Hello. I’m Alex Jaffe, better known in our Community as HubCityQuestion. My personal mission: to take on any question you have about the DC Universe -- no matter how granular, obscure, or strange -- and present you with an answer. As a faithful steward of the truth, I offer my time in this weekly column to address these inquiries. If you’d like to submit one of your own, you can stop by my office at any time in our lively Community to state your case, which I will address in turn to the best of my ability. All YOU need to do is ask… The Question.
THIN LINE BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE
“Darkseid certainly has some family issues. Darkseid had two wives/significant others. Suli who bore Kalibak. Darkseid’s mother, Heggra, eventually had her killed. Tigra gave birth to Orion. Darkseid also killed his brother to get the Omega power. Any idea where I can find these particular stories? What happened to Tigra and Darkseid’s mother? Did he murder them as well? Thanks Q.”
Certainly. The story of Suli’s death, along with a great deal of Darkseid’s history, is told in 1989’s New Gods #8, by writer Mark Evanier and artist Paris Cullins. Darkseid’s history is examined further in Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, a yet-undigitized series by writer-artist John Byrne which ran from 1997 to 1998. Darkseid defeats his brother Drax in the fourth issue… though he lives once more as Infinity Man, as first seen in Jack Kirby’s The Forever People.
As for the women in Darkseid’s life: Tigra perished in 2000’s Orion #3, by Walt Simonson. The mother of Darkseid’s second son had been manipulating her boy to usurp the lord of Apokolips, when a Parademon death squadron of Suicide Jockeys were dispatched to cut her plot short.
And Heggra? Her life was over the moment she was introduced, in Jack Kirby’s New Gods #7. As vengeance for killing his first love, Darkseid secretly had faithful Desaad poison her, and wrote her death off to the casualties of war — securing his sole control of Apokolips permanently.
ROCK WITH YOU
“My query today Q, concerns the Bat & the Rock. Mr. [Bob] Haney had a whole corral of costar material to choose from [for his run on The Brave and the Bold]. The more popular ones were brought back again and again, Sgt. Rock among them. The Brave and the Bold #84, back in '69, laid the groundwork for everything that followed for the next 10 years. Was it the Earth 2 Batman and Rock? Could’ve been. But for the wraparound story, which had an older Rock meeting eternally youthful BW in (then) present day time. Mr. Haney penned about a half dozen of these team-ups (if memory serves). Clearly, the Super Hero fans wanted it. The war comic fans just tried to ignore it. Myself included. [Sgt. Rock writer] Bob Kanigher was certainly no fan. As far as he and [co-creator] Joe Kubert were concerned, Rock was the last to fall at the end of WW2. Others simply saw it as taking place on just another growing list of multiple Earths. So, why all the fuss. None of which was ever made very clear. So, for discussion purposes, let’s call it Earth-Haney. Now, I don’t know if Earth-Haney was destroyed in the first CRISIS, or not. Or, where Earth-Haney is going to wind up when all this Dr. Manhattan/Doomsday Clock business shakes out. Is Frank Rock still with us, or resting peacefully at Arlington? I’m just wondering, sir, if you have any thoughts on the matter?”
I touched upon this issue in a previous column, when discussing the fate of a similar contrivance from Haney’s parade of Brave and the Bold co-stars: that of the Earth-One incarnation of Wildcat, a character who otherwise exclusively appeared on Earth-Two. Haney was vocal about how he practiced a “throw to the wall and see what sticks” approach when assigning co-stars to his run on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, continuing to revisit heroes that readers responded to. One of these was Sgt. Rock, whose modern day team-ups with Batman got increasingly metatextual as the series went on. Your assessment of an “Earth-Haney” is an astute one, as this Brave and the Bold run stands apart from other concurrent series who Batman was allowed to interact with -- much like how the modern Harley Quinn series only engages with wider continuity whenever convenient.
Rest assured that by modern standards, Sgt. Rock’s fate remains aligned with the wishes of Kanigher and Kubert. As assured in DC Universe: Legacies prior to The New 52, and reassured by Justice League United during it, the good sergeant was killed, as he had always been fated, by the final bullet fired in World War II. But Haney might be amused to know that the New 52 arranged a way for him to have his cake and eat it -- for modern appearances, Frank Rock’s grandson, Sergeant Joseph Rock, was introduced to continue his legacy in the 2011 relaunch of Men of War.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
“DC characters have been brought over from other publishers, like Plastic Man, Blue Beetle, Captain Marvel, Stormwatch, MLJ, Static, etc. What were those publishers?”
