Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ralph and Event Leviathan

The other detectives.
"Also, the number one question that it’s been asked to me or yelled at me since we announced this series is “Where the hell is Elongated Man?” As if I didn’t know the difference between Elongated Man and Plastic Man. That was very funny. So I was so happy to finally reveal our second act twist, that he has been in the series the entire time. We are going to find out what they know soon."
— Brian Michael Bendis.
It goes without saying, but I was one of those yellers. “Where the hell is Elongated Man?” You can’t have a detective team on the DC Universe with Plastic Man but without the Elongated Man. When the premise of Event Leviathan was announced and its team of detectives missed the likes of Elongated Man, Slam Bradley, and Detective Chimp, it looked like its writer, Brian Michael Bendis didn’t know his DC Comics. Now that the mistake has been corrected, I'll have to buy the trade.

“Where the hell is Elongated Man?” The character was a regular feature of DC Comics all the way from the years of his Detective Comics feature, until the end of the International era of the Justice League. That’s about 30 years of sharing space with Batman, Flash or the Justice League, from the mid-60s to the mid-90s. After that, his appearances became sporadic.

Ghost Ralph and Sue trying to figure out if they are still part of the DCU.

2004’s Identity Crisis set him for prominence, after the murder of his wife, Sue Dibny. He got enough of it the 52 limited series, which famously established both as ghost detectives. And they did become ghosts, in that they barely appeared after that.

Ralph has been making a slow comeback since 2016. First, he reappeared alive with Sue as part of the current continuity, then as part of the regular cast of The Flash TV show, and just a couple of weeks ago, as a guest on Young Justice. A few months back, in Detective Comics #1000, he was revealed to be part of the Detectives Guild, and I'm guessing this new appearance has something to do with that.

Hartley Sawyer as Ralph in The Flash,
Ralph and Sue with the Detectives Guield,
Ralph in Young Justice.

Brian Michael Bendis’ Event Leviathan, is a new miniseries that forms part of the current DC Comics continuity. In it, a group of detectives, including Batman, Robin, Superman, Green Arrow, Plastic Man, the Question and Manhunter were assembled by Lois Lane to investigate the infiltration and destruction of various intelligence agencies by Leviathan, a terrorist organization formerly led by Talia, the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul.

At the end of issue #4, it is revealed that Lois has a second team of detectives working in secret. This one includes Zatanna and John Constantine, Deathstroke, Lt. Harvey Bullock, Renee Montoya, and of course Ralph Dibny. Its rooster might give us a clue of Lois' strategy since it includes two occult experts, a master assassin, two members of the Gotham City Police Department and Ralph, who might be the World's greatest detective.

It wouldn't be surprising to see Sue Dibny as well, since she is a master detective on her own right and one of the most proficient hackers within the DCU.

In an interview with The Beat, Bendis recognized that the number one question he gets is “where the hell is Elongated Man?”. Now after the reveal, it’s funny to read that fans have moved on and now they only ask about Detective Chimp or Slam Bradley. Can’t win, when it comes to DCU detectives, fans expect the common suspects to appear.

The great thing about all of this is that, even if Ralph’s appearances in comics have been sporadic, he is once again acknowledged as an icon within the DCU fiction. Remember, to us, he is not that famous, but for the DC characters, he is a World-famous celebrity and either the finest detective after Batman or the finest detective period.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Ralph, Batman and Sherlock

I just found this pic from Booster Gold vol. 2 #6 (2008). The titular character is traveling back in time and the illustration shows us a clear reference to Detective Comics #572 (1987), with Ralph, Batman and Sherlock Holmes teaming up to solve the Doomsday Clock case.

The image is weird, though. Batman and Sherlock look exactly as they do on the cover. However, in the story Sherlock is way older and doesn't really work directly with the rest of the detectives. Not to mention that Slam Bradley and Robin were big part of the story.

That being said, it's an awesome throwback.

Monday, February 18, 2019

The Guild of Detection, Detective Comics #1000 and the return of Ralph and Sue Dibny

After his New 52 debut in the pages Secret Six, Ralph is finally back in the DC Universe. And so are Slam Bradley, Detective Chimp and the Question along with other classic DC detectives like the Martian Manhunter and the Dark Knight himself. This time, as part of the Detectives Guild, a new team that will appear in the first feature of Detective Comics #1000, written by Scott Snyder, with art by Greg Capullo.

