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Across the DC Universe #43 - Part 1

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Welcome back to Broken Frontier’s weekly issue by issue roundup of events from every corner of the DC Universe! 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.

Detective Comics #854

In Gotham City Batwoman investigates the resurgence of the covens of the Religion of Crime and we learn more of her operational setup which is supported by her father.

Crossovers: Batman: Reborn

The Bigger Picture: As mentioned here The Religion of Crime attempted to sacrifice Batwoman by means of stabbing her in the heart in 52 #48 to fulfil her prophesied murder in the Crime Bible.

The Religion of Crime, under the auspices of Darkseid’s lieutenant Libra played a major part, of course, in the recent Final Crisis event. For more on the Crime Bible and its adherents check out the 52 Aftermath: Crime Bible: Five Lessons of Blood and the Final Crisis: Revelations miniseries.

Continuity Corner: Kate’s father mentions someone named "Bette" as being in town and being eager to meet up with her. This could be a reference to Betty Kane who, in Silver Age pre-Crisis continuity, was the original Bat-Girl and the niece of Kathy Kane, the Silver Age Batwoman.

Betty first appeared in Batman #139 (April 1961) and made a handful of appearances over the next two or three years. She then disappeared until the 1970s where she popped up briefly again as a member of Titans West in Teen Titans #s 50-52 (Oct-Dec 1977).

In post-Crisis continuity she was reinvented as Flamebird in Secret Origins Annual #3 (1989) and her name was now spelled "Bette" (a shortening of her middle name). If the Titans of Tomorrow arc is to be believed Bette is destined to become Batwoman herself in the future.

It should also be noted that the original Batwoman Kathy Kane seemed to have been confirmed as part of current continuity in the "Batman R.I.P." saga, although the metatextual elements of that storyline may mean that's an assumption that doesn’t bear too close analysis.

          

Questions: Why is Batwoman of such importance to the Religion of Crime? Who is the religion's new leader Alice? Is "Bette" actually the same character who was the Silver Age Bat-Girl and does she have any relevance to the "new" Batgirl soon to debut in her own series? Does Kate have any links to the Silver Age Batwoman in current continuity?

The Question co-feature

Renee Montoya, the new Question, investigates the disappearance of a young illegal immigrant and her abductor, the people-trafficking Varga.

Continuity Corner: Renee’s ally Tot is Aristotle Rodor the inventor of the Pseudoderm process and mentor to the original Question Vic Sage.

Questions: Does Renee still have any links with the Global Peace Agency from Final Crisis? Given Renee’s links to the Religion of Crime will her paths cross with her former lover, and Detective Comics co-star, Batwoman again in the near future?

Gotham City Sirens #1

In the new and darker Gotham circumstances bring Catwoman, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy together. After a battle with new villain Boneblaster it becomes very clear to Ivy that Catwoman is not over the horrific injuries she recently suffered at the hands of Hush. Entering into a loose affiliation the Sirens begin their partnership with betrayal when Ivy drugs Selina and demands the truth about Batman’s identity...

Crossovers: Batman: Reborn

The Bigger Picture: Selina refers to her tussle with Jason Todd in Batman: Battle for the Cowl. She also mentions her ordeal at the hands of Tommy Elliot in the Heart of Hush arc when he removed her heart from her body. The "magic elixir" she refers to that helped her heal after Hush’s butchery probably refers to the bottle that Zatanna gave her in Detective Comics #850 which was supposedly for her post-op scars.

Holly Robinson, Selina’s close friend, Catwoman II and major player in Countdown to Final Crisis is revealed to have used her share of the money Selina stole from Hush to get out of the super-hero life once and for all.

A homeless Poison Ivy has drugged Eddie Nigma, the Riddler, and moved into his apartment with Harley Quinn. This is an unsurprising development given that Grundy destroyed her penthouse apartment in Solomon Grundy #3.

Ivy sends her consciousness into plants in Zatanna’s apartment to question her about Selina’s condition. She is possibly accessing the Green from the pages of Swamp Thing to do this.

Questions: What is the origin of Boneblaster? What is the full extent of Selina’s health problems? Can this unstable union of femme fatales really effectively work together?

Superman #689

Mon-El takes the Man of Steel’s place across the globe as we see him team with many of DC’s lesser-seen international heroes in a series of vignette adventures. Meanwhile in Metropolis Morgan Edge makes his presence felt, Project 7734 hires the Prankster and Atlas prepares to murder John Henry Irons on General Lane’s orders...

Crossovers: World Without Superman

The Bigger Picture: Black Lightning is said to have left Metropolis and is no longer one of its protectors. Hardly surprising, given his role in the Bat-verse in current issues of The Outsiders. For more on the current status of guest-star Rising Sun check out the Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance miniseries.

