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Guide to the Injustice Roster: Explaining Comics to People Who Don’t Read Comics Part 4

April 5th, 2013 by | Tags: , , , , , ,

THE JOKER

Alias: Red Hood, Jack Napier, Joseph Kerr, Oberon Sexton
First Appearance: Batman #1 (1940)
Powers: Genius in both planning and improvisation, master chemist, completely unpredictable, unmatched tolerance for pain
Other Media: Yeah, pretty much.

“Frighteningly sick in the head… yet strangely compelling company.” – Lex Luthor when asked about the Joker

Despite all those above aliases, there’s never been a true name to go with the Joker’s pale face. His origin has always been up in the air and he rather likes it that way. The most famous non-movie take on the Joker’s backstory is the classic 80′s tale Killing Joke, where Joker spent time reminiscing about being a failed stand-up comedian who in one day senselessly lost his wife and unborn child and then got knocked into a vat of chemicals by Batman. Joker later admitted to Batman and the reader that he always remembered the actions that led up to him becoming the Joker differently every time and no longer truly knew who he was. All he could tell was that – much like Batman – he had one bad day and it caused him to snap. The difference was that while Batman had dedicated himself to making sense of the world, Joker dedicated himself to knocking down the whole house of cards and reveling in it.

Joker’s appearance was based on actor Conrad Veidt’s creepy portrayal of Gwynplaine from the 1928 film the Man Who Laughs. In his initial appearances, Joker was just as creepy and violent as he was in the movies. It wasn’t until the Comics Code Authority stepped in that he became more like Cesar Romero in the 60′s Batman TV show. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that one time in the 50′s that Joker dedicated his time and energy to committing crimes based on colossal mistakes. That led to a comic where they mentioned the word “boner” like a hundred times and it STILL makes me laugh like an idiot.

“And I’m worried about the boner he’s readying for YOU!” – Commissioner Gordon to Batman

Remarkably enough, Joker appears to be the one character who was never affected by any of the DC reboots. He always just kept being the Joker and any different depictions fell into the idea that he’s just a versatile nutjob who is as likely to poison a troop of boyscouts as he is to steal a child’s straight A report card and call it a day. Even Batman scribe Grant Morrison explained that his boner crime days were just another step in the psycho’s evolution.

In the 80′s, Joker got under Batman’s skin big time by murdering the second Robin Jason Todd in the story Death in the Family and then crippling Barbara Gordon by shooting her through the spine in Killing Joke. Then ten years later, Joker murdered Commissioner Gordon’s wife and yet the Commissioner has remained the number one voice keeping Batman from going over the line and taking Joker’s life. When Jason Todd came back from the dead, he had a huge falling out with Batman based on his refusal to get revenge over his death.

Jason Todd also took up the mantle of Red Hood. Red Hood was once an identity that various criminals would use so that the authorities couldn’t pin the crimes down on one man. Joker was forced to play that role the night he fell into the chemicals.

Batman’s refusal to resort to murder is one of the reasons why Joker can never truly lose. He’s not afraid of pain or death (usually), so you can’t get the best of him that way. If Batman were to kill him, Joker would consider that a win because Batman would be going against his code and fall down to Joker’s level. And being arrested? Just winds up in Arkham so he can escape again whenever he feels like it. It wouldn’t undo however many dozen people he just killed. The Joker’s unflappable nature makes him annoying at times.

If anything, Joker’s weakness is his devotion to Batman. In a story called Emperor Joker, the Clown Prince of Crime stole the reality-bending powers of Superman’s personal pain-in-the-ass magical imp Mr. Mxyzptlk. This essentially made the Joker God and he remade the world into his own playground that humiliated and tortured various heroes. Most notably, he’d kill Batman every night. Superman pointed out that Joker was doing this because he couldn’t exist in a world without Batman. Joker tried to erase Batman from existence to prove this was a lie, but his obsession was too deep and Batman kept coming back until the whole situation drove Joker to give up his powers and go into a comatose state for a while.

