Thursday, April 30, 2015


I have a review of the handsome new collection of Johnny Ryan's Angry Youth Comix in Las Vegas Weekly this week. It's a really well-designed book, of the sort everyone should have on their bookshelves...not with their graphic novels, but with their fancy-schmancy literary volumes, so as to encourage visitors to pull it out, flip through it and contort their faces in confused horror.

That's it, Surfer! Make him cry!
Also in this week's LVW, I suggested a trio of Avengers comics Marvel Studios might want to borrow their titles from for future Avengers films, should they start running out of ideas when it comes time to start work on a fifth Avengers film (Fingers crossed for Defenders War!)

Because YOU demanded it! Mike Allred draws Bloodwynd!
I have a review of sorts on Multiversity #2, Convergence #4 and its attendant tie-ins and Justice League #40, all of which were released this week and all of which, oddly enough, deal with DC's ever-changing Multiverse, at Robot 6 this week.

EDILW favorite Steve Mannion, drawing the best Olive ever.
I took a look at some of my favorite of the always awesome variant covers IDW commissions for their Popeye Classic Comics series at Comics Alliance, in that goofy, click-bait gallery format that users of the Internet probably all totally love to use.

Comic Shop Comics: Apil 29th

Convergence #4 (DC Comics) Telos takes over narating duties fom Dick Grayson, at least for a few pages, as the sentient planet holds Batman's head (or maybe just his cowl/helmet) aloft, sucks up all the dead Gotham villains in metal stuff, fixes Dick's spine, and gives him a brief tour of the battling cities. Meanwhile, Deimos leads the rest of the Earth-2 heroes underground to Skartarsis, with Telos in pursuit. Writer Jeff King proceeds to throw a lot of characters from the pages of the old Warlord comic at the reader, without even a token explanation as to who the hell all these people are.

The narrative at least takes a few unexpected twists, with the time travelers that Shakira had been piling up last issue being collectively referred to as "The Time Masters" and several more of them getting revealed (Hey, it's the intelligent machine colony from the 853rd Century version of Hourman, the one who starred in Hourman, one of my favorite non-Hitman comic books from DC!).

Also, I guess Braniac is trapped somehow, in what resembles a giant T-sphere, and he's in need of freeing...? That sure wasn't explained in the very, very long #0 issue of this series. Stephen Segovia still pencils, but here he has six other guys inking his work (in addition to himself). That's a lot of inkers for a single pencil artist, and seems to imply they were cutting this issue really, really close. So someone was running behind...or maybe there were changes being made at the last minute?

As with the previous weeks' issues of Convergence, this was decently executed, but by far the least interesting comic with the word "Convergence" on the cover that DC released this week.

Convergence: Plastic Man and The Freedom Fighters #1 (DC) A list of some of the things I enjoy most about comic books would include "Plastic Man," "The Freedom Fights," and "John McCrea," so it should go without saying that I was really looking forward to this book called Plastic Man and The Freedom Fighters drawn by John McCrea. Written by Simon Oliver (FBP, The Exterminators), the book highlights one of the most fun aspects of DC's current Convergence event: The chance to revisit old characters, concepts and settings in new work. Unlike many of the other books I was looking forward to in the first three weeks of the event, this one did not disappoint me at all.

Set on the pre-Crisis Earth-X, where the Nazis won World War II, Oliver imagines the handful of remaining superheroes acting as actual freedom fighters, living in a New York City that is actively resisting Nazi rule–they might have technically lost the war, but the Americans and the superheroes kept fighting anyway. Things go from pretty bad to much worse when the dome drops and the Freedom Fighters all lose their act that coincided with Plastic Man's plan to lure Nazi superhero The Silver Ghost to NYC so they could take him out. Instead, they got trapped in a city with one of the more ruthless and efficient leaders of the Reich.

As with most of the Convergence minis, this one is forced to deal with plot points that keeps it from fulfilling what one imagines would be a more fulfilling mission statement–i.e. using the opportunity to revisit old characters, concepts and settings in new works, as I mentioned earlier–as of course we have to hear about the dome, the loss of super-powers, how our protagonists spent their past year and, near the end, yet another repetition of Telos' speech and the threat of inter-setting conflict (Here, with the Future's End murder-bots). That obviously takes up a lot of time–too much time, really–and Oliver has Plastic Man (always called "Plastic," rather than "Plas" by his teammates) narrating, which makes the fact that he's being played straight a little more down that it would otherwise be. Oliver also uses a "dark" version of Woozy Winks which is always something that irritates me. Some characters you just can't do dark; you can play Plas straight, but for God's sake, leave his comedy sidekick out of it!

