Saturday, May 09, 2015

Who's Who In The DC Convergence #5

Vicente Cifuentes
Based on the character created by Paul Norris
Alter Ego: Arthur Curry
Occupation: Emperor
Marital status: Widower...and not happy about it
Known relatives: Orm/Ocean Master (brother)
Base of Operations: Atlantis
Hair style: Unfortunate
First appearance: FLASHPOINT #1 (2011)

Born in a world where he returned to the undersea kingdom of his ancestors at an early age, a world without a Justice League to provide him ties, allies and friends among the heroes of the surface world, Aquaman turned out quite differently. By young adulthood, he was the brutal emporor of the Atlantean Empire, and was set to marry Princess Diana of the Amazonian nation of Thmyscira, who he had met and fell in love with at a young age.

Their wedding was sabotaged by traitors within both kingdoms, however, and when someone (Amazon warrior Artemis) attempted to assassinate Diana on her wedding day and killed her mother Queen Hippolyta instead, blame was shifted to an Atlantean (Garth).

These and other machinations by conspirators at high-levels in both nations plunged Atlantis and the Amazons into war. At one point, Aquaman married Mera, but his queen was killed by Amazons. As the Atlantis/Amazon war grew in scope and ferocity, much of Western Europe was sunk by Atlantis, and they next targeted New Themyscira (the former UK). The U.S. attempted to enter the war, but The Flash Barry Allen and a rag-tag group of heroes intervened at ground zero, coming between Aquaman and Wonder Woman and re-setting the timeline so one of these events ever happened.

Like his pre-Flashpoint counterpart, Aquaman's most noteworthy power was his ability to psychically communicate with sea life, which could give him a great aptitude towards controlling the more pliant and agreeable among them. Flashpoint's Aquaman may have had even more psychic ability, as he seems to able to completely dominate all forms of sea life, without suffering any of the side effects the he would have pre-Flashpoint.

Like all Atlanteans, he was also incredibly strong, fast, somewhate invulnerable and bearing heightened visual and auditory senses, particularly on land, a result of having quickly evolved to be able to withstand the crushing pressures and relative darkness of the ocean floor.

Despite his personal powers and weaponry, like his ever-present trident, his greatest power may be his control over the Atlantean army and its advanced weaponry.

For further reading: FLASHPOINT (2012) and, if you really feel you must read more, FLASHPOINT: THE WORLD OF FLASHPOINT FEATURING WONDER WOMAN (2012)

Eduardo Risso
Based on the character "created" "by" Bob Kane
Alter Ego: Dr. Thomas Wayne
Occupation: Runs the Wayne Casino
Marital status: Martha Wayne (estranged fact, their marriage is about as strange as it gets)
Known relatives: His son is deeaaaaaad!!!
Base of Operations: Gotham City
First appearance: FLASHPOINT #1 (2011)

One night prominent Gothamites Dr. Thomas Wayne, his wife Martha and their young son Bruce were attacked by a mugger, and Bruce was shot to death, plunging the Waynes into deep mourning that drove them both more than a little insane in different ways.

Thomas dealt with his greif by quitting the practice of medicine and devoting himself completely to waging a war on crime as the costumed crimefighter The Batman, opearting out of a cave beneath the abandoned Wayne Manor. In his public identity, Thomas Wayne helped bring gambling to Gotham City, and opened the Wayne Casino as a way to keep the city's crime and criminals close to him. He worked with Oswald Cobblepot and policeman James Gordon in this endeavor.

As Batman, he dealt with his foes rather permanently, killing Killer Croc, Hush, Poison Ivy, The Scarecrow and even Joe Chill, the man who murdered his son. One super-criminal he was never able to bring himself to kill, however, was The Joker, the colorful, killer identity that Martha took on after being driven very, very crazy by Bruce's death.

A meeting with The Flash Barry Allen revealed to Thomas that his world was even more wrong than he could possibly have imagined, and had only come about as the result of attempts to alter the timeline by The Flash and his archenemy The Reverse Flash...Barry being one of the few people in the world with any inkling of the old world, as it existed before the manipulations of the timeline and the ripple effect of unwanted changes it caused.

Wayne decides to work with Allen to restore to the world to the way it should be....and he becomes particularly devoted to the cause when hear learns that it was really he and his wife who were supposed to have died, while Bruce was meant to have survivedd. Pondering whether it was really worth ending his world to bring his son back to life, even if he would never meet him, Wayne sought the advice of Martha–during the course of trying to bring her to justice after she kidnapped Harvey Dent's twin children and tricked Gordon into shooting one of them before killng Gordon herself.

