Who's Who in the DCU

Tim, I just got in from watching Superman Returns and the movie rocks! Have you seen it yet?

Given that it is only 12:30 on Wednesday when I am writing this, no I have not. I will see it shortly however when I take some of the clients at work to a screening. I’ve got my fingers crossed and all that.

Links (based on what I’m looking forward to)

In terms of (IP) Music I can’t wait for Sufjan Stevens The Avalanche

Oooo, I am right there with you on that.

For (IP) Movies I’m eagerly awaiting Spider-Man 3.

Ditto! So friggin’ ditto!

(IP) Games has me fiending to download old Nintendo games on the new system.

I’m hoping that (IP) Figures DC Direct does some artist lines for artists that I actually dig.

The (IP) TV show that I’m looking forward to the most would have to be The Wire.

The subject of (IP) Sports sees me actually kind of caring about the World Cup. A little.

Moodspins just has me looking forward to it’s return.

IP Culture has me looking for the next big thing.

Our DC Forum is loaded with Flash thoughts and Legion critiquing.

Also My Favorite Blog is all about Blade!

Tim, are you linking anything this week?

Comics Should be Good has completed a review of the crossover events in the DCU from Identity Crisis to now that I think is very interesting. I don’t agree with a lot of it, but it some of it I do (especially the Rann/Thanagar stuff) and it is all worth reading. I’ve linked to the last segment above because all 7 installments are outlined there, but I recommend you read the features in order.

What I Read Last Week

Nova #3 – Will Nova ever stop whining? It’s no wonder he’s not even on his own cover, he’s a crybaby.

The Flash #1 – Kind of disappointing. The writing seemed a bit choppy. And it raised questions, and not the good kind. I kind of dig the notion that Bart views his gift as a curse, but I don’t know, this book still seems a bit off.

Take “kind of disappointing” and raise it to “worst of the week”. That was my feeling anyway.

Justice #6 – I love this book. It’s creepy, in a good way. I loved the Atom/Giganta fight. I dug the scene in the Batcave. This is just a well put together book that’s very much worth the wait.

Shadowpact #2 – Much better than the first issue, but I’m a sucker for doppelgangers. Still this issue seemed to flow much better than the previous outing. I’m actually enjoying this book now. I’m glad I gave it a second shot.

Huh…I thought the first issue was decent and this one was a disappointment. It’s like we’re each other’s doppelganger. Oooo, creepy.

Bite Club #3 – Wow, this book is weird. I’m still not completely sold on the new narrator, but it’s an interesting read. I do miss Quietly covers though.

Hellblazer #221 – This is kind of a long story, but it’s flowing nicely. I liked the secret history of the cult and the reveal of how John’s getting played. Not much action this issue, but it’s got a great story.

52 Week Seven – Ouch, Ralph tore into Booster. I’ll admit it, I’m equally divided about Booster’s life falling apart, I love watching it, but it’s also sad to watch. I’m really torn. I dug the introduction of Kate Kane and I’m looking forward to her evolution.

I’ll be honest too. I have no division about Booster’s fall. I loved it much.

All Star Superman #4 – Lovely issue. I loved the classically Silver Age cover and the nutty concepts. I completely buy this world. All comics should be this perfect.

Would that they could, would that they could.

Fallen Angel #6 – I loved this flashback tale. It’s so nice to find out more about Lee’s past. It’s tragic, but so well written.

Ex Machina #21 – I kind of want the mole storyline to get dragged along for a while so that I forget about it. The suicide weirded me out, because I’d just bought Waking Life (for the second time) so seeing that scene on the page was like déjà vu.

Manhunter #23 – Nice swerve on Andreyko’s part. Munro being the pop isn’t going to ruffle many feathers. It was also nice to place the story within the context of the time. But the issue ended rather abruptly for me. Shouldn’t there have been a cliffhanger of sorts?

Perhaps not having a cliffhanger IS the new cliffhanger? Yeah, I don’t buy that either. Still, another good issue.

