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

April 3rd, 2013 by | Tags: , , , , ,


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.

Coincidentally, it’s said that when Barry died, he ran so fast that he turned into a bolt of lightning that went back in time and zapped himself to give him superpowers. This ties into a concept they created for the Flash called “the Speed Force”. It’s like the Force from Star Wars… but for speed. It explains why speedster characters like Flash don’t succumb to physics, like having their feet torn apart by friction or needing to eat a million calories a day. Speedsters even have their own personal Grim Reaper called Black Flash.

Wally became the Flash and there was some definite backlash. People were mad that Barry was dead and insisted he be brought back immediately. They did a story called the Return of Barry Allen where Barry made his big return and the two Flashes worked together. It was an awesome fakeout, as Barry-Flash left Wally-Flash to die. We found out that it was Professor Zoom on his initial run to the past, too late to meet Barry, but discovering that he was destined to turn evil and be killed by his hero. Zoom went completely nuts and Wally-Flash had to take him down.

Speaking of Barry, Marvel did a pretty funny thing around that time where they had a race between all the speedster Marvel superheroes like Quicksilver, Quasar and a ton of fast guys you probably haven’t heard of. Towards the end of the race, a blond, unshaven man appeared out of nowhere, wearing only tattered, red spandex. He outran everyone else and couldn’t remember who he was or how he got there. All he could recall was that his name sounded like “Buried Alien”. Rimshot.

It had always been established that Wally was slower than Barry, but through that Return of Barry Allen story he discovered that he unconsciously held back out of respect for Barry and was able to shatter those self-imposed limits. Wally’s lengthy run as Flash showed him develop as a character. Over the decades, he went from being the brash asshole teen sidekick to one of the most pure-hearted and well-rounded characters of the DC universe. Wally also had one of my favorite badass moments in comics history, involving immortal villain Vandal Savage.

Savage had created a Lady Flash as a henchwoman and betrayed her by emptying a gun at her stomach at point-blank range. She was horrified that he’d do this, but he was more shocked to find that not a single bullet landed. She was fast, but not that fast. Flash appeared about twenty feet away, opening his hand to reveal the bullets. “But I am. I could have stopped them fifty feet away… two miles away… ten miles away! I can always stop you Savage, even if you live another ten thousand years!” He grabbed the barrel of the pistol and stuck it an inch away from his own head. “Care to try another six? I reloaded the gun for you.” Savage lost his nerve and backed off.

Through convoluted time travel, Flash got a new sidekick character in Barry’s grandson from the future Bart Allen. Known as Impulse, he was a speedster with ADD, which made him incredibly entertaining. Unfortunately, when they added him into the Teen Titans, writer Geoff Johns decided to make Bart lose much of his sense of humor after Deathstroke shot him in the kneecap. He did away with the Impulse identity and became the new Kid Flash.

They introduced a new Zoom, who didn’t feel that Flash was a good enough hero because he didn’t understand the concept of tragedy, so he’d give him a hand. He caused Flash’s wife Linda to have a miscarriage via snapping his fingers and knocking her back with a sonic boom. Months later, through more convoluted time travel, Flash stopped this from happening and his wife suddenly became nine months pregnant with twins.

DC ruined a good thing once Infinite Crisis happened. One of the big villains was Superboy Prime, a whiny and dangerous alternate universe Clark Kent who depending on you ask was either the most annoying little shit in comics or the most amazing supervillain in years. I’m in the latter group. Only the speedsters were able to give him any trouble at first, so Flash and Kid Flash dragged him into the Speed Force to contain him (yes, it’s apparently a place too… Listen, it’s comics). They also brought in Linda and the babies so they could all be together. Later in the story, an unidentified Flash returned to Earth to warn everyone that Superboy Prime got loose. During the final battle, he attacked the violent teenager and Superboy Prime fearfully yelled, “Get away from me, Bart!” Yes, they had been stuck in the Speed Force for so long that Bart was now an adult.

With Wally and his family still one with the Speed Force, Bart became the new Flash. It was a tremendous failure and they actually killed him off after just over a year. Then they brought Wally back and centered his new series on trying to raise his teenage speedster children. This series also bombed and was canceled soon. In the event story Final Crisis, they brought Barry Allen back. This annoyed a lot of people because unlike the likes of Superman and Batman, Barry’s death was a perfect sendoff instead of a simple shock value cash-in. He died heroically and was remembered as a paragon of virtue. He was boring when he was alive, but in death, he was the perfect Uncle Ben-like inspiration character for Wally and Bart. By bringing him back, they were practically ruining his image because there was nowhere to go but down.

