Daily Archives: July 5, 2014

Making the Grade: Who’s Who, Vol. IX


“Saturday in the park, I think it was the Fourth of July…” What, too obscure a reference? Fine, let’s get right into it with another visit to 1985 and Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory to the DC Universe. This week: Volume Eye-Ecks, from Garn Daanuth to the Guardians of the Universe. 

Another Cullins and Giordano production starts off this issue, with the Green Lantern symbol providing a backdrop for the usual character interactions and shenanigans.

But the real treat this time is what appears on the inside front cover. A reader from Saskatchewan, Canada, sent in a list of errors he spotted in the first five issues of the series — everything from missing characters on covers to incorrectly stated heights and weights, at one point citing statistics from the purposely nonsensical Ambush Bug series as evidence of DC’s allegedly lackadaisical respect for facts. “Do you guys just make those up as you go or what?” the writer haughtily asks. It’s to the editors’ eternal credit that they didn’t write in big block letters, “WHY, YES, IN FACT WE DO MAKE IT ALL UP, YOU LITTLE PIPSQUEAK!”   


Garn Daanuth

First, I will observe that I can’t hear this guy’s name and not immediately think of Duluth, Minnesota. There’s absolutely no reason why you need to know that. Second, he’s the big baddie from Arion, Lord of Atlantis, and he brings all the standard evil magic-guy tropes with him: scarred visage, estranged good-guy brother, seeking power for power’s sake, flamboyant wardrobe choices, mommy issues, you name it. I will note, however, his drawing shows him built like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s albino half-brother, even though his entry notes he preferred to use his “mystical powers in battle rather than engaging in hand-to-hand combat.” You ever get the feeling comic artists sometimes over-project? C-

I’m trying very hard not to make a “Gemworld: It’s truly outrageous!” joke here. Really, you should be impressed by my restraint. It’s hard being a child of the ’80s. Anyway. Home of Amethyst and her fellow jewel-encrusted nobles, Gemworld (“Truly, truly, truly…”) is an other-dimensional realm that all the magical beings in our world escaped to when a distant star in our galaxy went nova, causing a mystical realignment in our universe that resulted in Earth losing its magical mojo. Wait, so the reason I don’t live in a fantastical Lord of the Rings-esque reality with wizards and unicorns and shit is because some stupid star blew up? That sucks. B

General Immortus
Not much to say about this old coot. He’s a guy who found an immortality serum, lived the good life for thousands of years, then started to panic when he only had enough of it left to last him a few more centuries. So he blackmails the future leader of the Doom Patrol into whipping up a new batch. You’d think a guy with that much time on his hands would have spent a few decades learning how to do his own damn chemistry, or at least delegate more of his world-conquering activities to his “worldwide network of agents and operatives” so he can focus on side projects like brewing the stuff that’s keeping him alive. Ah well. C-

Gentleman Ghost

“Gentleman” Jim Craddock was — if we can believe his own account — an early 19th-century English highwayman sentenced to hang for his crimes. But at the moment the trapdoor opened, a “rift in the fabric of time” caused his falling body to appear in modern-day London, his spectral nature a side effect of his passage through time. Despite the slapdash sci-fi spin to explain his ghostly powers, this was actually a decent Hawkman villain, and he gets the proper Joe Kubert treatment here. I like the idea of his story being  true (the entry leaves open the possibility he’s merely an “amazingly accomplished charlatan”), but if it is then I have to ask if it was normal practice in pre-Victorian England to hang criminals while they were wearing a top hat, tails, monocle, cape, bow tie, and fancy ruffled shirt. B

He’s some Euro-douche who gets generic strength, flight and “lava blast” powers via science, but it’s a power-bestowing treatment that only works on members of his royal bloodline. How convenient! Hope it makes up for the insanity and hemophilia, Your Majesty. D

Pop quiz: which is the more pathetic specimen of humanity? (A) a guy who invents a teleportation device — a device, note, that would change the world as we know it and earn its inventor billions — but decides not to patent it and instead use it for crime solely because he got bullied as a kid or (B) a guy who comes across an ancient hidden civilization consisting entirely of women who worship him as a god, but instead of staying to rule over them he decides he’d rather go punch Captain Atom some more? Now what if I told you they were both the same guy? D-

