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Villain of the Week: Gentleman Ghost

Gentleman Ghost made his debut in the year 1947, during which he was featured in Flash Comics #88.  Surprisingly, despite most DC Comics characters having multiple origins and aliases, Gentleman Ghost has retained the same origin story from day one.  The villain was created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert, who had already made their name in the comic industry.  Now, let’s take a look at Gentleman Ghost’s origin story.

Jim Craddock, a highway robber, terrorized 19th century England under the alias “Gentleman Jim”.  While he continued to live this lifestyle, he was haunted by other highwaymen who had been killed after being caught and charged.  Eventually, he encounters gunslingers Nighthawk and Cinnamon, who were later reincarnated as Hawkman and Hawkgirl.  Nighthawk wrongfully accused Craddock of harming Cinnamon and killed him in an act of vengeance.  When Craddock returned as a ghost, he learned from a gypsy that he must wander the earth until his killer dies; unfortunately for him, his killers’ souls are immortal, thus allowing them to be reincarnated time and time again. Due to this fact, Gentleman Ghost became Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s sworn enemies and still appears in many of their comics today.   However, as of the New 52, Gentleman Ghost joined the Injustice Society of America and became one of Stargirl’s main foes.

I personally hope he makes an appearance in the new Stargirl TV show.

 

Gentleman Ghost’s Stats:

Gentleman Ghost (Character) - Comic Vine

 

Real Name: James “Jim” Craddock

Occupation: Criminal

Base: N/A

Foes: Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Stargirl, JSA

 

Stargirl TV Show Review

On May 11th, DC Universe’s original TV show, Stargirl, premiered on the platform, as well as the CW.  The show was officially announced around November, but there had been rumors about for years prior (its release was inferred to be postponed due to its switch to becoming a DC Universe original).  After the initial release, many viewers have stated that it looks more promising than other DC shows, such as DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which had mostly negative feedback.  In this post, I’ll be going through some comparisons between the TV show and Stargirl’s actual origins, along with some highlights of the show in general.

 

Stargirl’s Comic Origin

Like most other DC characters, Stargirl has multiple versions and adaptations, but I’ll be explaining the most commonly referred to one, A.K.A that of Courtney Whitmore.  This was the first version of Stargirl to ever appear; she made her debut in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0 (July 1999).  The character was created by Lee Moder and Goff Johns, who based the character’s appearance and name on his sister (also named Whitney), died in a plane crash three years prior.  The Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. comic series follows a teenage Whitney who discovers the costume of the iconic Star-Spangled Kid in her new home, which she moved into with her mother and step-dad, who admitted to once working with the Justice Society of America.  Courtney takes the costume and goes out wearing it in spite of her step-dad, who she resents for moving them across the country, away from her hometown.  Her step-dad then builds the robot sidekick suit S.T.R.I.P.E., in order to assist in her newfound crime-fighting duties.  Shortly after, Courtney finds what’s known as the Cosmic Staff, which belonged to her father, the original Star Spangled Kid, but later known as Starman.  When Courtney finds out that Starman was her dad, she dawns the name Stargirl, in his honor.

Surprisingly enough, the Stargirl TV show follows this plot line almost exactly, so far, while maintaining the necessary creative freedoms that all adaptations need. In fact, the first two episodes have already covered most of this origin, leaving lots of room for introducing some of Stargirl’s foes.  Multiple members of the Injustice Society of America have already appeared, such as Brainwave, Wizard, and Icicle.  I personally liked the intro to the pilot episode, which included cameos from multiple JSA members, such as Wildcat, Hourman and Dr. Mid-Night.

Overall, personally, I already like the show, even though only two episodes have premiered.  Others seem to agree, as well.  Since its release, the show has received mostly positive reviews, and many fans have high hopes for what’s to come.