That said, the book is interesting in the fact that it features a Plastic Man we don't see very often (actually, we don't see Plastic Man at all anymore, do we? I can't remember the last time we've seen Plastic Man before the events of Flashpoint, unless you want to count what looked like his origin unfolding during the course of the Forever Evil event), and playing the role usually reserved for Uncle Sam in the Freedom Fighters' cast. They all get panel time, but aren't really given any real spotlight or anything. They're pretty interchangeable, really, and if they just called this Plastic Man instead of Plastic Man and The Freedom Fighters, it still wouldn't have seemed weird at all.

McCrea's artwork didn't disappoint a bit, and it was refreshing to see his line work in a DC Comic again, drawing some of the more off-beat Golden Agers in DC's vast character catalog, and doing a fine job of playing them all straight in his depictions. McCrea in an artist who can vary his levels of "cartooniness" to suit the mood of the project, and here there's no sing of cartooniness, save for perhaps a jaunty angle here and there.

Convergence: Shazam #1 (DC) After Multiversity: Thunderworld Adventures, DC gives us another awesome Marvel Family comic that doesn't try to reinvent the character–an ongoing project of the publisher's since at least the 1980s, one that is apparently always doomed to failure, judging by the results–as much as celebrate the character as is. This isn't quite as much fun, nor as all-around inspired, as the Multiversity issue was, but then writer Jeff Parker has less room to work with than Grant Morrison did, his crossover has a less open set of "rules" governing it than Morrison's and, of course, most imporatntly, Parker is writing a tie-in to someone else's crossover story, rather than writing a chapter in his own story, as Morrison was.

The artist here is Evan "Doc" Shaner, an all-around great artist and a Captain Marvel fan to boot (and a perfect candidate for a Shazam strip should DC ever get around to doing another run of the weekly Wednesday Comics). His style is quite different than that of Cameron Stewart, who drew the aforementioned Multiversity one-shot that I can't help but compare this to, but not in a bad way; it's just different. Shaner draws all of these characters in a much more realistic fashion than Stewart or, indeed, most artists to tackle the Marvel Family this side of Mac Reboy, so there's an unusual amount of realism and elegance in his work.

The story is hobbled by the need to tie-in to Convergence, but not knee-capped. The Monster Society of Evil (here consisting of Dr. Sivana, Ibac, King Kull and Mister Atom) have captured all of their foes, and have them at their mercy. Without powers, Freddie Freeman Jr. and The Batsons are just little kids, unable to turn into superheroes...until the dome comes down at a fortuitous time. That and the arrival of a tiger in a snappy jacket help save the day...but just this day, there are dirigibles from the world of Gotham By Gaslight attacking, which will have to be dealt with next issue (Yeah, it's kind of weird that DC is apparently extrapolating a whole steam-punk Earth out of the events of the rather simple "What If Batman Fought Jack The Ripper...?" one-shot that kicked-off the concept of "Elseworlds," but at least that roots Earth-Steampunk to something they've published I guess. And there are certainly worse stories to direct curious readers to than Brian Augustyn, Mike Mignola and P. Craig Russell's 1989 Gotham By Gaslight).

While much of this first issue consists of Parker and Shaner essentially just "playing the hits" (I'm assuming, or maybe just hoping, that Mister Mind will appear in #2), I thought Parker's conception and portrayal of King Kull as a weapon's designer was pretty damn clever. .

The Multiversity #2 (DC) Well, here it is, the grand conclusion of Grant Morrison's nine-part epic that mapped the DC Multiverse once and for all, and provided a more or less definitive statement on the nature of DC Comics, how to read them, how to relate to them, and on the relationship between comic and reader. I was pretty bummed to read it, only because I would prefer to read another, oh, 40-some one-shots, set on the many variously numbered Earths that Morrison did not devote a full one-shot to (Not that he can't come back whenever he feels like it and do another one-shot or seven or 35, of course).

I'll likely talk about this later elsewhere (UPDATE: By which I mean here, now), but for now I just wanted to note that this was a very satisfying conclusion, even though I feel like The Multiversity: Guidebook #1 was probably the series true climax, this tied everything together quite nicely. Oddly, the thing I found most difficult to understand had to do with that two-page splash apparently showing off the Multiversal super-team (the line-up of which is spread across the covers of issue #1 and #2). It's only confusing because I can't imagine Morrison returning to those characters any time soon, nor can I imagine anyone else picking up where this story left off (between Convergence and the upcoming "Darkseid War," DC obviously has other plans for their Multiverse, which have little to nothing to do with Morrison's superior conception of it).

