Who's Who in the DCU

Tim, my vacation was amazing. I got to see friends and family. I spent half of Memorial Day Weekend in a hammock on the Chesapeake. I got to revisit The Soundgarden in Fell’s Point. And I got to check out the glory that is Comcast On Demand. Did I miss anything while I was gone?

To quote Ben, “Quality.” Besides that, nah. But I sure did miss you.

Oh right, one more thing. You have to teach that punk kid Neil who’s in charge ‘round these parts. Otherwise, same old, same old.

Links

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Visit our DC Boards, where things have been kind of quiet lately.

Tim, anything to link this week?

It has been awhile, so I really have to link something, don’t I? Wow…what pressure.

Umm…ah, got it.

Nathan Rabin over at the Onion AV Club is in the midst of this writing project called My Year of Flops in which he watches and reviews movies that are considered “flops”. It is great stuff if you like movies and even better if you enjoy bad movies (or, at least, revisiting and re-evaluating bad movies). The link is to his most recent article which covers the monumental picture “Isn’t She Great”.

What I Read Last Week Recently

Amazons Attack #2 – The stuff with Superman and Batman was enjoyable as was the disabling of Superman. Still this book has yet to really catch my interest to the point where I’m actually really anticipating it.

The Exterminators #17 – Sweet Ty Templeton art and a good story. Maybe it’s because I’ve not been to a comic con in forever, but the pest con seemed kind of fun. It’s nice to literally take a road trip with some of the supporting characters.

Countdown #49-48 – Not digging the back up. Am digging the relationship between the Trickster and Pied Piper. I’m also digging seeing Black Adam again. However I’m almost tired of Jimmy Olsen and I never care about New Gods.

To sound off for a sec on the Black Adam thing. I get that, in DC time, it has been some time since he lost his magic word (it is one year after OYL, but I figure we are back on SCT, Standard Comics Time, so really, it could be anywhere from a few months to a year later), but in our time, it has been around a single month. So, taking away his powers was really a consequence free move that was eliminated before we even got to observe how life would be for Teth sans powers. What a failure to capitalize on a cool idea.

Wonder Woman #9 – I’m really enjoying Nemesis’ role in this book. He’s really becoming such a fun character. He reminds me of Ted Kord in many ways. I also like how Hippolyta’s hair is curlier than Diana’s. This isn’t really an impressive book, but it’s mostly entertaining.

Fallen Angel #16 It was great to see Shadow Boxer and Doctor Juris again. I really wouldn’t hate PAD if he brought them back in some way. I kind of wish that Lin had stayed around though, as I think she would have been a nice addition to the supporting cast. This book has yet to disappoint.

Crossing Midnight #5-7 – I’m really loving this book. It’s so well written. It’s fantasy and creepy at the same time. The worlds that Carey has created are so captivating. And the art by Fern and Pennington is just so perfect for the book. It’s crisp and clear. I really just love this book.

Scalped #5 – I’ve got to admit, I didn’t see Nitz’s ulterior motive coming. In fact I didn’t know he was going to play such a big role in this book. I’m completely perplexed as why Dash is willing to shag his skank of a first love. I mean just looking at image on the page makes me want to shower. Gross.

American Virgin #15 – Tim, I loved the “breast talk.” It was one of my favorite parts of the issue. This is one of those books that I just love to read, and that talk is one of the reasons why. I think you’re being too harsh.

And I think you’re wrong. The breast talk was silly, silly, silly and syrupy to boot. It was like listening to a first year philosophy major trying so damn hard to be deep because they think that’s how interesting people talk not because they are, in fact, deep.

All-Star Batman & Robin the Boy Wonder #5 – This book is probably the most fun Bat book out. You’d think that a book that was over a year late, wouldn’t deliver, but this one does. Miller is clearly goading his critics and he’s doing something pretty unique to Batman; he’s creating a story so bad (intentionally or otherwise) that it’s entertaining. It’s actually cycled around back to good again.

I’m probably the only person on the net that feels this way, but this book doesn’t move me at all (which is why I didn’t buy it, choosing instead to read someone else’s copy). If it is going for parody, it fails to be funny and if it is straight, well, it fails to really accomplish that either. But it doesn’t outrage me…it leaves me a bit bored, honestly.

