Who's Who in the DCU

Tim, you’ve been doing some road tripping. I’m curious what you’ve been listening to, in terms of music. What was the soundtrack to your road trip?

Well, any time I go on a road trip, I will always include a mix CD (this time out it was Plan DIEGO, created for last yea’s trip to the San Diego Comic Con) and the Gin Blossoms’ New Miserable Experience. The mix is because it is like listening to the radio without actually listening to the radio (yeah for no commercials, annoying DJs or music I don’t want to hear) and they tend to be about twice as long as a regular CD and the Gin Blossoms’ is something I’ve inherited from my father. It is just a great CD to drive to.

Besides those two, I had 12 CDs in the carrying case. His Royal Badness to Wu-ington is only about 3 and a half hours one way, but I always bring too many CDs for it. Anyway, the twelve selected were: REM’s Monster, Tracy Chapman’s self titled, both discs of Fountains of Wayne’s Out of State Plates, Gnarls Barkley’s St. Elsewhere, Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Dulcinea, Fiona Apple’s Tidal, The White Stripes’ Get Behind Me Satan, The Best of the Beastie Boys (I own all but one of their albums, but I do love me a good greatest hits collection), The Roots’ Phrenology, Robbie Williams’ Sing While You’re Winning, Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine, and The Pixies’ Doolittle. Also a CD called Come and See from a band called Manbreak but that’s a whole running joke and probably of no interest to anyone.


(IP) Music is review-alicious!

(IP) Movies is equally review-erific!

(IP) Games has the latest updates.

(IP) Figures makes me lament that I didn’t pick up the second wave of Crisis figures last week.

(IP) TV is recap-tastic!

(IP) Sports has a new column by Aaron!

Yay for frequent question asker Aaron! I hope he doesn’t get too big to drop us an inquiry every now and again.

Moodspins should be back at some point in the future.

IP Culture is culture-lific!

Our DC Forum if full of love/hate for Secret Six and numerous thoughts on what was cut from Pull lists post OYL.

Also My Favorite Blog discusses NASA’s latest space mission?

Tim, care to link anything this week?

Hmm”¦sure can. I went to two weddings last week while back in my native CT and they were held at Saint Clements Castle and The Aqua Turf. Marvel at the opulent tastes of my newly married friends.

What I Read Last Week

Secret Six #2 – Here’s a secret; I’m not going to keep buying this book until it gets to #6. This book isn’t as fun as its predecessor was. Maybe it’s because members keep dying. What really sucks is this is another bad book with Jimmy Palmiotti’s name on the cover.

I don’t think it has connected with me as much as Villains United did either, but I still like it and think you are being way too harsh. Then again you think Battle for Bludhaven is the comic equivalent of Showgirls while I think it is the comic equivalent of Day After Tomorrow (in other words: AWFUL) so different strokes and all that.

The Atom #1 – I really enjoyed this book. I dig the protagonist who doesn’t want to be a hero, but rather change the world. Byrne’s art hasn’t looked this good in awhile. I like the supporting cast and the mysteries. I have high hopes for this book.

It made me feel weird and sort of dirty to put down some cash for a John Byrne book (beyond the Superman trades from his Man of Steel years, I can’t recall the last time I’ve done that) but I’ll be back for #2.

OMAC #1 – Despite my best warnings I picked this book up. I mean it’s written by Bruce Jones, which is never a good sign. Yet this issue worked for me. I dug the build up, I dug the characters, for the most part. I’m intrigued by title, so I’m down until Jones rears his head.

I admire your big heart Mathan. Me, I simply have no more love left to give to Mr. Jones.

Supergirl #7 – This title is the definition of disjointed: it’s OYL and set in Kandor. This book just isn’t clicking. I am glad that Kara’s mission is out in the open. I dig that she was sent to kill Kal. I just can’t wait for this title to return to Earth.
Okay, I dig that she was sent to kill the evil version of her cousin. What I don’t quite get is how making out with him fits in with that.

