Welcome again to a different version of ASK… THE QUESTION. I’m Alex Jaffe, your host of this month-to-month column and our weekly Trivia Tuesdays over within the DC Neighborhood, the place I am going by HubCityQuestion. On this function, I take all of the urgent questions that you simply submit concerning the huge scope of the DC Universe and all its inhabitants and historical past, and I do my stage greatest to ship the solutions you crave. This week, we problem the claims of a principally forgotten Golden Age superhero, hear a unusual query about DC’s latest large display hero, and try to outline the idea of canon. Must be straightforward, proper?
Second Verse, Similar because the First?
Is Justice League Past (Earth-12) canon to the DC Animated Universe?
There are two methods to reply this query. The primary one, and the one which issues, is, “What does your coronary heart let you know?” The opposite is “Not strictly talking, no.”
For any non-Millennial DC followers studying this, the DC Animated Universe (DCAU) is a time period used to check with the shared canon between the animated tasks developed with Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. This consists of exhibits like Batman: The Animated Sequence, Superman: The Animated Sequence, Justice League, Justice League Limitless, Static Shock and Batman Past. (Additionally, a Batman Past spin-off a couple of rogue android referred to as The Zeta Venture. However we don’t actually discuss The Zeta Venture.)
Early in 2011, DC launched a brand new Batman Past miniseries by Adam Beechen and Ryan Benjamin, starring Terry McGinnis as Batman within the futuristic Neo Gotham, simply because the Batman Past cartoon of 1999 had earlier than it. The story appeared to attract on Terry’s shared historical past with Bruce Wayne and his legacy as established within the animated collection. Curiously, nevertheless, this story had Terry deal with a brand new incarnation of Hush—a villain who had by no means appeared within the unique cartoon or any of the animated collection linked to Batman Past. This instantly raised the query of what precisely this new Batman Past comedian was meant to be. Was it a continuation of the collection, or was it another imaginative and prescient of Batman’s future impressed by each the animated collection and Batman’s tales from the comics?
This tackle Batman Past would go on to be developed additional by way of a line of digital comics. Batman Past Limitless, Batman Past 2.0 and, as you talked about, Justice League Past, which explored the additional adventures of the League featured within the Batman: The Animated Sequence episode “The Name.” In Grant Morrison’s The Multiversity, this world was given a numerical designation of Earth-12 (primarily based on a small Batman Past cameo within the prior Superman/Batman comedian collection).
Curiously, The Multiversity additionally offers us Earth-50, the universe of the tyrannical “Justice Lords” which apparently corresponds to the fallen heroes seen within the Justice League episode “A Higher World.” Nonetheless, as with the 2011 Batman Past collection, there are some obvious discrepancies with the Justice Lords as they initially appeared. The Batman of Earth-50, as an example, seems to have at all times been plotting in opposition to the Justice Lords in secret, whereas he needed to be received over by the primary universe’s Batman within the unique cartoon.
Ultimately, a DCAU counterpart of Hush would be launched, in Paul Dini and Alan Burnett’s Batman: The Adventures Proceed—a comic book which picks up the place The New Batman Adventures, sequel collection to Batman: The Animated Sequence, as soon as left off. However since then, different discrepancies have amassed to counsel that the continuity between DCAU and the comedian guide multiverse’s Earth-12, intentional or not, doesn’t precisely, neatly work. Within the continued tasks by groups which initially labored on the fiction of the DCAU and people which have advised the Batman Past tales of Earth-12, it looks like making these tales line up completely with one another isn’t the precedence.
Prior to now, I’ve referred to what I’ve termed a “one-way canon,” the place the tasks which observe from an unique work take its occasions into consideration to kind its personal tales, however the place the first supply of continuity might not essentially refer again to these follow-ups and spinoffs ought to they be continued by their unique creators. It’s a state of affairs the place a secondary supply would contemplate the first a part of its canon, however the major wouldn’t concern itself with the occasions of the secondary tales to proceed its personal narrative. And which may be the case right here, as properly. However it might be simpler to place it this manner: Justice League Past, and the opposite comics of Earth-12, might not be in the identical continuity because the DCAU collection, however they’re impressed by them. They exist as a tribute to the unique collection and are created from a supply of affection and respect for them which they absolutely share with you.