What else?

I liked Super-Demon, whose "secret identity" is apparently the priest Jason Blood; I was amused to see that an alternate Earth version of Etrigan, The Demon that bases him on Superman still looks and acts so much more like Jack Kirby's original Demon than the New 52 version of the character.

This was another awesome showcase for The Marvel Family and Dr. Sivana.

The Justice Riders' robot horses are the best thing ever.

I'm curious if Morrison knew this would be coming out a few days before Avengers: Age of Ultron was released, as it's weird how much panel-time The Avengers and Ultimates get in this thing.

The reveal on page 44 was fantastically executed.

I'd have to double-check some Showcase Presents, but I'm pretty sure that Morrison did Zatanna's spell wrong (the words are backwards, not the order of the words as well as the words themselves), but since she's an alternate Earth Zatanna, maybe it doesn't matter. It caused me to stumble a bit though.

And that's all I got for this evening. I read a bunch of other comics that were released in comic shops this Wednesday, but these are the only four I bought with my own money at my local comic shop so thus, by the rules governing this particularly column on my blog, these are the only four I'm offering quick, first-impression reviews of here. I should have links to several pieces to post tomorrow night, and writing about a mess of 4/29 releases in the near future.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Marvel's July previews reviewed

Marvel's line-wide, shared universe re-shuffling event Secret Wars will still be in full swing in July, so their solicitations for the comics they intend to publish that month are a lot like those they plan to publish in June: All at least slightly ridiculous sounding, with plenty sounding potentially awesome, but who can say? The premises for all of these things are so out there, it's difficult to judge--well, pre-judge--at all. One can really only go by the creators and characters, and hope the ridiculousness is the good kind of ridiculous.

I'm curious about...let's see...all of these, but since Marvel doesn't really share press copies and I don't buy $3.99 books, I'll have to wait until the trades--whatever form they may take--arrive in Ohio libraries. If you haven't already seen the full solicitations, you may do so here. Otherwise, here are a few that jumped out at me this month...

• As battle escalates between ULTRON’S robotic horde and the ZOMBIE masses, a smaller pocket of humanity must defend themselves from both sides.
• Can SALVATION—an oasis of sanity amidst utter chaos run by JIM HAMMOND, THE VISION and WONDER MAN—protect what little humanity resides in the “DEADZONE”?
• And what is the HANK PYM from 1872, a man literally in a world he never made, supposed to do when first encountering the evil of Ultron?
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

While Age of Ultron was set-up as a sort of zombie movie only with robots instead of zombies, it doesn't seem like a very good fight, does it? I mean, if the zombies' greatest weapon is their ability to infect their victims with zombie-ism, increasing their own ranks with new recruits, well, they're not going to be able to do so with robots...

RAMON ROSASNAS & Brent Schoonover (A)
• Just in time for the ANT-MAN movie (funny, that), it’s the team-up you’ve been waiting for: Scott Lang and Hank Pym, together again! Ant-bros!
• A classic villain makes his dreaded return!
• And a new hero is born! Well, not born, really -- he’s already an adult. Nobody wants to read about a super-baby. (Or do they?)
40 PGS./ONE SHOT/Rated T+ …$4.99

I fail to undestand why this book isn't being called Ant-Bros. Or, at the very least, Ant-Men.

Black Panther reinvented as a sharp and witty political satire? Believe it! T’Challa is the man with the plan as Christopher Priest puts the emphasis on the Wakandan king’s reputation as the ultimate statesman, as seen through the eyes of the U.S. government’s Everett K. Ross. As the Panther investigates a murder in New York, Ross plays Devil’s Advocate in an encounter with Mephisto, and a new regime seizes control in Wakanda. When the truth behind the coup becomes clear, T’Challa finds himself an enemy of the state — and a major revelation threatens to destroy his relationship with the Avengers! Plus: Meet Queen Divine Justice — is she ready to join T’Challa’s deadly crew of female bodyguards, the Dora Milaje? Are they ready for her? Hold onto your pants, because Ross sure can’t! Collecting BLACK PANTHER (1998) #1-17.
416 PGS./Rated T+ …$34.99
ISBN: 978-0-7851-9267-1

No jokes, no complaints; I just wanted to point out that this is a thing that exists.  I've been trying and mostly failing to find Priest's run on Black Panther in back-issue bins over the past decade or so, so I'm really glad to see Marvel making it much easier on me.

