Who's Who in the DCU

Tim, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen The Roots, live in concert, but if you get the chance jump at it. I saw them in ’95 and again last week. I’m no lying when I say that the show I saw last week was the best concert, Hip Hop or otherwise that I’ve been to.

I urge everyone to go see The Roots. You won’t regret it.

Sadly, I never have. They come to Conn once for our fall concert, possibly my freshman year. If it was, the reason I did not go was because I had already blown all my money on REM tickets. If it wasn’t then…I don’t know why I didn’t see them. I did see Jurassic 5 at Conn though. Which is not at all equivalent. But still, it shows that I am up with people.


Links

IP Music is a joyous place. Make sure to read Aaron’s pick for album of the year.

IP Movies has some pretty interesting reviews.

IP Games has the latest news on various upcoming systems.

IP Figures has some of the best pics around. I’m talking mouthwateringly good.

IP TV has tons of celebrities and recaps galore. Oh and it has columnists too.

IP Sports tells us who won the World Series, has NFL news and finally NBA is back.

Moodspins is colorful, controversial and pretty creative.

IP Culture has some of the freshest voices around, and features perhaps the best debut of the year with The Human Guinea Pig the most insightful and entertain read in a long time. Oh yeah, and seriously mouthwatering pics.

Our DC Forums is full of great stuff including a look at what could have been in John Byrne had revamped Captain Marvel?

Oh, and you may also want to check out my new favorite read on the net What’s a Nubian by Rich Watson.

Tim, what are you going to link this time?

I just returned from New York City having seen a new documentary from the man who brought us “Outfoxed.” It was about Wal-Mart and since I have it a bit on the brain, here are some related links.

First, obviously, is that massive corporation’s homepage. Second, is the site for the movie itself, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices. Finally, check out Wal-Mart Watch. They are the website that leaked the recent memo that, once again, has Wal-Mart looking bad in the press.

As far as the movie goes, I think it is worth a look. I do think “Outfoxed” was a more accomplished documentary and that often “Wal-Mart” favored jack hammering home its point instead of letting the personal stories of those hurt carry the movie. There are so very good moments in the movie and some interesting facts are brought to light, but I would have liked to see it all applied with a bit lighter hand.

And heck, as long as I am on this documentary kick, take a look at the website for The Education of Shelby Knox, another recent documentary that I have absorbed.


What I Read Last Week

The Losers #29 – Jock’s back! I really hope that Pooch gets his happy ending, but I’m not too optimistic. Max has never been scarier.

Black Panther #9 – Actually I’ve not read it yet. I’m way behind.

JLA Classified #13 – I could barely grasp this issue. Ellis is getting too deep for me.

In this case, I think it just might be that Ellis is not producing a very good story. That’s just me though.

Solo #7 – I wish they had used the back cover as the cover. This may be my second favorite issue after Darwyn Cooke’s issue. But it’s barely second. I loved this issue.

Adventures of Superman #645 – I’m actually not dropping this title. I want to know who Ruin is. I want to know what’s up with the OMAC’s. And I dig this Lex. Finally a Super book worth keeping around.

JLA #121 – Why couldn’t the convo between Dinah and Ollie have taken place in Green Arrow? This was a very decent issue and it’s keeping the title from being dropped.

The Flash #227 – The transition of a new creative team is always difficult. This wasn’t a really bad issue, but it’s different and that’s not always good. I did dig Art Thibert’s cover. I’ve been a fan of his since he was inking Adventures of Superman over a decade ago.

Legion of Super Heroes #11 – Waid is slaying me on this title. The main story was flawless, but the back up was really cool, especially to anyone who’s seen Waid at a con. The guy has a photographic memory of Silver Age DC covers. It’s amazing, which made the tale that much cooler. What a great concept.

Loveless #1 – I really didn’t see the end coming. For some reason I was caught off guard, I can’t explain it. It seems pretty obvious in hindsight. Oh yeah, I love this title.

Teen Titans #28 – This two part story may tie with The Flash #226 as the most awkward fill in issues of the year. As much as I enjoyed her writing on Action Comics and Villains United it’s Gail’s work here and at the end of the previous Legion title that really stands out to me.

