Who’s Who in the DC Universe #4

It’s the fourth fantastic issue of WHO’S WHO IN THE DC UNIVERSE featuring Blue Beetle, Cheetah, Granny Goodness, Phantom Lady, Plastic Man, Rocket Red, Ultra the Multi-Alien, Vandal Savage, Wonder Woman, and more! Plus YOUR Listener Feedback!

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72 responses to “Who’s Who in the DC Universe #4

    1. I remember this when it first aired. Definitely the first time I’d ever heard of Plas.

      At 0:42, what is that ring Superman is wearing??????

  1. My dearest friends,
    Another lovely episode spotlighting one of my favorite comic characters of all time, Wonder Woman. It was this incarnation that I read and collected without fail (and even in times of poverty and unemployment) up until the Gail Simone run. It was a true labor of love for George Pérez and one I return to with great frequency and fondness.

    Regarding the Human Target. Yup, a total blip on the 90s TV landscape as it was a mid season replacement with only a handful of episodes produced. Even as a fan of the work of Danny Bilson and the late, wonderful Paul DeMeo, I can say this series was not their best. However, it was faithful to the concept of having Chance replace his clients, unlike the Fox series of a few years back which just had Chance acting as a bodyguard. As a bonus, the Flash himself, John Wesley Shipp, cameoed on the “Designed by Chance” episode, as a clothing designer marked for death.

  2. I don’t think Bob Haney is entirely at fault for all the Wonder Woman confusion. Yes, he should have read her previous appearances more closely but in those days Wonder Woman, Wonder Girl, & Wonder Tot all regularly interacted despite being the same character at different chronological ages.

  3. I am not positive but I believe I heard it twice in this episode rob say that he had two favorite entries in the susu looseleaf addition one being The Persuader And the other Ultra the multiple alien Anyway it doesn’t matter I was just making a comment love the show I drink a bunch of times that shag said characters were hot that was a game I played anyway love the show keep it rockin love the network very very much can’t wait for all the shows love it love it love it love it better than TV

  4. You also mentioned the television show the human target with Rick Springfield or you forgot to mention that in the 2000s there was also a television show about the human target he’s been on TV twice plus he’s been featured on the arrow TV show

  5. Rob has been nothing but high-energy on Superman Movie Minute, which is his only other show with a consistent co-host that isn’t Shag. So is it the material on Who’s Who, or the co-host? Hmm….

    As always, a few random thoughts:

    Human Target: Dick Giordano inked that first Christopher Chance adventure, and then drew almost all of his solo appearances after that. He loved characters like this and his own Sarge Steel. He was kind of like John Buscema in that way: he didn’t really care for costumed super-heroes…other than Batman.

    Granny Goodness: The fact that one of her “orphans” is ripping open his shirt kind of implies some things I would rather not think of in regards to Granny. Ewww. And no Shag, you don’t have to say “She’s Hot” for this one.

    Lightray: I love this entry! The art, the dynamism, the fact that Adams didn’t get the memo to ignore the Super Powers designs of almost everyone!

    Desaad: This is a nice piece in one of my least favorite Giffen art styles, but it’s just kind of gross and in comprehensible. What is he sitting in, and why is there a giant candle? Giffen went way to abstract at times for my tastes, even though this is well-executed art-wise.

    Phantom Lady: I always thought she was sitting IN the spotlight on the wall. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, but design-wise worked. See, Hughes pulled it off…Giffen…not so much. The bit on the back with guy and the knife is hilarious.

    Ultra: The Multi-Alien: If LIghtray was a sales pitch for a New Gods series, then this is DEFINITELY key-art for an Ultra presentation! Why isn’t this guy on Cartoon Network? Fantastic piece.

    The Persuader: Is it snowing oats outside in July? Rob likes a Swan piece? All it took was a Road Warrior meets Jason Vorhees makeover to finally get him on board. Who knew?

    This is more dynamic than Curt’s usual work, I will give you that. He could do this type of crazy forced perspective when he wanted to. He just apparently didn’t want to that often!

    Fun show, full of energy and stuff!

    Chris

    1. Chris, I noticed that a lot of the Fourth World characters were in their Super Powers duds for the Lightray image on Twitter, which is very cool. I was introduced to the Fourth World via Super Powers and Superfriends (as I assume many fans my age were), so those redesigns hold a special place for me. Mantis especially I feel is an improvement over his original design, looking more alien and menacing in his armored appearance.

  6. So many New Gods, this issue was manna from heaven…..

    First off, the Curt Swan love (again!) — I have to admit, I was startled when you got to the Persuader page and “Swanderson” was mentioned. On first glance, I assumed Giffen and/or Gordon involvement, or at least a newer artist’s name who was aping their style. The coloring was classic 5YL LSH, so it certainly looked proper of the era, though for me it was the rigid nature of Persuader’s face which screamed that Giffen/Gordon art style. But Swan and Anderson?! Color me surprised and delighted, especially when Rob had a very favorable reaction to it.

    Now onto my pals, the New Gods — something you mentioned that I long thought was unfortunate was the brevity of some of their pages here. Fastbak, of course, who was barely ever a blip on the 4th World radar, but also Desaad and even Granny to an extent…

    But in 1990, the New Gods were relatively light in appearances…or rather, as I realized while listening, *official* appearances. Much of the New Gods’ material pre-1990 was relegated to the multiversal dust bins thanks to Crisis. The “Return of the New Gods” books, cut short by the DC Implosion, had utilized many of them but that era were pretty widely ignored by the time Kirby’s Hunger Dogs came out in ’85, and a lot of their remaining ’80s appearances were Super Powers comics, hence unofficial to a canonical resource like Who’s Who. Outside of the top tier characters, there hadn’t been much done with a lot of them yet in the post-Crisis DCU. Even Desaad, whose entry here only includes events from Kirby’s first run, was just starting to get more exposure in Starlin & Evanier’s New Gods book (though I guess nothing of note to populate his entry here; unlike Lightray who was a central character with a love interest).

