Who’s Who 1989 Annuals – Vol. 1

We've moved onto the next era of WHO'S WHO! This time Shag and Rob look at the first half of the Who's Who 1989 Annual listings, featuring characters from the pages of Action Comics, Batman, Blackhawk, Flash, and Secret Origins! We wrap up with YOUR Listener Feedback!

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43 responses to “Who’s Who 1989 Annuals – Vol. 1

  1. I pulled all the annual Who’s Who pages and put them in a cbr, I’ll send a copy to anyone who needs one.

    That Chaykin touch on Blackhawk is great. At the time, Blackhawk Express was in the current day books, run by Weng Chan, with a shadowy boss who was never revealed, but hinted at being the original Blackhawk.

    They used Lady Blackhawk to retcon away the old racist version of Chop-Chop.

    Rick Magyar drew an issue of the Question as well, then left the inking chores on that book.

    Yes, that’s deStephano’s style and signature.

    The Secret Origins Podcast is a proud member of the Fire and Water Podcast Network. (end plug)

    I think Golden Eagle wore this outfit in Teen Titans just to get killed in Titans Hunt. (He got better)

    The Antithesis origin reminds me of the Dharlu, who was trapped inside the JLA satellite computer.

    Didn’t the protoplasm become part of the Peter David Supergirl?

    Thibert looks like he’s trying to swipe Jerry Bingham.

    Sprang drew 3 covers for Detective 622-624 for a story featuring the Batman comic within the DCU, and then a 2 issue Two-Face flip book.

    Post-Crisis Jason has black hair, not dyed red hair.

    Vicky looks a lot like a John Workman drawing, and that’s a good thing.

    Chunk ended up with Flash’s supermodel ex Connie, but Waid dropped all the Messner-Loebs supporting cast.

    That Flash Annual featured Wally looking for Jay, so it’s fitting he has an entry.

    That Super-Mates promo was hilarious!

    I was going to plug the Klein blog, but you guys got it. It’s a great read. If you need a filler episode, an interview with Todd would be ideal.

    Wasn’t most of the Perry White development done in Wolfman and Ordway’s Adventures of Superman?

    Wildebeest: To be fair, DCU people were easily fooled by latex masks. The Titans were fooled by the three guys in the Trident suit, fer gosh sakes.

  2. To answer one of the questions from above Wolfman did a lot of the groundwork for Perry but it was Byrne that fleshed it out in the WORLD OF METROPOLIS mini-series that came out in 1988. Then the Stern/Jurgens/Ordway trio developed Perry and Alice and Jerry even further culminating in the SOUL SEARCH story line where Jerry met his ultimate fate.

    So…the lack of Superman entries in ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #2.

    This is a real sore spot for me that is complicated by the fact that I love ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #2 to pieces. That story was the turning point for the EXILE storyline that was running through the Superman books at the time and started laying some of the groundwork for events that would play out in the REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN. You had that bad ass George Perez cover, some decent Swan artwork and the history of Krypton was expanded. So it was a great annual.

    But Sweet Baby Kal-El…two entries? TWO?

    Let’s take Batman off the table for this argument. Rob is right. This was the summer of 1989. Everyone was into Batman. There was a lot of light on the character and while I wasn’t huge on the story in the BATMAN ANNUAL from that summer the tale in DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL #2 was fantastic. It makes sense that you would roll out the Batman heroes and villains and for the most part I like those entries quite a bit.

    Jay Garrick gets an entry and he’s in another dimension.

    Barry Allen gets an entry and he’s dead. He was also the first to get a two page entry in the original series. It’s not like there was all that much updating to do.

    We’ll see more heroes get full page or double page entries in the next episode.

    But Superman? Two. Just two.

    One of them was Matrix and I appreciated Anj’s commentary. I came at this character from a completely different angle. I knew who Kara Zor-El was but I started reading the Superman books in 1987 and vividly remember getting SUPERMAN #16 off the stands and being shocked and excited at the last page reveal of the new Supergirl. This was the first sub-plot I ever followed with interest in an ongoing comic and the SUPERGIRL SAGA is still one of my favorite Post Crisis stories.

    (Quick aside; Shag mentions that Superman murders the Phantom Zone villains and boy is that accurate. Superman executes three Kryptonian villains after stripping them of their powers because they MIGHT get out. I am not going to make the obvious comparison here but let that sink in for a minute. Zod, Quex-Ul and Zaora (renamed from Faora for some reason) were ordinary mortals and Superman decided the chance was too great that they would get their powers back and he kills them. That’s pretty hardcore. The fact that it led to EXILE makes the story worth it but damn. That’s cold.)

    Anj is absolutely right in his commentary about how Matrix’s journey was a rough one and how for Supergirl fans it’s was a long road when she was on her own. I did not have the same problems because, again, I was coming at it as the new guy. Yes her end of PANIC IN THE SKY was a bit weak and yes her relationship with Lex was odd but I loved it when she became part of the books in 1992 and that love continued through to her own series when she merged with Linda Danvers. So this entry does a lot for me because I like where the character came from and I liked where she went.

