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.