Monday, May 18, 2015

Who's Who in the DC Convergence #6

Darwyn Cooke
Created by Keith Giffen
Alter Ego: Irwin Schwab
Occupation: News correspondent for Channel 52
Known relatives: Cheeks (Ward? Adopted son? Sidekick? I guess it doens't much matter, as he's just an inanimate stuffed animal)
Base of Operations: Metropolis; mobile
First appearance: DC COMICS PRESENTS #52 (1982)

Ambush Bug's origins are shrouded in mystery, mostly because he seems to be insane, and therefore has a very poor grip on reality. That, and the fact that almost every single story he has ever appeared in has been comedic in nature–and even when he cameos in a serious story, it's usually a comedic cameo–so his origins are shrouded in bad jokes and comic book parody as well.

What we know for sure is that he began as a villain in a green bug-suit with very large antennae, within which were housed special devices that allowed him to teleport. At some point, he internalized that teleporting power. Also, after a few encounters with heroes like Superman, he decided to give up villainy and take up superheroics instead.

While he's served extremely brief stints with various Justice League groups–like Plastic Man's Justice League of Anarchy during the few days or weeks in which the concept of the Justice League was wiped from the minds of everyone on earth, and a short-lived Justice League that existed between Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime's attack on reality and Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman's reformation of the Justice League under the original name of the Justice League of America.

Of course, those stories–like his Ambush Bug: Year None miniseries and his recent gig as a shill for DC Comics in the advertorial Channel 52 segments–came long after Zero Hour, the point in time from which Ambush Bug was plucked to appear in Covergence. But as with all things related to the Bug, the application of the normal narrative rules of comic books need to be relaxed a bit.

Ambush Bug has the ability to teleport himself and objects or people he's touching at the time he teleports. The exact limitations of his powers are ill-defined, as he seems to be able to teleport not only anywhere on Earth, but anywhere throughout the DC Multiverse as well.

This may explain why he frequently possesses knowledge that only a resident of Earth-Prime/Earth-33 should have access to...that, or writers like Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming simply have the character break the fourth wall for comedic effect. Both are equally likely.

For further reading: SHOWCASE PRESENTS: AMBUSH BUG (2009)

Alex Ross
Extrapolated by Alex Ross and Mark Waid from the character "created" "by" Bob Kane
Alter Ego: Bruce Wayne
Occupation: Full-time volunteer crime-fighter
Marital status: Metaphorically married to Lady Justice
Known relatives: Ibn al Xu'ffasch (son)
Base of Operations: Gotham City
First appearance: KINGDOM COME #1 (1996)

When Batman's secret identity was revealed to the world, he was attacke in Wayne Manor by two of his greatest and deadliest surviving foes, Two-Face and Bane. They defeated and crippled Bruce Wayne, but they couldn't kill The Batman.

Wayne abandoned any pretense of a normal life and dedicated himself to being Batman 24/7. He constructed a suit of super-battle armor that not only allowed him to move and fight like he did before his injuries, it also endowed him with flight, limited super-strength and an arsenal of weapons bigger and more powerful than any he could fit in a utility belt. Think of it as a wearable Batplane.

The Dark Knight further invented a bat-battlaion of advanced robotic crime-fighters called Bat-Knights that patrolled Gotham City in his stead, making it one of the safest–if suddenly scariest in a different way–cities in America.

When Superman and Wonder Woman decided to re-form the Justice League as a way to combat the rise in younger, deadlier, poorly-trained "heroes" who were wreaking havoc in the world–sometimes on purpose, sometimes not–Batman refused to join his estranged allies, instead pursuing his own, long-game approach to preserving law and order and combatting Lex Luthor's cabal of villains (Batman's former crime-fighting partner and ward, Robin/Dick Grayson, did join the new Justice League, creating a new costume and taking the new name "Red Robin")

When the brewing war between factions of superheroes reached a fever-pitch, and the United Nations planned to drop a nuclear bomb on them all, Batman suited-up with the many allies he was able to rally–Green Arrow Oliver Queen, former Black Canary Dinah Lance, current Black Canary Olivia Queen, Blue Beetle Ted Kord, Steel, and others–and joined the fray.