    Cat Grant. Man, what a complicated character right from the start. It’s unfortunate that this entry paints her in a bad light because she was always such an awesome part of Clark’s supporting cast for me. For one thing she was interested in Clark, not Superman. This helped make her a real character to me instead of the two dimensional version that Geoff Johns would write during his stint on ACTION COMICS. Bringing in her son and talking about how her relationships with a variety of men came out of her own personal pain over the estrangement from her son. Not that it’s anybody’s business who she sleeps with. If she were male it wouldn’t be an issue and high fives would be all around. The one misstep was her brief very special episode-esque bout with alcoholism where she tried to seduce Jimmy Olsen.

    You know you’ve hit rock bottom when you’re trying to score with Jimmy.

    The thing is Ordway and Stern did amazing things with her as a character. Her relationship with Morgan Edge turned out to be a ruse. She was secretly using him for info on Intergang and then feeding that info to Clark to prove that she was more than a gossip queen. It was such a great character arc and things only got better as she struck out on her own and became a media force to be reckoned with. The death of her son was seriously grim dark but Jurgens managed to make it more than just doing something shocking for the sake of doing something shocking and the storyline where she brings down her boss for sexual harassment was a definite high point for the character.

    So yeah…weak sauce entry for a great character.

    It’s not quite to the level of no Earth-1 Superman entry in Who’s Who proper but the fact that Superman didn’t get an update is a bit of a sore spot for me. A lot had happened to the character since his last entry. Some great. Some (like Pa Kent telling Lois that they raised Superman and Clark up together like they were brothers) was not so good but he definitely had enough go on to warrant another entry. While most of his rogues gallery was covered between the two updates I could have also gone for an updated Lois entry, an updated Gangbuster entry, an entry for Maggie Sawyer, Dan Turpin and the SCU, a Morgan Edge entry and, above all else, an entry for Professor Emil Hamilton.

    But no. DC decided it wasn’t worth the effort. It might have been a difficult decision but I’m still annoyed all these years later.

    A few notes on the other entries.

    – I liked Mason Trollbridge a great deal though Messner-Loebs did seem more fond of his supporting cast than the hero during his run on Flash.

    – This Jay Garrick entry cemented my love for the character.

    – I have absolutely no problem with Barry becoming the lightning that gave him his powers but that has more to do with my love of that SECRET ORIGINS ANNUAL than the actual event.

    – Jason Todd first appeared in BATMAN #357. That was also the first appearance of Croc (later Killer Croc). Detective Comics #526 was the issue where Bruce decides to adopt Jason after Dick Grayson got his parents killed.

    Seriously. Dick Grayson enlisted the Todds to help in the investigation of Croc and they ended up getting aced for their troubles. I don’t know what Dick was thinking. Just because he was a circus aerialist that could fight crime doesn’t mean everyone that swings from a trapeze can also go up against crime lords. Dick even wanted to adopt Jason himself but Bruce wisely stepped in.

    – I like Pre-Crisis Jason. I also like how Starlin played Post Crisis Jason who had a pretty awful introduction. Starlin slowly started to seed the idea that he wasn’t entirely stable and the two parter from right before DEATH IN THE FAMILY was a really good story. I see why fans at the time hated him. I kind of like the kid.

    – You guys spent a long time on the Titans entries. Bravo.

    – That’s all for now. If something else strikes me I’ll chime back in.

  3. Re: Frank’s triangular Kool-Aid comment.

    I know this won’t make a difference because Frank’s mind is usually made up about all of his opinions but making it seem like the only reason someone could like that era of Superman is because they were part of a cult is insulting. The books had a lot going for them. The writing was tight. The artwork was great. The creators gave us characters and situations that made us want to return month after month. That’s not passing out the Jonestown punch. That’s solid comic book storytelling.

    You can dislike the era all you want. You can think that Byrne and those that followed him took away parts of the character that made him unique. That’s fine because at the end of the day everyone is going to have an image of Superman in his or her head that is “true”. Byrne (and then Stern/Ordway/Jurgen’s) Superman was my gateway to the character and the fact that he was a bit more human and not apart from humanity made me like the character more. It boggles my mind that people want Superman to be this aloof, alien hero but I would never insult anyone that felt that way and to cast aspersions on those that were fans of the Post Crisis era and make it seem like we were mindless drones simply buying the books because of some cult leader telling us to pisses me off. I respect Frank’s knowledge and his passion but sometimes I think he goes a bit too far and that Triangle Numbered Kool Aid glass line, amusing though it may be, was one of those times.

    1. You read a lot into one pithy line, although I’d be lying if I claimed to not have a fair amount of well documented contempt for that period. The Simonson/Bogdanove stuff I halfway liked, but the rest of those guys left me cold as ice (willing to sacrifice our love!) I have uttered the words “at least this Chuck Austen run is an improvement,” which is more damning than any intentional slam I could craft.

      The bottom line though is that I shouldn’t have associated the triangle numbers with a doomsday cult, because cults are way more interesting than ’90s Superman comics. The Carlin years were more like Mormon missionaries with their white short-sleeved dress shirts and clip-on ties politely going door to door proselytizing.

