Who's Who in the DCU

Tim, seriously, what is DC trying to do? There are ton of miniseries on the horizon, some of which are actually interesting. I know we went over this recently, but doesn’t this mean that cancellations are looming?

Typically, yeah. I just keep hoping and praying I’m wrong though, you know? That’s all we can do in these trying times.


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 ponder Hawkman’s role in Final Crisis (or at least the poster) and if the Kingdom Come Superman has anything to be ashamed of…IN HIS PANTS!

Tim, I know you’ve got something to link this week, right?

I give you one of the most powerful trailers…EVER. American Steal! Fast forward to 54 seconds in to avoid the not really funny racial slur oriented joke it opens with. And watch for the finest scene ever filmed about 1 minute 50 seconds in.

What I Read Last Week

Superman Confidential #4-5 – Superman robots? Really? I expected more from you Darwyn Cooke. That’s one demerit. Consider yourself on notice Mr. Cooke.

Green Arrow: Year One #1 – Ollie seems mighty “extreme” for my taste. I kind of wish that he’d be more in the celebutante mold. But Jock’s art is great as always and that cover rocked.

Green Lantern #21 – Yeah John Stewart! You fill that single panel with as much dialogue as you possibly can! Own it!

But look at the solicitations! Stewart in the JLA! Cool, no?

Stormwatch PHD #9 – The issue really didn’t do much for me, until the end. I really got a kick in the gut at that tragic ending. Poor, poor Jackson.

Justice Society of America #7 – Charles Foster Wang didn’t really win me over as a fan of his character. The Starman and Superman stuff was the joy of the issue. I mean outside of the Wang-licious cover! It was hard for me to turn away from that cover.

This book actually had two excellent covers. Check this out:

Great, huh? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love me some Steel package, but man, Eaglesham’s “variant” covers are so much better consistently. It makes me a bit sad.

As for the issue itself, I liked it. Then again, I don’t have the same irrational hatred of the Citizen. I mean, come on Mathan, love the rod, love the man. You can’t separate the two. Or you can, but…ouch.

Countdown #42 – This was probably my favorite issue yet. I liked every segment and it actually left me wanting more. I’m most interested in Piper and Trickster, but Karate Kid has me intrigued.

Not only do I not buy this anymore, I’ve stopped reading. And damn! It feels so good. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

Welcome to Tranquility #8 – Great issue. Great use of guest artists. I loved how the various stories connected and filled in some important back-story. This book has yet to disappoint me.

X-Factor #21 – Interesting. I’m very interested in the mysterious new guy and the opening bit was rather funny.

100 Bullets #84 – Man, this book really turned things up. It’s like I really don’t know who to root for anymore after this issue. This entire issue, but specifically those final six pages were so eye opening. That ending really did turn my stomach. I don’t think I signed on for this.

That Bootleg Guy revisits a column favorite topic

Your thoughts on the since-reversed “edict” from DC to kill off Nightwing during the Infinite Crisis? I know that “death” in the DCU is far from “final”, but do you think this is something that DC could’ve pulled off w/o making it look forced or contrived?

Y’know if you’d have asked me this question just prior to OYL I’d probably have written something like this:

“There is no way that DC could have killed off Dick Grayson. He’s arguably the fourth most recognizable character in the DC pantheon (as Robin) and one of their oldest characters. It would reek of a publicity stunt, like, I don’t know, killing Captain America or something.”

However, after trudging through over a years worth of stories his solo title, I can honestly say that I’d have rather had him die in Infinite Crisis.

Think about it like this: Dick Grayson’s been all over the DCU. He’s practically like Superman. In fact you could probably play Six Degrees of Dick Grayson. So his death would have had a huge impact within the DCU. His funeral would have been even bigger than the one held for Hal Jordan. Everyone would have been there. It would have been great! Except, y’know, for all the mourning and stuff.

Plus his death would have been a great catalyst for Batman to take some time off and spend it with Tim. After losing Dick, Bruce would completely learn to really value the time he had with those close to him. Dick’s death would be a great reason to go on a cruise and it would make sense that Batman would come back with a less dark outlook on life.