It has gotten lost amongst the complaints about Liefeld’s art (and those are righteous complaints, don’t get me wrong) but, honestly, the story is not very good here, regardless of how was penciling. Everybody is allowed some bad stories and this just happens to be one for Simone. Too bad, but at least it was all over after only two issues.


And now onto the questions. Thankfully Jon placed the lyric.

You, sir, have my love and admiration.

Jon L is concerned about sexual education in our schools comics

You ever notice how fiercely heterosexual Bizarro (Superman variety) is? I wonder if that means anything…

Hey now! I’m not sure that I care for what you’re insinuating. I mean, Bizarro can also fly and has invulnerability, just like Superman, so not everything is “opposite.”

And perhaps Kryptonian sexuality is more complex than we humans can possibly understand it, and that’s why our technology can’t really copy it.

And is Bizarro really “fiercely heterosexual?” I mean, Superman is married to Lois Lane! How much more heterosexual can you get? When was the last time gay guy married a woman? I mean, really!

Tim, c’mon are you going to let Jon question Kal’s sexuality like that?

I am not sure that Kal, as you call him, really needs me or anyone else to question his sexuality. He’s hit it with the girl next door (Lana), a Kryptonian movie star (Lyla Lerrol, pre-Crisis, of course), a mermaid (Lori Lemaris), a warrior queen (Maxima), a warrior princess (Wonder Woman), and, of course, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist (Lois Lane). Most men would dream of having a little black book stocked with those names. Also, if we are counting Smallville continuity, there’s Chloe with whom you just know Clark has gotten the getdown with once or twice. So there’s your “really close friend who you are just friends with until you wake up one morning and realize, “Damn she is all sorts of fine” archetype too. All he’s lacking is a cheerleader and, perhaps, a naught schoolgirl of some sort (or does Lana fulfill that requirement? Difficult to say). Oh, and a goth, if that’s his thing.

So, come on, people! Superman, gay? What are you, nuts? If he ever slept with a dude, it was only because he was so comfortable in his heterosexuality that he has just like “whatever” about the whole thing. Superman is Superman for God’s sake. When he is not bedding women that you cannot even get in your fantasies, he sure as hell is not concerned about living by earth’s standards of sexuality. BOOYAKA!


Sly Reference is getting dizzy

Is John Constantine part of the DCU? I mean, at one point he was hanging out with Swamp Thing, who was firmly in the DCU, but after he got his Vertigo title, he seemed to firmly ignore the world of suits and powers. The only time I recall seeing him interact with regular DCU characters was in the Books of Magic, and those were folk like Zatanna and Phantom Stranger. Also, he appeared in an issue of Sandman just before Morpheus went to visit the JLA.

Has John ever had a costumed character appear in his book, or has he moved into the next universe over? Or can we expect a Day of Vengeance crossover any day now?

Ok, this is pretty easy. Thanks to the excellent look back at Crisis on Infinite Earths in last week’s Wizard (which was written by some dude named Ben Morse) (Ooooo, he’s dreamy.) we learn that good ol’ Johnny Constantine first appeared in COIE.

That would cement him firmly in the DCU. However that was before the advent of the Vertigo line. Y’see some of the DC’s more mature titles went off into uncharted territory and never really looked back. Once Hellblazer started Vertigo took off and the rest is history.

Constantine has appeared in a few mainstream DCU books over the years. What’s odd is that three of those appearances have come in Green Lantern related books. Johnny boy popped up in Underworld Unleashed: Abyss – Hell’s Sentinel starring Alan Scott.

John also turned up in Guy Gardner: Warrior #29. And he showed up to pay his respects for Hal Jordan in Green Lantern #81.

Constantine has also been known to associate with the Trenchcoat Brigade (composed of Phantom Stranger, Mister E, Doctor Occult and Constantine himself). The other three are characters who used to be familiar faces in the DCU, but have been lingering in the limbo between the DCU and the Vertigo U.

They were also the subject of a 1999 miniseries that could be charitably referred to as “mediocre. Their name was a nickname thought up by Constantine himself in the first Books of Magic series.

But there is hope yet. Many folks have traversed the two universes and lived to tell about it. Take the Doom Patrol for example. You really couldn’t find a more “Vertigo” title than Doom Patrol. Yet a few years ago both Dorothy and Cliff showed up alive and (for the most part) well in the DCU.

