Saturday, April 25, 2015

Who's Who in the DC Convergence #3

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ELONGATED MAN
Created by John Broome and Gil Kane
Alter Ego: Ralph Dibny
Occupation: Full-time superhero
Marital Status: Married to Sue Dibny (nee Dearbon)
Group Affiliation: The Justice League of America
Often mistaken for: Plastic Man, Stetch Armstrong
First appearance: FLASH #112 (1960)

HISTORY
Since his youth, Ralph Dibny was fascinated with two things: Contortionists and mysteries (and the solving thereof; so I guess that's three things). He used to hang-out at carnival side-shows to watch the contortionists, and eventually realized a commonality among many of them. They all drank Gingold band soda.

Dibny began experimenting with the gingo fruit of the Yucatan, eventually creating a super-concentrated version that not only gave him the increased flexibility of a contortionists, but also allowed him to stretch every part of his body to super-human lengths and engage in low-level shape-changing. With this new juice-fueled super-power, Dibny donned a stretchy purple costume and mask and began solving mysteries and fighting crime in and around Central City.

He soon befriended The Flash Barry Allen and often worked with him; he also befriended, fell in love with, courted and ultimately married wealthy young socialite Sue Dearbon. Elongated Man became one of the very first superheroes to unmask and eschew keeping a secret identity, and one of the first to marry. Both were actions his peers stubbornly refused to do, in many cases hiding their double lives from those closest to them, but the Dibnys proved superheroes didn't have to be creepy liars and/or celibate loners.

Dibny worked closely with The Flash quite often, and would also take frequent trips with Sue, as the couple sought out strange mysteries to solve. The Elongated Man eventually joined the superhero team The Justice League of America, following Green Arrow and Black Canary to be among the team's earliest inductees after its original formation.

After the close of the League's "satellite era," when Aquaman insisted the team roster reflect heroes who were willing and able to commit themselves to it more fully, Elongated Man was one of the relatively few who maintained an active membership, along with Martian Manhunter, Zatanna and, of course, Aquaman himself. Newcomer to the League Vixen and brand-new superheroes Gypsy, Vibe and Steel made up the rest of the new line-up. Based in Detoit, this short-lived iteration of the team allowed for a sort of mentorship program for several young heroes by more experienced veterans. It wouldn't survive an attack by Darkseid, however.

Elongated Man (and Sue Dibny) would continue to serve with the League throughout its "International" period, working most consistently with the Justice League Europe team. They retired to reserve status shortly before the League was re-organized during the Hyperclan's attack on Earth. But all of that, and the dark retcons and future tragedies the Dibnys would face in the poorly-written Identity Crisis, would occur after Crisis On Infinite Earths, and this Elongated Man is plucked from before the events of COIE.

POWERS AND ABILITIES
Elongated Man can stretch any part of his body to unbelievable, sometimes gross, lengths (It's especially gross when it's his eyes and ears; ugh). He can flatten his malleable body out or puff it up, and he has some limited shape-changing abilities, but can't really shrink, grow or transform himself into the complicated shapes that the more versatile and powerful Plastic Man—with whom Ralph would share an Earth after the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths—could accomplish.

Despite his stretching abilities and fighting abilities, honed during years of crime-fighting solo and with the Justice League, The Elongated Man's greatest asset is probably his keen detective mind. He loves nothing more than a mystery—with the possible exception of his wife Sue, of course—and has grown quite adept at solving them, making him one of the superhero set's greatest detectives. Other than you-know-who, of course.

For further reading: SHOWCASE PRESENTS: ELONGATED MAN VOL. 1 (2006), SHOWCASE PRESENTS: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA VOLS. 5 and 6 (2011; 2013)


Brent Bowman
GEO-FORCE
Created by Mike Barr and Jim Aparo
Alter Ego: Prince Brion Markov
Occupation: Prince of Markovia/superhero/college student
Known relatives: King Markov (father), Tara Markov (half-sister; deceased...probably....depending on when CONERGENCE: BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS is set, exactly)
Group Affiliation: The Outsiders
Base of Operations: Gotham City; Markovia
First Apperance:  THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #200 (1983)

HISTORY
When the subtly-named Baron Bedlam launched a revolt in the tiny, fictional European country of Markovia, state scientist Dr. Helga Jace gave crown prince Brion Markov super-powers in order to defend the kingdom. She may not have needed to bother, however, as a handful of other superheroes came to the country's rescue. Batman, apparently casting about for things to do after quitting the Justice League of America, arrived to lend a blue-gloved hand, along with Metamorpho and Black Lightning, and two new heroes, Katana and Halo.

Joined by Brion, who now had a whole catalog of Earth-based powers and was probably the most powerful of them (although Metamorpho could probably drop him in a fight pretty easy, given his fantastical powers), they saved the country. Having gelled so seamlessly, they decided to stay together and form a new team, which they named after S.E. Hinton's novel.

Brion split his time between his home country and Gotham City, where The Outsiders were based and where he would begin attending college. Among the low-point of his superheroing career was the discovery that his teenage half-sister, sent to America to avoid embarrassing the royal family, had hooked-up with Deathstroke, The Terminator (in both meanings of the phrase "hooked up"), and had infiltrated the Teen Titans in Deathstroke's bid to destroy them. She didn't manage it, but she did accidentally kill herself during the battle.

Because his dumb brown-on-brown uniform reminded him of his sister, he adopted a new, even dumber green and yellow costume with the a big, dumb "GF" on the chest. The colors were those of the Markovian flag as well as The Green Bay Packers, so it probably made some sort of sense in Geo-Force's head, but he would long bear the distinction of having the WORST costume in the DC Universe, no matter what Tony Goins says about it.

Of course, then there was the New 52 reboot, and suddenly Geo-Force had lots of competition for worst-dressed superhero in the DC Universe.

POWERS & ABILITIES
Geo-Force's powers come from the Earth itself, and he gained access to them thanks to his royal bloodline and Jace's scientific meddling. He can increase and decrese gravity on himself and others, giving him the ability to float and fly and increasing his already impressinve strength.

He has super-strength and a high-degree of invulnerability, he can fire lava-like energy blasts from his hand, and his the ability to manipulate and control the earth itself, causing earthquakes, not unlike his half-sister Tara.

He also seems to have a healing factor of sorts thanks to his connection to the Earth, but it, like all of his powers, are at their strongest when he is in direct contact with the Earth, and the farther away he gets from Earth and the longer he spends away from it, the weaker he becomes.

For further reading: SHOWCASE PRESENTS: BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS VOL. 1 (2007); issues of BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS and THE ADVENTURES OF THE OUTSIDERS tend to be common in back-issue bins, at least in my experience.


Howard Chaykin
GREEN LANTERN
Guy Gardner created by John Broome and Gil Kane
Alter Ego: Guy Gardner
Occupation: Social worker and teacher
Marital status: Funny story; remind Guy to tell you about it next time Hal Jordan's around
Known relatives: Peggy Gardner (mother), Roland Gardner (abusive father), Mace Gardner (older brother)
Group Affiliation: The Green Lantern Corps
Haircut: Unfortunate
First appearance: GREEN LANTERN #59 (1968)

HISTORY
Guy Gardner had a particularly rough childhood, even for a superhero. He was abused verbally and physically by his alcoholic father. He turned to delinquency as a teenager, but was eventually put back on the right path by his older brother—and his dad's favorite son—Mace Gardner, a police officer.

Guy graduated from the University of Michigan, where he successfully played football...until a injury ended his hopes for going pro. After school, he became a social worker, working first with prison inmates and, later, teaching children with disabilities.

When the dying Abin Sur, the Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814, crash-landed on Earth and prepared to choose a successor from the native population, his ring found two candidates: Hal Jordan and Guy Gardner. Jordan got the ring, being closer to Sur at the time, and that was probably for the best, as Guardians of The Universe super-computers predicted an early death for Gardner were he chosen over Jordan. Instead, Gardner became Jordan's back-up.

Gardner struck up a friendship with Jordan, and trained under veteran Lantern Kilowog.

Gardner lost his status as Jordan's official back-up when he was severely injured in an accident: Attempting to rescue one of his students during an earthquake, he was hit by a bus. It was during this time that The Guardians recruited John Stewart as Jordan's new back-up Lantern.

Things got much worse for Gardner after that. When attempting to perform his duties as a Green Lantern using Jordan's power battery, he set off a booby trap meant for Jordan, and it exploded in his face. Gardner was plunged into The Phantom Zone, where he was tortured by General Zod and th other Kryptonian criminals imprisoned there.

Meanwhile, Jordan and Gardner's girlfriend Kari Limbo, both of whom believed that Gardner was dead, struck up a romance, and were very nearly married...all of which Gardner was able to watch from the Phantom Zone. It was only when Gardner telepathically reached Limbo that the wedding was stopped.

Gardner escaped from the Zone only to fall into the hands of fallen Green Lantern, Sinestro, who further abused him. By the time Jordan and Superman were able to return Gardner to Earth all of the trauma had taken its toll on him. He was diagnosed with brain damage, and fell into a coma. He wouldn't awaken from it until the Anti-Monitor threatened The Multiverse, when a faction of Guardians awoke Guy to serve their purposes. His personality had greatly changed, although whether that was due to brain damage or his experiences would be left up to debate.

POWERS & ABILITIES
Gardner's Green Lantern power ring grants him the abilities of all Green Lanterns. It can create energy and matter until its charge runs out, which the ring's wielder can manipulate in various ways, from building elaborate, solid constructs to firing beams of energy as a form of offensive attack. Additionally the ring has a built-in forcefield that protects its wearer from harm, and allows the wearer to fly.

