Who's Who in the DCU


Ah, it’s a brand new week and a brand new column. Tim, is there anything brand new in your life?

Umm…hmm…I want to give you something here, but…

Well, I’m moving back to the CT come June/July. That’s not exactly brand new, but it is recent. Besides that…god, I’m boring


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

Visit our DC Boards where we lament & praise World War III and try to guess Black Adam’s new magic word.

Any links Tim?

Two, actually.

First, I know Google is excellent and all, but why not occasionally make use of GoodSearch? You can specify a charity (I use Community Hope of Parsippany, NJ at work cause, well, that’s where I work and The ALS Association (CT Chapter) in honor of my uncle Gary Gotowala) and every search you do, some money is donated to that charity.

Second, if you happen to be in my neck of the woods and a fan of Grady Klein or art in general, there is an exhibition and book signing you might enjoy.

What I Read Last Week

Justice League of America #8 – Tim, I’m super with you on the “first name” thing, but I didn’t mind Davis’ art that much. I did enjoy the issue a whole bunch, but I’m a sucker for the Legion and for heroes just hanging out. It’s got to be so cool to be a member of either team if they hang out like that all the time.

I actually do love the hanging out too, but it seemed so out of place following the urgent need to get both teams together. It read like, “Oh my god! Hurry! We got no time. NO TIME! Ooo, wait, espresso’s done.” Awkward pacing to be sure.

Ex Machina #27 – Is it wrong that I loved the art of the first few pages more than usual art on the book? Not that I liked the departure, but it just reminded me of Harris’ work on Starman. And man, I’m all about Zeller. I want a spin off mini and clothing line.

I am going to look superfine in my diving bell. SUPERFINE!

The Brave & the Bold #3 – I’m almost out of praise for this book. Waid is clearly having a field day with this book. He makes the Lord of Time popping in and bringing the Fatal Five with him make complete and utter sense. It’s like a comic book that’s not afraid to be a comic book. And that last page is quite the cliffhanger.

52 Week Fifty – It’s almost over. But this issue lived up to the build up. I’m a fan of Justiniano and Wong, so having them on this issue was a treat. Plus we got Infinity Inc and Booster. Good business all around.

I don’t know…I enjoyed the issue, but that Infinity, Inc. sucked. It had all the subtlety of several sledgehammer blows to the face.

The Spirit #5 – As always this was a fun read. The splash pages are always a sight to behold. I was kind of shocked at the deaths in the issue, but it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment.

The Flash #11 – I’m dismayed to see Piper has returned to being a Rogue. But I’m glad that Inertia is stepping up. I’m not too happy that Weather Wizard has powers. But I’m glad that Bart got to spend some quality time with his grandmother. I like Guggenheim’s run, so far.

Fallen Angel #15 – The cover certainly hints that Lee’s predecessor was a super girl in her own right. It’s like art imitating life imitating art, right? I didn’t mind the guest artist and I liked the glimpse into the city’s past.

Stormwatch PHD #6 – I was worried that Gage was going to pull the trigger on the mole storyline too early. I’m glad that I was wrong as he played it just right. I wasn’t disappointed in the reveal and it made sense. Seeing the team get taken down so easily just made the end of the issue that much more torturous. I need to know how it ends!

A siege issue done note perfectly. Loved it.

Manhuter #30 – You’ve got to love Obsidian’s jab at JSA. This is one of those good final issues. It felt like a final issue, though it isn’t; yet it was a kind of happy affair. We got closure and yet things remain on the horizon. Good issue.

I wholeheartedly agree. The Chase/Dylan/Trapp stuff was also pretty great, even with a fill-in artist on that part.

Nightwing Annual #2 – This is such a strong candidate for “issue of the year.” Like I said in the forums this book features an excellent use of retconning, in that it adds to the characters rather than tries to clean things up. I felt like Dick and Babs had a real relationship full of ups and downs. Seriously DC needs Andreyko on Nightwing as soon as possible. I knew he was a capable writer, but the man gets Dick.

Considering the mess this could’ve been, it was great. Actually, that’s a lie. It was great regardless. Definitely enjoyed it.

World War III #1-4 – First off, I just realized where the numeral “III” is on the cover. Just this moment. But I’m comfortable enough to admit it. Secondly these books weren’t bad, for what they were: a slapdash attempt to explain things that fell out of 52. I enjoyed the Jason Todd and Batgirl scenes. Everything else was tolerable. Anyone expecting more didn’t know what they were getting into.

