Before we get started this week, let’s have a huge round of nerd applause for everyone annotating Legion Of Three Worlds! Having annotated the DC side of JLA/Avengers in my days on the TrekBBS, I know how daunting (but well-organized!) all those George Perez Easter eggs can be. My hat’s off, fellas.
SPOILERS FOLLOW, both for this title and this week’s JLA.
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“100101010” was written by Maurice Hurley and Robert Lewin, and showcased Riker’s trombone playi– hey, wait a minute…
“100101010” 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.
In Brief: Finally, a JLA/CSA fight!
– I really like this page’s simplicity.
– I think this is the first time we’ve seen the Crime Syndicate’s floating temple, which at first glance (given the later appearance of a satellite headquarters) reflects the Justice League’s current dual-base setup. However, in JLA: Earth 2 and “Syndicate Rules,” the CSA had two headquarters (the moonbase and a “Flying Fortress”) to the League’s one (the lunar Watchtower). I presume the temple is floating partly for effect, and partly because most of the Anti-Matter Earth is fairly inhospitable at ground level. If the Flying Fortress is still around, maybe this is just a smaller cottage.
– Since Steel’s armor originally sported a version of the Kryptonian “S,” it’s appropriate that the A-M version of Steel uses a “U”-symbol in homage to Ultraman. Perhaps the A-M John Henry Irons similarly built his suit after Ultraman was presumed dead, and was killed by the real thing not long after his (mulleted, of course) return.
– [Show of hands: who else now wants to see "mirror universe" versions of '90s replacement storylines? Boon cripples Owlman; Owlzrael assassinates Boon; Owlman disembowels Owlzrael....]
– The anti-matter version of Lex Luthor first appeared in JLA: Earth 2, wearing that battlesuit. The Crime Syndicate story in JLA Secret Files & Origins 2004 #1 (November 2004) places Luthor in prison, “awaiting a show trial,” followed (you’d have to think) by execution. However, see below for the fates of the CSA’s prisoners generally.
– I’m pretty sure this is Transmutato’s first appearance to date.
– On the pillars: anti-matter analogues of Captain Atom, Bizarro (wearing the familiar backwards-S, which still makes him an imperfect duplicate of Ultraman), the Hourman android, Amazo, and part of Orion’s Astro-Harness. (No, I don’t want to get into the issue of parallel-universe New Gods.)
– As discussed below, the Captain Atom villain Major Force had an heroic counterpart named Q-Ranger on the A-M Earth.
– JLA SF&O 2K4 depicted a more intact Amazo android in cryogenic storage aboard the CSA’s Flying Fortress.
– On the floor: anti-matter analogues of the STRIPE battlesuit, Brainiac’s skull-ship, Metallo, a robot I don’t recognize but will probably kick myself about later, and one of the Heywood family of Steels (e.g., Citizen Steel). I’d like to think he’s called Criminal Steel.
– The anti-matter Brainiac first appeared in JLA: Earth 2 and was last seen at the end of that story, left to the tender mercies of the Crime Syndicate.
– The Crime Syndicate’s satellite headquarters is reminiscent of the asteroid-based satellites used by the Injustice Gang (see, e.g., Justice League of America vol. 1 #111 (May-June 1974)) and the Injustice League (starting in JLA #10 (Late September 1997)).
– This week’s Justice League of America vol. 2 #24 (October 2008) explains Red Tornado’s new body and more friendly disposition.
– “A moonbase like we used to have”: the JLA’s lunar Watchtower, designed by Howard Porter, first appeared in JLA #4 (April 1997), was severely damaged by the Injustice League in issue #36 (December 1999), and was destroyed during a battle with Mageddon in issue #38 (February 2000). It was rebuilt (into a Bryan Hitch design) by the League’s “heroic selves” (long story) in JLA #52 (April 2001) but was destroyed for good by Superboy-Prime in Infinite Crisis #1 (December 2005) and JLA #120 (Early December 2005).
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– Well, there’s Vixen flying again….
– Another good reason to have a floating “Hall of Tyranny”: it lets you put anti-aircraft guns on the ground.
– “… Untouched!” Well, that clinched it for me, and the backup story was just gravy. Looks like Enigma is the Quizmaster, the Riddler’s heroic A-M analogue and leader of the Crime Syndicate’s main opposition team, the Justice Underground.
– Quizmaster and his Justice Underground teammates were created by Kurt Busiek and Ron Garney and first appeared in the aforementioned JLA SF&O 2K4, in a prelude to “Syndicate Rules.” The other members of the Justice Underground included more benevolent versions of DC villains: Lady Sonar, Star Sapphire, the cultured and intelligent Sir Solomon Grundy, General Grodd, and the aforementioned Q-Ranger. By the time of “Syndicate Rules,” the Crime Syndicate had methodically dismantled the Justice Underground, including killing Sonar, stripping Grodd of his mental powers, rendering Grundy “inert … on a Saturday,” and razing Star Sapphire’s homeworld. Grundy and Quizmaster were both seen later in cryogenic storage aboard the Flying Fortress. However, at the end of “Syndicate Rules,” the Justice League had freed all the CSA’s prisoners, including the Missile Men, Dr. Eclipso, and Star Sapphire, so presumably the Quizmaster was part of that group.