Oh yeah, Bart came back to life too, again thanks to convoluted time travel.

Barry’s new series only went for a year or so because of Flashpoint happening. In it, he went back in time to save his mother’s life from when he was a child and doing so caused massive changes throughout history. Upon undoing the mistake, he altered reality and caused the big DC continuity reboot. With the reboot, they did away with the existence of a handful of characters. Wally was one of them. In the post-Flashpoint world, there never was a Wally West. I’m sure you can understand that fans are really annoyed by this.

Luckily, the current Flash series is an amazing read. It’s co-written by the artist Francis Manapul, who does some groundbreaking stuff with the art. The main difference, outside of Wally’s disappearance, is that Barry isn’t romantically involved with Iris and is instead in love with one of his coworkers.

Flash had his own live-action series in the 90’s where he was Barry. In the Justice League cartoon, he was Wally. Both shows featured one of his villains the Trickster, each time played by Mark Hamill. Notable on the cartoon, other than how they went an entire season without Flash outside of a group shot with no dialogue, was how they did an episode where Flash and Lex Luthor switched minds. The joke was that Flash’s voice actor Michael Rosenbaum played Luthor on Smallville. On the run from the rest of the League, the Luthor-minded Flash hid out in a bathroom. He decided that at least he could find out the Flash’s secret identity. He unmasked in front of the mirror and glared blankly for a moment.

“I have no idea who this is.”


Alias: Oliver Queen
First Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (1941)
Powers: Peak physical condition, super accurate aim with arrows
Other Media: Currently starring in his own show. Also featured on many cartoons, mainly in supporting roles. Recurring role on Smallville.

Early on, Green Arrow wasn’t just a concept similar to Batman. He WAS Batman, just wearing Robin Hood’s hand-me-downs. He was so blatantly Batman it was ridiculous. A rich playboy as a swashbuckling vigilante with no powers, a teen sidekick, an Arrow Car and an Arrow Cave. It made sense that the Batman: the Brave and the Bold cartoon would use that to play up a long-lasting rivalry between Batman and Green Arrow.

Oliver Queen was a billionaire due to inheriting his family’s fortune. He was more of an adventurous guy who found his calling when stranded on an island. He taught himself how to use a bow and arrow, was really good at it and, in one of the later versions of the origin, used it to foil some evil drug smugglers. Then he decided to fight for the little man when he wasn’t playing up the business side of his life.

Arrow was the first superhero to join the Justice League after it had already been established. He also got his own episode of the original season of Superfriends, back when it was extra dorky with Marvin and Wendy around. When the Superfriends were captured, Arrow was called up, regarded as a reserve member of the team.

In the 70’s, they finally made the Emerald Archer more than just a Batman ripoff by having him lose his fortune and become super liberal. In the Justice League, he and the conservative Hawkman were constantly at each other’s throats, bordering on outright hate. While Green Arrow had yet to get his own series by this point, he and Green Lantern got a well-regarded team-up series based on them touring the country and arguing their ideologies. While remembered fondly, it didn’t sell too great and lasted about a year. It also gave us a memorable storyline (and hilarious cover) where Arrow discovered that while he was on this big road trip, his sidekick Speedy had become addicted to heroin. While he kicked the habit, “Speedy does drugs” became one of those character stigmas that he could never get past, not unlike “Iron Man is a drunk” and “Giant Man beats his wife”.

Arrow had his own series in the 80’s, going into the 90’s that was extremely darker, having him straight-up murder people. I seem to recall once seeing a sequence where he and Deathstroke went around shooting dudes. Though it was pretty funny because at the time Arrow was wearing an eyepatch and other than the hair color, he and Deathstroke looked completely identical. When the series hit 100 issues, they did a story where Arrow was on a plane and had his arm stuck in a huge terrorist bomb. Superman came to save him and said he could cut off his arm with heat vision, but Arrow refused. He’d rather be dead than useless. The plane exploded and Arrow died.

A new Green Arrow appeared in the form of Connor Hawke, a bastard son of Queen. While an amazing archer and martial artist in his own right, Connor was very different from his father in the sense that he was a Zen Buddhist and was awkward around women while Oliver was a loudmouth man-whore. Connor’s series lasted three years before cancelation, but he did take over his father’s spot in the Justice League.

