Who's Who in the DCU

Ok Tim, I know that you and Mrs. Morse have an annual Oscar® tradition. How’d you fare this year and what’d you think of the show?

Ugh…it was a bloodbath. I started 2 for 2 with upsets and I figured I was home free. Instead, I ended up 14-24. An embarrassment. Mrs. Morse won the competition with ease…it was like I didn’t even show up.

As far as the ceremony itself, I can only say I was disappointed. It was overlong, the interpretive dance thing got old the moment it started (although the Snakes on a Plane thing was worth a small chuckle), and it was way light on laughs or memorable speeches. Ellen was fine. I like her and I expected better but it was not a train wreck, at least.


Broken Dial

Beyond the Threshold

The DVD Lounge

Inside Fights

Machine Gun Funk


Not a True Ending

Popcorn Junkies

Primetime Pulse

Retro Grading

Tailgate Crashers

Also check our our DC Boards there’s tons of discussion about various rumors of the DC variety.

What I Read Last Week

Ex Machina: Inside the Machine – Nice look at Harris’ artistic process. It’s a pretty sweet read. I wish more artists/books would do stuff like this.

At the price of a full comic though? A bit disappointing. Would be a great supplement to a trade or free thing in Wizard though. (Remember when Wizard used to include these sketch supplements every once in a while. I always liked those).

Sargon the Sorcerer #1 – Really good read. Barely a link to Fate, but an enjoyable read. The promise of seeing him again might be enough for me to read the upcoming Dr. Fate book.

Ion #11 – I’m glad to see that Kyle’s not over Donna. I’m equally happy to see Grayven. I’m so glad that Marz hasn’t forgotten about Kyle’s modicum of a rogue’s bunch. But clearly next issue isn’t going to be concluding too much.

The presence of the Monitors really killed my interest in this issue. Which is too bad, because looking back, there’s a lot of Kyle centric stuff in it that I like.

Se7en #3 – This issue is pretty visually stunning. The connections between Doe’s victims are really played up in this issue, but to a good effect. I really kind of like this look into Doe’s mind.

Red Menace #4 – I’m glad that we’re finally getting to the overall plot and conspiracy. The club scene was a pretty well crafted scene and the art is as great as always. Even the writing seemed better this issue.

The Spirit #3 – I’m so digging the throwback vibe of this book. It’s like Batman the Animated Series; it’s both modern and a throwback. Using narratives from different characters was a great effect and gave the book a cool hook. And of course the art is stunning.

Checkmate #11 – Really good issue. I liked seeing Amanda squirm; that’s always good. Knowing that Judomaster may be avenged and that Amanda’s clearly pulling Bea’s strings, I really can’t wait for the next issue to come out.

Loved this issue. Great realization of an espionage organization in a superhero world. Everything was dealt with in such an offhand, “this is the way it is tone” that you couldn’t help but buy into the premise.

52 Week Forty-Two – I loved the art. I loved seeing Ralph play the TV detective, and explaining everything. But yeah, this was a very good issue.

Wonder Woman #4 – I’m so supporting Circe as Wonder Woman. She’s certainly on the right cause, if not doing it the wrong way. I’d love to read a more proactive Wonder Woman title, even if she was snapping necks every issue. And this issue was almost worth the wait, which means it was pretty good.

Agree on Circe, disagree on it being worth the wait.

Catwoman #64 – Great cover. Great read. I really love this title. Seeing Selina doing prep work and in the act was really kind of thrilling. I’ve grown to love this title under Pfeifer’s tenure. I highly recommend it.

The Brave & the Bold #1 – This book is pure old school fun. It reminds me of when Superman/Batman was actually readable. Hopefully this book won’t fall like that one did. But for now the art it great, and it’s good a fun little vibe going on. But I could have done without Roulette being squandered.

Illuminati #2 – Better than the first issue, but nothing special. It really feels like these characters are being forced together and put in recton situations.