– Now let’s think for a minute: if Enigma really is the Quizmaster, he’s the good version of the Riddler. However, the Riddler’s since reformed, so the Quizmaster would have to go bad (at least somewhat) in order to balance the cosmic scales. Moreover, just being from the Anti-Matter Earth gives him something of a mean streak. Thus, the Quizmaster can be a “bad guy” in “our” universe and still be relatively “good” compared to, say, Owlman.
– The Riddler’s recent troubles, which include ordeals with both Hush (Batman: Gotham Knights #s 50-53 (April-June 2004)) and Poison Ivy (Detective Comics #s 797-99 (October-December 2004)), as well as a “makeover” in Legends of the Dark Knight #s 185-89 (January-May 2005), could have been mirrored by the Quizmaster’s transformation into the scarred Enigma.
– Quizmaster/Enigma would also have a pretty clear motive for going after Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. By eliminating them from the “keystone” universe, one would think they’d disappear from every parallel Earth. That, in turn, would make defeating the Crime Syndicate a heckuva lot easier.
– (Have I mentioned here how convinced I was that Professor Hugo Strange was the mastermind behind “Hush”…?)
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– “What do you usually do, when I act like that?” I don’t have much to say about that line, except that it may be my favorite in this series so far.
– “These guys are immune to my powers”: Firestorm’s transmutational powers don’t work on organic material.
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“Riddle Me This” was plotted by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, scripted by Nicieza, pencilled by Mike Norton, inked by Karl Kesel, colored by Allen Passalaqua, lettered by Ken Lopez; Rachel Gluckstern, assistant editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: The Riddler points the finger at … himself?
Page 13 (story page 1)
– The Riddler, a/k/a Edward Nigma (sometimes Nygma), f/k/a Edward Nashton, was created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang and first appeared in Detective Comics #140 (October 1948). His second appearance was in ‘Tec #142 (December 1948). After that, he took a seventeen-year hiatus, returning in Batman #171 (May 1965).
– I want to say that the revelation of his real name as “Nashton” might have appeared first in The Question vol. 2 #26 (March 1989), in a story written by Dennis O’Neil and drawn by Bill Wray. It was either there or in Secret Origins Special vol. 2 #1 ([October] 1989), in a story written by Neil Gaiman, pencilled by Bernie Mireault, and inked by Matt Wagner.
– A few years back, the Riddler was put through a series of changes (described in part above) which included his deduction of Batman’s secret identity. However, a blow to the head during a battle in Infinite Crisis put him in a coma. When he emerged, he was pretty much back to his old self, absent his criminal tendencies. The reformed Riddler debuted in Detective Comics #822 (October 2006) and has been an occasional supporting character in that title.
– The Riddler’s popularity, including that of the “riddle me this” catchphrase, was given a tremendous boost by actor and impressionist Frank Gorshin (1933-2005). He was nominated for an Emmy for his portrayal of the character in the “Batman” TV series (1966-68); and in fact, the Riddler was the series’ first villain.
– WGBS is a Metropolis-based television station owned by the Galaxy Broadcasting System. Galaxy Broadcasting and its president Morgan Edge were created by Jack Kirby and first appeared in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #133 (October 1970). Prior to the 1986 Superman revamp, Clark Kent and Lana Lang were WGBS-TV news anchors, Clark starting in Superman vol. 1 #233 (January 1971) and Lana in issue #317 (November 1977). Wikipedia lists real-life TV and radio stations in Miami and Philadelphia which used those call letters, but today they’re used only for a low-power station in Hampton, Virginia.
– The Manhattan Guardian newspaper employs its own super-hero, as seen in the Seven Soldiers: The Manhattan Guardian miniseries (May-November 2005) written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Cameron Stewart.
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– “Pixie boots”: Dick Grayson’s original Robin costume, complete with what can only be G-ddamn pixie boots!, is currently seeing action in the pages of All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder.
– Mister Freeze (another Bat-villain boosted by the ’60s TV show) was referred to back in issue #7, but here he is in person.
– Here the Riddler uses a staff and sphere, not unlike Enigma.
– (Man, I am going to have to re-acquire those Batman Family back issues!) Thanks to The Google and the research of John Wells, I know now that Madame Zodiac was created by Bob Rozakis and Don Heck and first appeared fighting Batgirl, Batwoman, and the (Earth-2) Huntress in Batman Family #17 (April/May 1978). She returned in World’s Finest Comics #s 285-88 (November 1982-February 1983). This may well be her first appearance since then.
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– Not having any of Madame Z’s previous appearances, I can’t be sure, but I’d bet that the winged idol in panel 1 is a reference to one of ‘em.
– The above-linked Wikipedia article on the Riddler seems to state that, in the recent Gotham Underground miniseries, he figured out that a disguised Dick Grayson was Nightwing, but not that Nightwing is Dick Grayson (if that makes any sense). Therefore, at the risk of restating the obvious, he’s not sending his report to Dick-as-Nightwing, but simply Dick-as-client.
– Enigma and the Riddler have slightly different hair and eye colors. The Riddler’s hair is a lighter shade of brown, and his eyes are blue (see page 20/8). Enigma’s hair looks darker (although that may just be the style) and his eyes are green.
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Before I go, here’s a photo that I swear was not posed at all:
Twelve days old, and already Olivia’s the most dangerous baby on Earth.