Who's Who in the DCU

Welcome back to the column designed to guide you though the DCU. It’s bloody freezing here in Baltimore. Like seriously, it’s nearing single digits. Why did I move from Vegas again?

The NFL playoffs are in full swing and I just realized that I’ve got ties to three of the four teams still in it. I live in Baltimore, am from Arizona and have family in Pittsburgh. I’m so torn about who to root for. Let”s just jump into the column.


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Our DC Boards are buzzing about changes to Superman, Trinity spinning off and Vigilante’s new book.

Justice League of America #28 – This issue featured one of the best comic book fights I’ve seen in awhile. It made so much sense. Who trumped whom and why was so perfect. Seriously, the Milestone characters made a nice splash this issue.

Teen Titans #66 – I’m a sucker for “recruitment” issues and this one was a good any I’ve ever read. I really liked how Tim was portrayed. His behavior and decision were perfectly in character. I also dug the revelation about Wendy and Marvin’s pop. I’m eager to see how that plays out.

Detective Comics #852 – Good issue. I liked being inside of Hush’s mind. I could really read an entire book devoted to the character, if it were written by Dini. Dini has made Hush such a viable Bat-foe, it’s amazing. I’m really struck by how much I dig the character.

Deadshot – Good as always. Bane really shone as a star. But the appearance of the character (dubbed in our forums as “Sagdoll”) was a really creepy conclusion. This book just brings the goodness.

Batman #684 – Wow, that was a waste of time.

House of Mystery #9 – Miranda’s speech pattern is awesome! The side story was really good, though I completely guessed wrong on who the doctor was. Everyone should be reading this book.

Terror Titans #4 – Have I mentioned how much I dig the first page bios? Well, they rock. I liked Static’s appearance. I liked Rose’s reaction. I really like Clock King’s, well everything. And watching the team backstab each other is such fun. This is a really good soap opera.

Black Lightning #1 – Cully’s art is stellar as always. And the story is a pretty good one. I’m appreciative of the retcon and clearing up of Jeff’s past. I’m not going to be too critical until the story progresses. I’m going to give Van Meter some room.

JSA #22 – Man, this was a surprisingly good arc. There, I said it.

Kyle Jordan do you have a question about continuity of the deceased?

In the World Without Grownups Max Mercury yells at Impulse to not speed read his homework because he wont retain the knowledge, yet in the Teen Titans series Bart speed reads all the books in the San Fran library and retains the knowledge, what is up with that?

Well there are a few different ways to address this one.

First Geoff Johns could admit that he goofed. I haven’t read the issue in question in years, but it sounds like a clear precedent and a case of establishing continuity. Continuity which Geoff apparently ignored. Of course they could also throw an editor under the bus as well.

Another explanation could be that Max was speaking from first-hand experience and didn’t know that Bart could indeed retain the knowledge. It’d be like you telling a kid to be careful when climbing a tree, because falling would hurt, but not knowing that the kid can fly. If Max couldn’t retain the knowledge and didn’t know of any other speedsters who could retain the knowledge, then he might just assume that Bart wouldn’t be able to either.

Yet another avenue that could be traveled is that Bart grew into this ability. Maybe at the time, when he was Impulse, he couldn’t retain it because focus wasn’t really his thing. But as he got older and maybe when he lost one of his duplicates and Max, he learned about focus and realized that if he applied just a bit of it he could actually retain what he speed read.

Of course it’s moot now because Bart’s dead. In fact I’m willing to be that’s why Bart had to die; so that DC would never have to actually address this glaring continuity error. They figured it’d be easier to just off the character than do some retconning.

Man I wish that I had someone here in the column to ask about their favorite Impulse moment.

Who’s got a question full of gloom and dread? Glen?

In the Jan 8 session of 20 questions with Dan Didio, he announced Doom Patrol is coming back. Rumor has it that Keith Giffen is somehow involved. What is your reaction to this news? What do you think that DC should do to make this a long-term viable property? In other words, how would you fix Doom Patrol?

Well my first reaction to the new was to continue snoring, because really who cares about the Doom Patrol? A property that’s got a handful of fans and few diehards is getting relaunched! And there are rumors that a divisive creator is involved! Holy cow; that’s huge!

I mean I really enjoyed the most recent incarnation of the Doom Patrol. Wait, even I’m confused. I enjoyed the John Acrudi helmed series, which is the last one that I picked up. I didn’t get the Pre-Infinite Crisis “retcon via Superboy-Prime punching the walls of reality” series. That series interested me about as much as some famed Baltimore Lake Trout.

So the news strikes me as an attempt to build some hype, which is difficult to do when you’re dealing with the Doom Patrol.

In order to make Doom Patrol a viable property I think that DC should “court the quirk.” The Doom Patrol needs to be distinct among the teams of the DCU, and that identity should be built around being different, in a weird way. As such I think that DC should go after creators who have a dream of writing the Doom Patrol.

I’m sure that every creator has a Batman/Superman/JLA story that they want to tell, but DC needs to find someone who has a real passion for the Doom Patrol. I’m talking about someone who’s got a three-year plan for the team. That passion should translate into quality work, which hopefully will translate into sales. The Doom Patrol shouldn’t be an assignment; it should be a dream come true.