Civil War #7 – So not worth the hype. But after rereading Cap’s confrontation with Punisher last issue (which was when I think Cap first realized the line had been crossed) it made this issue a bit easier to accept. Still the fact that the Punisher played such a pivotal role in the whole thing, strikes me as curious.

And I mean doesn’t that whole final battle sequence kind of make you side with Tony? It’s not like Cap’s team was actually cornered anymore, they could have escaped relatively easy since they were out of the Negative Zone. Yet Vision still recklessly attacks and misses, hitting an office building? I could understand Namor’s Atlantean troops indifference or the Cyborg Clone of Thor’s obliviousness, but Vision? Really?

I guess the fact that the heroes were missing the point, is the point, but that just strikes me as odd and a bit unbelievable. Whatever. It’s over. I’m done.

The “why not just run away thing” is a very good point that, oddly enough, has not popped up enough. I’ll echo my review here and say the book was long on cool moments, way too short on the logic or connective tissue to mold those cool events into something resembling a complete story. As far as Punisher, there is almost nothing about the role that couldn’t have been done by someone else so I’m not sure why he’s there beyond the “cool” factor of it all.

I can’t speak for Ed Suave’s smoothness, but he does seem to have the smarts

I’ve been curious about all the incarnations of Brainiac that’s out there. I know that Brainiac 12 became Brainiac 13 over in the Superman comics, but I’m curious about all the rest. I’m pretty sure that Brainiac 5 is with the Legion of Superheroes (I saw him in the Rann-Thanagar war)…so what happened to 1-4, 6-11, and how did B5 break away from the evilness that the rest of them are?

Thankfully we’ve covered this one before because running through all those Brainiacs takes up tons of time. Oh and the guy you saw in Rann-Thanagar War was actually Vril Dox II, the founder and leader of L.E.G.I.O.N., not Querl Dox a member of the 31st Century Legion.

He was just a smart scientist from Colu. He was killed by the Computer Tyrants of Colu, kind of. Actually his body was destroyed, but his mind traveled light years to Earth and found a home inside mentalist Milton Fine’s head. Milt was dubbed Brainiac and with Vril’s powerful mind in control havoc was wrought.

Back on Colu Vril’s son/assistant Vril Dox II later overthrew the Computer Tyrants.

On Earth Brainiac was busy being a bad guy and forcing Lex Corp folks to clone him a nifty new Coluan body. But that didn’t work out too well and he soon abandoned human form and adopted a robotic form dubbed Brainiac II.

He later revealed he had put a virus in Lex Corp stuff that would make him more powerful. Actually it just allowed Brainiac 13 from the 64th Century to get to the present. While here 13 “upgraded” Metropolis. Brainiac 2 then took to inhabiting the body of Lena Luthor, Lex’s infant daughter. Facing defeat Brainiac 13 retreated. He popped up again during Our World’s At War.

After that Brainiac 2 left Lena’s body and Brainiac 13 was sent back to the Big Bang. Superman later met Brainiac 12 and found out that everything 13 had done was to insure that 12 would become 13, but Superman stopped that apparently.

Here’s a rundown on Querl Dox

Querl Dox is a descendent of Vril Dox. Born in the late 30th Century he’s a really smart guy. He’s not a “bad guy”, but rather a hero who uses his intelligence to better the universe and aide the Legion of Super-Heroes. He adopted the name “Braniac 5” as a way of recognizing that he’s five generations removed from Vril Dox.

And Colu isn’t full of evil “Brainiacs” it’s full of smart “Brainiacs.” They’re way smart, but not really evil. They’re far to focused on the accumulation of knowledge to worry about being evil, but that also means they don’t worry about “right” or “wrong” either.

So basically we’ve seen Brainiacs 1, 2, 5, 12 and 13. Now we have Brainiac 8. I think this is the first time that we’ve seen the Vril Dox version of Brainiac in a few years, so that’s kind of a big deal.

I have now read Brainiac so many times, that the word has ceased to have meaning to me. Also, it also looks like it is spelled wrong. Thank you Mr. Smooth for inflicting this upon me.