The ring's capabilities are really only limited by the willpower and imagination of the person wielding it. Gardner's ring, at least at this point in his career, suffered the same weaknesses as all Green Lantern power rings: It couldn't effect the color yellow, and it needed to be regularly recharged by a hand-held power battery shaped like an actual lantern.

For further reading: GREEN LANTERN: SECTOR 2814 VOLS. 2-3 (2013-2014)


Neal Adams
GREEN LANTERN
John Stewart created by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams
Alter Ego: John Stewart
Occupation: Architect
Marital Status: Married to Katma Tui of Korugar forever and ever...unless she gets murdered or something like that
Base of Operations: Detroit, Michigan; Oa
Group Affiliations: The Green Lantern Corps, Justice League of America
First appearance: GREEN LANTERN #87 (1971)

HISTORY
John Stewart was chosen as Green Lantern Hal Jordan's official substitute by The Guardians of the Universe after Jordan's first substitute, Guy Gardner, was badly injured during a bus accident.

Jordan wasn't crazy about Stewart at first, something The Guardians thought might have had to do with Jordan's reflexively conservative positions about race (After all, Hal Jordan helped out the orange skins...and he did considerable for the purple skins, only there's skins he never bothered with...the black skins). Jordan's main problem with Stewart wasn't the color of his skin as much as his anti-authoritarian attitude and deep-seated need to prove himself, however.

After a rocky first mission, which involved protecting a racist politician from assassination, the pair started to get along better. In addition to his early work with Jordan, Stewart was trained by Green Lantern Katma Tui, who hailed from the planet Korugar, one-time home of fallen Green Lantern Sinestro (the pair would eventually fall in love and marry...John and Katma, not John and Sinestro. That sentence could probably have been more clear).

As Jordan's back-up, Stewart was called into duty whenever Sector 2814's primary Lantern was unavailable; this included working with The Justice League of America on several occasions. When Jordan decided to quit the Green Lantern Corps, Stewart took up the ring, and became Earth's official Green Lantern...a position he held onto during The Anti-Monitor's invasion of Earth, and the reality-warping events that accompanied that crisis.

POWERS & ABILITIES
John Stewart's Green Lantern power ring grants him the abilities of all Green Lanterns. It can create energy and matter until its charge runs out, which the ring's wielder can manipulate in various ways, from building elaborate, solid constructs to firing beams of energy as a form of offensive attack. additionally the ring has a built-in forcefield that protects its wearer from harm, and allows the wearer to fly.

The ring's capabilities are really only limited by the willpower and imagination of the person wielding it. Stewart's ring, at least at this point in his career, suffered the same weaknesses as all Green Lantern power rings: It couldn't effect the color yellow, and it needed to be regularly recharged by a hand-held power battery shaped like an actual lantern.

For further reading: GREEN LANTERN: SECTOR 2814 VOLS. 1-3 (2012-2014)


George Perez
KOLE
Created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
Alter Ego: Kole Weathers
Known relatives: Abel Weathers (father), Marilyn Weathers (mother)
Group Affiliation: Teen Titans
Lameness of superhero codename: High
First appearance: NEW TEEN TITANS #9 (1985)

HISTORY
Mad-ish scientist Abel Weathers had devoted himself to devising a way for humanity to survive the nuclear war that he was sure would be coming any minute (To be fair, this was the eighties). He believed he could alter human evolution so that people could live on in a radioactive wasteland, and one of his experiments involved taking his own 16-year-old daughter Kole, grafting a crystal and promethium to her (Earth-1 promethium, the kind in Cyborg, not Earth-33 promethium, the kind that really exists). Whether this would have allowed her to survive World War III or not was never put to the test, but it did give her superpowers—specifically the ability to create silicon crystal (So she was basically Iceman, but with cystal powers instead of ice).

Kole was then captured by Thia, Titan of Myth, and spent two years building crystal prisons for her until the Teen Titans defeated Kole's mythological patron/captor. Back on Earth, Kole and the Titans found her father had moved on from crystal to insect-human-hybrids, which his lab was now filled with. The Titans defeated him too, but in the resulting lab explosion, Kole's parents were both turned into hideous bug-creatures.

She moved in with Adeline Wilson and her son Joseph Wilson, aka the Titan known as Jericho. Kole fell in love with Jericho, apparently being able to look past his dumb hair and stupid vest, but she died shortly after falling in with the Titans, during the Anti-Monitor's invasion of their Earth.

POWERS & ABILITIES
Kole can create large and sometimes elaborate structures of siliconecrystal, apparently out of thin air, which she uses to transport herself and as offense and defense in a fight. She can also turn hre entire body into the substance, giving her a high degree of invulnerability.

For further reading: NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS VOL. 3 (2013)


Jim Aparo
METAMORPHO, THE ELEMENT MAN
Created by Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon
Alter Ego: Rex Mason
Marital Status: Dating his boss' daughter
Occupation: Stagg Enterprises factotum/superhero
Group Affiliation: The Outsiders
Lingo: Pure Haney
First appearance: The Brave and The Bold #57 (1965)

HISTORY
Very handsome freelance adventurer and soldier of fortune Rex Mason was hired by Simon Stagg, the slightly evil industrialist CEO of Stagg Enterprises (with a totally awesome hairstyle), to tomb-raid the ancient Egyptian artifact known as The Orb of Ra for him. Mason's relationship with Stagg wasn't strictly business; Mason was also dating Stagg's daughter, Stapphire.

When Stagg learns of this, he conspires with his revived caveman bodyguard and manservant Java (hey, it was the sixties) to have Mason killed during the mission...it doesn't work out as planned. Left for dead, Mason had prolonged exposure to the mysterious meteorite that The Orb was originally crafted from, causing a startling transformation in Mason. He loses his good looks and becomes  bald-headed, multi-colored freak. But, this being the early 1960s (a fact I can't stress enough), he was a fabulous freak, and now had the power to transform into any element or combination of elements found in the human body. He could also change shape to a fairly high-degree, but he cannot regain his original human shape.

Despite Mason's anger with Stagg and Java, he and Sapphire form a sort of awkward family unit with them. Stagg is able to protect himself from Mason using The Orb, and, of course, the fact that he's the father of the love of Mason's life. Sapphire stays with Rex despite his startling transformation, but despite her love, Mason is filled with self-loathing at his appearance and hopes to one day find a cure to his condition. Mason, who takes the name Metamorpho, The Element Man, continues to work with Stagg, who has plenty of uses for a nigh indestructible man with Metamorpho's powers.

Metamorpho was one of the earliest superheroes to be offered membership in The Justice League of America after it was initially formed with its seven-member roster—and the second to decline the invitation, following Adam Strange (Metamorpho would eventually join the League many years later, first joining Justice League Europe during the team's "International" years and later the Justice League of America...until his apparent and brief death at the hands of The Hyperclan).

The team Metamorpho did decide to join was the one Batman assembled after the Dark Knight quit the League: The Outsiders. He joined Batman, Black Lightning and the others in saving the small European country of Markovia, and, when the heroes formalized into a team called The Outsiders, he stuck around.

POWERS & ABILITIES
Metamorpho's fantastic powers can be hard to catalog, and have proven fluid over the decades. He could not only change shape, but also phase or state, so that he could become a cloud of glass or pool of liquid in addition to solids. Originally he could "only" alter his chemical makeup to elements or combination of elements found in the human body, but this would eventually change–depending on the writer, more than anything else–so that he could form any element found in nature.

Additionally, Metamorpho is essentially indestructible and immortal, and while he's been temporarily killed several times, no one has ever figured out a way to kill him off permanently. His only real weakness is exposure to The Orb of Ra, as it is fashioned from the same material that originally transformed him.

For further reading: SHOWCASE PRESENTS: METAMORPHO VOL. 1 (2005), SHOWCASE PRESENTS: BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS VOL. 1 (2007)


Tony S. Daniel
NIGHTWING AND FLAMEBIRD
Nightwing and Flamebird created by Edmond Hamilton and Curt Swan; Van-Zee created by Hamilton and Mort Weisinger; Ak-Var created by Hamilton, Swan and George Klein
Alter Egos: Van Zee and Ak-Var
Occupations: Scientists and masked crimefighters
Base of Operations: The Bottle City of Kandor
First appearance: SUPERMAN #158 (1963)

HISTORY
While Superman and his cousin Supergirl were the last surviving, full-sized people of Krypton, the entire city of Kandor also survived the planet's destruction in a pretty round-about way. The city and its population were shrunken and bottled by Brainiac, and eventually rescued by Superman. Lacking the means to restore the city to full-size, Superman kept the Bottle City of Kandor in his Fortress of Solitude while occasionally half-heartedly seraching for the means to restore it to full-size. He would occasionally visit by means of narratively convenient Silver Age science, although he would lack his super-powers when doing so.

On one such occassion, he and his pal Jimmy Olsen visited, and needed to disguise themselves as superheroes while there. Inspired by Batman and Robin, they chose the names Nightwing and Flamebird. Two Kandorian scientists would later take up those mantles, Superman's identical cousin Van-Zee and Ak-Var.

It was much, much later revealed that Flamebird and Nightwing were Kryptonian mythological figures or some such nonsense, and there would be a healthy number of legacy versions of the characters over the decades following the reality-warping Anti-Monitor/Monitor war.

When Superman's long-time ally Dick Grayson sought to escape his mentor Batman's shadow by trading in his Robin identity for a new one, he received Superman's blessing to use the name Nightwing.

POWERS & ABILITIES
None of the Nightwings and Flamebirds of Kandor have actual super-powers, at least not while in Kandor. The Kryptonian Nightwings and Flamebirds, however, would and could develop the same battery of super-powers that Superman possesses when exposed to yellow sunlight for a suffience amount of time.

Within the Bottle City, they use rocket belts to fly and other crime-fighting gadgets, similar to those employed by Batman and Robin.