The book should also have a distinct visual style to it. I can’t think of an artist at the moment. The late Seth Fisher would have been perfect for the gig. I loved the fill in issue he did for the Acrudi Doom Patrol title. But it’s got to be something like that; art that’s content to be in a comic that’s not trying to be photo realistic. Actually I think that maybe Raphael Albuquerque or Cully Hamner would be a good fit for the book that I’m describing.

Nope. I changed my mind. Duncan Rouleau would be the perfect creator for this book. Check out last year’s Metal Men mini and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about. He should be the writer/artist for the book. If that happened you’d have a critical success that could end up being hailed as a classic down the line.

As for “fixing” the Doom Patrol, when were they ever not broken? When they were a Vertigo book? Before that era and after it, they were even more of a fringe title. I don’t know if they can be fixed, because I can’t recall the last time they were successful or on the right track.

But right now just based on the erroneous idea that Duncan Rouleau is working on the book, I’m actually excited about the book.

If only there were someone to ask about their favorite version of the Doom Patrol.

Neil, care to look toward the future?

A while ago, I asked about Seven Soldiers and if it was needed to understand Final Crisis.

Having got and read all of the TPBs, I can answer my own question: it makes things a little clearer, especially on the Anti-Life Equation front and what the deal with Mr. Miracle is. Other than that, it’s 30 Morrison written comic books, which to me, is awesome.

Mathan and Tim, refresh my memory, are you fans of Morrison? If so, what character or book(s) should he turn his attention to after Final Crisis?

I’m a fan and I know that Tim is too. But at this point I’m sort of befuddled about where I want to see Grant end up next. Oh wait, some ideas just popped into my head.

Secret Six – I love what Gail’s doing on the title and with the team. Still, you’ve got to admit that even you’re curious what Grant would with a team of six villains and what sort of dialogue he’d have flowing from Ragdoll’s lips.

Legion of Super-Heroes – Grant’s got an amazing imagination, and I’d be interested in seeing his vision of the future. Sure, we got that whole DC One Million, but that was too far into the future, I want to see him in an established setting and see what concepts he can come up with.

Green Lantern Corps – Again I love Peter Tomasi’s work, but again, I’m curious what Grant would create when let loose in the DCU. What sort of alien foes and menaces would the GLC have to combat with Grant writing the title?

Wonder Woman – Look, I’ve read and loved Grant’s Superman and Batman, so clearly Wonder Woman’s next. (Again, I’m sorry Gail!)

Superman – I don’t want All-Star Superman to end. I want it to keep going. I’m not ready. I won’t let go.

Blue Beetle – If it’ll save the book from getting the axe, I’ll try anything.

Sadly there’s no one for me to pass the question off to at this point.

Gareth is looking for some analysis.

I was wondering what your thoughts were on the cancellation of the latest run of Checkmate? I though the series was severely underrated, up until the departure of Rucka. It breathed new life into old characters such as Fire and Sasha Bordeaux, bought Waller back to the forefront for a time, and introduced interesting new characters like Khalid and Josephine Tautin.

Before cancellation they seemed to be setting up several future storylines with the Castellan, Midnight’s secret powers, the animosity between the new White Queen and her Bishop, the return of Ice, Sasha’s reducing humanity and several other unexplored threads. It was easily one of the best monthlies out there, and was different from most other ‘team’ books.

Then Rucka left, and the series went out on whimper with a god-awful final arc by Jones and Garcia with the Chimera story. More than half of the main character’s weren’t even featured or mentioned, and for me it was 5 issues of poor story telling with no characterisation, made little sense, and had no connection to what had preceeded it. It has to rank up there with one of the worst finales to any comic book series. Fortunately, Rucka managed to gets his hands back on Checkmate in Final Crisis: Resist, although only to see them taken over by Anti-Life.

What i want to know is what are your thoughts on the series as a whole, the final arc, why Rucka left, the future of the main characters (is Sasha really dead?) and what truth is there in the rumours Checkmate will be back next year (and if so in what form – there are still a lot of loose ends to tie up and i think a lot of potential)? Also why do you think it got cancelled in the first place?

Well that’s a heavy burden you’re asking me to bear, but I’ll do my best.

As a whole, I really enjoyed the title. Apart from the final arc (more on that later) I’d be hard pressed to find something that I didn’t like about the run.

I thought that the series did a great job of addressing both the restructuring of Checkmate post OMAC and addressing the fears about metahumans post Black Adam in Khandaq. It was well written and featured some stellar art. I loved the characters and the dynamic. I loved the intrigue and the relationships. I liked how dense the book felt and how I actually had to pay attention when I read it. It was certainly one of the most satisfying books out.

That final arc was dreadful. I think I got two issues in before I bailed. The unbalanced focus on Chimera was atrocious. And that’s my main problem with Bruce Jones as a writer; he seems to write a story that he wants to tell and wedge DCU characters into it rather than write a story that’s actually about the DCU. He did it with his Vigilante mini and he did it with Checkmate.