Speaking of comatose, Joker’s had various interesting reactions to existing in a world without Batman. In Dark Knight Returns, he spent the ten years of Batman’s retirement in the asylum, frowning and completely unresponsive. It wasn’t until Batman was spotted by the media again that he immediately snapped back to his normal self and smiled with joy. When Batman was lost in time and thought to be dead, Joker took up his own style of vigilante justice when he murdered a British novelist named Oberon Sexton (GREATEST NAME EVER!) who had just killed his wife and made it look like she died in a gang attack. Joker pretended to be Sexton, wore a mask to cover all of his skin and claimed that he was horribly scarred from the “gang attack”. Then-Robin Damian Wayne wondered if it was really his father back from the dead and the two briefly fought side-by-side. Although Joker’s ruse was discovered, he still aided the new Batman and Robin against the evil Black Glove organization and returned to his old ways once Bruce Wayne returned to the present.

In another story, Joker believed himself to have killed Batman and his mind created a new identity for himself. He started wearing flesh-colored makeup and believed himself to be Joseph Kerr, a gentle man with huge blocks in his memory. He found love and almost found peace until Batman was revealed to still be alive and he returned to madness. Then again, there was nothing normal about this situation to begin with. There was a time when Martian Manhunter tried to prove a point about the redeeming qualities of mankind by showing that deep, deep down inside the nightmarish world that is the Joker’s mind, there still exists Joseph Kerr, the one piece of humanity that won’t be extinguished, even if it is just a small needle in a giant haystack.

In a couple instances, the Joker had been forced into sanity for brief periods of time, once via being dunked in a Lazarus Pit (which tends to make sane people momentarily insane) and two separate times being forced lucid by Martian Manhunter’s mental powers. Each time, he became horrified at his past and even suicidal. I’ve always figured that Joker places himself in a state of perpetual madness for the sake of preventing himself from ever reflecting on the gravity of his actions. Like a man who drinks through his hangover. Even in that Emperor Joker storyline, his endgame was to destroy reality completely because then maybe it could be remade into a world that didn’t create people like him.

Most recently, the Joker had his face removed for some reason that I never understood and maybe I wasn’t meant to. Like, you know the movie Face-Off? Remember when Nicholas Cage was going around with a nasty, bloody face before stealing Travolta’s? Joker had that done to himself and simply vanished for a while. He later returned, stole his face from the Gotham PD’s evidence locker and strapped it onto his head while focusing on killing off Batman’s extended family of crimefighters. The way he saw it, Batman was the King of Gotham and Joker was his loyal court jester. Having a bunch of sidekicks running around was diluting the king’s style, so Joker had to take care of them. Although Joker failed in killing any of them, he did succeed in causing the Bat-family to lose their trust in Bruce, meaning he still won in the end.

Joker doesn’t play well with others, as nobody’s immune to being slaughtered at his whims, but to refuse partnering with him is something that he takes as a personal insult. Sometimes it’s better to just work with him and hope for the best. Lex Luthor gets that, which is why the two are usually able to coexist. Usually.

Personally, I’m crossing my fingers for an Oberon Sexton alternate costume.

KILLER FROST

Alias: Louise Lincoln
First Appearance: Firestorm #3 (1978)
Powers: Wields the power of cold and ice, absorbs energy
Other Media: Appeared in various cartoons, usually in a bit role

I wish I could wax poetic about how Killer Frost is this amazing supervillain that nobody’s ever heard of and mention a six-issue miniseries about her that made me cry manly tears. But I can’t because Killer Frost is just kind of there. She’s a stock villain. She isn’t an eventful threat like Deathstroke, Joker or Luthor, but she fits whenever you need a nice two-dimensional villain to fill in a gap. Especially if you’re using a scene of a villain team getting beat up by whatever set of heroes. You’ll probably find her standing in the background of any villain team group shot, in front of Giganta, to the left of Copperhead, to the right of Killer Moth and looking over the shoulder of Crazy Quilt.

Then why is she in Injustice: Gods Among Us? For one, Netherrealm has all those ice attacks and effects ready to reuse from the last dozen games. DC’s two main ice-slingers are Mr. Freeze and Captain Cold. There are already enough Batman characters as is, so the choices are down to the grizzled Eskimo gangster and the woman in the ice bikini with her buttcheeks hanging out. Considering the female designs in the last Mortal Kombat, naturally male gaze wins out.

