First off, great thanks to Kurt Busiek for his praise of these here annotations in his weekly sit-down with Troy Brownfield. They’re a labor of love, fellas — glad you like ‘em!
This was another enjoyable issue, advancing Trinity‘s Tarot-centric plot as well as setting up what should be an entertaining encounter with the Crime Syndicate. I’ve been spending some quality time with JLA/Avengers and Mr. Busiek’s JLA issues, so I’m good and ready for the Anti-Matter Earth.
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“Rough World” was written by Kurt Busiek, pencilled by Mark Bagley, inked by Art Thibert, colored by Pete Pantazis, and lettered by Pat Brosseau; Rachel Gluckstern, assistant editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
[Good luck, outgoing assistant editor Elisabeth V. Gehrlein!]
In Brief: Another Dreambound hits the streets, and the Justice League goes to the Anti-Matter Earth.
– The “Avenue of Tomorrow” is one of Metropolis’ main streets. It’s an oblique reference to one of Superman’s nicknames, the “Man of Tomorrow.”
– Perry White is the editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet. According to Wikipedia, Perry was created for the “Adventures of Superman” radio serial and made his first appearance there on February 14, 1940. He first appeared in the comics in Superman vol. 1 #7 (November-December 1940), in a story credited to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster but ghost-drawn by Wayne Boring.
– The Scientific and Technological Advanced Research Laboratories, or S.T.A.R. Labs, first appeared in Superman vol. 1 #246 (December 1971) in a story written by Len Wein, pencilled by Curt Swan, and inked by Murphy Anderson. S.T.A.R. Labs are located in many DC-Earth cities, from Metropolis and Gotham to Palo Alto and Wichita.
– Lex Luthor, who I don’t believe has been mentioned previously, is Superman’s main antagonist. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, he first appeared in Action Comics #23 (April, 1940). Originally an evil scientist, Luthor was reworked into a corrupt businessman by Marv Wolfman and John Byrne. That Luthor first appeared in The Man Of Steel #2 (October 1986).
– The Everyman Program was Luthor’s attempt to create his own team of superhumans. It was a major subplot in 52, and was announced in 52 #5 (June 2, 2006). Over the course of 52, Luthor finally lost his status as one of Metropolis’ leading businessmen, and became an unrepentant criminal.
– Here’s Hemi Kiwara from issue #8, now transformed into Sun-Chained-In-Ink. Kurt Busiek explained in the latest debriefing that “once all four of [the Dreambound] have come on stage, I’m sure someone’ll figure out what I was dreaming when I came up with them — and that I must have had anchovies before bedtime or something, to be dreaming of that particular source.” Also revealed (although obvious, now that I think about it) was that Scott McDaniel designed the four Dreambound.
– When SCII says “I have a star within me,” he may be speaking figuratively. However, the villain Reactron, who appeared most recently in Supergirl vol. 5 #26 (April 2008)) actually does have a star within him.
– I think this is the first appearance of the Metal Marauders, and the first reference to their creator Doc Karnus. The Anti-Matter Earth’s band of heroic robots was called the Missile Men (referenced but not quite seen in JLA Secret Files & Origins 2004 #1 (November 2004)), which in turn was a reference to the perennial Metal Men villains.
– In the JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel (written by Grant Morrison, drawn by Frank Quitely), “that Dimensionator gizmo” brought the anti-matter Luthor to “our” Earth. It was part of the anti-matter Brainiac’s scheme to “upgrade and evolve,” and thereby get out from under Ultraman’s control. However, the gizmo had the effect of switching out counterparts — sending the Crime Syndicate to our Earth after the Justice League arrived on theirs — as a way to “balance the cosmic scales.”
– Red Tornado has a physical body which doesn’t want to kill the Justice League! This is an improvement on his current Amazo-possessed status in Justice League of America.
– Busiek’s use of Superman in this issue is, naturally, consistent with the Man of Steel’s role in the Busiek-written JLA/Avengers and its semi-sequel “Syndicate Rules” (JLA #s 107-14 (December 2004-July 2005)). In JLA/Avengers, Superman and Captain America were the most attuned to their specific universes, and consequently felt the most out-of-place whenever the universal norms were upset. In “Syndicate Rules,” much the same held true for both Superman and his anti-matter counterpart, Ultraman.
