Across the DC Universe #19 - Part 1

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With sixteen mainstream DC Universe or WildStorm books on sale this time around it’s been a very heavy week of releases. So I’m keeping the opening remarks down to our friendly 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.

Batman Family

In Batgirl #3 we learn that Cassandra and Marque were not taken out by Deathstroke last month. It was actually his daughter Ravager - who has plenty of father issues of her own! The three "heroes" follow the trail to Cain and the Terminator’s assassin school with Slade Wilson looking set to enter the fray for real next month. Also look out for a major falling out between Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon that seems set to have major repercussions as Nightwing berates Oracle for covering up Batgirl’s recent dubious behavior.

Over in Birds of Prey #122 the Joker and the Silicon Syndicate cunningly misdirect Oracle’s team in order to leave Barbara Gordon alone and at the Joker’s mercy. Will the Clown Prince of Crime recognize Oracle as the woman he brutalized in Batman: The Killing Joke?

There's a direct Batman R.I.P. crossover in Batman and the Outsiders #11 that begins with Superman and Green Arrow’s reactions to the Black Glove affair. Frank Tieri also follows up on his Gotham Underground series when the Penguin, angry at that Batman’s disappearance has left him vulnerable to Johnny Stitches and Intergang’s expansion into Gotham, announces to Batgirl that his fragile alliance with her mentor is over. Just as the Outsiders are debating whether to disband they receive contact from their missing leader...

Batman R.I.P.’s events also continue to be felt in Robin #178 as the Dark Knight’s absence in Gotham coincides with the worsening war amongst the street gangs and Nightwing’s struggles with Two-Face in his own book are referenced. Manipulating the situation from the sidelines is a more grown-up incarnation of old Robin rogue The General and the Spoiler, who seems to have betrayed the Boy Wonder.

Superman Family

In Action Comics #869 we learn that Supergirl’s benevolent parents Zor-El and Alura still live in Braniac’s bottled city of Kandor. Years ago, Zor-El used the salvaged tech of a Braniac probe to create a force field that saved Argo City when Krypton was destroyed. However, Braniac soon located Argo floating in space which led to Zor-El sending Kara to Earth to save her from the Coluan computer-villain. The more unique citizens of Argo were "re-housed" in Kandor where Superman discovers them this issue.

Over in The Brave and the Bold #17 we get a look at Supergirl’s other "origin" when we encounter a Kara plagued by the fact that she was sent to Earth by Zor-El to kill her cousin Kal-El. While Kara turns to the empathic Teen Titan Raven for help another troubled super-powered teen is causing chaos at Sausolito State University. Is Jonathan Mitchell really the son of forgotten JLA founder member Triumph? This issue seems to be set in the recent past so let’s hope it finally clears up the Supergirl origin mess once and for all.

Teen Titans Spotlight

Mr. Orr’s use of the same technology that turned Vic Stone into Cyborg to create his own super-soldiers is further explored this week. In DC Special: Cyborg #5 we meet the enhanced soldier team the Phantom Limbs. Orr does everything in his power to stop the Titans from shutting down his Project M operations – including forming his very own Cyborg Revenge Squad. This team includes Girder, Magenta (back to being evil again then...), Gizmo (but if it is he’s remarkably less corpse-like than he is in this week’s Birds of Prey), Cyborgirl, the Thinker (odd given his Checkmate status) and Vic’s future self from the Titans of Tomorrow Teen Titans arc.

Wally West and his kids take another tourist trip in The Flash #244. This time it’s to Dinosaur Island. The fact that Wally spots nothing amiss there leads to interesting questions about the timeframe of current events in The War That Time Forgot maxiseries. We speculated last month that Wally’s manipulation of the Speed Force to de-age Iris and Jai could have dire consequences and wasn’t just a convenient storytelling solution. Those consequences are revealed this issue as Wally’s powers begin to fade on him...

Politics and Religion...

