Archive for the 'Guide to the Injustice Roster' Category


Guide to the Injustice Roster: DLC Appendix 6

August 7th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Zatanna was announced as the next Injustice: Gods Among Us DLC character, so you know what that means.


Alias: No, that’s her actual name!
First Appearance: Hawkman #4 (1964)
Powers: Skilled in all sorts of magic
Other Media: Appeared on all sorts of cartoons, Smallville

Zatanna is one of the earliest legacy characters in comic books. Her father Giovanni Zatara was a crime-fighting magician who appeared all the way back in Action Comics #1 (the comic that debuted Superman). Zatanna lived as a stage magician and illusionist for years, leaving it to search the world for her lost father. Over the course of her journey, she discovered that she was a special kind of human called “homo magi” that made her able to control magic. No longer would she rely on sleight of hand. She was the real deal. Like her father before her, she is able to project spells by speaking backwards. When her ability to speak is removed, she’s still able to project her spells by writing them out in her own blood.

Her search for her father took place over the course of various comic titles, culminating in the Justice League helping her. She worked with the League a handful of times before becoming a full-fledged member. During the 80’s, she got rid of her more memorable fishnets and top hat look for something incredibly generic and had some romantic tension with Barry Allen Flash (he was a widower at the time). She left in the middle of the ill-fated Justice League Detroit era.

For a while, Zatanna would usually team up with fellow magic user John Constantine, who she had an on-again-off-again relationship. She also had something going with Doctor Thirteen, a detective known for being the last skeptic in the DC Universe. What I mean is that he believes that everything from magic to Superman sightings is smoke and mirrors and ravings of lunatics. His daughter Traci doesn’t have the nerve to tell him that she too has magical powers.

The retcon introduced in Identity Crisis brought Zatanna back into the forefront. Years ago in the Justice League, the team found supervillain Dr. Light raping Elongated Man’s wife Sue. As voted by the League, Zatanna mindwiped Dr. Light and made it so that not only could he not remember the act, but she rewired his head so that he wouldn’t do it again, forcing him into the role of an inept comedy villain. Then she mindwiped Batman because he saw what she did. Then she mindwiped Catwoman to be nicer as a way to make Batman feel better. Then she mindwiped Flash villain the Top into being good, who in turn also mindwiped other Flash villains into doing the same. All of that exploded in her face over time.

This led to a sweet-ass story by Grant Morrison called Seven Soldiers of Victory. It was 30 issues where the first and last were bookends and the other issues were split into 4-issue miniseries about seven different characters. The characters included the C-listers (Zatanna and Mr. Miracle) as well as the reimagined (Frankenstein, Guardian, Klarion the Witch Boy, Bulleteer and Shining Knight). The seven different miniseries would show the different characters fighting different aspects of the same major threat while never crossing paths until the end. All of them intertwined in really cool ways.

In Zatanna’s story, she dealt with her problems with using magic too much for her own ends, including the mindwipe episodes. She ended up fighting against Zor, an evil magician who was meant to represent both writer Alan Moore and the idea of a comic book writer (or “Time Tailor”) going out of his way to shit up a superhero’s life because darker = better. This made thematic sense as years earlier in Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing series, he proceeded to kill off Zatanna’s father and end the Zatanna/Constantine relationship in one fell swoop.

Against Zor, Zatanna was able to break through reality and reach out through the panels and towards the reader, wishing for forgiveness for all the bad things she’s done. In a nice touch, she said she could feel thousands of pairs of eyes looking at her all at different times. The other Time Tailors (the other DC writers) saved her by removing Zor from the equation and allowed her a brief reunion with her late father. During the story’s big finale, Zatanna magically set all the players into the correct positions by shouting, “!EKIRTS SREIDLOS NEVES”

What I mean to say is that Grant Morrison’s writing is fucking weird, but also fucking awesome.

Seven Soldiers also gave us the Frankenstein Monster as a grim, sword-swinging slayer of all that is wicked who works for a secret government organization and OH MY GOD WHY AM I THE ONLY PERSON ON THIS EARTH WHO IS RALLYING FOR FRANKENSTEIN AS A DOWNLOADABLE CHARACTER FOR INJUSTICE WHAT THE FUCK?!