Oliver was brought back from the dead in a new series written by Kevin Smith. In a story that I’ll expand on in the next entry, Hal Jordan became all-powerful and crazy and tried to make amends for his actions by resurrecting his good friend via a couple specks of Oliver DNA still stuck in Superman’s tights. Oliver refused to return, as he was content with existing in Heaven. Hal instead created an empty shell body of Oliver Queen that had his skills, memories and personality, but no soul of his own. During the climax of the story, a crazed cultist villain was preparing to take over the soulless body while Connor was nearby, being overcome by an army of demons. The body of Oliver begged Oliver’s soul to come down from Heaven and rejoin him so to stop this guy, but the soul refused because he was happy and wanted to be left alone. The body pointed out that he could tell that Connor was definitely their son, to which the soul agreed to, making him finally accept what he had to do. Oliver’s body and soul were whole once again, he teamed up with his son and took out the bad guys.

For a long while, the original Speedy had changed his name to Arsenal, as he was too old to be Arrow’s sidekick. He also had a daughter with Teen Titans supervillain Cheshire. The new Speedy was a girl named Mia Harper, who was revealed to be HIV positive. This was because she was being written by Judd from the third season of the Real World and that fit in well with his usual writing ticks.

During the One Year Later storyline, Oliver Queen had become Mayor of Star City. That lasted for a short while until he had to resign due to scandal. He moved on to finally getting married to his one true love Black Canary and they had their own joint comic series for a bit. Then DC fucked up the Arrow family with one of the worst one-two combinations of bad comics in years: Cry for Justice and the Rise of Arsenal.

Cry for Justice was a badly-written miniseries based on Prometheus (an evil Batman counterpart whose criminal parents were shot dead by the police) mutilating and killing a bunch of heroes, then blowing up Star City. Arsenal’s daughter was one of the casualties. Green Arrow ended up tracking down and killing Prometheus in the final scene, which caused Black Canary to divorce him. He also got put on trial, which made no sense, because Prometheus’ hideout was in another dimension… so…

The Rise of Arsenal was just about Arsenal dealing with the loss of his arm at Prometheus’ hands and more importantly the loss of his daughter. He had his arm replaced with a cybernetic attachment, but spent the entire comic sulking, being unable to get a boner, lashing out and getting back into heroin. The most infamous scene of the comic was when after snorting some heroin in an alley, Arsenal saw a gang of Prometheuses coming at him and he beat them all up. Something that I guess can happen when you’re strung out on heroin. He hugged what he believed to be his daughter, but then we saw that he was just holding a dead cat while standing around a bunch of unconscious homeless people. It’s still one of the inadvertently funniest comic pages of all time.

So yeah, the Green Arrow family was one of the better reasons for there to be a company-wide reboot. Unfortunately, Green Arrow still got it pretty bad. Green Arrow became a younger, clean-shaven and generic hero who lacked any of the charm that his pre-Flashpoint self ever had. Of the New 52 comics that came immediately after Flashpoint, Green Arrow’s got the worst reviews and that says a lot. Only now are they starting to try and fix that because his new TV series is kind of popular and they should really try to take advantage of that.


Heads up: This is probably going to be the lengthiest profile of the 24 just because there’s a buttload of stuff to talk about.

Alias: Hal Jordan, Parallax, the Spectre
First Appearance: Showcase #22 (1959)
Powers: Wields a ring that allows him to create solid constructs out of green light powered by willpower, flight and other neat bells and whistles
Other Media: Other than the recent movie, various Green Lanterns showed up on a ton of cartoons, including starring in two animated movies, showed up on Legends of the Superheroes and the Justice League of America TV movie

The Golden Age Green Lantern was Alan Scott, a hero with a magic green ring that didn’t work on wood. He had a couple kids named Jade and Obsidian with Obsidian being one of the first openly gay characters in comics. After Flashpoint, DC created a new series Earth 2 that rebooted all the Golden Age characters into younger, more modernized versions. Alan is the Green Lantern there, but he seems to have inherited his now-nonexistent son’s homosexuality. So if you heard the media talk about how Green Lantern is gay, they’re talking about the one from another universe that nobody’s reading.