The return of these characters for the 1000th issue is only logical, since most of them have strong ties to Detective Comics, and this is not the first time something like this happens for an anniversary issue. In this post, I'll provide a little background information on their ties and previous teams with similar rosters.

Ties to Detective Comics

Detective Comics started as a 68-page anthology book with several features, each lead by a different detective type of character. All of them with names like "Cosmo, Phantom of Disguise", "Gumshoe Gus" or "Buck Marshall". There isn't any superhero or vigilante stuff in those early issues.

One of the few characters that debuted in the first issue (March 1937)  is Samuel Emerson "Slam" Bradley, a rough private detective with a Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe vibe. Among the members of the new Detectives Guild, he is the oldest, and his stories continued until issue #151 (September 1949).

Many of his early cases involve Fu Manchu type of villains like Fui Onyui (the one from the first cover), which he defeated with his fists and short temper (hence the "Slam" part of his name). After the creation of the Crimson Avenger (#20, October 1938), the title started to shift focus gradually towards masked vigilantes and superheroes. Decades after his featured ended he returned sporadically as an old brainier man.

Batman, of course, debuted in issue #27 (May 1939) and has been the main feature of the book ever since. Since his debut, he has been an answer to Superman that merges the superhero with detective tropes. Today he might be DC Comics' most popular character and the World's greatest detective within its fictional universe.

 The Martian Manhunter debuted in issue #225 (November 1955) and his feature ran until #327 (April 1964). Unlike most of the detectives in the book, he mostly uses his superpowers to solve crimes. 

Ralph Dibny, "the Elongated Man", debuted as recurring character withing the stories of the silver age Flash. In them, it could be said that the duo solved some mysteries, but it was mostly done in a standard superhero fashion. Most of the key events of Ralph's life, such as getting his super powers, becoming a superhero, getting rich and famous as a circus performer, giving away his secret identity and marrying Sue Dibny happen in those stories, but it was until editor Julie Schwartz moved him to Detective Comics that he was defined as a great detective. Most of his stories were published monthly in that title from #327 (April 1964) to #383 (January 1969), and then sporadically throughout the 70s, with comebacks for the 500th issue and the 50th year anniversary (#572).

Ralph was soon was established as a brilliant detective, matched only by Batman. Although most of the classic Elongated Man's mysteries were puzzling, they were also lighthearted and not necessarily solved with deductive reasoning. It was only until the modern age that he gets to do things like solving the mystery around Edgar Allan Poe's death or outsmarting the demon Neron.   

Capullo's rendition of Ralph is a bit weird. He is wearing his Secret Six uniform, but his face resembles Mad's Alfred E. Neuman, and he is way skinnier and shorter than usual.

Hawkman and Hawkwoman had a sporadic feature throughout the 70s. They are basically space cops solving crimes on Earth using their alien technology.

While Vic Sage never had a feature as The Question in Detective Comics, Renee Montoya did, back in issues #854 (June 2009) to #863 (May 2010). Vic is an investigative journalist, and like his creator, Steve Ditko, is heavily influenced by objectivism.

Detective Chimp only appeared as a supporting character in #845 (August 2008) and Traci Thirteen is completely new to Detective Comics, although her father, Dr. Thirteen appeared in issues #509 and #520.

In the only picture available of the Detectives Guild, it is hard to tell who is Traci Thirteen, but the woman next to Ralph rather resembles the New 52 version of Sue Dibny, and there is an unidentified couple in the background. Sue is Ralph's wife, a great detective and mystery writer on her own. She has a history of tagging along to whatever team hew husband belongs, so it wouldn't be strange if she was a member of the Guild herself. After all, Ralph and Sue are famously based on Nick and Nora Charles, who also did everything together.

Forerunners of the Detectives Guild

The roster of the Detectives Guild is quite similar to at least three previous DC teams: "The Doomsday Book" ensemble, the Croatoans and an animated version of the Mystery Analysts of Gotham City.

Previous detective teams: The Croatoans, Mystery Analyst of Gotham and The Doomsday Book ensemble.

DC Comics made the first ensemble of this type for Detective Comics #572 (March 1987) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the title. In the story, titled The Doomsday Book, an informal team-up consisting of Slam Bradley, Batman, Robin, the Elongated Man and Sherlock Holmes try to save Queen Elizabeth from a descendant of Professor Moriarty.