• The Classic X-Men rally against Magneto and his New X-Men, to save the life of one of their own!
• EMMA FROST versus her CUCKOOS! Have the students become the teachers??
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

This is probably the X-Men comic I'm most excited about in Secret Wars, but I don't know; X-Men '92 certainly seems poised to press my nostalgia for that shitty Fox Kids cartoon series. Now if Ian Bertram were drawing the interiors instead of the covers, well, that would be a different story entirely; that cover is fantastic, from the detail under the plane of cement to the way Cyclops is leaning into his optic blast...Damn, I really like this Ian Bertram person.

• How did ROBBIE REYES become a cursed GHOST RACER?
• Is his sizzling winning streak the ONLY reason why his fellow Ghost Racers despise him and crave to see him fail?
• More high-octane warfare, more hell-fueled rivalry, and more of your favorite Ghost Racers in a run for way more than mere victory!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99

That is Arcade, right? And not Archie Andrews pumped full of Joker venom? (I guess it would be super-weird if Marvel, DC and Archie all collaborated on a crossover, and it ended up being Ghost Racers rather than, I don't know, Teen Titans Vs. Young Avengers Vs. Archie or something...)

• STRANDED, and without anyone who can understand what’s coming out of his mouth, it’s Groot vs The Cosmos in a trek to get his best friend back!
• Featuring a special guest star who’s REALLY OUTTA THIS WORLD!
• Groot may look intimidating, but, trust us, he’s all bark!
32 PGS./Rated T …$3.99

Ha ha ha ha ha! "He's all bark!" I get it! Because he's a tree! That is very good solicitation copy-writing, Mr. Solicitation Copy Writer. (Or Ms. Solicitation Copy Writer; I don't know.)

Also, that is an awesome cover, which I guess basically just amounts to Declan Shalvey draws teh whole Marvel Universe? That's a good idea for a cover! Poster, please. And can I have it for free? Thanks!

Nice cover for July's issue of Howard The Duck, by Howard The Duck artist Joe Quinones.

Is that She-Hulk on the variant cover for July's issue of Howard The Duck? Why is She-Hulk wearing fishnets? Oh, Howard Chaykin drew that cover. Never mind.

Also, those look like the world's most uncomfortable shoes; I assume wearing them is hurting poor She-Hulk even worse than being stood on by someone wearing them is hurting Howard.

•The team-up to end all team-ups has finally arrived! Carol “Captain Marvel” Danvers and Kamala “Ms. Marvel” Khan face the end of the world HEAD ON in this epic issue!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$2.99

I've never been found of Carol Danvers, but it's weird; I'm really happy for Kamala Khan that this team-up is happening, because I know how excited she will be, and why am I happy for a fictional character? I'm assuming it's because G. Willow Wilson has done such a fine job of creating and characterizing her.

I'm actually a little surprised that the book went over a year without having Danvers appear; typically, this sort of thing would have happened by the end of the first story arc, so that the previous hero to use the superhero codename can give his or her blessing to the new legacy version adopting the old name.

• With a bang, not with a whimper
32 PGS./Parental Advisory …$3.99

Actually, I think the line goes, "Not with a bang, but a whim-" Oh! I get it! They flip-flopped it on purpose! Okay, never mind then.

• COMEDY BANG BANG’S SCOTT AUKERMAN and RB SILVA follow psychologist Doc Samson as he tries to bring personal growth and inner peace to a land of RAGE-A-HOLIC HULKS!
• FRANK TIERI and RICHARD ISANOVE bring you a tale of murder and mayhem in the mighty Marvel Noir style! Will Wolverine discover a prominent citizen’s murder…or be the next victim?!
• The SECRETEST, WARRIEST book around! Go ahead, name a contender. NO! YOU’RE WRONG! BUT WE LOVE YOU ANYWAYS.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

• One versus many! What happens when a Wolverine who’s found peace is confronted with wave after wave of feral Wolverine? Bring a poncho!
• The Deadpool of 1872 is looking for a new ride! Say, Devil Dinosaur looks like a mighty fine steed…
• See the tremendously tiny tussle of the Ant-Men of Battleworld!
• If you only read one Secret Wars anthology, MAKE IT THIS ONE! If you read two…BUY TWO COPIES! Secret Wars Journal won’t love you like we do.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

I like the fact that these two Secret Wars tie-in miniseries have their own little feud going.