Anyway. Zatanna has remained a bit of a supporting character in the DC Universe since then, briefly being a member of the Justice League again and having a bit of a fling with Batman at one point. She had her own ongoing series that didn’t last long, mainly because it’s really, really hard to get behind a magic-based superhero. I mean, Superman has to actually punch a villain, easy as it is. It’s hard to write a story where a magic-user doesn’t just snap his or her fingers and wish the bad guy away.

That series was written by one Paul Dini and I suppose I should talk about him. Paul Dini is known for being one of the big wheels in the creation of Batman: The Animated Series and all of its spinoffs. Dini is also known for being a little TOO into Zatanna. Just off the top of my head:

– Did a Zatanna-centered episode of Batman despite her not really having much to do with him in the comics. Not that that’s really a problem in itself, but he later went on to force a romantic relationship between the two when he was writing Detective Comics, going so far as to retcon in a childhood friendship. This was kind of weird because the main Batman book was playing up Bruce Wayne’s relationship with then-girlfriend Jezebel Jet as being seriously serious.

– Before Zatanna had made a single appearance anywhere outside of comics, Paul Dini wrote an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures where recurring character Batduck was invited to join the Just Us League. This included an appearance of Fifi the Skunk as Scentanna, whose sole screen time was dedicated to having Hampton bust a pig nut over how hot she is.

– Dini married a Zatanna lookalike who is also a stage magician. Artist Alex Ross began using her as a model for whenever he’d include Zatanna in his realistic-looking comics.

Since New 52, Zatanna has appeared as a member of Justice League Dark, an offshoot team of magic users who take on mystical threats that the regular Justice League are ill-equipped to face themselves. The team includes the likes of John Constantine, Dead Man, Shade the Changing Man and FRANKENSTEIN WHO SHOULD BE IN INJUSTICE I SWEAR TO GOD GOD DAMN IT!

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Guide to the Injustice Roster: DLC Appendix 5

July 16th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Evo 2013 has come and gone and while the bland Injustice: Gods Among Us tournament showcase probably poisoned the well for the game getting another high-profile appearance next year, it did at least show off a new trailer for Injustice DLC. Not only is John Stewart an available alternate skin for Green Lantern (Phil LaMarr voice acting included), but they’ve announced the first of the second set of DLC characters in Martian Manhunter.

So let’s take a look at the history of everyone’s second-favorite cookie monster.


Alias: J’onn J’onzz, John Jones, Fernus the Burning, Bloodwynd, Bronze Wraith and dozens of others
First Appearance: Detective Comics #225 (1955)
Powers: Super strength, speed, shape-shifting, telepathy, invisibility, laser vision, flight, intangibility
Other Media: Was a big player in the Justice League cartoon, showed up on some of the different Batman cartoons and starred in the terrible live-action Justice League pilot/movie.

Years ago, Patton Oswalt wrote a graphic novel called JLA: Welcome to the Working Week, where the main character – existing as Oswalt’s mouthpiece – referred to Martian Manhunter as the Bob Dylan to Superman’s Elvis Presley. When you’re a kid, you love the optimistic spitcurl, but when you get older, you start to appreciate the more serious giant brow. Martian Manhunter is a great foil for Superman, mainly different in that he was an adult when he made his exodus from his dying planet and that affects him differently.

The original origin was that J’onn J’onnz, a Martian lawman, was accidentally transported to Earth thanks to an experiment by Dr. Erdel. While Erdel would have been able to send him back, the shock of seeing this Martian caused him to have a heart attack and die. In the original continuity, Mars was still populated, so J’onn was driven by his quest to return. Back then, the idea of shipping a guy to Mars, even in a superhero world, was considered rather difficult. How novel.

J’onn used his shape-shifting abilities to take the identity of John Jones (get it?) and became a detective who would use his powers to give him the edge. His appearance as Martian Manhunter was meant to be a middle-ground version between Martian and human, being the best of both worlds. He joined the Justice League, used mainly as a stand-in for when the publishers felt Superman was being used way too much. For decades, J’onn was considered to be THE staple member of the Justice League. He appeared in nearly every incarnation of the team, which offset how little juice he had in carrying his own solo series, no matter how many times they tried.