52 #18 (November 2006) introduced the Croatoans, a group of detectives that met regularly at the House of Mystery. It consists of the Elongated Man, Detective Chimp, Edogawa Sangaku, Traci Thirteen, and Tim Trench. They are known for having unlocked the mysteries of Stonehenge, Easter Island, Kasper Hauser, and even the television series Lost.

The Mystery Analysts of Gotham City first appeared in Batman #164 (June 1964), but its roster consists of Batman, Robin and non-superhero detectives from Gotham City, like Commissioner Gordon and Kaye Daye, a mystery writer. However, out of DC Comics canon, the roster of this group was modified for the animated movie the Scooby-Doo! and Batman: The Brave and the Bold (January 2018). This version includes Batman, Martian Manhunter, Black Canary, Plastic Man, Aquaman, the Question and Mystery Inc. (yes, that means Scooby-Doo and his gang).

Also, out of DC Comics canon, The Elongated Man, Batman, the Martian Manhunter and Detective Chimp appeared together in issue #39 (January 2008) of the Justice League Unlimited comic book.

Future of the Detectives Guild

So far, it's hard to tell if the Detective Comics #1000 story is of any consequence for Ralph and the rest of the Detectives Guild. It is only known that it will focus on Batman's training as a master detective. However, it's clear that its premise comes from a long tradition of DC Comics.

UPDATE: Here is what's actually in the story.

After reading Detective Comics #1000, there isn't much else to say besides stating that it's actually called "The Guild of Detection", Slam did most of the talk and I'm 99.99% sure Sue is part of the Guild of Detection.

The story, titled "Batman's Longest Case" has Batman as the latest addition of a group of detectives informally known as "the Guild of Detection". It indeed includes Elongated Man, Slam Bradley, Hawkman, Hawkwoman, Martian Manhunter, Detective Chimp, the Question, the brunette woman in the pink dress, and a male and female couple in the background. The later four characters were not named, but the Question is easily identified and, in the next and only other panel she appears, the woman in pink is close with Ralph looking nothing like Traci 13 and an identical to Sue in Secret Six. So, it's most likely her.

This would make Sue officially one of DC's greatest detectives. It has been established that she has hacking skills that rival those of Barbara Gordon (who is not on the Guild yet), that she became a best-selling mystery writer and that she can beat both Ralph and Batman solving a case. Consequently, she is quite an asset for the team.

As the oldest character of Detective Comics, or at least the only one that remains kind of well known these days, it's only natural that Slam Bradley lead Batman's introduction to the Guild, which has been around for a long time and has a large book collection of unsolved cases from all around the Universe and even the realm of magic. 

So far, no further appearances of the Guild of Detection have been announced, but it wouldn't be unlikely that Snyder introduced it with a future story in mind.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

10 common misconceptions about the Elongated Man

Finally! The Elongated Man is set to debut this Tuesday (October 31), and many fans of the show might want to know a little more about him. Googling him is easy enough, but with so many misconceptions spread online it's very easy to get the facts wrong.

For instance, Geek History Lesson podcast #184 got every possible fact wrong. Which goes to show us the limitations of the Internet as a source. So, I made a Steemit post about the most common misconceptions about Ralph. Click here to read it.

Why Steemit? Because that network allows us to get rewarded for every contribution we make as bloggers. So, if you like the content, please make sure you start an account there, upvote it, and create your own.

Here are two of the ten misconceptions:

10. "Identity Crisis and 52 are the best Elongated Man stories"

Those are some of the best stories with him, but not the best about him. Neither has a protagonist. In the first —which some fans even consider damaging for him as a DC property—,  he and Sue are plot devices and the mystery is solved by chance. In the second he gets a great case to solve, but that's one of six main plots of the series.

Showcase Presents the Elongated Man shows the character in his original spirit —imagine a 60s sitcom with Dick Van Dyke as a detective with super stretching. It compiles all of his early appearances in The Flash and his first 45 in Detective Comics, although it has no second volume and it leaves out anything published after January 1968.

A complete list of recommentations would have to include Detective Comics #500, 557 and Justice League Quarlerly #6, because....

7. "Sue always hung out with the League at the Watchtower"

Although it's a good one, the sad truth is that Sue didn't frequent the Watchtower. She started hanging out with the Justice League at the bunker during the Detroit years, and later again with the Justice League Europe at the Paris JLI Embasy (which they eventually moved to London). This takes us to...