JSA Classified #13 – Nice ending. I’m glad we didn’t lose Vandal, and how he survived was both ruthless and creepy. I hope that this book is always this good, but with rotating teams it’s not likely.

Superman/Batman #27 – What a nice throwback issue. Still Maguire’s art was distracting for me, as I’m so used to it in humorous stories that I was trying to read the book as “funny” when it wasn’t. I’ve clearly got Maguire filed under “funny” in my head and I don’t know if he’ll ever get out of that.

Finally, a few people placed the lyric in last week’s column. Keep up the good work. And the rest of you, shame on you.

Ed Lipinski lost the race

A few years back, I was really into JLA, but I wasn’t reading the solo titles. Anyway, there was someone standing in for The Flash for an issue. His identity was a secret, but he revealed it to Superman, who vouched for him. Who the heck was it?

That gent was none other than Walter West.

Doesn’t ring any bells does it?

Well that’s probably a good thing as Walter was a product of Hypertime. Walter hailed from another timeline, but one not too different from the timeline that we’re familiar with. Ok, so there was one major difference; Walter, unlike Wally, wasn’t able to save Linda Park from being killed by Kobra.

Naturally at that point Walter went off the deep end. He ended up studying under Savitar (an evil expert of the Speed Force) and learning to do nifty things like steal speed and vibrate through objects without making them explode. Oh and Walter also killed Savitar after the training was done.

From there Walter was a brutal and vicious Flash, who paralyzed and often killed villains as his brand of justice. Walter was cool with his new attitude, even though he was made a fugitive from justice himself.

Through a convoluted series of events the Linda from the regular DCU visited Walter’s part of Hypertime and the two crossed paths. Since Linda’s death had haunted him, Walter became obsessed with protecting her and bringing Abra Kadabra to justice (Abra had caused a serious injury to Walter.)

So when Walter arrived in the regular DCU he passed himself off as an older version of Wally West, complete with scars. So he revealed his identity to both Superman and Donna Troy, his teammates in the JLA and Titans respectively.

Eventually Wally returned and the stress of having Wally and Walter together in the same DCU proved too much burden on Hypertime. Walter left the DCU in search for his own timeline once again, having found a bit of peace in his life.

And that is the story of Walter West. Maybe he’ll return someday, and if he does just remember to drop me a note of “thanks.”

Tim, I know you don’t dig on the Hypertime, but would you be opposed to the return of Walter West?

Hmm…no I suppose I wouldn’t. I have to admit that I dug the fella’s costume. Not enough that it should replace the old standby or anything, but still, it was nice. I also appreciated his arc and how the forensic scientist he met in Wally’s reality was able to fill up the hole in his life and perhaps redeem him. I think it would be kind of cool to check in and see how that progressed.

On the other hand, if he’s sane and happy Flash, is he really all that different from Wally (ignoring the older and scar issues, of course)?

On the third hand, we don’t have Wally in the main DCU anymore so even if they were very similar, would it matter?

And now, I think I am out of hands.

Steven lives his life a fathom at a time. For those 45 seconds, he’s truly free.

What happened to Aquaman? I stopped reading superhero comics for a long time, then when I got back into them he had one hand, a beard and was a bit of a manic depressive. What’s the story?

I don’t know if he was manic-depressive, I prefer to think of him as “an amazingly complex character and the best he’s ever been written”, but that’s just me.

What happened to Aquaman was that he’d just found out some interesting things about his past. For instance he found out that his father wasn’t really royalty but rather an immortal mage named Atlan. Aquaman also found out that he was part of a lineage that saw brothers in a constant state of conflict. Also Aquaman found out that his name was Orin.

He lost his hand in a battle with a mercenary Charybdis. The two were wrestling near a river, and blood was drawn. Did I mention that the river was infested with piranhas? Charybdis plunged Aquaman’s hand in the river and the piranhas devoured it.

Of course you’re saying “but Mathan, can’t Aquaman control the fishies?” And the answer is “kind of.” Aquaman doesn’t tell them what to do, he merely suggests it. He can force his will on them, but it requires great concentration. It’s more of a communication type of thing. But you can’t communicate with someone who’s in frenzy, which is what the piranhas were in.

