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Love, Superhero Style

We got another giant buttload of Convergence comics this week, and once again, I’m going to try to get all of these cleared out of the way quickly.


Convergence: Nightwing and Oracle #2

The rotten-as-snot Flashpoint versions of Hawkman and Hawkgirl are in Gotham City, looking forward to killing Nightwing. But Dick Grayson isn’t all that easy to kill, and Barbara Gordon’s awfully, awfully smart. And they both have some really great friends. Can an acrobat and a paralyzed hacker beat up a couple maniacal winged fascists and still find true love?

The backup story is the first glimpse we get of the new “Midnighter” series.


Convergence: Superman #2

While Superman battles the Flashpoint versions of Cyborg, Captain Thunder, and Abin Sur, the skinny Flashpoint Superman kidnaps the pregnant Lois Lane. He takes her to the Flashpoint Batman’s Batcave, hoping Dr. Thomas Wayne can help deliver her baby. Will Lois’s baby be delivered safely?

The backup story is the first glimpse we get of the new “Doomed” series.


Convergence: The Question #2

Renee Montoya, along with the Huntress and Batwoman, are trying to find Two-Face. Harvey Dent desperately wants to die, and since he’s not able to commit suicide as long as his coin keeps coming up heads over and over, he’s decided to track down the Harvey Dent of another dimension and get him to commit murder on his behalf.

The backup story is the first glimpse we get of the new “Starfire” series.


Convergence: Speed Force #2

Wally West has to battle the seriously psycho Flashpoint Wonder Woman and her Amazons, while Fastback, from the Amazing Zoo Crew, tries to defend Jai and Iris West. Can the Flash handle a foe who’s almost as fast as he is and a much more deadly combatant? And will the loveable cartoon turtle survive?!

The backup story is the first glimpse we get of the new “Green Arrow” series.


Convergence: Batgirl #2

It’s Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain, and Tim Drake vs. the Flashpoint versions of Gorilla Grodd and Catman!

The backup story is the first glimpse we get of the new “Prez” series.

Verdicts: We had some good stuff and some bad stuff. Let’s unpack this thang.

First of all, the Batgirl story is the one I was looking forward to the most, and it was just not good. While I liked the fact that she solved the issue’s dilemma through brainpower, the rest of it was not worth the paper. Confusing, badly illustrated, not well written, poor characterization. Of all the characters here, Steph probably needed closure the least — the end of her regular series was actually very well done and emotionally affecting. I would’ve enjoyed this one more if we’d gone with a good ending for Cass, instead of a tacked-on romance between Steph and Tim.

The rest were much better. The Nightwing/Oracle story was probably the best, but it was written by Gail Simone about some of her favorite characters, so that was certainly to be expected. The romance subplot didn’t feel tacked-on — in fact, it was at least, if not more important than, the entire battle against the Hawks.

Superman’s story was fine, but it was stronger as a combination of a great Lois Lane story and a nice story about the more hard-edged Flashpoint Batman finding something he was willing to care about.

The Question’s story was great just because it’s wonderful to see Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner working on these characters again.

Flash’s story was alright, but not all that spectacular. I was just glad to see Flashback survived — I take it the Zoo Crew has been taking it on the chin in the other Convergence books.

Of the sneak-peeks we get of the new series… not a lot of them really appeal to me. I’d had high hopes for the Prez and Starfire series, and they just don’t look very interesting. The Doomed series looks somewhat interesting — I knew nothing about it before — but it still stinks like ’90s Image to me…

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So Much Convergence

So the first of the “Convergence” miniseries came out this week, and most of the stuff on my pull list all showed up at once. So hey, we’re gonna try to clear these outta here as quickly as we can.

We know the general premise, yes? A mysterious entity (Pssst! It is Brainiac!) had kidnapped many cities from old versions of the DC Universe or alternate universe variants. For the past year, they’ve all been held beneath domes, and the various superheroes under the domes have been deprived of their superpowers. Now the domes have been removed, everyone has their powers back, and the champions of each city must fight other champions, or their realities will be destroyed. And the first crop of books focuses on pre-Flashpoint characters, just before DC ruined everything with the Reboot.


Convergence: Batgirl #1

We start off with Stephanie Brown as Batgirl, Cassandra Cain as the Black Bat, and Tim Drake as Red Robin. Stephanie has been designated Gotham’s champion, despite the fact that she hasn’t worn her Batgirl costume in a year — Cassandra and Tim would be much more capable than Steph would. They start training her but are all soon dragged off into the desert where they’re attacked by the Catman and Gorilla Grodd from the Flashpoint universe.