Oh yeah, if Nightwing had died during Infinite Crisis we’d have been spared the boring at best, cringe-worthy at worst, ride that is “Nightwing in New York.” I remember when Nightwing used to be near the top of my read pile for the week it was released. But now Nightwing not only isn’t at the top, but I might go days before cracking it open.

I guess I think that it’d have been cool for DC to have kept Nightwing alive if, y’know, they’d have actually had plans for the character. I’d really have liked for Nightwing to do something notable in the past year. But he didn’t. Nightwing had more memorable moments in Outsiders than he did in his own title and that’s pretty depressing.

But DC could have pulled off the death without making it look contrived. Imagine if Nightwing had gone missing when Bludhaven was destroyed and everyone assumed he was dead. But he managed to get out and was operating behind the scenes only to make his return helping Batman and Robin turn the tide with Deathstroke.

While those three heroes are overjoyed and getting reacquainted, Alex Luthor blasts Nightwing and kills him. Bam! You get a triumphant return, a final moment of glory and justification for Batman changing his tune.

But no, he made it out alive and stars in his own book, which is not bad enough to get dropped but not good enough to enjoy.

“If this fire couldn’t kill me, did you really think Dan Didio could?”

Tim, what’s your take on this whole controversy?

I think a retroactive, “well his title sucks now so why not” reasoning is a pretty lousy basis for the death of a character. You shouldn’t blame the guy because DC couldn’t line up the proper talent on his OYL title. That’d be like killing off the Flash because your revamp of him was ill thought out. Oh…well, bad example.

Anyway, besides that you make a decent argument for the sort of effect that NW’s death would have the DCU. The thing is, to be perfectly honest, I sort of deathed out. I mean, I just know Connor Hawke is on the chopping block and, as big a fan as I am, DC has so desensitized me to character death that I can’t even work up the energy to care.

But I suppose that’s pretty retroactive too. So here’s my big reason: they already got Superboy (or whatever the court says we have to call him now). Superboy was the big deal, the centerpiece. In order to do right by him, you couldn’t kill off Nightwing too. If you do that, all the other deaths got completely pushed off the board and Dick steals Conner’s thunder entirely. You don’t kill Dick though, and Superboy’s death means something.

Plus, a random bolt of energy when the conflict is more or less over? Stupid, stupid death scene.

Julian L. Smith wants to know who knew what and when.

Did DC intend to kill Bart all this time, or did they just give up on the character and bring back Wally West?

Hmm? Maybe a little bit of both?

There are some things that seem to work in favor of the “DC always planned on killing Bart” argument.

Piper & Trickster – Their storyline in Countdown wouldn’t make much sense without Bart’s death. I mean what else would they be running from, yet innocent of, that would make for a compelling long Fugitive type arc? But the death of Bart makes perfect sense.

Justice League of America – Brad’s run on this title was most likely awhile before it saw print. And if you, like me, believe that Bart is the “one” that Brainiac 5 is referring to at the end of the latest issue, then you’ve got to believe that Bart was slated to die.

I also think that it’s equally obvious that Wally was destined to return. His departure was so sudden and left tons of unanswered questions. He also disappeared during a major event. Wally had been “The Flash” long enough to warrant a proper send off and he never got one, thus I always assumed that his story was far from over.

I really don’t think that DC has given up on Bart as a character. I’m sure he’s going to turn up at some point in the future.

That said it certainly appears that DC “gave up” on Bart. He didn’t really get any high profile creators on his book, despite being a character with a sizable fanbase and legacy. He didn’t really get a push that you’d have expected from a marquee character. And while I believe that even if Bart’s tenure as The Flash had been a stellar sale success they’d have still killed him off, I think that the fact the book wasn’t truly strong in any regard allowed DC to justify his death as the right move to make.

Tim, do you think that Bart’s number was always up, or was his death a spur of the moment type decision?

Neither. I think about four issues in DC saw that it was not working and made the call. Guggenheim was hired to do what he did, end Bart as Flash, so they had enough lead time to plan for that.