Orin then sported a hook for a spell, first just a run of the mill hook, and then a cool technologically advanced one that could be controlled psionically.

As for his beard, can’t a guy try something new? I periodically grow my hair for at least a year and then shave my head for a year. And my facial hair is even more chaotic. I dug the scruffy look on Orin. Hell I dug just knowing when I was going see Orin on the regular basis.

Man, I miss that Aquaman. I really do.

Tim, do you have a favorite version of Aquaman?

I’m inclined to agree with you that angry Aquaman (as I nicknamed him) was probably his most rich characterization to date and certainly the most interesting. I loved his appearances in JLA during that period. I mean, sure, he was still Aquaman, so I wasn’t picking up his title, but I actually didn’t mind reading him.

I did pick up his title for a short time with Pfeiffer and Gleason took it over a year or so ago. I enjoyed it then, but it was more the story that got me involved, not so much Aquaman who was a bit of a cipher and that time and he had that water hand which did/does drive me nuts.

Finally worthy of consideration is Mark Waid’s characterization of an early era Aquaman in JLA: Year One. The story is no longer canon, of course (see: Black Canary as JLA founder), but it did a great job of fleshing out a character that had originally been pretty paper thin during the time in question.

Besides personalities though, Aquaman has sported many a look.

Classic Aquaman

80’s Aquaman

Hook Handed Aquaman

And his current incarnation

Barbarian Aquaman

Not pictured is water hand Aquaman who, basically, looks like Classic Aquaman except his hand…it’s water. Also missing is TV’s Aquaman because, well, his pilot didn’t even get picked up (heh-heh)

In this group, although I’ve never read single story featuring the look, I favor the blue hues of the 80’s Aquaman. I know this costume is much derided, but…I dig it. It certainly makes more sense to me than wearing orange and green underwater (it would be sort of camouflage-y) and I’ve never seen it not look good. As opposed to classic Aquaman which can live and die on the skill of the artist and the colorist’s efforts. Second would, of course, be Hook Hand. I like the pants a lot, but the top grey shoulder pad thing? Not so much. Still the bear and the hook make up for most of that.

So, personality wise, give me Angry Aquaman. Just put him in the blue costume.

Mr. Pete has been caught unawares

NIGHTWING WAS RAPED?!?!? How and by who?

Well the alleged incident occurred in Nightwing #93. Nightwing was having a tough go of things and whether it was rape or not is kind of murky.

Nightwing was having a really hard time in his life. Y’see Blockbuster blamed Nightwing for the death of his mother, and as a result he swore to make Nightwing’s life hell. He figured out Nightwing’s secret identity and tried to destroy everything that he held dear, including Dick Grayson’s apartment building, killing several residents.

Around this same time Nightwing was associating with a new Tarantula, who also happened to be female. So when Nightwing finally confronted Blockbuster it was a dramatic scene, which involved Blockbuster promising to make Dick Grayson’s life a miserable existence, by killing anyone Dick came in contact with. Ruled by the code Batman instilled in him, Dick couldn’t bring himself to kill Blockbuster, though it would make is life easier. However Tarantula had no problem and shot Blockbuster in the head without thinking twice and without Nightwing lifting a finger to stop her.

From there Nightwing and Tarantula went to the roof. There Tarantula initiated a sexual encounter with the beaten, bloody and bruised Nightwing, who was clearly not in the best mind state.

Was it consensual? It’s hard to say. It wasn’t as clear-cut as when Jack Knight was raped by the Mist that’s for sure. I’ll also readily admit to having a double standard for the genders when it comes to rape (just as how a male teacher having sex with a teen age female student is a way bigger deal than a female teacher having sex with a teen age male student.) (Society too, especially on that last bit. Isn’t odd how women are supposed to mature earlier than men, including sexually, yet it is far more disquieting to us as a society when an underage girl has sex with an adult male than when an underage boy has sex with an adult female?)