The Silver Age reboot made it that the Green Lantern Corps is an intergalactic police force headed by a bunch of tiny all-powerful blue guys in space called the Guardians. After their attempt to police the universe with robots went REALLY BADLY, they instead started sending out laser rings to the most courageous beings space had to offer. The rings get their charge from a giant green Power Battery on the planet Oa, where the Guardians live.

Considered of the best Lanterns was an alien named Abin Sur. Gravely wounded in battle, he crash landed on Earth and his ring sought out maverick test pilot Hal Jordan to be his replacement. This was a big deal to the Corps because they never had an Earthling wield a ring before. Hal was given the power to create constructs and weapons built by his own willpower and imagination, but his powers didn’t work on anything yellow. They didn’t explain this for over 40 years. They just had it out there because overly-powerful old school superheroes really needed some kind of kryptonite.

And old Green Lantern really was overpowered. He’d pull off shit that made no sense. I remember this time when the Justice League fought an unstoppable monster called the Shaggy Man. The entire team couldn’t take him down, so Hal just stared at him and focused the ring REALLY HARD until Shaggy Man was shrunken down to six inches. I never understood that.

Hal’s main love interest was his boss Carol Ferris, who would at times be possessed by her own cosmic trinket and wreak havoc as Star Sapphire. In case something were to happen to Hal, he had two backup Earth Green Lanterns in angry black guy John Stewart and angrier white guy Guy Gardner. Hal also had an Eskimo mechanic friend named Thomas who he referred to as “Pieface” because comics used to be pretty racist without realizing it.

Speaking of weird shit people like to poke fun at, Hal once had a thing going on with a Green Lantern named Arisia. Originally, the idea was that she was like 14 and she magically turned herself into an adult, which allowed her to be in a relationship with Hal despite him jokingly referring to himself as a “child molester”. Later, they covered for it by insisting that in terms of her race’s physiology, she’s mature enough to drink because 14 is like 25 in yellow elf alien years, so it’s totally fine. Man, what were they thinking?

The late-80’s-into-early-90’s was a special time for Hal because they started drawing him with these rocking gray hair tufts. I miss those so much. Other than that, the series wasn’t doing so well and they needed to shake things up. With the Death and Return of Superman going on, DC decided to toss away the plans for Green Lantern’s series and instead do the ever controversial storyline Emerald Twilight.

During Reign of the Supermen, villains Mongo and Cyborg Superman blew up Hal’s home of Coast City. Hal helped fight the villains off, but back in his own book, he stood in the smoking crater of Coast City and sulked. He started to lose his mind a little and decided to make green constructs of the entire population to help himself cope. The Guardians saw that he was violating one of their policies and ordered him to march into their office. Hal got pissed and flew to Oa, beating up any Lantern that got in his way and stole their rings. Then on Oa, the Guardians sent arch-nemesis Sinestro after Hal because Sinestro was considered the lesser evil. Hal snapped his neck. Then Hal’s good buddy Kilowog tried to stop him. Hal vaporized him. Then he stole away all the energy in the Power Battery, killing all but one Guardian, and became an armor-wearing uber-Lantern called Parallax.

In other words, he went from Anakin to Vader in just three comics. Fans. Were. Mad. It’s one thing to kill off a guy, but to have him suddenly go full-on nuts and kill his coworkers is out of the question. It led to the creation of the Hal’s Emerald Advancement Team (HEAT), a bunch of fans with too much time on their hands who actually bought advertisement space in Wizard Magazine to petition that they make Hal Green Lantern again and do away with this Parallax nonsense.

Regardless of the gnashing of the fans’ teeth, the surviving Guardian Ganthet came to Earth and gave the one remaining Green Lantern ring to the first person he saw. That turned out to be Kyle Rayner, a cartoonist in a Nine Inch Nails t-shirt. As far as replacement superheroes go, he’s one of the all-time best. Instead of using his ring to hit aliens with force beams and giant fists, Kyle would use his creativity and manifest, say, a 2-story-tall football player to punt his enemies. Also, the yellow weakness was inexplicably gone.

The early issues of Kyle’s run were pretty infamous for having supervillain Major Force take Kyle’s girlfriend, kill her and shove her into a refrigerator. Blogger-turned-one-day-comic-writer Gail Simone named her site after this by coining the term “shoving women in refrigerators” or “fridging” for short. It meant killing off or doing something horrible to a woman for the sake of getting a rise out of the male heroes or pushing their story forward. Coincidentally, it’s the same complaint a lot of people have about Lois Lane’s treatment in the Injustice storyline.