      1. Hmmm…

        I’d go into the Mormon thing more but I’d hate to insult actual Mormons.

        I don’t argue taste because it’s subjective. If you have contempt for that period because it wasn’t to your liking then it’s not up to me to defend it. I will say I find it fascinating that you cite the Simsonson/Bogdanove material as something you even halfway like because S:TMOS is everywhere from overlooked to actively disliked by fans of that particular version of Superman. So for you to like it, even halfway, is interesting.

        Austin’s run is not as bad as people think. It was a definite improvement over the Joe Kelly run which is the textbook definition of hit and miss. Two years…two f***ing years I wait to find out who the new Zod is and he dropped that ball so hard it cracked th pavement. Outside of the character assassination of both Lois and Lana I rather liked what he did on the book.

        1. Simonson has never blown my doors off, but she’s usually a nice steady plotter with solid character work (unless she involves John Henry Irons, where she was a swell co-creator but a painful maintainer.) She wrote the best Lois Lane in that period, and seemed more interested in the supporting cast overall. I prefer my Superman big and iconic rather than “realistic” and Bogdanove was very unrealistic. I get the dislike, because he was pretty awful on X-Factor, but perfect for Power Pack and (for me) The Man of Steel (and if only he did some New Gods.)

          Austin was helped a lot by Ivan Reis interiors and Art Adams covers, plus I liked how he brought back the cockiness of Golden Age Supes.

          Joe Kelly wrote the one decent but massively overrated Superman vs. Warren Millar Azzarello story and got an entire meh run out of it. What a waste of Pasquale Ferry (Kano wasn’t wasted, because Kano.)

  4. Another fun show, gentlemen. Some comments of possible interest or at least of little consequence…

    MATRIX: The “protoplasm” used to create Matrix was a nod to Luthor’s Silver-Age origin story in Adventure Comics v1 #271. Pre-Crisis Luthor created an artificial protoplasmic life form and later used some of that protoplasmic material to create a “Kryptonite antidote” for Superboy (as a “thank you” for Superboy building his laboratory, which Superboy did as a “thank you” for Luthor to saving his life). Then a fire started and, in trying to put it out, Superboy destroyed both of those scientific achievements along with Luthor’s hair…

    CAT GRANT: Shag, I realize that, written as non-spoken text, the following may sound snarky, but I believe the “extender” Morgan Edge uses is commonly referred to as a “cigarette holder”…

    VICKI VALE: I had originally planned to do a “Xum’s Who” entry of this character until someone pointed out to me this Annual entry. I myself found the 1989 movie take on the character to be closer to Silver St. Cloud than Lois Lane…

    SUPERMAN ENTRIES AND LACK THEREOF: I am curious if That Action Comics Annual had extra pages in the stories as consolation for the lack of pages devoted to Who’s Who entries. One would hope…

    FLASH II: Shag, Carmine Infantino had illustrated the Barry Allen Flash at least two more times since this entry. One was a story in the 1990 Flash Special #1 (the issue that introduced the 27th Century Flash, John Fox). The other was the cover to the Flash issue from the “Silver Age” event in 2000. I would like to think there were other instances as well… however they are currently not coming to mind…

    JOAN GARRICK: Joan actually received some of Ian Karkull’s “stolen time” along with Jay Garrick in the case spotlighted in All-Star Squadron Annual #3, so logic would dictate that she should not have been as aged as she was… but each person is different, so I suppose each person would react to the “stolen time” differently…

    KAPITALIST KOURIERS: I do admire your dedication to the show, gentlemen… but my understanding is that there is no “backwards K” in the Russian alphabet, and that the Russian K (Ka) looks and sounds like an English K (Kay). Perhaps the logo designer was thinking of the character Ж (pronounced “Zhe”), which is used in the Russian alphabet, except that is pronounced as the “s” sound in “pleasure”…

    (And you just tried to pronounce “Zhapitalist Zhouriers” out loud, didn’t you…?)

    1. The 1989 Batman film had been indevelopment for nearly 10 years. The early drafts were based on the then-recent Engelhart/Rogers Batman run, featuring Silver St Cloud. She was to be the love interest in the film; but, it was changed to Vicky Vale, along the way. Boss Thorne became Boss Grissom.

  5. Oh, I had neglected to mention…

    BLACKHAWK ENTRIES: To answer the question about Blackhawk in publication during this time, I believe this Blackhawk Annual was part of the Blackhawk ongoing series from 1989 to 1990 that had lasted 16 issues. This was preceded by the Action Comics Weekly run, which followed Howard Chaykin’s three-issue prestige format series.