Blue Beetle #4 – Oracle has a great cameo in this issue. I really like the Aunt’s lackey, he’s a quirky character with tons of potential. And as usual Jamie and his friends have some great dialogue. This title is so much better than even I expected.

Outsiders #38 – Didn’t dig the art, but I dug Nightwing putting Boomer Jr in his place. Actually it was equally cool to see Rex finally get subdued. But the issue wasn’t quite up to the par of the last two issues.

Teen Titans #37 – I dug seeing Chief get called out. I dug the ending. I don’t really care for the lack of a net gain or loss from the storyline. We didn’t lose any members not did we gain any, which strikes me as odd. I am awaiting Ravager to betray the team, as Johns seems to be casting her in the Terra mode. But, yeah that ending was pure soap opera, and I loved it.

I really hope Ravager is not a traitor. It just seems too obvious. I have no problem with her chafing under the Titans restraints and eventually busting out and going solo, but her being evil again”¦that just does not interest me.

I sort of agree with you on the net loss/gain storyline front. I’ve like the Titans OYL, but it is starting to feel like lots of neat moments with little plot momentum leading towards anything.

JSA #87 – Oh my god, what a complete waste. I loved Levitz’s LSH, but he’s really tarnished his rep in my eyes with this run. It was completely unnecessary and pretty much irrelevant. Who cares about the Gentlemen Ghost? This has actually turned me against the Gentlemen Ghost. Because of this storyline, I’m now 100% against the Gentlemen Ghost. I can’t fully express how disappointed and angered I am by this storyline, except to say that my picking up the relaunch isn’t a sure thing, because I’m sure that my bitterness for this storyline will reside and fester someplace deep inside me until long after my vital signs have ceased.

This book should have closed up shop after Johns last issue or, barring that, after the Earth-2 issue Levitz started his run on. This just felt totally perfunctory even before we heard of the relaunch.

Y the Last Man #47 – Great cover. I dug the look into Dr Mann’s life. What I really dug is how I just realized that this issue wasn’t done by Pia. I am sorry that this issue means that we’re one issue closer to the end.

52 Week Nine – I’m intrigued by the prospect of Adam, Buddy and Kory being pursued by folks. I’m bugging that Natasha is so resentful of her Uncle that she’s blinded to dealing with Luthor. But I love Vic in a lesbian bar (even if he was a bit too butch for me.)
Oh come on. Vic could so be soft and femme if you just gave him a chance.

The American Way #5 – I really liked how the individual team members opinions were showcased this issue. I also like how things have become personal. This is a such a great mini, that I may give out the trade as gifts.

Detective Comics #821– My, do I love J.H. Williams III’s art. Dini crafted such a believable story tale and it really showed how human Bruce is and how much life Gotham has. And it was indeed a detective comic. Great issue.

I’ll say good, not great. A nice start though.

Marshall and Neil both placed the lyric from last week’s column! Hurray!


Let’s hope a streak has begun!

Marshall has a magic word. It’s banana. Shh”¦don’t tell anyone.

I was reading Brave New world and I was very intrigued by The Trials of Shazam. But I was also confused. Wasn’t the Big Red Cheese trapped in the Rock of Eternity replacing the wizard? Did I miss something, or is his escape one of those things that happened in the missing year? Or do you think it occurred before OYL, because when I read the story it makes it feel like something that happened when magic went ka-razy in Day of Vengeance?

“Explain to you where “Trials of Shazam” fits into current continuity? Well sure..hey!…What’s that over there?! Oops, gotta go!”

This is a very interesting question.

There are those out there who would happily jump the gun at blasting Judd for his disregard for continuity “What’s Dr. Fate doing around? Why isn’t Cap on the Rock of Eternity?” However I’m not one of those folks. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and wait until I have the issue in hands before I judge his work.

I do dig your theory that it happens around the time of the Day of Vengeance miniseries. It would explain why Dr. Fate is around and doing things, and why there’s a lot of magical hooey going on.

However I’m of the mind that this takes place post Infinite Crisis. I can’t completely explain it, but that’s what my gut is telling me.