For further reading: For the first appearance of the Nightwing and Flamebird identities, see SHOWCASE PRESENTS: SUPERMAN VOL. 4 (2008); for the first appearance of Van-Zee, check out  SHOWCASE PRESENTS: SUPERMAN FAMILY VOL. 3 (2009). Beyond that, you're on your own.


Perez
STARFIRE
Created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez
Alter Egos: Koriand'r (which is Tamaranean for "Coriander"), Kory Anders
Occupation: Superhero/supermodel
Known Relatives: King Myand'r (father), Queen Luand'r (mother), Ryand'r/Darkfire (brother), Komand'r/Blackfire (evil sister)
Group Affiliation: The Teen Titans
First appearance: DC COMICS PRESENTS #26 (1980)

HISTORY
Princess Koriand'r was in line for the throne of Tamaran, her home planet in The Vegan System, from which ancient astronauts travelled to Earth from to our distant ancestors on the benefits of diet devoid of animal products. Koriand'r's older sister Komand'r would have been ahead of Koriand'r in line for the throne, save for the fact that she suffered a disease that had blocked her natural Tamaranean abilitiy to harness solar energy and fly, a prequisite to effective leadership on Tamaran.

The pair trained together in the warrior arts under the Warlords of Okra Okaara, but when Komand'r attempted to kill Koriand'r, she was banished. She gained her revenge by betraying her planet to The Citadel who, with detailed information on their defenses provided by Komand'r, were easily able to conqure Tamaran. Koriand'r was banished and enslaved as part of the treaty between The Citdael and conquered Tamaran; she spent a good six years as her sister's slave, who wasn't shy about abusing her abysmally. Things just kept getting worse and worse for poor Koriand'r, who was kidnapped—along with her sister–by evil alien scientists The Psions. Koriand'r's latest captors subjected she and her sister to cruel experiments,  experiments which gave them the power to fire "starbolts" of offensive energy.

When they eventually escaped this captivity, Starfire stole a ship and fled to the nearest planet—Earth. There she met several other teenage warriors—including Robin Dick Grayson, Kid Flash Wally West, Wonder Girl Donna Troy, Former Doom Patrol-er  Garfield Logan (who changed his codename from "Beast Boy" to "Changeling") and new character Victor Stone, aka Cyborg—who were all being recuited by new hero Raven to help her combat her demonic father, Trigon the Terrible.

Starfire stayed with this iteration of the team as others came and gone, forming particular close relationship with Grasyon (who was her long-time boyfriend) and Troy.

POWERS & ABILITIES
Like all Tamaraneans, Starfire has the inherent ability to absorb solar energy though her skin (which accounts for  her usually skimpy garments) and convert it into the ability to fly. She can do this as fast as super-sonic speeds, and even in the vaccum of space. The energy also gives her limited super-strength and increased invulnrability (like the ability to survive the vaccum of space) and stamina. After the experiments of The Psions, she was able to harness and release her solar radition in the form of energy blasts.

Additionally, Starfire received years of advanced warrior training, and is thus really good and beating th living hell out of most people.

For further reading: DC ARCHIVES: THE NEW TEEN TITANS VOLS. 1-4 (1999-2008) or NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS VOLS. 1-3 (2011-2013)



*This is one of the better images I can find on the Internet, but I can't seem to find a credit for it. Do any of you know who drew the image, so I can credit them above? Thanks!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Meanwhile...

I reviewed Uncle Scrooge #1, the first issue of the first of IDW's publication of a line of Disney books, at Robot 6 yesterday. You can go read it here, if you'd like. That's Andrew Pepoy's variant cover above.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Comic Shop Comics: April 22

Batman '66 #22 (DC Comics) Mike Allred outdoes himself with the cover this month, a fine tribute to the classic cover of 1942's Batman #9, with the shadows outside the spotlight forming the menacing shape of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. No! It's not FDR; it's The Penguin! That makes much more sense.

The interior art is handled by Michael Avon Oeming, a welcome presence whose highly cartoony art makes for a quite nice result when blended with the general aesthetic of the TV show's costumes and design work. The script is by an even older comics hand, Mike W. Barr, who has turned in one of the more complex, densely dialogued issues of the series to date. While The Penguin is hardly Batman's greatest foe, he's definitely one of his more eloquent enemies, and it's a pleasure to imagine the alliterative lines and literary allusions Barr writes being spoken in the voices of Adam West and Burgess Meredith.


Convergence #3 (DC) Well, it looks like we really are stuck with some of the survivors of Earth 2: World's End as our protagonists. On the other hand, it took a while, but the plot is finally moving forward.

The Earth-2 refugees and their new ally Deimos (the archenemy of the title character from Warlord, if you've never met and/or heard of him) continue to journey to the underground city that seems to be beyond Telos' ability to attack (smart money would say Skartaris, setting of Warlord), stopping to fight Telos' borrowed Brainiac robots along the way.

Telos visits the city of Kandor to cajole the Kryptonians into fighting, as they don't seem to be attacking another city as he demanded. This whole scene is a little on the weird side. Kandor doesn't look too terrible Kandorian, no one has superpowers (what color sun is shining down on Telos? The lighting sure suggests yellow), and Nightwing and Flamebird (both of whom are male) are there, so I assume this is a Pre-Crisis Kandor.

Oddly, writer Jeff King doesn't really introduce the city or its two superheroes; Flamebird's name is mentioned, Nightwing's isn't. And then Telos just kills the whole city anyway, so who cares, I guess.

Meanwhile, Earth-2 Batman II decides to cover his pals as they make their way underground, and Earth-2 Dick Grayson remains with him. It appears that while they failed to recruit any of the dozen or so superheroes just chilling in Pre-Flashpoint Gotham City, including that city's Batman, they were followed by a big chunk of Batman's rogues gallery. I wasn't sure if all of those characters should be there in the forms they were (Like The Joker and Dr. Hurt, for example), but the tie-ins are so full of little continuity and timing glitches, it's not really worth dwelling on how Stephen Segovia and Jason Paz draw The Joker's face or whatever.

Earth-2 Batman II appears to kill himself while taking out all of them save The Joker (I think; there's a body, but his head doesn't come off or anything, and DC usually goes pretty over-the-top when it comes to depicting a death...plus, he should be pumped full of Miralco, and thus still pretty invulnerable), The Joker shoots Earth-2 Dick Grayson who is totally gonna be the new Earth-2 Batman III in June's Earth 2: Society and, in the underground city of Skartarsis (Hey, I was right!), Shakira is using construction equipment to throw Monarch and Per Degaton into a pile of time-travelers. None of whom I recognize. I think one might be Max Mercury, and another a mis-colored Waverider, but I'm just guessing now.

I have no idea who the Bat-villain dressed like a cartoon king is, nor do I know who the all-white guy is. Help?


Convergence: Swamp Thing #1 (DC) Were it not for the presence of Kelley Jones on this book, I might not have bought any Convergence tie-ins this week. This is mostly because this week is "Pre-Crisis" week, and I don't have as much affection for or experience with these iterations of the characters as I did with last week's Zero Hour-era books, and because none of the creative teams were particularly exciting.

Save for this one, of course, which pairs Bernie Wrightson-inspired artist Kelley Jones (who drew some of my favorite Swamp Thing pages after Alan Moore and Rick Veitch's runs) with Swamp Thing co-creator Len Wein. You couldn't really ask for a better team for this book. Not without somehow convincing Wrightson to draw Swamp Thing again, of course, and even then I wouldn't be that excited, as Jones is one of my favorite comics artists of all time.

So Wein takes the time period quite literally here, as his issue opens immediately before Crisis on Infinite Earths, with Abby remarking on the red skies, and Swamp Thing traveling to Gotham City to ask Batman what's up with them (Rather than traveling through The Green, he puts on a trench coat and wide-brimmed hat and takes the train, as Abby wanted to go with).

They're not there long before a dome goes up, and they're stuck, with Swamp Thing cut off from The Green and lacking his powers—sort of. I'm not sure how a Swamp Thing with no "powers" even works, as he is here the plant version that though; it was Alec Holland until he/it learned otherwise. What, exactly, animates Swamp Thing if he has no connection to The Green and no powers? Additionally, he seems to be able to use his powers to a certain degree, their effects just aren't very long (He grows a rose from his finger tip in one panel, for example, but it dies in the next panel).

And he never gets around to contacting Batman, although Batgirl Barbara Gordon appears briefly, chasing Poison Ivy. As for their opponents from a rival city, they're a bunch of vampires from the Vampire World's Gotham City—a setting co-created by Jones in the trilogy of Batman vs. vampires projects with Doug Moench.

Wein does an extremely efficient job on this book, re-telling Swamp Thing's entire origin in a three-page sequence, getting him into Gotham City, and then moving he and Abby through the year under the dome in a rather interesting fashion (Swamp Thing is basically stuck in the park, and Abby comes to visit him when she can and tell him about life outside the park). Jones predictably brings the crazy to Swamp Thing, in melodramatic poses and expressions, and incredible scenes of his body forming, de-forming and re-forming.


Uncle Scrooge #1 (IDW Publishing) I was torn between the two variant covers for this, the first issue of IDW's first book in their new Disney comics line. The "regular" cover by Giorgio Cavazzano, who inks the lead story, is more classic, in that it has Scrooge in a red coat and standing in a money bin full of silver coins. The "subscription" cover by Derek Charm had a more highly stylized and appealing style to it, but featured Scrooge in his Duck Tales coat of blue and red (and Huey, Dewey and Louie were similarly wearing their Duck Tales garb rather than their comics garb). The coins on this cover were golden, as the contents of Scrooge's money bin were on the cartoon, although I suppose the fact that there are some rocks on the cover here imply that they are outside of the money bin.

