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Across the DC Universe #50 - 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.

Blackest Night #2

The Atom, still grieving for Jean Loring, agrees to meet with Hawkman, not realising the hero has been transformed into a Black Lantern. Flash and Green Lantern’s showdown with Black Lantern Martian Manhunter leads to an entire Justice League of Black Lanterns entering the fray. Meanwhile, the Black Rings show their first sign of weakness when they fail to convert the dead hero Dove to their cause.

On the mystical side of the DCU, Deadman’s mortal remains join the BL Corps, much to the horror of his spirit while Black Lantern Pariah appears to the magical DC heroes. As a result Crispus Allen’s "eligibility" for the BL ranks causes a rather bizarre internal schism for the Spectre. For the Aquaman family tragedy strikes when Black Lantern Aquaman murders former Aqualad Tempest...

The Bigger Picture: Tempest took the throne of Atlantis just last month in The Titans #15, a "Prelude to Blackest Night" crossover. That story appeared to be setting up the future direction for the character but we now know different.

Pariah’s appearance as a Black Lantern is somewhat confusing as he was shown to have recovered from his "death" in the Villains United miniseries as recently as Supergirl #19 wherein he warned Supergirl about upcoming events.

For more on Deadman’s current status check out Blackest Night: Batman #1. Hal Jordan’s time as The Spectre concluded in Green Lantern: Rebirth although it appears the Spectre-force would now prefer it if that weren’t so.

If you want more info on the Atom’s recent travails check out James Robinson’s text piece in last week’s Justice League: Cry for Justice #2.

Continuity Corner: The original Aquagirl was killed by Chemo during Crisis On Infinite Earths. In The Titans #15 Dolphin was revealed to have died off-panel during the destruction of Atlantis some months ago. Aquaman and Mera’s son "Aquababy", briefly mentioned in this issue, was murdered by Black Manta in Adventure Comics #452 (July 1977) and, finally, Aquaman himself died, as the Dweller of the Depths, in Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis #50.

                        

The original Dove also died in the Crisis On Infinite Earths at the hands of the Anti-Monitor’s Shadow Demons (below right). Hawk, as Extant, was killed by Atom-Smasher’s manipulation of the timestream in JSA #15 (Oct 2000). Both characters were previously brought back from the dead by Brother Blood in Teen Titans #31 (Feb 2006) as shown above.

Questions: Who is the Big Bad behind the Black Lantern Corps? Can anything destroy the regenerative qualities of the Black Lantern’s bodies? How is Pariah dead again when he was revealed as alive in the previously mentioned issue of Supergirl? What is the nature of the guiding intelligence of the Black Lantern corpses?

Why can the Black Rings only use those who are not "at peace"? And how did they fail to bring back Dove when Brother Blood had no problem at all in resurrecting Don Hall as a zombie? What happens in between Ray Palmer agreeing to meet Hawkman in the opening pages of this issue and Black Lantern Hawkman appearing on the last page?

Action Comics #880

General Zod’s would-be assassin Ral-Dar flees to Earth and is revealed to be a duped ally of General Lane and Project 7734. The Project’s operative Mirabai uses a disguised Metallo and Reactron to capture Nightwing and Flamebird whose relationship has taken on a romantic angle. Superman, having pursued Ral-Dar to Earth has his first meeting with Lois since leaving for New Krypton and learns that Chris Kent is back from the Phantom Zone...

Captain Atom co-feature: On the mystical world Captain Atom is mysteriously stranded on, the former hero begins to break through his amnesia, remembering splinters of his past. The locals accuse him of being the "Arrow of the Forlorn" and claim he has been killing at her command on this world...

Crossovers: Codename: Patriot

The Bigger Picture: The story continues from last week’s Superman: World of New Krypton #6. Ral-Dar’s assassination attempt on Zod occurred in #5 of that series. Superman has not seen his adopted "son" since he was last to the Phantom Zone in the finale of the "Last Son" storyline in Action Comics Annual #10.

Captain Atom co-feature: Captain Atom claims he is "not a killer" to the denizens of the reality he has awoken in. Given that, as Monarch, he murdered every single other version of Captain Atom in the entire Multiverse in Countdown: Arena #4 that’s a pretty difficult claim to swallow.

Continuity Corner: Near the Hollywood sign one of the crowd remarks that Flamebird looks nothing like she’s meant to. Hardly surprising as Thara Ak-Var is most certainly not Bette Kane, the former Teen Titan who also uses that codename. Bette is, of course, a native of Los Angeles so the bystanders should be very familiar with her.

Just a reminder that for those wanting to find out more about the pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths incarnations of characters like Thara Ak-Var and the Phantom Zone Criminals that the Superman: Tales from the Phantom Zone trade paperback is now available for background information.

Captain Atom co-feature: Nathaniel Adam has a flashback to the experiment that threw him through time and turned him into his super-powered self in Captain Atom #1 (March 1987), shown right.

Questions: How far does General Lane’s influence with the anti-Zod elements on New Krypton extend? Just what is the full story behind Mirabai?