Actually it might have to do with the fact that OMAC #1 and The Atom #1 featured none of the pages contained in Brave New World. That leads me to believe that the first issue of The Trials of Shazam will be a set up issue and the pages we’ve seen will be in the second issue.

And then there’s also the idea that magic still hasn’t firmly settled down in the DCU. Things are still chaotic, so maybe that’s what those scenes in Brave New World were referencing.

Oh yeah, and the Monitors are watching it, which makes me think that it’s occurring rather than “has already occurred.”

Either way, I’m interested in the book and look forward to checking it out.

Tim, what’s your take on when The Trials of Shazam takes place?

I was guessing that it was occurring concurrently with Day of Vengeance, hence the big magic blink that happens to the Marvel family. However, you do bring up a good point about the Monitors. The way I am reading it, until I get more info, is that it is a flashback to a pre-Vengeance time that sets up some of the Trials status quo.

The alternative would be its OYL, we have a new Fate we just have not met yet, Marvel’s out of the Rock and somehow the Marvel family had no problems (until now) with the Rock of Eternity exploding and Shazam dying.

Neil B. is exactly like my mother. Always dwelling on the negative.
Another way he’s exactly like my mom is that he insists his natural hair color is blond, despite having dyed it from brown since the age of 25, just because that was his hair color when he was 5 years old.

What were the five biggest mistakes DC made in the past 10 years?

This is such a great question. It’s actually so great that I’ve decided to honor it with TEMPORARY MAINSTAY status.

SWEET!!! Only the third in history!

For those of you familiar with the column, occasionally we get a question that’s so great that we answer it”¦every week. Perhaps you remember when we pondered “who should be the Green Lantern in the Green Lantern relaunch?” Or maybe you recall Tim and I putting together different versions of the JLA every week. Well, now you’ve got something else to look forward to; Tim and I crying over spilled milk.

It is what we do best.

There’s no theme for this week, just five times I think that DC made the wrong decision.

Rotating Creative Teams – This sounds like a good idea, I mean it worked on Legends of the Dark Knight so why wouldn’t it work on regular DCU books? After the success of the Hush storyline in Batman DC instituted a policy of rotating creative teams for some of their books; the Superman titles, Batman and JLA. The basic idea was that every top creator had a JLA, Superman or Batman story that they wanted to tell, so DC would give them the option.

What resulted pretty much divided fans down the middle (which isn’t that unlike splitting the internet in half). The crew from 100 Bullets on Batman had an equal number of fans and critics, as did Brian Azzarello’s run on Superman with Jim Lee. Fans liked Greg Rucka’s Adventures of Superman more than Chuck Austen’s Action Comics but neither generated much interest. Kurt Busiek’s run on JLA featured the Crime Syndicate and left many scratching their heads.

These runs, sadly, had very little impact in terms of continuity. There wasn’t much growth for the characters and the only lasting result of these runs seems to have been the return of Jason Todd.

“Ahh, yes, the people”¦they love me.”

Fortunately DC seems to have moved the “rotating creative teams” mentality to its All-Star line, while DC’s regular books have established creative teams.

Ugh, I’m right here with you on this one. JLA went from a banner title to largely inconsequential in the blink of an eye. Only Johns/Heinberg’s time on the title (Crisis of Conscience) approached “Must Read-ability”, mostly because of its connection to Identity Crisis.

It might have yielded some cool teams or storylines, but nothing went anywhere. Characterization was, at best, surface and, at worst, non-existent or inexplicably contradictory. Events of what should have been tremendous importance were barely, if ever, referenced after the creative team passed the baton. Making a “main” title into a rotating creator title as a long term strategy just does not work. You trade “buzz” for “reader loyalty” and, as demonstrated by this experiment, you get lesser returns, typically, with each creative team switch.

And I would actually argue that the Confidential/Classified books are more about the rotating creator platform as the All-Star line is simply too slow to really take advantage of that approach.

Rejecting Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, Tom Peyer and Mark Waid’s pitch for Superman – I so wish I knew all of the details of what this foursome had planned for the Man of Steel, but they’ve been pretty tightlipped about it.