Ghost Patrol
For all the bizarre, out-there concepts the comic writers come up with for the superhero titles, you can be forgiven for thinking they saved their craziest ideas for the war titles. And while some of them can be fun, you have to ask yourself why. Isn’t war itself a dramatic enough situation? Did we really need to insert monsters or dinosaurs into tales about Normandy Beach or Iwo Jima just to find a compelling angle? Take the Ghost Patrol. You’d think the stories of three French Legionnaires battling Nazi forces in North Africa would be enough of a hook, but no, we gotta make them all ghost-like. And we can’t ask questions like why these three guys (with the very French names of Fred, Slim and Pedro) came back as ghosts when they died while all the other millions of people killed during WWII didn’t, or why they didn’t just float to Berlin with their new spectral powers and stop the war by scaring the bejeebers out of Hitler. Clearly, this was hands-down the dumbest concept for a war strip ever conceived. D

G.I. Robot

I believe I stand corrected. Picture it: FDR, 1942. “No, gentlemen, I’ve decided to pull the plug on the Manhattan Project. I believe this war will be won by a robot soldier, preferably one wearing pants, and I’ve ordered all my top scientists to build one. And what the hell, let’s tell them to make a robot dog and cat, too. The kids will love that.” D-

One of the Teen Titans’ foes, he’s described as “a scientific prodigy and ill-mannered dwarf,” which seems rude — he’s already listed as a “professional criminal” with a height of 4’2″ in his Personal Data column, so I’m not sure why we need to emphasize his lack of manners or height. Mikron O’Jeneus (in case you missed the “leering leprechaun” look George Pérez gives this guy) can, “in his tiny hands” (Christ already, DC, WE GET IT), transform an ordinary vacuum cleaner into a “deadly, unstoppable tank” — which sounds like a fun afternoon project, if I’m being honest. Where are those schematics-happy nerds from Marvel’s handbooks when you need them? C+

Global Guardians
Best known these days for being the team that supplied the Giffen-era Justice League with its two hottest members, the Global Guardians was a group of “various international heroes” who shared the common theme of basing their names and powers on the only things Americans knew about their home countries. Look, it’s a Danish chick called Little Mermaid! A hairy Aussie named Tasmanian Devil! An Irishman with a magical lantern named — doy! — Jack O’Lantern! I was going to make a snide comment about how they found room for heroes from pretty much every nationality and ethnic group on the planet except those living in Arab countries… but then I thought the Arab superheroes were probably invited to join, took one look at this bunch and decided, “No, no, we’re cool, thanks for asking.” C-

Glorious Godfrey
“An orator with incredible persuasive powers, Glorious Godfrey was sent to Earth by Darkseid, monstrously evil monarch of the dark planet Apokolips, to spread rhetoric and unrest that would help pave the way for Darkseid’s coming.” You might know him better by his stage name, “Stephen Colbert.” C+

Golden Gladiator
He’s a man in ancient Rome accused of a crime he didn’t commit, sold as a galley-slave and then thrown into the gladiatorial arena, where his courage and skills allow him to rise through the ranks and become Rome’s greatest champion, while also being a thorn in some evil dude’s side the whole time he’s doing it. Is it me, or did I just recite the plot to every gladiator movie Hollywood has ever made? “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?” B-

Golden Glider

Talk about your super-villain incest. Lisa Snart, brother of Flash villain Captain Cold, was a champion figure-skater who was in love with the Top, another of Flash’s villains. She became the Golden Glider to exact her revenge on the Flash, whom she blamed for the Top’s death by psionic vibrations, or something. And she goes about this revenge in the damnably oddest ways, from inventing “ice skates that create their own ice, which emits anti-gravity radiation” to hypnotizing some guy into becoming a superhero and stealing Flash’s girlfriend. A very messed-up gal, to be sure. But you gotta love that hair. C-

I was all set to think this was another Batman villain whose face was torn off by wild chihuahuas… and he wears a golden mask to hide his deformity… and he’s always making “revenge is a dish best served gold” puns while lowering Batman into vats of molten gold. But nope, turns out he’s just a crime boss who figured out Green Lantern’s weakness and wore a golden suit of armor to foil him. That’s… actually not a bad plan. Plus, the Gil Kane art makes it obvious he was patterning this guy’s mug after Christopher Lee. Hey, how come no one’s tapping Lee for any good super-villain roles outside of Middle Earth? Come on, Joss — get on that shit. B

They’re a race of reptilian aliens who traffic in slavery and about whom there is nothing remotely original or interesting. So if it’s all right with everyone else I’m going to keep on pretending they’re aliens who intercepted our old TV signals and decided to worship Gordon from Sesame Street. D

