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Across the DC Universe #33

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DC show their green credentials this week by effortlessly recycling storylines in both the Bat and Super-books. To be fair both arcs open up interesting story opportunities for examining the characters’ wider worlds and supporting casts. Before we find out more about the contenders for Batman's cowl and how Metropolis is faring without the Man of Steel, though, please don't forget 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.

Shadow of the Bat

Who will claim the mantle of the Bat this time round? Batman: Battle for The Cowl #1 goes through the paces as this revisited scenario sets up the plot points we’ll be following for the next few months. Until the status quo is restored with Bruce Wayne’s inevitable return that is. The first two characters to stake their claim to the legacy of the Dark Knight are Tim Drake, as foreshadowed in the last few months of Robin, and a mysterious ultra-violent, murderous Batman. Logic dictates that the latter should be Jason Todd but perhaps the obvious candidate is just a wee bit too obvious this time round?

No Batman equals yet another gang war in Gotham with Two-Face and the Penguin, in particular, squaring up against each other. A surprise entry into the conflict is the Black Mask whose casual resurrection would rather cheapens events in Catwoman #52 and subsequent stories in Selina Kyle’s book. It should be noted, though, that we only have the Black Mask’s word at this point that he really is Roman Sionis, the original bearer of that identity. Let’s not jump to conclusions in that regard just yet then.

Building on what Cassandra Cain was trying to achieve in recent issues of Batman and the Outsiders, the Batman Family have created a network of operatives to aid them including England’s own Knight and the Squire, Wildcat, Black Canary, Man-Bat and Batwoman. With Black Mask having destroyed Arkham Asylum (again!) and taken its inmates under his wing they’re certainly going to need all the help they can get...

Over in Batman Confidential #27 the arc that introduces a version of King Tut, the villain from the 1960s Batman TV series, to the DC Universe reaches its second chapter. Eddie Nigma fans should take note as this one features a major role for the Riddler.

World's Finest

In Action Comics #875 the sense of déjà vu is even more overwhelming as Earth learns, for what feels like the 337th time in recent years, what it means to be a "World Without Superman". The big revelations herein are the identities of the brand spanking new Nightwing and Flamebird which tie up one dangling subplot and have some bearing on another ongoing one over in Supergirl.

Nightwing is none other than a rapidly aged Chris Kent, Clark and Lois’s adopted son from the Last Son storyline and General Zod’s natural offspring. Since the Phantom Zone collapsed in on itself we’ve been wondering what happened to Chris and we discover here that he was rescued from his fate by Thara Ak-Var, Alura’s Chief of Security on Kandor. In turn, Thara has herself been touted as one of the possible characters in the frame as the mysterious new Superwoman... so I guess we can scratch her from that list now.

While in the Zone Chris learnt of Kryptonian sleeper agents placed on Earth by General Zod and Ursa. Nightwing and Flamebird are rounding these villains up before the Phantom Zone criminals’ materplan can unfold. Plenty of Easter Eggs here for Silver Age fans as the list of other rogue Kryptonians, still unaccounted for, includes a number of familiar pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths names like Jax-Ur and Quex-Ul.

Superman/Batman #56 turns the clock back (or perhaps winds it forward – hard to tell with this book’s nebulous continuity) to a time when the status quo of the World's Finest team was, relatively speaking, intact. Clark and Bruce’s recent power switch is revealed as a magical curse that Batman picked up in their battle with Silver Banshee back in #53. With the help of Zatanna and the JLA, Batman’s obsessional quest to police the planet 24/7 is ended and the Dark Knight returned to sanity.

The magical side of Batman’s world also gets some coverage in Simon Dark #18 as the story of Gotham’s mystical protector comes to an end. Simon gives up two of the souls that comprise his being to save his creator and "father" Gus from death. With a greater control over his powers and having found a degree of peace with himself Simon departs his friends, for the moment, as the book reaches its final issue.

Mystery in Space

R.E.B.E.L.S. #2 has a central premise that really does seem totally undermined by developments elsewhere in the DCU. The Threeboot Legion’s Brainiac 5, fearful for the future of his family line, has interceded in the past to help Vril Dox, Brainiac 2, in regaining control of his peacekeeping force L.E.G.I.O.N. All well and good, except that we know from Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds that the Threeboot Legion do not come from New Earth’s future. So whatever happens to Vril Dox is actually completely irrelevant to this version of Brainiac 5...

Using the personnel files of the Legion of Super-Heroes Dox begins building his own "Legion"to take the fight back to whoever has really usurped L.E.G.I.O.N. His first recruits are the monstrous Tribulus and Wildstar, a tracker from "Classic" Legionnaire Dawnstar’s people. On the way he also manages to betray the Omega Men into the bargain!

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised about Blue Beetle getting a backup strip in the wonderfully convoluted Booster Gold in the coming months. The fates of the two characters are becoming ever more intertwined and in this month’s BG #18 Booster's actions in ancient Egypt once again ensure the timelines of all Blue Beetles remain intact. It’s almost like we’re finally getting that 1990s Blue and Gold miniseries that never quite materialised all those years ago! The mystery villain of the past few months turns out not to be another version of Chronos after all but rather failed Linear Man "Rex Hunter" from the first year of this book’s history.

While Booster halts Rex’s schemes to gain ultimate control of time travel his actions are not without their repercussions. Booster’s sister Michelle witnesses her escape from death some years back and becomes convinced that Rip Hunter has done something very wrong in plucking her from the timestream in the instants before her demise.

Normality begins to return to New Earth over in Trinity #41 but Lex Luthor is determined to take advantage of the recent fluctuations in reality. And, while we wait for Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to descend from godhood, Krona enlists the aid of the Qwardian Void Hound to take him in exactly the opposite direction.

The Green Team

Oliver Queen’s stalker Cupid ramps up her obsession in Green Arrow and Black Canary #18 by killing off a number of obscure Green Arrow villains from the 1970s/1980s as well as Brick, that stalwart presence of the recent Winick era. Unfortunately Ollie himself isn’t exactly behaving very sanely in his search for nemesis Merlyn. When he questions former foe Count Vertigo about Merlyn’s whereabouts his behavior is actually deserving of serious prison time! Vertigo was long since cured of the depressive illness that made him a villain and has been a member in good standing of the Checkmate agency over the last few years after all - so torturing him by firing an arrow through his thigh is hardly the most heroic of actions. Little does Ollie know the degree to which Cupid is also manipulating Merlyn...

In Green Lantern Corps #34 Mongul brutally sees off Arkillo’s challenge for leadership of the Sinestro Corps, "dark" Guardian Scar steps up her plans to "tear Oa asunder" and Ion and Arisia make their way to Daxam to put down Mongul once and for all as the prelude to "Blackest Night" continues.

Join us next week for more on the mystery of Superwoman, the new Azrael and the prelude to Deathtrap. Thanks for reading.

 

 

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