Eventually, J’onn was reunited with his people and went on to rule Mars. He was written out of comics for a while until being brought back into the Justice League fold. I seem to remember that he had to save Earth from his own people in the final adventure of the classic “Satellite-Era Justice League” (ie. the original version of the team that started in the 60’s and ended in the 80’s). There was a part where he challenged another Martian to a fight and while the narrative strictly said that they were both invisible during this fight, the artist drew them like normal anyway.

Things got pretty dark for Martian Manhunter around this time. He was on the outs with his race. He joined the infamously bad Justice League Detroit (otherwise known as Aquaman leading a team of angsty teenagers) and ended up becoming the leader towards the end, only to have a couple of the kids tragically die on his watch. Then after Crisis on Infinite Earths changed continuity, it also reshaped J’onn’s origin. J’onn’s insane brother unleashed a plague upon Mars that wiped out everyone but J’onn himself. Not only did Dr. Erdel’s machine pull him from space, but also from time. The destruction of Mars was thousands of years ago. Like Superman, he was the last of his kind… until they brought in guys who were also Martians down the line.

It picked up for J’onn, though. He had a big role in Justice League International, known for being the fun and funny era. He mainly played the straight man to jokey characters Guy Gardner, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. Thanks to Captain Marvel, he was also turned onto Oreo cookies (later renamed Chocos due to trademark) and became addicted. He also led his own Justice League side-team called Justice League: Task Force and nothing of note came from that other than the time he temporarily turned himself female.

Every now and then, J’onn and the Justice League would have to face the White Martians, a genetic offshoot who were more dedicated to war while the Green Martians were more peaceful. The most famous of these battles was the beginning of Grant Morrison’s Justice League run where a team of superheroes came to Earth to create a utopia while antagonizing the Justice League. Batman figured out that they were White Martians in disguise and easily defeated them thanks to their weakness of fire.

Fire is something all Martians fear, though it’s shown to be more of a psychological weakness than physiological. In other words, fire only hurts J’onn because he lets it. He briefly got together with a reformed fire-based villain named Scorch, who helped him get over his fear of fire. This turned out disastrous. We found out that eons ago, when the Martians were still primitive life forms, they were both bloodthirsty and virtually unstoppable. The Guardians of the Universe (Green Lantern’s bosses) were concerned with what this would mean if the Martians could evolve to figure out space flight. They intervened and subdued the entire race, injecting them all with a fear of fire as a way to keep them all in check.

No longer bound by this gigantic weakness, J’onn became corrupted by this savage, forgotten piece of his bloodline. He became a beast known as Fernus the Burning and showed that he was really the most powerful member of the League all along, as even Superman was helpless against him. Turned out Batman had a solution to this situation as well by siccing Plastic Man on him. Plastic Man’s immune to mind control and has a better grasp on shapeshifting, so he was able to help take down the mad Martian. J’onn and Fernus were separated from each other as two different identities in the end.

Nothing much happened with J’onn for a while. After Infinite Crisis, he got a new look that looked closer to his pure Martian form, mainly due to his pessimism towards humanity. This was for his new solo series which once again sold like shit and was canceled. J’onn was killed by Libra and the Secret Society of Supervillains in the story Final Crisis. Sweetly enough, Batman visited J’onn’s tomb and left a single Choco cookie.

J’onn returned from the grave during Blackest Night as one of the more unbeatable walking corpses. At the end of the story, he was one of the dozen characters fully resurrected. J’onn then starred in the series Brightest Day, where he was able to make Mars fertile again and ended up clashing with an insane Green Martian D’kay. J’onn had to kill D’kay and destroy the budding life on Mars, showing that in the end, Earth was his only true home.

With the New 52 reboot, J’onn had never joined the Justice League in the past but instead was part of Stormwatch, a cloak and dagger superhero organization. There, J’onn fought against evil from the shadows, but eventually left the team and removed all their memories of him being there in the first place. Since then, Martian Manhunter has been brought into the Justice League of America, the US government’s personal team meant to counter the regular Justice League if they ever get out of line. Martian Manhunter is there to deal with Superman.

Probably the saddest depiction of J’onn is in Kingdom Come, the dystopian future storyline. In order to give Superman vs. Captain Marvel more gravitas, J’onn had to be taken off the table. He appeared in one scene to aid Batman, depicted as a gibbering and mentally broken John Jones who could barely function after trying to open his mind to all of humanity. Poor guy.

