Who's Who in the DCU

*****Editor’s Note: I am editing this column from the road and in between two weddings and a camping trip. Thus, no images. If you need images to make you enjoy this awesome column you can come back tomorrow evening (Friday) and I’ll have added them in. Also, what’s your deal? This column isn’t good enough as is?*****

Hey Tim, can you believe that it actually rained in Las Vegas on Independence Day? I hope you have more favorable weather conditions?

If you can call oppressive heat and humidity “favorable” then yes, yes we did.

Also, feel free to send me some questions folks. This column is nothing without you. Feel free to send them by the dozen if you want. I’ll get to them all in time.

The column is also nothing without me, right Mathan?

Links (what I’m looking forward to)

In terms of (IP) Music Thom Yorke’s doing the solo thing!

For (IP) Movies A Scanner Darkly has me literally salivating.

For (IP) Games I can’t wait to play with that Wii controller.

In my dreams, (IP) Figures DC Direct would do a Cliff Chiang line.

For(IP) TV I finally saw an ad for Dexter and I can’t wait. I hope that it’s got a longer life than Huff.

(IP) Sports actually, I’m not looking forward to the dissolution of the Detroit Pistons.

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

IP Culture finds me looking forward to what’s on it’s horizon.

Our DC Forum has thoughts on Brave New World, 52 and who makes a better friend Superman or Batman?

Also My Favorite Blog discusses Civil War and Black Panther.

Gee, I wonder what Tim will link this week?

The Presidential election is just around the corner (in the two years away sense) so it is important to start doing research now. I think this candidate, whom you may recognize, shows great promise.

What I Read Last Week

Hawkgirl #53 – Why am I still reading this title? Because I know that Chaykin has signed on for other projects so I’m guessing that there’s going to be a creative change on this title soon. At least I’m hoping.

Ion – I’m so glad that we get to see Kyle’s “woman issues” dealt with. But I really think that DC needs to do a Kyle mini or graphic novel to explain why Salakk and other GL’s have such an allegiance to him. It irked me that Salakk, who’s had minimal interaction with Kyle, was willing to put it on the line for him. But apart from that this issue read and looked great.

Haven’t you heard? Kyle is the Torchbearer. All the GLs love him.

Loveless #8 – You can’t go wrong with an Azzarello & Zezelj collaboration. From El Diablo to this issue they gel so well together. Cutter gets more development and some great Azzarello dialogue. Lovely issue all around.

Supergirl & the Legion of Super-Heroes #19 – Noir set in the future, I love it. I equally dug how the Brainiac subplot has progressed. Oh and the mystery of someone falling “off the grid.” Stellar issue.

Catwoman #56 – Hughes’ covers really are something to admire. I loved the scenes between Selina and Holly. I loved Holly getting tips from Wildcat. I really loved Film Freak’s scenes. Allow me to reiterate that this title is one of my favorite OYL books.

There’s a question for you, Mathan. What’s the history of Film Freak?

X-Factor #8 – I usually love this book, but something felt off this time around. I’m pretty sure it all has to do with the cover. Quicksilver barely appears in the issue, which disappointed me a bit. The “Civil War” tie in was tenuous at best. It seems clearly to be a mandated tie in. But Calero’s art is so great that it makes me think “Sook who?”

The Spectre #2 – It’s damn great to see Cris butt heads with his new partner about the mission. Chiang’s art is glorious as always and that final scene is so full of suspense, it’s remarkable. For the second time this week Pfeifer knocks my socks off.

Clearly the best of the “Crisis Aftermath” minis. Considering the other candidate would be “Battle for Bludhaven” that might not seem all that impressive, but still…good book.

Solo #11 – This book is too damn great to be ending, and before Cliff Chiang gets the Solo treatment? It’s not fair. This issue was great, from the humor on the cover to the history lesson within the pages. It’s really cool because I’d been admiring Aragones’ “marginal” ads on the pages of Paste this month. Getting to find out more about this legend was such a treat. His bio page was worth at least half the admission price. Yet another memorable issue.

