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re: JLA History

Just a note with regard to the editorial commentary in the portion of your history pertaining to Midsummer's Nightmare. First, its clear that Aquaman did, at some point, if only briefly, use the name Arthur Curry. The best evidence are the numerous occurences of people calling him Arthur. Second, Diana Prince is, in fact, Wonder Woman's legal name. She added the Prince when she did the paperwork to legally work in this country, first at Taco Whiz, then at the Gateway City museum. Batman is well familiar with both of these facts. With regard to why they were the only two he came up with, I'd argue that they're the only two he'd look for, besides J'Onn (who, of course, wouldn't have been listed as John Jones anywhere, in the context of the story). With the whole world at stake, I really doubt Batman would try to gather allies who he didn't know, ala Jack Knight, doesn't respect, ala GL, Wally, Guy and Billy, or who wouldn't be very useful ala Ralph (I'm a fan, but he's not exactly a heavy hitter).

Given the context, with the whole world at stake, Batman would put together a crack team of the people he trusts and respects, and given Superman's more democratic bent, I'm sure he'd be willing to fib, "Oh gee, I only found two. Lets get them and go find J'Onn."

Joan Wayne aka, Ms. Victory

Nice explanation. I know Arthur Curry is Aquaman's real name, but there must be hundreds of Arthur Currys in the world and Aquaman doesn't have a location to begin in (unlike Jack Knight, who would likely be in the directory for Opal City). As for Diana Prince, I didn't know she'd adopted that name and I collected Perez up to issue 50 and Byrne's run up to about #114 (and this Golden age thing now) and she never used it…even rejected it back in her Myndi Mayer publicity days.

I still think Bruce knows many more traceable identities of useful people he respects, such as several other JLAers, JSAers, Black Lightning, Rex (Metamorpho) Mason, Katana, etc… As for Guy Gardner, he may not respect him…but he was always good at controlling Guy and Guy is much more stable and mature than before. It's all subjective.

The main hole in your theory is that anybody is more "useful" than Aquaman.

Hi there, I've just been reading your history of the JLA and noticed you pointed out certain mistakes. I'm afraid that these mistakes you pointed out aren't actually mistakes.
For example you point out that during Midsummer Nightmare Batman's computer should have been able to find more than just those seven people even though there where others who not only had public identities but could have been found by switching on the TV or reading a phone book.
I think I should point out that this was explained when Batman and Superman remarked on how odd it was that only League members where found. They both noted it was more than a coincidence and that they where being set up. The list didn't come from the computer but rather Dr. Destiny who was signaling for help.
As for the "Starro" incident I was surprised that the League didn't pick up on the resemblence, especially when Batman used the exact same method to beat it.
The League couldn't have used their powers against it because 1, no matter how powerful or fast they are they would still be overwhelmed by the sheer number of the creatures (the way Flash was) and 2, the ship had defences specifically designed to counter against meta human attacks (so there powers might not have worked in the ship anyway) but since the defences where too specifically designed Batman was able to slip in. I guess it didn't think a mere human would be much of a threat.
Why the League didn't use their past encounters to devise a plan against it I don't know. But as for the Specter's reasons for not stopping the creature, God knows (literally).
"Starro" only survived the depth's of space because the exterior of the ship was designed to withstand the cold. The interior (which Batman defeated it in), however, is a different matter.
Just thought you would like to know.
Martin Kelly