One of the better Martian Manhunter stories is New Frontier, which exists as both a wonderful graphic novel and a pretty good animated film. When showing off his hybrid superhero appearance to a human friend, he was flatly told, “Real men wear pants.” And that’s a fair point because, really, what the hell is that outfit?

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Guide to the Injustice Roster: DLC Appendix 4

June 13th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

While E3 is mostly remembered for the shellacking Sony is giving to Microsoft (oh my God!), they’ve also shown off the fourth DLC character for Injustice: Gods Among Us. Then Conan O’Brien got to feature the reveal on his show, making it official. This will be the last character for the season pass, but there are strong hints that we’ll be getting more in the future. Martian Manhunter, definitely.


Alias: Dru-Zod
First Appearance: Adventure Comics #283 (1961)
Powers: You know all that crap Superman does? He does that.
Other media: Other than his obvious movie appearances, he’s sort-of-but-not-quite appeared in the cartoons, Smallville and was in both a novel the Last Days of Krypton and a choose-your-own adventure book I remember owning when I was 8

I can’t think of a comic character who owes more to an actor’s portrayal than General Zod. It’s not like all the other memorable villain portrayals like Lex Luthor, Bane and Joker. If it wasn’t for Terence Stamp, not a single person would give a damn about Zod except for writers who love tossing in obscure supervillains that only the hardcore have heard of before.

Zod appeared in the early days of the Silver Age where he looked like M. Bison dressed in green while forgetting to wear pants. He was charged with trying to take over Krypton with his army of Bizarro soldiers and got sentenced to 40 years in the Phantom Zone, the dimensional prison of no escape (except when someone escapes). Superboy found out about that and released Zod once his time was up. Zod tried to take over Earth a handful of times and constantly got tossed back into the Phantom Zone. Since he was a soldier, he had an edge over Superman and was one of the few Silver Age characters who was stronger than the Man of Steel.

Superman II came out in 1980 and led to more appearances by Zod. Nothing memorable to mention, really. The Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot kicked in and DC practically took Zod off the table. With continuity made simple, there were some ground rules to Post-Crisis DC. For one, Superman had to be the ONLY Kryptonian. He was the Last Son of Krypton. That was his thing! So of course, within two years of this change, writer John Byrne decided to introduce Zod and Supergirl. Luckily, he had an out. They were from an alternate universe! …Except DC mandated that there could be no more alternate universes. That was the problem that got them into having to write Crisis in the first place. Byrne instead claimed they were from a “pocket dimension”. How that makes it right, I have no idea.

In this “pocket dimension”, Zod’s basic storyline still happened, only he killed Superboy with the help of his lieutenants Quex-Ul (essentially Non) and Faora (essentially Ursa) and annihilated much of the planet. Superman was asked to help out and defeated the three via exposing them to gold kryptonite, which permanently removed their powers. Zod warned Superman that they’d get their powers back, find out where he lived and kill his planet. Superman decided he had a point and killed the three with green kryptonite just to be sure. Then he moped around for a while because of it. Also, Supergirl came back with him, but she was manmade, so it didn’t step on the “no Kryptonians” edict.

DC Comics tried so, so hard to make Zod relevant again over the years. After all, he was the villain from the last good Superman movie. They had to make him a big deal in the comics. They came up with certain weird ideas. Or should I say other weird ideas.

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Guide to the Injustice Roster: DLC Appendix 3

June 3rd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

I was going to work on the next update of the Top 200 Fighting Game Endings, but then it was revealed that the next downloadable character for Injustice: Gods Among Us is none other than Scorpion from Mortal Kombat. Not just any Scorpion, but Scorpion as designed by Jim Lee. Which essentially means he’s wearing overly-elaborate armor and he doesn’t have any underwear over his pants. Not that he did already, but now he DEFINITELY won’t.

Talking about Scorpion is still on-topic, so waiting a little longer for the next countdown update isn’t so bad, right?