Tellus takes his leave of Metropolis after being rescued by Guardian and the Science Police. He speaks of a mission for the good of "The universe... one that is yet to come" which could be a reference to the Legion’s future after the upcoming Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5 and the following Adventure Comics book.

Continuity Corner: In Metropolis Mon-El encounters Superman villain Livewire, supernatural menace the Gentleman Ghost (who rather implausibly for a proven spirit is depicted slipping over in a puddle of water!) and old Firestorm baddie the Zuggernaut who made its entrance into the DCU in Firestorm the Nuclear Man #69 (Oct 1988) during John Ostrander’s run on the title.

Mon-El briefly ponders on the last interview given by the "first costumed hero" Lee Travis before he died. Travis was, of course, the Crimson Avenger who first appeared in Detective Comics #20 (Oct 1938) and died in the "Whatever Happened to...?" backup in DC Comics Presents #38 (Oct 1981).

           

We meet a plethora of international DC heroes this month as Mon-El has adventures across the planet. Some of these are old faces or characters with legacy ties to established heroes.

In Germany he meets detective Will Von Hammer who is presumably a descendant of Hans Von Hammer, the Enemy Ace, and is also the grandson of Stormy Foster, aka The Great Defender. Stormy was a Golden Age hero who, with the aid of a secret vitamin compound, gained superhuman strength and invulnerability. He debuted in Hit Comics #18 (Dec 1941) and fought crime alongside his Chinese-American sidekick Ah Choo (let’s move swiftly on from that latter point...)

Mexico’s Iman was one of the international heroes to be introduced (and then largely ignored) during the Annuals event Planet DC in 2000, in his case in Superman Annual #12.

In Africa we see Mon-El meet Congorilla and Freedom Beast. Explorer Congo Bill’s first appearance was in More Fun Comics #56 (June 1940) and in Action Comics #248 (Jan 1959) he gained the mystical ability to control the body of giant golden gorilla Congorilla. Freedom Beast who made his intro in Animal Man #13 (July 1989) is the successor to the seldom seen B’Wana Beast who first appeared in Showcase #s 66-67 (Jan 1967).

           

He also teams up with the Rocket Reds in Russia, Class War (Sunny Jim and Beaumont) in England, vampiric heroine La Sangre in Spain, Rising Sun and Dr. Light in Japan and Cajun hero King Billy against a new female Blockbuster in Louisiana.

Notes: The painting that Mon-El so enjoys in the National Gallery in London is Seurat’s Bathers at Asnieres.

Questions: What is Tellus’s role in securing the future of the DCU? Will we see any of the new characters introduced this issue in the near future? Who can break Project 7734’s stranglehold on Metropolis’s heroes?

Justice Society of America #28

The ghosts of those killed by the bombing of Hiroshima, including Bronze Age villain Kung the assassin, seek revenge for their deaths on the JSA. With the aid of the Spectre the spirits are eventually returned to Limbo but not before the revelation that Kung was using them in a scheme to be returned to life.

The Bigger Picture: Kung and the victims of Hiroshima escaped their Limbo like prison by following the Flash and Billy Batson’s father to the Rock of Eternity in the previous arc in Justice Society of America #s 24-26.

Continuity Corner: Kung was a Japanese metahuman during World War II who made his debut in Wonder Woman #237 (Nov 1977). He had the power to turn himself into animal or insect forms and worked as an assassin for his country. Kung’s attempt to kill Winston Churchill, referenced this issue, occurred in All-Star Squadron #s 8-9 (April-May 1982).

           

Questions: How did Kung appear alive and well in Wonder Woman Annual #1 (2007) if he actually died at Hiroshima in the last days of World War II? Who is the master of the realm of Outer Darkness that Kung has been freed from? What next for the Spectre?

 Join us in a couple of days for the concluding part of this week’s bumper DC roundup.

 

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Comments

  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Jun 28, 2009 at 5:20pm

    If anyone knows of previous appearances of Classwar, La Sangre, King Billy, etc. do let me know...

  • Bart Croonenborghs

    Bart Croonenborghs Jun 29, 2009 at 5:52am

    Wow, that Superman / Mon El breakdown was incredible. I humbly bow my head for the DC-Meister.

  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Jun 29, 2009 at 9:14am

    Ta Bart. Have to say that was a great issue of SUPERMAN from James Robinson. Reminded me of the old days on STARMAN where he used past continuity/DC history so delightfully and ably. Nice to see obscure characters reappearing without being butchered a couple of panels later as well...

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