Batman #665 – I dig the alpha male sweat. I dig the Black Casebook. I dig Tim running off on his own. This was the second best Bat book of that week.

That sweat thing was a nice gag and I like how the Black Casebook is sort of tying all of Morrison’s issues thematically together.

Welcome to Tranquility #6 – Man, this first arc really ended with a bang. The reveal of the secret that was worth killing for, seemed pretty plausible. The showdown between the showdown between Maximum Man and the Mayor was pretty cool. And even though there were two artists, I didn’t really realize until I looked at the credits box at the end of the issue. I can’t wait to see how the next arc begins.

X-Factor #19 – This book is as great as it always is.

Supergirl #17 – This is the first of Kelly’s issues that didn’t really click with me 100%. I liked the confrontations. I even liked the art. I didn’t like the setting. I don’t dig the whole “catastrophic event limited to one title” stories. Hopefully it’ll turn out to be a dream.

The Flash #12 – On the plus side Daniel and Thibert really seem to work as a team. On the minus side: The Black Flash? Really? Is this what this book needs? To be bogged down by one of the biggest missteps that Morrison and Millar have ever made seems like a mistake to me.

Wait, Black Flash was in this book? I love Black Flash! Arrgh…I might actually have to buy this issue when I see it.

After the Cape #3 – Wait, is this the last issue? I’m confused. Having two artists didn’t help clear up any confusion. But this book ended on an odd note. There wasn’t really any sort of conclusion. It kind of ended on a cliffhanger. If this is the end, I’m disappointed. If it’s not, I hope it gets better.

Yeah, it felt like one of those movies that obviously ends with hopes of a sequel before really earning that sequel. Too bad too because I generally liked it.

Green Lantern #20 – Geoff Johns, what are you doing? You’re destroying Green Lantern mythos for some sort of unified theory structure, and it’s irking me. I loved the Zamorans as they were, before you mussed them up. Now there are even more rings in the DCU? Boo.

Uh-oh…what’s Hal going to do if even you’re not defending the book on our message boards? He’s gonna get eaten alive.

Se7en #5 – I do wish we’d spent more time on the victim than on John Doe’s past. Part of his allure as a villain/character was that he was a mystery. Getting to know him, diminishes him in some regard. Still this was a revealing read.

Teen Titans #47 – Duela gets mourned? Really? I liked having Jericho in Match’s body. I loved the art. But this issue felt a bit filler-y to me.

Waaaaaaaaay disappointing. Pure wheel spinning and unjustified wheel spinning at that. I generally liked the art too until the last two pages or so when suddenly Wonder Girl and Supergirl’s eyes went all vacant. Weird.

Deathblow #5 – Man, is this book creepy. Again this is another case of two different artists and I could barely tell the difference, in a good way. But really, this is a creepy read. Child assassins and talking dogs? Pretty crazy stuff.

Supergirl & the Legion of Super-Heroes #30 – Wait, what happened to Cosmic Boy at the end of the issue? Where did he go? Will be we see it? I did like Brainy’s plan to get rid of the threat of the Dominators and how Rokk psyched out Mekt. Good business, good read.

Blue Beetle #15 – This issue felt very fill in-y. It was kind of fun and the art was enjoyable. It just felt kind of light on substance.

Different writer, different artist…I guess it was a bit of a fill-in. That’s a shame since Batman was such a blast in this book I was looking forward to seeing what the usual team did with Supes. One good thing though was Livewire. I dug her (yeah, I said it. Dug, dug, dug, dug!) here.

Justice Society of America #6 – I’m so loving this crossover. This has got to be one of the better team ups that I’ve read in a while.

Can a book be really good and really kind of bad at the same time. Evidently, if it is part of this crossover, it can. Goodness, people unfamiliar with the DCU must be losing their minds over this.

Or, perhaps, it is actually people who are only sort of familiar with the DCU that are. Because speaking as one of them, I sort of get things and that’s making me crazy. Maybe if I read about a billion more DC comics, perhaps I’d truly appreciate all this.

Also, by the by, one issue is left and we’ve spent much too much time on finding Legionnaires. Can we really get a satisfying climax to this arc in a final standard length part?