    Also, to give Fastbak (not Fastback, the Captain Carrot turtle) some extra exposure – it was noted that the locale in his pin-up seemed bleak…. with reason, I believe: the early days of the New Gods series featured an adventure in the “underworld” of New Genesis, where Evanier dealt with the nature of the Old Gods for a bit. Don’t recall if Fastbak was part of that story, but the setting of this piece certainly reminds me of it, right down to the ancient statues of old gods appearing in disarray as in that story…

  7. Another fun issue and podcast! A few comments:

    Barter – as I anticipated, he gets no love. I actually think his power’s hook, that he has to barter, is what makes him interesting. He cannot give something away. He cannot accept something freely. There has to be an exchange transaction. That means he traded something – either an object, or information, or something – to procure that power battery. In the second Hawk and Dove Annual, you know the Armageddon 2001 one which shows that neither Hawk nor Dove will ever ever ever ever become Monarch, there is a future story where he gives something away freely and basically withers and dies.

    (As an aside, much like I did when you guys trashed Reactron and the Gang, I will remind you both that in the original podcast series, you waxed the cars of ‘The Fisherman’ and ‘The Enforcer’. #D-List #bias)

    Human Target – I have never seen this costume Rob is talking about so I’ll have to do some research. Giordano is synonymous with the Bronze Age character so makes sense he is on art. I might push his Vertigo series, many years later, by Peter Milligan as a fantastic comic worth hunting down.

    Khunds – yes, I like Nemesis Kid. Because what power do you manifest which will defeat Karate? The answer is ‘better Karate!’ This is a brutal picture. But the Khunds are brutal. This lets you know as a reader that a Khundian invasion isn’t going to be bloodless.

    The Persuader – This does look more Jason Voorhees than Fatal Five. I miss the sleek blue armor. But in the decaying world of 5YL, I suppose the burlap bag shirt makes some sense. But did I hear Rob say describe a member of the Fatal Five as ‘the giant guy with the exposed brain’?? C’mon dude.

    Phantom Lady – whoa Nelly! So the question really is which entry do you prefer? The Dave Stevens original Phantom Lady? Or the Hughes update? (I gotta go Stevens.) Mercy.

    Troia – You know what they say about Donna Troy’s origin. “If at first you don’t succeed, Troia Troia again.” I think Shag echoes the thoughts of every red-blooded comic-reading hetero male in the eighties when he said he had a crush on Donna. Who didn’t?? It is what made her marrying the odious Terry Long that much worse. Anyways, I didn’t mind her being attached to the actual Titans as it was close enough to Greek Myth to keep some brand recognition. But she’ll always be the Donna in the red jumpsuit raised on Paradise Island in my mind.

    Ultra the Multi-Alien – he played a very crucial role in the first story arcs of Jeff Lemire’s Justice League United. Those were worth looking for.

  8. I feel as though I must defend Rob’s criticisms of Curt Swan – or as I call him in polite company, “Curt Yawn”. I won’t diminish his important to the history of Superman comic books, but it can be argued his work was quite stiff. Reading the Swan drawn adventures as a boy, I often felt as though Superman was depicted as stern, unfun old guy constantly finger-pointing and telling others to get their acts together. Adventure Comics? More like Lecture Comics!

    The man could draw, sure. But his methods lend themselves more toward an Apartment 3-G or a Mary Wort – especially with the constant furrowed brows and “hrumph” poses he gave his characters. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t tailored to what’s supposed to a sci-fi romp!

    My apologies for the Curt Swan fans this may offend. But I will defend my brother and friend Robert Cha-Cha Kelly until my last breath.

    1. Admit it. You’re just trying to get me stirred up.

      I’m done defending Swan. His years of work speak for themselves. If you don’t like it, that’s your choice.

      For anyone on the fence, I can’t recommend Eddie Zeno’s Swan biography enough. When you see his pencils, many of you may change your mind. The man was never inked correctly, even by masters like Murphy Anderson and Al Williamson.

      But Mary Worth and Apartment 3-G. Please. That’s just insulting.

      Okay, I will defend him a bit. Swan did the artwork for these awesome Mego Fist-Fighting action figure packages. Tell me this isn’t dynamic and doesn’t sell these babies.

      http://www.megomuseum.com/wgsh/images/Ffrob.JPGRobin FF
      http://www.megomuseum.com/wgsh/images/riddbox.jpgRiddler FF

      Chris

      1. Cfranks,

        I would never, ever antagonize you purpose. Ever.

        That said, I need to a quote a wise man (or wise guy) that said “I won’t argue taste.” While I can appreciate the two examples of Swan’s more dynamic work, it still doesn’t light a fire for me. My first comic exposure to Superman to Neal Adams, who drew an amazingly powerful and fluid god. Swan didn’t compare to my young eyes, unfortunately. And I know Swan was at the mercy of whatever scripts were sent his way. But this is something you and I will never see eye-to-eye on.

        Plus, I’m not really a Silver Age guy. Or much of a Golden Age guy.

        I hope my Mary Worth/3-G comment didn’t come off as too flip. When I remember Swan, I remember big faces that fill a panel, similar to the soapy newspaper strips. It’s more of comment on layout then outright style.

        Point to Swan for tit-for-tat Riddler vs Robin package design!

        1. My journey with Swan was somewhat similar to my eventual appreciation of Kirby and Ditko. Swan was present every month, so I didn’t consider his work “ugly” like I once did the two artistic cornerstones of Marvel, but I wasn’t wowed by Swan either. I accepted it as the “Superman style”. Marvel Tales got me to love Ditko, and I came around to Kirby in my late teens. At some point I began to appreciate the quiet grace Swan brought to all of his work. Maybe quiet grace isn’t exactly what one looks for in super hero comics, but I tend to now think of Swan as an early version of Alex Ross. His people were solid and real, they just happened to wear funny costumes. It grounds the fantastic elements of the stories and makes them somewhat more relatable. I think many of the whackier Silver Age Superman tales wouldn’t be nearly as fun and certainly wouldn’t hold up as well without Swan there to stabliize their zaniness.