Parallax teamed up with another hero-turned-villain Monarch to use time travel to make the world in their image with Parallax hoping to bring Coast City back. That failed and Parallax became obsessed with becoming Green Lantern again. He realized his error and spent his days either fantasizing about the good old days or hunting down Cyborg Superman for what he did. When he did find Cyborg Superman, he tore him to pieces with green constructs of every single victim of Coast City.

In the event story Final Night, an alien creature called a sun-eater was – you guessed it! – eating the sun, plunging Earth into eternal night. Kyle sought out Parallax to help him. Parallax thought hard about what step to take and spent his final hours saying his goodbyes and making amends with former friends. Then he flew into the sun and used all of his great power to reignite it at the cost of his own life. Due to his mixed behavior, Hal ended up in purgatory.

DC has a character named the Spectre, the manifestation of God’s wrath who gets credit for every biblical plague-type thing that ever happened. He’s like Freddy Krueger, but he kills bad people while they’re awake. The Spectre needs a human host to work right and his host Jim Corrigan moved on to Heaven. Hal ended up becoming the new Spectre in hopes that he could redeem himself. It was an interesting time, but the Hal-Spectre concept didn’t quite work as well as DC had hoped.

In the mid-00’s, writer Geoff Johns took over for Green Lantern with a miniseries called Green Lantern: Rebirth, where he’d finally bring Hal back into the picture. In it, he explained away his actions in a rather clever way (that still succeeded in annoying readers, but whatever). There was this big, yellow, cosmic being named Parallax who was like a space god of fear. The Guardians overpowered him and shoved him into the Green Power Battery for imprisonment when the universe was young. That’s why the rings never worked on yellow, which was synonymous with fear: because Parallax was poisoning the punch. Being inside the power source, Parallax got his claws into Hal from the inside and influenced his actions over the years before turning him into a villain. Those hair tufts were a side-effect, or something.

The story ended with the resurrections of both Hal Jordan (sans gray tufts) and Sinestro plus a scene where Hal punched Batman. Batman fans weren’t happy with that either because nobody is allowed to punch Batman ever. A new series began with Hal as the main Green Lantern of Earth and Johns has been writing the series ever since, only finally leaving the title in a couple months from now. Meanwhile, the comic Green Lantern Corps would feature the likes of Kyle, Guy and John as well as the other aliens. Kilowog came back too somewhere along the line.

The whole “Parallax is a giant evil space bug that made Hal Jordan evil” thing worked as a foundation to a run that’s made Green Lantern one of the two most popular titles in DC’s last decade. At first it was just talked about how the Green Lantern ring was run on willpower. Then that Sinestro’s yellow ring was run on fear. Then they introduced an entire Lantern spectrum. Star Sapphires (whose cosmic creators fixed the flaw that made its hosts go crazy) were Violet Lanterns with the power of love. There was a Corps of Blue Lanterns with the power of hope. Red Lanterns driven by rage. Indigo Lanterns fueled by compassion. Then there’s Larfleeze, the lone holder of the Orange Lantern, as orange is the color of greed and it wouldn’t make sense for him to share that power with anyone. Larfleeze is like Space Gollum and he rules.

The one problem with the Lantern side of the DC Universe is how everything’s a big deal. It isn’t like other comics where your hero would fight his villain of the week a few times over then face a major universe-changing event. Green Lantern has been constantly going from major crossover to major crossover with no rest. The Green Lanterns are beating the Sinestro Corps? Forget that shit, there are more Lantern colors to deal with now! Wait, forget that! Now we have Black Lanterns overtaking the universe with zombies! No time for that! What the hell is the White Lantern and what does it want? Forget I mentioned that because one of the Guardians is evil and is going to kill us all! Oh, wait, now ALL the Guardians are evil! The Guardians are the least of our problems because the never-before-mentioned First Lantern is back and he’s going to rearrange reality out of his own demented selfishness!

Recently, Hal was banished from the Green Lantern Corps for killing the evil Guardian Krona. He saved the day in his actions, but he still killed a Guardian and that’s against the rules. Stuff happened and now he’s been crammed inside a Black Lantern ring, making everyone believe he’s dead. The newest Green Lantern of Earth is Simon Baz. Simon is an Arab-American and upon that announcement, thousands of dumbasses made the same joke of, “Ha ha, Green Lantern is going to be a terrorist!” Come on, son. Don’t be gross.