Alias: Hanzo Hasashi
First appearance: Mortal Kombat (1992)
Powers: Pyrokinesis, resurrection, teleportation, enhanced strength
Other media: Appeared in movies, comics, the Mortal Kombat animated series, live-action web series, a novel and an episode of Drawn Together

Time to explain Scorpion to people who… don’t… know comics? Well, this is awkward.

Scorpion first appeared in the first Mortal Kombat game as a palette swap of Sub-Zero, originally played by Daniel Pesina. In his profile, little info was given on him. Just that he was a mysterious ninja who didn’t seem to like Sub-Zero, which suggested they’re from rival clans. Through his Fatality, it revealed that he wasn’t human due to his skull head under the mask and his ending revealed his origin: Sub-Zero killed him and he was reborn as a spectre, bent on revenge. He also left a wife and son behind, but could never see them again because why not just rip off all of Spawn while you’re at it?

Wait, they came out the same year? Huh. Snark retracted.

Scorpion succeeded in killing Sub-Zero and returned to Hell. Then he popped back up for some unknown reason and figured it had something to do with Sub-Zero being seen walking around. He entered the second tournament to take care of Sub-Zero once and for all, but then got weirded out when he saw Sub-Zero defeat an enemy and spare their life. He figured out that this was the younger brother of Sub-Zero, who had taken up the mantle and was a bit on the pure-hearted side. Scorpion let Sub-Zero live and decided that he’d make amends by becoming something of a guardian angel to him.

Despite being the most popular character in the franchise, Scorpion was nowhere to be seen in Mortal Kombat 3. It still bewilders me. When they upgraded it with Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Scorpion was brought back into the fold, as well as a myriad of other ninja characters who were all just the same actor in different colored sprites. Joining him were Reptile, Classic Sub-Zero, Ermac, Noob Saibot and in the next follow-up, Mortal Kombat Trilogy, Rain and Chameleon. Scorpion’s deal was that Shao Kahn recruited him for his siege on Earthrealm, but Scorpion realized that Sub-Zero was one of his targets, so he turned on him. Then he went back to Hell, because that’s where he keeps his stuff.

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Guide to the Injustice Roster: DLC Appendix 2

May 4th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

While we’re just about to finally get that Lobo DLC for Injustice: Gods Among Us, Netherrealm Studios just released confirmation that the second character on that list will be none other than Batgirl. Because the game needed more Batman characters. Regardless, this only supports a rumored list of downloadable characters that’s been making the rounds. I’ll continue these updates for each official reveal. Even if the rumored fourth named isn’t even a DC comic character.


Alias: Barbara Gordon, Oracle
First Appearance: Detective Comics #359 (1967)
Powers: Skilled martial artist and acrobat, super intelligent, world’s greatest hacker
Other Media: A lot of Batman cartoons, the 60’s Batman show and also that one movie that killed Alicia Silverstone’s career

The original, original Batgirl was Betty Kane. Back in the early 60’s, writers decided to fight the claim that Batman and Robin were gay by introducing Batwoman and Bat-Girl. Betty and her aunt Kathy had a thing for Batman and Robin, so they started fighting crime for the sake of tapping that Bat-ass. They made a handful of appearances, but faded into obscurity. Betty came back eventually and found a new identity as Flamebird (much like Nightwing, Flamebird is a name of an old Kryptonian superhero). She was recently seen fighting crime along with the current Batwoman, her cousin Kate Kane. The two had a falling out and Flamebird went off to patrol the streets alone. She received a grave injury and was last seen hospitalized.

Barbara Gordon was the adopted daughter of Commissioner Gordon. A librarian during the day, she felt the need to do something to help her father and ultimately do good. Despite Batman trying to shut her down, she refused to give up her persona as Batgirl. She became a huge hit, due to being a more independent female role model and was popular enough to become a major character in the final season of the 60’s Batman show. A season that occurred a year after her debut.

Batgirl mostly teamed up with Robin and Supergirl, having a romantic relationship with the former. In the late-80’s, writer Alan Moore changed the Batgirl game with his Joker-centric story Killing Joke, where the Joker decided to prove a point by screwing up Commissioner Gordon’s life so hard that he’d make him snap. This included Joker shooting Barbara in the stomach, which shattered her spine. He removed Barbara’s clothes and snapped photos in order to torture her father more, though it’s been insisted by the author that Joker didn’t go further with her. The comic ended with a meaningful scene that involved Batman and Joker laughing together as Batman took Joker into custody. Barbara – paralyzed from the gunshot – wasn’t really pleased with that. Guess you just had to be there.

