Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Week 26: Achilles and the Tortoise

We're at the halfway mark, as this week's otherwise not quite relevant title implies, which means Zeno's paradox applies. I know how the tortoise feels: I'm afraid I'm going to have to keep it brief this week and the next two, since I'm finishing a gigantic project of my own. (Of course, I'm already over the 1500-word mark this week, so "brief" is relative.)

Hope everybody caught the word over at J.G. Jones' cover blog that the alligator guy is named Sobek. It's a name with a very interesting history--including a form as a group of four (!) crocodiles who attack the dead in the underworld. If he is indeed going to be a power player later in 52, I bet he fits into Ralph's arc too...

There's also the "26 about 52" interview with Jones and Giffen over there. Most interesting factoid as far as I'm concerned: the reason we're only seeing one cover in each of DC's monthly solicitations may be that that's the only one that's finished--Jones is "finishing up" the cover to #30, and he's got the covers to 33 and 40 half done. (And we've already seen the cover to #32, with Fate's helmet in the snow near a bearded person who might be Ralph and might be Richard Dragon, and #35, the bodies falling past Luthor's office window--Jones is also doing a variant cover for that issue.)

So. On to the notes:

Pg. 1: Every time I see Montoya on panel, my interest perks up... Congo Bill first appeared in 1940, here--with Dr. Fate on the cover, no less!--and eventually got his own short-lived series. In 1948, there was a movie serial version--I'm a little surprised to see that the poster credits Whitney Ellsworth with creating him. In any case, as of the January 1959 issue of Action Comics, "Congo Bill" became "Congorilla"; over the last 15 years, there have been miniseries reviving both incarnations. He's never really been proposed as a Martha Stewart-type figurehead for a National Geographic-type magazine before the thing on the 52 site a few weeks ago, as far as I know, but I love the idea.

Vlatava is an actual river (it flows through Prague), but in the DCU, it's the country Count Vertigo was from. The Spectre destroyed the entire country in this issue. (Those fictional countries: they don't have a lot of luck, do they?) Bhutran is a sort of Tibet-analogue in the DCU's central Asia, whose spiritual leader is the Rhana Bhutra.

This may be the first time in recent continuity that we've seen a reference to Gotham City being very far away from Metropolis--odd, considering that in Seven Soldiers New York is the "Cinderella City," overshadowed by its (presumably nearby) neighbors Metropolis and Gotham. In pre-Crisis continuity, they were so close together that there was a bridge between them--the plot of this issue concerned that, and the bridge itself can be seen on this cover.

Pg. 2: Nanda Parbat is the quasi-Tibetan/quasi-Shangri-Lavian locale associated with Deadman; it first appeared in this issue, which featured Neal Adams' infamous "Jim Steranko effect" joke (that image was lifted from this page at Dial B for Blog).

Pg. 3: The return of "who is Renee" meme--he's even got Isis saying it now. And that flower sure is glowing brightly for a flower.

Pg. 4: Tot Rodor, who's got one of those great palindromic names (do check out that link), first appeared in this issue, whose cover asked Charlie's question about Charlie himself. Richard Dragon first appeared in a 1974 novel called Dragon's Fists--and if anybody can link to an image of its cover, I'd love to see it--co-written by Denny O'Neil and Jim Berry, as "Jim Dennis." It was later adapted into this series, and O'Neil spent the next few years expanding the kung fu mythology he'd set up, including the story where the mind-controlled Bronze Tiger kills the Kathy Kane incarnation of Batwoman. (Eventually, he ended up in The Question too. And while I'm thinking of it, wouldn't a two-volume b/w Question Archives rule?) Incidentally, going up is easy for drops of water if they're in vapor form, like the steam coming out of everybody's mouth...

Pg. 5: And speaking of Ditko creations... Apparently Booster's posthumous stock is now high enough that there are action figures of him, although perhaps the off-panel Black Adam action figure has ripped his arms off. What are the mysterious scribbles on the pillars behind Lex on the TV screen, and do they have anything to do with the phallocrypt on the cover of Week 35?

Pg. 6: It's only Nov. 2 or so: why are there already Christmas trees on set? And is Steel actually making the Civil War/Iron Man argument--especially since we saw him acting as a citizens' fire brigade to deal with a building on fire a few weeks ago? Apparently the DCU version of Mozotto is something different. Is the 26 here supposed to be the channel?

Pg. 7: Hob's Bay is the Metropolis neighborhood better known as Suicide Slum, and you'd think that Steel would take an immediate interest in trouble there. (Do we know what the trouble is?) And have elections already been held in the DCU? Even if the 52 week starts on Sunday, that would only make the date of this scene Nov. 6...

