several of your choices are just top notch. In particular, the Human Target issues, Killing Joke, and “For the Man Who Has Everything” would undoubtedly make my list (although I do think Killing Joke is cheating a bit).

As for ones that you did mention, allow me to nominate two issues from Geoff Johns just completed run on Flash. As good as the book consistently was under his guidance, it always seemed to excel in the “Rogue” profile issues. The two best of the bunch were Flash #182 which saw Captain Cold ruminating on his life and taking revenge for the death of his sister, Golden Glider and Flash #212’s spotlight on Mirror Master’s quest to leave the reality of his life behind.

I did not care much for Joe Kelly’s JLA run overall, but I did like his Batman and Plastic Man bond story in issue #65. Great job revealing another side to Eel’s checkered past and a moral smackdown from Batman that actually feels right (not just self righteous). Good stuff.

Animal Man was filled with plenty of stuff that never should of worked and yet, did. Far and away the best example of that was issue #5, The Coyote Gospel. For me to explain it would spoil it so just go and read it to find out why it would make my list.

Green Lantern #59 was probably the first time Kyle Rayner really completely clicked with me. Watch him as he gets stuck with monitor duty on Christmas Eve, hallucinates the dead love of his life (with a little help from his ring), locks horns with Doctor Polaris, and still manages to get the girl.

If I raided my long boxes right now, I am sure I could find several more. For now though, I think that is a pretty strong list to start with. After you wrap those up, check back in with Mathan and I and we’ll have more suggestions for you.

Talowolf is all wet.

I haven’t noticed many Aquaman villains pooping up in Villains United or anywhere else really, so other than Black Manta what’s happened to some of Orin’s other villains?

Ouch. “Villains” is a touchy subject for Aquaman. Let’s face it; Orin’s really only got two major foes. First is Black Manta, who’s finally returning to his “Black” roots. And the second is Ocean Master, Orin’s brother.

And that’s about it. Well, just to be sure let’s take a look back at Aquaman’s two Secret Files and Origins. The first one features Piranha Man (who ditched the much better “Charybdis” as his name), Noble (who was really vying with Orin for Mera) and the Fire Trolls. That’s pretty much less than impressive.

The more recent one showcased Hagen (who’s been vanquished) and the Thirst (who’s better left forgotten.) Equally unimpressive, don’t you think?

Want some more? Here are three more of Aquaman’s (lame) foes; The Human Flying Fish, Electric Man and The Creature King of the Seas.

The guy doesn’t really have a rogue’s gallery. He’s more of a guy against the elements or “society” or “culture” type of character. He does pretty well without villains. His stories aren’t really lacking without the rogues.

But his lack of rogues does make him seem like weaker character, instead of a stronger one. Think about it, Aquaman is such a touch guy that he doesn’t really get too much return business in terms of villains. Not like Batman, that guy can’t finish the deal, he can’t keep them away.

Tim, is there any way you could do a revamping of Aquaman’s rogues (or lack thereof)?

For you Mathan, I’d be happy to. The first problem with Aquaman’s rogues is finding one with room for a revamp. For instance, Charybdis (a sea creature in Greek mythology, don’t you know) has only made six or so appearances and in the first of those, who cost Aquaman his hand. That’s a pretty big deal and his power (the ability to draw on the latent gifts of others) is excellent as well. He just needs to make a few more appearances and be written well (as opposed to when he showed up during Erik Larsen’s run) and he can be major league.

Similarly, there is nothing that needs revamping with either Ocean Master or Black Manta, provided they are written well.

Noble is more of a rival than an enemy (as you mentioned) and works just fine in that capacity.

So what do we do? Well, here are my suggestions for three villains who could prove useful once more. For full revamp action, check out my column in the week’s to come when I will give one the spotlight.

1.) Dagon- A sea creature who controls the water (much like Mera). He was purple and has shown up once, maybe twice, to bedevil Aquaman in the pages of the Justice League of America. I know a purple sea creature does not sound like a great starting place for a super villain revival but I think there is potential there. He has no real origin yet so he is, in many ways, a piece of clay in need of molding. Just imagine how the new city of Sub Diego, finally settling in, would fare if, from nowhere, they were bombarded by water seemingly acting as if it had a mind of its own. Panic would ensue. The city would begin to tear itself apart. And Dago would not have even shown up yet.

2.) The Human Flying Fish- Crappy name, crappier looking costume. I like the underpinnings though. This guy is obsessed with the idea of besting Aquaman. So much so that he will still pick fights with Orin even though he does not stand a chance in water. So how does ol’ Fish here even the odds? He gets a suit that gives him the ability to fly. So even if he can’t straight up beat Aquaman, at least he can taunt him from above. There’s something there to that obsession. You pry that hole open enough and you may find some very interesting pathos underneath. Definitely need to alter the costume and change the name before that though.