          That’s why I like Curt Swan, but obviously mileage varies.

          Chris

          1. I think what contributed to my non-Swanness was that my other Superman artists were JLGL (pbhn) and John Buscema’s work in Superman/Spider-Man – dynamos!

            Kirby was a later in life thing for me, too. I had a Super Powers Comic and wasn’t sure what I was looking at. Little did I know…

          2. I’m another who grew up with Swan, and accepted his Superman as THE Superman. I never found his work stiff so much as solid and reassuring. There was a period in the early Eighties when DC had Gil Kane work with him on making his layouts more dynamic (they mentioned this is some comic, which was rather insensitive), I can’t remember exactly when, but it was around the time of the big #544 anniversary; I think the Lord Satanus issue, #534, with fine inks from Dave Hunt, is one – it looks a bit different in terms of layouts (remember when he had to work from teenage Jim Shooter’s layouts in Adventure Comics, it reminds me of those days).

  9. Thanks for another fun episode. I just have two quick comments and one wacky idea based on this issue’s entries.

    KGBeast/NKVDemon: Of course, this duo’s greatest claim to fame would come years later, when they teamed up with other Soviet-themed villains to go head to head with Aquaman and the Others.

    Wacky Idea: Speaking of the Others, I now want to see a Rocket Red and Vostok team up book. They could become the Blue and Gold of DC Rebirth. Seriously though, I think they would compliment each other as teammates. Rocket Red seems very grounded and secure in himself, while Vostok is lost and trying to find himself.

    S.T.A.R. Labs: Your observation that S.T.A.R. Labs would continually pop up in new locations made me realize the true secret behind the institution. In reality, S.T.A.R. Labs is the most successful franchise in the DC universe. Take that McDonald’s and Starbucks!

        1. I actually went back and forth on whether to use McDonald’s or Big Belly Burger. I did not know about Sundollars, so I learned something new today. Thanks.

  10. Blaze – She also took on Captain Marvel and the Wizard Shazam in Ordway’s Power of Shazam run.

    Blue Beetle – I really miss Ted. I know he returned in Rebirth, but he is an adviser to Jaime not a superhero. Better than being dead, I suppose.

    Cheetah – If you are miffed about them not pointing out Priscilla Rich and Deborah Domaine in the first appearance, what about Dan Garrett’s first showing back in the Golden Age for Blue Beetle? Then again, they do use the Sandra Knight version for the Phantom Lady. So… chalk it up to major inconsistency.

    Chronos – We see the Atom here, but he never gets his own entry in the loose leaf. Sad. I hate this costume. And what a pathetic logo.

    DeSaad – As twisted as he is, I never thought Kirby really expressed that well. (Aside: how many parents would have been ok with giving their kids a DeSaad action figure if they realized he was a SM torturer?) This piece, while harsh to look at, at least conveys just how depraved he is.

    Granny Goodness – beautiful piece, even if her left ear is miss-colored. I agree with Shagg that she loves her children, but her twisted nature (thanks to Darkseid) has warped that expression. I’d also note that her love of them is a distant second to her fanaticism of Darkseid, so she has no hesitation in sacrificing them to his whims.

    Human Target – He is still on TV: he was used properly in the last season of Arrow, where he assumes several identities to help cover for Ollie and his team. It should also be pointed out that while playing Ollie, he knew things he shouldn’t have, which lends well to the whole notion of how totally he gives into the identity he is assuming.

    KGBeast / NKVDemon – Note that the date is incorrect for the first appearances of KGBeast. Batman 417 was in March of 88, not 89.

    Lightray – This piece made me so mad that there wasn’t a Lightray Super Powers action figure.

    Phantom Lady – I was never happy with how this character was killed. Not that she was killed, but that is was almost fetish-ized.

    Rocket Red – Poor Dimitri, killed during the Infinite Crisis leadup, The OMAC Project. His replacement – created in Justice League: Generation Lost – really was a step down as far as characters go. Hopefully Rebirth will bring him back.

    Troia – There are two story ideas that have broken the Titans: Titans Hunt and Who is Donna Troy? Each one has been done to death and I cringe whenever I see them being trotted out again. Please, let these ideas go and move on. Donna doesn’t need another clarification on her origin. I promise it will only make it worse.

    I would argue that Tom Grummett very successfully drew this costume after Perez left.

    Ultra, the Multi-Alien – such a beautiful piece. What more needs to be said?

    Vril Dox II- It’s been retconned a couple of times, but at last check he IS the biological son of Brainiac. He was recently reintroduced in Justice League: No Justice.

    Weather Wizard – The reason he (and many Rogues) went “legit” a couple of times was retconned as because of mental manipulation in the aftermath of Dr. Light’s attack on Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis. Geoff Johns really turned that lemon into lemonade and made it into a great lead-up to Rogue War.

    Wonder Woman – I love that Infinite Crisis kept this version intact, but moved it back so she was back to be a founding member of the JLA. Like Byrne’s version of Superman, this is MY version of Wonder Woman.

    Regarding inking – I am great friends with former inker Mark Lipka. I used to help him out on filling in blacks when he was in the industry and I was in art school. He was fantastic with a brush and taught me all about how to ink different ways to achieve different textures, how to layer the ink thickness to increase depth of field, the right use of zip-tone, etc . He would use pens for some things (background buildings notably) but he preferred brush. A key thing to inking with pen is a steady hand – there is NO forgiveness. When you ink with a brush, the natural bounce of the hairs can help forgive a little shakiness, and as Rob pointed out you can flow thick and thin within the same line so easily.