Batman took on Wonder Woman, and, by the time the dust settled, many of the super-people were dead. He reconciled with Superman and Wonder Woman, and together they agreed to be more present in the world.

He's Batman.

For further reading: KINGDOM COME (1997)

Paris Cullins
Created by Steve Ditko
Alter Ego: Theodore "Ted" Kord
Occupation: Inventor, engineer and sometimes CEO of Kord Enterprises...or Kord Industries...or Kord Omniversal Research & Development, Inc, whatever the writer feels like calling the company, really
Marital Status: very single
Known relatives: Thomas Kord (father), Jarvis Kord (evil uncle)
Group Affiliations: The Justice League (Justice League America and Justice League International)
Base of Operations: Chicago, New York City
First appearance: CAPTAIN ATOM #83 (1966)

As an exceptionally brilliant young man, Ted Kord was probably always destined for some kind of greatness, but he was bitten by the superhero bug (Ah-ha-ha-ha! Get it? Bug?) during an adventure with his archeology teacher Dan Garrett, the original Blue Beetle. Garrett had a mystical scarab artifact that gave him super-strength and other super-powers. When Garrett suffered a lethal injury, he gave the scarab to Kord, asking him to carry on the legacy of the Blue Beetle.

Kord couldn't get the magic item to work for him, but he didn't let that stop him from fulfilling Garrett's dying wish. Kord started training, made a cool Steve Ditko-designed costume and then built a non-lethal weapon and an animal-shaped vehicle to put even the Batmobile and Batplane to shame.

As the Blue Beetle, Kord began his crime-fighting career in his hometown of Chicago, and was soon recruited by the extra-dimensional being known as The Monitor to help repel the attacks of the Anti-Monitor and his army of Shadow Demons.

In the wake of Apokolyptian agent Glorious Godfrey's attempts to discredit the world's superheroes, Kord joined the brand-new Justice League, lead by League veterans Batman, Martian Manhunter and Black Canary, and including such other newcomers to the League as Mister Miracle, Dr. Fate, Captain Marvel and Green Lantern Guy Gardner. This new League was rather quickly re-organized under the United Nations into a new team with a new, international mandate and a series of embassies in cities all over the world.

Kord served on this Jusitce League International for years, staying with the American branch with its embassy based in New York City. In fact, Kord ultimately became one of the longest-serving members in League history, remaining in the line-up through several different reorganizations. During his years with the League, Kord became particularly close with Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, Martian Manhunter and even the abrasive Guy Gardner, despite the fact that the pair had little in common and didn't even seem to like one another all that much.

Ted Kord is a gifted hand-to-hand combatant, athlete and a fairly-skilled acrobat, all of which he'd have to be to become a superhero with no super-powers. His greatest abilities come not from his body, but his brain, however.

A genius-level inventor and engineer, Kord built his own highly-advanced personal aircraft shaped like–what else?–a blue beetle, which he affectionately dubbed The Bug. While less gadget-dependent than the similarly power-less, animal-themed hero Batman, Kord also has a special hand-held gun sometimes referred to as his Beetle Gun or BB Gun, capagle of firing blasts of blinding light and super-compressed air, which he can use to knock opponents off-balamce.


Dan Jurgens
Created by Dan Jurgens, based on the character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Alter Ego: Henry "Hank" Henshaw
Marital Status: Widower
Base of Operations: Mobile
Not to be confused with: Cyborg, Superman
First appearance: As Hank Henshaw, ADVENTURES OF SUPEMAN #466 (1990); as Cyborg Superman ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #500 (1993)

Hank Henshaw and his wife Terri were among the four American astronauts aboard the space shuttle Excalibur performing a LexCorp-sponsored radiation expeiment. A sudden solar flare affected the experiment quite disastrously, however. Two of the crewmembers had their physical bodies destroyed, but their minds were more-or-less intact, and they created new bodies to house their minds out of radiation, in one case, and bits of wreckage and rubble (in the other). The Henshaws seemed fine, at least until arriving on Earth, at which poin Hank's body began to decay rapidly, and Terri's started being sucked into a different dimension.

The only thing worse than an experiment gone dangerously awry, apparently, is a science a science experiment gone dangerously awry in a comic book.

