Across the DC Universe #42 - Part 2

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Welcome to Part 2 of Broken Frontier’s weekly issue by issue roundup of events from every corner of the DC Universe. For Part 1 click here. This is where to come to catch up on what’s been happening with your favorite DC characters and how events in their books affect the DCU’s recent "Bigger Picture". We also point out any interesting continuity tidbits, link to suggested background reading and examine any pertinent questions raised by events in the week’s releases.

Spoiler Warning: Read no further if you’ve not had your DC fix this week and don’t want to hear about key story elements.

Vigilante #7

Vigilante’s pursuit of the gangster Tobias Whale leads to a near-fatal trap and an escalation of the characters’ enmity. Whale and the Penguin have a major falling out and more hints about Vigilante’s past seep out.

The Bigger Picture: Between his problems with Two-Face and Black Mask in Gotham, as seen in Batman: Battle for the Cowl, and his rivalry with Tobias Whale in New York the Penguin certainly seems to be stretching his operations a little thin at the moment.

Tobias Whale has copies of Lexcorp’s files on the New York crime scene. These were formerly in the possession of Vigilante’s target, the recently-deceased Eddie Huang. For more on Vig and Eddie check out Nightwing #s 133-137 collected in the Nightwing: The Lost Year trade.

Continuity Corner: Plenty of references again to the current Vigilante’s shared past with Adrian Chase, the original bearer of the armor of this incarnation of the identity. Chase debuted in New Teen Titans Annual #2 (1983) before graduating into his own ongoing series. His Vigilante book concluded with #50 when Chase's guilt at the extremity of his methods led to him committing suicide, in an unusual end for a major character.

Dorian, the current Vigilante, quips this issue "Adrian was meant to go to Heaven. Only he screwed up." Little does he realise how accurate this statement is – Chase’s spirit was seen in the afterlife in a limbo-like purgatory in the 1999 Day of Judgement crossover miniseries.


Questions: Why is Whale recruiting financial experts? What is the full story behind Dorian’s past and his complex family relationships? What are the extent of his links to former Vigilante Adrian Chase? Vigilante is unaware that Hank Davis, who he blames for ratting him out to Tobias Whale, is actually an undercover cop – is our anti-hero about to visit vengeance on an innocent man?

Supergirl #42

After the shocking events of the previous issue Lois, Supergirl and General Lane come to terms with Lucy Lane/Superwoman's death. In Metropolis Codename: Assassin frees Project 7734’s operative Reactron from the Science Police and Lana Lang receives some worrying news about her deteriorating health...

The Bigger Picture: General Lane is revealed to have somehow "faked his death" in the Our Worlds At War crossover storyline in 2001. Lucy Lane then chose a military career to honor her supposedly-deceased father.

Continuity Corner: Codename Assassin uses a "psychic grenade" to free Reactron from the Science Police. Among the hallucinations the lawmen experience are images of super-villains Shrapnel and former Superman Revenge Squad member Riot.

Questions: How much of Lucy Lane’s past continuity has been rewritten? Was she still married to Daily Planet reporter Ron Troupe? Is Lucy Lane really dead given that all that has been found of her body are tiny bits of flesh and hair? What is wrong with Lana Lang? What are General Lane’s plans for the freed Reactron?

Superman/Batman #61

The strange mishmash world that the World’s Finest team found themselves trapped in last issue proves to be a dreamlike trap created by JLA villain Dr. Destiny, who wants his own reality to control. With the aid of Zatanna and Raven, Superman and Batman escape this hallucinatory Earth of the Justice Titans, Lex Joker, Doomstroke and company. The psychic feedback puts Dr. Destiny into a coma but the criminal appears to, at least subconsciously, have worked out the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel’s identities...

The Bigger Picture: Dr. Destiny’s last major appearance was in Justice Society of America #s 4-5 around the time of the JLA/JSA Lightning Saga. In that story Dream Girl told him she had foreseen his violent death. Perhaps that explains his desire in this storyline to create a world which he controls entirely.

