Friday, August 12, 2016

Secret Files & Origins Guide to the DC Universe 2000 #1

Here and Now

Story by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Pencils by Scott Eaton
Inks by Ray Kryssing with Doug Hazlewood (special thanks to Kristie Kryssing)
Letters by Bill Oakley
Colors by Carla Feeny
Separation by Digital Chameleon
Edits by Maureen McTigue and Tony Bedard

Cover pencilled by Darick Robertson, inked by John Dell. It is a pretty nice, poster-like cover showing off some of the most popular DC characters in the year 2000 — Starfire, Steel, Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman, Superman, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Batman and the Star-Spangled Kid. I'm pretty sad that Young Justice and the Flash weren't included here, but I guess you need to cut it off somewhere, and sticking to 10 characters that represent a lot of different aspects of the DCU is better than trying to cram 20 or 30 characters on the cover.

This issue has a horribly obnoxious title. However, that's the only negative about it. It's a 96-page information dump, telling you everything you ever wanted to know about the DC Universe, appropriately timed for the start of the year 2000. In addition to the main 44-page story, we have 11 shorts, 12 profile pages and a 7-page timeline. You would be hard-pressed to find a character or element in the DCU that was not represented in some way in this comic book. For geeks like me, this is a gold mine.

Our main story begins with Green Lantern being approached by the D.E.O. with a special mission. He meets with Major Lutwidge and Doctor Charles (two former Young Justice antagonists) who tell Green Lantern that another old Young Justice foe, Bedlam, is apparently loose and looking for a superhero to possess. The D.E.O. wants Green Lantern to help them scan every hero he can find to try to find Bedlam, and they want him to do this discretely so Bedlam won't be alerted to their search.

Green Lantern agrees to this, and first comes across the Justice Society of America, including the original Flash, Jay Garrick. Kyle Rayner has a slightly awkward conversation with the heroes, but he does manage to discretely scan them all and send the data back to the D.E.O. Kyle is initially worried that he sent back too much data at once, but Lutwidge assures him their computers can process the data faster than he can send it. Seeing this as a challenge, Lantern scans every metahuman in New York at once.

Noticing the Titans aren't at their headquarters, Green Lantern tracks them down the Caribbean, where he meets several of Impulse's old teammates — Arsenal, Damage, Donna Troy, Starfire and Cyborg. Lantern helps them fight the H.I.V.E. while scanning them, then takes off as soon as the D.E.O. reports still no traces of Bedlam. Next on Kyle's tour is Metropolis, where he comes face to face with Superman. Luckily, Superman quickly takes off to check on an earthquake, so Green Lantern didn't have to lie directly to the Man of Steel.

The D.E.O. then suggests that Green Lantern fly up to a geosynchronous position above the U.S. mainland so they can quickly direct his scans to cities with known superheroes. So Kyle flies up into space and scans Supergirl in Virginia, the Marvel family in Fawcett City, Resurrection Man in South Carolina and Max Mercury in Manchester, Alabama. The D.E.O. then wants Green Lantern to track down Young Justice, which is a little bit tricky, giving their recent fugitive status and the recent destruction of their headquarters in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. Luckily, Lantern's ring is able to track the energy signals from the Super-Cycle. The D.E.O. is fairly critical of Young Justice, but Kyle defends them, saying their his friends and they don't deserve the bad press they've been getting. However, Superboy, who has been quite jumpy lately, does not welcome Green Lantern's sudden arrival.

Robin calls Superboy off and asks Green Lantern what he's doing there. Kyle says he was just worried about them and wanted to see how they're doing. Superboy angrily insists they're fine and tells "Mister Bleeding Heart" to beat it. So Green Lantern takes off, having scanned them all and still not finding any signs of Bedlam. His next stop is Keystone City, where he meets both Wally and Walter West — something that really perplexes the D.E.O. scientists.

Green Lantern then visits Wonder Woman in her flying dome before heading up to the JLA Watchtower. Martian Manhunter (a telepath) seems a little suspicious, but Green Lantern quickly exits and goes down to Atlantis to scan Aquaman. His last stop is Gotham City, which raises Batman's suspicions. The D.E.O. congratulates Green Lantern on his work, but report they still have found no trace of Bedlam and they would like Lantern to stand by.

We then see that Major Lutwidge and Doctor Charles made up the story about Bedlam (as any good Young Justice fan will know, that genie gave up his powers to become a human baby). Instead, these corrupt D.E.O. agents are using Green Lantern's data to power up a giant robot called the Amazo 2000. Luckily, Martian Manhunter and Batman were good detectives, and they told Green Lantern that Bedlam's previous host, 13-year-old Matthew Stuart, is still locked up tight. So Green Lantern goes back to the D.E.O. base, confronts Lutwidge and Charles, and battles Amazo 2000.

The fight is surprisingly quick and simple, apparently because the D.E.O. never scanned Green Lantern himself, giving him an advantage over the robot that didn't know how to fight him. With the robot destroyed, the real D.E.O. arrives to shut down Lutwidge and Charles' operation. They even reluctantly allow Green Lantern to wipe their computers of all the data he acquired on the heroes, so in the end, it's as if nothing ever happened.