Cover by MIKE McKONE
Worlds are colliding! Both on Battleworld, and in the SECRET WARS OFFICIAL GUIDE TO THE MARVEL MULTIVERSE #1 – a collection of all-new Profiles! Journey through Marvel’s multiverse:
Old Man Logan! The Ultimate Universe’s Spider-Man (Miles Morales)! The Age of Ultron! Weirdworld! The Spider-Verse event! The Age of Apocalypse’s Nightcrawler! Plus: profiles of the characters and events at the core of the Secret Wars: the Incursions of Earths, Namor’s Cabal, the Future Foundation kids and more! Also featuring key participants in previous Secret Wars: Volcana (Marsha Rosenberg), Thunderball (Eliot Franklin), the healer Zsaji, the Dark Elf Kurse, original Battleworld refugee Puff the dragon, and the Secret Wars II event itself! And because we love you: the Pet Avengers’ Throg, Lady Deadpool, Teen Hulk…and Obnoxio the Clown?!
64 PGS./Rated T+ …$4.99

Say, are they aloud to say the word "Multiverse"...?

•Given unheralded new power, the Silver Surfer is tasked with REMAKING THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE!
•From the laws of physics to the origins of new life itself, what strange new cosmos will Norrin Radd will into being?
•Meanwhile, Dawn Greenwood has a far less intimidating task. All she has to rebuild... is Planet Earth.
Plus, if the Surfer, Dawn, and Toomie were the only survivors of the previous cosmos to make it into the void...
•...why are they not alone?!
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99

Ha ha, "unheralded"...

Wow, check out the Art Adams' kaiju-sized Lockheed (at least, I'm assuming that's who that is) on the cover of Years of Future Past.

Monday, April 27, 2015

DC's July previews reviewed

The  theme for July's variant cover program is Teen Titans Go! variants, which means appearances by the Titans from the show and/or characters drawn in the style of the show (or something approaching the style). The above cover for July's issue of Justice League is a pretty good example; it's the Justice League, in their New 52 costumes, but in TTG style, and acting silly. One doesn't normally see Cyborg busting dance moves anywhere other than Teen Titans Go, after all (Which is at least parto f the reason why Teen Titans Go Cyborg is the best Cyborg).

The results are predictably pretty fun, although is another month in which the variant covers seem to belong on awesome comics that don't actually exist, and the stuff you'll find under those variants will be tonally and stylistically completely different. Unfortunately so, in many cases.

For a complete list of what DC plans to publish in July of this year, you can click here; for me talking about those solicitations, you need simply read on.

If this cover for July's issue of Action Comics isn't the single greatest comic book cover of all time, well, I'm having trouble thinking of a better one at the moment. It's by Dan Hipp, the art director for Teen Titans Go!, which goes a long way toward explaining why it (and Hipp's other contributions to this month's suite of variant covers), looks so much more Teen Titans Go!-ish than some of the others.

Art and cover by TONY S. DANIEL
On sale SEPTEMBER 9 • 224 pg, B&W, $34.99 US
This stunning unwrapped collection features the game-changing BATMAN: R.I.P., the story that led into Grant Morrison’s best-selling FINAL CRISIS. Batman is dead – and with him out of the picture, The Club of Villains begins a crime spree through the streets of Gotham City, while Batman’s allies attempt to keep order. This deluxe edition presents the art of Tony S. Daniel from issues #676-681 in pencil form.

I'm not a fan of Daniel's artwork at all, and was really irritated by this storyline, as it seemed like a good Grant Morrison script ruined by poor art. Like, there are scenes that just don't make sense, that aren't legible, from a visual storytelling perspective, and Morrison's not exactly a writer who writes for his collaborator, so if the artwork is less than 100% crystal clear, whole panels and pages just don't work right. That said, Daniel's art usually looks much better in straight pencils than once the coloring is added, so this might work a lot better than the original comics and collections did. I can't imagine that will impact the visual storytelling at all, but it certainly won't hurt it any.

Oh come now Corin Howell, did Bat-Mite really need New 52 Batman gauntlets...? I'm pretty sure that's one character who did not, and will never need, a costume update.

Art and cover by ANNIE WU
1:25 Variant cover by BABS TARR
On sale JULY 15 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
In the wake of their first major fight, Dinah’s realized that her new bandmates are completely unprepared to keep themselves alive in a scrap…so it’s time for a training montage! (Cue the squealing guitars!) Plus: Who is Bo Maeve, and why does she hate Black Canary so much?