Zatanna’s feelings for Bruce Wayne resurface in Destiny’s false world echoing recent events in Detective Comics #843-844 wherein the characters considered the possibility of a romantic relationship.

Questions: Will Destiny remember our heroes’ real identities and, if so, how will this play into future storylines?

Power Girl #2

Long-time JSA baddie the Ultra-Humanite is back with a chilling new scheme – either Power Girl voluntarily gives up her body for him to transplant his brain into or he will destroy New York.

The Bigger Picture: The explanation for the Ultra-Humanite’s gorilla form directly contradicts revelations about the Ultra-Humanite’s past during the recent JLA/JSA crossover The Lightning Saga. That story alleged that Per Degaton was behind the Ultra-Humanite’s gorilla form and his ape body was said to have originally belonged to a denizen of Gorilla City. This past version of the villain went on to work as a member of the Time Stealers in the current Booster Gold series - the contemporary Ultra-Humanite having died in JSA #37 (Aug 2002).

Continuity Corner: In his new origin the Ultra-Humanite is Gerard Shugel, born with a terminal condition that was destroying his physical body despite the capacity of his brain increasing daily. When his academic funding into brain transplants is cut on ethical grounds Shugel and his assistant Satanna travel to the Congo where they take a drastic step and place Shugel’s brain into a giant white ape.

Satanna (or Satana) is the current DCU’s incarnation of Golden Age Hawkman villainess Satana the Tiger Girl. Satana first appeared in Flash Comics #13 (Jan 1941) transplanting human brains into tigers so her insertion into the Ultra-Humanite’s origin is a logical one. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray used her prominently in places like Hawkman #s 36-38 (March-May 2005) and again, briefly, in #4 of their recent Terra miniseries. Ultra-Humanite claims to have taught Satanna her techniques.

Power Girl’s company StarrWare was first seen in Paul Kupperberg’s 1988 Power Girl limited series.

Notes: "Shugel" is a combination of Shuster and Siegel, the surnames of the Ultra-Humanite’s creators.

Questions: If this is the original Ultra-Humanite then how did he survive his death in the JSA "Stealing Thunder" arc? What is the explanation for the changes in the Ultra-Humanite’s history? How does this affect his recent appearances in major DC story arcs? Or are there now two different Ultra-Humanites who existed on New Earth??

Action Comics Annual #12

In a flashback story the origins of the latest characters to take on the identities of Nightwing and Flamebird are given. We witness the deaths of Thara Ak-Var’s parents, members of the Kryptonian Black Zero military unit, when Brainiac stole Kandor. We also witness their commanding officer Ursa’s cowardice in the field. Taken in on Kandor by Supergirl’s parents, Thara undergoes a religious experience that links her to the spiritual entity of the Flamebird, an avatar of the Kryptonian deity Rao.

Chris Kent, meanwhile, undergoes a mutation in the Phantom Zone (possibly as a side effect of having been exposed to Earth’s sun) that ages him. Looked after by the near mindless Phantom Zone villain Non, he avoids encountering his parents General Zod and Ursa. An accident with Brainiac tech somehow forges a link between Chris and Thara on Kandor. Thara comes to believe that Chris is her spiritual other half Nightwing and she enters the Zone to save him. Although Zod and Ursa nearly stop her and escape with her Phantom Zone Projector, Non’s intervention allows Chris and Thara to flee the otherdimensional prison once and for all.

The Bigger Picture: In order to stop Zod and Ursa’s invasion of Earth, Chris Kent sacrificed himself to imprisonment in the Phantom Zone in Action Comics Annual #11 (2008) at the conclusion of the Last Son storyline.

For more on Brainiac’s attack on Krypton and theft of Kandor check out the Brainiac arc in Action Comics #s 866-870.