See, I hated both of those. The Batgirl scene did nothing to really deepen our understanding of why she went bad and the Todd scene didn’t even tell us that it was him. Bad stuff.

Aaron takes a look back at OYL now that we are, well, OYL.

With “52” winding down and the OYL storylines nearing their one year anniversary, I’m curious as to what you consider the biggest questions from the start of OYL that remain unanswered are? And, in a similar vein, which of the “revelations” that we’ve seen during this “one year gap” have been the most satisfying and/or disappointing for you?

Wow, what a far-reaching question, it’s sure to take up space, this is clearly the one to start the column with.

But how do I do it? Do break things down on a title-by-title basis and do them individually, or should I do the mysteries first and then my takes? Man, I’m truly confused. I guess I’ll do a title-by-title basis.

Teen Titans – I guess we were trying to figure out how the OYL Teen Titans came to be, right? How people left the team and joined the team.

It was resolved and it could best be described as adequate. It unfolded on the pages of Teen Titans and 52.

I’d grade it slightly lower than that. I’m not disappointed it didn’t get more screen time, really, but the whole “missing Titans” thing did not really prove all that interesting.

Outsiders – We all wanted to know why the Outsiders were dead and in deep cover.

This one is unresolved, but actually by the time you read this Outsiders Annual #1 will have dropped which promises to resolve everything.

Manhunter – Everyone wanted to know how Kate ended up doing defense work.

It was resolved and I thought it worked out. Sure it happened in the barely tolerable World War III, but it makes sense in a “real world” kind of way. And really what part of Manhunter isn’t satisfying?

Answer: nothing.

Hawkgirl – What happened to Hawkman?

Um, yeah, I dropped this book months ago. Since Hawkman is flying around the DCU it’s been resolved, but since the book was so bad that dropped it I’d guess it was disappointing?

I think that’d be safe to say.

Green Lantern – Why was Hal a POW?

This was resolved on the pages of Green Lantern. I really loved the resolution. It really made Hal Jordan a more human character.

Green Arrow – How did Ollie become mayor? What happened to Connor and Mia?

It’s all to be resolved on the pages of Green Arrow. It was pretty satisfying in that it wasn’t disappointing. It didn’t blow me away, but it was cool.

Firestorm – What happened to Prof. Stein?

Twas resolved on the pages of the title. I honestly didn’t care about the mystery. It answered the question though.

Aquaman – What happened to Orin?

This one was resolved during World War III. I’m going to have to go with disappointing on this one, but it’s mostly because I dropped the book ages ago.

The resolution was so perfunctory, too. What a waste of the great Sub Diego. And wait, wasn’t Sub Diego featured in a recent Aquaman comic? Oh dear.

Supergirl – Why are Supergirl and Power Girl in Kandor?

Resolution was found on the pages of the title. I think. I mean, I love this book, but those first OYL issues were kind of rough. I’m not going to say satisfying or disappointing, but it was confusing.

For anyone who wanted to see Supergirl make out with her cousin, this was as close as you were going to get. (Unless you want to hunt up Silver Age books).

For those of you who wanted to see Supergirl and Power Girl take showers, same deal.

And yes, not so good. Odd, no?

Catwoman – Who impregnated Selina Kyle?

This is another one of those “resolved in the title” deals. I really liked the resolution. It was cool how the act of vigilantism was used an aphrodisiac. But again, this is another book that doesn’t really disappoint.

When I first heard who it was I was a bit “eh”, but when I actually read the story, I thought it was a top notch handling. That Pfeifer…he does excellent work.

Nightwing – Why is Jason Todd dressing up as Nightwing?

Sure it was touched upon in World War III, and I kind of liked it. I mean I like that Jason compares himself to Dick. I like that Jason’s inferiority complex causes him to try to be heroic. But y’know what; I’m more than willing to pretend that Jason picked up the mantle because he thought Dick was dead as a result of the Outsiders stuff. Who cares? I like Jason Todd and that’s all that matters. But since it happened in WWIII it was disappointing.

I’d rather have no explanation at all then that scene in WWIII that was supposed to do it for us. What a waste of pages.

Batman books – How did Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock get back on GCPD?

I don’t think this has been addressed. I guess it’s one of those big mysteries that’s yet to be unraveled.

And one of the ones I actually cared about.

Oh, and I wouldn’t hold my breath on this own. It’ll be like the “where did Batman go during Prodigal” question of this creator era of Batman comics.

Superman books – How did Lex get scandalized?