In a hilarious meta reveal, Simon was introduced as being wrongfully charged with committing a terrorist act. So art was imitating life. Simon wears a mask to hide his identity since he’s a public enemy and he carries a handgun with him at all times. Lots of people laughed at how this made no sense when he has the most powerful weapon in the universe, but it makes an awful lot of sense when you realize that one in three Green Lantern stories features a scene where the hero runs out of juice in his ring and has to fend for himself. Having a sidearm might not be the worst idea.

Regardless, everyone who reads comics knows that Guy Gardner is the best Green Lantern.


Alias: Dr. Harleen Quinzel
First Appearance: Batman: the Animated Series, Episode 7: Joker’s Favor (1992)
Powers: Peak physical conditioning, fantastic acrobatic abilities, immunity to toxins
Other Media: “Other” in relationship to what, exactly?

Harley is different from the other 23 characters in this game. She didn’t make her debut in the comics, but was instead created for Batman: the Animated Series as Joker’s faithful assistant. Even in comics, she first appeared in the tie-in for the cartoon. She was simply such a popular character that they had to incorporate her into comic continuity. Yet to this day, they refuse to give Ned Beatty’s Otis character from Superman his own comic spinoff. Has Kevin Smith named any of his kids after Bob the Goon? Come on!

There are slightly different versions of Harley’s origin, but they mostly tell the same story. She was Harleen Quinzel, a psychiatrist who wanted to do some sessions with the Joker. Despite the danger, it’s understandable. The possibility of successfully treating the Joker would grant you an automatic Nobel Prize and you’d make your mark on the world. Harleen was taken in by Joker’s charm and ended up becoming putty in his hands, eventually dedicating herself to standing by his side.

My favorite take on it came from Harley’s own comic series. Joker didn’t need to charm her because she was already into him. Joker realized that she was actually flirting with him during their initial session and thought it was hilarious. As par for the course, he started strangling her, but instead of gagging and struggling, she just looked up at him and gave a blissful, loving smile. Joker was disturbed by this and backed off, figuring that there were possibilities in this while reassuring her that he was only joking about the choking bit.

Despite Harley’s love for the Joker, there’s been very little indication that he regards her in any other way than a simple tool that he has to sweet talk when he isn’t abusing her or giving her orders. The two have had their separations now and then, though Harley seems to always find her way back. In fact, if you were to measure all of Harley’s comic appearances, you’d probably find that she’s teamed up with Poison Ivy far more often than the Joker. Ivy also injected Harley with some stuff that gave her minor superpowers, like her immunity to most toxins.

Harley had her own comic that was about her leaving the Joker’s side, mainly after he tried having her killed to get her out of his hair. Harley tried to make her own mark as a criminal with her own gang of misfit henchmen. The series ended with her taking part in an adventure where a little girl she had rescued got chemicals splashed into her eyes. She was told that the kid could be saved with some surgery, but it would be a costly operation and it would have to be immediate. Cut to that little girl being permanently blinded because Harley couldn’t bring herself to part with her stolen money. The guilt ate at Harley and made her realize what a broken, terrible person she was. And so, she surrendered herself to Arkham Asylum because she deserved to be there.

Another team-up with the Joker ended with Harley shooting him in the chest due to how Joker had become more cruel and demonic than actually humorous. Plus he tried to kill her again. From there, Harley spent a lot of time in the anti-hero game. She briefly joined the Secret Six, but her mercenary career didn’t last long. During a parade, she accidentally got their client killed, so she snuck off into the massive crowd and got the hell away before she could be punished.

She was one of the main characters in Countdown to Final Crisis but… You know what? We don’t need to talk about Countdown to Final Crisis. Nobody ever needs to talk about Countdown to Final Crisis. Take my word on this one.

She spent some time hanging out with Catwoman and Poison Ivy as the Gotham City Sirens, but turned on them towards the end of the series. She was planning on breaking into Arkham to murder the Joker for all the abuse he’s put her through, but then he convinced her to rejoin his side and help take over the asylum.

After Flashpoint, Harley’s design changed significantly. No longer wearing a jester outfit, she now resembles a Suicide Girl with half-red and half-blue hair along with a revealing outfit of the same color scheme. She’s constantly changing her demeanor from jovial to sexual to downright sadistic. She’s one of the main characters in the series Suicide Squad, where she’s shown an attraction to team leader Deadshot. Her connection/obsession with the Joker is still there, but she’s only worked with him one time since being introduced. Again, the situation left a bad taste in her mouth and she’s currently against ever working with him, partially because he once again tried to kill her.

