Saturday, April 25, 2015

Who's Who in the DC Convergence #3

Carmine Infantino and Bart Sears
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)

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.

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.


Brent Bowman
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)

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.

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
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)

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.

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
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)

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.

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)

Jose Luis Garzia-Lopez
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)

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.

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
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)

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 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.

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.


Tony S. Daniel
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)

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.

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.

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)

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.

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)


SallyP said...

Oh Geo-Force... you not only have the worst costume, but you just... just suck on such a major scale.

But an excellent synopsis!

jheaton said...

You might want to take a second look at the signature on that drawing of Kole.

jheaton said...

Also, the Elongated Man illo is by Carmine Infantino and Bart Sears. It's from the Who's Who loose-leaf edition. Source

Caleb said...

Thanks and thanks; I saw that it began with a "G" and ended with a "z" and assumed it was George Perez. It's fixed now.