Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Continuing Death of Superman

For Tomorrow
Superman 204 through 215

Let’s start with a confession. I haven’t had much use for Superman since Alan Moore’s and Curt Swan’s first and only team-up, the purported “Last Superman Story.” Entitled Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, the two-part story appeared in Superman #423 and Action #583. It’s the last Superman story prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths mega-series.

I loved Crisis, and I did enjoy the John Byrne version of the Man of Steel in the renumbered Superman comic, but the bloom fell off that particular rose rather quickly. And while Curt Swan (my favorite Superman/Clark Kent artist) had more issues to draw, he would never have a better script to work with than the Moore two-parter.

Since that time, Superman has been at the bottom of the barrel for me, and it has bothered me. You’re supposed to like Superman. I mean, he’s Superman, for crying out loud. So, I’d buy a bunch of issues every now and again in hopes of finding renewed interest only to see the same banal effort in all three books. The death of Superman was manufactured hype and his return was never in any doubt. His change of powers was as ludicrous as Spider-Man’s symbiotic black alien costume, maybe worse. The electric blue costume was idiotic. For nearly two decades now his characterization never really achieved the power, nobility, and supremity of his heyday. The character is great. His handling has been abysmal.

Then he got married. While that may have seemed like a great idea, and a natural extension after decades of Lois chasing him with a mattress on her back, it was just another sales stunt. And it’s one that has boxed all DC writers into a corner they cannot get out of. These authors will say that having Superman get married opened up a lot of story ideas that couldn’t be written otherwise. I say that it was merely a sales stunt and one that has had horrible consequences for the characters. All of these story ideas could have been explored in “other worlds” type stories or tales involving Mxyzptlk or some other such contrivance while leaving Superman unencumbered.

Once again, about two years ago, DC announced a new direction for Superman. Yee-haw. I got onboard for it, again hoping against hope. It has, however, been a largely unmemorable couple of years. I couldn’t tell you anything important that happened, nor can I tell you much about the storylines. There was that one with the alternate universe of super-heroes that endangered our universe. Some good art and covers. There was the whole “new Supergirl” thang that, in an attempt to modernize the character, made the whole thing look sleezy and slightly pornographic. (Remember that page with Supes lying down with the three super chicks? And one of them was supposed to be his daughter? Yeesh! What was DC thinking?) Lois got shot and Superman heard it half way around the world. That was interesting in that we learn that Superman always keeps one ear and one eye out for Lois. Explains a lot about their pre-marriage days and how he was always able to race to her rescue in time. This time, though, he’s too late. But his feelings aren’t particularly new. We got the same old “With all these powers, and I still couldn’t save her” angst.

Then in May 2004 Jim Lee came on board Superman with writer Brian Azzarello to do the twelve-part “For Tomorrow” maxiseries within continuity, starting with issue 204 and ending with issue 215. That story is now finished and is, ultimately, the point of this review.

What a waste. What a load of junk. What a boring piece of nonsense.

We spend about four or five issues with Superman and a priest talking. Hmmmm-mmm! That’s darn riveting storytelling. You betcha! Eventually Azzarello brings us into this nonsense about missing millions of people, but little of it works and by the end it all falls apart.

Now, I know that Azzarello was trying to work on some important ideas. He was dealing with a crisis of faith, both for Superman and for the priest. He was dealing with trust. Most importantly he was exploring the concept of the effects of Superman’s interference on the world when he is proactive. These are all important themes but they’ve been dealt with before. Superman has long since decided that he cannot interfere proactively in human affairs, and it seems like every year or so he questions his necessity/validity/relevance. Ho-hum.

Azzarello makes the unforgivable error of mistaking confusion for mystery. Each of the first four or five issues start out with an off camera monologue that leads us to believe that the speaker is Superman. Turns out it’s the priest or a waitress or some other regular human. Get it? Everybody is like Superman and Superman is like everybody else. Finally, Azzarello fools us and shows us that Superman is the speaker. My, oh my, what a twist!

The confusion continues for quite a long way into the series. We eventually find out that a devise is responsible for the disappearance of a million and then another half million people around the globe (including Lois Lane). The devise is in the hands of an Iraq-type dictator who’s involved in a civil war. A dictator wannabe is attacking the dictator and eventually takes over. Superman has decided to stop the war, but it doesn’t stop. When guns are gone, the crazy foreigners pick up rocks and bottles.

Anyway, the devise is making people disappear. Superman, who didn’t respect the sovereignty of the country when he stopped the war, now respects the new dictator’s demand that the devise (clearly a threat to the entire world) remain in his country. The JLA is of no help. They are against Superman’s efforts. They must remain neutral. Since when is the JLA neutral? All of them play against type and are made wholly impotent.