Convergence: Superman #1

Superman has been without his powers for a year, but he’s been dressing up in a simple costume to fight crime Batman-style. Lois Lane has been assisting over a radio headset. Lois is also pregnant and due any day now. Once the dome is down and Supes has his powers back, he ends up tangling with Captain Thunder, Cyborg, and Abin Sur from Flashpoint, while the skinny teenaged Flashpoint Kal-El heads for Lois, believing her to be his Flashpoint benefactor.


Convergence: The Question #1

Renee Montoya is trying to help keep things under control in Gotham, running around without her mask. Harvey Dent is running around with half a beard, beating up thieves — and his two-headed coin is only flipping good side up lately. The Huntress doesn’t really approve, but she’s not going to get in the way. And Renee is still going out nightly as the Question — and meeting up with Harvey, too. He wants to kill himself, but he can’t do it as long as the coin keeps flipping on the good side. But when the dome comes down, he decides to find a Two-Face in another city who’ll finally kill him.


Convergence: Nightwing and Oracle #1

After the Flashpoint Hawkman and Hawkgirl kill off the Justice Riders‘ Earth, they get sent after our Gotham, where Oracle is giving Nightwing her cyber-assistance in crimefighting. Mr. Freeze has lost his edge from long imprisonment under the dome, and Nightwing is worried that he’s losing his edge, too. Dick Grayson asks Barbara Gordon to marry him, and she turns him down, just before the Hawks make their appearance and offer a bargain — if Barbara surrenders the city, the Hawks will take a dive — Gotham will live, the Hawks’ home will be destroyed, and the Hawks will take over Gotham. Nightwing plans to fight them, but Oracle has her own way to make war.


Convergence: Speed Force #1

Wally West has been stuck powerless in Gotham with the rest of the Justice League, along with his children Iris and Jai. When the dome comes down and his powers return, he takes a high-speed tour of the other kidnapped cities. He gets to watch the Justice Riders’ home get atomized, then visits a bunch of other worlds, eventually picking up a new superspeed friend, Fastback, from the Zoo Crew! But they’ll all have to deal with the murderous Flashpoint Wonder Woman next.

Verdicts: Well, now, let’s add all this up.

First, I really hate the “We have to murder all these people to save our planet” plotline. It’s lazy. It’s not something that any legitimate superheroes would do, because it’s exactly the kind of scam that comic book superheroes prefer to find a way around, usually by beating up Brainiac instead of each other. And it’s short-sighted — is there any good reason to wipe out characters as awesome and fun as the Justice Riders? Only if you’re Dan DiDio, Geoff Johns, and Jim Lee, and you can’t stop thinking like a ’90s Image comic.

I liked getting to see Stephanie, Cassandra, and Tim again, but large chunks of the story bugged me bad. Steph had finally become an excellent superhero at the end of her series — now she’s struggling to do anything right, which is a severe backslide. We also don’t get to see her mother at all, and she was a great character. And I felt Cassandra and Tim were also a bit mis-handled.

Having said that, there are lots of good things here. Revisiting the pre-Reboot non-sucky DCU is a very good thing. Tom Grummett drawing the Flash and his kids is a good thing. Gail Simone writing Oracle is a good thing. Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner working on the Question again is a very good thing. Guest appearances from Two-Face, Starfire, Helena Bertinelli, and Fastback are all good things, too.

Altogether, I’ll give these a tentative thumbs up. I reserve the right to switch that to a thumbs down if DiDio is just going to kill everyone off but Flashpoint and the Reboot just to laugh at everyone’s tears.

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Friday Night Fights: Bullseye!

Alright, it’s time to start up another 12-round series of Friday Night Fights, for which I am once again woefully unprepared. There’s only a finite number of comic books out there, with only a finite number of fights — it’s only a matter of time before I’m posting panels of Garfield kicking Odie off the table. Nevertheless, we must forge ahead.

Tonight’s battle comes to us from June 1981’s Charlton Bullseye #1 by Benjamin Smith and Dan Reed, in which the Blue Beetle and the Question fight off a gang of thugs.





That’ll do it for tonight — y’all try to have a weekend so good, you won’t even mind the rest of the coming workweek.

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Friday Night Fights: Trick Question!

Alrighty, we’ve all had a rough week, full of painful work assignments, painful bosses, painful customers, and painful getting-out-of-bed-too-early. But the weekend is finally here, and the only pain any of us have to deal with now is… FRIDAY NIGHT FIGHTS!