"Why not buy both?" the wily shopkeep asked. Ha! He was lucky I was spending $3.99 on a comic book at all! If I were as thrifty as Scrooge, I wouldn't have bought either, but merely read it in the store and put it back on the shelf.

At 43 pages worth of comics, it is a better value than the bulk of IDW's $3.99 comics. That may be because they're reprints—of Italian Disney comics—rather than originally produced comics, but I hope they can keep that price point and page count. If so, I may add this book to my pull-list, rather than just sampling it out of curiosity.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Comic Shop Comics: April 15

Archie Vs. Predator #1 (Dark Horse Comics) Hey look, it's Governor Jesse "The Mind" Ventura's Blaine! And Richard Chaves' Poncho, reading Sergeant Croc instead of Sergeant Rock! And is that supposed to be Bill Duke's Mac and Elpidia Carrillo's Anna, aka The Only Woman In The Movie, hanging out with them at Dutch's Beach Bar? It's hard to say for sure, since Archie Comics house style, which artists Fernando Ruiz and Rich Koslowski employ in this unlikely-but-awesome crossover, doesn't exactly lend itself to celebrity likeness.

That corner of a large two-page spread was but one of several unexpected references to the original 1987 Predator film contained in the first, 23-page issue of this four-part series. It's a little pricey, and based on the relative high-quality of the variant covers, one might be better off awaiting the trade (as it's likely to contain all the variants0, but I liked it and thought writer Alex de Campi and company all did a very good job of having Predator invade Archie Comics, rather than doing a more straightforward crossover. As mentioned last week, I wrote about it at some length for Robot 6, so if you'd like more assessment than "It was pretty good" and "I rather liked it," click here.


Convergence #2 (DC Comics) Well, this was quite thoroughly not what I thought it would be, and three issues into the 9-part series—counting the #0 issue—I'm wondering if it isn't time to bail on it already. That is, in large part, because for the last 56-pages of so, it has been more of World's End continued than something bigger, broader or more interesting. When characters from other "realities" (i.e. other books) do appear, it is only briefly; cameos more than anything else.

This issue opens with Dick Grayson from Earth-2—not the original Earth-2 that will show up in th tie-ins in a few more weeks, but the New 52 Earth-2 from the pages of Earth 2 and Earth 2: World's End—narrating and reliving the events of the climax of World's End. He gets his son onto a refugee ship leaving their doomed world, only to see it destroyed immediately. Stricken with grief over having just sent his little boy off to die, he then tries to help the other heroes fight Darkseid, and then a bunch of them end up on Telos, as seen last issue.

The solicitation for this issue included this sentence: "And the cyborgs of Futures End engage in a battle to the death against the reimagined heroes of the Just Imagine Universe, while the city of Superman Red and Blue takes on the opposing forces from GENERATIONS!" While that's technically true, it kind of oversells it. The "Just Imagine Stan Lee..." universe is referred to in an odd way by Telos: "[T]his world, born of a great creator whose time was short-lived but who moved on to serve his purpose on another planet!" Is "short-lived" really any way to refer to Stan Lee? Certainly his time at DC was short-lived, but that was the whole premise of that particular project; and what exactly was his "higher purpose on another planet!"...? Made me wonder what Lee's next writing project was immediately after re-creating iconic DC superheroes in his own, startlingly different forms with the help of some great, high-profile artists...

Anyway, the "Just Imagine Stan Lee" heroes appear in all of three panels; during which thy are apparently all slaughterd by the murder-bots of Futures End's future. They're never introduced or identified—so I hope you remember that series of 2001-2002 one-shots they are from—and they get all of three lines of dialogue total.

As for Superman Red and Blue—the original, Silver Age versions, not the later, millennial versions—taking on the opposing forces from Generations, they all get two panels and no dialogue.

The most significant amount of time not spent reviewing the events of World's End or re-fighting Telos involve Earth-2's Batman II and Grayson visiting pre-Flashpoint Gotham City (currently home to Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Oracle, Batgirl, Black Bat, Red Robin, Red Hood, two Atoms, Superman, Supergirl, Zatanna, Mera, Vixen, Jade, Zatanna, The Flash Wally West, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, The Huntress, The Question, Batwoman, Arsenal, Donna Toy and Starfire) to recruit some help. All they get, however, are a Batmobile and a kevlar suit for Grayson.

I suppose the big emotional moment in this issue is meant to come when Batman Thomas Wayne meets Batman Bruce Wayne, and Earth-2 Dick Grayson meets pre-Flashpoint Alfred but, as Tom Bondurant pointed out, some of it felt off in terms of who recognizes who, and I found it particularly weird that Oracle and Alfred were using everyone's real first names in front of Grayson, who neither of them recognized as anything other than a mysterious invader of the Batcave.

The last page, in which they meet a minor character from an intriguing setting, promises that perhaps the third issue will be better, but if one didn't like Earth 2 or Earth 2: World's End, the fact that this book is little more than another Earth 2 by another name—so far, anyway—isn't exactly endearing.

Jeff King continues to write, so I suppose we can blame him for most of the disappointing plot elements and strange choices for what to focus on; Carlo Pagulayan and Jason Paz continue to draw, and they do a pretty great job of it. While this may feel an awful lot like Earth 2 continued, it looks better than any Earth 2 comics have in a while.


Convergence: Aquaman #1 (DC) The time period from which the participating characters in this this week's round of Convergence titles come from is "Pre-Zero Hour," which means 1994, as we measure time outside of DC Comics. In the case of this particular book, it is right before Zero Hour that that the title character was plucked, as he lost his hand in Aquaman #2, got his harpoon in #0 (published in conjunction with Zero Hour), and lost his orange shirt in #4, which he's still wearing here. Aquaman had little more than a cameo in Zero Hour; he showed up at the big gathering of heroes, still bleeding from the stump where his arm used to be.

For the purposes of this story, written by Tony Bedard and drawn/sampled by Cliff Richards, Aquaman swam to Metropolis immediately after losing his hand (apparently leaving Dolphin and Aqualad behind somewhere) for some reason, and then immediately got caught up in the dome when Brainiac stole the city.

Bedard does a heck of a lot of telling rather than showing in this, using the old, tired info dump-via-newscaster technique, but it allows him to get through a lot of stuff pretty quickly, while also giving a reader of this book a good idea of some of the other heroes stuck in this Metropolis—Steel, Green Arrow, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Superboy, Martian Manhunter, Blue Beetle, Fire, Superboy and an extremely mis-colored Ice. I liked the part of the story where half-crazy, just-lost-his-limb Aquaman, completely cut-off from the ocean, storms into an aquarium and claims it as his own. That might have had the makings of a good story in and of itself, but, as is, it's just a flashback as
Bedard rushes through Aquaman's story to get to the fight against Deathblow, of all people. Here Aquaman is talked out of the aquarium by Dane Dorrance of the Sea Devils, and he follows Dorrance back to STAR Labs, where they hook Aquaman up with the same cybernetic harpoon he got in his own title and salt water showers.

The continuity is a little messed up, as Bedard intimates that Aquaman is pining for Mera, who the dome separated him from—in actuality, they had been apart for a while at the time Aquaman would have gotten domed, and she wouldn't reappear in Aquaman until #12...I don't think they actually got back together until Peter David stopped writing the Aquaman book.

Worse, there was some continuity wonkiness between the various tie-in books published this week. In Man of Steel, John Henry Irons narrates that "any hero or villain with biologically based super-powers lost those abilitis." Here Aquaman keeps his "biologically based" ability to breathe underwater, but loses his telepathy...which was either a genetic mutation (biological t hen, right?) or a magical-based power inherited from his sorcerer father. A lot of Aquaman's powers and origins were in flux at this moment in his history, really; Bedard seems to be working with the retconned version of the character, which de-retconned David's retcons to return him to his Silver Age origins. It's really quite distracting, having to second-guess so much of what you're reading (At least one other tie-in I read this week was worse still, as you'll see below).

An awful lot of time is spent introducing Aquaman's WildStorm universe opponent, although the five pages featuring Deathblow simply show him killing everyone in a Department of Extranormal Operations field office in order to look at their files on Aquaman.

I've really enjoyed artist Richards' work in the past, but this book is really nothing to write home about, as he uses a hyper-realistic approach, one in which almost every background or surface is a photo or photo effect. It's a really sickly, hard-to-look-at book. I kind of love cover artists Becky Cloonan's off-model '90s Aquaman though, and wonder what the book might have looked like had she got to draw all 22 of its interior pages instead of just the cover.


Convergence: Green Arrow #1 (DC) One of the aspects of this crossover that I've found kind of hard to wrap my head around is that fact that Brainiac was apparently capturing "cities" from various doomed timelines—which is all well good, as he's always been into city-napping rather than planet-napping—but Convergence is pulling its cities from four distinct timelines, which has meant that the characters used are, temporally, a very wide pool but, geographically, a very shallow one. You could snag a Metropolis, Gotham or New York from pretty much any of those four time-lines and get a sizable number of heroes, but not without limiting you character pool rather significantly. The solution to this has been rather inelegant, to say the least, as it means a bunch of heroes have to gather in cities they don't really have any reason to gather in, just in order to be domed-up. Last week, some of the books made half-assed explanations for what The Flash, Superman, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and a random assortment of female Justice Leaguers were doing in Gotham City, but there are just so many heroes, it stretches credibility–in a
DC superhero comic book
, where credibility is hardly very often a concern.

In the first issue of the Green Arrow mini-series, both California-based Connor Hawke and Seattle-based Oliver Queen (I think he would still have been in Seatlle pre-Zero Hour) find themselves trapped in Metropolis. Writer Christy Marx—who does a fine job here, even if Chuck Dixon seems a better choice for a '90s-era Green Arrow nostalgia project—at least attempts to explain their presence in Metropolis. Connor was there to check out a huge building someone gifted to his ashram, while Oliver was there "looking for someone."