The history of DC’s acquisitions begins long before there even was a company called DC Comics. Rather, the entity that would become DC Comics originated as three distinct publishers, all with their own slates of characters before they eventually merged.
In late 1934, a company called National Allied Publications was founded by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, to print all original material in comic book format. The company’s first publication, New Comics, was published in 1935. National Allied Publications would eventually see the birth of characters like Superman and Zatara in the pages of their flagship anthology, Action Comics.
In 1937, Wheeler-Nicholson partnered with Jack S. Liebowitz to found a second comic book publisher, Detective Comics Inc, to publish the Detective Comics anthology, which gave rise to hard-boiled gumshoes like Slam Bradley, and the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin.
Then, 1938 saw the rise of a third publisher, All-American Comics, founded by Detective Inc’s Jack Liebowitz and industry pioneer Max Gaines. Many of the greatest heroes of the Golden Age of Comics originated in All-American titles, including the original Flash, Green Lantern, Atom, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Wildcat, Mister Terrific, Red Tornado, and even Wonder Woman — basically the entire lineup of the Justice Society of America.
It was in 1946 that these three entities were united under a single banner, National Comics Publications. In 1961, the company was rebranded as National Periodical Publications — but due to the way issues were addressed, the publisher became colloquially known as “Superman-DC,” and eventually just “DC.” It was only in 1977 that National Periodical Publications officially became DC Comics.
So, technically speaking, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman all originated from three different publishers, only uniting shortly after World War II.
The company which would be DC made their first major acquisition in 1956 from Quality Comics, founded in 1937. In addition to continuing Quality’s long running series of Blackhawk, G.I. Combat, Heart Throbs, and (briefly) Robin Hood Tales, they also acquired the rights to many of Quality’s most well-known characters: Plastic Man, Kid Eternity, the Blackhawks, and Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters.
Ten years later, DC acquired three long-running titles from Prize Comics, known in its later years as Crestwood Publications: Young Love, Young Romance, and Black Magic. No significant characters arose from this period, but they did cater at the time to an audience for romance and horror anthology formats.
Fawcett Comics, the original home of the Shazam! family of characters, ceased publication in 1953. In 1972, DC licensed the rights to publish new Shazam! stories from the mostly defunct Fawcett, purchasing the characters outright in 1994, along with lesser-known Fawcett characters such as Spy Smasher, Bulletman, and Bulletgirl.
It was in 1983, the waning days of the Connecticut-based Charlton Comics, that DC purchased the company’s stable of “Action Heroes.” This included original characters such as the Question, Captain Atom, Nightshade, and Peacemaker, but also some acquisitons that Charlton had made themselves in the 1950s: like Blue Beetle from Fox Comics, who they had since reinvented from Fox’s original Dan Garrett as his successor Ted Kord, and Hoppy the Marvel Bunny and Ibis the Invincible, from the aforementioned Fawcett Comics.
Milestone Media, the birthplace of Icon, Hardware, Static, and many others, was founded in 1993 to be published and distributed by DC Comics. DC and Milestone still have a close relationship with one another to this day, though calling one an “acquisition” of the other may not technically be correct.
Jim Lee’s WildStorm comics was founded in 1992 as part of the Image Comics brand, but it was split off and bought out by DC in 1998 — their most recent major acquisition. The integration of WildStorm brought many of the titles you can find on DC Universe today: including WildC.A.T.S., Stormwatch, The Authority, Planetary, Gen13, and many others, as well as the titles published under WildStorm’s own imprint of America’s Best Comics, including Tom Strong and Promethea.
There are other heroes and characters which DC has borrowed the rights to publish for a period of time in the past, without acquiring them outright. The MLJ stable of heroes you mentioned, for instance, such as the Shield, the Web, and Black Hood, were published twice by DC: first in 1991 under the imprint of Impact Comics, and again in 2008 by DC’s “Red Circle” line. Today, those publication rights have reverted to MLJ’s modern incarnation, Archie Comics.
Classic pulp characters like the Shadow and the Spirit, and Wally Wood’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, have drifted in and out of DC’s line through the years, passing from publisher to publisher as the rights-holders see fit. They may yet make their way back to DC someday. Who knows what copyright entanglements lurk in the hearts of men?
Well, I certainly don’t. I must sadly report that I cannot read the souls of creators and publishers with any more efficacy than I may predict the future. But for any and all other inquiries, you need only ASK… THE QUESTION. At the very least, I may offer some plausible speculation. Roll the disclaimer!