This one played out in 52. And I did actually enjoy it.

It wasn’t bad.

Robin – Why did Batgirl go bad?

Yet another of the infamous World War III storylines, though parts of Batgirls story was also told in Supergirl and Teen Titans. Given that I never really cared about the character, I’m going to weigh in on the “not disappointed” side.

The Titans issues probably did the most to reveal the why of it all. The WWIII “explanation” actually made the whole decision seem more shallow.

Wonder Woman – Why is Donna Troy pretending like she’s Wonder Woman?

It played out in World War III. Barely. But hopefully her title will hit its stride, at some point.

I think even when we get the Annual wrapping up Heinberg’s arc this will be largely unanswered.

Legion of Super-Heroes – What is Supergirl doing in the future?

Surprise; it was revealed in World War III. That wacky Zeta Beam technology! Boo. But then again, I never really cared in the first place.

Birds of Prey – Why did the team change?

Um, Tim? You read this book right? Care to tackle this one?

Yup, I got it. Canary traded places with Shiva with the goal of a.) improving her martial arts skills by training in the same village with the same trainer Shiva did and b.) introducing Shiva to some humanity and perhaps changing her by making her play hero. It was all handled in the pages of Birds of Prey. The first installment or two OYL were a bit rough, but overall, I’d say it was a decent reveal/storyline.

And that Aaron, to the best of my knowledge is a OYL wrap up. No, that’s not quite right; it’s more of a wrap up of the mysteries of OYL.

Tim, do you have any thoughts on OYL now that it’s almost over?

I think I’d have to echo Didio’s own thoughts on the matter. Essentially, I liked a lot of the stories coming out of it, but I didn’t think, overall, it justified the flip. More often than not, the OYL storylines either a.) weren’t all that different or b.) lasted about a storyline before returning to the status quo or c.) just reset a past status quo they liked better.

Brock just called me a tease

My question this time around is all Tim’s fault. Is it really that easy to bring Spoiler back from the dead? Now, keeping in mind that I haven’t read War Games (and this is comics, after all. “OHMYGAWD! Someone died in the DCU!” “Don’t worry, they’ll be right back.”), I do have one thing nagging at me: What about the body? I just assumed that Steph’s corpse was shown on panel. If so, that’s gonna make the whole “partying in Capetown” thing just a bit difficult to pull off, isn’t it?

Really Mathan, you need to tell Tim to stop teasing the GirlWonder.org crew. It’s just not right.

Wow, “War Games/Crimes” have been a pretty consistent topic around these parts. Personally I think it’s just because people want to see us fight and they know that this is a divisive issue for us.

I mean c’mon people; it’s bad enough that Tim and I are on opposite sides of the country but we’re still trying to make this thing work. And really, we don’t need you guys trying to muss things up. It’s not appreciated on any level.

However, while I didn’t check out “War Games”, it’s pretty well documented that Steph was tortured quite a bit and while she did make it to a hospital, Bats watched her die.

Perhaps some drugs could have been given to induce a “death-like state.” But who knows? And I mean when you factor in the retcon saying that Black Mask killed Steph anything is possible.

Tim, Brock really wants you to explain your notion in full and complete detail.

Well, okay, but it is not all that complicated.

My theory (such as it is) turned on the idea that if Batman could’ve initially been “tricked” into thinking Steph died of torture, not of Dr. Thompkins refusing medical care to her. If he could’ve missed that, couldn’t he just as easily have missed a fake death? Answer: yes. He trusted Thompkins and had no reason to follow up on what she said. If she said Spoiler was dead, then, she was dead.

Sometimes the simplest explanation, the doctor lied and Batman bought it, is the easiest.

Aaron is a sucker for tragedies of history

I’ve repeatedly heard that the comic industry went through a steep downturn in the ‘90s. I’m sure this is recent history for you, so I’m wondering just how bad the ‘”downturn” was for DC? Are we talking 1978-level of bad? What titles were most affected? Or is this “downturn” an exaggeration?

Honestly this is a case of “apples & oranges.” What happened in the 1970’s is commonly referred to as the DC Implosion. We’ve gone over it before and here’s what was said then;

Ah the 70’s. What a weird time. What a wacky weird time.

It was a time when DC planned some great things. DC had this idea to launch (and relaunch) lots of titles. In fact it was 30 years ago. In 1975 DC advertised “The DC Explosion.”

Explosion is an understatement. From 1975-1978 DC launched 57 titles. Can you imagine that in four years having 57 new books on the market? That’s insane!