Animal Man is another character who’s lived in both worlds. Animal Man went from being a member of the Justice League Europe to dealing with things I can barely grasp. Now, Animal Man is darn near a full time resident of the DCU with appearances in Aquaman Hawkman and appears to be turning up in Infinite Crisis as well.

Swamp Thing like Constantine, has showed up in the DCU from time to time. Oh, I almost forgot about the former Fury, Lyta Hall. She was a member of Infinity Inc who became part of the Sandman mythology, and eventually returned to the pages of JSA.

So as you can see, there’s always a chance that Johnny will return to the DCU, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for any significant appearances.
Which Constantine is cooler Tim? Vertigo or DCU?

For me, it is whichever one smokes more. Because if there is one thing I know, it is that smoking is cool. Oh, it is also very grown up. Which is probably why your parents always tell you not to do it…because they do not want you to grow up, have fun, and eat candy whenever you want. And if you smoke, you’ll get to do all that. Plus, live forever. Or something.


Chaos also wants to violate the separation of church and state Vertigo and DC

I understand that the Vertigo verse and the DCU are separate though lightly tickling each other by finger tip… I just read the latest JSA trade which had Fury and Dr. Fate back in love and all that jazz and I just couldn’t help but feel what a waste of years of character development that Lyta went through in the Vertigo realm, to come back as the same frilly blond she was in the ’80s… any thoughts on that?

I’m all for character development. I’m a fan of Geoff Johns. Now usually these two aren’t mutually exclusive, but they appear to be in this case.

I’d love to be able to make the argument that Lyta was better served by returning to the DCU, where she’s getting more time in the spotlight, but I can’t. She’s only made a handful of appearances since she’s returned.

But let’s get back to the character for a second, what would she want? Do you think that she’d rather be in that dark brooding Vertigo universe or happily reunited with her long lost husband in the DCU? Perhaps she reverted to her previous incarnation because she was so overjoyed to be back with Hector.

I can’t call it. It sucks that she appears to have lost some of her complexity since returning to the DCU, but I think that her long time fans are pretty happy to have her back.

Tim, where do you stand on this debate?

To be honest, Lyta is a blank slate to me as a DC character. I know there are a crop of people out there who have great memories and associations of her from Infinity, Inc. However, as covered before, the series was before my time and I have yet to be able to acquire a cheap, healthy run of the title. Thus, when she made the transition to DC, I was largely nonplussed, thinking, “This could be a cool” with a shrug.

I am still shrugging. She seems to be a great motivator for Hector (as recently seen) but as a character she still lacks a personality of her own since the shift. Until that happens, it seems it would have been better, and perhaps easier, to leave her in Vertigo limbo for the time being.


Neil takes us back to the old school

Has Locus from JLA: Year One and one of Mark Waid’s fill-in issues (right after “Crisis Times 5,” actually the JLA No Man’s Land issue) on JLA ever appeared again? Seems to me, thanks to J’onn, they had some pretty comprehensive files on most of the major heroes during the JLA’s Year One, though they never got the JLA’s files…

Yeah, you’d think that they’d have showed up more often than they did. But it appears that not everyone was a fan of Mark Waid’s retconning.

It’d be cool if we found out that Checkmate had gotten a hold of and been updating Locus’ files. Or maybe if Lex had gotten a hold of the files. Ooh or maybe if the files were auctioned off to the highest bidder.

But no, Waid’s Locus never really took off.

Not that you asked, but I see Locus’ fate playing out in one of two ways. First is them getting a big push and becoming a huge force to be reckoned with now that Waid’s got major pull at DC (and he’s writing Brave and the Bold.) The alternative is that they are wiped out by an even larger threat, as if saying “these guys took on the JLA and even they were no match for this brand new evil in the DCU.

Or there is a third option; they could languish in obscurity never to be mentioned again.

Tim, is there a chance that Locus could stage a comeback via The Revamping?

Honestly, no. I think they worked very well in JLA: Year One, but they are, really, just another evil organization in a universe rife with them. I’d sooner see O.G.R.E. get a huge push than Locus. Nothing personal, they just do not get my motor running.