    I remember reading in a TwoMorrows publication that there was another 1980s Blackhawk series in development between the Evanier and Chaykin runs that would have been illustrated by Carmine Infantino. I understand Mr. Infantino had completed the art for the entire first issue and several pages of the second issue. Perhaps I had read this in an issue of Alter-Ego, which had an Infantino-drawn Barry Allen Flash cover (Aha! There was another instance)… I will need to double-check…

  6. FLAMEBIRD: This character means a lot to me because of a Play-by-Email superhero game I used to run and play with friends. We had four teams/mailing lists, each with a different tone/power level, and the soap opera/straight heroics was a version of the Titans. I played the Tangent Flash and my good friend Mel (actually the only ex I’ve ever had any interest in staying friends with) played Flamebird, I think entirely based on seeing her in the loose leaf Who’s Who (which is an odd inclusion). There was a Nightwing, and she loved to moon after him and make a fool of herself when he was around, and her character and mine were extremely catty with one another, though I’m not sure if Nightwing was the reason. I remember snark about fashions mostly. I saved the emails on a drive somewhere, I should check it out.

    BATMAN: Was Thibert channeling Frank Miller?

    Marvel Universe eventually did specials based on specific eras, and I’d love for Who’s Who to come back and do the same, though there are far fewer living Golden and Silver Age artists than there used to be. Maybe with modern artists doing pastiche? But I’d be into it.

  7. Re The Matrix entry:
    The only possible reason why there’s no period at the end of the entry? Because… The Adventures Continue!!

  8. A few thoughts as I’m at the end of the Batman entries in the episode:

    Bat-Girl was on Earth-One as well as Earth-Two. Well, presumably she was on Earth-Two. We only met the Earth-Two Batwoman in Alan Brennert’s Brave and the Bold stories, but you can assume Bette existed there.. She was part of the Pre-Crisis Titans West, and attended Donna Troy’s wedding to everyone’s favorite dirty old man, Terry Long.

    As Rob pointed out, Golden Eagle was connected to Hawkman pre-Crisis, although his only appearances before Teen Titans #50 were those JLA issues. And yes, that Perez costume was awesome!

    As pointed out in that Secret Origins episode, Mal is really DC’s first black hero. Everyone always points to John Stewart, but he was an occasional supporting player. Mal was in almost every issue of Titans after he debuted.

    I LOVE Dick Sprang, and was happy to see him pop-up here and there during this period. He drew a great double-page pin-up for Detective #572 (the 50th anniversary issue), and drew those covers for Detective down the line that featured a comic-within-a-comic story. He drew the covers for Batman: Two-Face Strikes Twice, but Joe Staton did the interiors.

    I’m with Tom, I HATED the whole “Batman fired Dick Grayson” thing. It undermined the beautiful work Wolfman, Gerry Conway and Doug Moench did on the amicable split between Bruce and Dick. And it made Batman look like a real moron. “My nineteen year-old ward, who was trained in death-defying acrobatics can’t handle this job. I know, I’ll grab a kid off the street who knows how to use a crowbar.” Jason’s history as Robin begins and ends with a tire iron/crowbar.

    I will say that I have to agree with Shag. Max Allan Collins’ version of Jason may have been a street kid, but he wasn’t unlikable. Denny O’Neil has said fans reacted negatively to the new Jason, so when Starlin came in, he didn’t like Robin to begin with, and had marching orders to make him even more unlikeable, so they could pull the stunt and either shelve him or kill him. Oddly enough, Starlin gave Jason some of his best moments as Robin in Batman: The Cult, around the same time he was making him a punk in Batman.

    Fred Butler drew the cover of Batman #429, that followed the “A Death in the Family” arc. I believe he may have done some DC stock art around this time, seen on many Batman products in 1989, redrawing the Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (Praise Be His Name) stock shots with a darker, shadowy feel, to match the darker look of the movie.

    Vicki Vale had been featured in the Pre-Crisis Conway/Moench runs of Batman as Bruce’s on-again, off-again love interest. So she was in the books when the Batman movie script was first getting written, although initial versions did have Silver St. Cloud in that role. She came back to the Batman books around this time as well. The negative image of Batman is lifted from a Marshall Rogers panel!


  9. A few more thoughts on the other entries:

    Shag, you of all people should know Carmine Infantino draws an EXCELLENT Barry Allen Flash Who’s Who entry for the loose-leaf edition! For shame!

    Yes, Wally has tiny T-Rex arms in that image. It’s a shame, because otherwise it’s nice. I liked Laroque, but sometimes his anatomy could get a bit wonky. But then so could Jackson Guice’s…

    Joan Willaims-Garrick was present when Ian Karkull went boom and the JSA was bathed in stolen chronal energy, per the cal-lassic All-Star Squadron Annual #3. So why Joan looks so old…I’m not sure. DC played VERY fast in loose with the age of the JSA’s loved ones, almost as much as with the members themselves!


  10. One more thing:

    Xum, thanks for including Superwoman. Obviously she was a victim of the snub that the Earth-One Superman got in Who’s Who. Heck, she shows up in Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow!” Alan Moore wrote her (although he didn’t give her any dialogue), so you’d think that would make her sacred or something. I always loved the look, and that first annual is a great story.