Then once more, it’s not just like the exhibits throughout the DCAU don’t often contradict minor particulars inside themselves. That’s merely an unavoidable consequence of any long-running collaborative work with a number of giant inventive groups, all working without delay. Ultimately, the canon of any reiterative fictional world is no matter you need it to be, as a viewer and reader. All artwork is a collaborative expertise, in spite of everything, between creator and viewers. Canon is private, and the facility to outline it’s yours.
What These Ears Do
What’s up with comedian guide Black Adam’s ears?
It is a fairly good query and I want I had a greater reply for you. Though extra human-shaped in current tales, together with the current Dwayne Johnson film, Black Adam’s ears have historically gave the impression to be pointed and elf-like, making him look considerably inhuman. Surprisingly, in on a regular basis since this character trait was launched in 1945’s Marvel Household #1, there’s by no means been an evidence for this within the comics. Some have theorized that, like Billy Batson taking up an idealized type of his grownup self when he transforms into Shazam, Black Adam’s ears are a unconscious manifestation of his demonic inclinations. I’ve even heard one concept from comedian guide editor and Shazamologist Carl Shinyama that Adam’s ears have been remodeled by the wizard Shazam after his fall from grace as a mark of disgrace to warn all who would see him of his wickedness.
I form of like that reply for its mythological qualities and the motifs it echoes of gods and sorcerers remodeling those that wronged them for his or her slights – like Arachne in Greek mythology, as an example, or Cain within the Bible. The flaw in these theories, nevertheless, is that throughout the interval the place Black Adam was constantly depicted with pointed ears, we do see him with that very same trait whereas in human kind, as seen in Shazam! #38 and DC Comics Presents #49. For now, we’re simply going to must chalk it as much as creative license.
Let Me Rely Thy Gimmicks
What number of gimmicks does Merry, Lady of 1,000 Gimmicks, even have?
Nicely, let’s work it out. I’m going to make this depend as charitable as doable, as a result of 1,000 is a reasonably large quantity to achieve for a personality who’s solely made 30-odd appearances in 75 years.
Merry Pemberton, adopted sister of the unique Star-Spangled Child and mom of Brainwave Jr., first appeared in 1948’s Star-Spangled Comics #81 and debuted her crimefighting persona in Star-Spangled Comics #82. Right here, Merry demonstrates one gimmick in her debut confrontation with the legal magician, the Nice Presto. In a second of distraction, Merry switches Presto’s gun for a faux that solely fires handkerchiefs. We will say then that her first gimmick is the ol’ switcheroo.
In Star-Spangled Comics #83, tinkerer Merry Pemberton introduces us to her discipline package for the primary time, presenting herself as a puckish ally to her foster brother. Her first piece of substances: a pair of infra-red binoculars. She additionally debuts a whistling flail, a jack-in-the-box boxing glove, a chemical bubble-blowing gun, a weighted rope for the traditional “Indian rope trick,” and your commonplace however ever helpful smoke bomb. That brings us from one as much as six. It’s additionally concerning the time that Merry takes over her foster brother’s slot in Star-Spangled Comics altogether.
In Star-Spangled Comics #84, Merry drives a horse-drawn chariot and creates a faux blizzard with an electrical fan and a few cleaning soap flakes. She additionally pulls the switcheroo on her enemy the Rope, however that’s an previous gag. The bag of fireworks she trades for his stolen gold, nevertheless, is new. 9 gimmicks.
Star-Spangled Comics #85 is the primary to introduce Merry as “The Lady of 1,000 Gimmicks.” The idea of getting a number of gimmicks itself, I consider, needs to be counted as its personal gimmick. To not point out utilizing a lasso tied to a pepper shaker to make bandits sneeze from afar, a wind gun with “virtually the pressure of a twister,” a magnet on a string for disarming enemies, the power to seize onto a department when launched off a teeterboard by a horse, and portray faces on balloons to deceive enemies concerning the allies at her help. That brings us to fifteen gimmicks. Over 1% of the best way to the marketed thousand, now.