JSA Classified #26 – Why doesn’t Ted care about his secret identity? Why is someone moving in on Roulette’s racket? Why did I pick this book up?

I suspect it is the latter question that is most important.

Stormwatch #7 – I love how this siege was resolved. I can’t find the words to express how much I enjoy this book.

Yup, it is excellent. A shame that Mahnke will be leaving, but Gage is incredible enough on his own that I have no issue with sticking around.

Glen has made a terrible mistake. I wonder if his initials are G.O.B?

I put Amazons Attack on my pull list, and after two issues there are several questions: Why is everything important happening off panel? If both Nemesis and Everyman are masquerading as Sarge Steel, then where on earth is Sarge Steel? Who is that shadowy figure that Donna Troy is talking to? Is there a real purpose to this mini? Because it’s not making me want to buy the Wonder Woman comic.

Wow Glen, I can really feel your seething hatred for this mini. I mean you’d think the Secret Six were featured characters or something.

Still, as a guy who’s loved nearly everything that Will Pfeifer’s done let me try to answer your questions.

First off, Sarge Steel is clearly tied up in the secret room in his office (as can be seen in the second to last page in #1.) But really does anyone care? This is pretty much Sarge Steel’s final shot at the spotlight. Sarge is really just story pitch away from getting killed off in Checkmate. He’s a lame character that I only cared about when someone (actually two people) impersonated him.


Who can blame people for wanting to impersonate a fella this good looking and well dressed?

I also don’t know who Donna Troy’s hanging out with. Maybe he’s a Monitor telling Donna to track down Ray Palmer. Maybe he’s Jason Todd trying to court her seeing as how they’ve got so much in common (former sidekicks who’ve been dead.) Maybe it’s Bloodwynd asking how one does indeed return from DCU limbo. Perhaps it’s even Zombie Ben Morse!

Oh, that’s just ludicrous. Bloodwynd back from limbo…I mean, honestly.

Sadly I don’t know what the real purpose for the mini is. It does kind of seem like it would have worked perfectly as one of the Countdown minis. The Amazons declare war on the U.S. because of how Diana was treated. And when the mini ends, the Amazons leave the dimension. Seems like a humdinger of a mini.

Sadly here we are years later and the mini literally comes out of nowhere. I mean really, you think WMD’s in Iraq was a weak pretense for war, check out Amazons Attack. Still I give the Amazons props for taking Superman out of the equation.

I do think that the mini is kind of flawed, in that it doesn’t feel big enough to be an event. Maybe it’s because it came on the heels of 52, I don’t know, but it just doesn’t feel that “big” to me.

Tim, do you have any thoughts on Amazons Attack?

Despite much love for Pfeifer and Woods, I’ve actually avoided the whole thing. None of the pre-buzz got me interested and the reviews were sort of damning so I choose to direct my funds elsewhere (a Fell TPB, for instance. And it is EXCELLENT. Thank you, Mathan, for your wise counsel.)

Babos is still all up in Booster’s business

In terms of Booster’s newish powers, can he cross vibrational planes to each new earth as well as cross the timestream within these earths?

I don’t think that Booster’s powers are getting a boost (giggle).(BOOOOOOOOOOO!) I think that Booster is just going to be jumping around time and space with the aid of Rip Hunter. Or perhaps even with an assist from Monarch, since he’s got access to the Bleed.

I’ve heard Booster’s new book described as Quantum Leap, so it might be that Booster is getting bounced around by an unseen hand. Or maybe Booster gets lost in the Bleed. I don’t know!!

But Booster’s always been a tech based hero, so I’m guessing there’s a technological explanation for why Booster’s on different Earths in different timelines.

Tim, do you have a theory on how Booster’s going to be doing all of this traveling?

No, not really. Interdimensional Travel 106 was never my strong suit in college. I am pretty sure though that all earths will be open to him.

Joy.

Aaron looks back to see if he missed anything

How long did the Baron/Guice tandem last on the post-Crisis run of “Flash”? I enjoyed the artwork and storytelling a ton and was equally curious is they had done any post-Flash work together?

Aaron you are certainly taking me back. As I’ve mentioned numerous times in this column, the Post Crisis Flash was the first comic that I started reading from issue #1. In fact my copy of #1 is in really poor condition because I used to trace the image of Wally on the cover and come up with different color schemes for the costume.