Batman #654 – I’m so glad that the lead from the Arkham Asylum mini isn’t a forgotten character. Hopefully he’ll make it as an actual rogue in Gotham. I’m intrigued by the development with Tim and Bruce and I love Two-Face on the prowl. I do hope that Kramer and Faucher land a gig soon, because the team is too great to be wasted.

Good ending issue. I was a little disappointed that Great White was behind it all. It was cool for a fan like me that is all about the Bats, but who the heck else would know what was going on there. Definitely not the gut punch reveal it could have been.

There’s another question for the fans: Who is Great White and what’s his deal?

52 Week 8 – I dig Natasha’s chutzpah, but even she shouldn’t have been so blinded by anger to trust Lex Luthor (even though I love the guy.) Nice to see Ralph and Ollie hang out and the seed for his mayoral run planted. I also dig John Henry’s development, which he appears to be handling very well.

Black Panther #17 – Decent issue. I dug seeing the characters as more normal folks dealing with an impending wedding. I also liked how the subplots got a bit more development. But I’m eager for this wedding to arrive.

Brave New World – I don’t even know if this thing could be judged as a whole, as it’s really just a bunch of previews lumped together. I can’t complain because it was cheap, but it can’t be more than what it was. Here are my thoughts on a story by story basis;

Martian Manhunter – I could do without the time hopping, but J’onn’s internal debate was interesting. And the reveal of the cardboard cutouts was a clever one. I may give this book a shot.

I like the cardboard “device” but otherwise this failed to intrigue.

OMAC – I’m no fan of Jones’ work, but I was intrigued by this taste. It’s not just because I love in Vegas either. Guedes’ art appears leaps and bounds better than his Adventures of Superman work. I’m leaning towards trying this book out.

The art was nice, but the combination of Jones and yet another OMAC (after a year and a half of them being everywhere) means this is unlikely to hit my pull list.

Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters – Poor Justin and Jimmy, Battle for Bludhaven has left such a horrible taste in my mouth that, where I was once going to try this book out, now I’m leaving it alone. Acuna’s art is pretty, but Bludhaven was pretty bad. Plus, I’m pretty sure that Grant Morrison’s name is attached because of the use of S.H.A.D.E.

We’re in the same boat on this one. I did love Uncle Sam’s “It’s time to get to work,” moment but Battle soured me on this before I even read word one of it.

Ooooh, one more question. Didn’t Ostander introduce a new Uncle Same character in the pages of Spectre? Or am I crazy? Who was he/she and did she/he ever show up anywhere else.

The Creeper – I’m a fan of Justiniano and Wong’s art so I’m in on this one. The Creeper does look downright scary. I am curious how his origin will be revamped. I’m down for this book.

This probably did the best job of selling me on checking out a book that I was sitting the fence on. Great art and I dig the “Very liberal TV commentator/vigilante” dichotomy that they are working.

The Atom – While I loathed much of their work on Action Comics Simone and Byrne have piqued my interest here. It seems to have a strong supporting cast and there’s clearly a Grant Morrison influence on those pages.

I’m onboard for this series, but I was already pretty sure I was going to be. Byrne’s art looks pretty good here.

Trials of Shazam – Wow. I wasn’t interested in this book, until I read the sample. That Mary Marvel cliffhanger was a beast. And Porter’s art has never looked more crisp, that painted look suits him well.

Eh…I like Porter’s new style but otherwise it did not really connect with me.

And finally I’d like my props for calling the Monitor three and a half months ago!

Ahh, Mathan, you are an awesome one.

Good gravy, it’s yet another week with no one supplying the song I culled the lyric at the end of the column from. Eh, what’re you gonna do?

Put them all in timeout?

On with the column.

Alright, fine, but you are just encouraging their bad behaviour.

Our very own Matt Morrison returns from…umm…anyway, he’s got a question.

Regarding Superman Returns…What is this minor quibble that you had?