I...don't actually have anythigng to say about this, other than that it looks and sounds awesome. Canary looks cool in a pink and white costume, although based on her face and hair color, and the fact that her bandmates are all yellow, I'm sure that's just an effect, and not, like a new costume or anything. I'm really hoping this book lives up to my high expectations for it.

Hey, both of these are great covers! Ben Caldwell draws the awesome TTG variant, while the great Kevin Wada draws the regular one. Actually, the Wada one is pretty good, but wouldn't it be better if he had Spoiler wearing a fancy, fashionable dress instead of her dumb new Spoiler costume? Wada draws nice fancy, fashionable dresses, and I'm sure he could give her one in lavender or purple.

Art and cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO
On sale JULY 22 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
The machine that gives Cyborg his powers is evolving! The only problem is that machine is his body and he has no idea what’s causing these changes!

The only of the founding members of the New 52 Justice League without a title of his own finally gets a title of his own. And, from the looks of it, a re-re-redesign. I'm not crazy about it, as from afar the color scheme and the lack of sleeves suggest New 52 Mr. Terrific, but it's certainly better than the Transformer-sized armor Jim Lee put him in way back in fall of 2011.

I hope this sells well, and I think the fact that DC put one of its higher-profile (and all around better) art teams on it means they hope it sells well as well, and are putting some effort into seeing it happen. I think the New 52 reboot kind of hobbles Cyborg in the same way it hobbled most of the characters better known as supporting characters or characters from ensemble books, as it divorced him from much of his history, and I for one don't really want to read a book about him crying about being half-robot or anything. Of course, as I said before, I'm so fond of the Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go versions of Cyborg at this point, that I have a hard time reading about any other version and being able to maintain interest for long.

Speaking of which, is it weird that one of the only characters featured on Teen Titans Go! with their own title (the other being Starfire), doesn't have a Teen Titans Go! variant cover attached to their book...?

TEEN TITANS GO! Variant cover by DAN HIPP
On sale JULY 1 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will arrive in stores with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
The all-new Batman tries to find his place in Gotham City! But how can he manage his already uneasy relationship with the GCPD?

But I don't want to read about the all-new Batman and how he manages his uneasy relationship with the GCPD! I want to read about every Robin ever teaming up!

So, is it just me, or does Hipp's variant cover look like a much more compelling than that of We Are...Robin, which has an Everyone's-A-Robin premise, although a quite different one that that suggested by this cover?(I've been watching the first part of the second season of Teen Titans Go! on DVD this past week or so, and just watched the episode "The Best Robin," in which Robin teams up with three other Robins, and it was awesome. Part of me was of course stressed out that Damian and Tim Drake were conflated into a single character, and that there were two Dick Graysons, the Golden/Silver Age one and the current Teen Titans Go one, which is Dick with a version of Tim's original costume and hairstyle).

Maybe it's time Tim Drake launched a Robin, Incorporated initiative, and pulled alternate Robins from throughout The Multiverse to fill its ranks...

I really like Sonny Liew's cover for the second issue of Dr. Fate. It's the eyes and the lines around his helmet that make it, I think.

Art and cover by JORGE JIMENEZ
On sale JULY 8 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
After the shocking assassination of one of Earth-2’s most prominent leaders, humanity’s survivors struggle to believe their world can last. Can even Superman help build a society better than their previous world?


The solicitation copy seems to suggest that Earth-2 survived the events of World's End, but, well, that  book ended with a huge swathe of the population fleeing the planet as Apokolips encased that Earth like an orb-shaped iron maiden.

The cover image seems to suggest that they're going to build a new Earth-2 though, on the planet Telos, where Convergence is set, which seems like a pretty plausible conclusion to that series, actually.

Nice. I hate Flash's lightning brows, of course, and I think the execution could be slightly better, but it's a strong gag, and the fact that there's wordless "dialogue" is clever.

On sale SEPTEMBER 23 • 200 pg, FC, $24.99 US • MATURE READERS
“A long time ago, I wrote the first part of a story, and waited to find out how it middled, then worked with Jamie Delano and Alisa Kwitney on the end. For years people have asked how and when they could read all the story of The Children’s Crusade. I’m glad to say that it’s now been retooled and refinished, and is something both old and new – a forgotten jewel and a new delight.”—Neil Gaiman
For the first time ever, the two-issue miniseries THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE, written by Neil Gaiman, Alisa Kwitney and Jamie Delano, is collected – and with them, a new chapter written by Toby Litt that completes the tale as Gaiman originally envisioned it.

