Lex Luthor leads to Doom.

injustice league

Some ideas seem like no-brainers to me. After the events of Forever Evil, it only made sense that Lex Luthor would see himself as a hero. After all with the Justice League out of commission it was Lex, along with other villains, who saved the world from the invasion of the Crime Syndicate. The very basic question is what is next for one Lex Luthor?

Why the Justice League of course. Seeing himself as the worlds greatest hero of course he would feel he deserved a place among the greatest hero team around. The ideas is ripe with possibilities.

How long can Lex play the hero?

How will Batman, Superman and the other heroes react to his prescence?

Is this all part of some long game, some new nefarious plot to unleash his villainy on the world?

The key to however this story plays out is Lex himself. He is one of the most brilliant men in the entire DC universe, even smarter than Batman or Mr. Terrific. The problem is he knows it. His overwhelming ego is often his own downfall. Lex finds it hard to believe that anyone could possibly be his peer, his equal.

In my eyes that is the source of his disdain for Superman. Lex believes that he should have been the hero, everyone should have been looking up to him. Instead they applaud this alien with fantastic powers. How much of his desire to be a member of the Justice League comes from a desire to show that he is better than Superman? How better to prove that than to take his place?

Lex is his own worst enemy, always has been. In time his true nature always reveals itself. It will not be good enough to be a hero among the Justice League, in time he will need them to do things his way. After all his way is surely the best way. That is when things begin to unravel.

That is when things should get good.

In Forever Evil he created his own team to fight the Crime Syndicate. I would expect him to do the same as things with the Justice League deteriorate. Lex would of course want to surround himself with those he feels most comfortable. He understand villains motivations, I believe the heroes motivations are slightly foreign to him.

In the past we have seen Luthor lead the Secret Society of Super-Villains, the Injustice League and other villain teams with the names often used interchangeably. In my world I would see this teams as there own unique entities. The Secret Society and the Injustice League should have there own defined rosters. With the Secret Society composed of villains more on the edges of the world, while the Injustice League would be decidedly more mainstream.

For my purposes Lex would create the most important villain organization. The Legion of Doom. Pulling from the old Super Friends show. Give them that Darth Vader-like skull base and a small roster of powerful villains. I easily see Lex surrounding himself with Grodd, Black Manta, Felix Faust, Cheetah, the Riddler (the Joker would be to hard to control)and his own creation Bizarro to round out the group. More brains than power but plenty of power.

Hero groups do need great villain groups and the Legion of Doom does fit the bill nicely. It also returns Lex Luthor to where he belongs: at the top of the villain hierarchy.

The One True…Guy.

Everyone has a favorite. Whether it is a sports team or a band or even a favorite Green Lantern.

There are so many to choose from. Many would pick Hal Jordan, who has been the main Green Lantern in my lifetime. Others love John Stewart or Kyle Rayner. There are those among us that simple love the bad guy, Sinestro is their flag bearer. For me there is only one choice. I simply have to go with the one true Lantern, Guy Gardner.guyI know he can be insufferable and arrogant but that is why we love him. He is also loyal, brave and would rather die than fail. His arrogance often seems to cover insecurity. He knows he is a hero, but unfortunately he has often been passed over for others. When Abin Sur crashed to earth Guy was the first choice but Hal Jordan was simply closer and time was an issue. Later on Guy suffered an accident and John Stewart got the call. Others might use this as a reason to prove themselves. Not Guy, he is so convinced that he is the superior hero it often brings him into conflict with other heroes.

Like Batman.

Like Superman.

He goes after the big dogs.

But he has persevered. He has served proudly as a key member of the Green Lantern Corps. He has led the Red Lantern Corps. When he was stripped of his Green Lantern ring he crossed galaxies to claim Sinestro’s yellow power ring. He will go to any lengths to be a hero. Ted Kord (you know Blue Beetle) even built him a suit to continue his heroic career.

He was meant to be a hero, powers or not.

Today he is the leader of the Red Lanterns with a showdown with their former leader Atrocitus on the horizon. It has been suggested that only one will survive. That would be a shame. These characters are too wonderful to just cast away.