  11. 1) I forgot all about that Mark Waid sound clip, so it was startling for me to hear my name so early in the episode and with a notable absence of weary sighs.

    A) If I’m not mistaken, Barter was in a Secret Origins story covered by Ryan, and that was my sole exposure to the character outside this entry. He seemed like one of those handy adversaries who is powerful enough to be functional in a tale involving a big leaguer like Superman, while still being weak enough to be used by lower-tier heroes like Hawk & Dove. I tend to groan when Lex Luthor or Joker appear outside Metropolis or Gotham, because they’re fairly wimpy without being propped up be the very specific circumstances that give them a home turf advantage. Barter benefits from his portable power place, so Nightwing could break in to punch him out, but Barter could turn around and whip out a red sun ray to lay out the other Nightwing. Too bad he looks like a Wells Fargo regional manager with a default typeface logo, and being drawn solely by an inker compounds the one-dimensionality of this dude.

    B) Given your relief that Blaze was a non-sexualized villainess, I’m sorry to report that she got New 52’d in her more recent appearances, with pendulous beewbs revealed by a plunging neckline down to her navel. I don’t know if it was Reign in Hell or Supergirl, but in the images I stumbled upon, she was basically rendered like Purgatori from Chaos! Comics. In my experience, Blaze was one of those characters who kept popping up in the triangle number era that I never felt like I got a proper introduction to because she debuted pre-Panic In The Sky. She got a lot of play in Power of Shazam, and I like that she’s a demon with retroactive prominence in DC mythology, plus her contentious relationship with her brother Lord Satanus is novel. Brett Breeding is more well-rounded in his rendering than Scott Hanna.

    C) I have been impressed by the artistic stylings of Ty Templeton, but in this period where he made his biggest play for mainstream notoriety, I was underwhelmed by his blandness. As with period Paris Cullins, I liked their earlier and later work, but in the post-Crisis period they were exactly the type of bloodless journeymen that drove me back to Marvel. I also think of both these guys’ work when Blue Beetle comes to mind, which is why I’ve never particularly liked or respected the Ted Kord incarnation; who aspires to be Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man replacement but comes across more as The Beetle doing a face turn.

    D) The Cheetah looks like her foot landed in an unexpectedly damp cranny of that stump. I’m not fond of Barbara Minerva and feel she should have passed into history in the New 52, given that she’s been a largely different character, and the property has had multiple incarnations anyway. After getting over the initial shock of her even being in the running, I came around pretty quickly to Kristen Wiig being cast in Wonder Woman 1984. She’s a very physical performer who will “go there” in a big way when required, but can also offer contained drama. She looked great in that wall-scaling footage. I do hope she’s playing Priscilla Rich or Debbie Domaine, though.

    E) How did Shag read all those Ambush Bug comics referencing Bob Oksner and not know inkers use brushes? Anyway, I like Gil Kane’s Rapidograph years. That’s just how he looked for the last few decades of his career. As drawn by the master, that Chronos suit looks fine, but since it was typically drawn by Graham Nolan, it was a snore. The classic suit is an eyesore, and I prefer this to the “we give up” black version post-Zero Hour, but it just isn’t Chronos without the white full face mask. The Richard Nixon resemblance proves once again that comics have always been political.

    F) I’ve never known what to make of that Giffen DeSaad entry, and just assumed things got really weird in the Evanier/Cullins series in a mad attempt to salvage that non-starter. I believe Jack Kirby had retired from comics by this point, and anyway, DC was not looking to honor its history in this version of Who’s Who. The looseleaf was outreach to the fan archivist/researcher who would buy comic book reference material regardless of affiliation with the actual published comics. I own a great many Valiant/Defiant/etc. reference books despite never warming to those companies, so DC could have used this edition to sell their universe as new and fresh to the uninitiated. Conversely, nothing reinforce fandom’s lack of desire to support Fourth World revivals like Who’s Who constantly vomiting up hideous losers like Fastbak as representations of those titles. He looks like a cross between a pinata and a highly specialized bottom for The Key. The Granny Goodness entry art is perfect, though I always think it’s a John K. Snyder, not a Wagner.

  12. Hey guys, very much enjoying all of the New Gods stuff in this episode, but there are some interesting non-Kirby entries as well including Blue Beetle and Human Target. I picked up that Fourth World Omnibus about a month ago, and it really is a beautiful volume. I have not had an opportunity to start reading — hoping to make some time to sit down with it soon (and I mean that literally as it is very heavy).

    Re: Chronos looking like Nixon, all I can think is “Take that, DC Universe! You won’t have Chronos to kick around anymore! GARUUU! GARUUU!” (h/t to Futurama.)

    1. Gil Kane *always* drew Chronos as Nixon, as he tended to use real life people as face models. That costume is straight from the Per Degaton collection, though.

      1. I did not know that about Kane, thank you Joe!

        “That costume is straight from the Per Degaton collection, though.”

        Maybe he bought it from Goodwill or another secondhand store… that sort of low-rent approach to super-villainy sounds like Chronos! He can’t afford custom tailored duds like the Flash Rogues!

      2. I think even Fred Hembeck made fun of the fact that from his first appearance Chronos looked like Richard Nixon. I tried to find a picture but the only one I could find was from the first Who’s Who series. (http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/David_Clinton_(New_Earth)?file=Chronos_0001.jpg) The distinctive receded hairline is missing but you can see that face in the image.

  13. Blaze is one of those characters that made me love the early Triangle Number era of Superman back in the early ’90s and continues to make me love it to this day. Her introduction was played out over several months and I liked the idea that Superman would have a supernatural elements to his rogues gallery. Her human form opened up a pseudo-Goth club back before that was really a thing inside of a deconsecrated church. The lapsed Catholic in me still buys that such an idea would mean anything but despite being somewhat cheesy it added to the mystique of the character. The SOUL SEARCH storyline where she made her first big play is still one of the better short storylines from the Pre-Death era. Not only for the “rolling up his sleeves because Superman has had enough of your s***” cover from Action Comics #656 (Kerry Gammill, y’all) but also for the end of the Jerry White sub-plot, which hit me hard at 14. They also managed to tie her to Skyhook, another Superman bad guy from the Post Crisis era. While I liked the BLAZE/SATANUS WAR and the fact that she became a villain in POWER OF SHAZAM her early appearances will always be my favorite.

