Batman/Superman #1-2

batman-superman-2

I know I’ve been kind of harsh on some of the New 52 stuff that DC has been putting out, but I was pleasantly surprised after I read Batman/Superman #1-2. But then again, anything that combines Jae Lee’s art with a Greg Pak script will be great.

This series starts out with the two meeting for the first time, shortly after Clark Kent is investigating Bruce Wayne for an article he is writing. After a costumed encounter, they realize each other’s extracurricular activities and there is a lot of fun super hero battling. This newly found friendship/alliance has them take on the mysterious shape-shifting Trickster and eventually sends them to Earth 2 where they encounter alternate versions of themselves!

It is a bit of a complicated read, with all the shape-shifting and multiple versions of the same characters, but it’s definitely worth sticking with. Pak is a great writer and I’m sure it will all make sense at the end. And for Lee’s art, it’s just awesome.

So I give this a thumbs up. It was a pleasant surprise that I wasn’t necessarily planning to check out.

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Wardrobe Dysfunction: Alan Scott, Green Lantern of Earth-2

With all the Alan Scott news and commentary, this installment of Wardrobe Dysfunction looks at the original Green Lantern. The character was created by Martin Nodell and debuted in All-American Comics #16. Would you believe that in 82 years of comic book appearances, this Green Lantern really hasn’t any costume changes?

For the most part, he’s how he’s picture above from the cover of his first appearance. He wore a red collared shirt and green slacks. Depending on the fashion trends and the artist drawing him at the time, sometimes the outfit was more form-fitting. His boots are always red, with some sort of gold accents. As for his cape, it’s usually two toned; the interior light green and the outside a dark grey, sometimes purple-ish. That was mostly to avoid having a whole black patch due to the printing at the time.

As far as his age, Alan Scott would get aged and de-aged from time to time, going back and forth from being a late 30s something to being an old man.

During the mid 1990s, Alan Scott started using the codename Sentinel and got a more modern look. It was a green and red body suit. The logo in the center changed from time to time, as he used the Green Lantern Corps insignia (as he was an honorary member), his classic old lantern, and even a star design (it turned out his power ring drew power from a cosmic force known as the Starheart and not the Oan Power Battery). He kept this look until the Justice Society had a revamp shortly after, and went back to his classic costume.

And as a trivia note, the woman in the background of the picture is Harlequin, a villain who based her life on Alan’s then wife Molly. Ultimately it was her goal to kill Molly and take her place as Alan’s wife.

The next new look for Alan was designed by Jim Ross for the alternate future story Kingdom Come. It was emerald knight armor.

Which brings us to his new look, which combines elements of the emerald armor with the standard Green Lantern costume. The color scheme is a lot simpler, just black and green. Alan looks now closer to being a member of the Green Lantern Corps then ever before.

DC Reveals That Green Lantern Is Gay–well, kind of…

DC Comics has had comic readers–and the mainstream media–on a bit of a gay witch hunt to find out which of the newly relaunched characters was going to be revealed as gay. It turns out that it is Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern.

In some ways, changing his sexual preference was a safe choice.

They made Green Lantern, a franchise character, gay.

But not the Green Lantern that you know. They took  the one in the book Earth-2, which brings back DC’s old concept of multiple earths, this one which features the revamped Golden Age DC characters. It’s a big fish in a smaller tank in the aquarium basically.

Publicity wise, the only way to get attention for introducing a new LGBT character is to redefine an existing one’s orientation. If it’s a new character, unfortunately, it is much harder to get attention. Did you hear about Bunker and the other new LGBT characters in DC’s New 52 relaunch?

I didn’t think so either.

But then there’s also more confusion to the casual/non-comics reading audience. Which is the Green Lantern? There was a similar problem with last summer’s Green Lantern movie. Thanks to the awesome use of John Stewart in the Dini/Timm Justice League, there’s a whole generation that is predominately aware of him and were confused by the white guy playing Hal Jordan in the movie. Now everyone is re-aware of Hal, and on the news they see that Green Lantern is now a blonde dude named Alan.