However, you better believe this was not the plan from the start. DC either did not realize how unpopular a move it would be or thought they Crisis was going to give them such a bump it wouldn’t matter. Either way, they meant Bart as Flash for the foreseeable future and when they realized people just weren’t embracing him, DC overreacted and offed him.

His uncle died stopping a giant machine that could’ve destroyed the universe. Bart died by being kicked to death. Yeah, that doesn’t seem rushed at all.

That Bootleg Guy is much like the cheese. In that, he stands alone.

I gotta say, I’ve actually dug the Wolfman run on the book, so far. I accept that I’m alone in this. Are there any older Nightwing runs or storylines that you could recommend? Specifically, would find the one-shot “Alfred’s Return” or late ’95 Nightwing miniseries be worth my time?

Can I ever!

I’ve honestly got to confess that I’m not really a fan of the Nightwing minis or one-shots, save Nightwing/Huntress. For the life of me I can’t remember why I like it, but it’s the only one that I can recommend. It might have something to do with Dick and Helena hooking up.

Because I’m betting that Tim’s going to skew toward the Chuck Dixon era of the character, I’m going to offer up some of the Devin Grayson stories that I really enjoyed.

Personally I enjoyed Nightwing #86-93. Those are the issues that detail the escalation of the feud between Nightwing and Blockbuster. It’s rather engrossing to see Dick at his lowest point. It’s a fascinating train wreck that you can’t really turn away from.

I’d also recommend the trades Nightwing: Mobbed Up and Nightwing: Renegade. They represent the end of the Devin Grayson era and feature Nightwing trying to play both sides of the fence as the DCU builds to Infinite Crisis.

Now a caveat should be offered; I’m a sucker for flawed heroes and for creators that push the boundaries. Devin takes some chances; chances that many fanboys and Wingnuts cried “bloody murder” over. I appreciated what she did and tried to do. Hopefully you will too.

Tim, care to give Aaron some good Nightwing reads?

I sure can!

First, Devin’s stuff on 86-93 is very good. After that, I’m of the opinion that the book lost its way. It was not as bad as people might have you believe, but it wasn’t all that great either.

However, as Mathan predicted, the real good stuff is Dixon’s, especially the start of the book when he was working with McDaniel.

At the risk of overloading you, I’d recommend any and all of the issues from 1-around 60. Obviously, not all at once. Within those issues you have pitch perfect writing and excellent art from McDaniel, Land (actually drawing! And so well you’ll wonder why he ever stopped!), and Leonardi. There are some crossovers here and there that you can avoid for sanity’s sake but even they are pretty darn good (you just might be a bit lost).

Seriously, I know that’s a lot of issues, but for 5 years the book was just awesome month in and month out.

The Shade looks out for the little guy

Who were the Atom rogues who attacked Ryan Choi? The only one I recognized was the Bug Eyed Bandit.

I’ll gladly help you out, because, hey, that’s why I’m here.

For those of you not in the know, the Bug-Eyed Bandit is the gent whose goggles resemble bug eyes. He’s also got the antennae.

The guy in blue with the big helmet and shoulder pads is The Thinker.

The guy crouching in front of the Thinker is The Panther.

The gent in the green robe is the Man in the Ion Mask.

The guy in the lab coat complaining about the lack of veggie pizza is Jason Woodrue AKA the Floronic Man.

Sadly I couldn’t find anything that ID’d the gent with the gun in the white suit.

Tim, care to praise this book, before it’s too late?

It is smart, it is funny, it is fun.

It is utterly doomed.

But, maybe you all can save it. Snag an issue or two (perhaps the Jia arc?) and I guarantee you’ll want to come back for more.

It is so dark in here, That Bootleg Guy doesn’t realize the horror he’s stumbled over.

Stumbling thru a few message boards, I came across some poop on Nightwing briefly being considered as leader for a slapdash version of the JLA that Batman put together when the original JLA disappeared. Details?

Ugh, the Obsidian Age. Why can’t DC just publish stories that I’m going to love?