The majority of the issue is character-focused, showing what the two characters were up to individually over the past year, and then staging a rather intense meeting between the two, as Connor knows Oliver is his father, but Oliver doesn't realize Connor is the son he left behind as an infant.

Thankfully, the Telos speech doesn't start until page 19, and they don't meet their opponents until the very last panel on page 22: Kingdom Come's Dinah Queen and her daughter by Oliver Queen, Olivia Queen, Black Canary II.

Penciled by Rags Morales and inked by Claude St. Aubin, this was by far the best-looking of this week's tie-in minis, and maybe one of the better overall so far. Morales is excellent at drawing people, both their figures and their faces, and thus was pretty perfect for this more dramatic than usual Convergence book, as there was an awful lot of content that had little to do with the goofy premise of the event.

In other words, the emphasis here was definitely more on the Green Arrow than on the Convergence. I wonder how or if Marx can keep that up in the second half of the series. The fact that the opponents are so closely related, and that Olivia stands in sharp contrast to Connor as a child that Oliver Queen—well, a Oliver Queen—stayed with, raised and trained at least shows potential. In far too many of these tie-ins, the opponents seem chosen completely at random.


Convergence Superman: Man of Steel #1 (DC) Writer Louise Simonson returns to her creation Steel, sans co-creator Jon Bogdanove. That seems strange, as Bogdanove and DC are obviously still cool with one another–he's drawing the next issue of Batman '66. But it's not like DC didn't find a good artist for this series. June Brigman, who co-created Marvel's Power Pack with Simonson, handles the pencils. She's inked by Roy Richardson and colored by John Rauch, and the resultant at looks a little rough compared to Brigman's usually quite clean linework; I blame all of the coloring effects, which tend to blur or otherwise muddy the lines.

The cover, by Walter Simonson, is pretty great though, and captures the look and spirit of Bogdanove's art from the era quite well.

Steel was visiting Metropolis with his niece Natasha and nephew Jemahl when the dome went up, and now Steel is filling in for Superman—the fact that his powers come from his suit rather than his body mean he's in the same fighting shape as always, while most of the heroes stuck in Metropolis are de-powered. Meanwhile he an his family work with Professor Hamilton to solve the dome problem.

It becomes a moot point when Telos drops the dome and Gen 13 is teleported in to fight. As with Aquaman and Deathblow, this particular match-up seems to have been chosen completely at random. The Gen 13 kids seem awfully ready to murder Steel instantly, too; it's been weird how ready to fight so many of the "heroes" participating in these fights have been (The most logical match-ups have been the ones that include villains or evil versions of heroes, like those from the Flashpoint timeline or The Extremists, as there's no leap in logic required to imagine them being willing participants in fights to the death).

This particular fight gets more complicated when The Parasite, whose powers got turned on when the dome fell, and Natasha and Jemahl, each wearing their own home-made suits of armor, join the fray, and Steel gets pretty much killed, ending the issue on his deathbed.

Despite the weirdness that's pretty much inherent in the premise of Convergence, this issue actually accomplished at least one major aspect of the event—it adeptly revisited a particular character and setting.


Convergence: Superboy #1 (DC) Wow, this book was just a mess of continuity errors. With Superboy and this version of Metropolis supposedly having been scooped up from some point before Zero Hour (which took place at the time of Superboy #8), there are a lot of things in this book that shouldn't be.

Superboy's powers in this comic include X-Ray vision and arctic breath, two of Superman's powers that Superboy has never had (in fact, in Superboy #0, the first issue of the series after the events of Zero Hour, he got a special pair of glasses that gave him Superman-like vision powers, including X-Ray vision and heat vision). He's referred to as "Kon-El," the Kryptonian name that Superman would eventually give him...but not until about five years (our time) later. And Superman is not even in this domed city, so it's not like he could have given Superboy the name at some earlier point during this differentiated timeline. Also, Dubbilex and Dr. Serling Roquette (the latter of whom Superboy would have yet to have met, although it's possible he met her earlier here) try to fix Superboy's powers by bombarding him by solar energy; that's how Superman's powers work, not Superboy's. It wasn't until a 2003 retcon that Geoff Johns made Superboy an actual genetic clone of Superman; at this point he was an attempt to replicate Superman, and his powers were derived from his tactile telekinesis.

At one point, Superboy falls prey to kryptonite gas; Superboy would have been vulnerable to kryptonite at this point, but he wouldn't have known it. It wasn't until Robin first decked him with Batman's kryptonite ring that Superboy learned he was vulnerable to it.

But other than those five or seven continuity errors in a 22-page comic book specifically designed to fondly recall a particular comic from a particular time period, then, you know, this wasn't that bad. That all might sound like nitpicking to many of you, but I think it well worth pointing out that in the particular case of Convergence, revisiting very particular versions of the characters is th entire premise of the series. Readers can, as always, try to no-prize the comic out of the mistakes its creators may have made, but if there was ever a project where DC shouldn't want their readers to have to do so, this would be it.

Writer Fabian Nicieza seems to be the one to blame, but he can share that blame with his editor and a pair of assistant editors. In the more broadstrokes, Nicieza does okay with the comic. Dubbilex and Serling are trying to restore Superboy's powers to him in a Metropolis lab, as Superboy lost them during the dome-ing. More than ever he feels the pressure to be able to stand in for Superman, who is not in this Metropolis, but he's never been less prepared to do so.

And then Telos drops the dome, restores everyone's powers and gives his speech. Superboy soon finds a trio of opponents. He dispatches the first two ridiculously easily—Red Robin Dick Grayson and The Flash Wally West from Kingdom Come—and then meets the third on the cliff-hanging splash: Kingdom Come's Superman.

Karl Moline provides the pencil art and Jose Marzan Jr. provides the inks. Their art is just fine, but neither seems particularly right for a story starring the early '90s version of Superboy (the artist most associated with the character from that point, Tom Grummett, drew last week's Convergence: Speed Force), nor for a story involving Alex Ross' Kingdom Come characters.

No complaints about Babs Tarr's excellent cover, though, which borrows a pose from Grummett while capturing the spirit of the artist and the subject matter. It would have been great fun to see the woman currently defining the 21st century Batgirl tackle an iconic teenage DC hero from a previous decade.


Lumberjanes #13 (Boom Studios) You know who they are, now find out how they came to be! This is a kinda sorta origin story for Roanoke Cabin, set on first day of camp, as we meet the various 'janes each getting dropped off by their families...and thus we meet their families as well (Well, with the exception of two of them, as one arrives in a cab and the other is already there). Slightly more interesting is the story of how Ripley got her hair 'do, and more interesting than all of that is the story of how molly got her hat. Original Lumberjanes artist Brooke Allen returns after a too-many issue absence to draw this one.


Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #9 (DC) Two stories this issue, from some very interesting creators, although neither story is all that great (One problem Sensation is going to face going forward, I fear, is that James Tynion and Noelle Stevenson's story from last issue was so good that it's going to end up being the one every Sensation shot gets compared to; there's really only solution: Give Tynion and Stevenson their own Wonder Girl comic, featuring the adventures of Wonder Woman when she was a girl).

The first story is written by Lauren Beukes and features great art by Mike Maihack (whose work I last saw in Scholastic graphic novel Cleopatra In Space). Entitled "The Problem With Cats," it's a little on the trite side. It begins with a cool Wonder Woman adventure, in which she must try to save Batman and Superman from her villains Cheetah, Circe and Medusa, but we soon find out that adventure is taking place in the imagination of a little girl. She has a fight with her sister, imagines another adventure, and they make up and play Wonder Woman together. It's cute, Maihick's designs and art are great (and it's cool how he varies his art when depicting the imaginary scenes versus the "real" scenes in the story) and it's an all-around quite decent all-ages story. It's just that this is one more story about Wonder Woman in the sense of Wonder Woman as a symbol or idea, rather than a story about Wonder Woman in the sense of a fictional character who has adventures.

There are shockingly few really excellent stories of the latter kind, so it can be a frustrating to see such obviously talented folks take the slightly easier tack. At least for me as a fan; as a critic, I can't say there's anything wrong with the story per se, aside from maybe being a little on the over-obvious side.

The second story is by prose writer Cecil Castellucci (probably best known to comics readers for writing The Plain Janes from DC's short-lived Minx imprint for YA OGNs) and artists Chris Sprouse and Karl Story. Entitled "Girls' Day Out," it's a story in which Lois Lane interviews Wonder Woman which...well, it's been done before, at greater length and with more depth, by Phil Jimenez during his too-short run on the Wonder Woman title (the gag with the lasso of truth has been done before as well, maybe two times too often). Which isn't to say it doesn't have its moments—I loved the part where Lois Lane attacked the robot threat, saying she's getting the story which isn't really how journalism works outside of the Silver Age Daily Planet.

So it's not the best issue of the series, but it's far from the worse one either. It's got two good stories, even if it doesn't have any great ones. I'm pretty sure—without double-checking—that it has the best cover so far. It features Wonder Woman capturing her enemies from the first story, and is the work of Ben Caldwell, the cartoonist responsible for the winning Wonder Woman strip in Wednesday Comics.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Who's Who in the DC Convergence #2

Brian Stelfreeze
AQUAMAN
Created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger
Alter Egos: Orin, Arthur Curry
Occupation: King of Atlantis
Marital Status: Estranged from his wife, Mera
Known Relatives: Atlanta (mother, deceased), Atlan (father, immortal wizard), Orm/Ocean Master (half-brother), Arthur Junior (son, deceased), Koryak (son)
Group Affiliation: JLA
First appearance: MORE FUN COMICS #73 (1941)

HISTORY
Prince Orin was born to the Queen Atlanta and sired by the ancient Atlantean sorcerer Atlan. Because he was born with yellow hair, however, Atlantis' superstitious priestly class thought he bore the mark of the curse of Kordax, a green-skinned, yellow-haired ancient Atlantean with the power to control sea life.

