Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
This business about both Bruce and Dick being Batman (or “Batmen,” I guess) got me thinking about Earth-Two.
At the risk of being remedial — and some of you may want to skip to the next paragraph — Earth-Two was the home of DC’s original-formula superheroes, whose adventures took place roughly in real time. Superman first appeared in 1938, Batman in 1939, Robin in 1940, Wonder Woman in 1941, etc. It was the Justice Society’s Earth, where the Jay Garrick Flash had been around since 1940 before being “discovered” by Barry Allen decades later. Because the Golden Agers had all pretty much gone into semi-retirement, they had time to get married and raise kids. These children then became superheroes themselves. Earth-Two was retired itself in Crisis On Infinite Earths, but DC’s current Multiverse has its own Earth-2 (note the subtle change to numerals) which is very similar to the old one in most respects.
DC rolled out two more variant covers this week, as artists continue to provide their renditions of classic DC covers. Ironically, the two artists featured here are responsible for a good number of classic covers themselves.
First up, here’s Walt Simonson’s version of Jerry Robinson’s Detective Comics #69 cover, which will be a variant cover for Detective #866:
Every March, college basketball fans carefully study the NCAA brackets to see which teams have the best chance of making the Final Four. Every year, certain teams seem like locks, and this year won’t be much different. The high seeds will include perennial powerhouses like Kansas, Kentucky, Syracuse, and Duke on the men’s side; and Connecticut and Tennessee on the women’s. The lowest seeds are, inevitably, those teams who are satisfied just to be included (fingers crossed for William & Mary — they’re so close!). That leaves the vast middle populated by a number of familiar names: Old Dominion, Winthrop, San Diego State, Siena, et al. You’re never surprised to see them, but they don’t make it every year. However, every now and then one of these teams becomes more of a fixture; and nowadays fans would probably be surprised if Gonzaga or Butler failed to make the tournament.
Naturally, comparing DC’s superhero line to the field of 65 isn’t especially precise; but there is the notion that a title or character can shake off that Cinderella status and become a perennial player in the Big Dance. DC has been working pretty steadily towards making its characters more “familiar” to the general public, and to a certain extent that means putting familiar favorites in its lineup. With that in mind, let’s examine the staying power of some venerable DC books and separate some pretenders from contenders.
Last week Esther Inglis-Arkell over at the 4thletter called out a scene in the recent JSA: 80 Page Giant comic where Cyclone and Power Girl have a discussion about the latter’s costume … or, more specifically, the great big hole right in the middle of it.
“Are you kidding me? I’m getting an ‘I choose my choice’ speech from a fictional character?” Inglis-Arkell wrote. “Feminist fans are getting a slap because they won’t accept one bullshit excuse after another for why male heroes are mostly fully-clothed and female heroes mostly walk around in their underwear?”
You’d think that sort of attention might send the story’s writer, Jen Van Meter, running for cover, but instead she shows up in the 4thletter comments section to explain her intent when writing the story.
“A friend forwarded me links to your post and to a couple other blogs that have picked up on your comments, and I feel compelled to reply because you’re right — I failed in what I was trying to accomplish with the ‘Spin Cycle’ story, or, at the very least, I failed you and many of your respondents,” Van Meter posted.
Inglis-Arkell pulled the comment out into its own post, which I encourage you to read … it isn’t often you get to see a writer offer insight into a story where they “misstepped,” as Van Meter notes.
Despite the fact that most of them were published in summer, Thanksgiving is always a good time to reminisce about the annual meetings of the Justice League and Justice Society. Back in the day, these meetings were special because, by definition, they were built around the idea of an “alternate” DC history. Readers could compare and contrast two demonstrably different versions of the Flash, Green Lantern, and Atom; and even get a glimpse at what Superman, Batman and/or Robin, and Wonder Woman would look like decades down the road. In the 1970s, when the Justice Society gained a younger generation, characters like Power Girl and the Huntress played well off their Earth-1 “relatives.” This reinforced further the notion that the two teams were branches of the same family tree. Such sentiment is certainly Thanksgiving-y, regardless of the season; and the fact that these stories were annual traditions didn’t hurt either. Still, just as the fourth Thursday afternoon in November can easily find one doped up on poultry and zoned out on football, sometimes simply being with family isn’t enough.
Writer Paul Kupperberg started a series of posts last August about JSA: Ragnarok, a novel he finished in 2005 about the Justice Society. It was supposed to be published by iBooks before it went bankrupt in 2006. Since then, he’s posted multiple excerpts from the book; check out additional ones here, here and the latest one here.
In that latest post, Kupperberg says efforts to get it into print still continue.