Ok, here’s are the basic components of the Obsidian Age; magic, Atlantis and the JLA getting transported thousands of years back to when Atlantis was a powerhouse.

Of course Batman has a rain day plan for the chance that the JLA gets taken out of action. If that happens, and it does, he’s picked out a replacement JLA that consists of Green Arrow, Atom, Firestorm, Nightwing, Faith, Hawkgirl, Major Disaster, Jason Blood and Captain Marvel. Everyone except Captain Marvel joins (he decides the JSA is more his speed.)

Eventually the real JLA returns and everything goes back to normal.

Tim, do you have anything good to say about the Obsidian Age.

Not really.

But for you lunatics who insist Dick should join the JLA, here’s your arc. NOW LET IT GO!

R. Hardin needs a basic education

It seems as though the Wildstorm characters are going to be visiting the DCU proper (I think they’re Earth-50 or something now). I am completely ignorant of the entire Wildstorm Universe. Who do I need to know about? Any recommendations on what to pick up as a primer?

I’d personally recommend that you check out Deathblow and Stormwatch PHD which are two of the best of the current Wildstorm books.

If you want some really cool reading you should also check out Planetary. It’s one of those books that never shipped anything close to monthly, yet was always worth the wait.

A really good primer of beginner’s guide to the Wildstorm Universe would be the trade for Captain Atom: Armageddon. It basically follows Captain Atom as he finds himself trapped in the Wildstorm Universe and encounters its heroes.

There was also Worldstorm #1 which was pretty much published to explain the relaunched Wildstorm Universe.

I’m guessing that the most popular of the Wildstorm characters will be showing up during any crossover, and the most popular characters are part of teams. The Authority and Gen13.

The Authority is, in basic purposes, the JLA with an attitude. They don’t just stand for justice, they create and enforce it. Gen13 is a team of teen heroes, with an emphasis on “teen.”

Either Captain Atom: Armageddon or Worldstorm #1 would be a great place to dip your toe into the Wildstorm cast of characters.

Can you think of anything that Mr. Hardin absolutely needs to know about the Wildstorm Universe before we go?

Nothing except that while Planetary is an incredible book published by Wildstorm it is not actually part of the Wildstorm U. It is still well worth reading, but it won’t help you in your quest to bone up on one of DC’s newest earths.

By the way, how out of his mind angry would Alan Moore be if he was still working with Wildstorm when it was indoctrinated as another earth? That would’ve been spectacular to witness.

To That Bootleg Guy all giant headed strongmen are the same.

I’ve heard lots about Nightwing beefing with Blockbuster who, I guess ran the criminal underground in Bludhaven or something. But, I thought Blockbuster was something of a mindless neanderthal type character. Was this a new version, a retcon or what?

Um, all of the above?

The original Blockbuster was Mark Desmond. He was the guy who created a serum that would make him stronger. But, as is usually the case, the serum had a side effect; it left the user a dolt. Mark was strong but severely lacking any intellect.

His brother Roland took advantage of the situation and manipulated Mark into committing crimes. Eventually Mark grew tired of the manipulation and exiled himself to a solitary existence. He was later part of the Suicide Squad, which is where he met his demise against Brimstone.

Roland Desmond wasn’t really the brightest guy around. He didn’t really have Mark’s intellect, thus he became a petty crook. And after Mark’s death, Roland returned to petty crime. However during Invasion!, when the gene-bomb was detonated, Roland began suffering seizures. At the hospital he was treated with an experimental steroid. That steroid combined with his recently activated meta-gene to cause Roland to transform, coincidently, into a new Blockbuster.

For awhile, Roland could revert between his hulking self and his normal self, but he lost that ability. He did manage to retain his intellect when in Blockbuster mode, but it was a minor bonus as he was normally dim-witted.

So when Neron came a-calling, Roland sold his soul to be as smart as his deceased brother. Thus Blockbuster the criminal mastermind was born. The new and improved Blockbuster preferred to remain behind the scenes and utilize his super strength only when necessary.

I’ve got to say that Blockbuster was one of the few Underworld Unleashed character revamps that I actually enjoyed. He (and the Trickster) made that whole mini worthwhile.