Orin was left to perish at Mercy Reef, where low-tide would expose him to the air and kill him. He was rescued and adopted by a pod of dolphins, lead by his adoptive mother Porm, who raised the little Atlantean as if he were a young dolphin.

He was later adopted by a lonely lighthouse keeper named Arthur Curry, who gave the mysterious young boy from the sea his own name, and raised him until his death. After Arthur Curry Sr.'s disappearance, Orin/Arthur wandered the world by land and sea for years, eventually discovering his Atlantean birthright.

Estranged from his people, who, after the death of his mother were being ruled by a cruel dictator, Arthur spent a great deal of time among the surface world, where he befriended an emerging second-generation of superheroes that included Martian Manhunter, The Flash Barry Allen, Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Black Canary Dinah Lance. Together with Batman and Superman, the seven heroes formed The Justice League of America, named after their forebears in the Justice Society of America.

Arthur would eventually be made king of Atlantis, take on sidekicks Aqualad and Aquagirl and marry Mera, with whom he had a child, Arthur Jr. Their marriage ended badly, however, when their child was killed by Aquaman's arch-enemy Black Manta, and Mera went insane, blaming Aquaman for the boy's death.

A particularly moody superhero who was constantly being pulled in different directions, Aquaman would often withdraw from one or all of the worlds to which he belonged. During one such epic brooding session in the Aquacave, he grew his hair long and grew a beard. He was eventually drawn out by Aqualad, and in one of his greatest defeats since the death of his son, Aquaman was disfigured by the sea-going villain Charybdis.

Charybdis temporarily stole Aquaman's telepathic powers to communicate and control aquatic life, and forced is left arm into a pool of piranhas, who quickly skeletonize it from half of the forearm down. After recovering, the hero replaced his hand with first a harpoon, and then a golden-colored cybernetically-controlled hook with a retractable cord he could launch from its base and turn into a drill. To his dismay, he was becoming ever more like Kordax, who had his left hand chopped off as punishment, and who also had it replaced with a weapon.

During this time, Aquaman's incredibly contentious relationship with the Justice League—which included repelling a Wonder Woman-lead team that tried to enter his city of Poseidonis without prermission—gradually began to repair itself. When the entire world—oceans included—were under threat from an invasion by powerful alien beings calling themselves The Hyperclan, Aquaman somewhat reluctantly joined Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Batman, Superman and Barry Allen and Hal Jordan's successors in forming a new, more powerful league to protect the Earth.

Under water, Aquaman continued to adventure with Aqualad, who had taken the new name of Tempest, and Dolphin, a white-haired young woman who was also a victim of Charybdis, and who helped save Aquaman and Aqualad from the villain.

POWERS & ABILITIES
Like all Atlanteans, who have evolved to be able to not only withstand but thrive at the deepest depths of the oceans, where the water pressure is powerful enough to crush human beings, Aquaman has a pronounced level of super-strength, super-speed, super-endurance and a level of invulnerability on land, when the pressure is removed.

Aquaman's most notable power, however, is his telepathy, with which he can use to communicate with and occasionally even command others to do his bidding. It works especially well on sea-life, but he can also communicate and attack other forms of life with relatively low-level psychic attacks. Doing so comes with a cost, however, as dominating others psychically has, on at least one occasion, transformed him his skin into fish-like scales, pushing him ever closer in appearance to Kordax.

Aquaman's preferred weapon is his right fist and the multi-function hook on his left hand. He occasionally carries tridents into battle, the most powerful of which is the Trident of Poseidon, the, like, actual Greek god Poseidon.

For further reading: ATLANTIS CHRONICLES #1-7 (1990), AQUAMAN: TIME AND TIDE (1996), AQUAMAN #1-47 (1994-1998), JLA #1-#58 (1997-2001)


Stelfreeze
BATMAN II
Created by Denny O’Neil and Joe Quesada (yes, that Joe Quesada), based on the character “created” “by” Bob Kane
Alter Egos: Jean-Paul Valley, Azrael
Group Affiliations: The Order of St. Dumas
Catch-phrase: “Yes, like the cat from The Smurfs. I have never heard that before. You are definitely the first person to ever mention that to me.”
First appearance: As Jean-Paul Valley, BATMAN: SWORD OF AZRAEL #1 (1992); as Batman, BATMAN #489 (1993)

HISTORY
Jean-Paul Valley was a Gotham City college student before he learned, upon his father’s death, that he was actually engineered and secretly trained since birth by The Order of St. Dumas’ advanced brain-washing and programming system, called, um, The System. He inherited his father’s title and role in the organization, but didn't want it.

Batman Bruce Wayne took him in, giving him a job as a security guard at Wayne Tech, while he and Robin Tim Drake trained Valley to fight Gotham City crime.

After Batman’s back was broken during a brutal fight with master criminal Bane, Wayne passed the mantle of the Batman and the keys to the Batcave to Valley, while Wayne and Alfred left the country to search for his kidnapped love interest Dr. Shondra Kinsolving (who, fortuitously, also possessed metahuman spinal damage-healing powers).

Valley proved psychologically unsuited to the task of being Batman, however, gradually altering the Batman costume until it was an unrecognizable suit of armor with clawed gauntlets that machine-gunned out little bat-shaped shuriken. He cut off all contact and cooperation with Robin, Commissioner Gordon and the Gotham Police Department, and gradually grew more and more extreme and violent, refusing to save a villain falling to his death (as Batman himself wold have done), which lead to the death of that villain’s hostage.

After Bruce Wayne was healed by Kinsolving's power, he trained under Lady Shiva to recover his edge and, with the help of allies Robin, Nightwing and even Catwoman, Wayne forcibly reclaimed his mantle from Valley. The former, fallen Batman eventually retook his Azrael identity, and after a period of estrangement from the Bat-family, he eventually rejoined them (and starred in his own monthly series).

He apparently died at the conclusion of his series Azrael: Agent of the Bat, a fact confirmed by his appearance as a Black Lantern in Blackest Night.

POWERS & ABILITIES
Valley’s bizarre upbringing gave him peak human physical condition, and made him an expert gymnast, athlete and hand-to-hand combatant. As Azrael, he originally fought with retractable flaming blades in his costume’s gauntlets.

As Batman, his armor was packed with offensive gadgetry (see above).

For further reading: BATMAN: SWORD OF AZRAEL, BATMAN: KNIGHTFALL VOLS. 1-3


Rodolfo Damaggio
CONNOR HAWKE
Created by Kelley Puckett and Jim Aparo
Alter Ego: Green Arrow
Marital Status: Single…ladies. And gentlemen.
Known Relatives: Oliver Queen (father), Sandra "Moonday" Hawke (mother)
Group Affiliations: JLA (but only for, like, seven issues)
Best Bros: Eddie Fyers, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Robin Tim Drake
Dietary restrictions: Vegetarian
First Appearance: GREEN ARROW #0 (1994)

HISTORY
Connor Hawke befriended Green Arrow Oliver Queen during the latter’s stay at a California ashram. Queen had retreated there in order to seek some sort of inner peace after thinking he had killed his former best friend Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who, at the time, had gone off the deep end and was calling himself "Parallax" and was in the process of destroying all of time and space in order to rebuild it himself (It would later be revealed/retconned that Jordan was actually possessed by an ancient fear entity called Parallax; see Parallax for more).

While Hawke and Queen were traveling together with former federal agent Eddie Fyers, the pair learned that Oliver was actually Connor’s father, conceived many years earlier during a tryst with Sandra "Moonday" Hawke. Shortly afterwards, Queen gave his life while saving Metropolis from an eco-terrorist group, and Connor took up the mantle of Green Arrow until Oliver’s eventual/inevitable resurrection, after which point they both went by the name Green Arrow, fighting crime together and separately until the events of Flashpoint lead to the restructuring of the DC Universe and its timeline, apparently wiping Connor out of existence (Although a Connor Hawke would later surface on Earth-2).

POWERS & ABILITIES
Connor Hawke is a superb archer, although not nearly as talented with a bow and arrow as his father was. He nevertheless continued to carry the weapon into battle after taking up the mantle of Green Arrow in order to honor his late father.

Hawke is a better hand-to-hand combatant than he is an archer, however, and is, in fact, one of the best martial artists in the DC Universe, and has only rarely been defeated (in one notable instance, by Lady Shiva, widely believed to be the world’s greatest martial artist and assassin).

Hawke is also one of the handsomest young men in the DC Universe, which, when combined with his relative innocence and naivete, has made him pretty much irresistible to women, which he doesn't really know what to do with.

For further reading: Connor’s tenure as GA lasted from GREEN ARROW #91-#137 (1994-1998), pretty much none of which is available in trade. GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD ALLIES (2000) collects Connor's first meeting with Green Lantern Kyle Rayner. The so-so miniseries CONNOR HAWKE: DRAGON’S BLOOD (2008) did get collected, but is hardly the best Hawke story around. One of the best Connor Hawke stories was that in JLA #8-9 (1997), collected in a couple different JLA trades over the years. ADVENTURES IN THE DC UNIVERSE #16 (1997) is well-worth seeking out.


