Who's Who in the DCU

Human Flame HeadshotFire is the theme this week as Human Flame (the mustachioed fella at right) and Firebrand battle for the spotlight. If they’re not careful though, they might have it stolen from them by Booster Gold’s family or Checkmate. See how it all goes down in this week’s Who’s Who in the DCU.

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Tim, how’d you make out on Oscar night in your epic battle with Mrs. Morse?

I lost. Again. By a point.ARRGH!That’s okay though. Next year my winning streak begins.

Links

Diehard GameFAN has returned!

The DVD Lounge is looking swank!

Inside Fights has some interviews!

MachineGunFunk is all over the place!

Moodspins is all political and stuff!

Radio Exile makes it’s grand debut!

Popcorn Junkies basks in it’s new look!

Primetime Pulse has plenty of post-strike stuff!

Tailgate Crashers is full of sports news!

Our DC Boards are full of discussion about the new look.

Care to link anything this week Tim?

Selfishly, I will be linking my “Beware the Future’s Awesome Might” columns for DC and Marvel’s May offerings.

What I Read Last Week

Checkmate #23 – The bittersweet return of Pawn 502. I dug the stuff with Superman, especially how the Sasha dealt with him. This book always delivers.

I, too, really liked the way Superman was utilized here and how he was presented. Honestly, I think The Rucka “got” Big Blue a lot better than he did when he was writing Adventures of Superman.

The Flash #237 – Decent fill in issue, but I can’t wait for Peyer to start scripting.
Countdown #10 – That Harley origin was good.

The Brave & the Bold #10 – Man, Aqualad was really a sad sack back in the day. Still it was cool seeing the Titans acting like actual teens.

The Spirit #14 – Good to see Ploog working again. This new look and team will take some getting used to, but the book was still a good read.

Batman & the Outsiders #4 – I really, really like art team of Lopez and Bit. The story is almost interesting, but the stuff with Cassandra and Ollie was worth reading.

Ex Machina #34 – I found this spotlight to be both jarring and strong. I really liked the look at Angotti’s life. Vaughan did a great job of fleshing her out. I actually care about her a great deal more now.

For the first time, I feel like she’s actually someone with a personality.

Justice League of America #18 – I liked the assault on the JLA and the Red Tornado stuff. Decent issue.

Sadly, “decent” makes it one of the standout issues of the series. But I did enjoy the main story.The Red Tornado stuff wasn’t bad at all, either. However, did anyone else get at least a touch weirded out when he talked about making love to his wife in front of his daughter? I understand he was in the midst of an impassioned speech about what life truly is, but…weird, still.Loveless #22 – Way interesting jump forward in time. And while I like Zezelj’s art (hopefully Desolation Jones will return) I’d like to see Frusin doing interiors again.

The Programme #8 – I really like where Milligan is taking this story. It’s an interesting detour. Smith’s art is stellar as always. But this book just got way more interesting.

Was I the only one who had no idea Senator Joe was Black?

Catwoman #76 – Trippy cover and trippy issue. I like alternate realities and I like stories that take place in characters minds, so I was pretty happy with this issue.

Has any other book over the past year or so utilized J’onn better than Catwoman? I say no. And I’m including his miniseries in that period of time.

Stone King believes some turnover can be good for an organization

If you could choose one Royal from Checkmate to replace who would get chucked and would take over?

Man, I love Checkmate. I really don’t think there’s anything about this book that I’d change. Strike that, I’d totally change Bruce Jones taking over the title. I’d really like to know who at DC thought that Bruce Jones would make a good substitute for Rucka.

But I suppose that I should actually try to answer your question.

Ok, first off, I’ll tell you the Royals that I consider “untouchable.” I wouldn’t get rid of Sasha Bordeaux, Jessica Midnight, Josephine “Mademoiselle Marie” Tautin, Michael “Mr. Terrific” Holt, Valentina “Negative Woman” Vostok, Thinker, Zviad “Bad Samaritan” Baazovi and Maks “Rocket Red One” Chazov.

So that leaves Tommy Jagger, Taleb Beni Khalid, Fang “August General in Iron” Zhifu and Beatriz “Fire” Dacosta. Now I’d be reluctant to cut Taleb because I’m curious about him. I also wouldn’t want to get rid of August General in Iron because then the Great Ten might be forever squandered.