George Metcalf is a fan of friends hitting friends

Who wins in a fight, the Superman family (Superman/girl/pets) or the Marvel family? OR make it three families with the Batman family.

George, I just want to let you know that Kon El is crying right now. He’s crying is little half cloned Kryptonian/half cloned human eyes out. But you know what? Unlike you I’m going to include him in the mix. Who cares that he’s wildly unpredictable and quite probably could turn against his “family” at any given moment. Whatever, I say.

In a battle Super fam vs Marvel fam (and I’m excluding Black Adam) I’m going to give it to the Super fam.

Yes the Marvel fam (Captain, Mary and CM3) are theoretically more powerful, given the Super weakness of magic, but the Marvel’s don’t really get their hands dirty. I don’t think that “exploit” is in their vocabulary.

And when you factor in the vision and breath powers of the Super fam (not to mention the Krypto) they’ve got the upper hand. Superman has been known to fight dirty. Supergirl has to try to hold back and Superboy is very temperamental.

Now if you factor in the Bat fam things get almost too complex. You introduce several characters (Batman, Nightwing, Robin and Batgirl). Oddly enough, I think the Bats would take down the Super fam, but I really can’t see the Bat fam beating the Marvel clan.

I’m thinking that Robin would be a bit too soft to actually survive a confrontation with the Super fam, falling along with Batgirl. Nightwing, would realize that following Batman would be the best plan of action (plus I’m sure they’ve got all sorts of crazy team maneuvers and shorthand between them). I’m also guessing that Batman carries kryptonite like a diabetic carries insulin.

How I see the three-way going down is like this; Batman knows he wants to take out Superman, and Superman realizes that Batman is a major threat. While Supes is focusing on Batman Captain Marvel attacks Supes, leaving Kal vulnerable from a kryptonite attack from Batman. Superman, way vulnerable is beaten by Cap, with the assist from Batman.

Meanwhile Robin tries to talk things over with Superboy, because he’s an optimist. Things don’t go well. Nightwing wants to intervene, but he knows that it’s futile. CM3, on the other hand, intervenes and he and Superboy trade blows over Drake’s broken body.

Supergirl goes right at Mary Marvel, because she’s looking to cut loose. The two tussle, much to every fanboys’ delight. Supergirl begins is about to unleash the finishing blow, but Captain Marvel steps in and lays Supergirl out.

Superboy’s powers fail making him easy pickings for CM3. But along comes Krypto, who attacks CM3 with insane ferocity. I mean it’s a vicious attack, like When Kryptonian Animals Attack 3 type vicious.

Batgirl has been spending the entire fight looking/reading for an opening, and has yet to find one. Nightwing and Batman realize that even though there are three “Bats” they are no match for Captain Marvel, a wounded Mary Marvel and whoever survives the deathmatch that is Krypto vs CM3. They slink off into the darkness, leaving the Marvel family the victors.

Tim, how do you see the proposed battle playing out?

It is such a melee, it would be possible to see it going any way. With three Marvels active at once, all three will not be at full strength (since they share power from one “well). Neither Superman, Inc. or the Bat family has such an issue to contend with. Plus, with the exception of Captain Marvel, everyone in the Marvel family is useless (what? Who wants some?!) So, they lose, for sure.

I predict Superman, Inc. wins out. But Supergirl dies. Because that would be true justice.


RatCat has a very sensitive olfactory nerve

Have they ever addressed if Bruce Wayne wears a different aftershave when he is Batman? You figure that someone who goes to such great lengths to hide his identity would also mask his scent. I guess this would also apply to soap, deodorant, mouthwash, etc…

I know it’s a stupid question… It’s one of those stupid things you think of as you’re drifting off to sleep.

He wears bear urine.

Oh wait, that was Nightwing.

It’s not a stupid question. Y’know I don’t know if this has ever been addressed. I think it’s kind of a given that he does. This is a guy who has set up fake companies to order everything for his Bat needs and has secretly planned how to take down takedown his contemporaries, I don’t think he’s going to get tripped up by wearing the same aftershave he does in his secret identity.

I think that’s pretty much Secret Identity 101.

And you’ve also got to figure that Bruce Wayne doesn’t really make that many appearances. Sure the guy makes headlines, but Bats is usually Batman not Bruce Wayne.