Gorilla City
First, I gotta say: “Gorilla City“…? Isn’t that like a bunch of us humans living in Upright Primate, Sweater-Wearing Division City? As you might expect, this is a city of super-intelligent gorillas hidden in Africa by technological means. They once tried to give the whole “letting humans know we exist” thing a try, but then realized exposure to humans was “eroding the mental self-discipline” of their race. So not having a problem believing that could happen. Later, they built an amnesia beam thingamajig that erased humanity’s awareness of Gorilla City. Man, what I wouldn’t give for a handy way to make people forget they were ever aware of something’s existence. I’m looking at you, every reality show A&E has ever aired. C+

Gorilla Grodd
“Still later, Grodd used an evolution accelerator to transform himself into a human being.” That sound you’re hearing is every evolutionary biologist in the world smacking their heads on their desks. Grodd was always sold as one of the bigger threats in the Flash’s gallery of rogues, but you’d be hard-pressed to see any of that in this entry about mind-swapping and cosmos-wandering and psionic powers and such. He’s a super-strong gorilla who can mentally control minds. Why ruin a perfectly plausible set-up like that with evolution rays and cosmos-drifting nonsense? B-

Granny Goodness
Another reason why Andrea Romano is a genius? She tapped Ed Asner to play Granny Goodness when that character showed up in an episode of Justice League Unlimited. Seriously, go check it out; I’ll wait. Naturally, something as deliciously demented as the idea of someone named “Granny Goodness” running brutal “orphanages” on behalf of Apokolip’s dread lord could only have sprung from the frankly scary mind of Jack Kirby. Long live the King. A-

A black man who joined the Army during World War II “to prove he was as good as any other man,” Ulysses Hazard was assigned to permanent graves detail because waging war against an enemy state that’s run by racial fanatics is no time to give up on your own time-honored racist traditions. But something snapped when Hazard’s friend was killed in a raid, and he “broke into the Pentagon and invaded the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to prove his abilities.” That sounds like a… really unwise way to prove yourself to a boss who’s likely packing heat. But someone liked his moxie, and so he was assigned to a one-man commando unit and sent to the front. Because that’s how every war is won, by a million maverick commandos with something to prove each working on their own separate covert missions. Wonder if they gave him a robot dog, too. C

Green Arrow I
The Batman: The Brave and the Bold series from a few years back had a lot of fun with the Batman/Green Arrow rivalry… or more precisely, with Arrow’s ongoing efforts to prove he’s just as good as Batman at the costumed crime-fighter thing. And it’s hard not to see it, with the Arrow-Cave and the Arrow-Car and the Arrow-Plane and the Arrow-Red-Suited-Sidekick and the Arrow-I’m-Also-Guessing-Butler-Held-Against-His-Will. But of course this entry doesn’t talk about all that, just stuff about Indian servants and Queen’s wealth coming from his appropriation of priceless Native American artifacts. It hasn’t aged well, let’s put it that way. C

Green Arrow II

This is the Green Arrow whose backstory is familiar to fans of that Arrow show: millionaire playboy gets marooned on a tropical island, learns archery to survive, returns to Star City to fight crime. There’s some stuff about losing his fortune and developing a social conscience, but it’s not the reason to marvel at this page. No, that would be the very nice Mike Grell art showcasing one of the better superhero designs that came out of DC during the 1970s. Never could figure out the domino mask, though. He’s a newspaper columnist/former millionaire industrialist/man about town with a blond goatee — he ain’t fooling anyone with a “disguise” like that. A

Green Lantern (Alan Scott)
True story: when I was around four years old, I had a bed cover and curtains that featured images of DC’s big No. 1 Golden Age covers. My parents tell me they had to take the cover off my bed every night because I was “scared of the green man in the fire.” That would be the original Green Lantern and the first issue of his own book, and looking back… yeah, that kind of stuff was a little scary for a kid. But sometimes scary is good. And if I had known back then that I could have beaten that scary green man to a pulp with my baseball bat, since his power ring is “incapable of affecting anything made of wood,” I probably would have slept a lot better. Anyway. Alan Scott: not the best dresser (green tights and red shirt, people?), but an indelible part of both the Justice Society and my scarred childhood. B+

Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
I think we can dispense with the often-made observations about this guy’s rather silly weakness concerning a certain primary color — “Marshmallow peeps! NOOOOOOO!” — and go right to the other slightly hard-to-believe aspect of the Silver Age Green Lantern; namely, the part where he was chosen by the dying Abin Sur’s ring because he was “someone who was utterly honest and born without fear.” Is it just me, or does it sound like these requirements ought to result in a lot fewer test pilots and a lot more mentally handicapped sociopaths joining the Green Lantern Corps? Explains Hal Jordan either way, I suppose. C