True that!

Julian L. Smith is prepared to accept genius into his life.

I don’t read Human Target. Why should I? Which trade do you think would get me hooked?

Why should you? Why should you?! Because it’s one of the triumphs of the comic book medium. Because it’s an amazing look at modern America. Seriously, Human Target is just a book that I can’t praise enough. I would kill for an Absolute Human Target. Like, seriously, you give me a name and they’re dead.

As for where to start, that’s kind of tricky. I honestly don’t remember where I started. I know that I didn’t begin with the Human Target miniseries, though it’d be a good place to start.

Actually I know exactly where I started. I picked up Human Target #1 of the regular series. I remember this, because I picked up Human Target: Final Cut shortly thereafter, and really enjoyed it despite already knowing how it was going to end up because I’d already read #1.

I guess I’d recommend picking up the trade for the mini. Human Target is pretty much the perfect starting point, because it’s his first Vertigo appearance. And if you read things in order you won’t ruin things for yourself, like I did.

But I must say with all sincerity, Human Target is one of my favorite series of all time.

Tim, I pass the baton to you. It’s your turn to praise Human Target.

You know how people debated whether Preacher or Sandman was the best series that Vertigo has published? They’re wrong. This is. But, you don’t have to take my word for it.

You really should though. Read the thing and be in awe.

That Bootleg Guy wonders why Nightwing feels so bad

And, Nightwing blamed himself for the death of Blockbuster, but what were the exact circumstances behind that (I assume Nightwing didn’t really kill him directly) and how did he make peace with that whole “I killed the bad guy” conflict?

Are you sure you really want me go into this Aaron? I mean, I’m going to end up stepping on my toes because that entire Blockbuster arc is one of those storylines that I recommended for you earlier in the column.

I’ll take your silence as a sign that you want me to proceed.

What happens is basically that Blockbuster makes Dick Grayson’s life hell. After Nightwing reaches his lowest point he goes to confront Blockbuster. Blockbuster then torments Nightwing by saying that as long as he’s alive, anyone Dick Grayson comes in contact with is vulnerable. Strangers on the street, lovers. Anyone.

But then ________ enters the picture. Blockbuster becomes vulnerable and ________ takes the opportunity to strike. _______ picks up a _______ and ________ Blockbuster. And while Nightwing had the opportunity to stop _______, he didn’t. And that’s why Dick Grayson blames himself for Blockbuster’s death.

Unlike Bart, Blockbuster goes out a bad ass.

As for how he got over that event, it actually plays out over a couple of the trades that I recommended for you. Rest assured though, it does happen.

Kent R. seems to have good taste

I’m a big big fan of Morrision’s JLA run with one big exception. I am a trade collector, which most of the time makes things easy to piece things together, but my god in heaven, is there anyway you can explain One Million to me? The Filth was easier to get my head around. Are there other books I need to read to fill in the gaps?

Yes, there are plenty of other books that you could pick up that would fill in gaps. What you need to realize is that DC One Million encompassed 37 separate comic issues. It was a huge crossover event and hit every DCU title. JLA: One Million only contains eight of those issues.

I happened upon Jeff Rients blog which featured the following complete checklist;

The Main Story Arc
Chronos #1,000,000
DC One Million #1-4 (collected in the JLA: One Million trade)
Man Of Steel #1,000,000
Superman #1,000,000
Superboy #1,000,000
Shadow Of The Bat #1,000,000
Nightwing #1,000,000
Detective Comics #1,000,000
Impulse #1,000,000
Starman #1,000,000 (collected in the JLA: One Million trade)
JLA #1,000,000 (collected in the JLA: One Million trade)
Batman #1,000,000
Catwoman #1,000,000
Robin #1,000,000
Wonder Woman #1,000,000
Power Of Shazam #1,000,000
Flash #1,000,000
Green Lantern #1,000,000
Martian Manhunter #1,000,000
Action Comics #1,000,000
Adventures Of Superman #1,000,000
Man Of Tomorrow #1,000,000 (collected in the JLA: One Million trade)
Resurrection Man #1,000,000 (collected in the JLA: One Million trade)