Click here to read the other 8 misconceptions about the Elongated Man.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Cult of David Bowie —Superstar, supervillain, supernatural

Related image

For those who know little or nothing about David Bowie, but have seen images of him as Aladdin Sane or Helloween Jack, it might seem strange that such a queer figure had achieved so much popularity and influence.

His outfits put to shame those of Marilyn Manson and whoever goes for that kind of alien and androgynous look these days. Now, imagine that in the context of Nixon, Heath, and a young Elizabeth II. That’s Bowie, one of the great forerunners of scandalous looks, and he pulled his success out of that kind character and authenticity.

Ch-ch-Changes (Turn and face the strange)
Don't tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes (Turn and face the strange)
Where's your shame
You've left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can't trace time.»

All of these different people are David Bowie.
Vía Living is Easy with Ees Closed.

One of the most interesting aspects of Bowie’s stage presence, especially after the pass of time, is that he wasn’t really about any particular character he used to perform, but about his talent to conceive them and create music through them.  Before Ziggy Stardust and A-ladd-in-Sane, there was Major Tom, and after them, there were many others, like Halloween Jack, the Thin White Duke, the Man Who Fell to Earth, Pierrot, and many others before his epic conclusion as Lazarus.

«And she's hooked to the silver screen,
but the film is a saddening bore,
for she's lived it ten times or more.»

Bowie started to impact fiction right away. In 1976, four years after his Starman song, Gerry Conway and Mike Vosburg created the bronze age Starman for DC Comics. Although his alter ego is Mikaal Tomas, he is essentially a superhero version of Ziggy Stardust. His debut issue, 1st Issue Special #12, was barely released before The Man Who Fell to Earth, which stars Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien on a mission to take water to his home planet.

In the 80s Frank Miller started a trend to use the Thin White Duke persona as an influence on the Joker. Grant Morrison followed it in recent years.

Before all that, when he was only David Robert "Davy" Jones —that’s his actual name—, he tried to learn Buddhism. He didn’t continue through that path, but maybe that’s how he learned to reincarnate. And like one’s soul in Buddhist tradition, there is something that remains through all of his artistic personas: his soul as an emotional, authentic, and reflexive performer; his true character. Never mind how different they might be, or how odd they might look, all his characters are magnetic and command respect.

«But the film is a saddening bore,
cause I wrote it ten times or more,»

Marvel Comics' Jareth, the Goblin King, DC Comics' Lucifer Morningstar,
and The Venture Bros. Sovereign, all modeled after David Bowie.

Maybe, that’s the reason Jim Henson sought him to play Jareth, the Goblin King, in Labyrinth (1986). The same year the movie was released, Marvel Comics adapted it to comics, and that was, perhaps, Bowie’s first incursion outside of media that requires performing; the point in which he started to become a myth. His likeness and personality were used two times after that without his involvement to create supervillains.

The first time was in 1989, when the legendary Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Coraline) modeled Lucifer Morningstar, the devil in the DC Universe, after him. If Superman or Wonder Woman ever visit Hell, they might end up facing him. The character debuted in Sandman, as an antagonist of the main character, but went on to have his own series.

Something similar happened in Adult Swim’s humorous animated series, The Venture Bros. (2004—present). There, besides being a musician, still using his Thin White Duke appearance, he seems to be a shapeshifter, an acquaintance of every important supervillain, and their secret leader, the Sovereign —which totally explains the cover of Diamond Dogs.

In 2015, Gaiman returned to Bowie as inspiration in "The Return of the Thin White Duke", a fan fiction short story that provides an origin story for the title character, with wonderful art by Yoshitaka Amano. It is part of Trigger Warning, but Gaiman posted it at his site. 

Save the Goblin King, Bowie never played the rest of the characters in the posters of artist Butcher Billy, which are very popular on Internet. Does it matter? Clearly, we can imagine him rocking every role.
All David Bowie Pop Culture posters, by Billy Butcher.A compilation of images created by Butcher Billy.

«Sailors, fighting in the dance hall.
Oh man! Look at those cavemen go.
It's the freakiest show.»

Related articles

This is just part of the original article, posted at Voz Abierta. The full version has a bit about his last songs, the No Plan video, and a top 10 of his videos. However, I did the original version in Spanish as "Un año sin David Bowie".

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Harley Quinn, the superhero* of millennials, tops August 2016 sales along DC Comics

Now that the comic book sales numbers of August 2016 are finally available at the Diamond Comic Distributors's site, we are clear on three things: 
  • August 2016 has been the highest mark for comic book sales in nearly 20 years,
  • DC got the biggest share (outselling September 2011, the month of the New 52 reboot), and
  • Harley Quinn was its best selling property.
That's right. Not Batman, or Superman, or the Justice League, but  
Harley Quinn.