My quibble was that Lois Lane wasn’t saucy enough. Maybe I’ve got the Margot Kidder version of the character stuck in my head, but I just don’t feel that Bosworth’s Lois had enough “sass.”

Perhaps becoming a mother taught Lois some patience and she learned to not just bark orders. Or maybe it was heartbreak of Superman’s leaving that caused Lois to be more considerate in her daily life. Or it might have been getting married. I don’t know.

Lois is engaged, actually. Remember that whole “she doesn’t like you to ask when she’s actually going to get married” commentary from Jimmy when Clark first showed up at the Daily Planet.

What I do know is that, while she was assertive, she didn’t quite have that “Lois Lane” brashness that I’ve grown accustomed to. And upon further consideration, Erica Durance has that same brashness on Smallville so it’s clearly a trait of “Lois” and not just Kidder.

Fortunately most of her scenes required her to be vulnerable. But for those few where she was going against the grain, she just wasn’t “Lois” enough for me.

Tim, did you have any qualms with the flick?

Sure did. First, before I complain though, let me say that overall I quite enjoyed it. A list of things that were good, in no particular order, are Lex’s Kryptonite shiv (nice nod to his prison forced evolution), the gattling gun scene, how seamless the flying looked, the heartbreak of seeing Mrs. Kent stuck outside with the rest of the Superman groupies while her son may or may not be dying inside, James Marsden (who knew I’d ever really dig a James Marsden performance), the kid catching on to Superman’s secret identity while his “parents” reject such a ridiculous idea with a giggle, and Jimmy Olsen.

Two things did not quite work for me. First was Lex’s “plot”. Although as Tim Sheridan pointed out to me, when was the last time a super villain plot in a superhero movie made sense? It was hard to argue that.

The second was Clark Kent getting the short end of the stick. I understand he’s no Superman, but come on, didn’t anyone (save Jimmy) give a crap that he was gone for 5 years. Not Perry, who respected him as a journalist? Not Lois, who finally accepted him as a partner/almost equal in the field (especially if Singer was using the continuity of the first two movies)? The “oh Clark’s back…whatever,” was tough to swallow.

But as I said, it was a very good film overall.

Julian Smith missed the King of the Seven Seas

Aquaman’s Cameo?!? You mentioned this in the lastest WWDCU. Did I miss something?

Dave Ziegler must have had his eyes closed too.

Ok, Mathan. I’ll bite. Aquaman Cameo? I must not have been watching the same movie, because I saw no such thing. Could you please elaborate in the column?

Yes! I got two people to take the bait!

C’mon people, how could you miss his appearance? It was such a pivotal scene in the third act, hell, it was a pivotal scene for the entire movie.

I mean really, I find it hard to believe that I’m the only one who peeped it.

Ok, I’m going to spill the beans, so if you don’t want to know, now is your time to turn away.

Jason was wearing Aquaman pajamas when Superman comes to visit at the end of the movie.

That was it. Not a huge deal, just a nice touch that I appreciated.

Tim, was I wrong to stretch it out so long?

Nah. It is always great fun to torture our readers.

Soul On Fire thinks it is all in a name

Also, in the second graphic novel of the Red Hood saga, Joker can apparently here everything that is going on when Jason is fighting Bats. Several times Jason calls Batman “Bruce”. So, does the Joker now know that Batman’s first name is Bruce? Wouldn’t he kinda figure that one out?

The issue that Soul is referring to is Batman #650, the final chapter of the Red hood saga. The issue starts with Batman and Jason Todd observing the devastation of Bludhaven by the Society via Chemo leaving it radioactive (not to be confused with how Palmiotti and Gray have left Bludhaven equally inhospitable via Battle for Bludhaven).

On this rooftop there’s some chitchat and names are tossed around freely. On that same rooftop there’s a minor explosion followed by more talk on page #2. On page three we see the Joked wired to explosives, who says “sound like they’re having some fun up there” seems to imply that Joker is within earshot of the festivities.