But enough reminiscing, let me answer your question. Sadly Aaron, the run of Mike Baron and Jackson Guice only lasted until the eleventh issue of The Flash. Baron continued on until issue #14.

I couldn’t find any post Flash collaborations between the two, but you might be interested picking up Teen Titans Spotlight #7-8 which featured the two creators working their magic on Hawk. The story came out prior to their run on The Flash.

Are there any creator teams that have really impressed you in the past, Tim?

Plenty, actually. Too many to really indulge in here without completely wasting everyone’s time. So instead let me highlight one of what I believe is the most underrated and criminally short lived creator team of all time.

Karl Kesel. Cary Nord. Daredevil. After the mess that was the post-Chichester/McDaniel Daredevil (or, if we’re honest, the end of the Chichester/McDaniel through that which followed) came these two and rescued the character. Sure, he never would be where he is now if it wasn’t for Kevin Smith’s relaunch of the title under the Marvel Knights banner, but the Kesel/Nord team was just as good (although decidedly different) and nicely cleaned things up and restored an element of Daredevil’s personality along the way. They had big ideas (Matt Murdock, Mayor of New York) that Marvel didn’t want to see so they left the book after only about nine or ten issues. It is one of the few runs that I look back on and think, “Damn, if only they’d had more time.”

Since that’s a Marvel one and this is a DC column, I should probably give you a DC one as well, eh? Fair is fair after all.

The closest I can come to on the DC side, that isn’t a quickly cancelled series I loved like Chase or Aztek, is the Pfeifer/Gleason combo on Aquaman. Generally speaking I don’t care for Aquaman much in solo titles. I only own Time & Tide and this arc in question. I appreciated what David did for the character and I really liked how Morrison took that and ran with it in JLA. But that’s about all the affection I had for him. There was even less after the whole “water hand” relaunch of the title thing.

Pfeifer/Gleason, however, made me forget that stupid idea even as they utilized. From page one of their arc (a dead panda silently floating through the water after San Diego became Sub Diego) they had my attention, no easy feat.

Sadly, they were only around through issue #23, which was a mistake. I haven’t cared about the Aquaman title since.

Glen’s heart is human, his brain IBM.

In JSA #26, there is a hologram(?) of a being called Computo. What is that character’s story?

Computo is like Ultron, only two years earlier.

Y’see once upon a time in the 30th Century Brainiac 5 created the perfect computer. And really, who else you want to create a computer? Are you going to trust someone with a 5th level intelligence, or someone with a 12th level intellect, from Colu with green skin who descended from one of Superman’s greatest foes? Ok, so perhaps I oversold Brainiac 5, but at the time it seemed like a find idea.

So Brainy made a perfect computer. Too perfect! As often happens Computo gained sentience and tried to take over the Earth. The Legion stopped it, but not before the evil computer killed one of Triplicate Girl’s duplicates, rendering her Duo Damsel.

Brainy, being the perfectionist he is, eventually tried to recreate Computo. And once again Computo went bad and came close to killing Invisible Kid. Eventually Brainy got a handle on Computo and everything settled down.

And that was just the Pre Crisis Computo, the one referenced in that issue. There have been almost as many Computos as there have been Legion relanuches.

Computo. Skynet. Ultron. Tim, do you think mankind will ever learn that computers are bad business?

Sadly…no. Tamagotchis and Furbies have proven that.

It is almost like we want machines to take over, hunt us, kill us, and start a nuclear war.


Tim, as an adult.

In fairness, I must admit that when I was a kid, I thought it would be pretty excellent to grow up to be a robot. However, I never wished to grow up in a world where my pathetic dreams where ground to dust by robot feet.

The Shade’s just a bit blunt with his questions

Who is this Dawnstar person

You guys are really making me feel old. You’ve got to understand, asking me who Dawnstar is, is like asking a Marvel guy who Kitty Pryde is. The Legion was my X-Men.

Oh, that’s cute. All the needlessly complicated continuity, half the readership.

Anyway, the story of Dawnstar is as follows: Dawnstar is from Starhaven, one of Earth’s colonies in the future. Her wings are par for the course on Starhaven, but she’s also got some nifty powers. For instance she can fly faster than the speed of light, when in space. She’s also got a tracking ability that gives her the power to track across the vastness of space.

