Across the DC Universe

Lowdown - Article

Share this lowdown

  • Button Delicious
  • Bttn Digg
  • Bttn Facebook
  • Bttn Ff
  • Bttn Myspace
  • Bttn Stumble
  • Bttn Twitter
  • Bttn Reddit

Sometimes I feel so old.

As Morrissey once sang "Time's Tide Will Smother You". For me, this is never more evident than when I read interviews with hot new creators fondly reminiscing about the comics of their childhood and pointing to NFL Super-Pro (or something else as equally memorable from the 1990s) as their moment of inspiration. What seems like a week ago in my memory (and in the case of the 90s a week I’d probably like to forget...) is a lifetime away to many of today’s generation of writers and artists. And, of course, that’s as it should be – as we are constantly reminded, every era of comics publishing is someone’s Golden Age.

Being The Oldest Fanboy In Town, though, isn’t such a bad position to be in when you’re following the current DC line. Seldom has the DCU been more self-referential and immersed in its own backstory. A little knowledge goes a long, long way these days! Spinning out of a year’s worth of Countdown coverage here at Broken Frontier, this new weekly feature will give you an overview of each week’s comics and a speculative look at the puzzle pieces that make up those Bigger Picture storylines. We’re also providing some fun continuity pointers, about characters or history alluded to in current releases, that we hope will broaden your reading experience...

Before diving in though, please heed our Spoiler Warning: Read no further if you’ve not had your DC fix this week and don’t want to read about key story elements.

Across the Universe
(A rundown of the week’s releases)

Bartholomew Lash reaches trail’s end as his origin concludes in Bat Lash #1.

Unless you’ve been exiled to the Phantom Zone for several months you don’t need telling that the Batman: R.I.P. arc begins in Batman #676.

Batgirl’s very first meeting with Catwoman is recounted in Batman Confidential #17.

It’s the return of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League International in Booster Gold #9.

Get a sneak preview of the event everyone’s been anticipating in Final Crisis Sketch Book #1.

The gang war builds to a head and Batman has reached breaking point in Gotham Underground #8.

Dinah and Ollie find themselves entangled in the schemes of Ra’s Al Ghul and his League of Assassins in Green Arrow and Black Canary #8.

Mongul’s rise to power with the Sinestro Corps continues in Green Lantern Corps #24.

There’s a new re-telling of Helena Bertinelli’s origin in Huntress: Year One #1.

Simon Dark #8 sees Simon find an ally against the cult infiltrating Gotham.

The Man of Steel meets the Golden Age Green Lantern for the very first time in Superman #676’s flashback tale.

Trigon is back and everyone who has ever been a Titan is a potential target in Titans #2.

An old face returns to confront our favorite Amazonian princess in Wonder Woman #20.

And those fans of Earth-50 get two visits there this week in Gen13 #20 and Number of the Beast #3.

The Bigger Picture
(All the developments, hints, clues and teasers for the overarching storylines)

Those of you who read our Out for the Count feature will know that we had identified a number of core storylines to follow (The Mystery of the Legion, The Death of the New Gods, Salvation Run among others). Each week we scour the DC books for anything related to these arcs in order to piece together all the developments, clues and hints you may have missed...

The Monitors – More evidence of the Monitors taking on more individual looks and personalities can be seen in the new apparel that Earth-51’s Nix Uotan (left) is sporting. (Final Crisis Sketchbook #1)

A Crisis in Time? – The Time Stealers continue their manipulation of Booster and company. With the Time Trapper recently revealed as having played such a large part in warping Superman and the Legion’s respective continuities in Action Comics , and both books being written by Geoff Johns, is there a possibility of a link? (Booster Gold #9)

Batman R.I.P. – Dr. Simon Hurt, the man responsible for the isolation experiment in Bruce Wayne’s past, as well as the three rogue Batmen who have been plaguing him of late, is working for the Black Glove with an assembled group of unknown villains. Jezebel Jet, Bruce’s current romantic interest, receives an invitation to a society party (a "dance macabre") from the Black Glove. The Joker is also invited to the Batman’s "dance of death" by Le Bossu, another operative of the Black Glove. Let’s also not forget Morrison’s foreshadowing of a future DCU without Bruce Wayne in the recent Batman #666. Does this tie in? Is Damian destined to become the new Dark Knight or was this yet another New Earth alternate future? Only time will tell… (Batman #676)