Which is fitting, since that’s what happened with her character design in the comics. Originally, Killer Frost had this unique ice princess look where she wore a big dress that looked like something between a wizard robe and a ballroom gown. It had a nice, ironic innocence to it. Then she went generic spandex supervillainess in the 90′s, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

The original Killer Frost was the way-too-on-the-nose Crystal Frost, a brilliant college student who was in love with her professor Martin Stein. Stein turned down her advances and Crystal grew to hold her rejection against all men in general. Years later, after Crystal had become an accomplished scientist, the two met up as part of a project in the arctic. Still, Stein didn’t want to give her any play. Crystal accidentally got locked into some ice-based science thingamajig and it transformed her. She became Killer Frost and became obsessed with taking out Stein. Luckily, Stein had the power to merge with his student Ronnie Raymond to become the element-transforming superhero Firestorm and that kept him alive.

The man-hating Killer Frost was a recurring villain for Firestorm until discovering that her powers were killing her. She needed heat and energy to survive and since her prison cell was created to keep her in an icy environment, her body became sickly and the damage became irreversible. Her scientist protégé Louise Lincoln tried to help find a cure, but Killer Frost ran off and decided to spend her final hours on a rampage. Firestorm tried to save her life by forcing a bunch of energy into her, but it didn’t work and she died.

Louise got pissed and recreated the exact events that turned her dead friend into Killer Frost. Louise took up the mantle and while she didn’t hate men in general, she was still driven by revenge against Firestorm. Revenge villains are a tricky thing sometimes because that’s the only thing keeping them interesting. You take that out and they either move on (Venom) or just lose their flavor by becoming your average bank heist jockey (the Scorpion). Since Firestorm’s series got canceled, Killer Frost became the latter. She was just kind of evil for the sake of being evil because why else would Green Lantern fight her?

She did have a weird role in the beginning of Crisis on Infinite Earths where emotion vampire Psycho-Pirate needed her and Firestorm to work together, so he used his powers to make Killer Frost love Firestorm. Firestorm was understandably unnerved by the whole thing and decided that he’d rather have Killer Frost out for his blood than lovingly hitting on him constantly. Being the 80′s, Firestorm’s reasoning was more “ew, she’s kissing me, gross!” than “manipulating her feelings is a pretty messed up thing to do, dude.”

In the 90′s, DC did an event called Underworld Unleashed where the idea was that Satan was going around, making soul deals to superheroes and villains for whatever they wanted. Oh, wait. I meant to say NERON was going around making soul deals. Because, you see, Marvel and DC have this weird habit of wanting characters to be Satan but not REALLY wanting their characters to be Satan. If they had a character actually be Satan, then the religious folks might get angry or something. So Neron, the guy who took credit for the Garden of Eden incident without being too specific, isn’t the Devil. Spider-Man didn’t sell his marriage to the Devil. He sold it to Mephisto, who is just an evil, all-powerful red demon in a cape who lords over Hell and tortures the souls of the damned… but he came from space! Marvel hero Son of Satan’s dad? Not even that guy is Satan!

It’s a practice of having their cake and eating it too that’s always amused me.

ANYWAY, Killer Frost sold her soul to Neron for more power, which also made her start wearing more beach-friendly attire. If you’re wondering, Joker sold his soul for a box of cigars. Joker rules sometimes.

Killer Frost only really went after Firestorm (a new Firestorm, Jason Rusch) one more time. Other than that, she had mainly teamed up with other villains like Effigy and Mr. Freeze, while joining such teams as the Legion of Doom, the Suicide Squad, the Injustice League and the Secret Society. Shockingly, she was never in the Injustice Gang.

After Flashpoint, they introduced a new Killer Frost in Loren Frontier, a terrorist who got her ice powers after a failed attempt to take out Firestorm. Don’t worry about any of this because post-Flashpoint Firestorm is the worst.

