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.
THIS IS HALLOWEEN
“How many sequels are there to The Long Halloween?”
Funny you should ask that, Cat/Horse. Because while many people don’t realize this, but writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale’s Batman: The Long Halloween is ITSELF a sequel. First published in 1996, The Long Halloween was launched as a spin-off from Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, a monthly ongoing series by a changing cast of writers and artists, often telling stories set early in Batman’s career. For three years, Loeb and Sale united to tell some particularly spooky annual Halloween stories within this series. You can find all these issues as chronologically published in our Legends of the Dark Knight collection. This collaboration led to the even more ambitious Long Halloween, named in honor of their renowned collaborative annuals.
As a successful whirlwind tour of Batman’s rogues gallery with an overarching mystery which introduced many established themes of the series in novel ways, The Long Halloween opened the door for a number of sequels and spin-offs — two of which were by the same team of Loeb and Sale. Batman: Dark Victory picks up almost precisely where Long Halloween leaves off, addressing the fallout from the revelation and apprehension of the original series’ “Holiday Killer,” and with Gotham’s criminal families in complete disarray. During the year-long events of Dark Victory, Catwoman disappears for six months to trace Gotham’s organized crime infestation back to the motherland. Her absence is explored in Loeb and Sale’s Dark Victory spin-off, Catwoman: When in Rome.
Although unnecessary as prerequisite reading, Batman: The Long Halloween was designed to take place after Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s “Batman: Year One.” So in 2000, when the task befell Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, and Javier Pulido to tell a similar story about Robin’s origins, it was only natural for them to set it immediately after the Loeb & Sale saga. Robin: Year One exists as a direct follow-up to Batman’s exploits in Dark Victory, and is itself followed by the next origin story written by Dixon and Beatty, Batgirl: Year One.
Once you finish all those tales, consider diving into the rest of the Legends of the Dark Knight series to explore other stories from around that time, focused on a Dark Knight who was still a growing legend amongst the people of Gotham.
ON A WING AND A PRAYER
“Hello! It’s me again! In the comics, how did Nightwing choose his symbol and name?”
Hello, JLWWSM! To understand the answer, first we must reveal an often forgotten chapter of comic book history. The first Nightwing, you see, was NOT Dick Grayson… but Superman.
In 1963’s Superman #158, Superman and Jimmy Olsen were trapped in the bottled city of Kandor and accused of a crime they didn’t commit. To root out injustice within Kandor and clear their names, they adopted the personae of Nightwing and Flamebird — inspired by their compatriots Batman and Robin, but named for two winged creatures native to Krypton. (And so we find the origin of the Nightwing symbol: it’s based on the Kryptonian bird.)
Sporadically throughout the Silver Age, Superman and Jimmy would continue to adopt their vigilante personae when traveling down to Kandor. Years later, in Tales of the Teen Titans #44, Dick takes on the name of Nightwing for himself to honor a collaboration with Superman and Jimmy during this period which left a large impression on his young mind.
After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Superman’s early interactions with Kandor were erased from history — and Dick was left without an explanation for his origin as Nightwing. This was amended in 1999’s Nightwing: Secret Files and Origins, where we find a disillusioned Dick Grayson seeking to make his own name apart from Batman’s shadow, and turns to the greatest symbol of hope he knows for comfort and advice: Superman. Superman tells Nightwing about a legendary hero of Krypton who was cast out from his family much like Dick was, and who went on to prove his doubting parents wrong about his limited potential, and became a true champion of the defenseless. That man, it turns out, was the original Nightwing. Inspired, Dick would carry on bearing the Kryptonian Nightwing’s name as tribute.
THERE MUST BE SOME KINDA WAY OUT OF HERE SAID THE JOKER TO THE OTHER TWO JOKERS
ChiropteraFreak, Keroro04ex.25836, and MANY others ask:
“What’s going on with the 3 Jokers?”
This is by far one of the most popular questions I get, so I figured I should take some time to provide you all with an update.
Years ago, in Geoff Johns’ Justice League: Darkseid War, Batman learned a shocking truth while sitting upon the omniscience-granting Mobius Chair: that there was not just one Joker, but three. Johns returned to this point briefly in 2016’s universe redefining DC Universe: Rebirth… but we haven’t seen much of the story since then.
The reasons why we were given this world-shattering revelation and are still left without answers in 2019 are myriad.
First of all, Johns himself became rather busy after the launch of “Rebirth,” helping to oversee DC’s slate of live action feature films — placing many of his comic projects on the backburner, for a time.
The second reason is another storyline launched in DC Universe: Rebirth — the interference in the direction of reality by Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan, as would be told in Doomsday Clock. When Geoff Johns announced that he would be telling the Three Jokers story in a three-issue limited series with artist Jason Fabok, it was with the understanding that it would only begin once Doomsday Clock was completed. But due to frequent delays stringing the series out quite longer than originally planned, Johns’ Three Jokers story remains untold.
A third factor to consider is the launch of the Black Label imprint, where the industry’s most prestigious creators are given free creative reign with DC’s signature characters, unfettered by continuity. In the light of this new development, the forthcoming Three Jokers series has been reworked as a Black Label title.
What does this change in direction mean for the Joker as we know him, and his possibly multiple identities, still yet unexplored? According to artist Jason Fabok, Three Jokers will exist in a nebulous canonical space, much like Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s The Killing Joke was originally intended. The Three Jokers promises to present some rather radical ideas regarding the Joker’s history and true nature, but it will be up to critical and communal reception whether those ideas will be adapted into canon.
For now, though… the secrets of the Joker remain as elusive as ever.
PULITZER? I BARELY KNOW 'ER!
“Lois Lane is often hailed as a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter. But has her husband (otherwise known as Superman/Clark Kent) ever won one (even though his jobs lead to certain ethical dilemmas)? What about Iris West or Vicki Vale or any other notable DC reporter? Surely, Lois can’t be the only one, right? And as always, thanks for putting up with my questions, Q!”
Lois Lane isn’t alone in this feat. Clark Kent has won at least one Pulitzer Prize himself, which can be seen on display at his apartment with Lois during their married years prior to 2011's Flashpoint. In Kingdom Come, we see that the future Clark Kent has by that point in his life won TWO Pulitzers… inside one of which hides a fragment of Superman’s old foe, Brainiac.
And yet, as far as the Daily Planet news team is concerned, that isn’t where the awards stop. Jimmy Olsen has also won a Pulitzer Prize for his photojournalism — and the particularly humorous story of how he earned it is told in the ongoing Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen series by writer Matt Fraction and artist Steve Lieber.
But before all three of them, Daily Planet Editor-In-Chief Perry White had won a Pulitzer of his own while he was still covering the reporter beat. That story, told in Man of Steel #47, concerned an Aryan Brotherhood cabal abducting black men for a vile eugenics experiment to engineer a super-race of their own. Ironically, young Perry White elected to title the article, “Superman Plot Foiled.”
There are other Pulitzer winners across the DC Universe, as well. The original Sandman’s girlfriend, Dian Belmont, was awarded a Pulitzer for her work in mystery novels. There’s also Maxine Michaels, a journalist who comes to Blüdhaven during writer Devin Grayson’s Nightwing run to uncover the identity of the city’s masked protector, and unveil the rampant corruption through its own police force.
Sadly, though, no Pulitzer gold has come to the reporters of the Gotham Gazette that we know of. Or to Iris for that matter… though not for lack of trying.
As for me, the only prize I need is knowing that the curious appetites of my faithful readers continue to be sated. So keep on dropping by my office each week, and always remember whenever a snarl of continuity or enigma of character crosses your mind: you may always ASK… THE QUESTION.