Rip Hunter’s Chalkboard – It’s well worth pointing out that the words "Titans Hunt" were scrawled on this ever-puzzling board back in the final issue of 52. It’s taken a year but these events are finally playing out for the former sidekick super-team. (Titans #2)

Brother-Eye Spy – Blue Beetle and Booster Gold reform the JLI to regain control of the O.M.A.C.-controlled reality inadvertently created by Booster stopping Ted’s murder in the past. For those wanting an "out" for the totally villainous Max Lord then Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz may just have given us one here. It’s revealed that during his time with the League Max was shady yet essentially altruistic – his interaction with the team giving him a "change of heart". However, the alien sentient computer virus known as the Kilg%re (an entity that had set Max up with the JLI as part of its plans) eventually reasserted its dominance over Max’s personality in its bid to take control of the Earth by controlling its metahumans. It also explains how Max was back in flesh and blood mode in his Countdown to Infinite Crisis appearance (as opposed to the cyborg he’d been up to that point). I like this version better than totally evil Max or a Superboy punch. Much better. (Booster Gold #9)

In Blackest Night... – Mongul reverse engineers the Black Mercy plants with the power of the yellow rings so that they now show their victim their greatest fears rather than their greatest hopes. He then sends them out across the universe to further the aims of the Sinestro Corps. (Green Lantern Corps #24)

This is very tenuous (and thus somewhat unlikely) but check out the scene of the Joker’s psychiatry session in this week’s Batman. As the establishing shot pans on to the exterior of Arkham Asylum a number of purple flowers resembling the Black Mercy plants can be seen and a TV playing the words "There’s no hope now..." is heard (as part of the Joker’s delusions that he’s wiped out millions). When the Joker is asked by his doctor what he has seen in a Rorshach test he lies and says "Another pretty flower". Probably over-speculation but is it possible Mongul’s Black Mercy plants have made it to Earth by the time that the Batman R.I.P. arc begins? (Batman #676)

The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul – Believing that before his incarceration Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins were behind the attempted murder of Connor Hawke and his subsequent kidnapping, Ollie and Dinah follow the trail to a deserted castle in England. Here they find a cryogenically-frozen body. However, rather than Connor, the inhabitant of the casket is none other than Plastic Man. (Green Arrow and Black Canary #8)

The parentage of Damian is questioned by Tim Drake. Alfred tells Robin that the results of a DNA test will be revealed to him when Batman feels the time is right. (Batman #675)

The Tenth Age of Magic – Trigon’s realm has become desolated after a number of magic-based wars with other demonic entities. Determined to conquer Earth he has been systematically targeting members of the Titans, the only group to ever defeat him. Raven meets with her father and discovers he has more offspring on Earth who are working with him. (Titans #2)

Salvation Run – The Penguin’s profiteering from the Salvation Run conspiracy begins to unravel when Tobias Whale receives Intergang backing and Johnny Stitches gives him a day to get out of Gotham. (Gotham Underground #8)

Continuity Corner
(The whys and wherefores of some of this week's characters and events)

Batman #676: Batmen: Rest In Pieces

For some the thought of a storyline where Batman apparently dies may seem a radical and groundbreaking development. Older and wiser heads, however, have been here before… The Dark Knight has popped his clogs in a number of storylines and, on at least one occasion, it was permanent!

Batman #s 291-294 (Sep-Dec 1977) saw Gotham’s super-villains holding court (presided over by Ra’s Al Ghul) as a number of Batman’s Rogues Gallery gave testimony that they, and they alone, were the perpetrators of Batman’s recent murder. Catwoman, the Riddler, the Joker and even Lex Luthor all claimed responsibility and got an issue each to give their accounts of the grisly deed. Ultimately it all proved to be a cunning ruse for the Caped Crusader to draw out the killer of an innocent Batman impostor. However, David V. Reed’s four-parter is one of the most memorable of the multi-Bat-villain stories.

In Adventure Comics #s 462-463 (Mar-Apr 1979) the DC Universe really did say goodbye to Batman… and no less than the original Earth-2 version of the character (yes he who had debuted in Detective Comics #27). The Justice Society of America finally brought Fredric Vaux, the sorcerous villain responsible for the veteran hero’s death, to justice but this was a strangely low-key end to such an important character. The Brave and the Bold #200’s "team-up" of the Earth-1 and Earth-2 Batmen in July 1983 probably serves as a fonder farewell to the character.