Harley is one of the few villains from the animated Batman universe to get a real “where are they now?” conclusion. The Batman Beyond movie Return of the Joker showed her as falling down a deep hole, presumably to her death, although the authorities didn’t find a body. At the end of the movie, she appeared as “Nana Harley” and yelled at her no-good granddaughters who were working with the Joker. When Warner Brothers had the movie cut to pieces and edited into oblivion to garner a PG rating, they made sure Nana Harley’s dress was recolored black and red so really drive it home that she didn’t die.


The Hawkpeople. Dear God, what a clusterfuck.

No kidding, you might want to skip this one because it’s easily one of the most complicated backstories in DC.

The original idea was that Shiera was the reincarnation of an Egyptian princess who started dating Carter Hall, an archeologist who turned out to be the reincarnation of her Egyptian husband. Carter discovered a mystical metal called “the ninth metal” (later just “nth metal”) that allowed him to fly. He became Hawkman and sometime later, Shiera got into the action by being Hawkgirl. So far, so good, right?

Then they did the Silver Age reboot and reintroduced the couple as Katar and Shayera Hol, two married police officers from the planet Thanagar who wanted to check out how Earthling cops do their thing. They joined the Justice League and at one point Hawkgirl changed her name to Hawkwoman. Also, the nth metal was explained as being a special metal from their homeworld. Again, so far everything is easy to follow.

Crisis on Infinite Earths happened and the Hawkpeople remained the same. Two cops from space who lived together on Earth. DC released a 3-issue miniseries called Hawkworld that was meant to be an origin story for how officers Katar and Shayera met on Thanagar. Thing is, it sold really well and got a lot of good buzz. It sold so well that DC decided that instead of making it a miniseries, it would be an ongoing and they’d continue churning out more issues about their adventures. But that wasn’t enough. In order to really push sales on it, they’d need to incorporate it into present continuity so they could do crossover stories. Therefore, Hawkworld was no longer an origin story about the past. It was an origin story about the present!

“But wait, that doesn’t make any sense, sir! We’ve already shown Hawkman and Hawkwoman a bunch of times since Crisis. They joined Justice League International for a while and showed up in our big event Invasion!”

“Eh… I don’t know. Let’s say it was Golden Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl all along.”

“What? That doesn’t make sense either!”

“Cripes, I don’t know… Okay, how about this? It was an evil Thanagarian and some Earth woman pretending to be Hawkman and Hawkwoman all along? Why am I even asking for your approval? Make it so!”

“Yes, sir!”

So that happened. Then when they did that Zero Hour story to make sense out of everything, it only proceeded to muddy things up even further! So much that the Hawkman property became “radioactive” or “toxic”, terms reserved for characters so fucked up due to bad writing and killed sales that writers aren’t even allowed to touch them. In the series Starman, the main character was told by a fortune teller all sorts of future adventures he’d get in, but in a later issue, she corrected herself and said that the whole “fighting alongside Hawkman” bit was an oversight on her part. When Grant Morrison took up writing the Justice League, he wanted to introduce a new Hawkman in the form of an angel, but DC didn’t even want Hawkman’s name to be mentioned in any way, so he called the character Zauriel.

Hawkman and later Hawkgirl/woman did make a return eventually. Here is the actual continuity of what’s what after Zero Hour. I’m just going to refer to all the Hawkgirl/Hawkwoman characters as Hawklady for something resembling simplicity. Okay. Ready? Let’s do this.

Hawkman A and Hawklady A were humans who fought crime during the World War II days thanks to the use of nth metal. They were in the Justice Society. Many years later, Hawkman B and Hawklady B hung around Earth. Hawkman B was really a spy from the planet Thanagar and he married an Earth woman and used brainwashing tactics to make her think she was also Thanagarian. Hawklady B remembered the truth, came clean to the Justice League, Hawkman B killed her and flew back to his home planet.

Hawkman C came to Earth with Hawklady C, both of them cops from Thanagar, though not married. Hawkman C and Hawklady C fought crime together and even helped save Earth when Thanagar tried to take over. Then in the Zero Hour storyline, Hawkman A, Hawklady A and Hawkman C all merged into one being: Hawkman D. Hawklady C threw her hands up, yelled, “DONE!” and quit the superhero business to become an Earth cop.