However I’ll argue that Mister J only heard the aforementioned rooftop explosion and that’s what he’s responding to. As we see during the action on pages #3 & 4, Jason tries to subdue Batman by affixing the handle of a line to his cape and firing hook to another building, the same building the Joker is in. Batman is almost dragged from his rooftop to the building containing the Joker.

As the story goes on there’s more tussling and both characters end up in the same building as the Joker. On page #9 Bruce and Jason call each other by their first names and on page #10 Jason kicks open a door to reveal a tied up Joker. There’s a chance that Joker may have overheard something, but given what I’d imagine the ambient noise is in Gotham, specifically Crime Alley, I can’t imagine that it was really optimum eavesdropping conditions for the Joker.

I’d also wonder what the big deal was if the Joker overheard. The Joker is a character who can’t recall his own origin or real identity, but you’d expect him to remember Batman’s real name, or even deduce it? And would anyone really take Joker seriously if he claimed Batman was Bruce Wayne? The guy is insane and practically Gotham enemy #1. He’s got a huge credibility gap in Gotham.

So I’m taking the stand that the Joker heard nothing of the conversation, and what little he did hear, he probably pretended that it was a lovers quarrel, because he’s the type of guy who would put things in an improper context just for fun.

Tim, where do you stand on Joker’s eavesdropping of secret identities?

My read on Joker is that, if he wanted to, he could have already figured out Batman’s identity about 100 times over. But he doesn’t give a damn about Bruce Wayne or anyone else who Batman might be. For him, Batman is “real” and the rest of it does not enter into his mind. So even if he heard “Bruce” coming from Jason’s lips, I don’t think he spends another moment even considering it. He’d rather think of Batman always being Batman just as he is always being Joker. For him, there is no off switch on their obsessions/psychoses.

Soul On Fire wonders if Jim really knows Bruce

Ok, I just finished reading the No Man’s Land novel and I was wondering something.

To prove his friendship, Bats unmasks in front of Jim. Gordon looks away, but tells Batman that he could easily find out who he is and may have already. So I’m wondering, does Gordon know Bruce is Batman? Have they ever-made mention of it?

This is a huge gray area in Gotham. It’s not explicitly stated that Jim Gordon knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman. But Gordon is a good cop and a smart one, so the notion is that he probably does know or at least has his suspicions.

The way that I see the Gordon/Batman dynamic is like a romantic relationship. Now suppose that the person that you’re with is very “adept” or “skilled” in certain areas. Some folks might want to know details about the past at the risk of ruining the relationship, while others are content to just have what is and not worry about what was. Jim is the latter, he’s secure enough to live with the knowledge that he’s got without needing to know the specifics. He doesn’t want to risk losing whatever magical element his dynamic element is with Bats by having cold hard facts.

I respect his decision. I know that there are quite a few things that I’m “pretty sure about” but knowing the actual truth would probably alter things a bit, with is how I imagine Jim looks at the situation.

Tim, is Jim being naïve or canny?

I’d lean towards canny. I’m not sure if Jim knows or has his suspicions or what. But I do think there was a moment, early in their relationship, when Gordon decided that he was not going to look under that stone; that who Batman was behind that mask was not of a concern to him. Gordon respects Batman and respects Batman’s right to conceal his true identity. If he wanted to, yes, I think Gordon could figure it out. But, much like Joker, I suppose, Gordon has decided he wants no part of that.

Aaron got a good severance package

Jim Gordon retired? Was this just something that…happened or was there a storyline that actually built to him walking away?

Um I don’t know Aaron, would you call having your wife killed and your niece (which you raised as a daughter) paralyzed “build up?” How insensitive to the trials of an imaginary character can you possibly be?

I don’t think that his retirement came out of nowhere. I prefer to see it an evolution of a character who’d been dealing with 15 years of continuity.

He started out as a cop in Chicago and made his way to Gotham. On his way to becoming Commissioner he ruined one marriage and took in his niece. After becoming Commissioner he was remarried, saw his niece get paralyzed, was tortured in an attempt to drive himself insane, and lost his second wife.