If I was writing it I would give the Red Lanterns back to Atrocitus. Yes I would have Guy fall short in this battle. If only because I believe he has a wonderful future beyond the shiny trinkets of the various Lantern groups.

As I have said before Guy is a true hero. One who does not need a power ring to define him. And I believe these rings of the emotional spectrum have defined him for far to long.

I have always loved the good old-fashioned space hero. Your Buck Rogers, your Flash Gordon. Here is where Guy’s destiny surely lies. Let him acquire a fast space ship. Give him a new costume (I’m thinking dark green and red with yellow lines to remind him of where he has been) and a jet pack. Let him be the one true space hero that the DC Universe needs. Enough of leaving the spaceways to the various lantern groups.

The One True Guy has arrived…

Enter Grayson

Nightwing8

Everything changes. That is the reality of life. Nothing is as we remember it. Life evolves and so do we.

Coming into the Forever Evil event we knew things would never be the same for Dick Grayson, for Nightwing. Most of the other major DC heroes, the Justice League’s, were missing, defeated, possibly dead. The villains had won, not the villains we knew but different more sadistic ones from another world. Worse still they had captured and unmasked Nightwing, the highest profile hero left standing. His secret identity was revealed to the world. The world knew that Grayson was Nightwing. Where does he go from here?

We learned where he will go this week. DC comics announced the new Grayson series written by Tim Seeley and Tom King, featuring art by Mikel Janin. The series begins in July. Honestly I felt a little column-blocked by the announcement (I started this column Monday morning). The series promises to show the former-Nightwing delving into the spy world. All the while allowing the world and his friends to believe he is dead.

Some have been critical of the direction of his new series, I simply ask why? It makes sense. Dick no longer has an identity to hide behind, his outing puts his closest friends and colleagues at risk. Before the new series was announced I had thought out a few ideas for how DC should proceed with the character. At no time did I think to kill him off. That made no sense, it would be a waste of a great character. I thought he should go into the espionage world, perhaps even leading a Team 7-style team for a time. Becoming a super-spy works.

What else would he do, just go back to being Nightwing? Another hero identity? No. For the time being there should be no Nightwing. Not Mr. Grayson and definitely not someone else taking his place. Nightwing is Dick Grayson accept no substitutes.

This avenue opens up worlds to explore, it gives writers opportunity to grow the universe. Best of all it puts Dick Grayson in situations that are far outside his comfort zone. Dick is a good man, he has always been. In a world where he has to lie to survive, even lie to his closest friends, how will he survive? How long before Dick reaches out to Barbara and reveals his secret?

Even better than the struggles Grayson would face ethically in this new world are the opportunities to bring characters into the New52 through this series. We have seen Argus, S.H.A.D.E. and the Suicide Squad, what other spy agencies abound. We have seen Amanda Waller, Slade Wilson, Steve Trevor even Cole Cash, could this series bring us Rick Flag or even better introduce us to King Faraday. Faraday could slide into this series as Grayson’s untrustworthy mentor. Dick is so used to implicitly trusting Bruce, how will he relate to someone who he cannot possibly trust. Another character who could be brought in is Travis Morgan, perhaps showing the mission that eventually reveals the world of Skataris and the origin of the man known as Warlord.

So many possibilities, so many adventures. It is time for Dick Grayson to step out of the shadow of Batman. Time for him to kick in that door and Enter Grayson.

 

 

 

Finding Superman

Clark Kent. Superman. They are American icons, two sides if the same coin. The All-American son and the Man of Steel. Where are you Superman?
I know what you are thinking…Superman is everwhere. From the Man of Steel movie to his appearances in Action Comics, Superman, Justice League and more recently in Superman Unchained and Batman/Superman it seems like he is ever present. But is that really the Superman we all remember or is it just a shade of the hero we knew?

Writers Greg Pak (Batman/Superman) and Scott Snyder (Superman Unchained) seem to have a handle on the whole character of Superman/Clark but that is not always the case. In other books, with other writers this heroic icon is largely hit or miss. Why is it so hard to write a character that has been around for 70-plus years?