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Guide to the Injustice Roster: DLC Appendix 1

April 16th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Today is the big release of Injustice: Gods Among Us. I picked it up, along with the Season Pass of downloadable content. With that, I get some of the Flashpoint costumes, which includes Pirate Deathstroke. Less important parts of that include four extra characters, who will be released over the next couple months. There’s plenty of speculation of who some of them will be, such as Martian Manhunter or Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion.

Last night, it was revealed that the first DLC character will be none other than the Last Czarian himself, Lobo. Even though I have three more names to wait for, I might as well keep the trend going by explaining Lobo to people who don’t read comics.


Alias: None, though he’s given himself a laundry list of nicknames
First Appearance: Omega Men #3 (1983)
Powers: Super strength, excessive healing factor, immortality, can talk in space, can clone himself by spilling his own blood
Other Media: Showed up on the Superman cartoon and Justice League spinoff, appeared on Young Justice, sort of appeared in Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, had a 16-bit fighting game that was never released and a film student created a rather well-done live-action recreation of a Lobo comic featuring real actors.

With a couple storyline exceptions, Lobo is a terrible character. He’s a terrible, overly-shitty character. And that was the intent.

Lobo was created as a villain in the series Omega Men, where he had purple hair and wore purple and orange full-body tights. Veteran comic writer Keith Giffen created the character as a way to take the piss out of the likes of Wolverine and other tough guy murderer comic characters. He never expected Lobo to catch on so much and become exactly what Giffen was trying to make fun of. Despite being the character’s creator, Giffen kind of hates Lobo, but he doesn’t hate the money that he’s made for him.

In the early years, Lobo mainly appeared in space-related comics like Omega Men, L.E.G.I.O.N. and R.E.B.E.L.S. He appeared in one story for Giffen’s well-regarded Justice League International (which I highly recommend), where he was very briefly deputized as a member of the Justice League before anyone realized that he was actually a bounty hunter secretly out to get them. By this point, he was redesigned to the more recognizable space biker appearance.

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Guide to the Injustice Roster: Explaining Comics to People Who Don’t Read Comics Part 5

April 10th, 2013 Posted by Gavok


Alias: Captain Marvel, Billy Batson, Captain Thunder
First Appearance: Whiz Comics #2 (1940)
Powers: The wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury. Able to summon lightning by saying, “Shazam”
Other Media: Old-timey film adaptations, had his own live-action show in the 70’s, an animated series, was on Legend of the Superheroes, guest-starred on Justice League, Batman: the Brave and the Bold and Young Justice.

I might as well get the name thing out of the way because I’m sure it’s confusing as hell for people out of the Shazam loop. The magical wizard is Shazam. The superhero is Captain Marvel, only sometimes they call him Shazam, like in current comics and this game. It’s for silly legal reasons that I’ll get to, but for the sake of simplicity, I’m just going to call him Captain Marvel throughout this thing.

It’s a little sad that your average Joe doesn’t know who Captain Marvel is because during the 40’s, he was THE top superhero. Published by Fawcett Comics, his adventures sold more than Superman and Batman. He was the first superhero to get his own movie (which featured him taking out a bunch of enemy soldiers with a gatling gun. Times were different back then). Elvis Presley based his on-stage wardrobe on Captain Marvel’s sidekick Captain Marvel Jr. Captain Marvel was the man.

Only he really wasn’t a man, but a young boy named Billy Batson. Chosen by the wizard Shazam for his purity, orphan news reporter Billy was bestowed the power of becoming Captain Marvel upon saying the word, “Shazam!” Powered by the gods, Captain Marvel fought the likes of Dr. Sivana, Mr. Mind and many others. What made the character work was that he was just a kid. It was pure power fantasy. The idea that you could become this great superhero no matter your age.

So what made him so much better than Superman in the nation’s mind? Well, to be brutally honest about early Superman comics, Captain Marvel was interesting. Superman was a novelty act. He was in God Mode, going through the motions, taking out criminals who were no threat to him. Watching him beat up wife-beaters or throw around mobsters was fun in its own way, but even the mad scientist characters didn’t work all that well. It was usually, “Haha! Let’s see what happens when I pour molten lava over Superman! Nothing? Well, shit. What if I send my giant robot forces? Torn apart with ease? Damn it.”

