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Archive for April 26, 2014

Who is the dreaded Carpenter?

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Do you know Jenna Duffy, otherwise known as the Carpenter?  You shouldn’t.  She’s only appeared in seven issues, spread out among different Batman series.  When I say she’s a minor character, that’s a tremendous understatement.  Duffy will never appear in any Batman trivia or trading cards.  But she’s a delightful supervillain, and one that’ll enrich  your long, fulfilling life.

Yup, she’s actually a carpenter.  As legitimate as Jesus.  Originally a pickpocket and thief from Keystone City (where the Flash lives), she moved to Gotham in hopes of a better life and a bigger score.  That and her expertise with power tools.  Her first appearance was in Detective Comics #841, where she made this brave stand against the Dark Knight:

Don’t worry, because her reign of terror isn’t over.  In Detective Comics #847 just a mere six issues later, she’s engaged in mortal combat with Robin (Damian Wayne, the pre-pubescent…

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Red Robin strikes again

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Do you ever wonder how Batman has lived as long as he has?  The man has fought in huge battles, challenging foes far stronger and faster than he, and yet he comes out victorious every time.  He has a bunch of gadgets on his belt, but realistically, how could he survive all those fights?  Besides writers’ whims and incredible luck (also a fictional character), it comes down to Batman’s training.  We’re going to look at an example of that through the eyes of Tim Drake, the third Robin.

Batman educated a lot of Robins.  Dick Grayson grew up as an acrobat in the circus, possessing a natural athleticism and talent for combat.  Jason Todd spent most his life on the streets, learning to survive in an unwelcome and hostile environment.  Damian Wayne served his entire childhood training with the League of Assassins.  But what about Drake?  He grew up in…

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Harley Quinn visits the folks

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In the past 25 years, you’d be hard-pressed to find a brand new comic book character more popular than Harley Quinn (well, maybe Deadpool).  She first premiered in the Batman: The Animated Series in the 1992 episode “Joker’s Favor,” written by the wonderful Paul Dini.  A year later, she got her initial comic book appearance and she was officially a part of the Batman universe.  A lovely success story for the Joker’s girlfriend.

Real fast: Dr. Harleen Quinzel, a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum requests to interview the Joker.  She falls in love, becomes his second-in-command, and they share an abusive, roller-coaster relationship. But unlike so many origin stories, hers isn’t tragic, which means she gets to go do cool things such as visit parents and have family dinners.  Like in Gotham City Sirens #7, also written by Paul Dini. She’s his creation, after all.

Oh yeah, her secret identity…

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Poison Ivy’s poisonous orphans

Tragic villains, always interesting.

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As hard as it is to complain about Batman’s rogue gallery (which may be the finest in comics), most of his baddies don’t have any superpowers.  They’re mobsters, psychopaths, or clowns, but they aren’t running around flying or throwing cars.  Not Poison Ivy.  She has superpowers out the wazoo.

Dr. Pamela Isley began a promising career as a botanist until her crazy professor Dr. Jason Woodrue injected her with experimental plant toxins that made her poisonous to the touch and allowed her to control greenery.  Thus began her criminal career as an eco-terrorist.  And not the sort of terrorist with beards and rocket launchers.  Here’s a quick scene from Gotham City Sirens #26:

Yeah, now that’s a supervillain.  Which makes it even more impressive when Batman takes her down with kicks and batarangs.

Today, we’re going to follow the story that took place in Batman: Gotham Knights #61-65

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Fighting crime with Manhunter

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If you disregard Gotham City, most cities in the DC universe have one, maybe two superheroes each. Superman has Metropolis.  Green Arrow has Star City.  Flash has Keystone City.  Hawkman and Hawkgirl have St. Roch.  You get the idea.  But you know where superheroes aren’t showing their faces?  Real cities.  Like Los Angeles.  About time they get their own vigilante.

The Manhunter superhero title goes back to the 1940s.  A half dozen men donned the uniform and an entire species of Manhunter robots run amok in space.  Luckily, in 2004, Kate Spencer — the best federal prosecuter in Los Angeles, of course — took a shot at the mantle.  I’m so glad she did.  Marc Andreyko, the writer for the Manhunter series, made Spencer into someone both flawed and beloved. She’s wildly insecure, yet horribly overconfident.  Spencer smokes and can barely muster being sub-par mother to her six year-old, though…

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Robin & Supergirl take on Arkham Asylum

Batman’s enemies are those who make you stay up late at night in fear. Superman’s are more world-breakers. Injustice proved that you shouldn’t mix the two.

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Gotham City supervillains have no idea how good they have it.  I hate to admit it, but Batman doesn’t really hold a candle to Superman.  Sure, you could give Batman a few days to figure out a way to inject nanite kryptonite into the croutons Clark Kent puts in his soup, but intelligence and tactics can’t always beat god-like strength and speed.  Today, Batman’s rogue gallery learns the hard way about how lucky they are to have Batman patrol their city instead of the more brightly clad alternative.

