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Across the DC Universe #50 - 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.

Blackest Night: Batman #1

The new Batman and Robin investigate the desecration of the Wayne graves while Deadman can only look on in horror as his mortal remains become Black Lantern Boston Brand and he proves powerless to stop them. Meanwhile a plane full of dead Batman villains, being transported to the JLA vaults, is intercepted by the Black Rings, creating a whole new slew of Black Lanterns.

With Deadman seeking Dick Grayson’s aid the Batman Family become aware of the gravity of the situation, as both the Flying Graysons and the Drakes rise from their graves as Black Lanterns...

Crossovers: Blackest Night

The Bigger Picture: Black Hand stole Bruce Wayne’s skull in Blackest Night #1.

Dick Grayson contacts Tim Wayne in Paris on his European quest to prove that Bruce Wayne still lives, as seen in the current pages of Red Robin.

Blockbuster II is one of the dead Bat-baddies to become a Black Lantern. A new female version of Blockbuster battled Mon-El and Cajun hero King Billy recently in Superman #689. What became of the third character to take that name in 52 has yet to be revealed, although the Martian Manhunter masqueraded as him in Salvation Run.

The division of Boston Brand’s soul and his Black Lantern self hints that all may not be as it seems in regards to the intelligence of each of the Black Lanterns. If Deadman’s true self is distinct from his Black Lantern alter ego then what of other characters whose souls are already extant and active in the DCU outside of their physical bodies? These would include Elongated Man and Sue Dibny, who were last seen as ghosts in Batman and the Outsiders #5, and the new Aquaman from Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis who supposedly possesses a portion of the soul of the original Arthur Curry.

Continuity Corner: A number of deceased Bat-villains become Black Lanterns in this issue: Blockbuster II was killed by the Tarantula in Nightwing #93 (July 2004). King Snake fell to his death in during a confrontation with his alleged son Bane in Batman: Gotham Knights #49 (March 2004).

           

Deacon Blackfire was the Dark Knight’s nemesis in Jim Starlin’s series Batman: The Cult. The second Trigger Twins perished in the Infinite Crisis. Serial killer Abattoir was brutally slain by Azrael during his tenure as the Dark Knight in Batman #508 (June 1994). Interestingly Abattoir has returned from the grave before in Batman Annual #22 (1998) in the "Ghosts" crossover.

The KGBeast, the original Ventriloquist and Magpie were all murdered on the orders of the Great White Shark in the "Face the Face" arc in, respectively, Detective Comics #s 817 and 818 and Batman #652.

Questions: The super-villain bodies in the JLA vault are kept there to stop their corpses being exploited for their metahuman qualities. Why are the remains of the DC Bat-villains being transported there when virtually all of them were non-powered normal humans? Just what is the nature of the Black Lanterns’ intelligence? If the second Blockbuster has been resurrected then why not the first as well?

Red Robin #3

Crossovers: Batman: Reborn

Working with Ra’s Al Ghul and looking for evidence in a Berlin Museum that Bruce Wayne still lives, Tim Wayne comes face to face with a new version of the German super-hero the Wild Huntsman. In flashback we also observe Tim’s bitter final meeting with Wonder Girl and the League of Assassins’ numbers continue to be whittled down by a mysterious killer...

The Bigger Picture: Obvious references to events across the Batman Family of titles abound including Ra’s Al Ghul mentioning his grandson’s partnership with Dick Grayson in Batman and Robin and Hush’s impersonation of Bruce Wayne in books like Gotham City Sirens and Batman: Streets of Gotham

Continuity Corner: The original Wild Huntsman, a member of the original international super-hero team known as The Global Guardians, first appeared in Super Friends #45 (June 1981). From comments made in this issue he is now presumed dead but was actually last seen disappearing into time at the end of the team’s battle with Fain Y’Onia in Justice League Quarterly #17 (Oct 1994). Sadly he is probably best remembered for his time as Queen Bee’s brainwashed thrall in Justice League Europe than he is for his heroic deeds.

Two further characters calling themselves The Wild Huntsman have since surfaced. Chase Lawler, the post-Zero Hour incarnation of Manhunter was bonded to a supernatural entity of that name in Manhunter Volume 2 #0 (Oct 1994) that compelled him to hunt down villains. This was later retconned away as more brainwashing in the controversial "Manhunted" storyline in Manhunter Volume 3 #s 10-14. As mentioned a couple of weeks back in ATDCU another mystical Wild Huntsman recently turned up in Shadowpact and was part of the super-villain army that ambushed the JSA in Justice Society of America #29.

           

Questions: What evidence is Tim hoping to dig up in the Berlin Museum of Anthropology and is it linked to Batman being last seen in the time of Anthro in Final Crisis #7? Why is he so convinced of Bruce’s survival? What repercussions will there be from Tim’s "deal with the devil" in accepting Ra’s Al Ghul’s aid? And just who is assassinating the assassins and why?

Titans #16

Starfire seeks a counsellor’s help in coming to terms with recent events in her life, including the end of her relationship with Dick Grayson...

The Bigger Picture: In flashback we learn of the part Starfire played in Bludhaven in aiding Mr. Terrific and Cyborg in destroying Darkseid’s Justifier helmets after the Final Crisis. Kory has severe problems in dealing with the psychological issues surrounding her enforced membership of the Justifier ranks in that series.