When several children go missing in a small English town, the Dead Boy Detectives are on the case. A series of strange and unexpected twists takes them to Free Country, a place that dates back a millennium, where children never grow old and are free from the abuse and tyranny of adults. But Free Country is failing, and what it needs is the strength of five innately powerful children – including the young sorcerer Timothy Hunter – to restore their uncanny world to what it once was.
This hardcover collects THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #1 and THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #2, written by Gaiman with cowriters Alisa Kwitney and Jamie Delano. A brand-new middle chapter written by DEAD BOY DETECTIVES novelist Toby Litt and drawn by artist Peter Gross (THE BOOKS OF MAGIC, THE UNWRITTEN) completes this compelling tale of ancient history, stolen dreams and lost children. It also features a new introduction by Gaiman, plus new cover art by artist Mark Buckingham (FABLES, DEAD BOY DETECTIVES).

Hmm. This sounds unusual. Originally produced as the Vertigo equivalent of the event stories that that used to run through the summer annuals of the DCU superhero line at the time, The Children's Crusade story/event featured a two-part bookend series, with tie-in annuals of all the other Vertigo series of the time (Swamp Thing, Animal Man, The Books of Magic, etc), focusing on the children or young characters in those comics (Tefe, Maxine, Tim Hunter, etc). It was one of the few instances of a suggestion of a shared "Vertigo Universe" of the time, in which the books definitely tied in to one another, but not the DC Universe (as a teenager myself at the time reading books like Robin and Superboy, I remember wishing more DC characters were incorporated, as it was such a good premise).

For this collection, they seem to be excising all of the tie-ins and adding something new to replace them, which, as I said, is say the least. I'd be curious to read it...after I reread the original (I think I have most of the tie-ins), to see how they differ. If I recall correctly, many of the characters from the other books play at least small roles in the beginning and ending, in which case their individual chapters would seem to be somewhat important, but I guess it depends on what they do in that middle chapter. They're all rather prominently featured on the cover, anyway.

Those super-curious abut this project should probably be advised that those annuals, like most Vertigo comics of the period, can be easily found in many a discount back-issue bin.

I like the gag of this cover to July's issue of Green Lantern quite a bit...I just wish they were all colored right, with the Titans in all-green versions of their costumes (Robin's still wearing red and yellow) and Raven wearing a yellow cloak.

Bizarre choice for a cover image serving as the image summarizing 75 years of Green Lantern stories, which I imagine will cover at least Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner, a bunch of the alien GLs in supporting roles in the stories of the others, and maybe Simon Baz. I know there are fairly nice images of at least four of those dudes together, while The Indigo Tribe and Larfleeze aren't exactly major players in the Green Lantern mythos over the course of the last 75 years or anything.

 Regardless, these collections are always a lot of fun, in part for the stories they contain and in part for sussing out what's in there, what's not and why those choices might have been made. And, of course, second-guessing those choices and imaging your own version of such a book.

Harley Quinn is the rare book where both of the covers are pretty good and pretty funny (or at least fun-looking) this month. In fact, the non-TTG cover featuring Popeye Captain Strong is probably the more fun-looking of the two, which is remarkable.

WTF? Surely Beast Boy should be a green Great Dane cradled in Cyborg's arms as the two shiver in fright (or vice versa), rather than a corgi? Please see the cover of Scooby-Doo Team-Up below for reference. That's the TTG variant for Gotham By Midnight, by the way. The kid in the green coat is apparently meant to be a chibi version of Jim Corrigan, which doesn't quite work, as he looks to be a teenager rather than a grown-up, but whatever.

This TTG variant for Grayson is conspicuously Teen Titans free, but I like seeing the TTG version of Batgirl, who has had a few interesting appearances in the show, from what I've seen.

Written by DAN ABNETT
Cover by GENE HA
On sale AUGUST 5 • 208 pg, FC, $14.99 US
Based on the hit videogame INFINITE CRISIS, the cosmos-spanning series is now available in print! In an alternate Earth, Atomic Two-Face has stolen the Eternal Key, an artifact that could give him the power to level a universe! The heroes of every Earth in the universe must band together to stop him. Arcane Green Lantern, Gaslight Catwoman, Atomic Wonder Woman and Nightmare Robin are only a few of the millions of alternate versions of our heroes and villains who will play a part in this universe spanning adventure. Collects issues #1-6 of the new series!

Given my previous experiences with based-on-videogames-I've-never-played adaptations from DC, I'm assuming this will be an absolute mess visually (the number of artists involved and the fact I know few of them draw anything like one another seems to back this up). And based on previous based-on-videgoames-I've-never-played adaptations from DC and manga publishers, I'm assuming I'll have a hard time even making heads-or-tails of this.