Soak1313 has the stuff, but only the first hit is free.

What DC heroes and villains, other than Arsenal, have had a drug habit?

Batman and Bane both had the Venom monkey on their back.

Hourman was addicted to Miraclo.

And Hourman II still is! Ignore his, “I’m in recovery” nonsense. The jerk.

The old Flash villain, Speed Demon used Velocity-9 a drug that gave him super speed.

Hal Jordan dealt with an alcohol issue.

I’m sorry; I’m really drawing a blank here. I’ve looked and I can’t really find any references to any other DCU folks who’ve had problems with addiction.

Tim, can you think of any others?

The first one that immediately springs to mind is Mirror Master who has great affection for the nose candy.

A little research turned up some more though. Rex the Wonder Dog would not be so wonderful if it was not for a little something called Anabolus Serum. That might, however, have been a one time only application.

Signalman uses Scarecrow’s Fear Toxin to get his fix.

What is the source of Ralph Dibny’s power, Gingold, if not a drug?

Ivo is immortal because of repeated uses of his unsurprisingly named Immortal Serum.

The Lazarus Pit might fit the bill…discuss amongst yourselves.

Trajectory, the short lived member of Lex’s Infinity, Inc., developed quite the taste for a substance called “sharp”.

CSA member Johnny Quick did not come up speed from a bolt of lightening and some random chemicals. His is from a syringe full of speed juice.

Aaron sees no problem with favoritism

Sorry if you’ve been asked this, but I just saw that DC did a little thing that polled readers and asked for “the best DC cover of all time”. Predictably, Crisis #7 was the winner. Have you and Tim covered “favorite covers”?

Favorite covers? I remember when DC announced that they were running this poll and for a second I entertained the notion of having my voice heard. But then I realized that I’ve read like a gazillion comics and I couldn’t really pick out a “favorite cover.”

And then, months later, Aaron send me this question which required me to pick my favorite covers. But I don’t really have “favorites” so much as covers that really stick in my mind.

For instance Green Lantern #181 sticks in my mind it features Hal Jordan quitting the GLC. That was a comic book that I had to read. I can remember pestering my mom to buy it for me.

Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 was another cover that struck me. It was the reason why I got into that mini into the first place, and honestly it’s probably the reason why I fell deep into DC. Before that comic I was just a kid who picked up the occasional issue of Green Lantern and probably didn’t realize that comics ran on a monthly schedule. But seeing all of those heads and recognizing that those in the middle were different versions of the same character made me hungry for more. Plus I was jumping into the the middle of the ultimate mini, I had tons of catching up to do. And I eventually did.

I also liked Batman #400 which was a cool atmospheric piece, but I don’t have an anecdote for that cover.

Recently I was stuck by the covers to both The Flash #207 & #211. I’m not really a fan of Turner’s art, but I think that he really nailed both those covers.

I’m a big fan of Flash #211 as well. Great Turner cover. Possibly the best he did for DC.

The covers for the individual issues of Batman: Year One (Batman #404-408 and Batgirl: Year One always impressed.

Speaking of always impressing you can pretty much pick any cover of 100 Bullets or All-Star Superman and it’s going to guarantee to catch my eye.

Tim, I do believe the ball is in your court.

Damn this is hard. If not impossible. But, on a random flip through my comics, here are the ones that caught my eye:

Green Arrow #13– There’s a reason this image pops up so much in this column. A glossy 8×10 of it also happens to hang in my office back home.

JLA #40– I was already on the edge of my seat for World War III by the time this cover came around so I knew what was going on. And still, this one managed to at least triple my excitement. Just a great use of shadow and facial features here.

I love Flash #211, but Flash #210 was no slouch in the visual department either. Very striking.

It was a toss up between Robin #46 and Robin #26 but in the end the earlier similarly themed cover gets the nod because of the big honkin’ quote that robs #46 of its simple, melancholy beauty.

Last but not least, Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #1. What can I say, Berjemo is a genius at this set the perfect tone for the book.