Animation-wise, Killer Frost has appeared on Justice League, Batman: the Brave and the Bold and Young Justice. Other than Young Justice, she’s been constantly voiced by Jennifer Hale, who will be voicing her in Injustice. I always loved her Justice League depiction, where she was just a straight-up serial killer who only joined various villain teams so she could kill whoever she wanted and get away with it.

Plus she looked like Unknown from Tekken. Anyone else ever notice that?

LEX LUTHOR

Alias: Mockingbird
First Appearance: Action Comics #23 (1940)
Powers: Smartest man in the world, has lots and lots of money
Other Media: Lots of stuff, but mainly a commercial for Superman Peanut Butter where he grows a second right hand.

Lex Luthor is the type of villain that exists to show squandered ability. He’d be one of history’s greatest figures if only he could get over himself, but his character flaws drive him away from that. At worst, he’s a selfish megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur. At best, he’s an amoral defender of the human race.

Originally just called Luthor, the red-haired mad scientist antagonized Superman with his seemingly never-ending supply of robots and experiments that continuously failed him. His baldness simply came from an artist error that they decided to go with. Twenty years after the fact, Luthor creator Jerry Siegel came up with an origin that boiled down to Luthor becoming evil because back when they were teenagers in Smallville, Superboy accidentally made Luthor bald. They were best buds until that. Back then, that’s all it took to become suddenly evil.

Luthor played the super-smart criminal for years, though he also had his own side thing going on where he had conquered a planet and turned it into a utopia called Lexor. He accidentally blew it up and blamed Superman for it. Despite being Superman’s most memorable villain, the 80′s were filled with instances of them putting their differences aside to take out a bigger threat. Anecdotal evidence, but it’s like every comic I read from that era had them working together. Even in the awesome Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, which was meant to be the series finale sendoff to Silver Age Superman and his cast prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot, Luthor wasn’t really interested in dogpiling on Superman with the other villains. He was forced into it by alien robot Brainiac, who took over Luthor’s body.

After the Crisis, Luthor’s character was changed dramatically. Instead of being a mad scientist super-criminal, he was simply a super-smart corrupt businessman. He was basically the Kingpin, but it allowed him to constantly fight Superman through his different inventions and experiments while escaping jail time by being all, “What evidence do you have that I had anything to do with that? Get out of my office, alien!” Even though he was corrupt from the get-go, a lot of Luthor’s hatred for Superman came from the inadequacies that came from being around him. Luthor was smart and rich and brought Metropolis out of a recession, but who cares? That dude’s FLYING!

Once he figured out that kryptonite hurt Superman, he wore it on a ring at all times. This was a bad idea because over time it gave him terminal cancer. Whoops! Luthor faked his death with a plane crash, but had his brain put into a younger clone body claiming to be his long-lost son Lex Luthor II. The reveal that Luthor Jr. was really Luthor himself didn’t happen until he snapped at Doomsday’s inert corpse for daring to kill Superman when it was his own destiny. Also, during that time he got as much play out of his long, flowing locks of hair as he possibly could and had a relationship with Supergirl. More bad news for Luthor as the cloning process didn’t really work out so well and his body started to deteriorate. He fixed that when he sold his soul to Neron for his old body, not believing in such ridiculous concepts as Heaven and Hell due to being an atheist.

That in itself shows Luthor’s main weakness. Despite being smarter than anyone else, Luthor’s own ego creates blindspots in his judgment. He understands the “super” in Superman and plans accordingly, but not the “man” part. He’d have figured out that Superman and Clark Kent are the same easily if not for his inability to accept it. As far as he’s concerned, Superman is Superman and that’s all. One, Superman can’t understand human emotion or what it’s like to be a human and all he can do is fake it to convince the sheep of the world. Two, why would anyone want to have a double identity when you’re the strongest being on the planet and can do practically anything? Luthor only sees things his way and any other point of view is irrelevant, which is his downfall.

Throughout the years, there have been a bunch of rebooted versions of Superman’s origin and each time they’d play up Luthor as a childhood acquaintance. The details differ, but the main idea is that Luthor was always an asshole and hated his father more than anything. He disappeared from Smallville after the suspicious death of his father and moved on to begin LexCorp.