There’s also another ripple effect with this character change for Alan Scott, partly also effected by the changed of the New 52 relaunch. Scott was married at least twice to women; one of these unions producing two children–the super heroes Jade and Obsidian,  who was gay. Before this revelation, they didn’t exist and I wonder if this will be addressed.

Personally, I think this is a great idea. This is the most relevant the character has been since his original hay-day–the 1940s. I hope writer James Robinson goes all out with the character…have him be a bigger part of the Justice Society than any of the Big Three (Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman). Allan Scott has always been an interesting character and I’m glad they’re finally doing something with him again. Earth-2 #1 debuts on comic book stands on June 6.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#15 Crisis on Infinite Earths

 

We're Gonna Have A Crisis Tonight!

With all the talk of DC’s latest continuity reboot Flashpoint, let’s not forget the first time they tried to re-launch the company. Yes, we’re talking about the continuity fixing Crisis on Infinite Earths. They may have had other major crisis (Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis, I’m looking at you), but my favorite was the original.

But before we get to that, let’s go over the backstory.

Since its inception, there were some continuity problems in DC. Characters’ powers and origins were changed back and forth as creative staff came and left the books. Things like Clark Kent as Superboy and how Robin never aged caused some early continuity headaches. But all of this was acceptable; this is super hero comics we are talking about.

In the late 1950s/early 1960s, DC began revamping their Golden Age characters under the direction of Julius Schwartz. The new Flash, Green Lantern and atom had nothing to do with their predecessors, other than their names and similar powers. Then in 1961’s Flash #123 everything changed. The current Flash, Barry Allen, wound up getting stuck in a parallel universe inhabited by the original Flash, Jay Garrick, and the heroes of his era. Since Barry’s Earth was the current one, it was called Earth-1 and Jay’s became Earth-2. The two earth’s respective super hero teams, the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America, would visit each other’s universe from time to time, as would their villains. Everything seemed to make sense…

As time went on, other Earths were introduced thus creating the DC multiverse. Earth-3 was ruled by super villains. Earth-C was straight out of a funny animal cartoon and inhabited by Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew. And that was just the beginning. As DC bought out its competitors, the characters formerly from Quality, Charlton and Fawcett would each get their own Earth. To make things confusing, not only were there multiple versions of the characters (Superman of Earth-1, Superman of Earth-2, Superman of Earth-324) but they would “switch” universes making everything way to complicated.

To celebrate DC’s fiftieth anniversary and to solve the continuity questions once and for all, writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez (with help from Len Wein) had the duty of putting together the ultimate crossover, called Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The story, in brief, was that originally there was only one universe. The Oan mad scientist Krona winds up travelling to the beginning of time to see how it all began. Unfortunately he messes up and causes the then forming universe to split into a million parallel versions of itself. This winds up also creating two godlike beings, the matter loving Monitor and the anti-matter loving Anti-Monitor.

Anti-Monitor goes on a bender destroying the universes and makes him more powerful. It’s up to Monitor to recruit the super heroes—and the super villains—of all the various Earths to team up and stop the Anti-Monitor, saving their realities. After twelve issues of battling the Anti-Monitor, this quantum physics violating cosmic epic ends with the Anti-Monitor being thrown into an exploding sun, resulting in a Big-Bang like effect that merges all the Earths into one. Everything is merged back together into just a single universe and none of the characters are the wiser about their past alternate versions, creating a perfect starting point for the new DC.

This George Perez cover has become one of the most iconic images of Supergirl.

Along the way, Supergirl and Barry Allen are among the many characters that sacrifice themselves to save the universe. The cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 is one of the most well-known comic book covers of all time, showing Superman’s anguish as he carries the body of his fallen cousin.

What was I talking about again?

Anyway, I love Crisis because it’s a great problem solving story. It resolved the issues of having a multiverse in a tidy manner, all the while giving a fresh start for characters. The resulting John Byrne run on Superman and the Justice League International are some of my favorite comic stories of all time.

Crisis also leads to the History of the DC Universe two-issue series, where Monitor’s assistant Harbringer chronicles the new history of the universe. It’s by Wolfman and Perez, and is a series of splash panels with paragraphs explaining the new continuity of DC’s Earth.

Let’s hope that Flashpoint works out this well.