I’m a comic collector and a completist and even though it was final arc for the title and would complete my run, I gave up on the final arc two issues in. It was that bad.

In terms of Rucka’s departure I think it was probably the cumulative effect of a few factors. I think that Rucka had told the story he’d set out to tell and decided to end to things on his own terms. I also think that it was a project that probably required a great deal of effort and provided little financial reward. That coupled with editors and DC people pointing out declining sales for the title probably wore the joy of the book down for Rucka. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to pour so much effort into a book and see it slide down the charts. And if TPTB at DC didn’t support or “get” the book, that frustration must have multiplied.

But that’s pure speculation.

I tend to think that the future for the characters is a bright one. I don’t think that Rucka killed Sasha, but rather took her off the table and put her in a safe place so that no one else would mess with her. I’m willing to bet that Rucka’s got a plan to bring her back.

Of course the other side of the coin is that Sasha’s followed Rucka around the DCU, so maybe her death is symbolic of Rucka leaving DC in the near future. Sure he’s on Action Comics finally fulfilling his Nightwing & Flamebird promise from OYL, but who knows.

As far as the other characters go, I could see some of them leaving the organization following Final Crisis (y’know to help rebuild their countries and whatnot) and maybe one or two getting killed off in a valiant heroic manner. But I really do think that they’re pretty safe.

I don’t know if I believe that the book will be back this year. I’d like for that to be true, but I really don’t see it happening. Perhaps the team will play a role in Rucka’s run on Action Comics. I don’t know. I can’t really see how they’d fit in elsewhere in the DCU given the titles that I’m aware of, but I suppose anything’s possible.

And finally the title got the axe because of poor sales. That’s always the case.

This is where I’d usually ask about what part of Checkmate was the most missed by whoever was my copilot, but since I’m dolo…

Glen thinks the best days are behind us.

Matt Sturges and Bill Willingham take over JSA from Geoff Johns in a couple of months. Is this a good move from DC? What should the new team do to raise the title back to its former glory?

Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’ve sort of been digging the current JSA title. I like Eaglesham’s art and I like the characters, for the most part. So I don’t really get the “former glory” aspect.

If you’re talking about the past, when the book was actually “JSA“, then I’d say that Sturges and Willingham is a step in the right direction, because when that title was in full swing it had copilots in terms of writing. James Robinson & David Goyer. David Goyer and Geoff Johns. The book seems to go smoother when collaboration happens.

But if you’re asking what I’d like to see happen I’ve got a few suggestions.

Shrink the Team – The team seems to have a sprawling cast and they could lose some deadweight. I’m hoping that Magog is leaving now that Gog’s gone. Judomaster is pointless and Wildcat Jr is annoying. They should all be cut. Hawkman and Damage don’t really need to stick around and Obsidian’s not really doing anything. With Stargirl on the team Cyclone is sort of a redundant character. And Lightning does what exactly?

Jakeem Thunder and Sand should be downsized to part time members and both Damage and Power Girl can stay on, but only if they promise to stop whining. Amazing-Man, Liberty Belle and Hourman can stick around providing they become interesting like the latter becoming addicted to the rush of heroics, her getting a personality and the former a new costume. And as much as I love Citizen Wang aka Rod Johnson; The Package Master, unless Alex Ross is painting covers with prominent pelvic coverage, he should probably go too.

So basically my team would be Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, Ted Grant, Starman, Mr. Terrific Stargirl and Dr. Mid-Nite, with Amazing-Man, Liberty Belle, and Hourman as possibles, Power Girl and Damage as maybes and Jakeem Thunder and Sand as occasional guests.

Have a Plan – This book isn’t going to be in danger of getting the axe any time soon, so Willingham and Sturges should feel free to aim high and plan some epics. I’m talking conspiracies against the team from within and villains with beef from the Golden Age.

Seriously, JSA has been home to some of the best epics in the past ten years. Fighting Obsidian, Mordu, Black Adam & Atom Smasher or even the Ultra-Humanite the team seemed to only deal with “wide screen” threats. That’s got to continue if the book is going to maintain it’s position.

Focus on Character – One of the other great things about the book is the focus on character. This title is the only title where you can see most of these characters, so they all deserve their time in the limelight. Think about some of those great moments you’ve seen in this title. Alan Scott taking down Obsidian. Stargirl dealing with her father. Dr. Mid-Nite performing an autopsy. Mr. Terrific facing off against Roulette.

Respect Continuity – James Robinson honored it. David Goyer and Geoff Johns respected it. What has gone before is such an important part of this title, because it’s all about legacy. Don’t go in trying to shake things up by having Jay Garrick hook up with Power Girl. But do feel free to have young Billy Batson stop by to pay Stargirl a visit. Stuff like that will win fanboys over.

That’s pretty much all I can suggest for the upcoming writers. I wish them all the best.

And that’s going to do it for yet another edition of the column.

Don’t worry, we’ll be back next week with more questions and answers possibly featuring Mirror Master, Nightwing and secret identities.

Before I go here’s my question to you What direction would you like to see DC take with the Doom Patrol?

“I’m a-goin’ out, sick of staying in, living life with worries on my mind, waste away the time.”

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