    1. Maybe they were still mad at Elliot Maggin. He was fired from the company, though it sounded like he had already checked out, so they just obliged them. Mike Gold told me he fired Maggin, after he wasn’t turning in work. He said Maggin sucker-punched him at a convention (and Mike’s a pretty big guy, so even that took some cajones). Maggin was writing for them a few years later, with the Elseworlds tale, The Blue, The Grey and they Bat (with JLGL, PBHN) and the Kingdom Come novelization; so, I assume all was forgiven. Might have been an oversight, since she wasn’t a regular. Loved her in Miracle Monday, though.

  11. As I don’t have access to my 90s annuals, all boxed and in storage, I won’t be showing pictures on Instagram this time.
    It’s been a while since I listened with out the books.
    It still works, just weird after all this time.

  12. I figured it out, Shag. Your coverage of the annuals this time around was designed to make me look forward to the loose-leaf editions, right? No offense to your usually stellar coverage, but this was a bit of a slog through some thoroughly mediocre entries. Despite the averageness of the source material, the podcast itself was a pleasant way to end my summer before going back to educate the young of America (yup, I’m going to keep bringing this up since it gives Shag such consternation). Anyway, here are some comments for you to mock:

    1. I picked up the Young Animals Who’s Who promo at my LCS. I’m simultaneously impressed by the respect given to Who’s Who, my favorite DC comic, and deeply troubled that they couldn’t even put the listings in alphabetical order. Space Case, in particular, almost makes me want to read what will inevitably be a very disappointing “weird for the sake of weird” run on Doom Patrol.

    2. I’m still not convinced that a Who’s Who entry without the yellow dots can properly be called a Who’s Who entry.

    3. Alright, strike two: none of these entries really have that single color surprint that we know and love from the original series. There is a nod to it, certainly, but it isn’t our surprint.

    4. Just as I was about to lose hope over the Blackhawks entry, we finally get Flamebird. Things are looking up!

    5. All of the first four of the Perez entries look phenomenal, although Herald appears to be Kirby inspired.

    6. Yeah, Supes is definitely mistreated here in terms of page count. These are, indeed, dark days for the last son of Krypton.

    7. Oh, finally! A Batman entry. I think it has been fifteen minutes since the last “updated” Batman entry.

    8. The Sprang stuff is definitely the superior art here.

    9. For an unknown artist, Joe James did a great job on the Alfred entry. I love Wayne Manor in the background.

    10. Sorry, Shag, but this Vicki is not hot. In an odd turn, it looks like dc was doing everything they could to not associate the comic book Vicki Vale with the movie version played by Kim Basinger (compare to how Harley Quinn has been drawn since Margot Robbie came on the scene). In this case, blondes do have more fun.

    11. Not that anyone asked, but I’m okay with the Chunk having no surprint. It’s a break from the format, but it works with this character.

    12. It always makes me sad when dc misses an opportunity to highlight Jericho. This Wally West entry is such a case, as he should have been featured with the New Titans in the surprint.

    13. I love The Third Eye, Shag! I have made that same YouTube search countless times. Today’s kids will never understand how cool Nickelodeon was back in the early days.

    Looking forward to the next time around. Okay, that’s a lie. Looking forward to the time after next when we get into the Star Trek issues.

  13. Okay, if you insist, let me consider who really needed an update in the Action Comics Annual. The obvious choice might be Mongul, but since this issue is the introduction of the post-crisis Mongul it would be a bit premature and redundant. So I’d probably call out Gangbuster for an update explaining the business where superman took over the identity for a while, and Intergang since they haven’t had a post-crisis entry yet.

  14. The Robin I entry states him to be two inches taller than in any of his entries as Nightwing, from ’85, 87, and ’90 (6’0 rather than 5’10”). They do all agree on his weight, 175 lbs. Also, Alfred’s entry shows him bandaging Bruce’s arm with the sleeve still on, normally it was be removed first. Vicki Vale not only appeared in the 1989 Batman movie, but also in the 1949 serial, when she was played by Jane Adams and Batman & Robin were played by Robert Lowery and Johnny Duncan. You’d need to find the Guardian of Forever to contact Alexander Courage; he died in 2008.

  15. Thanks for the show and picking my brain about Matrix. It was a rough couple of years but she finally ends up being a hero worthy of the name Supegirl. And as I have said before, I hold the first 50 issues of PADs Supergirl as an excellent example of long form writing. There was a major arc happening during the individual stories.

    Vicki Vale? Stop the press! Who is that? Sorry, had to quote Jack for a second. That has got to be the most 80s apparel we have seen in Who’s Who.

    And yes, as I always do, I’ll defend Chaykin’s Blackhawk story. It is one complicated and entertaining story even if it begins with a disgraced Blackhawk on a 2 week bender. I love Zinda but Natalie Reed will always have a place in my heart.

    1. Chaykin’s Blackhawk story is fine; but, I always felt he had his timeframes a bit wonky. He has Blackhawk being grilled about fighting in Spain, with the leftists; and, yet, it’s still wartime. The witchhunts didn’t really take hold until about 1947/48. It had me confused at the start of the series.