I’m also guessing that there are only a handful of people who have encountered Batman and Bruce Wayne who don’t know the two are the same.

Two more things to ponder; Batman probably smells like BO. He’s a very active guy. And when Bats responds to the Bat signal, he’s been traveling rooftops for blocks, which tends to build up a sweat. So he’s going to have a bit of a more “natural” aroma than Bruce Wayne, who quite possibly will smell of booze and cheap perfume (from his date). Actually Bruce would probably smell like a very exclusive cologne giving Bruce the smell of success while Batman just stinks.

The second is that anyone who’s unfortunate enough to have enhanced sense of smell as their power, is going to be pretty hard to fool and will probably be able to detect subtle nuance and signatures of individual scents, making any attempts to disguise scents moot.

Basically I think that it’s assumed that Batman does something to distinguish himself from Bruce Wayne.

Tim, you want to stick your nose in the middle of this one?

With a brilliant pun like that, how can I resist.

I would second Mathan’s guess that this has not been discussed in a Batman comic. Not about Batman anyway. During No Man’s Land, Superman visited Gotham as Clark Kent (his first time visiting, as Superman, was a bit rough). He was wearing beat up clothes with some stains and scuffed shoes, etc. to fit in with the rest of the poor left behind Gotham folk. One thing he did forget? He had recently bathed using soap. According to Batman, this made it clear that he was an outsider (lower case) right off the bat (forgive the pun). However, this is the only smell related outing in a Batman comic that I can recall, at least in recent times.


Sly Reference cannot leave well enough alone

To ask the question another way, what have they said and shown Batman doing to make sure people think that he’s not Bruce Wayne? I was reading an old issue of Batgirl the other day and she ran into Superboy on a cruise ship and she recognized him by the way he moved. I know I’ve recognized people from behind, from certain gestures, and from ways of talking. I can’t imagine secret identities realistically lasting for very long, especially in the case of someone like Lois/Superman.

I think that Bats plays Bruce as slightly aloof and occasionally clumsy. Bruce Wayne truly relishes the playboy lifestyle. He’s been known to be reckless (totaling cars, skiing accidents) and a bit of cad. Let’s look at it like this: Bruce trained to become Batman. He created Batman, and in doing so refined “Bruce Wayne”.

Bruce Wayne has an aura is very much like Batman in the fact that he’s exclusive. He may be like Paris Hilton, in the fact that he’s omni present, but he’s still only seen in the same environment and setting. You really aren’t going to see Bruce running. Frolicking on a yacht, perhaps, but running, not really. By the same token, you aren’t going to see Batman, in full lighting or in a non menacing pose.

Now some people may have concluded that Bruce would have a viable motive for avenging his parents (ie becoming Batman), but Bruce Wayne is too much of a celebrity to be Batman.

In regards to Batgirl recognizing Superboy, that’s a very unique situation. Superboy had to become Conner Kent and he’s relatively new at it. Batgirl is an expert at “reading” people, so she’d be able to pick out people very easily.

And it should be noted that Batgirl herself, as I just pointed out an expert at reading body language, didn’t realize that Batman was Bruce Wayne until Batgirl #24, which should show how well Batman conceals his identity.

As far as the whole Superman/Clark Kent thing goes, I’m a fan of The Man of Steel’s slouching Clark (as brilliantly illustrated by Frank Quietly in the upcoming All Star Superman). I think that body language is very important to keeping the dual identity secret. I think that Clark tends to blend in, while Superman is more assertive and stands out. I’m also more apt to believe that Supes hovers a few inches over the ground to make himself seem even taller.

Tim, how do you think that heroes maintain their secret identities and do you think it’s plausible?

Does it stretch credibility from time to time. Yes, I would think so. Superman’s “You can’t tell it is me, I’m wearing glasses routine” is the best example of that, of course. Even with the slouching, he still should remind people, at the least, of Superman’s schlubbier, nerdier brother.