3.) The Un-Thing- He only appeared once in the 60’s and his design was, essentially, a see through scuba diver. I know, I know, sort of silly. Does not matter. The name alone is a playground for the imagination. Even if you keep his design, the creep factor on this guy could be off the charts.

Also, just for hahas sake, I’ll throw a bone to the criminal organization known as O.G.R.E. You can’t go wrong with an acronym-named criminal organization, in my opinion.

Finally, if I might make a suggestion about a villain that should, most certainly, give Aquaman a hard time in the near future: Weather Wizard. In times past, there would be no reason for it. Things have changed now, though. The villains have a Society. It is only a matter of time before they pull an Acts of Vengeance and everyone attacks a different hero than who usually beats them. Do I think Weather Wizard could defeat Aquaman? Nah. But he could do a hell of a lot of damage to Aquaman’s undersea world. Picture Aquaman, victorious, moving through the wreckage of Sub Diego or Atlantis. Think of Captain America finding his destroyed foot locker in the ruins of the Avengers Mansion in “Avengers Under Siege”. That’s the type of moment you’d have there.

Man…did I just take entirely too long on an Aquaman question.

Aaron revisits a dark, dark moment for Kyle Rayner

Kyle Rayner’s mom gets “killed” in the same way that his girlfriend did (stuffed in a major appliance). But, on the final pages, it’s revealed that his mom is actually alive or something. Was this a last-second change by DC in response to the negative fan feedback or was this the original story idea, all along?

I don’t actually know the answer to that. I’m guessing that it was original story for two reasons. First, I don’t see Kyle on the verge of handing his ring over to a guy who killed his girl and his mom. And second, the issues were only a month apart, not nearly enough time for fan reaction to alter a storyline.

As for the issues in question they took place in Green Lantern #180 & 181. #180 saw Kyle seeing a head in the oven and being lead to believe that the head belonged to his mom. #181 had the revelation that Major Force had used a mannequin head to fool Kyle (because how lame would it be to repeat yourself?)

So, Aaron you can sleep well tonight knowing that Kyle’s mother’s head was (most likely) never meant to be in the oven.

Speaking of severed body parts, Tim, how come on Nip/Tuck no one seemed worried about the torso, and do you think that Kyle’s mom’s head was supposed to be in the oven?

I actually brought up that very same point in my recap column this week. They never even seemed concerned about where the torso came from. Apparently, somewhere, they had everything else just waiting for a body.

As far as Kyle’s mom’s head, the “real” story as I know it is this. She was supposed to die. That was supposed to be her head. Ron Marz had gone ahead and scripted it that way. However, somewhere along the line, someone at DC objected to it. It was too late to alter that issue’s script, but Marz was able to throw in a line or two in the next script before the art was completed that “explained it away”. That is why the moment where Major Force reveals that feels kind of lame, forced, and added on. Because it was all those things. Now, why Kyle would hand over his ring in either case? Hard to say. Why he wouldn’t check on his mom anyway, after defeating the Major, just to confirm? Just wrong.

Talowolf is “all over the world” (a mention to anyone who gets that reference)

Okay, I know Doctor Fate, I know Phantom Stranger, but I’m afraid I’m drawing a blank on Madame Xanadu as a big magic player in the DCU. So come on guys show a bright neon green answer since this has probably been covered, who is Madame Xanadu?

You’re kidding right? No one cares about Madame Xanadu. Her grandmother doesn’t even send her birthday cards anymore. Xanadu hasn’t had her name included in the Christmas “name exchange” for years. Kids don’t even go to her door on Halloween, which, by all counts, should be her holiday!

Madame Xanadu used to be Nimue, a sorceress actually cast a spell on the great (and perhaps a tad overrated) Merlin. Merlin didn’t take too kindly to spell and stripped her of her powers. After taking some time to find herself, she decided that she wanted to atone for her past actions by helping others with their supernatural problems. She’s also an entrepreneur who has her own fortune telling shop in the ever trendy Greenwich Village.

The good news is that she gives good advice and has ties to the supernatural community. The bad news is that she really can’t get involved in matters because of some mysterious force.

Interesting fact #1: Madame Xanadu is immortal and became immortal by literally beating death…at a card game.

Interesting fact #2: Ever since resurrecting The Spectre, after his defeat by the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis, Madame Xanadu has been his very own personal advisor.

Tim, does Madame Xanadu get a “yay” or a “nay”?

She gets an “eh”. I have no feeling about her either way. For me, she is a blank slate who has a chance to prove herself.

Aaron does not know when to quit.

So, has there ever been/will there ever be closure on the Terra character? I know she, or her “brother”, Brion know the real story, but is it just casually accepted that this crazy broad who killed herself has come back to life, no questions asked?