Yup it was insane. In 1978 alone, 31 books got the axe. Let me repeat that 31 titles were canceled in 1978. And in 1975-1978, 34 other books were canceled. And thus you have the DC Implosion.

DC tried to expand the market, not only by expanding the number of titles, but the actual books themselves, as the page counts went up from 17 to 25 pages per issue. Sadly the market couldn’t take it. Books were canceled and the number of pages per issue went back down to 17.

It was a dark time for the DCU. Titles were canceled after 12, 9, 6 and even 3 issues.

And that’s the DC Implosion. It was a DC specific event.

What happened in the 90’s wasn’t a DC thing, but rather an industry thing.

Y’see in the early 90’s the comic industry was all abuzz over tons of things; “The Death of Superman” and Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man and eventually the launch of Image Comics. This coupled with the fact many people were beginning to realize the profitable nature of back issues, caused more and more people to view comics as an investment.

Back then “hot” titles would sell out and could fetch big numbers from a desperate fanboy who needed to complete a collection. Gimmicks such as enhanced (foil, hologram) covers and poly bagged issues made every issue feel like an event and caused an influx of consumers to the industry hoping of find the next issue that would turn into a college fund.

And of course comic companies both new and old were eager to supply that demand. But not every new comic was Spawn and not every new artist was Jim Lee, so not every issue was worth the paper it was printed on.

Consumers fled the hobby like evangelicals at a Gay Pride parade and comic companies and stores quickly folded.

Now this isn’t to say that DC wasn’t affected; remember when Justice League was a franchise? But the industry as a whole suffered. You can still see remnants of it today; many comic shops also cater to the miniature gaming crowd or the collectable card game crowd.

And this is why fans that remember the 90’s wince a bit in this era which features the return of variant covers.

Tim, care to remark about that dark time?

It is sort of ironic because this was the era I really started to get into comics. The industry had more or less bottomed and look, here came Tim Stevens to drag it back up.

Well, that’s my interpretation of it anyway.

Anyway, it was something I only became aware of later and I always thought it was amusing in retrospect. Here the industry was, dying all around me, and there I was, completely oblivious. None of the shops I visited closed (in fact, two expanded, although one did so to include sports memorabilia which I guess was there way of surviving), I didn’t have 100 Spawn #1s I was trying to unload, Grant Morrison was writing JLA. The industry doldrums were my salad days.

Nuke is full of negativity

What was the worst comic book-to-movie that you guys have ever seen? For my money’s worth, I’ve gotta say it’s The Shadow. Sorry…but I just couldn’t get into that movie at all. Twenty minutes in and I literally turned it off.

Whoa, whoa, whoa! How could you turn away from the glory that is Alec Baldwin? I’ll watch anything that Alec Baldwin’s in, even Nip/Tuck! Clearly I’m going to have to straighten you out, on this issue.

I’m serious. Everything that man does reeks of greatness. 30 Rock might be funny without him, but with him it’s the reason I hate having to work on Thursdays. He’s the most memorable part of the film version of Glengarry Glen Ross and it’s full of remarkable performances.

Hell, even his irate voicemail to Ireland is classic.

But wait, this column isn’t about my undying praise for Alec Baldwin its’ about comic books.

I recall being asked a similar question relatively recently and I think I came up with a “Top 5” or something like that. I’m pretty sure that Superman IV was on that list. But now I’m going to go a different way.

Obviously no one’s happy with how the Batman franchise ended up so let’s just skip those.

The movie that disappointed me the most was probably Fantastic Four (the most recent version). I didn’t like how Dr. Doom was portrayed. I didn’t like that The Thing was so small in stature. Those things immediately took me out of the movie and turned from a fanboy into a critic.

It’s always cool to see comic characters on the big screen. But when the translation is flawed it can ruin things. And that’s what Fantastic Four was to me.

Tim, care to add your thoughts on the worst?

I’m sorry, but I can’t just write off Batman & Robin like you do. It was one of the few movies that is SO bad it literally makes me angry. ARRGH!

But accepting that as the top, who would I choose as runner up?

Men in Black II was an ode to moviemaking that piles on more and more of what people liked in the first one without any sense of why people liked it. It was a bloated mess. But, I don’t think it was the worst. Plus, people don’t really associate it with comics.

Ditto to Son of the Mask.

I’m sure Catwoman is up there, but I’ve never seen it so I can’t nominate it.