I'm still interested in reading it. The synopsis sounds pretty insane--and pretty familiar to Convergence, doesn't it? At least in the sense that characters from different realities are banding together and/or opposing one another--and I'm sure I've read (or at least tried to read) worse.

As a non-gamer who is curious about these games, be they the Batman Arkham games or the Lego stuff, because the characters involved, I'd be totally cool reading somewhat straight adaptations of them (Although the pattern seems to be to create prequels and suchlike to the stories of the games for the Arkham business....and to not make Lego comics at all).

See J'onn, this is why you're always getting your ass kicked. Why are you using your fists against Superman? Dude's as strong and as invulnerable as you; probably a little more so. Use your telepathy and attack his mind, you fool!

Art and cover by ACO
1:25 Variant cover by KEVIN WADA
On sale JULY 1 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED T+
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for details.
Marina Lucas woke up this morning as a suburban martial-arts instructor…but when God Garden tech unexpectedly falls into her lap, she’ll end the day as the deadliest woman on the planet! That’s bad news for her – and worse for the Midnighter!

I still think this book would get a lot more attention--and stave off cancellation longer--if rather than the prosaic title of Midnighter, it was called Midnighter: The Gay Batman

Art and cover by DARIO BRIZUELA
On sale JULY 1 • 32 pg, FC, $2.99 US • RATED E
When peace talks between two rival nations are threatened, the call goes out to the ultra-top-secret International Sneaky Service’s number one agent: Secret Squirrel! And since the thing threatening the talks is a medieval ghost, the call also goes out to the not-so-secret Scooby gang!

Secret Squirrel? If there's a more unpredictable series, I'd sure like to know what it is. So I can start reading it.

Written by GARTH ENNIS
On sale JULY 8 • 32 pg, FC, 2 of 6, $2.99 US • RATED T+
It’s Green Lantern’s turn in the barrel as Sixpack’s quest for the eighth Section Eighter continues. But what does GL himself think about all this? Why is Sixpack hearing voices? And can Bueno Excellente really have found love? Find out in part two of the miniseries the creative team themselves are calling an unprecedented masterpiece.

It's a rare instance in which I wouldn't be happy to see an Amanda Conner cover, but this is one of 'em. Hitman-related comics without Jim McCrea covers are an abomination. Ab abomination, I say!

Art and cover by JOHN ROMITA, JR. and KLAUS JANSON
On sale JULY 22 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers. Please see the order form for more information.
The Superman epic you never expected – “TRUTH” continues! Has Lois Lane betrayed Superman with the truth?

I remain perplexed as to why DC decided to launch a Superman run by Gene Yuen Lang--one of the biggest names in comics at the moment, if not within direct market superhero comic books-- during a multi-book, multi-writer crossover...let alone one that runs for (at least?) two months.

Awesome cover on this one, though; it really makes me wish the interiors were going to be anything at all like some of the more fun covers, although DC is trying some comedy books this summer, including Bizarro and Bat-Mite.

You know the only problem with Sean Galloway*'s TTG variant for Superman/Wonder Woman? Superman did not order Superman ice cream. Perhaps he's too modest to order the ice cream flavor named after him though; I guess I could see that.

Hey, Ben Caldwell drew the best--i.e. most tolerable--version of The New 52 Red Robin costume yet seen! That Ben Caldwell is the best. This cover is a pretty great illustration in the gulf of design quality between the Teen Titans on TV and the Teen Titans in DC's current comics line, too. I mean, just compare those Ravens (The New 52 Raven is the one with her head stuck in a hollowed-out cabbage, if you couldn't tell, because why on Earth would you suspect that was supposed to be Raven?).

The best-selling BATMAN: BLACK AND WHITE line of statues continues with this finely detailed statue of Arkham's most adorably insane inmate, Harley Quinn—based on the original design for the character by co-creator Paul Dini!
Limited Edition of 5,200
Measures Approximately 7" Tall
$79.95 US • On Sale November 2015 * Allocations May Occur

I thought this was a typo at fist glance, as Paul Dini is primarily known in comics circles as a writer rather than an artist, but I suppose it shouldn't com as a surprise that an animation producer can draw well enough to design characters. His Harley Quinn looks a lot more like the Golden Age Green Lantern villain Harlequin than the one that co-creator Bruce Timm ultimately put in the show.

*Sorry, I can't bring myself to call him "Cheeks".

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)