Luthor ran for President of the United States and Superman resigned himself to only speaking out against Luthor’s bid as Clark Kent, as having Superman outright tell the public who to vote for would be crossing a line he wasn’t comfortable with. Luthor won the election, putting Superman in a depression. Luthor did a lot of good in his time in politics, but every time there was something really shady and messed up going on behind it. Like allowing aliens to blow up Topeka, Kansas for the sake of leading the war in response. Yeah. The President was behind the DC counterpart to 9/11. I wonder if in that world, they’re called “Truthors”.

Hacky writer Jeph Loeb thought the President Luthor idea was too subtle, so he tossed it out the window in his Superman/Batman arc Public Enemies, where Luthor went crazy and tried to have Superman and Batman killed because. Then he admitted while fighting the two that he had done some dealings with Darkseid one time and since Batman broadcasted the conversation to the world, Luthor was impeached and went underground. Then again, it made sense to kick him out of office sooner than later. Being president is measured in four years and comics hate defining the passing of time, else it might age the characters too much.

Since then, Luthor had bounced back between being legitimate and being an out-an-out supervillain. He had been able to clear his name twice over through the use of blaming everything bad he had done on an imposter (and to be fair, an imposter DID do some bad things in his name) and helping save the world when it was convenient to him.

During the story Blackest Night, all the different Lantern Corps rings split in two to find temporary deputies on Earth. While that led to Yellow Lantern Scarecrow and Violet Lantern Wonder Woman, Luthor was saved from the space zombie horde by becoming Earth’s Orange Lantern. The fact that there was a second Orange Lantern did nothing but infuriate the greedy Larfleeze. The avarice went to Luthor’s head and although he was taken down during the battle, there were lasting effects.

Just prior to Flashpoint, Luthor became the protagonist in Action Comics. In a story called the Black Ring, it explained that Luthor had become obsessed with obtaining the various Lantern rings and gaining ultimate power. This had a big obstacle, as the Black Lantern rings were all destroyed. Luthor’s search had him cross paths with all the major DC villains in one way or another, including Joker, Ra’s al Ghul, Deathstroke, Mr. Mind, Gorilla Grodd, Vandal Savage, Bane, Brainiac and even Darkseid. Luthor gained a form of ultimate power in the end that allowed him to convert the universe to a never-ending sea of complete bliss, but he squandered the power because it prevented him from being allowed to destroy Superman.

Luthor also had a really awesome miniseries a few years back called Lex Luthor: Man of Steel. It told your average Superman story from Luthor’s perspective where he was the hero and Superman was an ominous, red-eyed monster who ruled over Metropolis without anyone realizing it except for Luthor himself. It’s a great look at the character and how he’d walk over the bodies of humanity just to protect it. Interestingly enough, both Man of Steel and Black Ring feature Luthor boning robot women in his spare time. Black Ring’s was just a little bit creepier because the robot was made to look and act like Lois Lane.

Post-Flashpoint, Luthor has more or less been the same. An amoral genius who the government hired to help take care of Superman when he hit the scene. Since then, he’s felt nothing but petty jealousy over his rival.

Being that this is the internet, I can’t not mention the Super Dictionary. The Super Dictionary was a book released in the 70′s that featured DC characters acting out the definitions of many, many words in ridiculous ways. It’s uncut insanity and the most famous definition is the word “forty”, explained through the image of Lex Luthor stealing 40 cakes. It’s said that 40 is as many as 4 10s “and that’s terrible!” People have often wondered what part is terrible: the act of stealing the cakes or how math works?

And you know what? That was placed in continuity! A flashback to Luthor’s time in high school mentioned that he stole 40 cakes from the bake sale to get revenge on the school for hating on his science project. I love comics.

NIGHTWING

Alias: Dick Grayson, Robin, Batman, Renegade
First Appearance: Detective Comics #38 (1940)
Powers: Peak physical conditioning, exceeding especially in acrobatics
Other Media: Usually whatever other media has Batman in it, although he starred in Teen Titans and that didn’t even have Batman in it! Take that, Batman!