However, it is also absolutely essential for the superhero story that the heroes be able to obfuscate their identities through all means of deception be them sensible (the Bruce Wayne fop persona) or silly (glasses!!!). That way when a villain (or hero or bystander) does discern the real identity of the hero, there is a wallop to that revelation. It might not always be realistic that a hero identity remains secret (how many people with blond hair sport Green Arrow’s particular brand of facial hair) but the opposite idea, where only “realistic” means of protecting one’s identity could be used would prove boring (because they need to be explained in much detail) or gruesome (kill ’em all!).


George Metcalf is a fan of billionaire/mutant battles

Over in Marvel Handbook they are debating about Iron Man beating the X-Men, I wonder if DC’s own masked billionaire, but without the alcoholism, could handle the X-Men?

I love Batman and don’t really care for the X-Men. And given the limitations of the original question (way back in the 9/28/05 Marvel Handbook, I’d say that Batman gets beaten.

Batman just doesn’t have the defensive capabilities that Iron Man has with his armor. Batman is way more susceptible to attack. He actually doesn’t have the offensive capabilities either. In a fight between Batman and the X-Men, the X-Men win.

Now if Batman had to take down the X-Men, individually and knew that he had to (IE prep time) he could do it. If Batman knew the X-Men were coming to attack the Batcave, I’m guessing that he could beat them there too. But aside from those two instances, I can’t see how Batman would be able to hold his own against the X-Men.

Tim, do you agree or disagree?

Sadly, I agree. The basic rule to any Batman fight is that, with proper time, he can defeat anyone. Batman v. Godzilla? Does Batman have a few hours to research? If yes, then he’s golden. Godzilla will be sent back to Tokyo wishes he just picked another fight with Mothra or Charles Barkley. If not though, the giant lizard will be using the Dark Knight Detective’s bones as toothpicks.

The thing is, in this case, Batman does not know who the X-Men are. They are from a whole ‘nother galaxy, world, universe, reality, whatever. He cannot prepare for something or someone that he has no knowledge of whatsoever. So, unless the X-Men show up in the DCU and kind of laze about for a week, they have this one locked up. Sad, but true.


Dhaise likes to bring up the uncomfortable

Did the ‘For Tommorow’ gap ever end being referenced in a non superman book? Has Batman’s own titles mentioned his recent coma?

Sigh.

As far as I know For Tomorrow hasn’t been referenced in any other DC book.

But before some of you go jumping to conclusions about whether or not the story was a waste of paper, let’s consider that the final issue of that arc (Superman #215) hit the shelves the same day as the first issue of The OMAC Project.

So clearly the DCU was too busy reeling from the aftermath of Countdown to Infinite Crisis and looking toward the future to be referencing For Tomorrow. For Tomorrow did have a reference to OMAC, which would seem to firmly cement it in the present DCU.

But for the sake of my mind; was Hush referenced outside of the Bat books?

As for the question of Batman’s coma., I’m going to give everyone a pass on that. Batman and Gotham Knights (the two Batman books that I read) are currently in the middle of storylines. If Winick had to work Batman’s coma into his story on the chess match between Bats and the Red Hood, it would completely disrupt the flow (and cause Tim endless frustration.) And I’d really like to see Hush’s storyline wrapped up over in Gotham Knights.

Tim, should For Tomorrow and Bruce’s coma be referenced more often outside the characters’ own books?

Bruce’s coma was referenced in OMAC, the Super titles, and Wonder Woman. It was never referenced in any of the Bat books. This was, most likely, because, as you pointed out, as three (even the one you do not read) books were hip deep in their own stories. Plus, they were already being interrupted for “War Crimes”. Finally, Bruce got hit with the purple ray and was better in like 12 hours anyway. Not much time to have referenced in other books.

As for Azzarello’s Superman story, with the exception of his villain being an OMAC of sorts and the Amazon Fortress of Solitude, the rest of the DCU has basically let the story drift into the ether. That’s not particularly surprising either. Look at “Broken City” (Azzarello’s Batman story). It, too, was basically an out of continuity affair. DC is okay with letting Azz play with their toys, but his sensibilities do not tend to meld well with the DCU proper. They get their own separate bubble, it would seem.


Well, the column is over. But don’t be sad, the fun continues over at our thread on the forums. It’s a swell place to post questions and comment on the column.

My question to you this week what books do you want to see axed post Infinite Crisis?

“Imagine if this was the last rhyme I ever wrote, the last words that I ever spoke.”

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