“Hero” of the Week: Swamp Thing

First appearing in Alex Olsen: House of Secrets #92 (July 1971), which was originally a horror one-shot, Swamp Thing has since gone down as one of the most unique characters that DC Comics has ever published, as he is not a necessarily a hero or villain, rather a “protector of nature,” as he calls himself.  This helping when he became involved with Justice League Dark, who’s members are also in between good and evil. The idea for the character came from the famed comic creator responsible for Marvel’s Wolverine, Len Wein.  Wein stated that he came up with the idea on the subway and that he kept referring to it as, “The swamp thing that I’m working on,” ultimately making its name just that.

As for Swamp Thing’s backstory, as with most comic characters, has had multiple versions, but the most notable being that of Alex Olsen, since that was the original.  In this version, Alex Olsen, a young scientist living in early 20th century Louisiana, was killed by his lab assistant who was jealous of the man in many ways.  He set up a chemical explosion that would trigger when Olsen used his lab, which ultimately killed him.  The assistant then dumped his body into a nearby swamp, oblivious that the combination of the chemicals Olsen had been doused with and the swamp’s organic material caused him to rise back up from the dead as a humanoid glop of vegetation and gunk.  Olsen then exacted revenge on his assistant, but was forced to live the rest of his life as Swamp Thing, who many assumed to be a monster due to his appearance and blunt brutality.  Eventually, Swamp Thing becomes the leader of an ancient organization of Plant Elementals (a fictitious species of humanoid plant creatures that existed long before humans) called the “Parliament of Trees”.  After this event, Swamp Thing’s main goal was to protect all of nature and the environment, stopping anyone who tries to cause it harm, good or bad.  Thus making him a steady balance between hero and villain.  Swamp Thing now also has a live-action TV show directed by James Wan (The Conjuring and Saw), which is on DC’s streaming service: DC Universe.

Swamp Thing’s Stats:

Pin on comic fantasy art

Real Name: Alex Olsen (First Version)

Occupation: “Protector of Nature”, member of the Parliament of Trees

Base: Louisiana, any swamp

Foes: The Floronic Man, anyone who causes harm to nature

 

Birds of Prey Movie Review

Earlier this week, I watched the DCEU’s most recent movie, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.  The film, directed by Kathy Yan, hit theaters on February 7 and has had mixed reviews.  Surprisingly, some fans of the many Birds of Prey comics were actually pleased with the movie, while others felt as if it was far from their expectation of a good comic book film.

In my opinion, it was an entertaining movie with hints of comedy and awesome fight scenes, but I do feel as if the plot as a whole was focused too much on Harley Quinn, considering that the “Birds of Prey” weren’t actually working together until the last two minutes of the film.  In fact, that’s one of my only issues with it.  It wasn’t actually a Birds of Prey movie, it was a Harley Quinn movie.  I might have enjoyed this movie even more if instead of promising the Birds of Prey, they just completely labeled it a Harley Quinn film.   However, I would have rather the movie been a Birds of Prey movie, with the members as the main characters.  To me, the film would have been even better if they had switched up the dynamic of Black Canary, Huntress and Renee Montoya (later on The Question) and Harley, so that they were the main characters and Harley Quinn was just a side character.

Another thing I noticed throughout the film, was that the main antagonist, Roman Sionis (A.K.A. Black Mask), was much different in the movie than in comics.  For example, in the film, Sionis acts more like a snobby rich kid, as opposed to a world renowned super villain, as he is in comics.  In addition, in the film, Victor Zsasz and Sionis work together in their evil schemes and also appear to be friends, when neither have ever even interacted in any other DC story.  In my opinion, if Zsasz is going to be in a movie, he should be the main antagonist as opposed to somebody’s henchman or employee, since he is actually more violent and creepy than many DC villains, despite not having any powers or special abilities.  Another character who had no connection with Sionis in the past, who did in the movie is Black Canary.  Black Canary wasn’t always a hero, but she never worked for or with Black Mask.  However, I understand that these changes were a creative decision by the creators of the film.

Despite me wishing that the movie was more focused of the Birds of Prey and that some things were more comic accurate, I actually really enjoyed the movie!  I think it has been one of the better movies that the DCEU has put out in the recent years.