This was a pretty fun story that provided a creative way for us to take a tour through the DC Universe. Green Lantern was a natural choice for this, since he's young enough to relate to Young Justice and the Titans, and old enough to associate with the JLA and JSA. I just wish the final fight would have been more satisfying. I mean, it's a giant Amazo 2000! It should provide at least a small challenge! Well, let's check out the other pages Impulse shows up on.

Young Justice

Text by Scott Beatty
Pencilled by Todd Nauck
Inked by Lary Stucker
Color by Tom McCraw

First Appearances:
YJ Team JLA: World Without Grown-Ups #1 (August, 1998)
Secret The Secret #1 (June, 1998)
Empress Young Justice #19 (April, 2000)

The teen heroes of Young Justice have gone far to prove to the world (and themselves) that they are more than simply junior facsimiles of the JLA. Mentored by the enigmatic android Red Tornado and presently headquartered in an old abandoned resort in the Catskills, the team's membership currently includes Wonder Girl, Robin, Superboy, Impulse, and the wraith-like Secret, with the mysterious Empress in the wings. But while the supporters of Young Justice are growing in number, so are the team's detractors, most particularly the government agency A.P.E.S., which believes Young Justice to be a threat to national security. Moreover, the aged membership of Old Justice, a union of former "teen sidekicks," has actively lobbied for legislation to prohibit teen vigilantes. Together, both organizations may spell the end of Young Justice forever.

It feels like I'm reviewing this issue too soon, because so much of this bio refers to things we haven't seen yet. But I am sticking with publication date order, and this comic book has a March 2000 publication date. Next time, when I start the April books, we'll find out all about Empress and the new Young Justice headquarters. Wonder Girl's new look will come even later (although we have been teasing it for a long time now.) Despite this jarring chronological conflict, this profile page does boast a beautiful image from Nauck and Stucker.

The Flash "Family"

Text by Scott Beatty
Pencilled by Paul Pelletier
Inked by Doug Hazlewood
Color by Tom McCraw

First Appearances:
The Flash (Wally West) Flash (first series) #110 (December, 1959 – January, 1960)
The Flash (Jay Garrick) Flash Comics #1 (January, 1940)
Max Mercury Flash #77 (June, 1993)
Impulse Flash #91 (June, 1994)
Jesse Quick Justice Society of America #1 (August, 1992)

They are the riders of the lightning, fleet-footed heroes drawing their super-speed from the Speed Force, an energy source that lies beyond the light speed barrier. As The Flash, Wally West is the fastest man alive, carrying on the heroic legacy of the previous Flash, Barry Allen, a speedster who gave his life to save the Earth. Allen himself was inspired by living legend Jay Garrick, the original "Flash," who continues to run rings around his comrades after 60 years of heroism. Trusted ally Max Mercury, the so-called "Zen Master of Speed," currently enjoys the unenviable task of instructing Allen's grandson Bart Allen, the teen speedster Impulse, to use his own powers responsibly. Fast friend Jesse Quick inherited her extreme velocities from father Johnny Quick, who accessed the Speed Force by mentally focusing on the mathematical formula "3X2(9YZ)4A." Having recently defeated the techno-sorcerer Abra Kadabra and reunited with his lost love Linda Park, Wally West hopes that life will slow down for himself and his fellow speedsters, if only for a little while.

All right, no chronological conflicts here. Just great art by one of my favorite Flash artists of all time, Pelletier, and a succinct explanation of who all these people are. And that's exactly what a profile page is supposed to do. Jay also shows up on the JSA page, Wally and Jesse both are on The Titans, and Wally is on the JLA page, as well.


Compiled by Robert Greenberger & Phil Jimenez

This timeline is incredibly dense and wonderful. It's seven pages of pure text, starting with Clark Kent becoming Superman for the first time 12 years ago. This is also the same year that Barry Allen became the Flash. Wally West became Kid Flash a year later, and helped form Teen Titans a year after that (10 years ago from now). Six years ago, Barry sacrificed himself to destroy the Anti-Monitor's antimatter cannon, and Wally took over as the Flash.

Two years ago, Bart Allen, the super-fast grandson of the Flash (Barry Allen), arrives from the 30th century. "Adopted" by speedster mentor Max Mercury and stationed in Alabama, Bart takes the name Impulse. And during the past year, Robin, Impulse, and Superboy join forces as Young Justice and eventually admit Wonder Girl, the Secret, and Arrowette as members.

It's a little odd to think of Impulse being around for two years, but in a lot of ways, it makes perfect sense. He had a brief stint with the New Titans, then had time to form Young Justice. He's celebrated two Christmases, and has had at least one summer vacation. However, when he first showed up here in the 20th century, they said he was 14 years old. You could argue that Bart's now 15, but I think 16 is a bit of a stretch. Plus, it seems like he's still going to junior high school. But that's how time works in comic books. Very slowly and selectively. In real life, Bart Allen has been around for almost six years, but nobody's ready for a 20-year-old Bart ... yet.

So, all in all, this was a fantastic comic book. A wealth of information crammed into 96 pages. Well worth the $6.95 cover price. There aren't any new ads, so I'll see you next time, when we start April 2000 with a quick cameo in JLA #40.

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