This issue reveals that the Titans recently teamed up with Mon-El in defeating an Intergang operation and Starfire seriously injured an Intergang faction leader. Intergang’s prominence in the DCU in the last two or three years has been underlined in appearances in such diverse books as 52, Superman, Gotham Underground, Batman and the Outsiders, Blue Beetle and Vixen: Return of the Lion.

Apparently Vixen recently asked Starfire to join the JLA. Whether this is followed up in the pages of Justice League of America remains to be seen.

Beast Boy is shown researching the current membership of the Teen Titans. A hint as to the character’s possible future?

Events alluded to here surrounding Nightwing, Starfire and the Sons of Trigon occurred in Titans #s 1-6.

Starfire’s complicated personal relationships are also a major subplot in The Last Days of Animal Man miniseries. That book builds on Buddy Baker’s friendship with Starfire in Countdown to Adventure and examines its future development ten years down the line.

Questions: Will Starfire reconsider her rejection of League membership? Where will her quest for acceptance and belonging take the former Titan next?

R.E.B.E.L.S. #7

Vril Dox and his team have succeeded in containing the rift that Starro’s forces are using to travel into our universe within the boundaries of a giant forcefield. However, many other planets, and the R.E.B.E.L.S. themselves, are also trapped within those confines. With many potential allies indifferent to the R.E.B.E.L.S. Dox becomes concerned that the space warp-weaving aquatic Gil ‘Dishpan race may give the Starros a way out of their predicament.

On the Gil ‘Dishpan world Dox pleads his case but Starro’s forces are quick to invade. The Dominator general who has been dogging their efforts ends the threat by igniting the Gil ‘Dishpan’s methane ocean and destroying the entire planet. While the R.E.B.E.L.S. team are disgusted by this turn of events Dox is grudgingly admiring of his adversary’s ruthless practicality.

The Bigger Picture: Vril Dox appeals to a number of worlds and organizations for aid in defeating Starro’s forces. These cameos do cause a few continuity headaches however. Despero was last seen at the end of Trinity in the custody of the GL Corps. His presence on his homeworld of Kalanor here does explain why he was not seen as one of the prisoners in the Sciencecells in recent issues of Green Lantern Corps. Presumably he escaped GL custody at some point in the recent past.

However Kanjar Ro, also taken for imprisonment by the GLC in Trinity #52, is depicted here on his home planet of Dhor. As Dox’s appeal to Oa establishes that events here take place concurrently to the leadup to Blackest Night it places Kanjar Ro on both Dhor and as a prisoner on Oa at one and the same time.

Dox contacts Starman’s Throneworld, now known as New Rann, after Rann’s destruction in the Rann-Thanagar Holy War miniseries. Sardath references The Weird’s destructive antics over in the current run of Strange Adventures as the reason why Adam Strange cannot help Dox. New Rann is supposedly a secret to the rest of the universe however.

Continuity Corner: Captain Comet was indeed a member of L.E.G.I.O.N. in that book, although Vril Dox appears unaware of the Captain’s rebirth as just simply "Comet" in Mystery in Space.

The Gil 'Dishpan (seen below right with Legionnaire Tellus) are an aggressive aquatic alien civilization from Legion of Super-Heroes continuity perhaps best known in contemporary DC lore as one of the races who took part in the 1988 Invasion! crossover series.

Questions: How can Kanjar Ro be on both Oa and Dhor at the same time? How did Despero escape the Green Lantern Corps’ custody post-Trinity? How does the destruction of the Gil ‘Dishpan’s world affect the future of the Legion of Super-Heroes? What is the true nature of Starro and his/its real origins?

Rounding up... Kobra’s game of cat and mouse with the Justice Society continues in JSA Vs. Kobra #3 as the terrorist acquires Ted Knight’s personal papers and is revealed to be using teleportation technology based on the work of Dr. Erdel, the scientist who brought the Martian Manhunter to Earth... In Batman #689 the tensions between Two-Face and the Penguin escalate and Clayface enters the struggle for control of the Gotham underworld... In Green Arrow and Black Canary #23 the son of Big Game, recently murdered by Green Arrow’s stalker Cupid, takes up his father’s mantle and comes looking for revenge...

The Red Circle: Inferno #1 continues from last week’s Hangman one-shot. Unlike the latter book’s straightforward origin issue this one is more of an introduction to the mystery of the titular character, his amnesiac past and the questions surrounding his true identity... Finally, in Booster Gold #23 the Black Beetle makes his presence felt in both the Booster and Blue Beetle features as Booster finds himself out of his depth in the Black Beetle’s re-ordered timeline where Trigon rules supreme. In the Blue Beetle co-feature recent villainess Maria Boole is revealed to a robot herself. But no sooner do we learn this than the Black Beetle removes her from the timestream as another potential ally...

Fanboy Moment of the Week

It seems strange that photo-covers still have a novelty appeal to me given that, post-‘90s, I’ve seen every kind of cover "enhancement" possible from shiny metallic finishes to holograms to covers that can be turned into "cut out and keep Halloween masks". However, there’s still something quite appealing about seeing elements of our favorite heroes’ lives being depicted with a "real world" sensibility.

I thought it was a lot of fun in the early 1980s when I first saw Spider-Man and Captain America photographed on a rooftop on the cover of Marvel Team-Up #128 and that very simple concept beats out all your "Foilogram" covers squared for me. For that reason the cover of Booster Gold #23 gets my vote as "Fanboy Moment" this week.

And there we conclude a mammoth week of DC releases. ATDCU will be back at the weekend. Thanks for reading!

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