I'm not sure if I should call them "mistakes" so much as plot oversights. That's not the rarest thing in the comic world. After all, Gerry Conway had the entire Martian military attack Earth and never explained why no other superheroes besides the JLA could intervene.
Okay, I just re-read the last issue (where "what's going on" was explained) and they do make it clear that these people were "chosen" by Dr. Destiny, who implanted subliminal knowledge of who they really were in a couple of them. So, that would explain how Diana and Arthur could be found in their obscure secret IDs. I still don't buy the idea that Batman couldn't find a few others even without his supercomputer. What about Dick Grayson?
But this really only shifts the blame from Batman. Now we must ask, "Why would Dr. Destiny want Aquaman?" Unlike Batman, Destiny is working from a position of semi-omniscience. He would be able to pick and choose from any superhero in the world. You're telling me HE would prefer the guy who talks to fish over Warrior, Supergirl, Booster Gold, Gypsy, Vixen, Nuklon, Jade, Obsidian, Alpha Centaurian, Captain Atom, Red Tornado, Firestorm, Zatanna (not going after a magician makes no sense), Sentinel, Blue Devil (he was alive), Nightshade, etc… Open your Who's Who to a random page and you'd find someone preferable to Aquaman. The fact that Aquaman actually came in useful (psychically "tethering" Martian Manhunter) is irrelevant because a) Dr. Destiny couldn't know Batman would use him that way, and b) if a telepath was needed, there are more powerful ones available.
NOW, as for the Starro incident…
Flash was not overwhelmed by numbers. Flash stood in one place, stunned, as they flew at him. The JLA, in the vision shown to them, similarly fail to put up any fight. A comment about the starfish being designed for metahumans is just literary laziness. You mean these starfish are invulnerable, can fly at the speed of light and can somehow get through Green Lantern's forcefields? As for Batman being able to get through because the starfish were, again, designed for superhumans, this makes no sense at all. If they can defeat Superman and Flash, then they're more than capable of defeating Batman! Does this mean that, because my laser rifle is powerful enough to incinerate a Kryptonian, it will have no effect on Batman? Ridiculous. There were starfish prepared for Aquaman and they would work just as well on Batman. I know Grant Morrison considers Batman the most dangerous human alive, but I'm sick of this assumption that we should ignore sloppy writing and poor plotting because, hey, he's Batman. Batman is human! The point of the character is that he has human limitations.
And, if you'll look at page 17, you'll see Superman, Supergirl and Captain Marvel flying in space with stars on their faces. If the stars on their faces could survive the extreme cold of space, they could survive Batman reducing the temperature of the room.

Re: "Who Isn't Like God?"
Mario, Do you think Eclipso, the "God of Evil" (or whatever he's the god of) figures into all this, too? Excellent issue, by the way, as always.

David Bicha

[Mario responds]
Until it's retconned, Eclipso's origin as a former avatar of the Wrath of God puts him in approximately the same class as a fallen angel. However, unlike Lucifer et al, he was bound to the Earthly plane, and seems to have been anchored by those crystals…with them gone, I suspect he was stripped of his power and sent to Hell.

A well written article, but I would make a few suggestions. Add the SPECTRE to discussion. The 3rd series by Ostrander and Mandrake dealt with heaven and hell as often as Superman deals with saving Lois's nosey butt. BTW Great site.
Jeffrey A. Clements

Mario dealt with the Spectre, who is obviously on the side of the Angels, in his previous article, "Who Is Like God." You'll find it in the archives if you haven't read it yet.

As always an entertaining read. As someone whose reading and collecting heyday was in the Crisis/pre-Crisis era the 'zine brings a nostalgic feel to an old fan boy at heart.

Your use of humour is a highlight, for instance when I read: 'Thomas Oscar Morrow is not an evil, mad scientist, merely an amoral man with no qualms about killing if it suits his needs.' I laughed and laughed and laughed. It sort of reminded me how we could plunk money down issue after issue to find out which homicidal maniac's turn it was to break out of Arkham Asylum this month. Maybe someone with a macabre bent could plot some sort of chart. It seems as if villains do much worse things these days and yet incur much lighter consequences. I mean the old Luthor turned to a career as a criminal genius because his hair fell out. The new one drugs his wife and has her locked away so he can raise his child alone. The old T.O.Morrow was a joke and he lost his existence, the current one is 'an amoral man with no qualms about killing'. (Nothing personal there, I do take your position about morality in the Chronos review on board and appreciate the sentiment)

If anyone wants to think about why the bottom has fallen out of the comics market then perhaps they could consider the advent of an industry which now almost totally produces fiction in which characters are freed from any moral responsibility for, or consequences of, their actions. Frankly, despite the escalation in violence and 'sophistication', it gets, and is, very boring. Watching Batman lock the Joker away after 20 to 50 murders knowing that he'll be back for a multi-parter or an annual sometime next year at the latest robs the current story of a certain amount of gravity. Nothing ever gets resolved, and without some form of meaningful resolution there cannot be satisfaction.

Anyway this note could become a treatise and it really is just a note to say I enjoy the read and am apparently interacting with the opinions expressed. Which is more than the actual comics themselves do for me these days.
Gary Ware

T.O. Morrow hasn't ever killed anyone as far as I know, but he certainly seems willing to. He has tried to kill the entire JLA on several occasions, when it was in line with his other objectives. However, he's not in the homicidal maniac range. I guess that's all I was trying to say about him.

I think it is great that Fanzing is around. Is it possible to request previous issues?
Matthew Minnich

With over 1000 readers, I don't even want to get started sending out entire back issues to each one. However, I've just added text versions of most of our old articles to the archives. Due to webspace restraints, I can't leave up the excellent artwork from past issues; if there's one you're looking for, please e-mail us today.