In Superman/Batman #62, written by Michael Green & Mike Johnson drawn by Rafael Albuquerque, the two title characters have to go take care of some Justice League nonsense — world-destroying threats in the DC universe seem to occur far more often than in real life.  Robin and Supergirl get tasked with keeping Gotham safe for the night.

The difference between Gotham…

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Hulk-ing around

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The article title is misleading.  No Hulk talk here, instead we’re going to follow around his alter-ego Bruce Banner.

With the Hulk becoming intelligent in the past few years, what’s the point of Banner except as a crutch?  Sure, Banner may be just a spindly scientist, but it’s important to remember that he’s also a genius.  And I mean genius.  As in officially the fourth smartest person in the world.  Like Reed Richards and Tony Stark smart.

After World War Hulk, Bammer runs around with his hippie Hulk son that he fathered on the gladiator planet.  Because the Red Hulk absorbs all of normal Hulk’s radiation, Banner can’t turn into the Hulk. Yeah, comics.  Norman Osborn, in charge of a SHIELD-esque organization, wants to kill Banner. Who needs the Hulk anymore?  Cue Dark Reign – The List: Hulk, written by Greg Pak.

Meet Victoria Hand.  Despite her unprofessional…

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Batman and Catwoman fight crime, fall in love

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Gotham City’s a busy place.  Batman has little room in his schedule for stuff like a social life or happiness.  Though despite his neverending, soul crushing war on crime, he gets lonely, and not just for the platonic company of flexible teenage boys.  But who’s he supposed to date?  He would have to constantly lie, cancel dates, and always worry about her safety.  Well, what about a woman who can fit perfectly into his night time hobby?  A woman who can protect herself?

Catwoman?  Why, she’s purr-fect!  Yes, I accept PayPal.

We should talk about her for a quick paragraph.  Catwoman, real name Selina Kyle, had her origin reshaped by Frank Miller (he wrote Sin City and 300) as a prostitute with a heart of gold.  She sees Batman beat up some bad guys and realizes she should learn to fight to protect the other hussies. And it wouldn’t…

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She-Hulk loves Juggernaut

Ah, alternate universe versions….what problems don’t they cause and solutions they present?

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She doesn’t.  I’m lying.  But in 2004, hidden deep in Uncanny X-Men #435, this happened:

And this single panel has sparked years of controversy, lots of retcons, and enormous amounts of jokes.  I’ll explain in a bit.

Jennifer Walters, also known as She-Hulk, happens to be Bruce Banner’s (the Hulk) cousin.  During a mafia-related attack, Walters gets shot and the only compatible blood donor is her big, green cousin. Also, it allowed her to turn into an angry Hulk and thus her adventures began.

Cain Marko, the stepbrother of Professor X, finds a secret temple of the mystical Cyttorak, who gives Marko his Juggernaut powers.  He was a lackey of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil, and not really much of a finely-tuned mind.  I’m saying he’s dumb.  With his supervillain history, his lack of charm, and his absence of respect in the Marvel universe, you can imagine that readers weren’t…

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Thing loves Alicia

All’s fair in love and war…except murder, but Thing played it smart.

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Unlike my previous article title with such a bold claim, this time I mean it.  And vice versa.  The two are fated to be together, because for all the self-loathing and frustration that comes along with Ben Grimm’s orange rock exterior, Alicia has forever been the permanent reminder that despite his ugly and bulky appearance, someone will always love him.  Though when we pick up in our story, they’ve broken up.  It happens, relationships are tricky.

Alicia Masters, a blind, gifted sculptress, has been a recurring character in the Fantastic Four comics since their 8th issue in 1962.  And she’s not just thrown in as a love interest for the Thing.  Nope, this civilian saved the entire world.  Y’see, Silver Surfer, the herald who travels to planets on behalf of Galactus (devourer of worlds), crashed into her apartment after a fight with the Fantastic Four.  There, Alicia convinced him of all…

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Spider-Man & Black Cat’s web-fling

Yeah, Doc Ock pretty much torpedoed both of those relationships…

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That’s a dumb joke.  I apologize.  But I’ll never apologize for the crazy amount of Spider-Man articles. I adore him and I’m doing another one tomorrow.

So, if you don’t know about Black Cat (real name Felicia Hardy), she’s the Marvel equivalent of Catwoman.  Not just in name, but also in the dark uniform, the shameless sexuality, and the whole thief thing.  Only instead of hanging out with the quiet, confident, and single Batman, Black Cat swings around with the loud, insecure, and very much in a committed relationship Spider-Man.  Well, until recently, when the demon Mephisto dissolved Spider-Man’s marriage.  Game on.