Tonight’s battle comes from January 2008’s Crime Bible: The Five Lessons of Blood #2 by Greg Rucka and Jesus Saiz, as Renee Montoya puts on her faceless mask and goes out as the Question to beat up on bad guys.

That was pretty nice. I sure do hope DC is going to bring Renee back as the Question — she was just too much fun as a character.

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Question Authority!

The Question #37

Yet another revival of a long-cancelled comic as part of the “Blackest Night” crossover. In this one, Renee Montoya, the new Question, and Tot Rodor, longtime scientific assistant to the Questions, know that Vic Sage, the original Question, is almost certainly going to return as a zombified Black Lantern. But first, they have a little problem with Lady Shiva. She once beat Vic to death years ago, just to prove she could, then revived him so she could do a little gloating. She’s a twisted little gal, ain’t she? Anyway, she’s decided she wants to give Renee the same treatment, which is just darn rude. And of course, Vic makes his big resurrection during their fight and turns on them both. Lady Shiva manages to clear her mind of all emotion, making her invisible to the emotion-seeking zombie. Can Renee and Tot do the same, or are they both heading for a dirtnap?

Verdict: Thumbs up. A nicely small-scale story, told with a near-claustrophobic focus. The entire story is told within a fairly small building on a fairly small island on a dark, rainy night with only four characters — it’s perfect for keeping a tight, terrifying spotlight on the characters and the action. Just an all-around fun story.

The Secrets of Sarah Winchester #1

Okay, I’m an utter sucker for anything having to do with the Winchester Mystery House, which has a backstory bizarre enough to be a comic book entirely free of embellishment. But in this case, Dan Vado and Drew Rausch have embellished it a bit. We start with version of the famous mansion that’s a bit less of a tourist attraction and a bit more of a genuine haunted house. A couple of snooping teens come along wanting to catch a glimpse of the weird old deserted house and are suitable awed by its colossal size. They run into the caretaker and ask to be allowed to look the place over, but he tells them he doesn’t have the key — the house has to be opened by someone — or something — from the inside. And as bad luck would have it, the things inside the house would indeed like to entertain visitors, leading to the mysterious and entirely fatal disappearance of two snooping teens. A flashback to the 1800s follows, as a medium warns Sarah Winchester that she’s been cursed by the spirits of everyone killed with a Winchester firearm, and the only way to escape the curse is to spend the rest of her life pouring her fortune into the ongoing construction of a mansion in California. And then a jump back to the present, as a cop investigating the disappearance of the teenagers has her own encounter with the ghosts in the house… but with a twist that startles the caretaker.

Verdict: Thumbs up. Vado is a big fan of the Winchester mansion and its legend, and he and Rausch have crafted a nice, creepy story about one of the most celebrated weird houses in the country, along with some beautiful, freaky artwork. I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to read the rest of this series.

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Hispanic Heroes in Comics

The calendar on the wall says today marks the official beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which seems like as good a time as any to review the presence of Hispanic characters in comics. Though the Wikipedia page on Hispanic superheroes lists a whole lot of characters, the vast majority of them are either from small-press companies or are not currently appearing in any books. I’m not going to even try to address all of them, just because there are a ton of these characters who I know absolutely zip about, but let’s take a look at a few of the more prominent Hispanics in comics. (NOTE: No, this isn’t every Hispanic character ever — I tried to stick to characters who were currently being published.)


Bane – His real name is unknown, but his origin says he was born in and grew up in a brutal prison in a fictional Latin American country. He’s generally been portrayed as a supervillain — most prominently as the guy who broke Batman’s back — but he has occasionally operated as a superhero.

Bane is one of the characters in DC’s new “Secret Six” series.


Blue Beetle – Probably the most high-profile Hispanic character in comics right now — which is a bit depressing, because the “Blue Beetle” comic book has struggled with low sales numbers and always seems to be on the brink of cancellation. Jaime Reyes is an El Paso high school student who finds a discarded blue scarab which ends up fusing itself to his spine, allowing him to turn into an armored superhero with a vast array of weaponry. Most of his supporting cast is also Hispanic.

Jaime currently appears in “Blue Beetle” and “Teen Titans,” with some appearances in “Tiny Titans.”


The Darkness – Jackie Estacado is of mixed Spanish and Italian ancestry. He’s a Mafia assassin who winds up possessing a power called the Darkness which allows him to create almost anything, though his abilities only function in darkness. Technically, his powers are actually aligned with elemental evil forces, but he seems to end up working on the side of the good guys as often as not.

The Darkness appears in — duh! — “The Darkness” and the new “Broken Trinity” miniseries from Top Cow Productions.