Someone is mind-controlling party activists into blowing up Presidential candidates in DC Universe: Decisions #1. The JLA investigate but Green Arrow breaks ranks by not just acting as bodyguard to Democratic candidate Davis Brewster but also publicly endorsing him. For Doom Patrol fans there’s a strong role for Robotman in this opening issue.

Out in the cosmic reaches of the DCU the Rann-Thanagar Holy War reaches its fifth instalment. The space heroes stop a major confrontation between the Thanagarians and the Rannians but Adam Strange’s reckless gamble last month led to Lady Styx's destruction of Starman’s planet Throneworld. In light of Rann’s upcoming destruction, as revealed in Adam Strange Special #1, it might be worth keeping an eye on Prince Gavyn/Starman as an outside bet on the culprit. In this week’s big climax the Church of Eternal Light use Synnar as a sacrifice to bring their god the Nameless One back to the mortal plane.

Mystics and Magic

Ragman, taking time off from his Shadowpact activities, gives Tim Drake some alternative advice on the gang problems in Gotham in Robin #178. Also check out Birds of Prey #122 for a Zatanna appearance when she uses her magic to restore Manhunter’s memory; partially missing as a result of her recent encounter with the Visionary. And just when we thought we were moving on to a new story arc the Sons of Trigon come back to claim their sister Raven and depart for their father’s realm in Titans #5.

In Trinity #16 it looks like the Troika’s mystical attempts to usurp the place of the Trinity has succeeded. Questions are raised as to whether Despero is really who we think he is and Firestorm discovers Krona’s disappearance. Elsewhere in Castle Branek Gangbuster and Hawkman rescue Tarot who ominously warns that existence will be wiped out in every possible future unless the Trinity act now. Hawkman’s attempts to reach Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman fail though. As reality begins to fracture he is apparently split into his past lives. This is most intriguing given that Hawkman Special #1 recently claimed that aspect of the Winged Warrior was all a fabrication.

Checkmate #30 sees operatives Chimera and the August General in Iron taking a direct stand against the mystical entities determined to rid the planet of mankind as punishment for our failure to live in harmony with the environment. Watch out for a very significant guest-appearance from a character I assume is the sorcerer Sebastian Faust, one of Checkmate’s "rooks", as the book gears up for its climactic finale.

Alternate Earths

Confirmation in Trinity #16 that Enigma is indeed the Riddler of Earth-II and presumably the traitor in the ranks of the Troika mentioned in upcoming solicitations. Meanwhile over on Earth-9, in the pages of Tangent: Superman’s Reign #7, Batman and the Tangent Outsiders take the battle to the Tangent world’s Superman, little realizing he has already made the trip to New Earth. Earth-9’s Superman may be seeking to extend his "benevolent" dictatorship to the core Earth but starting in Metropolis only leads to an inevitable confrontation with his namesake.

There are a couple of Earth-50 entries this week. With the displaced population of North Korea now an effective army in their own right Stormwatch are faced with finding a permanent solution to the threat posed by their trio of super-powered leaders. Stormwatch PHD #14 has more examples of the brutal reality of the post-Apocalyptic WildStorm Universe.

And, finally, set in the days before World’s End, there’s also the conclusion to the DC/WildStorm: DreamWar in #6 of that miniseries. The assembled heroes of two universes work together to end the threat that Chimera, the teenager with the power to make dreams into reality, poses to Earth-50. With the DC heroes revealed as dream constructs created by the petulant teen to replace their "unheroic" WildStorm counterparts there’s plenty of heroic sacrifice in this final part.

There’s also one dangling thread to watch out for here that may be followed up on in the future. Chimera’s abilities were gained by stealing a book from the Athenaeum, the dream library of Earth-50’s universe. When the Authority’s Doctor returns the tome to the library in the story’s postscript Morgana, the Dream Keeper, remarks it's a few pages short. One of the pages shown to still be floating around the WildStorm Universe contains the concept of Green Lantern. A future Earth-50 GL? Surely that’s just a throwaway idea... isn’t it?

Check back after the weekend for Part 2 of this week’s ATDCU including Continuity Corner and our Fanboy Moment of the Week. Thanks for reading!

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