      For my money, Mike Grell had the best turn with it, when he did the first Action Comics Weekly storyline, where he basically turned Blackhawk into Steve Canyon. That was a lot of fun and I would have liked to have seen him do more with the character. I liked Marty Pasko’s stuff, for what it was; but, I think Grell would have kept it a bit more grounded in adventure, rather than politics.

      Incidentally, I believe Mairzey was an homage to a similar character in the earliest days of Steve Canyon

  16. “Who’s Who: The Definitive Podcast of the DC Universe… brought to you by THE SECRET ORIGINS PODCAST!”

    I know you guys said this episode was sponsored by InStockTrades and THE ONLY LIVING BOY, but you only plugged them once whereas Shag mentioned my show 137 times.

    I wanted to talk about Bumblebee’s Who’s Who entry on the Secret Origins Podcast (plug), but I chose to hold my tongue until you brought it up on this episode. I’m of two (possibly three) minds when it comes to Bumblebee.

    On one hand, I love the fact that a lesser-known character is getting a ton of new exposure from the DC GIRLS line of comics as well as merchandize. This is a character that has two different model figures/dolls in toy stores right now. It’s awesome that young girls of color have some representation in the DC superhero toy-sphere. But could DC really not come up with another character to break this barrier?

    Vixen was the first black member of the Justice League of America. She’s got an animated web-series, and she’s appearing in the CW-verse television shows ARROW and LEGENDS OF TOMORROW. If DC’s is going to promote a positive black female hero (as if they can only do one at any given time), Vixen ought to be the hero they push. Vixen has the highest ceiling in terms of mass appeal and movie potential.

    Also, where is my Amanda Waller pillow plushy?

    On the other hand (re: Bumblebee), I can’t ever take this character seriously because she’s not a DC character. She’s a Marvel character. The insectoid-themed bodysuit character is Marvel’s thing. Ant-Man, Wasp, Yellowjacket, Beetle, also that Friendly Neighborhood Guy… Seriously, Bumblebee doesn’t belong with the Teen Titans. She belongs at Marvel as a precocious intern of Hank Pym who takes his technology and gimmick to save her family. Maybe she’s the wife, sister, niece, or daughter of Bill Foster (the original Black Goliath).

    1. Eh, Archie had it long before Marvel, with the Fly. Kind of like how they beat them to the punch with a patriotic hero. And called them on the carpet about it. And Martin Goodman’s cajones shrunk because he was scared doo-doo-less of John L Goldwater.

  17. Is it just me or does Alfred look like Vincent Price in the surprint? Now Price’s voice is going to be battling with Efrem Zimbalist Jr’s when I read my Batman comics.

    As to Superman getting shorted, read Mike’s post above. I really can’t add anything other than this annual was my first ever Superman comic. This got me into the Post-Crisis DC Universe more than anything else, and I still have my original issues of this and Superman #32.

  18. A modern Blackhawk group appeared in that World at War thing; but not a full on Blackhawk comic. Blackhawk Express and Weng (aka Chop-Chop) appeared a few times. I think the later DC editors and writers didn’t know how to do it, outside of the period. The best I can think of would be something like Area 88, where they are mercenaries involved in a civil war. Really, they worked better in the wartime setting and post-war era. You could turn it into a modern military squadron (which is sort of what they did in World at War and the New 52) who uses the name, as a tribute. The Europeans knew how to do this stuff (Buck Danny, Tangy et Laverdure), as did the adventure strips of the 50s, like Johnny Hazard and Steve Canyon. Eclipse did a fantastic job, with Airboy and the Airfighter characters, particularly Sky Wolf, which was a Blackhawk pastiche at Hillman. They did a series of back-up stories with Sky Wolf, covering his activities in the post-war era, including taking him to Indochina, just in time for Dien Bien Phu. Marty Pasko was trying similar things with Blackhawk; but, Tim Truman and Chuck Dixon did it better.

    Mal Duncan is one of the bigegst examples of wasted potential. One of the earliest Teen Titans comics I owned feature the story where Mal got Gariel’s Horn. I thought that part was stupid; but, the character was one of the most interesting of the Titans. I think they should have just left him with his own name and let him be an adventurer. That would have been more unique. For the time, he was as close as DC got to a Luke Cage, until Black Lightning came along.

    I enjoyed the post-Crisis Superman, especially the contributions of people like Roger Sterne and Jerry Ordway. Matrix was a nice attempt at creating a new Supergirl; but, it kind of came in fits and starts. That’s what I think made her less, until the animated series and the Peter David series gave her some more life.

    Batman played for both teams?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Did Wertham know?

    Vicky Vale was Batman’s Lois, in the 40s/50s. She disappeared for a long time, came back, briefly, then was gone until the movie, then came back in the comics. Silver St Cloud was a more rounded character, for my money.

  19. ps John Ostrander said recently that Amanda Waller was based on his grandmother. He said she scared the heck out of him.