– JLA: Earth 2 also established the futility of the Justice League trying to liberate the Anti-Matter Earth and vice versa. The two universes were either inherently good or inherently evil, so that the Justice League would always win in its universe, and the Crime Syndicate would always win in its. However, the restart of time which happened during JLA/Avengers changed the rules (and, somehow, switched Power Rings) so that, in “Syndicate Rules” and later, it was possible for the “visiting team” to win.
– By the way, about the Anti-Matter Earth … I could probably spend a good bit of a post listing all the Easter eggs and other positive-matter references in JLA: Earth 2 and “Syndicate Rules.” I hadn’t planned to do that unless the story, or reader demand, called for it. For now, I’ll just try to flesh out the items mentioned here. Besides, I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of the A-M Earth in the issues to come.
– “They came to our world — murdered hundreds of innocent people!” In particular, at the end of JLA #110 (March 2005), Ultraman cracked under the strain of posing as Superman and murdered 219 people in the middle of United Nations Plaza. You can see how this would grate on Superman’s nerves. That, plus the knowledge that it’s now possible to free the people of the Anti-Matter Earth, gives Superman even more reason to try.
– “A vial of Luthor’s blood”: ironically, the Everyman treatment didn’t work on Luthor himself, but his scientists kept trying. Anyway, looks like Sun-Chained-In-Ink has stolen a “foe artifact” related to Superman. Five to go!
– Make that four to go, with the theft of Lois’ PDA.
– The case-file summary refers to the events of “Syndicate Rules.” In fact, the ancient Qwardian doomsday-weapon called the Void Hound devastated the Anti-Matter Earth (as shown in JLA #114 (July 2005)) after Batman told its controllers that the Crime Syndicate, not the Justice League, had attacked Qward.
– Since the inhabitants of the Anti-Matter Earth each have a fairly mean streak, it would be unusual to hear one begging for his life. Therefore, it’s not surprising that Stockbroker Harris here is from another Earth.
– I’m guessing that “Stellarman” refers to an as-yet-uncatalogued parallel-universe version of Superman.
– “Apollo” and “The Authority” are characters published in the various Authority comics. In DC terms, they’re approximate Earth-50 counterparts of Superman and the Justice League, although I wouldn’t say that to their faces. Obviously, the Crime Syndicate is kidnapping people from all over the Multiverse.
– “Hyperman”: In an imaginary story from Superman vol. 1 #200 (October 1967), written by Cary Bates and drawn by Wayne Boring, Kal-El becomes Hyperman, Canada’s greatest hero. He joins his brother Knor-El, who has already become the Metropolis-based Superman. (This was also Wayne Boring’s last Superman story.) The index of parallel Earths in the Crisis On Infinite Earths Compendium assigns this story to Earth-200. That doesn’t work with the current 52-world Multiverse, of course.
– “Captain Champion” looks like another uncatalogued parallel-universe Superman counterpart.
– And here’s the Crime Syndicate of Amerika in person. I ran through their first appearances last time, so here’s some more background information. Power Ring (III) wears a magic ring inhabited by a malevolent entity named Volthoom. The Amazon called Superwoman masquerades as Daily Planet editor Lois Lane. Ultraman was an astronaut lost in deep space and given super-powers by the aliens who found him. He masquerades as Planet reporter Clark Kent. Owlman is Thomas Wayne Jr., son of Gotham City’s police commissioner. Johnny Quick (II) gets super-speed from drug injections.
– In a nasty twist on the “trinity,” Superwoman is married to Ultraman, but is having a not-very-secret affair with Owlman.
– James Bartholomew “Jimmy” Olsen is Superman’s pal. Like Perry White, he appeared first on the April 15, 1940 episode of the “Adventures of Superman” radio show. Although Jimmy’s first official appearance is credited to Superman vol. 1 #13 (November-December 1941), Wikipedia notes that an “anonymous ‘copy boy’” appears in Action Comics #6 (November 1938). The story in Superman #13 was written by Jerry Siegel and drawn by Leo Nowak (ghosting for Joe Shuster), and the story in Action #6 was written by Siegel and pencilled by Shuster.