Jim Lee
DEATHBLOW
Created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi
Alter Ego: Michael Cray
Occupation: U.S. and International special forces operative
Known Relatives: Admiral Phillip James Cray (father), Elizabeth Cray (mother), Alexander Cray (brother), Rachel Goldman/Sublime (daughter)
Group Affiliations: U.S. Navy, SEALs, International Operations, Team 7, StormWatch
Signature look: Eye-make up, bandanna
First appearance: DARKER IMAGE #1 (1992)

HISTORY
Driven to join the armed forces to avenge the death of his parents at the hands of terrorists, Michael Cray was eventually recruited into the International Operations, formerly part of the Central Intelligence Agency, where he was assigned to their elite Team 7. Like the rest of his team, he was maneuvered into being exposed to the "Gen Factor," which would have made them "Gen Active," which is WildStorm jargon for "super-powered." Many of them died, some survived with powers, while others—like Cray—did neither.

He continued to work with IO for sometime, before going solo and attempting to atone for all of his misdeeds. He had many adventures, a few inter-company crossovers and eventually gained low-level superpowers, including a healing factor and the ability to subconsciously manifest force-fields for self-defense, a delayed result of his exposure to the Gen Factor.

Then he died and there were some reboots, but obviously the Deathblow in Convergence was plucked from a time before his death.

POWERS & ABILITIES
With or without his superpowers, Deathblow is super-good at killing people.

For further reading: DEATHBLOW (2015), DEATHBLOW VOL. 1 (2008), BATMAN/DEATHBLOW: AFTER THE FIRE (2014)


Nicola Scott
EARTH-2 FLASH
Created by James Robinson and Nicola Scott, based on the character created by Harry Lampert and Gardner Fox
Alter Ego: Jason "Jay" Garrick
Occupation: Unemployed college graduate
Marital Status: Totally dumped by his girlfriend Joan Williams
Known Relatives: Mother
Group Affiliation: World Army
First appearance: EARTH 2 #1 (2012)

HISTORY
Five years of the his world's "Wonders" Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Robin and Supergirl either died or disappeared while repelling an invasion from Apokolips, recent college Jay Garrick had a strange encounter that would transform him into the first of a new wave of Wonders.

The dying god Mercury, who, told Garrick that he and many other gods had been fighting Apokolips unseen and that he had been captured by an even darker force with designs on their world, offered Garrick a dire warning about the future. He then gifted Garrick with the last of his power, giving Garrick super-speed.

He had to put his new power to the test almost immediately, as he and Hawkgirl, a former agent of the World Army who had gone rogue, joined the new hero Green Lantern in saving Washington DC from Solomon Grundy, the powerful avatar of The Grey.

The Flash, like his new allies, was briefly hunted by the World Army, and he had a particularly close call at his mother's house. After coming to the aid of Khalid Ben-Hassin, who would become Dr. Fate, against Wotan, it seemed as if The Flash had gained enough new allies to form some sort of team of heroes who could fight for justice together...but that was all rather quickly derailed when Apokolips attacked Earth yet again. Flash, like his super-powered allies, was quickly swept up in a losing-battle to save their world.

Millions of people escaped Earth on space-faring refugee ships, including Garrick's mom, while he, Green Lantern, Superman II, Batman II, former avatar Yolanda Montez and young civilian war correspondent Dick Grayson were transported to the mysterious sentient planet Telos.

POWERS & ABILITIES
The Flash can run fast. Really, really fast.

For further reading: EARTH 2 VOLS. 1-5, EARTH 2: WORLD'S END


Scott
EARTH-2 GREEN LANTERN
Created by James Robinson and Nicola Scott, based on the character created Martin Nodell
Alter Ego: Alan Scott
Occupation: Founder and CEO of media empire GBC productions, Avatar of The Green
Marital Status: Kind of a sore subject
Group Affiliation: World Army
First appearance: EARTH 2 #1 (2012)

HISTORY
A powerful media mogul and one of his world's richest men, Scott seemingly had everything going for him, or as much as anyone from his world—which suffered horrifically during an invasion from Apokolips that claimed the lives of his world's few heroes ago—could.

While taking a much-needed vacation with his long-time boyfriend Sam Zhao in China, Scott was about to propose when the train they were on had a terrible accident, killing Sam and the other passengers. Scott was miraculously saved by the intercession of a mysterious green flame that chose Scott to be its champion. It healed him, gave him a new costume and asked him to choose a token through which he cold channel his new powers. He chose the ring he had planned on placing on Sam's finger.

Scott discovered that the flame speaking to him was the voice of The Green, a mysterious force that connected all organic life on his Earth. Scott could now create force-fields and force-blasts of green energy, could fly and do almost anything...his only limitation being his own will-power, and his nearness to the Earth itself (when he almost leaves the planet's atmosphere at one point, his powers extinguish).

Scott's first duty as Earth's Green Lantern was to defeat the Solomon Grundy, the avatar of the The Gray.

Scott did so with help from The Flash and Hawkgirl, although when they proposed an alliance, he rebuffed them, angry and embittered by the loss of Sam. Hawkgirl attempts to convince him otherwise, even helping Scott investigate what exactly caused the train wreck that claimed Sam's life.

When Apokolips launched a new assault on Earth, Scott, as the world's most powerful hero, lead the resistance, taking on Superman clone Brutaal and joining forces with The World Army and its own handful of heroes.

Together with a motley crew of heroes, Scott sought to defend Earth from yet another Apokolyptian invasion, rallying Earth's other avatars and even facing Darkseid himself in one-on-one combat. But the champions of Earth were overmatched and eventually overwhelemed. Millions of refugees attempted to flee the dying world before it was completely consumed by Apokolips. Scott, Flash, Superman II, Batman II, former avatar Yolanda Montez and young civilian war correspondent Dick Grayson were transported to the mysterious sentient planet Telos.

POWERS & ABILITIES
Through the powers imbued in him by The Green, Scott is able to manipulate magical green energy in a way that gives him super-human strength and invulnerability, as well as to fly, create force-fields and other energy constructs, and to project offensive blasts of green energy.

He also has some power of plant-life, which he can cause to grow supernaturally fast, and can communicate with The Green and the other aspects of the Earth, like The Grey.

For further reading: EARTH 2 VOLS. 1-5, EARTH 2: WORLD'S END


Adam Warren
GEN 13
Created by Jim Lee, J. Scott Campbell and Brandon Choi
Base of Operations: La Jolla, California, WildStorm Universe
Line-up: Caitlin Fairchild, Sarah Rainmaker, Roxanne "Roxy" Spaulding/Freefall, Percival Edmund Chang/Gunge, Bobby Lane/Burnout and John Lynch

First appearance: WILDCATS TRILOGY #1 (1993)

The blandly-named International Operations, a one-time branch of the Central Intelligence Agency that eventually became its own, distinct entity, initiated an internship program for young people—which was in actuality an excuse to perform tests on the "Gen-Active" (i.e. super-powered) children of the members of IO's strikeforce, Team 7.

One of the programs enrollees, Caitlin Fairchild, escaped with several others, but later returned to free the others—and ended up getting caught themselves. Eventually freed with the help of John Lynch, one of the members of Team 7, the teens hooked up with Sarah Rainmaker and, under the leadership of Lynch, they formed the superhero team Gen 13.

Fairchild is the smartest member of the team, and their natural leader. She gained super-strength, super-speed and a degree of invulnerability when her powers were activated--along with a tall, buxom new figure. Despite her smarts, here clothes were regularly damaged are accidentally removed, and she would sometimes be unaware of such changes in circumstances.

Roxanne "Roxy" Spaulding, aka Freefall, is Fairchild's younger half-sister, and has the power to manipulate gravity, allowing herself to float or fly by lessening it, or increasing it in or around others to knock them down or pin them.

Edmund Percival Chang took the name "Grunge," which will certainly never make the character the least bit dated, and had the power to mimic the molecular make-up of any material he touches, not unlike DC's Amazing Man or Marvel's Absorbing Man.

Bobby Lane, aka Burnout, is basically just Johnny Storm from The Fantastic Four, while Sarah Rainmaker is basically just Storm from the X-Men.

Together with Lynch and/or their robot maid Anna, the team had many adventures, most of them extremely derivative of those of the X-Men on whom they were so clearly based. Despite their humbling beginnings, cartoonist Adam Warren turned out some of the very best superhero comics of the late '90s and early '00s using these characters.

For further reading: If you're looking in the back-issue bins, you're better off with GEN 13 BOOTLEG (1996-1998) than any of the earlier, non-Adam Warren GEN 13 stuff. After GEN 13 BOOTlEg: GRUNGE: THE MOVIE (1997) and GEN 13: MAGICAL DRAMA QUEEN ROXY (1998), Warren had the reigns for the GEN 13 ongoing from #60-77 (2001-2002). The team crossed over with Superman, The Fantastic Four, Generation X, The Maxx and Monkey Man and O'Brien...all worth a look for novelty's sake at least.


Ron Wagner
PARALLAX
Hal Jordan created by John Broome and Gil Kane; Parallax created by Ron Marz and Daryl Cunninham
Alter Ego: Hal Jordan
Hobby: Playing God
Group Affiliation: The Green Lantern Corps...at least up until he killed them all
First appearance: GREEN LANTERN #50 (1994)

HISTORY
At the dawn of the modern age of superheroes, Hal Jordan became the first Earthling to ever be inducted into the Green Lantern Corps, the universe-wide peace-keeping force created by the Guardians of The Universe who were gifted with green power rings capable of creating and manipulating green energy and matter.

Jordan was a successful Green Lantern for years, becoming one of the best in the organization's history—despite a rebellious streak that often caused him to butt heads with the Guardians—and was one of the world's premiere heroes, co-founding the Justice League and serving with the team for may years.

When Mongul and the Cyborg-Superman destroyed his hometown of Coast City, California, Jordan went a little insane, fighting and killing most of Corps, all but one of the Guardians and his archenemy, the fallen Green Lantern Sinestro, who had long fought against Jordan and the Green Lanterns with a Qwardian-created yellow power ring.