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

April 5th, 2013 Posted by Gavok


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.

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Guide to the Injustice Roster: Explaining Comics to People Who Don’t Read Comics Part 3

April 3rd, 2013 Posted by Gavok


Alias: Barry Allen?
First Appearance: Showcase #4 (1956)
Powers: Fastest dude ever, heals quickly, can vibrate himself through matter, can vibrate into different realities, with the assistance of the Cosmic Treadmill he can travel through time, is able to lend his powers to others
Other Media: Appeared on many cartoons, had his own live-action TV series in the 90’s, appeared on Legend of the Superheroes (a failed Justice League spinoff of the 60’s Batman show) and the live-action Justice League of America TV movie, was kind of a big deal in Daddy Day Care

Warning: the history of the Flashes involves some time travel fuckery and in a lot of these cases, I’m just as confused as you are.

The Golden Age Flash was Jay Garrick. Maybe five people care about him and they’re all mad I just said this. Moving on.

Barry Allen (you know, from Catch Me If You Can) became the Flash in the 50’s. He was a forensic scientist who got splashed with chemicals while being shocked by lightning. That gave him the powers to run super fast and he decided to be altruistic with it, naming himself the Flash after his favorite comic book hero. He garnered one of the best rogues galleries in comics, got himself a sidekick in Kid Flash (his nephew Wally West, who got his powers in a similar way) and a fiancé in Iris West.

One of his villains was Professor Zoom, who looked identical to Flash except for having a reverse color scheme. Zoom was from the future and had powers and an appearance that were just like Barry’s because he was a huge Flash fanboy who went insane. Jealous of Flash’s relationship with Iris, Zoom killed her by vibrating his hand through her head. Barry tried to move on and later got engaged to another woman, but when Zoom attempted to meddle in that, a threatened Flash ended up breaking his neck and killing him. Flash was put on trial for murder and it got really weird because it turns out Iris was really from the same future era as Zoom and she was alive there somehow, so he ran to the future and spent some time with her.

Flash returned to the present during the big Crisis on Infinite Earths event. It’s there that he faced down the villain Anti-Monitor and ran circles around his big world-destroying master weapon, destroying it via vortex. The stress on running faster than he had ever run and being unable to let up tore Flash apart and caused him to painfully decay as he powered on, screaming that he had to save the world one last time. He ruined Anti-Monitor’s plans, but at the cost of his own life. Kid Flash discovered the empty red tights – the only thing that remained of Barry – and swore that he would take up the mantle and make him proud.

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Guide to the Injustice Roster: Explaining Comics to People Who Don’t Read Comics Part 2

April 1st, 2013 Posted by Gavok


Alias: Teth Adam, Theo Adam
First Appearance: Marvel Family #1 (1945)
Powers: The stamina of Shu, the swiftness of Heru, the strength of Amon, the wisdom of Zehuti, the power of Aton and the courage of Mehen. Can also summon lightning by shouting his trigger word
Other Media: Appeared in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Young Justice, the Kid Super Power Hour with Shazam and Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam.

I’m not sure if Black Adam is the very first “dark shadow of an existing hero” supervillain in comics, but he’s got to be up there. Thousands of years ago, the wizard Shazam decided on empowering a champion to do acts of heroism. He saw a prince who he deemed pure-hearted and granted him the powers of the gods upon speaking the wizard’s name. Teth/Mighty Adam was an unbeatable force for good, but the power soon corrupted him and he felt the need to rule the world. Shazam couldn’t depower him, so he just banished him across the universe.

It took 5,000 years of non-stop, pissed-off flying for Black Adam to reach Earth (referenced in his Injustice intro) and by that time, he had been replaced with the team of Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. He fought them to a standstill until being tricked into saying “Shazam”. The years caught up to him at once and he decayed into a skeleton in an instance. He wasn’t brought back for another 30 years, resurrected by mad scientist Dr. Sivana. During the rest of the pre-Crisis years, he just showed up every now and then to be Evil Captain Marvel.

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