Darwin – Armando Muñoz is a mutant in the Marvel Universe. He has mixed Spanish and African ancestry. His mutant power is “reactive evolution” — in other words, his body adapts to almost any situation or environment to allow him to evolve new powers. Turn out the lights, and he’ll be able to see in the dark. Dunk him underwater, and he’ll grow gills. Stick him in a burning building, and he’ll evolve fire-proof skin. Put him in a fistfight against the Hulk… and he’ll evolve the ability to teleport to a safe distance away.

Darwin is a regular character in the current incarnation of “X-Factor.”


El Diablo – Originally a Wild West hero, later an unpowered crimefighter in the ’80s, the current version is a criminal named Chato Santana who operates as a bit of a Robin Hood kind of guy. He’s a drug dealer, but he uses his money to benefit the less fortunate. That’s about all I know about the guy right now — his series is brand new, and I haven’t picked it up yet.

El Diablo appears in DC’s current miniseries called “El Diablo.”


Gangbuster – Jose Delgado got his start as part of Superman’s supporting cast, where he operated as an unpowered vigilante who targeted street gangs. Since then, he’s become a cyborg and has kinda-sorta retired. However, he’s been brought back around as one of the main characters in DC’s current weekly series “Trinity.”

Gangbuster currently appears in “Trinity.” Wait, I said that already, didn’t I?


Green Lantern – Specifically, Kyle Rayner. He discovered towards the end of his solo comic that his father was from Mexico. A graphic artist and cartoonist, he was given the last Green Lantern ring in the universe after Hal Jordan destroyed the Green Lantern Corps. After operating on his own for many years, he used a temporary boost in his powers to re-create the Guardians of the Galaxy, the planet Oa, and the Central Power Battery. I think he’s always been my favorite GL.

Kyle appears regularly in “Green Lantern Corps” and makes guest appearances in “Green Lantern” and other DC comics.


Hawkgirl – Both Hawkman and Hawkgirl reincarnate every time they die, but the current version of Hawkgirl, Kendra Saunders, is of mixed Hispanic descent. This is almost never referred to by anyone. Until recently, I thought she was 100% Caucasian. Though she wears a set of artificial wings, her power of flight is actually because of a belt she wears which is made of a substance called “Nth Metal.”

Hawkgirl appears in the “Justice League of America” comic.


Love and Rockets – Well, it’s not really one specific character, but this long-running independent series, created by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, features a large number of Hispanic characters, including Maggie, Penny Century, Luba, Ray, Speedy, Vivian, Izzy, and the population of the village of Palomar, as well as numerous other characters. The ongoing stories in this series are a combination of realism, punk rock fantasy, and magical realism, like in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novels.

There is a current series of “Love and Rockets” on the shelves, but there are also extensive reprints and anthologies of the older series that you can buy.


The Question – Renee Montoya is a former Gotham City police detective who quit the force after she was outed as a lesbian. Knowing he was dying, the original Question, Vic Sage, took her under his wing and trained her to replace him. Operating as a vigilante, she wears a special mask that makes her appear faceless.

You can read Renee’s full origin as the Question in the “52” miniseries from a couple years ago, and she has appeared several times in the “Final Crisis” series and as a guest in other DC comics.


Rictor – Julio Esteban Richter is a former mutant able to generate seismic energy and shockwaves from his fingertips. After being depowered, along with most of Earth’s mutants, he has joined the “X-Factor Investigations” private detective agency.

Rictor appears in Marvel Comics’ “X-Factor.”


Zorro – The granddaddy of all Hispanic superheroes. Heck, he was one of the major inspirations for Batman, which definitely makes him one of the most influential characters in adventure fiction. He was created in 1919 by Johnson McCulley for a pulp magazine. While masquerading as an ineffective fop, Don Diego de la Vega donned cape, mask, hat, and sword to battle corrupt officials in Spanish colonial California.

Though he’s most associated with movies, TV, and prose fiction, there have been several incarnations of “Zorro” comics, including a recent series from Dynamite Entertainment.

So there’s what we got. It doesn’t look like that bad a list of characters — but I am consistently surprised that there aren’t more Hispanic characters in comics, especially with a rapidly-increasing population of Hispanic-American citizens. Is it just a matter of the comic book industry being dominated by Caucasians, both as creators and as readers? That is probably a big part of the problem, but the smart companies should start realizing that a more diverse selection of characters would be more appealing to a more diverse readership.

I’ve always thought reading comics about the Guild of Perpetually White Superheroes was dull as cheap vanilla ice cream — and having more minority characters in comics makes the stories more appealing, as well as making a fictional comic-book universe more realistic and interesting…

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