Outselling Marvel is an extraordinary achievement for DC Comics, but it has happened several times since 1996, especially around September. This time, however, it happened during the best selling month since December 1996, just as DC was going back to its basics, after years of trying different approaches.

Within 'the New 52' era of DC Comics (September 2011 — June 2016), the history of all its characters was deeply modified; romance, relationships, comedy, lightheartedness, and legacy were toned down in favor of violence and grimness. However, one of the most successful characters during that era was Harley Quinn, who broke with its conventions.

Harley in The Adventures of Batman & Robin's episode "Harley's Holiday" (1994),
along with Bud and Lou, two of the New 52 casualties.
Thanks mostly to Batman: The Animated Series and the Batman: Arkham video games, by late 2013, Harley Quinn was popularly known as the henchwoman and codependent girlfriend of the Joker, a recurring enemy of Batman, friend of Poison Ivy, a histrionic inmate of Arkham Asylum, and a member of the Suicide Squad. 
Harley, from the Batman: Arkham Knight video game.
Consequently, at least in theory, her own title, written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, shouldn't have broken the dark tone of the New 52; only it totally did, it had great selling numbers, and it paved the way for other titles breaking the mold.

Harley Quinn, vol. 2, #0 (November 2013).
The early stories of Harley in her Conner and Palmiotti series, didn't rush to redefine her immorality, and they showed great violence; however, they also established her as an independent, industrious, and empathetic woman who only attacks cruel people. In Harley Quinn #0 (2013, vol. 2) she has almost nothing, but in issue #1, she becomes the landlady and matriarch figure of a group of friendly misfits who live in a building she gets by chance.

Throughout the series, despite her evident madness (and apparent mental disability) Harley always succeeds in whatever she decides to do. Eventually, she gains the approval of Power Girl and Batman and goes on to establish her own team of vigilantes.

Harley as Power Girl's "sidekick".
While comics have had feminist icons since the time of Sheena (1937) or Wonder Woman (1941), they are few and always represented traditional values. Comics have always focused on stories about white male heroes for white male readers1. Harley Quinn is the first superheroine to be both different (female, Jewish, deranged, and teased as bisexual), and champion the different. Undoubtedly, this has struck an emotional chord with millennial readers, as her title's success has only increased with time.

The DC superheroes after Rebirth (Harley is at the bot.  
After a couple of attempts to change the tone of the New 52 continuity last year2, this June, DC Comics began publishing Rebirth, a series in which the characters return to their original traditions and values, including hope, legacy, romance and optimism. As a result, its first title, DC Universe Rebirth # 1, was the the bestseller of month, DC Comics dominated the market with the rest of the series in July, and nine out of the top ten in August3.

However, the biggest surprise of August 2016 was the relaunch of Harley Quinn # 1 (vol. 3, August 2016), which sold the impressive amount of 400,000 copies, beating its previous sales, and all the other titles of the same month, including Batman.

Harley Quinn, vol.3, #1, and Suicide Squad #1

The August 2016 comic book sales reflect a major shift in popular culture. The sales of two Suicide Squad titles exceed that of the Justice League. Harley Quinn, appeared in those titles as well as in the first two issues of her own series, amounting 4 appearances in the top ten list. If DC had to define his trinity —Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman—, based on its most popular characters of that month, its members would be Batman, Harley Quinn, and Supergirl 4 .

So far, DC Comics's success these last two months is extraordinary 5and the best part of it is that the company has found a way to diversify without losing its traditions, reconnecting with their long time fans, keeping the recent fans, and gaining new ones. It's safe to say that Rebirth was a brilliant play by the guys taking decisions at DC: Dan DiDio, Jim Lee and Geoff Johns. 


* I call Harley Quinn a superhero because that's what she is becoming. She also has the full deal, with a double identity, a skintight costume, and super-powers.

1 Save Spawn an anti-hero, whose title topped sales during the mid-90s for some reason (the 90s were weird), forerunning the success of Harley's.
2 In April 2015, Convergence teased readers with the idea of restoring the old DC continuity, and since June 2015, the 'DC You' titles tried to increase the diversity among authors to attract a more diverse readership.
3 Only Marvel's Amazing Spider-man #16 made it, and in the #4 spot. 
4 For more information of how Harley Quinn is has become more popular than Wonder Woman, go to

5 Even if it happened for two and a half years, starting in January 1999.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Zack Snyder tweets the first Justice League trailer.