Aaron I urge you to never give up the fight. I swear, you’re like a regular Fox Mulder or Jack McGee the way you crusade for the “truth.”

There was a minor bit of closure to this story, and I do mean minor.

In The Titans (shudder) Secret Files and Origins #2 the story Who is Tara Markov? written by Geoff Johns and Ben Raab dealt with this very topic. In the story Brion tries to console his “sister” while they await the test results to see if she’s actually Tara.

Y’see she’s not too hot on the prospect of possibly being the “twisted sociopath” known as Terra. She’s a good girl who’s trying to be a hero. But Brion is kind of happy to have his sister back. The story ends with the results coming in. Terra can’t bear to read them so Brion does. Brion tells Terra that she’s not “Tara Markov” and is free of the burden and stigma that comes with the name. But he also tells her that they will always be family. As Terra leaves, we get a glimpse at the test results which positively ID Terra as Tara Markov!

Man, that Prince Brion is such a class act. He absolved his sister of her guilt and apprehension over her parentage, even though he “lost” a sister in act.

Basically to answer your question Aaron, only Brion knows that she’s Terra, and he’s basically a forgotten character, thus rendering that small plot thread moot.

There’s always the chance that Geoff “I’m writing Infinite Crisis and Teen Titans” Johns will addressed this very topic in one of those two books. If it’s the former expect him to go the “Power Girl/Troia” route. If it’s the latter I’m guessing it’s a multiple part arc that involves Slade and ends with Terra dying, again.

Personally I propose that DC do a 12 part maxi series that details Brion dealing with knowing the truth about his sister. I’m guessing it would entail a lot of sleeping late and wandering around the castle with a bathrobe over his costume. Toss in a few panels of a scruffy Brion looking in the mirror and drinking milk straight from the carton and I think this maxi would move off the shelves. Ooh we could even have some of the former Outsiders guest star via messages left on Brion’s answering machine asking how he’s doing. I’m telling you, Geo Force’s Burden of the Truth would sell like hotcakes.

Tim, you down for Geo Force’s Burden of the Truth?

Are you asking if I’ll buy it or write it. ‘Cause either way the answer is a “HELL YES.” I would only add Brian Bolland covers and some “man crying” to the mix to fully maximize the book’s potential.

Ahh, man crying.

Neil feels the need, the need for…acronyms.

We need to, as a fandom, figure out a better way of doing abbreviations.

First, IC could be “Identity Crisis or Infinite Crisis” I propose “IDC” for Identity Crisis and InC or just IC for Infnite Crisis.

Then, it occurs to me, we have the potential issue of talking about “Post-Crisis” meaning post “Infinite Crisis” and not “Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths” so maybe we should do “Post-IC” and “Post-CoIE”.

Or is no one else confused?

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Neil, you’re stressing too much.

One way to figure out what series is being referred to is by the actual events. Now Post Crisis to me, will always be Crisis on Infinite Earths. Nothing really happened post Identity Crisis so let’s leave that out.

I’m guessing that post Infinite Crisis will be referred to as One Year Later (OYL) or One Year Gap (OYG) (like Legion of Super Heroes‘ 5YG.)

So basically “Post Crisis” means after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Post Identity Crisis is pointless and “post Infinite Crisis” will be “OYL.”

As for the Infinite Crisis/Identity Crisis, again I don’t think it’s going to be a huge deal. If you look at the minis and what’s happening they don’t really compare. What, like three people died in Identity Crisis (Sue, Jack & Digger)? Didn’t Black Condor, Human Bomb and Phantom Lady bite it in the first issue of Infinite Crisis?

Identity Crisis doesn’t really belong in the same category as Infinite Crisis or Crisis on Infinite Earths. I can’t really see them all coming into play together. If you’re talking about Identity Crisis, I don’t think that Infinite Crisis is going to come up.

However while typing this answer, I completely see your point, as typing all of those titles is tiring. Thus I’m suggesting that Crisis on Infinite Earths be referred to as The Crisis or CoIE. I’m going to take your advice and shrink Identity Crisis to IDC, which leaves IC for Infinite Crisis.

And there you have it, Neil.

Tim, what are your thoughts on abbreviating the minis?

Your plan seems more than acceptable to me. Whether it will receive the worldwide approval that it such richly deserves may be another story entirely. I will petition the UN on your behalf. Keep your fingers cross.

Well I’ve actually go to go to bed, thus the column is official over.

Be sure to visit our thread which is a place to ask questions and post comments. It’s a fun place to catch the post column chatter.

My question to you this week; what’s your take on DC’s current variant cover craze?

“Bye bye. Don’t slam the door. This is the last duet.”