GangbusterThus it’s down to Tommy and Bea. Now if I cut Tommy than I’ve got to pick a non powered character and if I cut Bea the replacement must have abilities beyond that of a normal person. Bea’s an established character with a following, so she’ll probably land on her feet. But on the other hand, Tommy’s kind of bland and he could be replaced by someone cool.

I think that you’ve got to get rid of Tommy. He’s bland. I can’t think of anything that he brings to the table. And he’s not even doing the “legacy” thing. The man is deadweight!

I’m going to replace him with Jose “Gangbuster” Delgado (in 2008 Gangbuster is the new Bloodwynd.) Jose is a guy that I could see the White King picking as his Knight. I think that Jose would do a good job in the role and he could probably use the gig.

Tim, care to share with us which royal you’d replace?

For you, Mathan, I’d be thrilled to.First, I also eliminated my “absolutely nots.” Those we Sasha Bordeaux because I think she’s a great character and I cannot imagine her being used (or used well, at least) anywhere else in the DCU. And if I’m keeping her, I’m keeping Mr. Terrific, too. He’s a favorite and I think there romance has a great understated quality to it. Jessica Midnight is a “good soldier” and the whole secret superpowers angle is something that could have mileage, especially after why Waller got bounced. Tautin is another “good soldier” who I think I’m just getting to know. Thinker is going to blow up in Checkmate’s face and that’s a promising story so he can stay until that goes down. Vostok and Baazovi have a great angry chemistry and the “Bad Samaritan” is such an excellent code name, I couldn’t bring myself to ditch it. Khalid intrigues me, especially the way he dealt with Fire early on and the J’onn switch that he was part of. I like the dynamic of Zhifu being there, especially given China’s opposition to Checkmate from the beginning of the series.So that leaves Jagger, Fire, and Rocket Red for me. Rocket Red I don’t care one wit about, but he’s new so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he’ll be the first Rocket Red ever to make me care about the brand.

I come down on the opposite side of you though, Mathan, in the Jagger v. Fire argument. I like Jagger’s personality and the matter-of-factness of his sexuality. Fire, on the other hand, has been around the DCU for quite sometime and remains just as uninteresting to me as ever. So, I favor the non-powered over the powered.

Resurrection ManAs for who would replace her…I struggled. At first, I was searching for a female because, you know, Fire was a woman she should be replaced by one. While I found some intriguing possibilities for Bishops (Rampage’s alter ego Kitty Faulkner, Jonni Thunder) no Knights jumped out at me. So, rather than force the issue, I decided to abandon this approach.

After much thought, I came up with two replacements: Gunfire and Resurrection Man. I initially wrote down Gunfire as a joke, but the more I thought about it the more I kind of liked it. Why not Gunfire, I thought. If this is a book that has brought back Negative Woman and Bad Samaritan and showed them to be viable in this environment, I cannot see why Gunfire couldn’t have the same experience.

However, I thought Resurrection Man was a far more intriguing fit. Knights are prone to death, it seems, and for Resurrection Man that is not a problem. Additionally, the fact that what his powers will be next is by no means a guarantee injects an interesting element into the proceedings. So Fire is out and Resurrection Man is in. HUZZAH!

Juan Francisco Gutiérrez Santiago is recruiting All-Stars for his team

If you could take a thing from All-Star Superman and put it in the current mainstream Superman, what would it be?

Is “everything” a thing? Because if it is I’d totally take everything from All-Star Superman and transfer it to the regular Superman title.

I don’t even read Superman because, for the most part, I think Kurt Busiek shouldn’t be allowed to leave Astro City. And the art team isn’t really enough to get me to pick up that book either. And I buy Countdown.

Wow…that might be the harshest critique ever.

I’m pretty sure that saying “the creative team” would probably be cheating and it would mean a book that ships irregularly. And even the same creative team doesn’t guarantee the same story content.

Nope, if I could take anything from All-Star Superman it’d be the freedom from continuity. Think about it: what makes All-Star Superman isn’t just Frank Quietly or Grant Morrison, it’s that they have the freedom to craft stories utilizing some aspects of Superman mythos and disregarding other aspects of Superman continuity.