The two mutated crewmembers kill themselves, while Terri kills herself at the sight of her husband's transformation: While his physical body died, his mind survived, and he was able to build a new body of computers and machinery. Distraught over all the suicide going around, Henshaw downloaded his consciousness into Superman's birthing matrix (between Crisis and Zero Hour, Superman had a birthing matrix; don't ask) and, using it as a sort of vehicle, launched himself into space to continue to astronaut around.

While he didn't kill himself, Henshaw did go fairly insane as well, eventually throwing in with Superman villain Mongul and coming up with a pretty good plan for discrediting Superman, who he had come to blame for the loss of his body, his wife, and crewmates.

Upon learning of Superman's "death," Henshaw built himself a new body out of robotics and flesh and blood built out of Superman's own DNA. He returned to Earth claiming to be the one true Superman, somehow rebuilt and brought back to life after having given his life in the fight against Doomsday.

He made a pretty good case for being Superman, exiling Doomsday into space, saving the president of the United States and doing various super-deeds, seemingly passing a battery of tests administered by the real Superman's science buddy Professor Emil Hamilton and even passing a few close encounters with Lois Lane, who wasn't ready to count him out as not Superman immediately.

In fact, of the four Supermen to appear in the wake of the Man of Steel's death–the teenaged clone who would eventually be called Superboy, the dark visored Superman who would eventually be revealed to be the Eradicator, and the armored Man of Steel who would eventually shorten his name to Steel–The Cyborg seemed the most likely candidate.

He eventually showed his true colors, however, when he destroyed Coast City and transformed it into Engine City. He and his ally Mongul were about to do the same to Metropolis, but the combined forces of Superboy, Steel, The Eradicator, Supergirl, Green Lantern Hal Jordan and the real Superman–who turned out to not be dead, after all, simply completely exhausted of all solar energy, which plunged him into a months-long death-like state–were able to thwart the dastardly duo.

As a being of pure consciousness with no real body, Henshaw is essentially immortal and indestructible. He is able to inhabit, mold and control any form of machinery, generally building a "body" for himself out of it, while still able to control other machines.

In his Cyborg Superman body, his flesh components were based on Superman's kryptonian genetic code, and his metal parts were made from Kryptonian alloys. This made his body nearly indestructible, and gave him the full complement of Superman's many powers: Super-strength, super-speed, flight, heat vision and so on.

For further reading: While the Cyborg Superman eventually became a recurring villain for both Superman and The Green Lantern Corps, the version appearing in Convergence is from around the time of Zero Hour, and thus his only really relevant appearnces would be those in THE RETURN OF SUPERMAN (1993) or SUPERMAN: THE DEATH AND RETURN OF SUPERMAN OMNIBUS (2013)

Extrapolated by Alex Ross and Mark Waid from the character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Alter Egos: Kal-El, Clark Kent
Occupation: Pretend farmer
Marital status: Widower
Known relatives who aren't dead: None
Group Affiliation: The Justice League
Base of Operations: The Arctic Circle, New Oa
First appearance: KINGDOM COME #1 (1996)

The Joker attacked the offices of The Daily Planet, killing most of the Clark Kent's friends and colleagues with the initial gas attack, but taking a more hands-on approach on the resourceful Lois Lane, who managed to get a gast mask on and attack the super-villain.

The greif-stricken Superman captured The Joker and delivered him to the police, but on the day of the mass-murderer's trial, he was attacked and executed by the newer superhero, Magog. He represented the newer, more violent, no-holds-barred breed of superhero who had begun to emerge.

When the public embraced Magog's brand of heroics, the disullionsed Superman withdrew to The Fortress of Solitude, abandoning his life as both Clark Kent and Superman for years (despite occasional visits and goadings by his long-time friend and colleague Wonder Woman).

Superman finally rejoined the world when Magog and a band of similar heroes accidentally destroyed and irradiated a large part of Kansas (Superman's adoptive home state) while trying to capture The Parasite. During the fight, the villain killed Captain Atom, unleashing his nuclear energies.

Superman reformed the Justice League with veteran heroes from four generations, from Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott to Superman's allies to the former Teen Titans to new recruits from the nost promising of the current generation of young heroes. They intend to set an example for the new heroes while simultaneously policing them...and imprisoning the very worst of them.