Nightwing wasn’t really drugged or restrained, he was just kind of out of it. Tarantula did most of the work, but I don’t know if she did all of it. Basically I’m reluctant to say that Nightwing was raped.

(For the most part those who think that he was raped are diehard Nightwing fans or fans who hate Devin Grayson, and more than likely those who are equal parts both.)

Tim, where do you stand on the subject of Nightwing’s alleged rape?

What I find interesting about this question is that there is a question about whether or not Nightwing was raped, given what was shown, but there is no question that Sue Dibny was raped and very little was shown. Again, more of that double standard, I suppose.

As for me, I usually take this tract: Nightwing was sexually assaulted. Rape has a lot of connotations attached to it and the biggest one is most likely violence and physical dominance. Thus, when we don’t see those aspects we often are hesitant to label it rape. Thus, this is my way of trying to skirt the connotations issue.

Anyway, the reason I characterize it as such is this: Nightwing was in no condition to give consent. He was in shock and possibly, given his rambling, hallucinating. It would be akin to dosing someone and having sex with them while they were half awake. They might not have said no, they might have even helped it along or enjoyed it (your whole “Tarantula did most of the work but possibly not all of it), but they also could not, truly, say yes. They were not in the state of mind to give acceptance. If the person couldn’t legally sign a contract in their state of mind then they also can’t have consensual sex. I know it sounds flip, but I think the example stands. Any lawyer who tried to get Nightwing to, say, sign away his likeness rights at that moment would never be able to get that signature to hold up in court. Thus, Tarantula did sexually assault him.

However, you don’t have to take my word for it (ahh, Lavar Burton, where have you gone). Check out the two pages in question below and make your own choices.

Aaron better check the registry

Lois n’ Clark: Cliff’s Notes version…when did they get engaged, married and, most importantly, how did Lois find out that her man could fly n’ stuff?

Well Clark proposed to Lois in Superman #50. She accepted because she’d actually grown to love Clark as a person. But like most guys, Clark wasn’t completely honest with his bride to be and didn’t actually tell her about his dual identity until Action Comics #662 which was two real months later.

But because of a media snafu, the debut of the Lois and Clark TV program, the courtship had to be slowed down. Apparently the folks at Time Warner thought that if the comic characters were married, it would hurt the show, which dealt with characters who weren’t even close to engaged.

Thus when Lois and Clark were married on the show, their comic counterparts tied the knot in Superman: The Wedding Album which came out in December 1996.

The happy couple, moments before they realized they had ruined Superman as a character FOREVER.

Was that brief enough for you Aaron?

Tim, do you think that Lois and Clark should be married, or does it diminish both characters?

Where the heck did this “marriage destroys a character” movement start? Man…methinks a lot of fans and creators have some commitment issues and/or some nuptial regrets.

For me, provided it is well done, marrying a character is just as valid as any other plot decision you can make. The key being, “provided it’s well done.” Too often the Lois/Clark marriage has resulted in a perpetually shrill Lois, overblown “problems” to keep the two apart or fighting, or bizarre events like Parasite impersonating Lois. There are marriages in real life that aren’t perfect, but still work and it seems silly and weird to me that writers have such a hard time with that. Some drama is good, too much is exhausting.

Thus, I support the marriage. I am not in favor of divorce, death, Superboy punching it away, etc. Yes, it has been done badly in the past, but that does not mean get rid of it. That means get writers who can do it well.

Kyle is hunting down deadbeat dads.

Whatever happened to Jim Gordon’s son? I remember his wife leaving him and taking his son with her, but I have no clue what happened to him afterwards.

I know that I’ve answer this one before, but I can’t find the actual column to quote it. Basically nothing happened to the kid, he’s living in Chicago with his mom. I’d imagine that he’s probably gone through puberty at this point.

I think that last time I either suggested or theorized that a writer would bring James Jr in a rogue for Robin, sort of as a rebellion against his father and also perhaps because he was jealous that Jim was “never there.” The story would probably pack an emotional punch and could work, if handled by the right writer.

But yeah, James Jr. and his mom haven’t showed up that often, probably because it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie and that Jim has suffered enough in his time.