With each Lantern Jordan defeated, he took their rings and absorbed their power, eventually draining the power from the organization's central power battery on Oa, the source of the entire Corps' power. Shortly after this, Jordan was confronted by former GLs Guy Gardner and Arisa, Sentinel (Original Green Lantern Alan Scott), Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Captain Atom and Darkstar Colos, but Jordan defeated them quickly and thoroughly.

While his actions seemed to be a complete 180, they eventually made a sort of sense. Working with the temporally-powered villain Extant (formerly Monarch, and formerly Hank "Hawk" Hall before that), at least until he was able to absorb his underling's power over the time-stream, Jordan—now calling himself "Parallax"—sought to de-create the universe, eating away the time stream at both the beginning and end of time until it no longer existed. He would then use his practically omnipotent powers to re-create the universe, this time making it so that Coast City was never destroyed and its many inhabitants never annihilated.

A large contingent of superheroes, including Superman, The Ray, a time-lost Batgirl Barbara Gordon, Guy Gardner, Jordan's successor Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, battled Parallax outside of time and space, ultimately defeating him when Green Arrow Oliver Queen—Jordan's best friend—fired an arrow into his chest. Superman and the others then re-started the universe themselves by creating a new "Big Bang" via the young hero Damage. The DC Universe and it's de-created timeline were thus re-created, but without Jordan to guide it. This new timeline was fairly identical to the old one, with only a few significant changes that were unknown to those within the DC Universe (We sure noticed on Earth-33, however).

Parallax would appear only a few more times after the events of Zero Hour, generally causing trouble with his incredible powers even when trying to do good (as when he attempted to resurrect the dead Oliver Queen and only succeeding in creating an exact but soulless clone of his body), and he would ultimately give his life to destroy an extra-dimensional "suneater" entity that was snuffing out the sun.

Writer Geoff Johns would later retcon the hell out of the character in Green Lantern: Rebirth; it was a pretty elegant solution to a perceived problem that made the plot of Jordan's arc much more complicated, while making the drama and ethical issues of that arc more simplistic. None of that much matters as far as is Convergence is concerned, however, as it features a pre-Final Night version of Parallax.

POWERS & ABILITIES
Parallax could do pretty much anything. By the time he had defeated the GLC and Guardians, Jordan had essentially become a living power battery, capable of absorbing and manipulating energies of any kind, including the fundamental powers of existence, like time itself. Jordan was physically powerful enough to knock Superman on his ass with his bare hands, and to destroy and remake the universe. Even when his powers were fairly depleted, he retained powers similar but greater than those of a Guardian.

For further reading: GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD TWILIGHT, GUY GARDNER: WARRIOR #18-21 (1994), ZERO HOUR, GREEN LANTERN #0 (1994), FINAL NIGHT (1998), PARALLAX: EMERALD NIGHT (1996)...and DAY OF JUDGEMENT and GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH if you want to know what happened to Jordan after he stopped calling himself "Parallax."


Jon Bogdanove
STEEL
Created by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove
Alter Ego: Dr. John Henry Irons
Occupation: Construction worker/crimefighter
Known relatives: Butter (grandfather), Bess (grandmother), Clay/Crash (brother), Blondell (sister-in-law), Jemahl, Paco and Tyke (nephews), Natasha and Darlene (nieces)
No relation to: Henry Heywood
Base of Operations: Metropolis
First Appearance: ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #500 (1993)

HISTORY
Dr. John Henry Irons, named for the African-American folk hero who challenged a machine in a steel-driving contest that he won at the cost of his own life, was a brilliant inventor and engineer working for AmerTek Industries. Irons was chiefly responsible for the creation of a hand-held energy cannon, which, upon falling into the wrong hands, had the potential to become the automatic handgun of laser guns. Disgusted, Irons faked his own death and started a new life as a construction worker in Metropolis.

One day he saved a fellow worker from falling from a high-rise girder, only to fall himself. He was saved by Superman, who, when asked by Irons what he could ever do to repay Superman, was told simply to "live a life worth saving."

Irons had ample opportunity to do so when Superman "died" in his battle to stop Doomsday (a battle which buried Irons in an avalanche of rubble). Irons used his engineering skills to create a high-tech suit of armor, complete with a big Superman-style S-shield and a red cape, and stepped up to try and replace the dead Superman. The Man of Steel, as Irons appropriately called himself, was only one of four to attempet filling the late Superman's red boots--a teenage clone, a brutal vigilante wearing a visor and a cyborg all converged in Metropolis claiming to be the real Superman--but he was the only one to attempt it without the benefit of superpowers.

Steel's first major battles in Metropolis were pretty personal, as he soon discovered that new versions of his energy cannons were being used by local street gangs, who called the deadly new weapons "Toastmasters." The source of the weapons turned out to be the criminal The White Rabbit, the new identity of Irons' former AmerTek partner Dr. Angora Lapin.

When the nefarious nature of the Cyborg Superman was finally revealed, Steel joined "The Kid" (the name teen Superman clone preferred to "Superboy") and the alive-but-weakened Kal-El in storming Engine City, which the Cyborg and his extrateresstrial ally Mongul had built on the ruins of Coast City. Eventually joined by Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Supergirl and The Eradicator (the true identity of the fourth substitute Superman), they succeeded in defeating The Cyborg and Mongul, and saving Metropolis from a devastating missile attack.

Steel, as he shortened his name to after Superman returned, later moved to Washington D.C. to be closer to his family, and adopted the city under his protection. He would move a few more times, repeatedly refine his armor and its design, and develop a close relationship with his niece Natasha. His greatest adventures, including being recruited into the re-formed JLA after the new, more powerful team's battles against The Hyperc Can, rogue angel Asmodel and The Injustice Gang, would follow in the years after Zero Hour.

POWERS & ABILITIES
Steel (usually) doesn't have any superpowers, but tampering from otuside forces has occasionally given him tempoary powers of various kinds. Despite being a regular human being—if bigger, stronger and in better shape than most—his incredible armor gives him the strength and abilities of a metahuman. In addition to offering him a high-degree of vulnerability, super-strenth and flight capabilities, his original armor included a high-powered, wrist-mounted rivet gun that fired hot, metal rivets with incredible accuracy, and a long-handled sledgehammer. Later suits contained various features, including a "smart hammer" with a shorter handle that he could control, and had the unique ability to hit harder the farther it was thrown.

Steel is a genius-level intellect, adept in the fields of engineering, munitions, medicine and physics, and is one of the world's foremost super-scientists.

For future reading: RETURN OF SUPERMAN (1993) or SUPERMAN: DEATH AND RETURN OF SUPERMAN OMNIBUS (2013); while none of it is currently available in trade paperback form, John Henry Irons starred in his the 52-issue monthly STEEL (1994-1998), which isn't too hard to find in back-issue bins. He was a common presence in the Superman books from his creation onward as well.


Tom Grummett
(Post-CRISIS) SUPERGIRL
Created by John Byrne, based on the character created by Otto Binder, Curt Swan and Al Plastino, based on the character Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Alter Ego: Matrix, Mae Kent, Exhibit A In How Sometimes Attempting To Simplify Superhero Comics Only Makes Them More Comiplicated
Known relatives: Martha Kent (adoptive mother), Jonathan Kent (adoptive father), Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El (adopted brother)
Bases of Operations: Smallville, Kansas and Metropolis
First appearance: SUPERMAN #16 (1988)

HISTORY
Deep breath. Okay, in an alternate reality referred to as a "pocket universe," as there weren't any alternate realities at the time, three Kryptonian superheroes escaped their Phantom Zone imprisonment to wreak havoc. That reality's Lex Luthor had created an artificial life form called "the protoplasmic matrix," which resembled the late Lana Lang and had all of her memories, but which had the physiology and all of the superpowers of the one, true Superman from the DCU (the pocket reality's Kal-El having died while still Superboy, and thus never growing up to become Superman.

After failing to stop the criminals on her own in her Supergirl form, Matrix came to the DCU to recruit Superman's aid. He helped her, but by the time they defeated the criminals, the pocket universe was lifeless and destroyed.

Superman then took this Supergirl to his own reality and left her with his parents, who named her Mae and tried to instill in her the same good old-fashioned, Midwestern, down-on-the-farm values that made their adopted son such a great hero.

When her powers malfunctioned a bit, she fled for the seclusion of space, eventually returning to Earth...and falling in love with Lex Luthor II (actually the one and only Lex Luthor, whose mind was in a younger clone of himself and who was now posing as his own son). This naturally made things awkward with her adoptive brother.

Supergirl tried and failed to help Superman stop Doomsday and, after his death, tried to fill in as best she could as Metropolis' protector (a role in which she found a lot of competition, as it seemed to be raining Supermen). She aided Steel, Superboy and the not-dead-after all Superman in defeating The Cyborg-Superman and Mongul, and had a pretty dramatic falling-out with Luthor when she discovered he had been secretly cloning her.

Things would get much, much weirder when she began to question if she had a soul and met the young Linda Danvers, but that business would all occur after the events of Zero Hour, which excuses us from having to talk about them at all, thank goodness.

POWERS & ABILITIES
The Matrix had the ability to change shape and could be imprinted with the thoughts, memories and abilities of others. Her basic super-power, however, was a powerful telekinesis, which could be used to mimic most of Superman's powers, in addition to allowing her to "cloak" herself visually and aurally, create defensive force fields and attack others with offensive psionic force blasts.

For further reading: SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL VOL. 8 (2014), SUPERMAN: THEY SAVED LUTHOR'S BRAIN (2000), THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN (2013), WORLD WITHOUT A SUPERMAN (1993), THE RETURN OF SUPERMAN (1993), SUPERGIRL #1-4 (1994)