Dick Grayson first grew up in a traveling circus, where he and his parents performed acrobatics around the country as the Flying Graysons. One night when performing in Gotham, a mobster named Tony Zucco sabotaged the trapeze ropes due to his inability to extort protection money. Not only did Dick watch his parents fall to their deaths, but so did Bruce Wayne, who was in the audience. Bruce adopted Dick as his ward and investigated the case. Dick insisted on helping out, inspiring Bruce to train him as his partner. And so, Robin the Boy Wonder was born.

He was actually created for a variety of interesting reasons. He added more spark to Batman’s world, he gave kids someone to imagine themselves as and most of all, it gave Batman someone to interact with instead of just talking out loud all the time. As the Batman mythos matured over the decades, the role of Robin became more important in that it was Robin’s job to bring light into Batman’s life and keep him from losing himself. By outright enjoying all the swashbuckling action, Robin was acting as Batman’s anchor to humanity.

Robin was also a founding member of the Teen Titans, fighting alongside the other sidekicks like Wonder Girl, Aqualad and Kid Flash. The series didn’t last too long and didn’t really become a facet of DC until the early 80′s run where they started adding original teen characters and making it more unique. Robin started to grow apart from Batman during these years and as a college student was starting to get too old to be wearing the green underwear. Superman had once told Dick about how Krypton had superheroes before it exploded. One of the names stuck with him and Dick stepped away from Batman’s shadow to become Nightwing.

He made his first appearance as Nightwing in the pages of Teen Titans where he looked disco as fuck. Tight, blue jumpsuit. Huge popped collar. Rows of gold fringe. Disco. As. Fuck.

Nightwing and Batman were pretty estranged for a while. Nightwing wasn’t really into how Batman replaced him with a new Robin in Jason Todd, things got worse when the new Robin died, he felt betrayed when he found out that Batman lied about his parents’ killer Tony Zucco being dead when he actually wasn’t and then he was pretty rightfully offended when Bruce needed a new Batman to replace him and he chose Jean-Paul Valley. When things weren’t really going well for Nightwing and he had to move back to Gotham, Bruce invited him to take up the Batman persona for a little bit while he dealt with some residual back problems. This helped smooth stuff over in the long run and Nightwing started a brotherly relationship with the third Robin Tim Drake.

For many years, Nightwing mainly fought crime in Bludhaven, a sister city fairly near Gotham. He tried fighting crime through both his heroic and civilian identities by joining the police force. While he succeeded in eliminating the corruption within the Bludhaven Police Department, burning the candle and both ends badly affected him and led to his termination. One of the more talked about incidents from that run was the death of the criminal Blockbuster. Blockbuster tried destroying Dick’s life due to his police exploits, which caused a team-up between Nightwing and murderous female vigilante Tarantula. Tarantula killed Blockbuster and Nightwing did nothing to stop it, which made him second-guess himself for forever until Batman told him to snap out of it.

Oh, but I almost forgot the best part! After the murder, which took place on a rainy rooftop, Nightwing was in an almost comatose state. Tarantula mounted him despite him asking her not to and proceeded to screw him on the spot. It was one of those weird moments in comics where someone is raped and the people behind the scene are like, “What? That wasn’t rape. That was more [gives Webster's definition of what 'rape' is]! Totally different.”

While Nightwing made something of a difference in Bludhaven, Deathstroke destroyed the entire city during Infinite Crisis. Originally, Nightwing was going to be killed off during Infinite Crisis and you could easily see the sentimental seeds being planted in there. Luckily, DC realized how badly this would have gone over and let him live. This did cause a major editorial hiccup, though. The post-Infinite Crisis jump to One Year Later was going to have the resurrected Jason Todd as the new Nightwing in New York City. The writer then had to change up the story completely to fit both Dick and Jason into the mix and I can’t imagine he had much notice.

The first issue of Nightwing’s One Year Later story got a lot of unintentional laughs when it came out, mainly for a scene where Nightwing kicked a guy in the throat and it didn’t even register. Nightwing practically shit himself by saying, and I quote, “…Y-you’re *gasp*… m-meta human…” Like as if he hadn’t beaten one of them up every other day.