The bits in the trailer are visually similar to Batman v Superman, even with the bluish hue, yet the tome is very similar to that of a Marvel movie.

Snyder might have taken notes from his critics, besides the humor, and more joyful attitude of the characters, Ezra Miller looks a lot les like a slacker and more like the TV version.

It is also noteworthy that Bruce Wayne is the one recruiting other heroes, not Batman.

It is also noteworthy that the Elongated Man is not included in this movie. Well, no, that's comes without saying, but I noticed anyway.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Elongated Man might make his live action debut in The Flash, season 3

According to, The CW is casting a character that fits Ralph Dibny's description for the third season of The Flash.

"For Season 3, the CW hit is casting the major recurring character of Barry’s slightly older, slightly geekier contemporary, a guy who is as smart as he is intuitive. As such, this newcomer doesn’t buy Barry’s nice guy routine and sets out to learn what he’s hiding — all while concealing some secrets of his own…."

(sources: Den of Geek, TV Line)

Remember, the Elongated Man debuted in The Flash #112 (the 8th issue featuring Barry instead of Jay). In that story, he is introduced as a superhero rival of Flash. Ralph beats him to solve so many crimes he suspects him of being a criminal. Of course, the explanation is that Ralph is just a better detective.

This is a great move for the series. Ever since Flash: Rebirth, DC has limited the Flash mythos to Barry, Iris, Reverse Flash, the Rogues Gallery and the now altered story of the Allens, forgetting many important elements of the silver age: Ralph and Sue Dibny, Kid Flash, Earth-2 Flash and Dexter Myles (not to mention the occasional otherworldly villains like Mazdan, Katmos or the Breedans). Hopefully the series will also include Sue, Dexter and the rest.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Rebirth Universe... Sounds like a good idea

Well... I don't see the recently restored Elongated Man in there, but I still have to tip my hat to Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns and the rest of the DC guys for this brilliant decision.

The next incarnation of the DC Multiverse seems to be a mix of the New 52 (or the "DCnU") with the pre-Flashpoint multiverse but with some improvements:

  • Legacy characters like Ryan Choi or Jaime Reyes work with their predecessors instead of replacing them out of the blue.
  • The original Teen Titans generation of sidekicks is restored, with a place for Wally and Donna.
  • The golden age superheroes are back and World War II is part of their history again.
  • Romance is back. Aquaman and Mera, and Lois and Clark are couples again.
  • Love, hope and optimism is allowed again. 

Personally, I think it's an excellent change.

The time might seem odd, but if the grimdarkness of the New 52 was damaging the properties, it was smart to cut it before it does worse.

Some people believe DC to distinguish itself from Marvel, by being "the dark one", but it has only been that way in recent years. Traditionally, DC covers all sorts of genres an tones: comedy, romance, western, war, dark, etc. It became darker as it started imitating the tone of stories like Watchmen or Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, rarely with the same level of success outside its Vertigo imprint.

DC's superheroes were more optimistic than Marvel's during the silver and golden age. Usually more assertive and civic minded. Romance and couplehood isn't new to them either. Hawkman and Hawkgirl marry very soon in every incarnation, the Elongated Man was married by his third appearance, Aquaman married in 1964, followed by the Flash and the Atom.

The Rebirth Universe sounds great. So, let's see where it goes.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

DC Universe: Rebirth #1 —Una carta de amor de Johns a la esperanza, el optimismo y el legado

Ya se publicó el primer número del DC Universe: Rebirth, y todo el mundo parece estar enamorado de él.

Rebirth es otra revisión a la continuidad del Universo DC. Es impulsada por la nostalgia, y amenaza con cometerle sacrilegio a la obra maestra y sacrosanta de Alan Moore... Pero con suficiente razón, fue bien recibido.
Rebirth en resumen.
El primer número, escrito por Geoff Johns, abre mostrando el mecanismo de un reloj que le pertenece al narrador. Es perfecto salvo por un solo engrane malo, que evita que el resto funcione. Al final,