That’s my list…for now. It is, no doubt, ever changing.

Argonautfleecey, in addition to have one snazzy name, is all about the rumors

I seem to remember a few years back that DC actually tried to kill off Aquaman and were told by AOL/TimeWarner to reverse that decision. Can you give us some details on that, both story-wise and behind the scenes?

Well story-wise it was during the mega crossover Our World’s at War. In JLA: Our Worlds at War Poseidonis appeared to be destroyed and that was supposed to be the end of Aquaman. He was a life that was to be sacrificed to give the crossover weight and lasting impact. For a second it almost seemed like Aqualad was going to step up and become the new Aquaman.

But then Time Warner, DC’s corporate bosses told DC that Aquaman had to return. They had planned on using him in the then upcoming Justice League animated series and wanted him as a viable comic character as well. Thus Aquaman had to return.

So in the JLA storyline The Obsidian Age it was revealed that Poseidonis had actually been transported to the past. Eventually the JLA went to the past to rescue the Atlaneans and all was made right. However while only a few months had elapsed in the present before the JLA was involved, the Atlanteans spent 15 years in the past as the slaves of their ancestors.

Aquaman returned and things were kosher with the corporate bosses.

Oh Aquaman, poor lame Aquaman. I remember when he was joke of the heroic community, back when he was dancing in promos for Adult Swim.

Tim, do you think that Aquaman will ever get any respect?

For short bursts a of time, ala Peter David’s run on Vol. 33 (that number might be a bit low…it’s just an estimate of how many series Aquaman has had) while he was appearing and being awesome in Morrison’s JLA at the same time.

Long term though? Doubtful. The stigma of being the hero who talks to fish and is useless on land is too strong. He needs a concentrate PR campaign and I just don’t think he’s got the cash at hand to hire a firm that could get that done for him.

Nuke never heard that one is the loneliest number

Right now I’m just wanting one comic to buy, read and collect. What would you two recommend? Doesn’t matter on price, I’m just looking for something that has one hell of a story.

Great question. Here are the words and phrases that I immediately latched onto from your question “collect” and “one hell of a story.”

I myself have two books that you may be interested in.

First is Starman (the mid-nineties book). It was a book that I stumbled onto when it was more than halfway finished and eventually tracked down every back issue. It was actually kind of fun to do.

The book has a great story, amazing art and captivating characters. It’s already over, so the emphasis would be on “collecting”, but it ran for 81 issues and was quite a fun ride. Most of the issues are available in trades, but I highly recommend tracking the individual issues down. They’re loaded with great ads and many feature actual letters pages!

The second title I’m going to recommend is 100 Bullets. “One hell of a story” doesn’t do justice this title. It’s a vast conspiracy full of shifting allegiances and characters that you both genuinely love and love to hate. It’s got issues that you’ll actually want to reread just to make sure that you didn’t miss anything. It’s a thrilling ride that’s almost over (it’s at issue #80 right now and it’s slotted to end at #100.) It’s available in trades so you may want to give the first one a shot.

Tim, this gent is looking for books to collect, what do you think he should pick up?

In following Mathan’s lead, I will recommend you one current title and one title that has wrapped up its story.

On the already completed side, I cannot recommend Human Target enough. Track down both of the one shots that preceded the story (Human Target and Human Target: Final Cut) as well as all 21 issues of the ongoing series. The whole thing is an excellent meditation on American life with lots of gunplay, a decent dollop of sexuality, and all sorts of identity crises. Truly brilliant.

Ongoing wise, I’ll point you in the direction of Fables. It is the story of your favorite fairy tale characters exiled to New York to live their lives. Issue #58 is on the way and it remains one of the most consistently excellent, surprising books on the shelves. All the previous storylines are available in trade and easy to find. Catching up in no problem at all and believe me, it is worth it.

Aaron just puts his hands in the air, blows the spot and keeps it hot, because he’s got the FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE!