  14. Great episode. Thanks for showing up, Rob. The perfect soundtrack to my afternoon of clearing thousands of spiderwebs from the backyard of my sister’s new house.

    Yes, “Fastback” is the speedster turtle from the Zoo Crew, though note the spelling difference. (The terrapin got an entry in the original Who’s Who series, though the New God was shoved into the team entry, and got a half page in Update ’87.)

    I always liked KGBeast and NKVDemon. Superhero comics are plagued by hyperbole, and one of the most frequent/annoying examples is how every villain seems to be framed as the toughest/most dangerous/scariest threat the hero could possibly image. But the Beast and the Demon always struck me as honest-to-goodness, genuinely frightening, hardcore badasses—even the Beast’s S&M-tastic outfit says to me “I’m such a tough guy, I don’t give a shit what you think of my clothing”. Though I was shocked to hear Rob say he has zero memory of the NKVDemon, considering that he starred in an issue of the early-’90s Aquaman series, with an excellent cover (a beautiful Ken Hooper cover of the Demon standing menacingly over the Sea King).

    I agree that this Chronos costume is boring—and the Nixon look is kind of silly—but it bothered me that he eventually returned to his old costume. In his Power of the Atom return, he swore he was done with silly clock gimmicks, he was going to be a smarter, more industrialist-type villain, mocking the eyesore suit as a symbol of his old self. So it made him seem like an idiot/hypocrite to go back to it. (Incidentally, Roger Stern wrote a great Action Comics story where a time-traveling Superman ran into Chronos while he was trying to get back from prehistory.)

    I have very clear memories of that Phantom Lady entry doing certain things to 15-year-old me. I do love the idea of PL being a World War II cheesecake icon, a DC Universe version of Betty Grable. I seem to recall a scene in which Jack Knight mentions that the original Phantom Lady was his cousin, and his tattoo artist says he once inked her onto some WWII veteran’s arm.

  15. I sort of prefer the more abstract version of the Persuader’s Atomic Axe, where it is defined as being able to cut anything, including abstractions like gravity or psychic connections, one step away from being a Doom Patrol villain. Although I do wonder what would happen if the edge of the ax met the cutting surface of Tenzil Kim’s teeth.

    Also, at risk of causing more art chat, can’t you get variable width from a pen with a rectangular nib, like a calligraphy pen? Is there a reason comics inkers never use anything like that?

    1. There are applications for calligraphy pens, but they are limited. You can get better versatility out of a brush than you can out of a calligraphy pen without the limitations.

  16. Okay, I know I’m going to regret this, Shag, but if I’m going to be forced to hear about the “Titans Story that must not be named” every month, I’ll need to reread it. Maybe maturity will soften my opinion on the issue, although I think the ending will still infuriate me.

    Related: I did read the Kadaver stories as I said I would. They certainly won’t go down as classics, but Kadaver himself is a fairly interesting villain: not quite as insane as the Joker, not quite as obsessed as Two Face, not quite as crafty as Penguin, and not quite as mercenary as Deadshot, but containing enough elements of each of these classic rogues that he feels an appropriate nemesis for the Dark Knight. There is also a surprising amount of character development for just three 2-part stories. I wouldn’t object to him making a return.

    Last bit of old business: Like Rob, I’ll have to apologize to Shag for the “Chalk and cheese” flap. If Martin Gray says it’s a thing, I’ll concede the point, at least on the topic of British euphemisms.

    Alright, on to the issue at hand:

    1. I did not appreciate the Barter splash page on the first read through nearly enough. Those are some great Easter eggs!

    2. Blue Beetle: From personal experience, being 5’11” and 190lbs. does not warrant a diet, it deserves a celebratory cake. Now, I’d concede that an exercise regiment might be necessary to turn those 190lbs. into muscle, but if I stepped on a scale and was under 200 lbs., I’d do a jig (come to think of it, if I jigged more often maybe that 200lbs. goal would be feasible).

    3. Chronos: Rob, I’m sure you expected hate for the soliloquy about inking methods, but I found it very enlightening. Early Gil Kane is one of my all time favorite artists, just as late Gil Kane is one of my least favorite. I wonder how much of that shift has to do with the inking changes you mentioned? Also, Chronos’ classic costume is the only one he should ever wear. Finally, I’m surprised neither of you mentioned that under hair color, Waid specifically mentions that Clinton is balding. Way to kick a man when he’s down, Mark!

    4. I really want to defend Fastbak . . . so I will (sort of). Two things: first, like virtually all Kirby designs, Fastbak’s costume is awesome! I’ll concede the head piece looks uncomfortable, but the color and graphic style has the simple yet iconic look that defines the best of Kirby’s creations. Secondly, Fastbak is a good example of why I like the New Gods. Where the New Gods got off track was later efforts by non-Kirby writers to integrate this giant mythos into the DC universe proper (before you bring it up, yes I know Jack introduced the whole universe in the Jimmy Olsen comic, but there is a world of difference between Superman occasionally showing up in the Fourth World comics and these Fourth World characters being a constant presence in the DC universe proper). You are right that Fastbak is a bit under impressive when compared to the whole of the DC universe, but if you take the New Gods as their own discreet subset of the DCU, he fills the role of a Hawkman or a Dawnstar. That’s a long way of saying that one of the things I like about the New Gods, much like the Legion, is that they are a large enough and complete enough cast of characters that they could conceivably support their own imprint of titles.