What if Action Comics was the book that was full of continuity and Superman was just full of fun Superman adventures? It’d be like Batman and Detective Comics. You like wacky far out tales featuring Batman? Check out Batman. You like more traditional Batman stories? Pick up Detective Comics.

And in this election year, who would speak out against freedom? It’s unpatriotic and unAmerican. And that’s why I’m picking freedom as the one think I’d take from All-Star Superman.

Tim, which aspect of All-Star Superman would you transplant to the regular Superman title?

The tone. It is one of wonder, of awe, and of fun that does not feel lightweight. That’s a hard thing to pull off but pretty much the perfect approach to Big Blue.It is a tone that allows you to show us why Superman is inspirational, rather than just telling us ad nauseum. It is a tone that allows for oversized stories that don’t collapse into personality-less schlock. It is a tone that lets us see what’s great about Clark Kent, too. It is a tone that enables the supporting cast to shine without ceding the book to them.It is what’s most obviously missing from Superman’s DCU adventures.

Stone King is burning down the house

There’s a Firebrand in Uncle Sam and I think he’s a legacy character. When I look for the character on line though I keep running into some guy with a Ghost Rider head. He’s not the first one is he? If not, who is? And who are these other two?

Firebrand- Golden AgeYou sir, are correct. The Firebrand that you are describing is not the original Firebrand, he’s actually the third character to use that name.

The original Firebrand was Rod Reilly. Rod was your typical bored millionaire playboy who was looking for some excitement in his life. Thus he trained with his best buddy/man-Friday, Slugger Dunn and invented the masked crusader Firebrand.

As Firebrand he combated a criminal syndicate. However, while doing that, wires got crossed and he was actually mistaken as being the syndicate’s leader. Thus Firebrand was battling both the mob and the cops. Rod and Slugger even enlisted in the Navy during WWII. And it was there that Rod was wounded, in Pearl Harbor.

Sister of FirebrandWhich brings us to Rod’s sister, Danette Reilly. Danette’s boyfriend was one Terrence Curtis (who later became Cyclotron) and she herself was a volcanologist. Naturally, as a geologist who studied volcanoes this brought her into contact with super villains, who are known to base operations inside volcanoes.

She was investigating a volcano around Hawaii when she was captured by Per Degaton who was using the volcano as a base. (How perfectly Bond villain of him.) But she managed to escape. While trying to stop her from fleeing Wotan hit her with a mystical bolt that gave her a green aura. She then fell into some artificial lava that Degaton had lying around.

Now before you get all judgmental, let’s remember that it was Degaton’s base after all. It’s not a big deal for him to have artificial lava. It’s his base. She was trespassing. He was well within his rights to have Wotan hurl that mystical bolt. And she would have no legal bounds to sue Degaton for falling into the artificial lava. She was in the wrong here people!

Now obviously Danette survived and the day was saved by the JSA and a ragtag bunch of heroes who became the All-Star Squadron. She returned to New York and learned about her brother’s injury. Then she discovered he was Firebrand and decided to carry on the tradition. She took one of his costumes and altered it for herself.

And during her first adventure she discovered that, gasp, she had super powers. That’s right, Danette had the ability to create and control flames. And she didn’t get burned or nothing!

Latin FirebrandAs for the guy that you described, that’d be Alex Sanchez. Alex was a cop who almost died in an explosion in his apartment. He had some experimental surgery, paid for by a benefactor who then offered Alex some armor that would allow him limited periods of enhanced speed and strength.

Sadly Alex’s tale ended on a bad note when he was killed by a Checkmate Knight who stabbed him though the throat in a fight staged by Roulette.

Tim, I know who your favorite Firebrand is, but who’s your second favorite Firebrand?

I’d have to say Firebrand #1 is the winner of second place for me. For one, he’s the original so he gets much respect on that end. For another, I think the “hero mistaken for a big time criminal” is a good angle that rarely gets used. He’s sort of an accidental Shroud (a Marvel character), and I love the Shroud so Firebrand is the recipient of some parallel loving there. I’m sure he’s thrilled.