Some will blame the New52, DC comics recreating-rebooting of their comics universe, it does get the blame for so many things. Others will say the death of Ma and Pa Kent has changed things. Of course there are those who feel we need to bring back the red-underpants and everything will be right with the world. (Really??!!) While we are at it we could just lay it at the feet of Grant Morrison’s new Irvine for the Man of Steel. I do not think that is where the problem lies, it is much simpler.

Too much Superman, Not enough Clark Kent.

I think it comes down to the issue of Masks. It’s all about secret identities: Batman is the true identity, Bruce Wayne is the mask he hides behind. I’m Superman’s case Clark Kent is the true identity. Superman is not simply a man with incredible powers, he is Clark with those powers. An all-American boy wanting nothing more than to help those in need. We cheers seeing Superman save lives, but even without powers Clark Kent would run into fires to help others. That is simply who he is.

So perhaps we have discovered the problem…How do we fix it? Well DC has set up the perfect set of circumstances to fix this very problem. Forever Evil. Coming out of Forever Evil Superman might easily be feeling guilt for what has happened, that is understandable. So take a lead from the ‘Exile in Space’ storyline along with the crosscountry adventures of Green Arrow and Green Lantern from the 70s…roadtrip baby!! Send Superman on a journey of self-discovery, preferably with Bruce, a trip to rediscover what it means to be a hero. Batman and Superman in a beat up pickup-almost writes itself, while allowing creators to bring Clark/Superman back where he belongs…

We are Legion.

Legion_of_Super_Heroes-dc-comics-4411668-500-313So this column came from a conversation I had with some friends over twitter. Actually it began after I read an interview with Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis.

Interview: Giffen and DeMatteis, another LEAGUE and LARFLEEZE

What prompted me to read the interview you ask? It was Giffen and DeMatteis…seriously you need more. They are bloody brilliant. Even if they did not give us an absolutely inspired take on Justice League and bring Blue and Gold together for the first time-Keith Giffen has long been connected to the Legion of SuperHeroes. That was more than enough for me.

The important part (for me at least) was this:

“This way when — because it is ‘when’ — DC will relaunch the Legion of Super Heroes eventually”

That was a direct quote from Keith Giffen and if I trust anyone talking about the Legion it is Mr. Giffen. Of course at the time they were talking about their new project Justice League 3000, but the Legion comment is what mattered to me.

Then came the conversation with @777DAMM and @JanArrah over in the twitterverse, follow them you will thank me. It ranged over elation over the prospect of the Legion returning and the skepticism over how it would be handled. More than any other comic book property the Legion seems to regularly suffer from changes that take place in the main universe. The Legion has been rebooted so many times it is difficult to know where a new book would start from, what pieces of the universe would be included and what parts and characters would pass into memory.

The biggest thing I took from the conversation was the realization that we all came at our fandom from different times, different points in the history of the Legion. Starting in different times gives us different perspectives, different things about the Legion that we love in our own ways. If I could see that from a conversation with two other people imagine trying to create a Legion for a hundred or thousands of people.

As fans we often believe these characters, these stories belong to us. We sometimes forget we don’t own them. Everyone does. We may not like the new version of the Legion but isn’t it better than not having them at all. It is not an easy task. There is so much history-but then if you have been around for sixty years and you don’t have history I have to ask? What have you been doing all this time…

The job of creating a new Legion that will appeal to new and old is a big job and an important one. The Legion has been around since April of 1957 beginning with Adventure Comics #247. Why is that important? The Legion predates the Avengers, the Justice Leagues, the Teen Titans and yes even the X-Men. Great creators have come from the Legion: Mike Grell, Jim Shooter, Dave Cockrum, Paul Levitz, Giffen, Oliver Coipel, Jim Starlin and even Francis Manapul. Someday soon another creator will step in with his vision for the future.

That vision is the important thing. It’s the future, not some horrifying dystopian future but one of hope. That what the Legion has always been about hope and family. The belief that when they come together good people can do great things and there will always be tomorrow.

The Legion is the bedrock for which that future will stand. Until that day…

Long Live the Legion.162035-34000-legion-of-super-hero

Don’t Call it a Review: Forever Evil

The bad guys have won. The outlook is bleak. The heroes are not just defeated. They are gone…?