    Oh, also: The difference between Fastbak of the New Gods and Fastback of the Zoo Crew is the “c”. Geez guys, how could you make such an obvious mistake?

    5. I am hard pressed to come up with a single character with more untapped potential than the Human Target. It would probably come across as a dated concept nowadays, but Christopher Chance’s gimmick of solving crimes by becoming the victims could easily carry at least a miniseries. I never saw the original TV show, but the Mark Valley version was appointment television for me when it was on. I’m still angry that the second session was never released on DVD.

    6. If I’m being unbiased, the Arthur Adams Lightray piece is the best piece of art in this issue. As others have said, I love that the villains are in their Super Powers design.

    7. I do love the perspective work on the Swan Persuader piece, although the art itself is not my favorite from the iconic Swanderson duo. Maybe Curt drew “static” figures because, when he did, he knocked it out of the ball park!

    8. I know this is a sacrilege, but I’m not particularly enamored by Hughes’ rendering of Phantom Lady. The *ahem* anatomy is lovely, but the face is muddy and the 80s hooker hair just doesn’t do it for me. What I am loving is the creepy skull faced guy with the scissors in the window. That stuff is just nightmare inducing. I will admit that I hadn’t noticed the missing furniture before today.

    9. Rocket Red: The splash page is stunning. Unfortunately, this is an incredibly well drawn picture of a costume I have absolutely no use for. I’ll always prefer the original RR armor. Like I always say, it is better to have a well dressed Manhunter on the team than a Apokoliptian armored family man.

    10. Troia: I’m not sure how I became the patron saint of ill regarded comic book characters, but I take the responsibility seriously. This time it is again Terry Long. Did no one else notice that, although Troia’s marital status is listed as married, Terry doesn’t get mentioned in the known relatives? There is one mention of Mr. Long in the history section (“Donna later met and married a college history professor named Terry Long.”), but it’s brevity and placement implies some level of embarrassment that I don’t think is warranted. Step daughter Jennifer has apparently been completely erased from the story at this point.

    11. Vandal Savage: I’m not sure I’m willing to heap too much praise on Mike Parobeck, but this piece is lovely. The color specifically elevates it, giving it a quality not dissimilar from Darwyn Cooke, Michael Cho, or other fine illustrators.

    12. Alright, now it is my time to turn the tables. I have gently accepted Shag’s good natured rebuke that I say things that are counter to reason, but I’m sure I’m right on this one. How do you not love Alan Weiss’ Weather Wizard art?! The unique “camera angle” on the splash page gives you a clear depiction of Mardon’s power while also giving you both a sense of dread of what it must be like to be caught in the midst of said power and insight into just how insane this villain is as he is seduced by having this power in his grip. Also, look at the “senior picture” inset picture. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a picture like this that so faithfully recreates what it would look like in the real world for someone to walk around with a Domino mask on. The face is distinct and the mask looks like it is an addition to the face, where so often it seems the face was made to wear the mask, if that makes any sense. Anyway, I’m not saying that this is the best entry in the issue, but there are certainly worse entries and I quite like this one.

    As always, I’m appreciative of your hard work, gentlemen, and will look forward to the next installment.

    1. I loved the Valley Human Target series, even if it (quite understandably) strayed from the comics’ premise. You have a star, but would have him played by the guest-star for most of the episode? I think not.

      1. The Rick Springfield series, as noted in the episode and in previous comments, indeed had the guest star in the most of the episode. Inevitably, there was always a reason for Chance to de-mask in each episode. to remind the audience that it was Rick Springfield’s handsome 80’s face underneath.

    1. The first time a STAR Labs location had that Grace Building shape in a DC Comic was in the New Teen Titans preview story printed in DC Comics Presents V1 issue 26… pencilled by George Pérez…

  17. G) Just because I happened to be researching both characters within a few days of each other, Christopher Chance has appeared in fewer comics (88) than Bruce “Chapel” Stinson from Youngblood and Spawn comics (107. ) Great layout on that profile, but the character makes me shrug. He’s no Tom “Nemesis” Tresser. For a moment there, I thought Rick Springfield also played Jon Sable, but I was just confusing my extremely short-lived ABC-TV non-superhero comic book adaptations (both tied for 7 episodes.)

    H) I’m not as down on Aparo’s work here as Rob, but the profile art is so basic that it might as well be shared OHOTMU entries. NKVDemon came out in that slump period after the ’89 Batmania and before Knightfall, but I recall the covers being nice. Not enough has been done with a V.D.emon, who should probably look more like Rough Trade. Ironically, he appeared late in the McLaughlin/Hooper Aquaman, which happened to feature a Martian Manhunter guest appearance (and was the only issue I bought new.)

    I) Those vicious Khunds strike again, and just look at them hairy legs holding them up! Freaking fantastic entry art by Pat Broderick for the Extra-Klingons. After 73 hours of the Who’s Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes podcast, I refuse to acknowledge the Mekt Ranzz entry. I would’ve sworn the Persuader frontpiece was Chris Sprouse, but the back cleared that right up.

    J) I would argue that the Lightray entry is a testament to how lame the character is, because if Art Adams had drawn an Orion or Darkseid entry, he would have just drawn the subject character. This is a New Gods drawing that inexplicably highlights Lightray instead of a character that actually matters to that story. He’s not “enough” to justify the effort of Art Adams, so all these other, better creations are shoehorned in to add value.

    K) The Phantom Lady art bores me. Way too plain and monochromatic, plus the skull dude is dumb and I call b.s. on the disappearing right leg. Ditto on Max Romero’s Plastic Man hot take. Even Bart Sears can’t get me excited about Rocket Red. Regarding S.T.A.R. Labs, would you really want that many windows in a lab complex, or for it to be so vertical?