It was supposed to a groundbreaking storyline full of twists and turns that was to return the icon to his iconic status. But the storyline was rejected (for more on that story check this out.)

Superman weeps for what might have been”¦and the loss of a mailbox.

Obviously those creators have gone on to do great things, just not on Superman, yet. But if that had come to pass, who knows what the DCU would be like?

On the one hand, I’m disappointed because I love almost everything Morrison does, Millar proved himself to be an excellent Superman scribe on Superman Adventures (best, most consistent Superman book of the time), Peyer would’ve be coming off of the much beloved (and hysterical) Hourman, and Waid is, well, Waid. On the other, some of the rumors I heard about their approach, specifically the “restoration” of the Clark/Lois/Superman love triangle made me groan as any sort of regression, especially one of that magnitude, tends to do.

So, in the end, I think DC might have done okay here. Then again, these creators would have inspired me to at least check Superman out at that point whereas the creators they passed the reins to instead, did not.

Stopped Taking Submissions – I completely understand why they stopped, as we are a very litigious society. Folks would love to sue DC for stealing ideas. And DC’s got deep pockets, why not try?

But still DC is also closing the door on tons of potential talent (some working for this very site.) I’m sure that there is plenty of talent who’d love to work pitch some stuff in DC’s direction, but don’t have the outlet to do so.

For purely selfish reasons, I agree. Plus, it kills me that every “Talent Search” DC does is for artists, not writers. I’m not saying artists aren’t important, I’m just saying writers are.

Plus, I can’t draw a lick. So if you think about it, it is kind of like discrimination. What? No? Overstating my case a bit?

Abandoning Letters Pages – On a similar note, when DC got rid of its letters pages, fans lost a great tool of communication. Getting a letter printed used to be a huge deal, and now it’s impossible.

An entire generation of readers is losing out on the joy of getting a letter printed. And being a letter writer is how many creators first saw their name in comics. Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek and Phil Jimenez all had letters printed as fans before they became pros.

The letters page was also used for “behind the scenes” tales of how the book came to be, such as was the case with the letters page of Starman or Primal Force.

The day DC stopped running fans letters was a dark day for fandom.

Yup, that was disappointing. They are making a slight comeback on the Marvel side of things and it’d be great to see DC follow suit. I know the theory is that the internet is for that sort of thing, but not all fans are on the internet (in fact, a large number aren’t) and those that are do not necessarily all frequent the same sites. Except for Comics Nexus. Everyone comes here because we are just so damn good.

Canceling Plastic Man – Ok, this might not seem like the biggest deal right now, but as time goes by this will be a huge deal. Plastic Man was a huge critical success completely done by Kyle Baker, a fan favorite creator. And they canceled it!

DC could have done plenty of things for this book, they could have moved it to the Johnny DC line or even more appropriately the All-Star line. This book should have had a longer life.

A few years from now DC is going to be looking back and say “Yeah, we used to work with Kyle Baker; talented guy.” Kyle Baker’s star is rising and DC shouldn’t have let him go.

Can you call Kyle Baker “a rising star”? I think he’s been around long enough and proven himself in a variety of books to be a veteran of the field. I’m not saying it wasn’t a mistake, I’m just not sure it is for the reasons you think it is.

I’m not saying that DC lit Plastic Man on fire after they cancelled him, I’m just saying I can’t be watching DC all the time.

Neil is an enemy of the industry. As is anyone who dares read Wizard.

What are your thoughts on Tom Breevort’s comments here

Um, I kind of disagree with a lot of what he has to say.

I certainly disagree with the notion that DC has been biting Marvel’s style for the past 20 years. Here are some things that DC’s done in the past 20 years that I think have been rather unique.

Justice League International – An in-continuity title that combines hilarity and heart in one package? Minus any real presence of an A-Lister, (Batman only appeared sporadically). Sounds like DC to me.

The Flash – How many former teen sidekicks in the 616 have successfully adopted their mento’s role?

An unfair comparison, perhaps, as modern Marvel (that is Marvel when Stan Lee took over) never really had sidekicks.