Keep in mind, despite being one of fiction’s most famous sidekicks in all history, Nightwing had led the Teen Titans, the Outsiders and the Justice League (twice!). Dude knows his shit.

During Batman’s believed death, Dick moved back to Gotham and decided he needed to take up the mantle once again. With Damian Wayne as his new Robin, the new Dynamic Duo picked up where Bruce and Tim left off with a battle cry of, “Batman and Robin will never die!” Dick also once casually said, “Crime is doomed,” while driving the Batmobile, which was also pretty badass.

I know everyone loves Bruce Wayne and everything, but good God, I loved Dick Grayson as Batman. It was refreshing. He was competent, but not annoyingly so. He smiled from time to time (while Robin was the one who constantly frowned). He had an optimistic, confident swagger in his actions. Like when he and Robin were about to confront a gang, a couple of bystanders argued about sticking around to take pictures with one saying that they’d be killed. Batman told them, “Nah, you won’t get hurt. We’re here.” He was a Batman who enjoyed being Batman.

Even when Bruce came back, they decided to keep Dick as Batman. With the creation of Batman Incorporated, Bruce would be a more international Batman, scouring the world for similar vigilantes while Dick would be the Batman of Gotham and keep an eye on Damian. Once Flashpoint happened, despite Batman continuity being unaffected, Dick still went back to being Nightwing with no real explanation.

While Batman rarely ever mentions it out loud, he thinks the world of Nightwing and considers him the pure-hearted person he wishes he could be. Just prior to Damian’s recent death, Damian told Nightwing up front that even compared to his father, he considered him to be his favorite crime fighting partner.

Not that Nightwing is perfect. The guy gets around when it comes to women and his actions in regards to that have had very iffy judgment. Like one time he went over to his ex-girlfriend Barbara Gordon’s place and had sex with her. Post-coitus, he gave her an invitation to his wedding with Starfire. The fuck was that about? Dick was also going to get married to Barbara later down the line, but that was an instance where DC was preparing for his death in Infinite Crisis to make it dramatically moot. Once that didn’t happen, they just swept the engagement under the rug and walked away.

Dick is remembered for showing up in the third Batman movie in the 90′s, but was originally set to be in Batman Returns as played by Marlon Wayans. His part was removed due to having too many characters as is, but Wayans got paid anyway.

In-between the cancellation of Smallville and the new success of Arrow, WB tried coming up with other ideas for DC live action dramas. One that was in talks for a little while was the Graysons, which would have told the stories of the Flying Graysons as they trek across the country and get into different situations like Scooby Doo. What made it funny was that WB was really wary about the main character’s first name, so they wanted to rename him DJ Grayson. Of course they did.

RAVEN

Alias: Rachel Roth
First Appearance: DC Comics Presents #26 (1980)
Powers: All kinds of sorcery with an emphasis on empathic abilities
Other Media: Starred in the Teen Titans cartoon

It’s fitting that Raven has never appeared elsewhere in other media than the Teen Titans cartoon because unlike the other four characters from that show, Raven had done fuck-all in her character’s comic existence. Robin and Beast Boy had been around for decades before joining the Teen Titans and Cyborg and Starfire each went on to do other stuff. Raven’s just hung out with the Teen Titans all these years.

Raven’s mother was seduced by a guy and after doing the deed, the guy revealed himself to be Trigon, a major demon who wanted to sire an offspring. He’s one of those demons that you can’t really kill, but can only seal away. Raven was raised by monks in an alternate dimension for most of her life, trained to never show emotion or it might trigger her inner-demon. When she discovered that her father was planning on invading and conquering Earth, she escaped her home and got the Teen Titans back together to stop Trigon.

Raven’s entire comic book history can mostly be summed up with this: “I sure hope I don’t become evil!” Because that was her main role in Teen Titans. When she wasn’t fighting her father, she was trying to not become him. During her episodes where she would become all demonic, her skin would go red and she’d have extra eyes appear on her head.