Dear Fanzing guys,
Thanks for the review on Chase and Chronos. These are my two new books I just got hooked on. Pretty decent review, but I have a few thoughts I'd like to share. First, while I like Chase, the character can be really hard to sympathize with. She can really be a hardass at times. Especially in dealing with Jerry in issue one. Granted she stopped him without killing him in the end, but she was prepared to put a bullet in him earlier. Still, she's pretty cool and the book is excellent. As to the issues you had with Walker's behavior in Chronos…the first thing it said about Chronos in DC ads was, "He's a rogue and maybe a bit of a villain. All that's going to change." I suspect that the evnts of issue four will set Walker on a course that will instill him with a more noble purpose, if not make him into a full-fledged hero. I hope you give the book a chance.
Jack Morrison Greene

Here's a problem I've always had: if a good writer intentionally makes a character unlikeable, and I know that's his intention, can I still dump the book because the character is unlikeable?

re: Batman In A Dress

By the time this transmission sees public exposure, if it does, perhaps many of the folks reading FanZing will have seen the extraordinarily good Alex Proyas film, "Dark City". I thought it might be an interesting anecdote to note that Gene Siskel, of Siskel and Ebert fame, came right out on the big show and said that if WB was truly interested in saving the Batman movie franchise, they should turn the directing duties over to Mr. Proyas and see what happens.

After having seen "Dark City", I'm inclined to agree (Ebert liked it too, FYI). Perhaps someone will actually realize that one moniker never applied to Gotham City is "City of Lights".
Brian Wells

Brian is not only a co-worker of mine but an actual, boney fido film school graduate!

Dear Michael,
Liked the piece on the Batman movies! Most I agreed with, a little I quibbled with, and in a couple of places I was surprised by parallel thinking.
But it's not surprising we should consider Ra's Al Ghul to be a great choice for villain. Personally, I think the series could stand to be a bit more Bondish in that we get a single villain who would be made believable. That, really, is why the first one worked: we had one villain, The Joker, played well and memorably by Nicholson.
Actually, I thought James Earl Jones would have been a helluva choice for Ra's, though I don't think he should assay the part today. His portrayal of Thulsa Doom in the first CONAN was one of the few good things about that flick. (Sandahl Bergman was the other.)
Tommy Lee Jones was a terrible let-down as Two-Face, all counts agreed. Burton was pulling too many camp strokes, we didn't need a single one of those gaudy half-dark / half-light things. Harvey Dent is actually the scariest fruitcake of all the major villains, visually. All we would have needed is a gangsterlike milleu and the guy coming in, flipping that coin George Raft style, panned down till we get up to the good side of the face…and then a turn so we see the wasted side. If handled right, that could have been a scene to rival the unmasking of the Phantom of the Opera.
That kind of character Tommy Lee might have been good at. But, really, the best Two-Face would have been the guy that they didn't use when they had him: Jack Palance. (And, yes, you can use an actor in two different parts in a movie series. Charles Gray played an ally to James Bond in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and, in the next Connery outing, became Blofeld.)
True, BATMAN FOREVER was a big, overcrowded, loud, crappy movie. At least it had some actors you could like in it: Clooney, Chris, Alicia, Uma, and even Arnold was kinda fun to watch in places. And everybody walked out feeling cheated that Batgirl and Poison Ivy hadn't had a punch-up.
Your Ra's plot isn't too bad. It's a kind of cheat that you just say, "adapt one of the comic books" after one point. The Al Ghul plot would give us a chance to have one thing done that I've been waiting for in those movies a long time: get us out of Gotham City! I know those big sets are fun for the filmmakers, but it'd be equally fun for us to see Batman in a foreign setting, as he is in most of the Ra's stories in the comics.
Strange that you didn't mention Chris Walken, who was the only actor in BATMAN RETURNS who seemed to have any idea of how to act.
I would mention my reaction to seeing how Selina Kyle became a world-class kickboxer after being dumped ten stories on her head. But you can probably imagine that. You can get licked by all the kitties in the world, but that won't make you competition for Van Damme.
Lou Mougin

Sorry if I cheated by saying that the plot could then follow any of the Ra's stories. I guess I was just saying that all Ra's stories end the same way, with Ra's "dead" and Talia angry at Batman.

I would like to see a site or newsletter that gives us addresses of the DC-fanclubs out there. !!

Little help?