Starman – Has any Marvel book gotten critical acclaim that this title had? Can anyone name another title that explored and clarified the past, glimpsed at the future and set a high mark for the present?

Chronos – An ambitious title that, in its short time, bounced around DC’s rich history and fleshed out things that were only hinted at.

Eclipso – A book that centered on a villain, and not in a villain in the “gray area” sense like Punisher or Venom. Eclipso was a downright evil villain who slaughtered heroes.

Were all of these books huge successes? No, but I’m hard pressed to find similar examples in Marvel’s pantheon of books. That’s just off the top of my head, I’m sure I could come up with a dozen examples of how unique the DCU is.

One could argue that both Man of Steel and Batman: Year One were attempts to “Marvelize” icons, but I’d argue that both are much more indicative of the writers (John Byrne and Frank Miller) styles. To me those are more of the writers putting their stamp on the characters rather than making them more Marvel.

Now obviously there are instances where DC was following a Marvel template (Kyle Rayner springs to mind.) But those are few and far between.

I also think that Breevort’s characterization of that Marvel is more “cohesive” is a bit off; I’d call the Marvel Universe claustrophobic. Since 1985 DC has fleshed out its fictional cities. Gotham has expanded; Bludhaven and Opal put themselves on the map literally. Keystone has gained prominence and even Happy Harbor has had a higher profile. Impulse operated in Manchester, Alabama, Superboy lived in Hawaii and Starman operated out of the Southwest. I won’t even get into how L.E.G.I.O.N., Darkstars and Green Lantern Mosaic all literally explored the universe. Needless to say actual DCU has grown.

Meanwhile over at Marvel, New York City has a million stories and Marvel has been publishing those stories since the 60’s. That means they’re due to run out any day now.

Has DC moved away from the wacky stories of the Silver Age? Absolutely. Have they tried to form an actual continuity? Yes. But I wouldn’t call that copying Marvel. I’d call that changing with the times, just like when DC moved away from Western and Romance comics; the company evolved.

Tim, I’m going to try to cool off for a minute, share your thoughts while I do.

I think a “company style” is largely a myth these days. Thus, I don’t really read much DC is doing now as “biting off” Marvel or vice versa.

However, I will say that the reason that I can’t really identity a particular house style in either company these days is because DC began to come around to the Marvel way of presenting their heroes in the mid-seventies. By the late 80’s both companies had cross pollinated so much their DNA, while still different, shared many a common trait.

Also, it is not as if Marvel has not been guilty of some “borrowing” from DC over the years.

I, personally, don’t think this is a bad thing. I think introducing flaws into our superheroes (as Marvel did) was a big reason that comics have managed to stick around and when DC adapted their thinking, it became a big reason their icons are still relevant today.

So, no, I don’t think what Breevort said here was accurate. If it was 1974 though”¦I’d probably have to agree with him.

We’re helping Brett A., we’re helping.

I just had a quick question about Bizarro. I was reading the comic that came with the Doomsday action figure and the near-incomprehensible Maximums storyline in Superman/Batman and he seemed like a VERY different character than he was portrayed as in Infinite Crisis and even Justice. Are these Bizarros one and the same?

Well the quick answer is that they aren’t the same Bizarro. But I think that you deserve better than that, so I’m going to go into more detail, because that’s just the type of guy that I am.

I’ll handle the easiest Bizarro first, the one in Justice. The comic Justice isn’t a regular DCU book. It’s much more a realistic and darker version of the Challenge of the Superfriends cartoon.

In the cartoon the characters and situations were kind of silly, but in Justice they’re down right scary. Like Aquaman getting dissected by Brainiac or Superman getting jumped by the Parasite and Solomon Grundy. Thus the Bizarro of Justice is a much darker version of his DCU counterpart.

The Bizarro of Superman/Batman and Infinite Crisis is pretty much the same character, just in different circumstances. In Superman/Batman he’s just a dimwitted guy trying to do good. He’s trying to help out. In Infinite Crisis he’s the same character, he’s just been manipulated into siding with the villains. He’s the same slow and dimwitted guy, it’s just showing how potentially dangerous that much power can be when wielded by someone who can be manipulated that easily.