Hawkman D went crazy and was banished away. He exploded into the three souls. Hawkman C’s soul went to the afterlife and Hawkman A was resurrected, starring in his own critically-acclaimed series. The soul of Hawklady A jumped into the body of young woman Kendra Saunders. Kendra retained her own memories, but had Hawklady A’s reflexes and skills. She became Hawklady D. Hawkman A had the hots for her, but Hawklady D was like, “Gross! I’m not your wife, sicko! Get away from me!” But she sort of had the hots for him too. Eventually, Hawklady A’s soul left the body and went off to the afterlife. Hawkman A, Hawkman B, Hawklady C and Hawklady D went off to fight a big space war where Hawkman B and Hawklady C were killed.

Then the Green Lantern-based event Blackest Night happened. In the first issue, Hawkman A and Hawklady D were attacked and killed by some space zombie versions of the Elongated Man and his wife Sue. Elongated Man and Sue ate their hearts and turned them into space zombies. At the end of the story, a dozen superheroes and villains were inexplicably resurrected by the power of the White Lantern and that included Hawkman A and Hawklady A.

The hard part is over! Thank God! Back to just two characters with no overlap!

Hawkman and Hawkgirl had a big role in the bi-weekly series Brightest Day, which dealt with their many reincarnated lives over the centuries. The series was a bunch of lead-up to how a handful of the resurrected characters from Blackest Night were meant to represent the four elements. Hawkman and Hawkgirl were wind, Martian Manhunter was earth, Firestorm was fire and Aquaman was water. Together, they resurrected Swamp Thing. For some reason, Hawkgirl remained in her wind elemental form, meaning once again, Hawkman’s lost his eternal love.

Thank God for the Flashpoint reboot because instead of Katar Hol and Carter Hall being two completely different guys with similar names and the exact same superhero gimmick, they made it so that Hawkman is alien Katar Hol who is using Carter Hall as his fake Earth name. Hawkwoman has shown up as a villain based on misunderstanding and has already been killed off.

They will be introducing a new Hawkgirl into the Earth 2 comic soon.

I have no idea who the Hawkgirl from Injustice is supposed to be. I figure it’s just Shayera Hol because that’s who she was on the Justice League cartoon, the only reason anyone cares about her. Ah, Justice League. A cartoon where her story was simply that she was an alien spy who went and turned on her race when they attacked Earth. So simple. It makes some of the brain pain go away.

Cool thing about that cartoon: Marvel has a team called the Defenders, which is like a grouping of loner characters who somehow coexist as a unit together. In Justice League, there was an odd grouping of characters who were only placed together for the sake of being a gigantic Defenders reference. Aquaman as Namor, Dr. Fate as Dr. Strange, Solomon Grundy as the Hulk, Amazo as the Silver Surfer and Hawkgirl as a mix between Valkyrie and Nighthawk. Grundy always referred to her as “Birdnose”, which is exactly what Hulk’s nickname for Nighthawk was.

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

  1. “Regardless, everyone who reads comics knows that Guy Gardner Rot Lop Fan is the best Green Lantern.”

    Fixed that for you.

  2. “I have no idea who this is.”
    That was great. Did they have Rosenbaum and Brown switch voices for that? I can’t remember.

    Sort of related: back when that crazy-sounding George Miller Justice League movie wasn’t quite dead, and the rumour was Adam “Seth Cohen” Brody as Wally West taking over from his uncle, I thought it would have been great if they got John Wesley “Dawson’s Dad” Shipp back for the role.

  3. Unless I’m mistaken the Green Arrow storyline you mention is when he teamed up with Travis Morgan: Warlord not Deathstroke.

    I think the joke was that it was during the Grell run and Warlord looked like his creator (Grell) and so did Ollie at that point.

  4. @James W: Their bodies kept the same voices.

    @Jacob: That was a separate story.

  5. They did indeed keep the same voices — part of the joke was that Rosenbaum as the Luthor-possessed Flash got to use his Smallville Lex Luthor voice on Justice League!

  6. Looking at the Injustice comic Booster Gold needs to be in the game so the game so they can have an ending that hits the reset button

  7. The Flash family/legacy hero was the sort of thing Marvel doesn’t tend to have and I’m sorry DC dropped it.

    Is there still a “line” of Blue Beetles?