Hero of the Week: Zatanna

Zatanna Zatara, first appearing in Hawkman #4 (November 1964), is known in the DC Universe as both a stage illusionist/magician, as well as a sorceress.  Daughter of Giovanni Zatara, another magician, Zatanna is of the fictitious “Homo Magi” species, along with all of her relatives.  Zatanna is most commonly associated with Justice League Dark, a team of heroes and vigilantes alike, all of whom possess magical or mystical powers, and had a brief relationship with John Constantine, a fellow member of Justice League Dark.

Some of Zatanna’s abilities include:

  • Flight
  • Telepathy
  • Chronokinesis
  • Telekinesis
  • Teleportation
  • Spell casting and incantations

 

Zatanna’s Stats:

Image result for zatanna dc

Real name: Zatanna Zatara

Occupation: Magician, Hero

Base: New York

Foes: Enchantress, Klarion the Witch Boy

The Surprising First Appearance of Harley Quinn

As many know, Harley Quinn will go down as a fan favorite of DC’s, having appeared on the big screen before many other iconic characters, even Wonder Woman.  Since she has been in fans’ hearts for so long, people usually assume that she has been in comics for even longer, however, Harley Quinn actually made her debut in “The Joker’s Favor”, an episode of the Emmy winning cartoon, Batman: The Animated Series.  That’s right, she was a cartoon before she was a comic.  In fact, Harley Quinn was originally just supposed to be an add in for that particular episode, but the immense response to her personality made her develop into one of Batman’s main villains in the series.

As previously mentioned, Quinn became a main character later on in the show’s run.  So, originally, she was just created for the show, and that was supposed to be it.  However, a year after her first appearance in the show, she made her comic debut in Batman Adventures #12.

Today, Harley Quinn was a main character in not only the Suicide Squad live action film, but also stars in the upcoming Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.

Birds of Prey Official Movie

Over the past few years of writing on this blog, I’ve posted a few things about a possible Birds of Prey movie, as they are one of my favorite teams within the DC Universe.  As mentioned then, the movie would follow the vigilantes and heroes that form the Birds of Prey, such as Batgirl, Black Canary, and the Huntress.  Well, now, the movie rumors have been confirmed, the first teaser having come out in the early summer and the official trailer being released in this past October.  While news of the movie made me excited at first, after watching the trailer, in my opinion, the movie seems to focus too much on Harley Quinn, and the movie’s title was even changed to: Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn.  In fact, the whole movie seems to be about Harley Quinn’s newfound independence, which follows the Suicide Squad movie’s story line, as opposed to the comics.  Personally, I feel that despite Harley Quinn being a good character in the DC Universe, she gets almost too much recognition, and even seems to be made to outshine the Birds of Prey in the Birds of Prey movie.

On a different note, the other characters from the movies seem to match up to their comic counterparts from what I’ve seen so far (which ins’t much).  Other characters confirmed for the movie are the following:

  • Black Canary
  • Huntress
  • Renee Montoya (The Question)
  • Cassandra Cain
  • Black Mask
  • Victor Zsasz

Below is the official trailer

Black Hand and Bill Finger

Many fans of DC Comics will recognize the name Black Hand, even if it belongs to one of Green Lantern’s lesser known foes.  For those who do, know that Black Hand will go down as one of Green Lantern’s first and most powerful villains, but even die hard fans of the super villain might not know that his character was based off of DC’s most influential comic authors, Bill Finger.

First appearing in Green Lantern (vol. 2) #29 (June 1964), William Hand is a genius inventor, who later uses his smarts to become a criminal that no one seems to be able to catch.  He obtains the name “Black Hand” since he was always called the “black sheep of the Hand family”, which is partially what drove him to leave his normal life behind.  After his years as a mastermind, he decided that he needed more power.  He needed to amp up his crime sprees; he believed that he could do more with it.  So, he created a device that would change anything for him.  This device could absorb the same amount of energy that a Green Lantern ring harnesses, but he could absorb it from anything.  Thus creating a new era of super powered crime, and ultimately landing himself on the top of Hal Jordan’s rogue list, along with infamous characters such as Sinestro and Parallax.