    DC’s war comics were, generally pretty good for the details. They took a few liberties here and there. I think part of it was that many of their artists (at least the classic era of those books) had served in the military or grew up during the WW2 or Korea era, where kids poured over the details. Some, like Sam Glanzman, were combat veterans. Glanzman’s A Sailor’s Story (new edition from Dover, as well as his USS Stevens stories, from DC) is a terrific depiction of not only his experiences in WW2; but, also, the day-to-day life of the Navy. I served over 40 years later and it wasn’t that different (apart from kamikaze attacks). Sgt Fury, not as much, though they got the gear right (Dick Ayers had served and I suspect John Severin had, as well). For all the criticism Michael Golden got on The Nam, for his cartoony look, he actually had a really good eye for the equipment details. Web gear looked like web gear, weapons looked like weapons.

  20. pps HAWKAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!

    Oh, no discussion of the Blackhawks is complete without mentioning Wally Wood’s “Black “n’ Blue Hawks,” from MAD. That thing is hilarious and on the nose.

  21. Fun episode Shagg and Rob – I remember getting a few of these annuals (Batman and Flash) from the back issues and reading the Who’s Who entries therein.

    Re Vicki Vale, I do remember that Alan Grant & Norm Breyfogle brought her back in their Detective Comics run and again when the migrated to the main Bat title. She came across as a competent reporter and ultimately dumped Bruce when he was unable to account for his time satisfactorily. She also discovered the Batman’s identity around the time of the Battle of the Cowl – Return of Bruce Wayne period but ultimately withheld publishing this. She also appeared in the New 52 in the Batman Eternal series.

    It was a shame that there was no further Superman entries in these annuals – am surprised they didn’t have any other annuals out at the time, but it was around the time Exile was wrapping up and Action Comics was coming back into the fold of Superman titles so probably wasn’t the time to develop any further annuals that year.

    Bumblebee was also part of the Doom Patrol under Giffen and Clark and fitted in well with the regular team and had a key role in the recent Titans Hunt miniseries that led into Rebirth.

    Look forward to the next episode with the JLI annual, should be fun!

  22. The lion’s share of my interest in Blackhawk comes down to how Jim Steranko described the book in his History of Comics, not any actual stories I’ve read. He was a big hit in his day and got the movie serial, which I also respect, but from Conway to Evanier to Chaykin to Pasko, I shrug at his stories. Of course, I’ve never gone back to the 1940s material Steranko loved, which might be the problem.

    Young Animal: I love this promo and hope I get a copy in my box of comics next month.

    Blackhawk: I read the underwhelming and needlessly adulterated Chaykin mini-series. The Pasko strip was one of the better options in Action Comics Weekly, a book I collected for too long without good enough reason. Burchett’s page looks really good, but also highlights the character’s shift from dangerous mystery to Han Solo by way of Steve Canyon, which didn’t turn me on. Barretto’s Lady Blackhawk looks off-model to me, and I prefer Zinda besides. The other entries are a mixed bag, though I tend to like the moody ones and dislike the goofy ones. None of the other Blackhawks ever did much for me.

    Titans: Flamebird is so oversold as a beauty in the entry that Perez’s photorealistic head shot of a slightly older Tara Markov really undercuts it. Golden Eagle died real good early in Titans Hunt. Bumblebee definitely looked lame under any pen but Perez’s, but I finally came around to her as a viable super-heroine in the Giffen/Clarke Doom Patrol run. She got a very appealing redesign there that Brett Booth didn’t screw up too badly in the new Titans series. Like Katana, being a rare vintage minority has helped her a lot with initiatives like DC Super Hero Girls. The Herald looks okay, but he’s underperformed for so long that it’s hard to take him seriously, despite a kinda almost cool origin with the horn. Anthithesis/Gargoyle can go away.

    Action Comics: I stopped reading the Superman books right before the parallel universe story, and with a few exceptions stayed away until Reign of the Supermen. Seeing “Supergirl” with Alexander Luthor and hearing her tortured backstory as Matrix were big turn-offs, but I still bought her lame mini-series and most of her ongoing under Peter David. Cat Grant was around while I was reading Superman and I was impressed that she made it onto Lois & Clark. I don’t approve of Superman with anyone but Lois Lane, but Cat was a decent supporting character who has hung around longer and stronger than most in those titles. I won’t miss her on the CW, though.

    Batman: I like Art Thibert’s art on this entry and his style before he decided to spend the rest of his career as a poor man’s Jim Lee. The Dick Sprang is cute. Those Rick Stasi pieces are nice. I thought Jason Todd was cool, especially in The Cult, and was pleased when he stopped being a clone of Dick. I knew it was a mistake to kill him, and Batman’s failure to avenge Todd and Barbara Gordon went a long way toward making me hate the Dark Knight. Alfred’s alright, Commissioner Gordon way better. I also hear Prince and Kim Basinger screaming when I see Vicki Vale. It’s not endearing. The Babs entry is fine, and she resembles an actress I can’t quite place (Sandra Locke? Young Carol Kane?)

    Flash: Guh. Chunk. Ugh. I really like Joe Kubert’s take on Jay Garrick. I think I remember Infantino drawing The Flash on an early ’90s trade paperback cover (a best of?) The nice thing about Greg LaRoque’s Flash is that you can totally tell it’s Wally in Barry’s costume. Never had much use for Mary West or Joan Garrick, and the ones after this point I know I don’t care about re-commenting on.