So, what’s the deal with Firehawk and Firestorm? I’ve read that they’re “part” of each other. True or just my own oversimplified interpretation? Also, in “52” during their ill-fated attempt at do-goodery, Firehawk was portrayed as an arrogant biiatch, while Firestorm was the unsure, easily intimidated “reluctant hero” it seemed. Again, were these portrayals in line with their characters or am I reading too much/too little into this?

Ok, Firestorm and Firehawk aren’t really “part” of each other. Firestorm is a hero that requires two beings to merge as one. They’ve got to become part of the Firestorm Martix. Firehawk was one of the individuals who could merge with Jason Rusch to become Firestorm. But the two aren’t joined at the hip. Anymore.

Firestorm’s portrayal is pretty consistent. When he went off to space with Donna Troy during Infinite Crisis Jason merged with his best friend Mick Wong to become Firestorm and do good. But Jason overexerted himself and Mick “burned out.” And that was just the closest person to Jason that’s burned out while Jason’s been a hero. There have been others. So he’s still wet behind the ears and not sure that he necessarily wants the power when he appears in 52. Plus he was fused with Cyborg for a spell too.

As for her portrayals, you’ve got to understand that Firehawk probably had an attitude because, while she was never an A-lister, she was clearly the member of the team that had the most experience. Wouldn’t you have a bit of an attitude if you stuck with a bunch of newbies?

Firehawk can be a bit…territorial.

Tim, is it every justifiable to be snooty?

Sure. Like when you’re better than everyone. Sort of like I am.

Wilford Brimley is so folksy

What happened to Hex? I should sue whoever writes for him, because reading his fancypants color paper stories is like reading my entire life….all 100 years of it. Trust me, life as a cowboy can be pretty gol’ durn hard. Especially if you share a tent on top of a mountain.

I saw a movie like that once. It was about two cowboys who shared a special bond and spent a lot of time together. It was called The Cowboy Way and it rocked! I tell you, Woody Harrelson in a hat and Kiefer Sutherland in a mustache equals pure enjoyment for me.


Um, Mr. Brimley, Jonah Hex is still being published. It’s actually a moderately successful book that comes out on a monthly basis. It’s a solid read and up until recently it featured stand alone issues with a different artist every issue.

It’s a good read and I highly recommend it.

On a personal note Mr. Brimley, no disrespect to the recently departed but I think that you would have been amazing in City Slickers. I mean you would have been amazing as “Ed Furillo.” Or even “Curly” for that matter.

Tim, do you care about Hex?

Honestly…no. I’m glad that those stories are being told and moderately successful because I am all for genre diversity. However, the only Westerns that I’ve ever really loved were the Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood Trilogy, Unforgiven, and (saving the best for last) Tombstone.

That last one…it was my Huckleberry. Truly, it was.

Val Kilmer, America’s finest actor? Almost certainly.

Better talk to Nuke now because the Rapture is a-coming

Are there any post-apocalyptic comics out there?

Post-apocalyptic futures were all the rage in from the 1960’s to the mid 1980’s. But then the Cold War ended and the future became a ton more optimistic. Way to go international diplomacy!

One book that I guess could be classified as “post apocalyptic” that I’d recommend would be Y the Last Man. The scenario is this; something happened that killed everything with a Y chromosome on Earth, except for a guy named Yorick and his pet monkey. The book deals with romance, espionage as well as gender and sexuality issues. It’s a very good book.

DC’s most notable post apocalyptic book is Kamandi. It was published in the 1970’s and featured some solid work by Jack Kirby.

But my favorite DC post apocalyptic book is Hex. Y’see back during Crisis on Infinite Earths when time was all wonky the western hero Jonah Hex ended up being flung to they year 2050 which was all completely post apocalyptic-ed out. It was all of the Jonah Hex goodness but wrapped in crispy shell of post-apocalypse. It even has a future Batman! The book rocks and I think it’s certainly worth your time.

Tim, admit it, you’re interested in Hex now, right?

Hmm…actually, yeah, sort of. I’ll hunt up some issues at my store’s next big 50 cent sales. Thanks for the recommendation.