Bill Finger is now known as one of DC’s most famous comic creators, but that is an extremely new development.  This is due to the sad, yet true fact that despite his assistance in the creation of Batman, along with many other characters, he didn’t actually get much credit until the 2000s.  Although he was inducted into Jack Kirby and William Eisner’s Hall of Fames in the 90s, his name wasn’t featured on his own works until 2015, almost forty-five years after his death.  While the general public not knowing of his influence of comics today, his co-workers did because they saw it first hand.  So, that’s why two of them, John Broome and Gil Kane, created Black Hand.

Now, Black Hand’s “origin story” is pretty average considering how many super villains there are in comic books, and one might wonder how this ties into an actual comic author; the same author who created Green Lantern.   Well, Black Hand was actually created to honor Bill Finger by representing him in super villain form. The relation between the two is solely based on irony.  For example, Black Hand’s real name is William Hand, which is a play on the name Bill Finger, since Bill can be short for William and there is a finger on a hand.  The next similarity is their personality in general.  While Bill Finger was obviously not a villain, he does have the same exact traits that Black Hand does.  An example of this would be the fact that Black Hand carries around a “gimmick book” in which he writes his ideas for new crimes, while Bill Finger used to carry around the same, only his was filled with comic ideas.

What’s Up with the Harley Quinn TV Show?

At the 2019 San Diego Comic Con, the official trailer of DC Universe’s Harley Quinn cartoon was released.  Many fans were excited, since Harley Quinn, despite controversy, is a fan favorite.  Since the trailer’s release, some people are confused on what version and plot of Harley the show will follow, considering that there are very many.  In this post, we’ll be looking closer at the show’s plot, production, and purpose.

To start, don’t let the cartoon aspect fool you.  This is nothing like DC Universe’s other animated shows, like Young Justice.  The cartoon is estimated to be TV-MA, due to it’s language and violent themes,  but for Harley Quinn, what else would you expect?  Well, for some, not that.  Perhaps they wanted a funny show that families can watch together, but if you want accuracy, you would have to portray Harley’s crazy nature, and “sit-com” doesn’t really fit that.

Next,  the voice actress for Harley Quinn, Kaley Cuoco, said that the tv show focuses on the female empowering side of Harley, not her desperate, “Mr. J please love me” side, since the character has, in fact, changed a lot over the years; changed for the better.  Cuoco also mentioned that there will be many other notable female characters in the show, such as Poison Ivy and Catwoman, A.K.A Harley Quinn’s best friends.  Due to the fact that the trio is back together in this cartoon, many people theorize that the show will be like the “Gotham City Sirens” movie that we never got.

Overall, the show will be an interesting twist on Harley Quinn and the use of animation withing the realm of DC Comics.

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DC Comics Ages and Eras

For many, DC Comics has always just been the comic company that rivals Marvel and that has ownership over Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.  Some fans argue that DC is much more than that, due to its plethora of unique characters, but what many don’t know, fans and non-fans alike, is that DC publishes their comics in ages, or eras.  In all, there are five ages:

  • Golden Age
  • Silver Age
  • Bronze Age
  • Dark Age
  • Modern Age

In this post I will be going over each age and a little bit of the characteristics of each one, in chronological order.

Golden Age 1938-1955: 

The Golden Age, 1938-1955, was known for it being the start of Action Comics (1938), the first issue that contained everyone’s favorite Kryptonian, Superman.  The following year, the first issue of Detective Comics debuted, integrating in the caped crusader, Batman.  During theses early two years, villains of Batman and Superman developed, but it wasn’t until the 1940’s when the series All-Star Comics arrived, that new heroes were introduced.  In All-Star Comics #3, the Justice League of America (JLA) was introduced, creating soft spots in fans’ hearts for new characters like Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman.  In #8 of this series, the first female superhero, and one of the most iconic female superheroes today, was introduced.  We know her as Wonder Woman.