Captain Atom co-feature: How did Captain Atom survive his apparent death as Monarch in Countdown to Final Crisis? Is he really responsible for all the deaths he is accused of? Where is he and is the world real or some kind of simulation? Who is the mysterious Forlorn? Will this backup eventually dovetail into the book’s main Project 7734 subplot?

Adventure Comics #1

Returning from his rebirth in the Legion’s era, Superboy settles down to life in Smallville with Ma Kent and tries to emulate Superman’s childhood. However, Element Lad of the Legion appears to be Conner’s new chemistry teacher and fellow Legionnaire Tellus is also hiding in the town. It is Tellus who identifies Smallville child genius Simon Valentine as Superboy’s future "greatest friend and greatest enemy". After discussing his "progenitor" Lex Luthor with Superman, Superboy promises he wants no contact with the villain. But his journal later reveals he has lied to the Man of Steel...

Legion of Super-Heroes co-feature: In the 21st Century Starman and Tellus realise that Starman’s mental degeneration has reached the point of no return and there are ominous portents of a coming war in the Legion’s time...

The Bigger Picture: Superboy was resurrected in the recent Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds miniseries after his "death" in Infinite Crisis. Pa Kent died in the "Braniac" arc in Action Comics #s 866-870. For more on Clark Kent’s childhood in Smallville check out the upcoming Superman: Secret Origin miniseries.

Superboy and Kid Flash rejoin the Teen Titans in this issue. Bart Allen had already been seen as a member of the team in The Flash: Rebirth #1. Look to Teen Titans for more developments on that front.

Tellus has been a Super-supporting character since he was discovered in the 21st Century in the recent Adventure Comics Special #1. How he got to our time has yet to be revealed. Both he and Element Lad were identified in Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5 as being part of a number of Legionnaires missing since Earth-Man’s attack on the Legion in Action Comics #s 858-863.

Legion of Super-Heroes co-feature: Starman was last seen with the "Last Will and Testament of R.J. Brande" on page 24 of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #5 and the character is, of course, a current member in Justice Society of America.

                 

Continuity Corner: Superboy first learnt he was a combined clone of Superman and Lex Luthor in Teen Titans #1 (Sep 2003) and was used by Luthor against the Titans and the Outsiders in Teen Titans #s 24-25/Outsiders #s 24-25 (2005).

Questions: Is Simon Valentine destined to be Conner Kent’s "Lex Luthor"? What are Conner’s plans as regards the real Lex Luthor? How will Superman deal with his deception? What role will Tellus play in Superboy’s future? Does Superboy still remember his time as a member of the Legion of Earth-247?

Legion of Super-Heroes co-feature: What is the significance to Starman’s rambling comments about a 31st Century war and the Black Witch? Does the war have anything to do with the universal wave of xenophobia Earth-Man and his "Justice League" began fomenting at the Time Trapper/Superboy-Prime's behest in Action Comics? And in the "season" trailer... why is Element Lad masquerading as Superboy’s chemistry teacher? What do the fates have in store for time-crossed lovers Starman and Dream Girl? On whose behalf will Morgan Edge strike a deal with Despero? Who is the Green Lantern who will join the Legion? Why will XS need to travel to the past and who will she need to warn? What ailment will strike down Blok in the coming months?

Rounding up... Superman Secret Files 2009 #1 re-examines ex-Phantom Zone Criminal Ursa’s failure many years ago when Brainiac attacked Krypton and her relationship with Zod. In the second short story the Science Police’s new "plainclothes" officers Mon-El and Billi Harper learn a little more about each other while tackling a series of super-villain threats including Multiplex, the Madmen, Punch and Jewelee and the Fadeaway Man. It should be noted the original Punch died in the Suicide Squad two-parter in Checkmate #s 6-7 but Jewelee has hooked herself a new one! The final tale contrasts Thara Ak-Var and Supergirl’s childhood friendship on Krypton with Kara’s anger at Thara over her failure to prevent Zor-El’s death in the present.

This Special is crammed full of profile pages that make it an easy jumping-on point for new readers to the Super-saga. Significantly, the entry on Ron Troupe explains where Ron has been during the time period in which his marriage to Lucy "Superwoman" Lane (right) was quietly retconned away. Apparently he has been absent on a "self-imposed educational sabbatical" the last few years...

In Green Lantern Corps #39 Kyle confesses to Guy Gardner that he’s misled fellow GL Soranik Natu about the true nature of his romantic interest in her while on Daxam Sodam Yat’s sacrifice has allowed his insular race to take their prejudice to a whole new level. Jumping over to Korugar, Mongul finally renames the Sinestro Corps in his own honor. As the Black Rings swamp Oa the entire crypts of the Corps’ fallen, including Jack T. Chance, Katma Tui and Tomar-re are returned to a semblance of life as Black Lanterns. And, finally, Kyle Rayner comes face-to-face with a lost love in the shape of Black Lantern Jade...

In Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #4 there’s no let up to the confusion surrounding DC’s espionage characters and the true nature of their incarceration in the Global Peace Agency’s Electric City. What is evident is a growing time-travel motif with the Flash’s Cosmic Treadmill becoming the latest piece of time-hopping tech to turn up in the location this month...

That’s the first part of this week’s coverage concluded. Join us tomorrow when we continue our roundup with a major focus on this week’s Bat-books...

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