Pg. 8: In lieu of actually explaining who all the members of the Sivana family are, I'll just point you to this page at Walt Grogan's excellent Marvel Family fan site.

Pg. 9: Suspendium is another Denny O'Neil invention: the Blatant Plot Device Element (TM) introduced here to explain where the Marvel Family had been for the last 19 years. And the guy who appears before them is Waverider, a chronocop who first appeared here. He's saying "I know why"--emphasis on the "I" and the "why." Compare to Skeets, a few weeks ago, saying "He knows"...

Pg. 11: Robot bursting into flames: why?

Pg. 12: Human casualties on Oolong Island do seem to be written off pretty easily, don't they? Love that "I knew a girl once" bit, though.

Pg. 13: Dr. Veronica Cale was one of Wonder Woman's adversaries in Rucka's excellent run on Wonder Woman--here's a cover on which she appears--a sort of Lex Luthor type incensed over WW having gotten famous by being born into it, who always wears a string of black pearls her mother gave her. She's not quite the "mad scientist" type, though... (This, by the way, is an excuse to point you all--a little late--to the "Wonder Woman Day" charitable auction that happened this past weekend--scroll down for some excellent artwork; although I'm sad to say I didn't win the Gilbert Hernandez, Jaime Hernandez, Michael Allred or Howard Cruse pieces, at least I can console myself that I was able to drive up their prices a bit...) The cyclopean mad scientist shoving his girlie pin-ups in the trash is, natch, Dr. Cyclops, who first appeared here.

Pg. 14: Looks like there's already been some serious robot carnage, and is about to be some more. No wonder Venus doesn't trust the 'bots to set the table.

Pg. 15: Unclear storytelling here: from later evidence, it looks like Isis and Adam fly out following Osiris, then Venus makes her nasty comment, then Isis and Adam fly back when they hear Sobek attacking, but you wouldn't guess they'd left from the artwork.

Pg. 16: There's a bit of a tradition of crocodile men in Captain Marvel's comics--most notably the ones from the planetoid Punkus who first appeared hereabouts, as members of the Monster Society of Evil under Mr. Mind's aegis. But--connecting two other threads going on in this issue--there were also some evil crocodile men in Hawkman #7, in an issue that also saw the "amazing return of the I.Q. Gang"!

Pg. 19: Not sure if Sobek's story adds up, as much as he's being set up as a Tawky Tawny type: what is he doing wearing shreds of human-style clothing if he's indeed a former crocodile? And his timeline leaves something to be desired too. One week less than six months ago, Sivana got kidnapped, so the "one day he left" would be very shortly after he acquired Sobek (from the Nile!). And how would he have built up the strength to leave if he hadn't eaten in months?

The Origin of Hawkman and Hawkgirl: Well, somebody had to boil down the origins of the Hawks, and Waid's the guy if anyone is. But can anybody who didn't give up on Hawk-continuity a while ago (the way I did) explain what their connection to Thanagar currently is? Like, how they got the wings and harnesses, and the hawk iconography?


At 7:37 PM, Blogger thedeadpenguin said...

I'm not sure if the title, or at least its typeface, is that irrelevant; those split H's might be a nod to the "52 = Omega" thing. Might be reading too much into that, but yeah.

Also, Sobek blatantly showing "crocodile tears" really makes me question anything he says.

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Squashua said...

Tawky Crawky (Sobek) is (as pointed out) quite likely just another Intergang plant. But if he is, it totally kills the whole "Adrianna and her brother are New God Intergang plants" theory. Meh. Guess that means Montoya is a leftover New God.

At 8:12 PM, Blogger Eric said...

The question mark inside the Batwoman symbol carved on the tree that Jones talks about in that interview doesn't bode well for Vic Sage remaining the Question after 52 is over.

And seems to be down right now, so I'll check in with further comments later.

At 9:03 PM, Blogger raphaeladidas said...

Anybody know why is down so often?

At 6:11 AM, Blogger David C said...

I don't think it's necessarily implied that Gotham City is a long way from Metropolis, as the emphasis is on "Montoya's not a traveler," more than "Metropolis is far away."

It *is* reasonably clear that a "Twin Cities" type relationship is out of the question, but that was never the "majority" interpretation pre-Crisis, IMO.

I read it more like someone from the Washington area saying "Y'know, I've never even been to Baltimore." The closest "other" major city.

At 7:26 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

The pre-referenced DC Heroes RPG (last week's Four Horsemen comment) produced an Atlas of the DCU. In it, Metropolis situated in Delaware (actually, it would have taken up ALL of Delaware :-) ) and Gotham is located in coastal Massachusetts, probably where fictional Lovecraftian town Arkham would have been, naturally. I'll double-check later, unless anyone confirms.