Star-Spangled Comics #86 sees Merry utilizing spring-loaded metal tape with a hook on the finish as an early grappling hook, flour bombs and a Native American disguise package. That final one might be not a gimmick Merry shall be returning to, but it surely will get us to eighteen gimmicks.
Star-Spangled Comics #87 provides ice-skating, a small hand-held bullet protect, a Joker-style trick flag gun, and an eight-balled popgun she calls “the octopus” to Merry’s repertoire. Gimmick depend: 22.
Star-Spangled Comics #88, whereby Merry defends the consideration of a “tomboy,” sees her wielding a putty-ball gun, a brilliant high-speed bicycle, a useful pocket mirror for mild reflection, self-lighting firecrackers and a smoke bomb launcher (which we’re counting as a separate gimmick from the smoke bombs used earlier out of a way of charity). We’re at 27 and counting.
The lead function in Star-Spangled Comics #89 offers us a glance contained in the capsules of Batman’s utility belt. However in Merry’s function, the Lady of Numerable Gimmicks wields an arsenal of a pocket hearth extinguisher, a wire net, a magnesium flare and a easy jackknife. She even breaks out the previous boxing glove trick from Star-Spangled Comics #83 and follows it up with even handed use of a hornet’s nest—“nature’s gimmick,” as Merry calls it. We’ll depend it. 32.
Merry’s remaining starring function was in 1949’s Star-Spangled Comics #90, “The Duel of the Gimmicks” in opposition to her newly launched counterpart, “Gimmick Man.” For this remaining showdown, Merry produces a bulletproof baseball mitt, a dusting powder spray, a spark gun, a telescoping mule leg, two intentional backfiring gimmicks—a squirt gun and a satan jack-in-the-box—a sleeve-loaded rocket firecracker and Merry’s personal cape. She finishes Gimmick Man off along with her wire net from the earlier difficulty. That brings her whole, on the finish of her auspicious ten-issue run, to a complete of 40 precisely. Which is definitely the quantity I cited as a tough estimate the primary time this query was offered to me!
That might be Merry’s final gimmick till 1999, when she reappeared as a member of “Outdated Justice” in Younger Justice #16. Right here, an aged Merry seems to Crimson Twister by way of a pocket holographic projector of her personal design and divulges herself to have faked her demise—a ability I’m personally counting as one other gimmick—and wields a hand-held, trigger-operated web and a telescoping boxing glove. Merry produces a extra complicated, full-body holographic projection of herself nonetheless in Younger Justice #17.
Younger Justice #19 has Merry experimenting additional nonetheless with holographic expertise, utilizing it to seize the three-dimensional picture of a bunch of enemies. The Younger Justice “Sins of Youth” occasion sees Merry displaying off some gas-filled marbles, a speed-sapping physique spring entice, fluency in Latin, acute political acumen, and a brand-new gimmick in the direction of the brand new Star-Spangled Child, Courtney Whitmore: empathy. It’s price noting that by this time, in her late profession, Merry had modified her sobriquet to “Merry, the Gimmick Lady,” apparently abandoning her lofty objective of a thousand. Nonetheless, the depend stands at 51.
Which feels slightly bit shy, doesn’t it? About 949 gimmicks too few. Until, maybe we contemplate one final gimmick for the Gimmick Lady: the gimmick of exaggerating the vary of her gimmicks. That leaves us with a pleasant, satisfying 52.
It additionally leaves us on the finish of this function, for at the very least one other month. I’ll see you all once more round this time in December with a brand new checklist of mysteries as recent because the fallen snow. All you should do is go to my workplace within the DC Neighborhood, the place the facility is in your arms to ASK… THE QUESTION.
Alex Jaffe is the creator of our month-to-month “Ask the Query” column and writes about TV, films, comics and superhero historical past for DCComics.com. Observe him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and discover him within the DC Neighborhood as HubCityQuestion.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed on this column are solely these of Alex Jaffe and don’t essentially mirror these of DC Leisure or Warner Bros.