Each incarnation of Nightwing and Firebird are said to end in tragedy. This sounds very like the cycle of reincarnation that Hawkman and Hawkgirl go through.

Continuity Corner: Ursa’s Black Zero military unit share the name of the anti-cloning protest faction that played an inadvertent but pivotal role in the destruction of Krypton in John Byrne’s 1988 World of Krypton miniseries.

Questions: How exactly did the Brainiac technology allow Thara and Chris’s minds to link? Is this link really mystical in nature? What is the exact reason for Chris’s rapid ageing? What is the future of Nightwing and Flamebird and is their relationship really destined to end in tragedy?

Rounding up... There’s a well-presented, if slightly disjointed, selection of reprints in the Green Lantern Corps: Through the Ages one-shot with stories focusing on Abin Sur’s origins, the Book of Oa and the Manhunters... And in Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #2 life deteriorates even further for old school super-hero Rising Sun...

Fanboy Moment of the Week

A quick reminder that DC reissued the first Hitman trade paperback this week. Forget Preacher, for this ageing fanboy it’s the adventures of Tommy Monaghan and his shady crew that represent Garth Ennis’s finest hour. Support this volume and who knows... we may get to see DC collect the entire run if the audience is there.

The first issues of Hitman also resonate on a nostalgic level for me. It was the first book I was ever sent an advanced photocopied preview of, courtesy of DC Editorial, back in the ‘90s for my considered lettercol thoughts. Yes there was a world before the Internet kids and something called "letters pages" in the back of every DC comic. Go ask your granddads about them...

That’s it for another week. Join us in another seven days for our next sojourn with our chums in the DCU. Thanks for reading!

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  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Jun 23, 2009 at 10:36am

    I must say that the best piece of advice is at the end = HITMAN!

  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg Jun 23, 2009 at 2:10pm

    You mean Lucy Lane/Superwoman, right? (Not Supergirl.) As for the Ultra-Humanite situation, like I said in another thread, it's the fact that his origin has been seemingly relocated to modern day that's the issue. Where the ape body came from doesn't matter too much since he's transplanted his brain many times. He's probably had multiple ape bodies. It was the modern clothing and PETA reference that made the new origin a continuity hiccup.

  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Jun 23, 2009 at 2:10pm

    Indeedy. We love our HITMAN in this part of town!

  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Jun 23, 2009 at 2:23pm

    Thanks for catching that Supergirl typo Eric - I'll amend now. As for U-H - yep I guess we can speculate he has had many ape bodies and that gives us an explanation. However I suspect the writers on both stories (Lightning Saga and Power Girl) were giving their definitive takes on where the white ape body came from and to me that's as much a contradiction as removing his origin from the 1940s.

  • Tonya Crawford

    Tonya Crawford Jun 24, 2009 at 5:11pm

    Allow me to third HITMAN! Last year at Wizard World Chicago Hitman was brought up at one of the DC panels and you should have heard the room errupt into cheers just at the mention of the series. It was the biggest response throughout the entire panel!

    I've always argued that Garth Ennis is actually MORE creative rather than less when he's forced to reign himself in a little bit.

  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Jun 25, 2009 at 2:44am

    TONYA //I've always argued that Garth Ennis is actually MORE creative rather than less when he's forced to reign himself in a little bit.// I second that, Tonya! The same is true of Warren Ellis btw ...

  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Jun 25, 2009 at 5:53am

    That's something I've always argued as well. I always found the dialogue and humour in HITMAN far snappier and cleverer than PREACHER because GE had to work within parameters on the former book. But then, comics heretic that it apparently makes me, I have *never* understood the rep PREACHER has for being one of the medium's most outstanding works of genius...

  • NinjaGeorgie

    NinjaGeorgie Jun 26, 2009 at 9:18am

    Should i buy Hitman then?

  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Jun 26, 2009 at 2:28pm

    Definitely. Great cast of characters who are strangely endearing given their profession. You won't be disappointed.

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