    L) Hey, remember when “Who is Donna Troy” was a beloved Titans story and an instant classic of “The New DC” rather than a groan-inducing punchline? Or when the Titans were legit competition for the X-Men instead a team staffed with nobodies wearing ill-considered Perez-ish designs like Azrael, Kole, Jericho (sorry Phylemon), and Troia? It’s almost as if Perez torpedoed a portion of his own legacy by Hawkworlding Wonder Woman. Also, why does everyone insist on keeping the star-pattern when Donna looked so much better in red? And Troia? It’s like if Rob’s super-hero name was Kelis, or if instead of Nightwing, Dick went with Gray Son. This was for sure George at his most Lucas. He was so busy distancing Donna from Wonder Girl that he pushed her toward being absolutely nothing at all.

    1. I would, unhesitatingly, buy a Teen Titans comic that just featured Azrael, Kole, Jericho, and Troia (although you are absolutely right that the red cat suit is the only correct attire for Donna.

      1. Phylemon, I’m already out on a limb here by kinda liking Jericho. Kole and Azrael is a bridge too far, though. An Alaskan bridge, to nowhere.

    2. Agreed on the red duds for Donna Troy. They were great and iconic. While the Troia outfit had its own history, it wasn’t as timeless as the red suit. And what artist wants to get stuck drawing starfields all the time?

  18. M) I feel the same way about the Vandal Savage profile art as the boys did about Ultra. Fantastic summation of the character’s appeal by Mike Parobeck, though I think the immortal brings out the best in a lot of artists. I can even stand it when Val Semeiks draws him. Vril Dox often makes it into my top 10ish DC characters list (maybe 20– I haven’t thought about it in a while.) Such an intellectually and ethically challenging character; fascinating to read. I’m not a big Weather Wizard fan, but I enjoyed Alan Weiss’ rendition of his (and Flash & Blue Devil.) He can be a bit too photo-reference stiff, but I always appreciate his technique.

    2) Curt Yawn is a good one. I think his artwork cost Superman a generation of fans, and determined the need for a Byrne reboot that has forever diminished the character. Plus, it looks like the figures on those toy boxes are punching with just their arms rather than their whole bodies (plus a Riddler punch apparently causes instant rigor mortis. R.I.P. Dick “F-Batman” Grayson.)

    3) I personally count the Bronze Age as 1968-1986, but that unimpeachable resource Wikipedia says 1970-1985, so we’ll go with that: 15 years. Shag claims to have read “half a dozen to a dozen” Wonder Woman comics from that period, for which I tend to apply the male vs. female stated sexual partners rule to assume it’s actually half that, 3-6 comics. But even if he was 100% truthy, that’s still less than one issue per year. Imagine making sweeping judgments of the X-Men after reading one Cockrum, one Byrne, one JRJR, one Silvestri, etc.

    N) So much ambivalence toward Perez Wonder Woman. I planned to start covering this series early in the podcast, and I had a mostly read copy of the third issue sitting under my bathroom sink for months before I gave up on that. I liked the Len Wein scripted issues, which got me to buying the book new for a few months. Most of the run is a slog though, and the dirty secret nobody talks about is that who really cares that much about the book once he stops penciling it? Why didn’t more boys want to follow the adventures of Princess Diana living with an older middle-aged woman while engaged in a series of lectures and book signings who passively defended herself against attacks by random mythological beings? Lets spend whole issues on her press agent, or the diary entries of her supporting cast! On the other hand, Perez raised up a cult of followers that defended Diana against DC’s worst inclinations, especially Greg “Let’s Have Her Almost Get Raped As Soon As She Arrives In America” Potter. H’s a great guy and a premier artist I’ve met a couple times and who drew my Twitter icon, so shading him brings me no joy.

    4) Kerry Gammill did roughly 12 issues of full pencils on Superman, plus finished pencils over George Perez’s layouts for 6 issues of Action Comics, and one on his own. He got a bit over a year of Power Man & Iron Fist out, and a dozen total issues of Marvel Team-Up. He drew half of the eight issue Fallen Angels mini-series. Beyond that, his career is lots of spot fill-ins, OHOTMU entries, and covers. He also often got saddled with heavy-handed inkers, unfortunately.

    5) I think from now on I should pick one entry from Who’s Who that would have been improved by the art of a less well regarded Image Comics creator as a protest against the boys’ dismissal of Rob Liefeld’s above average efforts in Who’s Who. Also, it gives me an excuse to plug The Spawnometer, an indexing podcast of Todd McFarlane’s demonic anti-hero and the Image series that surrounded him, available from Rolled Spine Podcasts™. I definitely would have preferred Larry Stroman’s Blue Beetle, for instance.

  19. Slim pickings when you listen and comment so late, but I don’t think anyone mentioned the Illuminati.

    Vandal Savage’s connection to that august secret society (OH-gust, not AW-guest, Shagg) is from the Time Masters mini-series, a storyline echoed in the first season of Legends of Tomorrow.

    The Khunds have an obvious connection to Invasion, but it looks to me like they’re the ones Rocket Red is fighting on his main image. So is this an untold Invasion moment?

  20. Rob and Shag wondered a bit about the history of that JSA limited series that Mike Parobeck drew a couple issues of shortly after this book came out. He almost certainly was working on it around this time, as that book existed solely to give the lined up Impact Comics artists something to do before the line launched. The editorial in the early issues pretty much explained it completely.

    Rick Burchett would go on to draw Black Hood, Grant Miehm plotted and drew the Shield, Mike drew the Fly and Tom Artis drew the Web. Cover artist Tom Lyle would plot & draw the Comet. By the time all 8 issues were out of the book, the initial five Impact books were already launched, so it’s likely they were working on the JSA book months ahead of time.

    Of course, the next year Parobeck would exit the (sadly) sinking ship of Impact to draw the first ever JSA ongoing, which disappeared far too early. It’s still my favorite take on the characters.