Oh and did I mention that he had a heart attack and got shot in the back, repeatedly?

It took Jim getting shot in the back (one last time) to make him take retirement. The storyline was called Officer Down.

So here’s the sequence of events for James Gordon; ruined marriage, gained niece, niece paralyzed, tortured, had heart attack, got remarried, wife gets killed, shot in back, retirement.

Doesn’t that seem like a lot to you? Personally I think that Jim more than earned his retirement, but I’m glad that he’s returned to the GCPD.

Tim, how do you feel about the path that Jim’s life has taken?

I thought it was a good and a sad move when the Bat office had Jim retire. Sad because, come on, he’s the commissioner and good because it was different and a step forward. Thus, with his return, I am once again conflicted. It’s great because, hey, he’s Commissioner Gordon, but it’s too bad because it represents a regression of the character.

Of course, this isn’t the first time he’s left the force only to triumphantly return. I think he’s done it a few times, but the most recent was just after Knightfall/Quest/End when he was forced out, his wife took over, and he ran for mayor. So maybe it is a less a regression and more of just Jim being Jim.

Mr. Pete is getting the band back together

I just received a copy of Spider-Man: Rock Reflections Of A Superhero that I won recently on Ebay, featuring all of Marvel’s finest in an all-star band. It got me to wondering, what would an all-star band consisting of DC’s finest look like. Who would play what instrument, and what songs would they sing/cover. I, personally nominate Batman as lead vocalist, since he really tore it up with his rendition of Am I Blue on JLU. What do you guys think?

It’s funny, because that’s one of the few JLU episodes that I’ve actually caught, and I’m so glad that I did as it’s a classic moment.

What’s even funnier is that I love music and comics, and this question has me dumbfounded. It’s probably because not only do I not “hear” comic books, but I don’t associate them with sound at all. So while pondering this answer I’m literally wracking my brain for suitable candidates. But here goes nothing;

Black Canary – She’s my vocalist. Clearly she’s not only got “the voice” but solid vocal control. Plus she’s easy on the eye, and music is currently much more about how you look than how you sound.

Green Arrows – I’m using both Connor and Ollie. Connor is on bass, because I think that it’d suit his meditative qualities better. Plus I want Ollie for guitar solos and so he can possibly do the whole cheesy “duet, singing into the same microphone” thing with Dinah. Obviously these two know their way around strings, so bows to guitars shouldn’t that much of a stretch.

Nightwing – I’m putting Nightwing on drums. The guy uses escrima sticks on a regular basis, and those are really just big drumsticks. He’s also used to delivering beatdowns and isn’t that just like pounding on drums? It seems like a natural fit to me.

Dr. Mid-Nite – Everyone knows that blind guys rock on keyboards. Plus the guy is a surgeon, which means nimble fingers, also good for keyboards. Also who is my favorites keyboardist of all time? None other than the Revolutions own Doctor Fink!

Superman/Supergirl/Power Girl – This Kryptonian trio is my horn section. With their super breath I’m guaranteed a rocking horn section. They’d be called “Steel on Brass.”

As for the songs, they’d be a Prince cover band. Prince has enough duets to make excellent use of the Ollie/Dinah dynamic. And his songs have been covered by female artists from Alicia Keys to TLC to Sinead O’connor, so Dinah tackling the lead would be no problem.

There you have it, that’s my band. There’s a chance that they’d be called the Evolution, since there’s that theme of legacy throughout the band. But I’m not completely married to that name.

Tim, what do you think of my band, and could you come up a better one?

A Prince cover band? How could I possibly dream up anything better than that? I couldn’t. It just wouldn’t be possible.

My alternative suggestion (perhaps as an opening act?) would be a girl group consisting of Wonder Girl, Ravager, Arrowette, the Secret, the still unseen Martian Girl, and Aquagirl. You’d have the drama that fans love to talk about already built in (Wondy v. Ravager), some multiculturalism (an alien, a sea dweller, a ghost, a crazy daddy’s girl, etc), and, as you pointed out, with image being everything, these lookers would tear up the charts.