The Shade wants to know why Human Fly keeps starting fires (Hint: It’s DC’s desire, it’s DC’s desire)

I would like to know more about this Human Flame character who is supposed to be a big part of Final Crisis?

What’s there to tell? In Detective Comics #274 we’re introduced to Mike. Mike was a guy who wanted to live the life of crime. Accordingly Mike put together his crime suit. Mike is equipped with a flame thrower, artificial lightning and an acetylene torch. Now Mike specifically picked out the flame thrower because he suspects that Martian Manhunter’s weakness is fire.

For a minute Human Flame is successful. But then J’onn puts on his thinking cap and decides to burrow beneath the criminal and his henchman Joey. J’onn then lifts up the piece of land beneath them and flies them to the cops, leaving Joey doubting that fire is J’onn’s weakness.

But apparently this one and done villain is making a comeback in a big way. And I’ve got to say, I’m pretty interested in the guy. Anyone who rocks a crime suit, goggles and is mustachioed is clearly worthy of my attention.

Human Flame- Then Human Flame- Now
The Human Flame: Then and Now

Tim, are you interested in the Human Flame?

Who wouldn’t?!He merges the look of Mario Mario with the weakness of the Martian Manhunter and wraps it all together with a name so simplistic you’d swear he was the fourth villain DC ever created. That’s a concept that sells itself!

Glen’s interests include superhero incest. Glen has weird interests, don’t talk to him.

What’s the story on this Silent Knight in Brave & Bold? Isn’t a tad bit incestuous for an incarnation of Hawkman to be a progenitor of the Kent clan?

You know I can kind of see where you’re coming from. After all, if, in a past life, Carter Hall was Brian Kent, then that means that he’s somewhere in Superman’s family tree.

Except he’s not.

If Carter Hall were of the House of El then it’d be weird. But Clark is an adopted Kent, so it’s not really a blood thing. Now, I’m sure that we’re all aware that “step counts” when it comes to matters of incest. But where does adoption fall in the scheme of things?

As I always do when it comes to blurry grey areas, I consult Woody Allen. Woody has assured me that when it comes to adoption, everything is kosher.

So Glen, rest assured that there is nothing hinky or kinky about Carter Hall being an old timey Kent.

Tim, do you think there’s anything weird about the whole Hawkman/Superman connection?

Did I miss something? Did Carter and Clark recently start sleeping together (note: something to pitch to DC?)? If they haven’t, there’s no incest, or anything vaguely incestuous, here. Look elsewhere.Which is not to say things won’t necessarily be awkward at the next JLA/JSA drink-up. Hawkman can be a sloppy drunk and you just no he’ll say something stupid like, “You know, in a past life, I was totally tagging your (insert Kent relation here).” And Superman, being a virtuous guy, will have to knock Hawkman’s teeth to defend his ancestor’s honor.Actually, I would read that story.

Juan Francisco Gutiérrez Santiago wants recognition for the worthy

From the current titles, who do you think is most underrated writer and should have a big assignment?

Ordinarily I’d say Will Pfeifer, because I think that he is the most underrated writer. But something tells me that he had a big assignment that I’m just not remembering. It’s almost like something is blocking my memory of whatever big assignment he was a part of. Oh well.

By the same token I’d like to say Joe Casey, because I’ve become rather enamored with Wildcats 3.0, but that’s not a current title and I’m not reading anything he’s currently writing.

But I’m currently enjoying Metal Men by Duncan Rouleau. It’s a read that requires thinking, digesting and attention, but it’s also extremely satisfying. I think that I’d like to see him tackle Superman or something else larger than life like that. Rouleau needs room to explore and move around, and I think that he’d have that room in a book featuring Superman.

I also think that John Rogers is doing some fine work with Blue Beetle and I’d like to see him get more work (though not at the expense of Blue Beetle.) I could see Rogers taking over The Flash or Booster Gold maybe.

Those are the two writers who I think are the most deserving of getting a bigger spot of the limelight.

Tim, any writers you think should get a shot at primetime?