Green Lantern (John Stewart)
Long before he found fame as host of The Daily Show, John Stewart was DC’s designated Angry Black Man Green Lantern, there to teach that smug Hal Jordan a thing or two about making assumptions based on appearances (which would seem like an unnecessary task given how Jordan shared a locker room on Oa with all manners of beings, up to and including sentient carrots — but then, Jordan never was the brightest ring in the display case). This entry was written long before Stewart got his U.S. Marine Corps makeover for the Justice League show, so his occupation is listed as “Detroit architect.” I’m starting to see how the chance to face certain death fighting villains in the cold depths of space would have sounded like the better career option. B

Green Lantern Corps

Gosh, how could anyone forgot such timeless and unforgettable Green Lanterns as Disney Chipmunk Green Lantern, Creepy-Eyeball-with-Tentacles Green Lantern, Discount Jimmy Olsen Green Lantern, Tripod Play-Doh Blob Green Lantern, King Cobra Green Lantern, Sentient Fart Cloud Green Lantern, Got Voiced by Geoffrey Rush in That Movie Green Lantern, Chick with a Mohawk Green Lantern, Clockwork Man Green Lantern, Pointy-Eared Green Lantern, Other Pointy-Eared Green Lantern, Crystalline Spheroid Green Lantern, Seriously-What’s-the-Deal-With-The-Talking-Carrot Green Lantern… C-

Green Man
Far as I can tell, Green Man is the only non-Earthling Green Lantern to get his own entry in Who’s Who. And all he had to do to achieve this honor is quit being a Green Lantern. So named because he hails from a society where names and personal possessions are scorned — which must have been hell on the ratings for their version of The Price Is Right — Green Man resigned from the Corps when his desire to save the oppressed peoples of the Vegan system ran counter to the Guardians’ “ancient noninterference pact” with the Psions, a race that engaged in torture, vivisection and other unpleasant hobbies purely for the science of it. So much for “no evil shall escape my sight,” I guess. Anyway, good on Green Man for standing up for what’s right. B

Lock-Up, Master Jailer, Grimbor… there’s a small but extremely passionate subset of super-villains who pride themselves on their exceptional abilities to restrain even the mightiest heroes with chains, bars and locks. And judging by the examples of chained-up Legionnaires on this page, Grimbor really, really enjoyed his work. But all that kinkiness is nothing compared to Charma, his former enslaver/lover/partner in crime, is wearing, an outfit that looks like it ought to come with its own safeword. I bet assignments like this is why Mike Grell really enjoyed his work. C-

Grim Ghost
Fun fact: he started out in the ’40s as “The Gay Ghost.” Gee, I wonder why they made the change. He’s an 18th-century British earl who was killed by thieves, then brought back as a ghost to haunt a castle and await the return of his true love, who died of a broken heart when she heard he was killed. That doesn’t happen until 1941, when a woman who looks just like her ancestor (i.e., the earl’s lady love) stops by the castle with her American boyfriend, and then the boyfriend gets killed by Nazi spies, and then the earl reanimates the dead guy’s body and pretends to be him, and then his ancestors order him in his new identity to go join the British fight against Nazi aggression and so he becomes an RAF pilot… frankly, it’s a lot of setup just to get yet another superhero into the war effort. He’s a ghost. They’re bad guys. Make him say “BOO!” and shit. It’s not rocket science, people. C

The Guardian started out as a kid in a rough neighborhood who grew up, vowed to clean up the place as a beat cop, then turned to masked vigilantism when that clearly wasn’t going to work. Along the way, he picked up a gaggle of newspaper-hawking street urchins as his wards and ends up in all kinds of fun, child-endangering situations with them. Years later, those same street kids all went to work at the same genetics laboratory, and it was there that they cloned their dying guardian and gave Guardian 2.0 the exact same memories as the original. Oh, and he also carries a super-strong shield made of “an unknown material.” Hold on, he carries a shield? And we don’t know what it’s made of? Now that’s just too far-fetched. C-

Guardians of the Universe
The Guardians didn’t become universal control freaks until one of their own did the one thing they were told they weren’t supposed to do and accidentally unleashed evil into the universe as a result: rape, murder, enslavement, telemarketing, you name it. As the eons passed, they tried to make up for their colleague’s mistake by creating peacekeeping agents to fight for justice: first the robotic Manhunters, then the Green Lantern Corps. Not the most party-hardy aliens you’ll ever meet, but I admit I like the fact they’re keeping the “balding and big head” = “evolutionarily advanced and mentally superior” trope alive. Speaking as someone whose own hairline is heading heavenward, I appreciate it. B-