– In fact, this could very well be the Anti-Matter Jimmy Olsen, who has an unhealthy sexual obsession with Lois/Superwoman.
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“Maybe She Doesn’t Like Concrete?” was plotted by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, scripted by Nicieza, pencilled by Scott McDaniel, inked by Andy Owens, colored by Allen Passalaqua, lettered by Ken Lopez; Rachel Gluckstern, assistant editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: Nightwing and Robin fight Primat.
Page 13 (story page 1)
– No annotations.
– Note the personalized Batarangs. Accept no substitutes!
– No annotations.
– “Lost my favorite Escrima stick”: in last issue’s battle with Swashbuckler, of course.
– Solovar is indeed the ruler of Gorilla City, and made his first appearance when it did, in The Flash vol. 1 #106 (May 1959).
– No annotations.
– No annotations.
– Finally, after weeks of less direct Demon references, here’s the man himself, Jason Blood. Jason was created by Jack Kirby and first appeared in The Demon vol. 1 #1 (August-September 1972). As the human alter ego of the demon Etrigan, he’s incredibly long-lived — at least old enough to have been an adult at the fall of Camelot.
– “Aristotle’s Three Unities” refer to drama. The work must depict a single story, with no extraneous elements (the Unity of Action), occurring over at most a twenty-four hour period (the Unity of Time), in a single locale (the Unity of Place).
– “Marx’s three -Isms” are economic systems: Communism, Socialism, and Capitalism.
– Crime Alley is the nickname for the Park Row area of Gotham City. As described by Denny O’Neil’s immortal narration in “There Is No Hope In Crime Alley!” (Detective Comics #457 (March 1976)), Park Row was once
the dwelling place of the rich and soon-to-be rich … a place of gourmet restaurants and fashionable theaters … of elegant women and suave men….
But the dry rot of time set in, and the laughter stopped and the lights dimmed, and those elegant women and suave men sought their pleasures elsewhere … and now only the forlorn and the desperate walk these streets….
For one night, two brutal slayings occurred, signaling the beginning of the end….
– Best I remember, the names “Park Row” and “Crime Alley” originated with that Detective story (drawn, I must mention, by Dick Giordano). Regardless, the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne were first seen in Detective Comics #33 (November 1939), as part of a two-page vignette written by Bill Finger and drawn by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff. That vignette was reprinted in Batman #1 and retitled “The Legend Of The Batman — Who He Is And How He Came To Be!”
– Primat’s acquisition of Crime Alley concrete means that there are only three artifacts left.
– Seen on Oracle’s monitors: the Outsiders’ Thunder, Metamorpho, and Katana (I think); and the Huntress.
– Thunder is Black Lightning’s daughter, Anissa Pierce. Created by Judd Winick and Tom Raney, she first appeared in Outsiders vol. 3 #1 (August 2003).
– Metamorpho the Element Man, a/k/a Rex Mason, was created by Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon and first appeared in The Brave and the Bold vol. 1 #57 (January 1965).
– The Justice Society of America, the first comic-book super-hero team, debuted in All Star Comics #3 (Winter 1940) and remained active until issue #57 (February-March 1951). After a brief period of retirement, the team reunited in The Flash vol. 1 #137 (June 1963), and has been active off and on ever since.
– Here are the assembled Dreambound: Sun-Chained-In-Ink (Hemi Kirawa), Primat, Trans-Volitional Man (Michael Cannefick), and the back-from-the-dead Swashbuckler. SCII sought to capture the Sun; Primat and TVM wanted to escape their normal existences; and Swashbuckler has apparently eluded Death herself. I’ll have to think a while more on their common attributes.
– “From small things, mama, big things one day come” is the refrain for the 1981 Bruce Springsteen song “From Small Things”. It tells the story of a girl who leaves home at 16 to find her fortune … but being a Springsteen song, it doesn’t quite work out that way.
– Sun-Chained-In-Ink can’t count. Don’t feel bad; I missed the theft of Gordon’s pipe last time.
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That’s all I have for this week. While you’re waiting for issue #11′s preview and/or Troy’s next conversation with Kurt, why not check out these fine Ambush Bug: Year None annotations?
See you soon!