Their encounter didn't go well for Martha, but Wayne aided Allen, asking that The Flash deliver a letter to his son once the timestream was restored.

Together with The Flash and a handful of allies, Wayne helps end the Flashpoint timeline and restore the original one, although the unexpected and still unexplained interventions of the mysterious immortal known as Pandora again altered the timeline, so the reality The Flash returned to was a drastically different one than the one he left. Somehow, The Flash's memories remained–at least for a time–as did the now non-existent Thomas' letter to his son, which The Flash was able to deliver.

He's Batman.

For further reading: FLASHPOINT (2012), FLASHPOINT: BATMAN–KNIGHT OF VENGENACE #1-3 (2011) or FLASHPOINT: THE WORLD OF FLASPOINT FEATURING BATMAN (2012), although you can stop reading after you've finished Brian Azzarello and Eduwardo Risso's story, as the rest of the collection is fairly terrible.

J.H. Williams III
(Re-)created by Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, Mark Waid, Geoff Johns, Ken Lashley and Alex Ross, based on the character created by Bob Kane, Sheldon Moldoff and Edmond Hamilton
Alter Ego: Katherine Rebecca Kane (But you can call her "Kate")
Occupation: Socialite
Marital Status: Funny story; ask DC's co-publishers next time you see them at a convention, why don't you
Known relatives: Colonel Jacob Kane (father), Captain Gabrielle Kane (mother; deceased), Elizabeth Kane/Alice (psychotic twin sister), Catherine Hamilton (step-mother), Bette Kane/Flamebird (cousin)
Group Affiliation: Batman, Inc
Base of Operations: Gotham City
Faith: Jewish
First appearance: 52 #7 (2006)

The Kane family suffered a particularly elaborate tragedy when Kate and her twin sister Elizabeth turned twelve. Their mother took the girls to a fancy restaurant to celebrate their birthday, but they were kidnapped. The girls' father, a colonel in the U.S. army, lead a rescue operation, but in the process his wife and the girs' mother was killed, and Elizabeth was presumed dead...only to appear as a costumed criminal in Gotham many years later, as so often happens.

As a young adult, Kate attempted to follow in her father's footsteps by pursuing a career in the army. Despite her excellent grades and performance at the United States Military Academy, she was thrown out when it was discovered that she was a lesbian, and thus in violation of the U.S. military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy (this will need to be retconned, eventually).

She would ventually embark on her own kind of war-fighting, when she was attacked by a mugger. She took the criminal down herself easily by the time Batman arrived to help her. At that point, she decided to become a crime-fighter, but was quickly busted by her father. He decided that if she was going to become an urban vigilante, she should have to do it right, and so he sent her off for two years of globe-trotting training (to compliment the combat skills and physical training she already acquired in the military), and by the time she geot back, Jake Kane had made her a super-tight Batwoman outfit (which is kinda pervy, when you think about it), an arsenal of weapons and a bunker in their home.

Batwoman made her debut during Batman's year off, following the reality-warping events of Superboy-Prime and Alexander Luthor's complicated, semi-coherent plans to remake the universe. While Bruce Wayne/Batman, Dick Grayson/Nightwing and Time Drake/Robin were traveling the world together and training as a team, leaving a then temporarily reformed Harvey Dent to protect Gotham City, Batwoman began investigating Intergang's plot to turn Gotham City into the Vatican of their Religion of Crime.

She worked with former girlfriend (and former police detective) Renee Montoya and The Question, and, later, Nightwing, who returned from the training trip early.

Batwoman would work with the Bat-Family on several occasions, joining Batman, Inc and occasionally being called in for particular missions, but she's not particularly close to any of them, nor invited into their secret identity-sharing circle. Most of her career as a crime-fighter has focused on dealing with the Religion of Crime.

While Kate Kane has no super-powers, she's in peak physical condition, and is a superb athlete and martial artist.

For further reading: 52 VOLS. 1-4 (2006-2007) or 52 OMNIBUS (2007), BATWOMAN: ELEGY (2011), BATWOMAN VOLS. 1-4 (2013-2014)

Scott Shaw
Created by Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw
Alter Ego: Roger Rodney Rabbit
Occupation: Cartoonist of Just'a Lotta Animals
Base of Operations: Gnu York, Gnu York; Follywood, Califurnia (Pre-Crisis Earth-C)
Team affiliations: The Zoo Crew
Not to be confused with: Hoppy The Marvel Bunny
First appearance: NEW TEEN TITANS #16 (1982)

The origin of Captain Carrot actually began on the parallel Earth once designated as Earth-1, where the hero Superman found the citizens of his city Metropolis beginning to act atavistically. He traced the problem to a meteor, but upon investigation, he and the fragmenting meteor appeared in a parallel earth populated by anthropomorphic animals. The fragments of these meteors endowed several of the citizens of this Earth, later designated as Earth-C, with super-powers.