Issues Incidental to the Main Story
Young Justice #1,000,000
Green Arrow #1,000,000
Legionnaires #1,000,000
Azrael #1,000,000
Chase #1,000,000
Creeper #1,000,000
Supergirl #1,000,000
Young Heroes In Love #1,000,000
Lobo #1,000,000
Hitman #1,000,000
Legion Of Super-Heroes #1,000,000

Now I know that seems like a ton of books, but Jeff also clued me on this insightful piece of blogging entitled “DC One Million and What Makes Crossovers Good”. So if you’re not sold on the prospect of tracking down those issues before reading the essay, you might be afterwards.

If you’re a collector, this might be a fun adventure, like when I tracked down all of the issues of James Robinson’s Starman. But if you’re just a casual guy, this event might be too much for you.

Tim, speaking of crossovers, do you have any favorite TV crossovers?

Anytime that Homicide showed up anywhere else (X-Files, Law & Order) was always a treat for me. Besides that…well, what is there?

Oh, it is not quite a crossover, but I love at the end of the series Strange Luck when the lead character Chance (yeah, Chance, Luck…haha) is directed by his brother to see Fox Mulder. It was a neat little reference.

Otherwise though, I got nothing.

Kent R. knows how to make a fella feel special

And for Tim, how do you feel about One Million?


Um, this is awkward.

I guess I’ll just grab a bottle of water or something.

Well, Kent (you don’t mind if I call you Kent, do you?) my appreciation of this crossover has actually grown over time. Now, like any crossover, there is some extraneous, unnecessary stuff that you don’t need and isn’t all that good. Sad, but inevitably true.

However, whenever I go back and read what I regard as the core of the series (One Million #1-4 and JLA 1,000,000) I’m always a bit surprised how much I like it. The last issue in particular is just nonstop great moments, especially if you like Kyle Rayner and think that Martian Manhunter gets the short end of the stick entirely too often. As DC’s crossovers go, I’d probably recommend it above Zero Hour and Infinite Crisis and put it into a three way tie with Final Night (what, Hal’s sacrifice is just so powerful, it elevates the whole thing) and Underworld Unleashed (miniseries was eh, but lots of great crossover issues. Plus, I love me some villains).

As for events like Genesis, Day of Judgment, or Our Worlds at War…they don’t even place.

That Bootleg Guy wonders where NW went

So, if Nightwing leads the Outsiders and Batman is being brought on to the title (or so I’ve heard) how does/did Nightwing get written out?

I’m hoping that Nightwing gets killed. He’s yet to be written out, though the groundwork has been laid.

Y’see the whole thing about the Outsiders is that it was supposed to be a team free of personal attachments. The team came together in the aftermath of Donna Troy’s death, and Nightwing was tired of being emotionally invested in his teams. So, at Arsenal’s urging he joined the Outsiders under the promise that there would be no emotional investment.

But Dick Grayson being the kindhearted sensitive guy that he is, he grew to love his teammates and care about them. And that’s when he knew it was time to hang things up and let Batman take over. Which is where the last issue ended.

And it’s sad, because Outsiders is the only book featuring Nightwing that I actually enjoy reading. And the thought of a new creative team, new characters and Batman are really turning me off this book rather quickly.

In fact it’s safe to say that I’ve emotionally divested for the title now that all of these changes are coming.

So, it looks like Nightwing is just going to be able to walk away from the team and wash his hands of the entire affair, much like I’m going to do.

Tim, will you be reading Outsiders after the coming storm?

I wasn’t much reading it before so…probably not.

Because I’m exhausted due to the deluge of Nightwing questions, I’ve got to call the column to a close.

But don’t fret; we’ll be back next week with more questions and answers. What might be covered? Lame villains, powerful villains, the Legion of Super-Heroes and is DC trying to hard? Oh and possibly even your question too, so long as you get it to me.

You can either email to me or post it on our thread!

“The seasons have changed from the present to the past.”