At 8:27 AM, Blogger David C said...

Right - and the source used for the DC Heroes Atlas is an old issue of the DC-published '70s fanzine "Amazing World of DC Comics."

That said, I've also read that DC was a bit displeased at "Metropolis, Delaware" and "Gotham City, New Jersey" being clearly demarcated in the atlas, and that editorial policy was to intentionally be fuzzier than that.

I like the DE/NJ notion myself, and have always thought it makes the most sense for Metropolis to be roughly where Lewes/Rehoboth Beach are, and Gotham City to be an overgrown Atlantic City.

Note also the notion from the JLA/Avengers book, that DC-Earth itself is actually physically *larger* than our Earth. Only slightly, but enough that there's "more room" for cities like Metropolis.

At 8:30 AM, Blogger David C said...

Oh, to clarify (and contradict squashua's recollection), the Atlas shows Gotham City in New Jersey.

The scale of the map is such that it doesn't really show their positions within their states with any precision. Metropolis' "black dot" actually does pretty much fill the entire state.

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Douglas Wolk said... seems to be back now. Sorry to link to something that's down so often, but they're by far the best and easiest source for covers. (Funnily enough, I wrote this week's entry in a Portland café called Chance of Rain, one of whose rooms has a big rack of old comics for patrons to read; after I submitted it to Blogger, I wandered into that room and noticed a couple of issues I'd linked in there, as well as some old issues of The Question!)

Thedeadpenguin: "crocodile tears"! Squashua: "Tawky Crawky"! AWESOME!

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

Thanks Doug. :-)

You're right about Gotham in NJ; totally remember that now, and I recall being disappointed that Gotham was not in Massachusetts as the appropriate Arkham/Miskatonic analogue that it is.

I don't care for Smallville's interpretation that traditionally coastal Metropolis is close enough to land-locked Smallville, KS that you can see it from the watertower. I guess it has a river running through it now or something.

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Filby said...

Pg. 11: Robot bursting into flames: why not?

At 9:02 PM, Blogger Austin said...


At 8:13 AM, Blogger Jamie Ott said...


The current connection the Hawks have now with Thanagar is that a Thanagarian space ship crashed thousands of years ago in Egypt, where the Nth metal the Hawks now use were found by Prince Khufu and his bride Chay-Ara...that's pretty much the gist of it. I could go into the fact that Carter has absorbed the Katar Hol aspect but I don't want to give anyone an aneurism.

The appearance of Sobek does cast doubt on the Isis/Intergang theory that we have been thinking. Then again, if she's an unknowing dupe, then I suppose it's still possible. I wonder if Sobek will tie into the disappearance of Mr. Mind in the near future.

I have to say that I enjoyed seeing the Sivana's again. It's been to long since we've seen the kids.


At 10:40 AM, Blogger Eric said...

By the way, a 2-part Question b&w collection would be totally awesome. There's a Spanish company that's currently collecting the O'Neil series, I think 6 issues at a time. I think they're called DC Clasicos, but I'm talking off of the top of my head.

Has anyone put forward the theory that all of the OYL books are taking place on Earth-2?

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Shawn L. said...

Much of the clearing up of the Hawks' connection to Thanagar was cleared up in the Ostrander run of Hawkworld (I THINK that was the title at the time)...

Basically the wings of Nth metal were created by their friend Perry Carter. Perry eventually turned out to be, Paran Katar, a scientist from Thanagar exploring Earth. Presumably sometime during the 50s or 60s this was revealed to Hawkman and Hawkwoman, who may have then had some adventures in space, involving Thanagar.

Paran Katar named his son Katar Hol, in honor of Carter Hall (Thangarian custom is for the son to have the father's last name as his first). Katar then became the Hawkman of the early 90's Hawkworld/Hawkman books.

There is further connection between Thanagar's ancient history and the earlier lives of Hawkman & Hawkwoman estabished in the JSA series.

So essentially the Silver & Golden Age versions were amalgamated into one. With the leftover element of the "Alien Cop" taken up by the early 90's version of Katar Hol.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Squashua said...

Best issue in a while this week (27), kids. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Or better yet, don't start.

At 2:38 PM, Blogger matty said...

i know people from brooklyn who've never, in their 50+ years, been to manhattan,so even though it doesn't seem to be the case anymore, a bridge could still connect gotham and metropolis, and it wouldn't be a gaffe.

i'm currently 23 issues into the o'neill question run, and love it -- i think an archives edition would be great, but i'm not sure how cowan/magyars work would hold up without tatjiana wood's great colors.


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