Among the first of these was the anthropomorphic rabbit and cartoonist Roger Rodney Rabbit. He gained his fabulous powers after eating a carrot that was grown in his window box, where a tiny piece of the meteor landed. The "cosmic carrots," as he called them, gave him his super-powers, but the effect only lasted 24 hours (less, if he was using his powers quite a bit), after which point he'd need to eat another cosmic carrot, which is why he usually would go into battle with spares.

The other new heroes included Pig-Iron, an anthroporphic boar who fell into a vat of molten metal along with a piece of meteorite, emerging in a new, metal body with matching super-strength and invulnerability; Fastback, an anthropomorphic turtle with super-speed; and a bunch of others with significantly smaller roles in Convergence (Alley-Kat-Abra, Little Cheese, Rubberduck, Yankee Poodle).

Together they helped Superman defeat the threat that was devolving the citizens of both Earths–Starro–and then the Earth-C heroes decided to stay together as a super-team, calling themselves The Zoo Crew.

Before the reality-warping crisis in which The Anti-Monitor attacked all of reality shunted the characters' homeworld from an alternate Earth vibrating at a different frequency of an infinite number of others and into their own alternate dimension, the Zoo Crew would face such challenges as invaders from Earth-C- and navigating a war between Oz and Wonderland. After the new reality inadvertently created by the actions of the Anti-Monitor began to settle, Captain Carrot and The Zoo Crew reverberated on Earth-O in many minor ways. It was recently revealed that their Earth is actually one of the 52 known Earths of the local Multiverse, and it has been cataloged as Earth-26, while Captain Carrot (somewhat dramatically altered in appearance) joined the new Multiversal super-team dubbed Justice Incarnate.

Captain Carrot possesses super-strength and speed, a high degree of invulnerability, enhanced senses and the ability to hop great distances.


Graham Nolan, I want to say...?
(Re-)created by Joe Staton and Joey Cavalieri, based on the character created by Staton, Paul Levitz, Joe Orlando and Bob Layton
Alter Ego: Helena Rosa Bertinelli
Occupation: Teacher
Marital Status: Single
Group Affiliations: The Birds of Prey, The Justice League
Base of opeartions: Gotham City
Faith: Catholic
First appearance: THE HUNTRESS #1 (1989)

Helena Bertinelli has three different origin stories, so her history depends on which version you want to read. The first has long been out of print, but the second two (see below) are still readily available. In all versions, however, Helena Bertinelli is the daughter of a prominent mafia family, and sees most or all of her family wiped out my a rival crime family when she was just eight years old. She then devotes herself to seeking vengeance for them when she grows to adulthood...not as the head of her crime family, but as a masked crime-fighter.

After her years of training, mostly in hand-to-hand combat, archery and the use of the crossbow, Bertinelli adopts a skimpy purple costume and cape and takes the name "The Huntress." She sets up shop in Gotham City, much to the annoyance of its alpha crime-fighter, The Batman. He doesn't like her recklessness or her (relative) bloodthirstiness, and most of her earliest interactions with The Dark Knight consist of Batman forbidding her from fighting crime or, when he's in a good mood, simply discouraging her from doing so.

By day, she works as a high school teacher, hoping to cause effect positive change in Gotham City by an entirely different route.

While Batman was slow to warm to The Huntress, the rest of his crime-fighting team didn't have as much trouble. Robin Tim Drake worked with her extensively very early in his career, Nightwing Dick Gryason occasionally partnered with her (and totally hooked up with her), and Oracle Barbara Gordon eventually recruited her to join her and Black Canary in their crime-fighting outfit The Birds of Prey. The line-up would shift over the years, but The Huntress and Black Canary would remain Gordon's most loyal agents.

While Max Lord once considered recruiting The Huntress to the Justice League while it was still operating under its international charter, she never officially joined the League until Batman sponsored her during the team's rapid expansion after Lex Luthor's Injustice Gang all but dismantled the small, ten-member League. When she asked why he decided to have her join the League after pushing her away from crime-fighting for years, he explained that he hoped the exposure to the likes of heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman would help her become a better hero.