That’s how Forever Evil, DC Comics first company wide crossover in the New 52, begins. It begins with despair, hopelessness. It starts with that sinking feeling where you cannot imagine how the heroes will over come. It starts with questions.

Lots of questions.

Is the Justice League really dead?

What happened at the end of Trinity War?

What will happen to Nightwing?

Questions are good at the beginning of an epic storyline. You slowly start filling in the answers as you get to the end. These questions are good ones. But I have an even better one.

 Why should we believe anything the Crime Syndicate tells us?

They are the epitome of a ‘unreliable narrator’, they are the bad guys. They should be lying to us. It is kind of their thing.

They tell us they have killed the Justice League, they tell us they ruled their world, they tell us they destroyed the world there. That is what they say.

The truth may be very different. The populace of their world may have finally stood up and said “no more”. They may have rebelled, fought back and finally vanquished the villains. At this point we just do not know.

That is what makes it interesting. What is the truth, what is the lie? In between perhaps we discover what the heroes will need to triumph.

For the first time in a long time I am excited about one of these epic, company wide stories. Time to show me what you have got.

Before I forget. Favorite part of the issue. Kord Industries. What does that mean? I may be dreaming but it may mean…Ted ‘frickin’ Kord. And that cold mean the return of Blue and Gold…I’m pumped.
Bwahahahahahahaha…

Villain’s Month…How about an Heroes Month?

Villain’s Month is here.

It is a wonderful idea. One shot comics spotlighting our favorite bad guys as we head into Forever Evil, DC Comics first company wide crossover epic in the New 52.

Going into a major storyline featuring the villains who have won it only makes sense to give readers the opportunity to learn more about the characters. The comics themselves have had varied success. I am sure everyone has their favorite books, along with those they could have done without. But it begs the question: What about the Heroes?

These are the comics after all. We know at some point the heroes will return, the heroes will vanquish the villains. But which heroes?

Why not a Heroes Month? I mean we all know about Superman, Batman and the like. But what about the other heroes. What about the ones we have not seen in the New 52 or ones who were needlessly cast aside?

There is an opportunity here, a chance to present characters to readers they may not have seen otherwise.

There could be a Doom Patrol hiding somewhere. What about a re-imagined version of the Freedom Fighters trying to undermine the Crime Syndicate?

There is a chance to bring Ted Kord, the former Blue Beetle, back. Not to mention giving us an updated version of ‘Blue and Gold’. Maybe even a new version of Detective Chimp?

The possibilities abound.

That is what comics are about aren’t they. Possibility…

The Secret Adventures of Wally West

In DC Comics New 52, something is wrong, something is missing.

They tell me that Barry Allen is the fastest man alive. They tell me that Barry Allen is the Flash.

They are wrong. While Barry Allen is one of the fastest men alive, he is only ‘a’ Flash.

              art by Brett Booth

art by Brett Booth

Wally West is the Flash.

More importantly he is my Flash. For some Wally was always the Flash, Barry a distant memory. I remember Wally as the original Kid Flash. I remember him as Dick Grayson’s best friend. I remember the Teen Titan. I was there when he hung up the Kid Flash costume and I was there when he first donned the scarlet colors of the Flash. Nothing can ever take those memories from me.

Barry Allen is a great hero, but for me he is just kind of there. He never really connected with me.

Wally on the other hand. I watched him grow into the hero he was. It was a true heroes journey. He had given up the super-hero life only to pick it back up to honor his mentor, his friend. Wally wanted to be the Flash but he never wanted to replace Barry. For years he was the fastest man alive, still never faster than Barry had been. In time he realized his potential, he realized being the hero he was meant to be did not mean making people forget about Barry. It meant reminding people of the man who came before, reminding them of his legacy.

From sidekick to man to hero to legend, Wally had a long twisting journey till he found himself side by side with his heroes. No longer the sidekick, the little brother, now he was a legend in his own right.

Now he is gone…

The Flash is dead. Long live the Flash.

Long live Wally West.