She and Wildfire had an interesting relationship. They were like star crossed lovers in that there was a connection between the two, but because he was composed of pure energy nothing could develop. Even when he did gain a solid form for a spell, they weren’t quite compatible, physically.

Dawnstar even made an appearance in the 5YG Legion. Readers found out that Dawnstar had been possessed by a malevolent entity that had amputated her wings. While in the possession of Bounty, Dawnstar utilized her tracking powers to become a top notch assassin. It was one of the real tragedies of Zero Hour that the storyline was never resolved.

Still, seeing her on the pages of JSA and JLA was truly a sight for sore eyes. I remember I pumped I was when her appearance was hinted at in JSA #1. This crossover as really lived up to the hype for me.

Tim, how are you feeling about the JSA/JLA crossover, and might it have finally piqued your interest in the LSH?

I got into a bit above in the What’s Been Read Lately section, but I’ll happily reiterate here.

I like a lot of what’s going on. However, the story is a bit of continuity fetishist which I’m really not. I delight in my knowledge of the obscure but I rarely champion indulging in it as extensively as this arc has. Also, my knowledge of the obscure consists of very little LSH information. I have enough to generally know who the players are (for instance, did you know that Sensor Girl was initially going to be revealed as a displaced Supergirl after the first Crisis? She was the Fallen Angel of her time.) but not enough to really appreciate the reveals. “OH MY GOD, IT’S DAWNSTAR!” is just not something I would find myself saying or thinking…ever.

As I said, despite that, I am generally liking this crossover. There are some cool character moments, some solid art, and the writers are clearly having a ball. However, the whole thing is so overstuffed that a bunch of characters are more or less shoved aside and it is unlikely that the climax will satisfy.

Aaron wants an E! Network for the comics industry.

I’ve read a lot about artists and writers leaving a title abruptly, but usually of their own accord. Has a writer/artist ever been thrown off a book by the higher-ups or does that kind of juiciness usually stay behind the curtain?

Yeah that stuff usually stays behind the scenes. I really can’t think of too many instances that were too scandalous.

Tony Isabella was kicked off of the second Black Lightning title, despite having created the character, because of creative differences about the direction of the book.

I know that Warren Ellis left Hellblazer after DC refused to publish the scathing story entitled Shoot in light of the Columbine school shooting.

Chuck Austen was supposed to write a year long run on Action Comics, however he completed ten issues. The other two issues were written by “JD Finn” who was never heard from again.

But those are the only instances that I can think of that come close to folks getting fired in a scandalous manner.

Tim, can you think of any behind the scenes scandals?

The only one I can recall off the top of my head is Marvel-related, Mark Waid leaving Captain America in the wake of his script being completely rewritten, without his knowledge, for an issue focusing on Red Skull’s life. Otherwise, they keep these things pretty hush hush until much later.

Glen sees all the colors of the rainbow. Yay!

In Green Lantern #20 it seems there are several colors of power. Green is will power, yellow is fear, pink is love, what are the others? In the Silver Age event, there were purple, blue and orange beams. Are they canon, what comprise them? Is the Darkstars’ energy part of this “spectrum of power?” Does this revelation serve to make Crazy Quilt, Rainbow Raider and Dr Spectro and similar characters more powerful? The Thunderbolt was originally pink, too. Is there some connection to the Star Sapphires?

Ugh, don’t get me started on what Johns is doing in Green Lantern. I was leery of the Sinestro Corps, but I trusted him enough have faith it would turn out ok. But now with the retcons to the Zamarons and their new direction, he’s on the verge of turning a fan into a vocal critic. A very vocal critic. Tim, you need to straighten your best friend out.

I’ll make a phone call.

I know that things are getting a bit out of control over in Green Lantern, but that’s no reason to even joke about the Silver Age fifth week event being canon. That event was a horrible nightmare, on par with Bruce Jones’ DCU work. (Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s not say things we can’t take back.) I wouldn’t wish that experience on people who enjoy getting crunk.

I guess in theory the Darkstar energy should be part of the spectrum of power, as the Controllers where an offshoot of the Guardians just as the Zamarons were.