The Huntress would remain with the team until the time Mageddon, the anti-sun weapon left over from a war of the Old Gods, nearly destroyed the world. In that time, she became close to Steel and Plastic Man (another of Batman's recruits, with whom she had a love/hate sibling-like relationship). Among her greatest achievements was helping Steel, Plastic Man, Zauriel and Barda repel the Justice Legion from The Watchtower, and helping come up with a cross-time strategy for defeating Solaris and Vandal Savage in the far-flung future.

While Helena lacks any super-powers, she's an excellent hand-to-hand fighter and in peak physical condition. She is particularly adept with her weapon of choice, the crossbow, and she's used several different versions of the weapon over the years, including a wrist-mounted one.

For further reading: For her origin stories, you'll want to read BATMAN & HUNTRESS: A CRY FOR BLOOD (2002) and/or HUNTRESS: YEAR ONE (2009); for her work with the Birds of Prey, you'll want the pre-Brightest Day Gail Simone run, collected in BIRDS OF PREY: VOLS 1-7 (2004-2008); for her JLA appearances, you'll want to read JLA VOLS. 2-4 (2012-2014), JLA: ONE MILLION (2004) or DC ONE MILLION OMNIBUS (2013); for her work with Batman and his allies, you can look for trades like BATMAN: CONTAGION (1996), BATMAN: LEGACY (1997), BATMAN: CATACLYSM (2015) and BATMAN: NO MAN'S LAND VOLS. 1-4 (2011-2014)...she plays similar supporting roles in other big Batman storylines, from HUSH to WAR GAMES to BATTLE FOR THE COWL, but those are all terrible.

Francis Manapul
Created by Len Strazewski and Mike Parobek
Alter Ego: Jesse Belle Chambers
Occupation: CEO of Quickstart Enterprises
Marital Status: Married to Rick Tyler/Hourman II
Known relatives: Johnny Chambers/Johnny Quick (father; deceased...ish), Libby (Lawrence) Chambers/Liberty Belle (mother)
Group affiliations: Justice League of America; formerly The Justice Society of America and The Titans
First appearance: JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #1 (1992)

Jesse Chambers was the daughter of two Golden Age superheroes, the speedster Johnny Quick and the masked Liberty Belle, who gained super-strength, increased agility and other weapons by mysterious means originally believed to be tied to the Liberty Bell after which she took her name.

Her father taught her the secret to his super-speed–reciting the mathematical formula "3X2(9YZ)4A" aloud–but her interest was in her education and business, rather than following in her dad's super-fast footsteps.

She gradually became more and more involved with the superhuman community after the original members of the Justice Society of America were freed from their never-ending battle in Ragnarok, and The Flash Wally West asked her to act as his stand-in, should he ever be unable to serve as The Flash.

Her father died protecting her from the villain Savitar, or at least died to the extent that any speedster could, as he became one with the mysterious extra-dimensional energy referred to as The Speed Force, the source of all speedsters' powers.

While she spent most of her time running her late father's business Quickstart Enterprises, she continued to super-hero occasionally, usually helping out West and fellow speedsters like Impulse and Max Mercury. She became much more active upon joining the re-formed Titans team, consisting of first generation Titans (Dick Grayson/Nightwing, Wally West/The Flash, Garth/Tempest, Donna Troy/Troia and Roy Harper/Arsenal), and recruits nominated by each of them. Jesse was Wally's choice for the new team.

After that team of Titans disbanded, Jesse began working with the new Justice Society, which had also just reformed. At first, she worked as the team's business manager, but eventually became an active member, trading in her "Jesse Quick" costume and persona to become new Liberty Belle. It turns out she inherited not only her father's super-speed powers, but also her mother's powers.

While a member of the JSA, she met Rick Tyler, son of the original Hourman, who once tried to carry on his legacy as Hourman II and quit, but had fairly recently returned to action after the android Hourman (who was therefore technically Hourman III) from the 853rd Century left the 21st Century. The pair fell in love, and eventually married.

Jesse would later switch back to her Jesse Quick identity, wearing a new costume that more closely resembled that of her father's, and was poached from the JSA by then-Batman Dick Grayson to join the new JLA, which had a roster heavily comprised of younger, third-generation superheroes at the time. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure she is the only superhero to ever be a member of the JSA, the Teen Titans and the JLA.*

Upon reciting or meditating upon her father's speed formula, Jesse can access the Speed Force, giving her incredible super-speed and its attendant related powers. While the upper-limits of her speed are not known precisely, she's not quite as fast as The Flash Wally West, nor as experienced as Max Mercury, known as "The Zen Master of The Speed Force."