With emotions being a new thing for her, Raven had the hardest time with the whole love concept. To get Kid Flash to join the Teen Titans, she had to magically make him fall in love with her. Then she felt guilty about her actions and revealed the truth, but after the fact it was apparent that the two had feelings for each other and wouldn’t make the move. Kid Flash then found out about Raven’s repressed demon side and freaked out, warning the others that she was worse than they realized, washing his hands of any romantic possibilities.

She also had a crush on Nightwing for a bit, which caused her to unconsciously make him attracted to her. Raven was horrified when she realized she was doing this and it took some consoling from Starfire to calm her down. Starfire forgave her and the two celebrated their newfound friendship by spending the day skinny dipping. Damn. Comics were doing slash writers’ jobs for them years in advance.

With Raven’s help, the Teen Titans defeated Trigon a couple times and once he seemed gone for good (it’s comics, so he wasn’t), she left the team for a while and wore a white cloak to signify her purity and defeating her genetic curse. That didn’t last and her demonic half eventually took over more than ever. She went around implanting demonic seeds into people, which included Starfire.

Nightwing and Starfire were meant to get hitched, but Raven showed up at their wedding, wearing a bikini made of black straps. She blocked off everyone with a cage of fire so she could tear off Starfire’s clothes and make out with her to insert that demon seed. Damn. Comics were doing slash writ—what do you mean I already made that joke?

Raven secretly put the good part of her soul inside Starfire so that when the Teen Titans killed Raven, they only killed all of her evil. Raven’s soul escaped Starfire’s body and appeared to move on until Titans villain Baron Blood resurrected Raven with a slightly younger body. The Titans helped defeat Blood and Raven rejoined the team. Now a teenager again, she decided to enroll in high school in hopes of having something resembling a normal life. She also got a bird-shaped tramp stamp because why not.

She and Beast Boy started up a relationship, probably because that’s what they seemed to be building towards on the cartoon. During the year-long, told-in-real-time series 52, Raven and Beast Boy were the only members of the Teen Titans to remain from the beginning of the year to the end, despite having dozens of other teens show up and leave during that time. The two split up for a time and Raven left to investigate how there were apparently other spawns of Trigon out there and she was the only one to rebel against the evil. Again, Raven caved in and joined her siblings in evil demonhood until the Teen Titans set her straight.

Raven and Beast Boy ended the pre-Flashpoint run of Teen Titans by rekindling their earlier romance, with Raven finally accepting the weight of having emotions, deciding to focus on the good parts rather than be afraid of the bad parts.

Post-Flashpoint, Raven’s shown up in a new form that more resembles the Sorceress from He-Man by focusing more on her name. She appears to have a role in a big event coming up in DC that features various magic characters.

Despite her Injustice incarnation not resembling her animated self in any major way, both versions of Raven are voiced by Tara Strong.

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7 comments to “Guide to the Injustice Roster: Explaining Comics to People Who Don’t Read Comics Part 4”

  1. 1. “never effected”
    2. “Crime Prince of Crime”
    3. Periods and commas go inside the quotation marks in U.S. English.

    I’ve come to look forward to these character bios. They deserve spelling and punctuation to match the rest of their presentation.


  2. @DRF: Diana, never change.


  3. :damn:


  4. [...] 4thletter! » Blog Archive » Guide to the Injustice Roster: Explaining <b>…</b> [...]


  5. The phrase is actually “want to eat their cake, and have it, too”. Sorry, long standing peeve of mine when people write or say it in reverse order.


  6. I know the MK guys are notorious for making man-faced female characters, but damn, Injustice Raven just might be on a whole new level.


  7. Since pedantry is the lifeblood of the internet, the original phrase appears to be, “a man can not have his cake and eate his cake” dating back to 1538. That said, though, Gavok’s usage is now much more common and is an acceptable usage. This is one of the many things that irritates me with regards to the evolution of language: usages that we’re taught as correct become outdated as language shifts and changes (see also the usage of impact).

    This leads to lots of interesting debates between prosciptive and descriptive linguists, which I find mostly frustrating.

    Either way, the wikipedia entry on the proverb was interesting reading.