More recently Bat-books cover dated Feb 2001 were all part of the This Issue Batman Dies!!! event - a themed semi-crossover where, in a variety of hoaxes, dreams and imaginary stories, the Darknight Detective met a series of unreal demises. This was a predictably hit and miss affair and at least one issue of this stunt redefined the word "tenuous" for a whole new generation of readers.

Teen Titans #2:Titans Hunt

What? Another one? As Titans aficionados will know, this title is hardly the freshest one for major Titans arcs! The first time it was used it saw the team targeted by the Wildebeest Society in a storyline that began in New Titans #71 (Nov 1990) and was still going strong well over a year later. Those with longer memories will recall the startling revelation that Teen Titan Jericho was the traitor behind the Wildebeests in a long-running saga that saw him, Danny Chase, Golden Eagle and Raven die. Danny Chase (kind of) stayed dead. The others all got better.

Dan Jurgens also had a "Titans Hunt" in Teen Titans #s 21-24 (Jun-Sep 1998) to wrap up his short-lived incarnation of the team (the Joto/Risk/Prysm/Argent/Atom version). This latest hunt began in Titans East Special #1 – an issue that, thankfully, has proved not to be quite as much of a bloodbath as we first imagined.

Bat Lash #6: Will he Save the West. Or Ruin it?

So went the tagline when this cult favorite cowboy first appeared back in 1971. Though his original Bat Lash series lasted just seven issues (just one more than this current miniseries focusing on his origin!) Bat Lash, the nature-loving, poetry-reading gunslinger is one of the most fondly-remembered of DC’s Western characters. His appearances over the years have been sporadic but his team-ups with Scalphunter in Weird Western Tales #s 45-46 and the JL in Justice League of America #198 and Justice League Europe Annual #2 may give those of you who enjoy a slightly more offbeat mix of characters some back issues worth hunting down. And don’t forget that Palmiotti and Gray used Bat in the current run of Jonah Hex in issue #s 3 and 24.

Wonder Woman #20: Look Who’s Stalking

Back in the mid-1970s DC put out a number of books in the Sword and Sorcery/Barbarian/Caveman mode including the likes of Stalker, Beowulf Dragon-Slayer, Tor and Kong the Untamed. Joe Kubert’s Tor made his return to the DC line last week but kudos to Gail Simone for bringing back two of these long-missing characters in this week’s Wonder Woman. Stalker enlists Wonder Woman’s help in killing D’Grth (the god of warriors on his homeworld) and during their confrontation he seemingly sends Diana back in time for an encounter with Beowulf, that great monster-killing hero of epic Middle Ages poetry.

The whys and wherefores of the plot will no doubt be explained in issues to come but the fun of this issue comes from the huge blip it gives on my fanboy radar. The version of Beowulf who appears is the one from the 1975 DC Beowulf Dragon Slayer series that lasted just six issues. And Stalker? Well he managed a paltry four issues in the same year – a Steve Ditko-illustrated, fantasy world-based, sword and sorcery hero who could only regain his lost soul by ending all war. Originally a good guy, he made a brief return to the DCU in 1999’s The Justice Society Returns event, as a villain hellbent on destroying all realities. This was under the skewed logic that no life = no more war = the return of his soul. His battle with the JSA concluded with his apparent destruction...

Fanboy Moment of the Week

Wondering what that conversation between Etta Candy and Diana in Wonder Woman #20 about our favorite Amazon’s time working for Taco Whiz was all about? No it wasn’t a throwaway line. Check out the cover to Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #73 (Apr 1993) on the right to see more of this forgotten part of Diana’s past!

Trading Places

Stalker’s conflict with the JSA can be read in The Justice Society Returns! trade paperback (ISBN 1401200907).

We’ll be back in seven days with another end of the week offering of analysis, speculation and background on events in the DC Universe. Until then feel free to post any comments, corrections or criticism on the Broken Frontier Across the DC Universe message boards thread. Thanks for reading!

Related content

Related Headlines

Related Lowdowns

Related Reviews

Related Columns


There are no comments yet.

In order to post a comment you have to be logged in. Don't have a profile yet? Register now!

Latest headlines


Latest comments
Comics Discussion
Broken Frontier on Facebook