I’d second your recommendation of Rogers. I think he’s a great talent who will do a nice job as he expands his repertoire.My other recommendation is Cristos Gage and not just because his last name is my middle name. He’s did a great job with Stormwatch and is delivering relatively well on that Armageddon project at Wildstorm, even if it is not the best idea, in and of itself.Over at Marvel, his work on the Thunderbolt one-shots has been quite good and the Initiative has really come into its own since he started co-writing it.

I think he’d do a great job with a book like Checkmate or Suicide Squad and I wouldn’t mind seeing his take on Batman either.

Dhaise is working on a genealogy project

How about giving us some information on Booster Golds family? First appearances, key issues etc.

Sure thing! Piece of cake! Can do!

I guess we’ll start with Booster’s pop. As Supernova, Booster’s pop made his debut in the current first issue of the current Booster Gold title. I guess Booster Gold #4 would be a good issue to pick up because it features his unmasking. Oh and Booster Gold #0 also has him making his play for “father of the year.”

Booster’s twin sister Michelle made her debut in Booster Gold #15. If you’re looking for her key issue, I’d say it was Booster Gold #22, the one where she gave her life trying to stop the aliens of Dimension X from invading Earth.

Dimension X? Seriously?

Daniel Jon Carter first showed up in 52 Week 15. He’s yet to do anything really pivotal or key.

WRONG! He wore that excellent Supernova costume…briefly.

Supernova Flying
Honestly…isn’t this a great costume?

Booster’s family is pretty boring and they’re either dead or have lead pretty uneventful lives. But at least there’s no Hawkman appearances. Yet!

Tim, do you really have any interest in Booster’s family?

Not really, no. I barely care about Booster himself, to be honest.

For Juan Francisco Gutiérrez Santiago, Ms. Pac-Man is apparently not enough

In your opinion, what’s the best videogame adaptation of a DCU IP? For me it would be The Adventures of Batman & Robin from Konami for SNES, based in the animated series. I also enjoyed Superman for NES, even though it was kind of ridiculous.

I’m not really much of a gamer. I’ve got a Wii that collects more dust than attention. It goes for weeks without getting any play. So I’m not really an authority on this one. But I am apt to agree with you.

At least I think I am. I recall playing a Batman video game that I really enjoyed playing. I thought it stayed true the character, while still being a fun video game. And, if I recall correctly, I played it around the time that this game was released.

But again, I’m not that much of a gamer. I haven’t played too many comic games (though Ultimate Alliance completely rocks) so I can’t really speak on them at length.

Tim, are you more versed in this subject than I?

If I am, it is only slightly.The Justice League game that recently came out with story by Dwayne McDuffie is good, if a bit simplistic. I actually beat it, so I appreciated that element of it, to be certain.I seem to remember enjoying a Batman game sometime in my past as well. Maybe it was Batman Forever? Not sure, but I do have doubts about that game, whatever it was, holding up today.

I will second the Ultimate Alliance recommendation though and add that X-Men: Legends I and II are pretty great as well.

Juan Francisco Gutiérrez Santiago looks for the worst in situations

And the worst videogame? Aquaman perhaps?

Aquaman is always going to be a popular choice for someone who’s not a comic fan when attacking any aspect of the culture. Aquaman is thought to be a lame character, thus anything he’s associated with sucks.

The video games experts at G4 claim gave the Aquaman video game the distinction of being the “worst” but I’m pretty sure that they’re coming from a video game perspective and I’m coming from a comic book perspective. Thus I’m going to say that the game based on the Catwoman movie is the worst, despite never having played the game.

It’s like they say on the cop shows that game is clearly the “fruit of a poisonous tree.” Nothing associated with that movie can be in the neighborhood of good. Thus, because it was spawned by that horrendous movie, the video game must be completely bad.

What are your thoughts on DC’s worst video game, Tim?

Rest assured, Mathan, Aquaman is a terrible game through and through.For some reason though, I still sort of enjoy it. I can’t explain it, but there is a charm to it for me.Batman: Dark Tomorrow, on the other hand, I loathe. Completely and unapologetically. Don’t even look at it if you see it for sale used somewhere.

Be sure to keep the questions coming either by posting them on our thread or by emailing me (mathan@insidepulse.com).

Here’s my question to you this week; what writer do you think is most deserving of big assignment?

“Way over yonder there’s a new frontier. Would it be so hard for you to come and visit me here?”

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