Now normally I’d also chastise you for even mentioning Quilt, Raider and Spectro. However since you did, I’m able to dreg up a piece from a column that’s just over four years old.

From the 6/5/03 column
For those of you unfamiliar with Crazy Quilt here is a short run down. This guy, known only as Quilt, was an artist/crime boss who gave instructions to his men through his paintings. As often happens to crime bosses this guy was shot. Fortunately he didn’t die unfortunately he was blind. Desperate to regain his vision he underwent experimental surgery (is there any other kind of surgery in comics? Don’t they have any established surgeries that have been done numerous times, successfully?) Anyhow the surgery was a success, sort of. He could see, but only in vivid, bright colors. Well that sent him over the edge. He took the name Crazy Quilt and began a career of crime. He got locked up and escaped. He got right back into crime again, this time using a helmet to see. But he was no match for Robin who put him back in prison.

Everything was going well Quilt was doing his bid, then right before he was going to be released the prison doctor told him that his condition had worsened and that he would be blind again. Well Crazy wouldn’t hear that so he stole some new fangled technology (in this case a laser) and kidnapped a doctor to fix his peepers. Everything worked out perfectly, and he regained his vision. But then when he was fighting Batman and Robin (Dick Grayson), our favorite boy wonder reflected a laser in Crazy’s eyes, and poof, blindness again.

Well that sent him over a completely different ledge, so he got some guy to make a new helmet that hook up to the optic part of Crazy’s brain, in some wacky attempt to see again. It worked and he sought his revenge against Robin for blinding him. He kicked the snot out of the Jason Todd Robin (guys don’t be so hard on Crazy, he was blind. Even with my contacts in I have a hard time telling the difference between Dick and Jason.) But then Robin defeated him and sent him back to prison. Apparently Crazy’s helmet emitted light that could “bedazzle and befuddle” and had laser that could burn through “a bank vault door.” Nifty.

Now does this guy really fit with the grim and gritty Brucie we all know and love? How this guy survived the Crisis I’ll never know.

Sadly Raider and Spectro don’t get the same kind of love; they’re just lame and Raider is dead. But hopefully Geoff Johns isn’t reading this column and getting ideas about how to revamp those characters utilizing the foundation of the current GL arc. I mean we all recall how popular his Black Hand revamp was, right?

He actually already revamped Rainbow Raider as a team of Rainbow Raiders. And I like his Black Hand revamp, dammit.

Tim, I know that you and Geoff are BFFs, but have you any idea what he’s doing with GL?

I can’t. I really, really can’t. DC has some weird thing about color that if something is green there needs to be several other things that are similar but colored differently (see also: Kryptonite). Green’s just fine DC, why are you always dogging it?

As for the Darkstars, I doubt they are one of the colors. Why? They’re all DEAD! Or depowered. But, mostly, dead.

Mega-Babos is here!

What do you think is being hinted at with references to a “Megaverse”?

Man, are you kidding me? You’re asking me to try to explain a Grant Morrison concept? I’m still working through Sea Guy and The Filth. I’ve not even approached his The Invisibles or his stuff on Animal Man.

But based on what Morrison has stated about the Megaverse is that it’s pretty much like the Multiverse, only without the crossovers and with every universe completely distinct. He cited the example of the Earth the Freedom Fighters inhabit, where the Nazi’s won WWII. Apparently Morrison has everything in that universe fleshed out, enough to support a title or an entire line of books.

And I guess that’s the big idea behind the Megaverse, fully realized universes that could conceivable each support their own line of titles.

I think.

Tim, what do you think the Megaverse is?

The Multiverse by another name.

I admit, I love Morrison’s vision of the Megaverse but given the opening few issues of Countdown, it is already clear that DC’s not going to be following it. Hence, me being opposed to the return of multiple earths. God, I do love being right, but sometimes it is just so bittersweet.

Well that’s going to do it for this week’s column.

We’ll be back next week, which might cover resurrected characters, dream teams and weak villains. Oh and your question, provided you sent it my way. You can either email me (mathan_e@hotmail.com) or you can post it on our thread.

My question to you this week; What’s your favorite hero team in the DCU?

“Who’s using who? What should we do? Well, you can’t be a pimp and a prostitute too.”

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