Legacies have Aaron all tied up in knots

Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair = Oracle. I got that. It’s this whole “Cassandra Cain” thang that I can’t follow. New Batgirl? Whatever. But, you can’t have “Bat” in your name without a maudlin backstory, right? Details.

“Maudlin” Aaron? Really?

It’s not much of a bad story. Y’see there was this guy named David Cain. He was a simple man who had simple dreams. One of those dreams was to create the perfect bodyguard for Ra’s al Ghul, and by “create” I mean breed.

Cain, being the gifted fighter that he was, he decided to use his “genetic material.” However he needed to find a mate. Fortunately he found one in Lady Shiva, but in order to convince her go along for the ride he killed her sister and had Shiva herself beaten into submission.

They did the deed and managed to conceive. Once Cassandra was born, as per the deal, Shiva left her with Cain. Cain raised her, not teaching her to talk, but rather to read body language. He trained her in martial arts. Because of how she learned, her brain developed differently and her language functions were devoted to physical action. Thus she can pretty much predict any opponent’s next move, but couldn’t speak a lick of any language.

When Dave felt that he’d trained her enough, he sent her out on a mission. However, because fighting was all that she knew, she perceived it as a game. Sadly as she struck the killing blow, she learned about death, via her targets body language. At that moment she was horrified and cut herself off from Cain.

Eventually she landed in Gotham, and got in Batman’s good graces by saving Commissioner Gordon’s life. She proved to be hero enough for Batman to allow her to don the bat cowl. And while she did kill that one guy, Bats forgave her because she allowed herself to get shot to save an innocent life, and Bats is all about personal sacrifice.

Now was that “maudlin” Aaron?

Of course now she’s gone back to her brutally ruthless roots (and by roots, I mean her parentage) on the pages of Robin. But I suppose that’s what happens when your book gets the axe.

Tim, which Cassandra did you like better pre OYL or post OYL?

I think her conversion to evil is the one sore spot of Robin’s (the title, not the character) post OYL resurgence. I’m not necessarily opposed to a good character going bad, but I just didn’t think Cassie’s switch was illuminated enough especially in light of her newly discovered verbosity.

However, as I did not buy her solo title save a few issues here and there, I’m hardly in a position to complain about how DC has treated her. If I loved her as Batgirl so much, I should supported her title with my buying dollars.

Mike loves the democratic process

Way back in the late 70s, Barbara Gordon was a congresswoman. Is that part of the current canon?

Sadly no. In the current DCU Babs has been too darn busy to become a Washington fat cat. She’s too busy fighting crime to become a professional graft artist.

Y’see after getting paralyzed by the Joker, Babs decided not to give up on the hero gig, even though she had retired just before getting shot. Bab’s was lucky enough to lose the use of her legs right when the information superhighway was coming into prominence. Thus, with all that time on her hands she became uber computer literate.

She became Oracle and has worked with most of the heroes of the DCU, including stints with the JLA.

Plus little known fact; Congress isn’t wheelchair accessible.

And really how could she run for Congress, she can’t even walk! Hey now!

(I’m kidding, I’m pretty sure that there are folks who’ve lost the use of their legs who are much more mobile than many folks who write columns for the internet and are probably comparable in weight, including the wheelchair.)

Tim, was I PC enough to make up for my tasteless joke?

Oh, you did a fine job covering up your poor taste. That said, let me point you to the story of Max Cleland, a Georgia politician who is missing both legs and one arm. He served in the United States Senate and his defeat for re-election in 2002 is one of the biggest miscarriages of political justice we have seen in our time. So, not only can folks in wheelchairs govern, they sometimes are way more deserving of doing it than the rest of us bums who get to walk around.

Sadly the end of the column is here. But don’t fret, we’ve always got Our Thread which is as fun as always and we also welcome questions there so feel free to comment and question away. And we’ll return next week for more fun.

Before I go, here’s my question to you this week; What did you think of Brave New World?

“Anything that we want to know, from just a beginner to a pro”