    1. I’m really late to commenting on this episode, so I’m glad that you pointed out the connection between the 1991 Justice Society miniseries and the launch of the !mpact line. I would only have been buying comics for a few months when this miniseries started, so would have been my first exposure to the JSA. Parobeck drew a beautiful Alan Scott adventure, from memory. (The mini features Black Canary very prominently – has Ryan covered it on ‘Flowers & Fishnets’?)

  21. Great to see mah boyz, Ted and Red! But a couple of points about Dmitri’s entry. He’s 6 foot 7? Really? I think he hit a growth spurt when Sears drew him for JLE, because in previous appearances out of his armor, he was shown shorter than J’onn, and definitely shorter than Lobo in JLI #18.

    Yes, when Kilowog helped create the original Rocket Red, it was part genetic engineering, part power suit. And after the RR Brigade was created, they never demonstrated their biological abilities ever again. Except for getting taller. I bet Giffen never paid that much attention to Englehart’s original stories. Amazing that they included it in Who’s Who, but no other writer has bothered with it either.

    That is a delightful drawing of Plastic Man. I do see Max’s point about the Foglio-Barta mini-series. I enjoyed it a lot, but likely because it’s a “Phil Foglio” story, and not really a “Plastic Man” story. I do hope The Terrifics returns him to glory for Max.

    John K Snyder III drew maybe a year or more of Suicide Squad. The big stories were the Janus Directive crossover with the other covert ops DC titles, and the mission to Apokolips. I’m curious how Rob would react to some New Gods entries drawn by JKS.

    Shagg says, “How do you like that, Tim?” One, I hope Rob doesn’t mind you using JLI gags on Who’s Who. Two, only one thing to say. BWAH-HAH-HAH!!!!

    Wonder-full episode, gentlemen. (Because of the Wonder Woman family of entries? See, there’s… never mind.)

  22. Barter? Good grief, who names a character with a verb? Based on Anj’s description, he seems pretty easy to defeat. “Here, Barter, have a cookie. I’m giving it to you. For free! Have another! Here’s a dollar. Here’s some shoelaces.” He’d HAVE to give you something, right? Bully, the Little Stuffed Bull would have him divested of treasure and full of cookies in half an hour.
    This also had an illustration by Hilary Barta. I wish they could have included Big Barda, too. Because, as Anj and Boston Moss, and I, and all of neighbors would tell you, “Barter,” Barda,” and “Barda,” are pronounced EXACTLY the same!
    Regarding the Phantom Lady discussion. I remember seeing her picture in the library’s copy of “Seduction of the Innocent.” (Also, other examples of “headlight comics,” “injury to the eye motif,” and other stuff I wanted to see! Thanks. Dr. Wertham!) So, I clicked on over to Amazing Mike’s Amazing World, and found that Phantom Lady only appeared in Police Comics! What? Further research showed that once Quality was done with her, her shop (Eisner/Iger?) sold her to Fox Comics. That’s where she had her own title. But is it considered the “same” character? Has anyone done a piece on this? Chuck Coletta, do you know of a monograph on the subject?

  23. Huge fan of the Human Target here in all of his incarnations. Season 1 of the Mark Valley show is, to me, an example of a perfect TV season (granted I’m more than a bit biased).

    I know most fans barely consider Christopher Chance a blip on the comics radar, but the Vertigo series by Peter Milligan is some truly intriguing stuff. The comic examines the impact of impersonating people on a long-term basis, to the point where Chance questions his identity. He’s not sure whether or not his actions are his own or someone else’s. Definitely a recommended read if you like psychology mixed into your action.

  24. • I’ve always thought Barter would’ve been a great counterpart to Madame Xanadu.
    • Curt Swan Superman is my mind’s eye vision of the Silver Age Superman. And I love me some Silver Age Superman. Swan wasn’t Neal Adams or Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (PBHN), his more dynamic successors, but he was a solid workhorse for years doing his duty by expanding the Superman mythos. He’s the Norman Rockwell of DC Comics.
    • Ultra the Multi-Alien has been a favorite for years. One day I’ll figure out how to make a custom Mego of Ace Arn. I think I’ve always liked him and similar split/composite heroes/villains. Composite Superman, Metamorpho, Super Skrull, Super Adaptoid, even Two-Face. Can’t get enough of these guys. And thinking about it for me it all goes back to the Dhurlu, the villain of the JLA story in #130. It was reprinted in the Tempo Justice League paperback in the 70s. I recall drawing a similar Justice League composite character in Ms. Millie’s 8th grade art class for one of our projects. (And yes, it was Ms. because 1980). She loved it! Wish I still had it.

  25. I have to admit…I did believe Shagg when he said you were guests at Baltimore Comic Con. Given the success of your network and you two being the founders, it actually seemed perfectly plausible to me! I don’t recall exactly how you described it or whether you spoke of being an invited guest or just being on a panel, but however you said it, I bought it. I mean, I know you meant it as a throwaway joke now, but you have achieved a lot, had several comic and film creators on, so I don’t see why it couldn’t happen.

  26. I’m late on commenting, but it would be remiss of me not to record my totally irrational love of Ultra the Multi-Alien – both the character and this Who’s Who entry. (I’m so fond of Ultra, in fact, I commissioned some art of him to be my Twitter avatar!)

    Ultra is such a weird amalgam of beings that his creation could only be fully realised in the unique style of sci-fi comics.
    Although he’s adopted all the powers of the constituent alien races (super strength, flight, magnetic and lightning powers), making him a relatively potent hero, his frightful hybrid appearance and tragic backstory give him an air of pathos – we just feel sorry for the poor guy.

    I know Jeff Lemire did a take on Ultra for a Vertigo anthology book “Strange Adventures” in 2011 which captured the heartbreak of the character. In fact, I think Ultra would make for a interesting and very different Vertigo book, exploring how the character deals with the grief of losing his loved ones, transformed from a human into this ugly fusion of alien beings, and coping with their arguing voices in his head all the time.

    I’ve no idea why Ultra holds such appeal for me, but I’m always ludicrously happy whenever he makes an appearance!

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