I hope that cleared everything up for you. I actually dig all three characterizations of Bizarro. The Justice one is fun in a “what if” sort of way. The Superman/Batman version is fun in a goofy, Silver Age kind of way, and the Infinite Crisis is great in a scary kind of way.

Tim, do you have any thoughts on Bizarro and his uses?

Bizarro. Jesus figure or just looking for a hug? You decide.

I think we’ve discussed this before, but I tend to prefer him as either the unspeaking silent Superman clone (from way back when) or the darker, more frightening type that he embodied in Justice. When he’s goofy and overusing his inverted speech pattern, it gets on my fragile nerves.

It’s elemental my dear Coren

(In Outsiders #38) I liked what they did with Rex early in the book. Mathan, care to explain, if you can, what was up there? I get the feeling it’s from past stories with him, but I’ve never read them if so.

Actually it’s not really clear what Phobia used to incapacitate Metamorpho, but she dug around in his mind and found something. Apparently Rex has someone else in his head with him.

Now the obvious choice for who Rex is sharing his mind with is Shift. We’ve not seen Shift since his trip into space during the Rann/Thanagar War. Metamorpho has replaced Shift on the team, when he previously stated he had no interest in doing so. The two also share the same make up, so they seem pretty compatible and it would appear that they’d make the perfect match in terms of sharing a self.

But since that’s so obvious I’m going a different route. I’m saying that Rex is sharing his head with none other than his own son. That’s right; Joey Stagg.

“Why yes, I do have another person living inside my head. I look so damn good though, I get enough ladies for the both of us. Don’t you worry about me.

My theory is that Joey got a bit of his pops elemental abilities and transformed himself in a gas on accident. Rex, thinking quick, absorbed Joey into his body, but couldn’t figure out how to separate them at that point. So he distilled Joey’s consciousness into an element which he keeps in his head, sort of a physical memory. So Phobia tapped into Joey’s fear, which caused him to panic, which caused Rex to lose control.

But I’m really going out on this limb because after the last season of Nip/Tuck I refuse to go for the obvious choice ever again.

Tim, care to side in on who Rex’s mental roommate is or the future of Nip/Tuck?

Well, Nip/Tuck’s going to have to work hard to overcome last season’s many missteps. As far as Rex’s roommate, let’s be nuts and guess that it is the consciousness of the exploded Red Tornado. Why? Why not!

Aaron is keeping mum on the whole thing

In the wonderful world of “gimmick” ideas, I was wondering if there had been any successful DC stories done without any dialogue? There surely HAS to be and issue or three out there that have tried this, right? Did it work? Was it a good “read”, as it were?

There are a few comics that I can think of that are “silent” or close to silent.

The first issue that I can remember reading that was essentially wordless was Batman #433. It was part of the “Many Deaths of Batman” storyline. It was written by John Byrne and featured the art of the legendary and recently deceased Jim Aparo. It wasn’t completely silent, Jim Gordon said two words, but it was close enough for me at the time.

I’m also pretty sure that Blood Syndicate #18 was a “silent issue” or close to it. It was an issue that dealt completely with a day in the life of the mysterious Syndicate member DMZ. Since he rarely spoke (he only spoke once, and it was on one word during a crossover.) I’m guessing that this was a wordless issue.

Supergirl #65 should also be noted among this bunch as the issue utilized American Sign Language and also displayed the title on the cover in ASL. Obviously the story dealt with deafness.

Tim, I know that you can come up with some other “silent” DC books, right?

Actually”¦no I can’t. One of the issues of “Tower of Babel” (the JLA arc where Batman’s contingency plans are turned on the JLA”¦the first time) comes close, but there is narration, babbling by the citizenry, and I believe Batman speaks just fine.

The only examples I can come up with are all Marvel ones. Sorry.

The column is done, but the fun doesn’t have to end. Come, visit Our Thread it’s a fun place to chat and engage in debates and discussions. Oh and post questions. Feel free to post them or email them to me.

“Oh, I am not quite sleeping. Oh I am fast in bed.”