Vampiro69 doesn’t embrace a universal rating system

Who do you think is currently the most overrated writers in comics right now? Personally I have never found Mark Millar to be anything other then passable. Gail Simone has never clicked with me either. Who is overrated in your eyes?

I think that “overrated” is a bit harsh. I don’t know of any writer that’s overrated, just those that didn’t connect with me.

For instance, Kurt Busiek failed to impress me with his work on Aquaman, but I love his Astro City stuff. I didn’t really care for Gail Simone’s Action Comics but Welcome to Tranquility is a joy to read.

I’m even reluctant to call Mark Millar overrated; he’s responsible for Red Son and partially responsible for Aztek, but Civil War was rather disappointing.

I guess if I had to pick someone who was overrated I’d have to say Brian Michael Bendis, and not just because I’m a “DC guy.” Ultimate Power has been less than impressive, New Avengers #22 (which Wizard drooled over) wasn’t really that great and Illuminati isn’t really stellar. I just don’t see what all the hype is about.

Can you think of any writers who’re overrated?

Not really, no. I can think of series that I find to be overrated or writers that I find to be underrated, but I usually associate what other people call “overrated” more with “not for me” than anything else. Or, sometimes, “overrated by editorial” (Bruce Jones, I’m looking at you). But that rarely equals overrated in general.

Except that Alan Moore fella…he’s a hack.

Un Gajje made a deal with the devil to get this question in

Has Dibny ever encounter Neron before?

For such an imposing guy, he kind of went down like a chump.

Sorry sir, not only can I not find an issue where these two faced off, I can’t find an issue that features both characters.

But that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened. I mean I could see Neron trying to tempt Ralph by promising Sue’s return. Perhaps it’s a tale that’s just not told. Or perhaps Ralph has been kept abreast of the DCU and knows that Neron could be useful for what Ralph has planned.

Tim, do you really think that Ralph’s tale is over?

I kind of hope so, but I can see people’s point that there is still some room for it to run. I like the ending we’ve got right now though.

The Shade only has the wisdom of Solomon, but that’s still pretty good.

What are your thoughts on the current changes to The Marvel family.

I kind of dig it. I think that Captain Marvel is as boring as Superman, but the way things are being shaken up I’m actually interested in the characters. I really enjoyed seeing Billy adapt to being cooped up in the Rock in 52. I’m loving that Black Adam has his own extended family. I’m even digging the comatose Mary Marvel. (Was that statement creepy? I can’t decide if that’s creepy or not.)

Captain Marvel probably worked really well in the Golden Age, when comics were all about the wish fulfillment of the reader. The idea of a character who was a little boy who could become a superhero by saying a magic word probably rocked, when kids were the primary audience. But as a guy buying comics now, that’s not really appealing. I’m not saying that such a book would be worth being on Dateline or on some sort of “watch list”, but I also don’t see the allure of such a dynamic either.

So having Freddy take up the mantle and actually earn his abilities is a nice touch. It gives a “ground floor” vibe without having to eradicate years of continuity. I think that if anything is going to make the Marvel Family viable it’s going to be the new take.

Tim, do you have a beef with the Marvel Fam’s new direction?

The Marvel Family is, generally speaking, one I just don’t give a damn about so as long as others are digging, I’m fine with it. I do like Black Adam’s fam though.

Actually, now that I think of it, there is one way to get me to approve of a direction the Marvel family takes. Kill CM3. A lot. Like twice an issue.

I guess this is as good a place as any to end the column.

Is it though, Mathan? Is it?

What’s in store for next week? Who knows? Maybe we’ll get into the new JLA? Perhaps we’ll also do some obscure characters. We might even delve into ages. There’s even a chance that we’ll answer your question, provided you send it.

Honestly, all you need to do is send it our way. Or you can post it on our thread. We have tons of fun there.

Before I go here’s my question to you; Which writers do you think are overrated?

“It’s a comedy of errors you see, it’s about taking a fall.”

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