This lead to conflict not only with the new breed of heroes, but also Superman and Wonder Woman's old ally Batman and his co-horts, and a Lex Luthor-lead cabal of villains, who have a mind-controlled Captain Marvel as their ultimate ace in the hole.

When a four-way battle between the various factions reached a fever pitch, the United Nations decided to just nuke all of the heroes. Several of them were able to minimize the attack, at the cost of many of their lives.

Superman managed to reconcile with his old friend Batman, who promises to help he and Wonder Woman raise and train their child, and raise the next generation of superheroes right.

The Kingdom Come Superman has the same super-catalog of super-powers as his DCU/Earth-0 counterpart, but because he is a decade older and has thus soaked up ten more years worth of solar power, he's a bit more powerful.

For further reading: KINGDOM COME (Like many characters from Kingdom Come, Superman appeared in the rather uneven suite of comics collected under the umbrella title of The Kingdom, which revealed the birth of his son by Wonder Woman. He also showed up in a fun cameo in the Alex Ross-drawn section of Evan Dorkin's World's Funnest one-shot. The best post-Kingdom Come use of the character was in Geoff Johns and Alex Ross's run on JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA, if you simply must read more about him, but for the purposes of Convergence, KINGDOM COME itself should be more than sufficient)

Extrapolated by Alex Ross and Mark Waid from the character created by William Moulton Marston
Alter Ego: Diana
Marital status: Single, but chasing the widowed Superman pretty hard
Known relatives: Hippolyta (mother)
Base of Operations: New Oa
First apperance: KINGDOM COME #1 (1996)

After decades of failing to bring peace to "Man's World," Princess Diana was eventually stripped of her royal title, exiled from Themyscira/Paradise Island and her role as its official ambassador of Amazon values to the outside world.

She became increasingly alienated in her role as a superheroine as well, as colleagues Superman and Batman retreated in various ways from the world (the former due to his deep mourning over personal losses and the world's rejection of his values, the latter due to severe injuries). Meanwhile, a new, fourth generation of heroes and villains began to emerge, both sides more violent and less concerned for things like collateral damage than the super-humans of past generations.

When Magog, the best-known of most widely-embraced of the new generation of heroes, lead his Justice Battalion team against The Parasite, Captain Atom is killed, unleashing a devastating nuclear disaster. That is enough incentive for Wonder Woman's lastest plea with Superman to come out of retirement and reform The Justice League with her to finally convince the Man of Steel.

Together the pair recruit a large and powerful team consisting of heroes from several generations, including old allies and the most promising of the newer heroes. Their increasingly aggressive actions at policing the super-humans of the world–generally proposed and championed by Wonder Woman–rub certain factions the wrong way, including Batman and his large network of like-minded allies, and Lex Luthor and his cabal of villains.

When the League starts imprisoning recalcitrant superhumans, the various factions all go to war, with Wonder Woman leading the League's forces while wearing a new, slightly goofy-looking golden eagle shaped armor. She battles Batman while Superman deals with a mind-controlled Captain Marvel, and things ened pretty badly for everyone, when the U.N. launches a nuclear strike.

Wonder Woman survives the battle and its explosive end, eventually consumating her love for Superman and conceiving a child with him. She and Superman also reconcile with Batman.

This Wonder Woman has all of the powers and abilities of her younger DCU/Earth-0 counterpart: Super-strength, super-speed, flight, a high degree of invulnerabiltiy, proficiency in the martial arts of Themyscira and its bronze age weaponry. She also possesses the same arsenal of weapons as her counterparts, including the unbrekable bracelets, the golden lasso of truth and a tiara balanced to be used as a projectile weapon. She prefers to use a sword, spear and shield to these various weapons, however.

For further reading: KINGDOM COME (1996) and...yeah, that's probably all you need to read.

1 comment:

Britt Reid said...

A couple of points regarding "Blue Beetle II"
1) He's actually Blue Beetle III
Blue Beetle I was the Fox Comics/early Charlton character character: Dan Garret, police officer who received his powers due to chemicals.
Blue Beetle II was the Charlton reboot character Dan Garrett, archeologist, who received his powers via a cyan scarab he found in an Egyptian tomb.
He died and passed along the Blue Beetle "legacy" to Ted Kord, who is actually BBIII!