Jesse also inherited her mother's super-strength, although she was unable to access it until later in her career.


Ed Benes
Based on the character created by William Moulton Marston
Alter Ego: Diana
Occupation: Queen of The Amazons
Marital status: She was engaged...once.
Known relatives: Hippolyta (mother; deceased)
Base of Operations: New Themscyria (formerly the United Kingdom)
First appearance: FLASHPOINT #1 (2011)

Diana, Princess of the Amazons, was betrothed to marry Arthur Curry, King of Atlantis, but rogue elements within her own country attempted to sabotage the union. When the Amazon Artemis attempted to assassinate Diana with a bow and arrow on her wedding day, Diana's mother Queen Hippolyta took the arrow instead, saving her daughter's life at the cost of her own. Artemis was able to frame the attack on Garth of Atlantis, plunging the two nations into war. Artemis and co-conspirators at the highest levels of government in both nations further sabotaged later attempts to sue for peace.

Diana lead her people in a war against Atlantis and pretty much all-comers, conquering the United Kingdom–and killing 12 million people in the process–while The Atlanteans sunk much of the rest of Western Europe, which resulted in an even more astronomical death toll.

In addition to her Amazon warriors, Diana also commands a group of super-powered and/or super-skilled women known as The Furies, and these include the likes of Starfire, Terra, Giganta, The Cheetah, Hawkgirl and others. They are opposed not only by the Atlanteans, but also "The Resistance," a popular movement that counts several superhumans among its members, and enjoys support from foreign governments.

With Atlantis threatening to sink New Themscyria with a tidal wave, the United States announces they would be entering the war. Wonder Woman was fighting her one-time financee Aquaman one-on-one in her kingdom when The Flash  and his new allies–including Batman, Cyborg, Captain Thunder, Element Woman and The Enchantress–arrived to join the fray. In the ensuing melee, The Flash learned why and how the world changed so drastically around him, and what he could do to set it right.

He proceeded to do so, but rather than restoring the timeline, he inadvertently created a new, altered version of it. This one was much closer to the one he left before the Flashpoint timeline, but one it was still rather radically altered–thanks in large part to the contributions of the mysterious immortal Pandora, who infused The Flash's timeline with elements from two other "universes."

For Wonder Woman, the changes were mostly minor, cosmetic ones, although her parentage and the history of her people suffered a more drastic change.

Flashpoint Wonder Woman seemed to have all of the most commonly used powers and abilities of Wonder Woman prior to the timeline divergence, including super-strength, super-speed, flight and invulnerability. She was additionally an incredible warrior, the best in an entire nation of warriors, proficient with the various bronze age weopanry most commonly employed by the Amazons (sword, shielf, spear, bow, etc), but relied most heavily on her magic lasso (an unbreakable rope that compels all ensnared in it to tell the truth and subvert their will to hers to some degree) and her bracelts.

For further reading: FLASHPOINT (2012) and, if you must, FLASHPOINT: THE WORLD OF FLASHPOINT FEATURING WONDER WOMAN (2012), but I must warn you that it is not very good.

*Well, Damage worked extremely briefly with the Justice League Task Force, later joined the Titans and later still joined the JSA, so if one wants to count the Task Force as the Justice League, then he too has been on incarnations of all three super-teams.


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

I didn't realize that FLASHPOINT was that terrible--I only read the main comic and the one with Deadman & The Flying Graysons--but the minis you describe sound awfully shitty. Martha Wayne as the Joker who then kills one of James Gordon's kids reminds me of how violent the new52/Divergence DC is now.

So...any idea yet when we'll see the actual threat that Pandora described the needed the three combined universes at the end of FLASHPOINT? I've yet to see the reasoning, but try not to overthink it.

Anonymous said...

Good roundup. One small correction, though: Huntress's co-creator is Joe Staton, not Joe Stanton.

Evan said...

I absolutely hated the twist that Martha Wayne was the Joker, most versions of her character have been portrayed as a good and stable person. Not someone who would become a serial killer because her son died.

Plus, it totally subverts the message of a certain other famous Batman (The Killing Joke) story, namely that one bad day can't drive you mad unless you already had serious problems to start with.

Anonymous said...

Jesse was always my favorite member of the All-Stars. It's nice to know she's still around.