Image result for dc golden age

 

Silver Age (1956-1969):

The Silver age lasted from 1956 to 1969  and is iconic for showing the JLA’s characters’ backstories.  For example, in Showcase #4 (1956) the Flash’s alternate identity, Barry Allen, was introduced.  This is historic because most comics just featured adventures of superheroes, not their everyday lives, but DC found a way to show both.  Another monumental thing about the Silver Age is that it developed DC’s multiverse.  This was accomplished by having a crossover issue where Silver Age Flash traveled to an alternate universe and accidentally met his Golden Age counterpart.  Today, DC’s multiverse is one of the most interesting factors about the company, due to it being the first of its kind.  Even rivaling comic companies, such as Marvel Comics, haven’t capitalized on its multiverse as much as DC Comics has.  Another early comic in which the multiverse came into play was Justice League of America #21 (1961), when The JLA meets the Justice Society of America (JSA), later becoming a traditional yearly crossover.  The Silver Age also gave us Batgirl (A.K.A Barbara Gordon), who originally starred as an independent hero, but later joined forces with Batman.

Image result for dc silver age

 

Bronze Age (1970-1983):

DC Comics is known for being significantly dark and gritty, but as you can see, in earlier ages, it wasn’t always like this, but the Bronze Age was the start.  This is because of the famous issue, “The Secret of the Waiting Graves”, where we learn darker things about Batman’s past and origin.  Since the Bronze age was 1970 to 1983, there were bound to be some political views and preferences hidden throughout the comics.  This had been featured in comics before, from characters fighting Nazi’s to Communists, but during the Bronze Age, the “social commentary” had a bit more to do with America and its decisions and problems.  For instance, in Green Lantern #76 (1970), more modern issues were brought into play, such as featuring Green Arrow’s apprentice/sidekick, Roy Harper, A.K.A Speedy (Later Red Arrow and then Arsenal), being hooked on drugs.  In 1971, The New Gods were introduced through New Gods #1, in an action packed, intergalactic war, and in DC Comics Presents #26 (1980) the Teen Titans were introduced.

Image result for green lantern #76

 

Dark Age (1984-1998):

As mentioned earlier, DC is pretty violent, dark, and gritty.  This is really shown in the Dark age (1984-1998), which showed Batman going through some extremely rough and troubled times.  The Dark Age featured notoriously depressing comics such as Batman: The Dark Knight, Batman: A Death in the Family, and Batman: The Killing Joke.  These were infamous for the controversial death of Jason Todd (The second Robin) (A Death in the Family), and the disabling of Barbara Gordon (The Killing Joke), both atrocities having been committed by the Joker.  The Dark Age also set the stage for the Modern age, by debuting, into comics, everyone’s favorite murderous jester, Harley Quinn, who was previously just a minor antagonist from the Emmy-winning cartoon Batman: The Animated Series.  Other characters that were introduced were the Watchmen, Darkseid, and Doomsday, who actually killed Superman in Superman Vol 2. #75 (1993).  Another iconic event from the Dark Age was Zero Hour (1994), which was a series featuring an evil, crazed Hal Jordan (Green Lantern).

Image result for batman: a death in the family

 

Modern Age (1999-present):

The Modern age (1999-present) is what we currently read when we obtain new issues of DC’s comics.  Some crucial things that have happened so far in the Modern Age are the New 52 (the 2011 revamp of all the DC heroes) and DC Rebirth, which have set the stage for the newest version of DC.  There have also been some very important series such as Blackest Night (2009), in which DCU (DC Universe) characters, heroes and villains alike, were recruited to be Black Lanterns, due to A.I.s created by the infamous intergalactic villain, Nekron.  Lanterns from across the whole emotional spectrum were forced to work together to form a resistance against the Black Lantern Corps.  Shortly after Nekron was defeated, the partner series, “Brightest Day”, ensued , causing the “Rebirth” of many characters, such as Swamp Thing.  This said “Rebirth” was the baseline for the DC: Rebirth comics, in which most characters had their own series.

Image result for dc rebirth

 

I hope this helped those who were confused on the matter of the different “ages” because, long story short, each age is just a time period which has a different theme or aesthetic from the others.

 

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