And that’s probably enough stalling trying to think of my answer.

Alright, final answer is…Superman III.

Yes, Superman IV features backgrounds that look like that might’ve doubled for sets at my high school’s musicals. Yes, Reeves’ direction leaves a lot to be desired. A LOT! But it does have a sort of goofy charm to it.

Superman III, on the other hand? Irredeemable. Dumb story, utterly wasted talent. Terrible.

Snark has his eye to the ground

I heard before that there was going to be a feature-length Justice League Unlimited movie coming out, but I haven’t heard anything about it since. Will it come out (I would watch it a few times) or will it be shelved due to the live action one being discussed?

I don’t want to bring you down, but I don’t know if this thing will ever come to pass. I mean Warner Bros seemed pretty content to let the animated DCU die. I couldn’t ever find when Justice League aired after the first season, much less Justice League Unlimited. I really can’t see them working on a feature length flick, much less a theatrically released one.

Plus since Paul Dini is focusing on comic work at the moment, I can’t see them making moves on that front without him.

However DC does have some direct to DVD movies in the works. The critically acclaimed DC tales The New Frontier and The Judas Contract both have animated movies in the works. Superman has one too, but I’m not a fan of the character, so he gets no love from me.

If you want to see your beloved Justice League Unlimited characters again, I suggest you invest in DVDs of the show, because I doubt anyone at Warner Bros Animation will be revisiting them anytime soon.

Tim, do you have a favorite series from that era of Warner Bros DC cartoons?

Like you even need to ask. Batman: TAS, in a walk.

But they were all quality.

Aaron has no love for a gentle giant…filled with toxic chemicals

What’s up with Chemo? It seems like he’s only dredged up when the writers need a way to kill a lot of people at once. In Crisis, he spits toxins into the ocean and kills Tula (yay!), in IC, he’s dropped on a city. He’s not part of anyone’s rogue’s gallery is he…um, is “it”? Has Chemo had any impact anywhere but Crisis/Infinite Crisis?

Buddy, you’re way too hard on that character. I mean I like to think of Chemo as a modern day Frankenstein’s monster; he’s just a misunderstood approximation of life. Here’s his back-story, in hopes of making you see him in a different light.

Ramsey Norton was just your typical eccentric scientist; he had tons more failed experiments than he had successful ones. In an effort to motivate (and probably not pollute) he constructed a 25-foot tall human shaped plastic container. Every time he an experiment failed he’d place the chemical byproduct in the container. I mean the guy should be commended for being environmentally friendly and a self-motivator.

Anyway, this Norton was so concerned about world hunger that he began working on a growth formula so that plants could be huge and feed everyone. Naturally it failed. Norton poured the leftovers in the container, which sadly filled it.

Apparently the growth formula provided a key ingredient to an amazing chemical reaction because, not only did Chemo start to grow, but Chemo was now alive.

Chemo was stopped by the Metal Men, and yes, Chemo is a Metal Men rogue. He’s also gone up against Superman, was a member of the Suicide Squad, and butted heads against the only Supergirl who matters; the one whose title launched in 1996.

Chemo can’t really die, he just reforms after time.

Tim, don’t you think that Chemo is kind of misunderstood?


Gg, indeed.

The Shade has his periodic table at the ready

Were there any other Metal Men other than the ones we all know about?

It depends; which Metal Men are you familiar with?

I’m sure you know about Tin, Mercury, Platinum, Gold, Lead and Iron, right?

But do you know about Nameless, who was the girlfriend that Tin made for himself? And what about Veridium, the Metal Men who was made from an alien metal and possessed the personality of Will Magnus?

Well, never mind that last one, he’s been retconned.

Anyway, Nameless was built by Tin. She joined the Metal Men in some adventures by faded into obscurity. Later the team hooked up with Batman to find out what happened to her.

But those are the only Metal Men that I know about. They’re a pretty exclusive bunch.

Tim, how do you feel about the Metal Men?

Well, they’re robots. So, they’re awesome, obviously. Now, if DC would just tap into their inherent awesomeness, perhaps we wouldn’t have to deal with things like the latest issue of Superman/Batman.

And thus we’ve come to the end of another column.

However we will return next week with tons of answers including dream teams, mindwiping and the influence of Frank Miller. And possibly your questions will be answered as well. But only if you ask them. Post them on our thread or email them to me.

But before I go, here’s my question to you; What did you really think about World War III?

“Then I’m going to get on a plane, I’m gonna turn around and I’m gonna go home.”