    Xum: An increasingly relevant query– will his updates move on to the looseleaf format for characters created in the ’90s?

    Comments: I don’t know that I was ever regarded as an expert, and I certainly wouldn’t agree with anyone who did, but I guess the Justice League Detroit blog at one time made me a notable enough fan to get offered pics of folks’ Zatanna cosplay or help in promoting their Elongated Man blog or whatever. I’m stronger on the then-newer creations Gypsy, Vixen, Steel, and Vibe, in that order. I can claim complete runs of their solo series, where applicable, but I haven’t followed Cisco Ramon to the Flash TV show like I did Vixen’s lousy CW Seed webtoon.

    There is now another active, monthly Wonder Woman podcast hosted by an actual female type human person called Warrior For Peace that chronologically indexes her appearances in the Golden Age, Post-Legends, and New 52, plus her 1970s TV series. You can find it here-

  23. Not a fan of these entries so far. In fact, I only remember them from two ends of the spectrum…how bad they are (see: Matrix) and how good they could be (see: Perez’s Titans West). The Perez ones (and a few others like the Infantino and Kubert Flashes, for example) seem like they could have been part of Who’s Who’s original 26-issue run, while the bad ones (almost anything featuring a supporting cast member) would fit right in with the horrible lackluster issues of the updates. A transitional period to say the least. Bring on the loose-leaf!

  24. A ragbag of entries, to be sure, but I really enjoyed this episode – thank you!

    Cat Grant was another example of Byrne nicking a previous character and renaming them – CatGrant was Lola Barnett with storylines. Except she was created by Wolfman and Ordway, apparently. Oh well, I’m sure Byrne had a hand in it!

    My favourite Blackhawk remains the Evanier/Spiegle stuff, it was just splendid.

    Anj is so right, we Supergirl fans had a tough time of it… we’d watched our heroine sacrifice herself, wept to see her back briefly for Christmas, and then had to put up with an interesting character usurp her name and look. I came to like Matrix but she was so not Kara Zor-El, and I didn’t like her being duped by the ugliest Lex ever. Thank the stars for PAD!

    A Mary West entry … how could that be bad? Apart from the horrendous art.

    I’m not sure Joan Garrick, stalwart as she was, deserved an entry, given how few non-girlfriend story moments she’d had.

    Jim Gordon always smoked a pipe, Shagg.

    You guys with your ‘Paris, France’, it’s so cute!

  25. In case you didn’t know, Mason Trollbridge was eponymously referenced in the first season of The Flash. Kind of. The reporter that Iris idolised and had figured out Wells was a bad guy was called Mason Bridge and I’m pretty sure it was referencing this character.

  26. Wait… WHAT? No love for “The Heckler”. I loved that comic in the early 1990s! As the resident JLI aficionado, how can you not love a series by Keith Giffen at his most… Giffen-y?

    It has all the Fourth Wall breaking of Ambush Bug, the typically lumpy Giffen art of the era, some great running gags, impossibly powered super villains and it’s chock full of absurdist parodying of super heroics… what’s not to love?

    Looking forward to your reading of the the self-aware loose-leaf entry on The Heckler from the 1993 loose leaf update

    (Hey! Look at that… we just mentioned The Heckler on the show once again!)

  27. Ranking the annuals in the podcast from most favorite to least:

    1. Secret Origins – Not only did the book have all new entries (with the exception of The Herald), but the George Perez artwork makes it my favorite of the five books covered.
    2. Action Comics – Despite the fact there were only two entries in this book, neither of them were updates and they were both for characters that were fairly important in the Superman titles at the time.
    3. Batman – I wasn’t sure which one I would rank higher between Batman and Flash, since both contained mostly unnecessary updates and supporting characters, but I decided to give the Batman Annual a higher ranking due to the updated Barbara Gordon entry, since her paralysis was an important change to the character and worthy of an update.
    4. Flash – As I mentioned in the Batman description, mostly unnecessary updates and supporting characters give this book a low rating from me.
    5. Blackhawk – Not really into the Blackhawks, so this Annual interested me the least.

  28. Also, you guys forgot to discuss the two page entry for Blackhawk Express. I believe it was at the end of the other entries from the Blackhawk Annual and didn’t include much beyond the artwork and a short description, but it’s definitely a Who’s Who entry.

  29. I really appreciate the time and effort you two have put in to covering all of the updates, especially Update 88 and the 89 annuals so far. As a kid, my interest in DC had begun to wan around the time of Millennium (surprise), and had dropped of completely by Invasion. I wouldn’t jump back in until the beginning of the Reign of the Supermen in 93, so there was quite a gap of knowledge for me. I was wandering around the DC universe asking myself “Why does Luthor look like a Ginger Amish?”, “Why does Nightwing have a ponytail mullet?”, and “Who the hell is Bloodwynd?” I look forward to the info dump, and can’t wait for the loose leafs.

    As a side note, I also remember Marvel doing a loose leaf version of OHotMU. It was nothing but very static poses and appearance listings.

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