Tim, do you think we’ll ever see James Jr. again?

I fear a time when we do see him again. As you said, it could be an interesting storyline, but it might just be a complicated mess. Without compelling evidence to the contrary, I’d rather not see the little guy again.

Talowolf is slip sliding down the timestream

I’ve heard the name Rip Hunter before and I assume he’s a time traveler, explorer, but that’s about all I know. Since his info seems to be a big deal for 52 could you enlighten me on this character?

Ripley Hunter is basically the foremost expert in the field of time travel in the DCU.
But in the post Crisis DCU there have been at least three incarnations of the character.

The first Rip Hunter was an ambitious guy. He actually conducted quite a few experiments in Time Travel while working for Booster Gold International. He, along with some colleagues, went on some trips through time that were chronicled in Time Masters. It’s a solid miniseries, but even I’m not sure if it’s still in continuity as it features him working for Booster Gold.

Later, in the Superman books, we meet Hunter, in his role as one of the Linear Men. These “Men” seek to correct anomalies in the time stream. They operate out of Vanishing Point and use devices to manipulate the time stream. Hunter is none other than an older experienced version of Rip Hunter. However the Linear Men were wiped out of existence.

More recently Rip Hunter showed up in JSA as a character who aided the JSA in overcoming the time machinations of Per Degaton who was attempting to destroy the JSA by tinkering with the past. This Rip Hunter was more vague and mysterious about his past, not only for his safety but for others as well.

It’s entirely possible that all three are just the same character at different points in his life. However it’s equally possible that only the most recent JSA version is in play.

I’d have to guess that Rip’s past will unfold in future issues of 52.

Tim, weren’t you intrigued by Rip’s manic notes?

I was indeed. Those notes and Booster’s recent public humiliation have reinvigorated my interest in that particular portion of 52.

Sadly the column is over. But the good news is that the discussion continues over on Our Thread where I’m still enamored with Nightwing’s chest hair.

Seriously, who isn’t?

But before I go here’s my question to you:What did you think of Superman Returns?

Actually I’m not going to call it a column yet. I’m going to gush about Superman Returns a bit.

A few coworkers and I went to a midnight show (I write this column on Tuesday nights) so it’s still fresh in my mind.

What I Loved

(Well pretty much the whole thing, but here were some of the things that really worked for me)

Jimmy Olsen – I’ve never been a huge fan of the character, but he works perfectly in the flick. He’s believable and not over the top. He’s a darn fun character.

Spacey as Lex – Great portrayal. Faithful to Hackman, yet completely inhabiting the character.

Richard White – I can see why James passed on Cyclops to play this role, he’s a great character.

Actually, he didn’t end up passing. He was still in X3.

Jason – Handled perfectly. Not overdone at all.

The Writing – This is one well written film. It covers all the bases and hits all the right notes.

Brandon Routh – He does an amazing job. I completely bought both his Superman and his Clark. As ironic as it sounds, it’s almost distracting how seamlessly he inhabits the role that Christopher Reeves owned.

The Scenes Between Superman and Lois – Equal parts heartbreaking and touching. The longing is palpable. Very well acted scenes.

The Use of Powers – They’re all pretty much utilized to great effect. And they all had me sitting in awe.

Aquaman’s Cameo – Nice touch. Very nice touch.

The Trailer for Spider-Man 3 – While technically not part of the Superman Returns it was immensely cool nonetheless. I don’t know if I can wait over ten months for that flick.

I had one minor quibble, but I don’t want to taint anyone who’s yet to see it, so maybe I’ll get into it next week (feel free to ask me to divulge if you want to make sure it appears next week.) All in all, it was an amazing movie that I think everyone should check out. I think that parents should take their kids, because it could be a definitive movie moment in their lives. It’s a “must see” for anyone who loved the first two Superman films (and really, who didn’t?) And it’s probably my favorite comic film, and certainly my favorite “non origin” comic film. Seriously, everyone needs to check it out.

That’s it. I’m done.

“We’re gonna turn you on. We’re gonna bring you the power.”