We’re going to cover a few scenes from Amazing Spider-Man #606-630, written by Joe Kelly, Fred Van Lente, and Zeb Wells and drawn by Mike McKone, JM Ken Niimura, Michael Lark, Joe Quinones, and Chris Bachalo.

Spider-Man, after a truckload of lady problems thrown on him at…

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Luke Cage & Jessica Jones get married

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Our theme this week seems to be super sad endings, so let’s close out today with something happy.

Luke Cage premiered in 1972, as a street tough youth who was jailed for a crime he didn’t commit.  I know, fictional police and lawyers are really awful at their jobs.  There, he was subjected to a science experiment that gave him super strength and unbreakable skin.  So like knives or bullets can’t penetrate his body.  Realizing he needs to make some money, he starts Heroes for Hire, a superhero team that will help you out as long as you can afford them.  Also, his first costume looked like this:

Tiara, silk shirt open to his navel, and a motorcycle chain as a belt.  Let’s not beat around the bush – he started out as a blaxsploitation superhero.  I’d like to show you his earliest comics, but they border on racist.  Over…

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Raising a superfamily with the Cages

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While we’re on the subject of Norman Osborn (the Green Goblin) from yesterday’s article, we might as well read about some more of his misdeeds.  Though, the Cages take center stage today.

I’d like to get into the backstory and history of Luke Cage, his wife Jessica Jones, and their daughter Danielle — mainly to increase word count — but I’ve already covered it in a previous article.  Instead we can jump straight into the meat of two select Cage family stories.

Our first one takes place in Pulse #5, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Mark Bagley and Scott Hanna.  Jessica Jones finds out she’s pregnant at the end of her solo series Alias, which is sort of the prequel to Pulse.  Unfortunately, being a semi-retired superhero surrounded all day by other superheroes tends not to be good for a mom-to-be.  You know…

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Taskmaster’s amnesia quest

Damn, that’s sad…

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Do you know about the supervillain Taskmaster?  Well, all those bad guys don’t become awesome overnight.  Y’see, someone has to train them and get them properly punching Spider-Man and the other do-gooders.  That’s where Taskmaster comes in.

He first appeared in The Avengers #196, volume 1, written by David Micheline and George Perez in 1980.  Easily one of the worst costumes in the Marvel universe, but also totally one of the most unique and interesting villains.

All those weapons and tools?  Tony Masters (aka Taskmaster) has the special ability of photographic reflexes.  Once he sees something done, he can imitate it perfectly.  Hence the replica of Captain America’s shield and Hawkeye’s bow and arrows.  Here he is in his first fight against the Avengers:

I love the logical, yet cowardly retreat.  As the decades went by and Norman Osborn took command of the legion of superheroes and villains employed…

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Catwoman loves Batman

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In a complicated sort of way.  Look, I believe that Batman and Catwoman are the closest the two have to soul mates.  Probably somewhat to do with the severe emotional issues both of them possess. But I also personally think the DC reboot was a smart choice and the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship is fantastic, so my opinions are less scholarly and more optimistic.  Though Catwoman #81-82, written by Will Pfeifer and drawn by David Lopez, explains my Batman/Catwoman theory far better than I can.

In her solo series, Catwoman’s (real name Selina Kyle) had some major crazy events go on in her life. Even with the Black Mask stuff excluded, she birthed a child named Helena she gave up for adoption, infiltrated of a violent Amazon tribe, got stuck with Lex Luthor on a crazy prison planet, and finally, her sidekick/best friend Holly Robinson fled Gotham City for good.

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Huntress loves Nightwing

She’s older than him, hot, and lives the same double life of fighting crime. No complaints.

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Did you know there are like twelve Bat people running around Gotham at any one time?  I’m surprised criminals can even play poker without a Bat kid bursting in through the window.  But despite not having a Bat title, Huntress (real name Helena Bertinelli) became one of the most popular  members of the Gotham crimefighters.  A mob boss’ daughter, she shunned the lifestyle after witnessing her family’s murder and became a costume vigilante.  Happens to the best of us.  And you know Nightwing, right?  Dick Grayson, the original Robin?  Then let’s not delay.

Grayson and Bertinelli totally have some romantic chemistry.  We’ll peep into their private lives in the Nightwing & Huntress #1-4 miniseries, written by Zeb Wells and drawn by Greg Land and Bill Sienkiewicz.

Nightwing’s a sort of funny Batman only wearing a super tight Olympic gymnast outfit instead of the cowl and cape.  And when the mafia’s involved…

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Batgirl and the assassin prep school

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If you ever question how Batman patrols all of Gotham City every night, I reassure you that the Bat family is huge.  Criminals might not get sucker punched by the Batman himself, but don’t forget Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Batwoman, Huntress, Red Robin, Catwoman, Manhunter, Man-Bat, Azrael, Etrigan, and more I’m forgetting.  That’s a lot of kung fu in Gotham.  Today though, we’re taking a little look at Stephanie Brown, my favorite Batgirl.

