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Across the DC Universe #17 - Part 1

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This week's DC coverage is a little different from our normal ATDCU offering. We're splitting our overview of the DC line's current releases into one, more easily digestible package for those who just want to get caught up with this week's events and how they play into the bigger storylines.

In a couple of days we'll be back with our more continuity-intensive ramblings and pointers for the more committed DC fanboys out there, picking up on the obscurer references and nods to the past in this week's books.

One thing that hasn’t changed is 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.

Cosmic Heroes

First up this week let’s look at the cosmic side of the DCU where we’re treated to the penultimate part of Hal Jordan’s Secret Origin. In Green Lantern #34 we learn that Atrocitus of the Five Inversions believes that future villain Black Hand is a "doorway" being tied to the greater fabric of universal power. I suspect that’s going to be a very important plot point when In Blackest Night… starts next year.

In the more contemporary DCU there’s certainly Mystery in Space in Adam Strange Special #1. This one takes place in between panels of Rann-Thanagar Holy War #4 when Adam was sent sprawling through time by the Eternal Light Corporation’s time-related experiments. This is a complex tale of temporal anomalies that hints at a slew of major events to come over the next few months. As he is shunted through his future, present and past Adam learns of his changing relationship with R-THW baddie Synnar, the fate of father-in-law Sardath, a coming bereavement and the destruction of Rann. It would also appear that Adam Strange is one of the Aberrant Six – the group of anomalous DCU characters, first mentioned in last month’s Hawkman Special #1, whose reality/continuity is open to considerable question.

Batman R.I.P.

Moving back to Earth and over to Gotham City there were a couple of direct Batman R.I.P. tie-ins to hit the shelves this week. Hush’s recent response to the Black Glove’s attacks on Batman’s life was a simple one – he decided to make sure he would be the only one who got to destroy the Dark Knight’s life. Those thinking Catwoman #82 ended on an upbeat, positive note may want to avoid Selina’s horrific fate here.

While Batman is distracted by Hush’s partner the Scarecrow, Bruce Wayne’s former childhood friend abducts Catwoman and removes her heart, leaving her at death’s door. A big plot point here is that during their fight Selina pulls off Hush’s bandaged mask and utters, in horrified tones, "No! You can’t be..." Does Catwoman have links to Tommy Elliot or is there someone else behind the Hush identity?

In Nightwing #148 Dick Grayson lies gravely injured while Batman remains on the missing list. Shot in the attack on Two-Face’s former love by bullets laced with the Scarecrow’s fear formula, Nightwing races to her safe house only to discover a whole host of Batman’s greatest foes there. I would suspect they are of a hallucinatory nature given the Scarecrow link.

Also tangentially tying in with the Batman Family we have Gail Simone’s Secret Six #1. Gail warned us that new villain Junior, who runs the West Coast crime scene, was the stuff of nightmares. Trust me, she wasn’t kidding. Hired by Junior to break the Tarantula (from the pages of Nightwing) out of prison and reacquire property she stole from him, the Six have set themselves on a collision course with Batman and the Huntress.

Meanwhile, Kate Spencer nearly fouls things up for the Suicide Squad in Manhunter #34. Her investigation into missing women on the Mexican border had led her to the new Crime Doctor and the Vesetech Corporation’s experiments to create their own super-villains. The intervention of the Birds of Prey persuades her not to blow the Squad’s deep cover mission to find out who is behind Vesetech. Elsewhere her son Ramsay is exhibiting metahuman abilities linked to his super-hero heritage and Kate’s tech guy Dylan is still missing as his criminal past catches up with him.

Alternate Earths

There are just a couple of alternate Earth sightings this week. The Authority #2 features the return of the atheistic super-being Eidolon. On this bleak, new, post-Apocalyptic Earth-50 he has formed an army of murderous followers who are marching in the direction of the Authority’s ruined Carrier. Only the Midnighter stands between them and the rest of the team.

The second parallel universe is in Trinity #14. On the Anti-Matter world of Earth-II Superman’s exile of Ultraman, Owlman and Superwoman has led to murder, rioting and mayhem across the population. Ironically, with their criminal rulers deposed Earth-II is now more unstable than ever. As the JLA struggle to find a solution Vixen theorises that without its own Trinity of characters the Anti-Matter Earth is now trying to shape Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman as its replacements.

The Troika’s Enigma returns to his homeworld and activates the Crime Syndicate of Amerika’s Cosmic Balance Inverter to return the JLA and all the slaves the CSA kidnapped from across the Multiverse to their own realities. His concern for the wellbeing of this world makes his place with the "Dark Trinity" all the more intriguing.

Mystics and Magic

Plenty of magical happenings this week for those interested in the mystical side of the DCU. In Trinity #14 Despero’s minions manage to brand Superman as the Troika’s plans to magically supplant their heroic counterparts proceed. And their agents manage to obtain the final artefact needed for Morgaine Le Fay’s spell – the skull of Maxwell Lord!

In Titans #4 Trigon’s offspring seek to use the "Trigon seed" once planted in Beast Boy to open the portal that will allow the demon to return to the mortal plane. Raven and the team trick the Sons of Trigon into thinking they will score a great victory by betraying their father and siphoning his power. In truth, though, their greed is their undoing, as Trigon’s power levels are now negligible.

Over in Supergirl #33, after battling the ubiquitous Clayface, the Maid of Might is betrayed by former Young Justice member Empress. Empress is being blackmailed into using her magical powers against Supergirl as part of the plans of new villain Aftermath - a victim of Doomsday’s attack on Metropolis who wants to discredit all super-heroes for what he perceives as their failure to save him.

A final entry on the mystical front: we meet a brand spanking new version of a classic DC Western character this week when gang member Chato Santana becomes Hell’s Assassin in El Diablo #1. After being shot and paralysed in an arms deal with the H.I.V.E. that went horribly wrong, Chato is hospitalized in the same ward as 170-year-old Lazarus Lane, the previous El Diablo. Believing he has ratted them out his former colleagues come looking for revenge leading to Chato being offered a supernatural chance at semi-redemption from the ancient Lane...

Historical Characters

It’s a tough week for DC’s historical characters. That Lost vibe continues to resonate in The War That Time Forgot #5 wherein future soldier Akisha is revealed to be working with the mysterious manipulator of events on the island. He, in turn, is observing the two factions with a robotic pteranodon which can traverse the island beaming back reconnaissance pictures of events to the control center. When this artificial creature is damaged, and its true nature revealed, a logo can be clearly seen on its internal workings. No, it’s not the Dharma Initiative that’s behind everything, but that green-eyed symbol has to be a major clue.

Intriguingly the pteranodon contains the same oily liquid that the G.I. Robot has been running on. As we have mentioned here before, the G.I. Robot was a creation of Project M, currently very active in the DC Special: Cyborg miniseries. Those behind events in The War That Time Forgot have a level of technology far beyond that department’s though and this robot is surely one of those abandoned on the island during the 1960s Star-Spangled War Stories run...?

And finally, for this roundup, another of DC’s historical anti-heroes appears in his own book this week. Jonah Hex #35 is another bleak entry in the bounty hunter’s life when a friendly meal with a sheriff and his wife turns into something far, far more sinister.

Normally at this point I say that’s it for another seven days and thank you for reading. However, the hardcore DC trivia fans should check back in a couple of days when I’ll pick up on some of the obscurer continuity points of current releases in Part 2 of this week's ATDCU and reveal my Fanboy Moment of the Week. I hope you’ll join me then.

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