—spoiler menor— 

se compone el engranaje. Esta metáfora es obvia: el Universo DC tiene un error (perdición, pecimismo y corte con el pasado), este primer capítulo promete arreglarlo, y empieza satisfaciendo una demanda de muchos fans. Esto es un posible presagio del final de Rebirth y de la forma en la que este cambiará el Universo DC.
Muérete de envidia, Miguel Ángel.
La continuidad que Rebirth critica se conoce como "Las Nuevas 52" o "el nuevo Universo DC" (DCnU, por sus siglas en inglés), fue creada en el 2011 tras la mini-serie Flashpoint. Como todas las continuidades anteriores, no se inició con los nuevos orígenes para cada personaje —estos vinieron después—, sino con nuevas historias que no dependen de un bagaje de años de continuidad. Resultó una eficiente introducción para muchos nuevos lectores, pero también un sacrificio de millones de páginas de la historia de DC.

Conforme fue revelado el pasado de "Las Nuevas 52" (o informalmente, el DCnU), lectores veteranos se enteraron de que muchos de sus personajes e historias favoritas nunca existieron. En las Nuevas 52 personajes como Wally West y Donna Troy no existen, las nuevas versiones de los personajes de la era dorada, como Jay Garrick o Alan Scott son demasiado diferentes y viven en una tierra paralela, el Martina Manhunter, el Hombre Elástico, y Zatanna nunca pertenecen a la Liga de la Justicia, Tim Drake apenas conoce a Batman, y así hay muchas situaciones. Además, todos los títulos perdieron la numeración que llevaban, algunos desde los años 30s. Para muchos lectores, el Nuevo 52 parecía ser negacionismo.
Una de las imágenes inaugurales de Las Nuevas 52.
Muchos fans también percibieron un exceso de violencia y pesimismo. Después de Flashpoint (2011, también por Geoff Johns), el primer número de Detective Comics muestra la cara del Joker arrancada, la primera Red Hood and the Outlaws muestra una Starfire sin recuerdos o amor por sus viejos amigos, el primer Batman muestra un psicópata versión de James Gordon Jr., y el primeros de Catwoman muestra una relación de Gatúblela con Batman meramente sexual sin emoción. Además, muchos matrimonios y relaciones de pareja (Luisa y Clark, Arthur y Mera, Ollie y Dinah, Dick y Kory) dejaron de existir.
Lo que está en juego en Rebirth.
Wally West narra la historia (esto no es spoiler, es claro desde las primeras páginas) y habla de toda la esperanza y el optimismo que se había perdido después de Flashpoint. No es que las cosas eran exactamente felices después de Crisis de Identidad (2004), pero la historia de DC todavía contaba. En Rebirth, la causa es recuperar el legado de DC.

Geoff Johns también hizo Crisis Infinita en 2005, que también se trata de la percepción de que el Universo DC es lugar oscuro y pesimista, solo que en esa historia el que quería devolver la esperanza y el optimismo, Superboy Prime, era el villano y una parodia de fanboys nostálgicos. En Flashpoint la nostalgia y el legado que se perciben y celebran como algo bueno, algo que los héroes quieren.

Claro, la identidad del villano de Rebirth es un meta-comentario sobre Watchmen (Alan Moore, 1986) y su influencia en los cómics de súperheroes. Esto deja interrogantes: ¿En verdad le echan la culpa del pesimismo y la violencia a Watchmen?¿mantendrán el punto de Watchmen intacto? ("entérese for el mismo baticanal, a la misma batihora"). Es demasiado pronto para pensar lo peor. Tratar con una franquicia tan respetada y sus personajes es una tarea compleja, veremos si Johns es capaz de manejarla.

Como un primer acto de la serie, ofrence adelantos de Ted Kord y Ray Palmer teniendo a Jaime Reyes y Ryan Choi como sus protegidos en lugar de sus remplazos, así como la promesa de regresar a los héroes de la era dorada y las relaciones amorosas. Eso es lo que está en juego en esta serie.

Como una historia Rebirth está bien. Como sucede usualmente en las historias de Johns hay mucho énfasis en los asuntos de padre e hijo, en lo que el narrador recuerda o completamente feliz o completamente trágico, o de como los chicos con el corazón en el lugar correcto superan a bullies estereotipados (en EEUU les llaman bullies de los "after school specials" de la TV).

DC Universe: Rebirth #1 no es una obra maestra Mooreana, sino un hit eficiente con muchas probadas y in esperado mensaje editorial de optimismo y esperanza. Finciona bien como una historia, pero excelente como una declaración de misión.
Esperanza, optimismo y legado.