I know it’s fairly blasphemous to like Stephanie over Barbara Gordon (the original Batgirl and Nightwing’s redheaded paramour), but Stephanie’s 2009 series was an absolute delight, written by Brian Q. Miller and drawn by a whole bunch of talented artists.  Unfortunately, in 2011, DC rebooted their entire lineup, and all of a sudden Barbara was back in the Batgirl role.  Stephanie had just disappeared with no explanation given.  Well, until the Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes one-shot came out…

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A love reunion with Batgirl and Red Robin

Well, let’s see where New 52 takes this…

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Teenage superhero romance.  It’s not much different than real life, except with more jump kicks and ninja attacks.  And just like real life, super good-looking kids who are in incredible shape have a fair amount of love interests.  Nightwing’s list of paramours alone would make most sorority girls blush. But today, we’re about Stephanie Brown and Tim Drake, the replacement sidekicks.

I’ve covered Stephanie’s history before in a previous article,  And you should know Tim as the third Robin.  Back in the day when Tim had just hit puberty, the two became a couple:


I mean, a couple in the sense that Tim wouldn’t actually tell her his real name or where he lived or any sort of personal details.  Robin’s fear over Stephanie’s constant danger and his obvious lack of commitment broke the two apart.  That and Stephanie got pregnant with another man’s child.  Then she died.  But…

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Beast loves Agent Brand

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Poor Beast.  He dated a little bit before he mutated into the blue animal he is today, but once he became the world’s smartest yeti, the whole dating scene got a little tougher.  But if the Thing can do it, why not Beast?  Well, there’s a big difference between the two: precedents.


Bestiality’s the difference.  You see, we’ve known for centuries that dating animals is not only gross, but also way against any rules of society.  Orange rock monsters though?  Society doesn’t have any misgivings against that.  Yet.

Don’t feel bad though, because despite the smell and shedding, Beast has quite a few things going for him.  First, he’s easily one of the ten smartest people in the world — Mr. Fantastic will totally call him up occasionally to schmooze science.  That and Beast’s super strength, super agility, and being a founding member of the X-Men.  He can do better…

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The Thing’s fiancée, Pt. 2

Sometimes you have sacrifice happiness to ensure the safety of someone you love…

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When we left off on Friday, the Thing (Ben Grimm) and Deb Green just got engaged.  Happiness ensues, and the two begin to plan the rest of their life together.  A rare happy ending in the plethora of superhero tragedy.


I could end the article right here.  Except for one little problem I brought up last time.  That and about twenty images left.  Remember Deb’s ex-boyfriend Jason?  He was that dude with obnoxiously long hair, and angry that Deb started dating a rock monster, Jason decided to go public with details of her past.  Being a teacher from Brooklyn, her dirt isn’t terribly dirty, but she is a celebrity now.  And you know how we treat celebrities.


He’s lying.  Deb knows it.  Ben knows it.  The world knows it.  But y’see, it’s not his accusations that make this part important — it’s how the Thing reacts to the accusations.  Hint:…

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The Thing’s fiancée, Pt. 1

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When the Fantastic Four had their rocketship bathed in cosmic rays, the Thing lost everything. The others, for the most part, stayed themselves only with super cool new powers. But poor Ben Grimm, now a six foot, five hundred pound rock monster, had a lifetime of self-loathing ahead of him. But don’t feel too bad.  With his appearance and strength, he did become filthy rich, a major celebrity, an Avenger, and has saved the world dozens of times. A worthy trade, I’m sure. And today, he finds love.

I’m going to be showing you scenes from a fifteen comic run. We’ll start at the relationship’s beginning and go all the way to the relationship’s conclusion because I’m way too good to you all.  To save me trouble, I’m unloading all the issues used here:
Fantastic Four #554, written by Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch and drawn by Paul Neary

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What ever happened to Green Lantern and Hawkgirl?

So…they just put Vixen in a refrigerator?

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I remember the Justice League animated show of the mid-2000s fondly, if just because I was far too old to be watching children’s superhero cartoons.  In the series, many young fans had their first interactions with the Green Lantern John Stewart, who besides being an ex-Marine and gifted architect, was a prominent and respectable African-American superhero.  Diversity in comics is more important than you think — the original Justice League consisted of one women, one Martian, and five white dudes.

So when Warner Bros. came out with the TV show in 2001, they figured that John Stewart would be a welcome addition to their starting line up.  Then he and Hawkgirl fell in love.  Normally we’d all cheer and place our hands lovingly over our hearts, but as the series wrapped up, one giant plot twist stayed unsolved.  In Justice League Beyond #7-8, written by Derek Fridolfs & Dustin…

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