Superman gets the devise finally and goes to his Fortress of Solitude with the priest (his new best pal, move over Jimmy Olsen). His plan is to detonate it and be taken where the others are (read: where Lois is).

A mystery man who has been dogging the priest shows up. How he shows up is stupid. The Fortress of Solitude is not a place that can easily be found. But this guys drives up in a SnowCat like it’s nothing. It appears he injected a tracking device in the priest (on the off chance he went to the North Pole, I guess). What bugs me about this is that Superman, who earlier in the story says he can hear everything including a cry for help across space, didn’t pick up on the radio signal emanating from his immediate vicinity. (Little aside: that space call for help? It came from Green Lantern. Supes shows up and sees it’s GL and realizes GL doesn’t really need help so he turns and goes back to earth, leaving GL surrounded by alien warriors – and probably pissed.)

Anyway, boom goes the device. Well, surprise surprise we end up in the Phantom Zone. That’s right, the hellish netherworld created by Jor El to house incorrigible villains. One of those villains is there, too. Zod. And so is Jor El and Lois and the million-plus humans sucked into the Zone accidentally. But … this is no hellish place. It’s a Garden of Eden. Perfection is here, if only the residents would allow it to exist. Why Jor El and Lara are there are never explained.

The first person Superman meets is … Clark Kent!!! Wow, what a twist. No, wait. It’s just stupid since Clark and Superman are one in the same and there has been no hint that any kind of Hulk-like separation has occurred. Clark’s exiled himself from the city where the missing people live because Lois is uncomfortable seeing him. You see, Lois really loves Kal-El, not Clark.

And now for the big twist. Superman actually created this version of the Phantom Zone. That’s right. When he realized he couldn’t save all of humanity from itself, he created a paradise within the Zone as a safe harbor. A place he could send humanity if things got real, real bad. In other words, he pulled a Hal Jordan, making the world the way he wanted it to be. Oh, and then he hypnotized himself with super-hypnosis so even he would forget he’d done it. How the device ended up in the Iraq-style country is never explained.

But … there’s Zod and a Doomsday-reject/make over bad guy and a bunch of other bad guys who want to rule paradise. Jor El, the pacifier, tries to calm things and is killed. The battle for Eden rages. In the end Superman saves everyone. They all return. But Superman moans that, while he knows that he’ll be there to save everyone, who will save him. Boo-hoo!

A new OMAC is created in this series. It turns out to be the priest. The mystery man who has been dogging the priest is involved with a mysterious, never-before-seen cabal of corporate types. They transform the priest, who’s dying from cancer, into OMAC in the hopes of not getting another psychopath. This was probably an editorial dictate and makes little sense, and doesn’t add to the story. Unfortunately Azzarello relies on the old hateful corporate/evil military type villains to make all of this happen. It’s more than a cliché now. It’s just pathetic political tripe.

The confusion Azzarello creates doesn’t just come from his miserable attempt at writing mystery. His dialog is at times strange, as if there are words missing. Conversations are disjointed (but that’s, like, reality, man!). And his explanation for things is unconvincing and, at times, nonexistent. At the end there are actually two devices: one that goes with Superman to the Phantom Zone and another that stays on the other side and is used by the new OMAC. Somehow this helps trigger the return of people to the regular world. The priest sacrifices himself (apparently not permanently, though) to keep the Doomsday wannabe from hurting Supes. Why there are two devices at the end when there’s only been one since the beginning is never really explained.

None of the characters seems to act according to type. The priest absolutely refuses to say the word God or Christ. He does say Jesus, but uses it as an epithet. This is something a priest wouldn’t do. He might say “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph” in an expression of surprise, but not simply “Jesus!” Of course Azzarello will probably explain this as an expression of how the priest is falling. Just noise. With Superman, he plays up the alien part. When Supes talks he says “You people” instead of “we.” He separates Superman from humanity after years of writers defining Superman in human terms. The alien angle is bad and it doesn’t serve the character. The priest says “Better men than you have tried.” and Supes replies “Better than me?” Conceited much? Then Lois kicks “Clark” out of Paradise because he’s not Superman, then proceeds to call Superman Clark whenever she talks to him. It’s just stupid.

None of this makes sense. Azzarello wants to show us Superman in the real world, then brings in some immortal witch who calls up the four elements as killer creatures to attack Superman. Supes then threatens to destroy the entire world if the elements kill people. Just dumb.

In better stories, Superman finds positive ways to solve problems. It’s Batman who solves problems with gadgets and fists. Superman would never have gone so far off his beam as to devise a Phantom Zone paradise to stick humans into for their own protection. That is a god-like thing to do and Superman has already figured out many years ago that he is no god.

The underlying themes of crisis of faith and the ripples caused by a power such as Superman interfering are excellent things to explore. It would have been nice if Azzarello had actually done that instead of using those themes for window dressing for a boring, nonsensical waste of $30 and 272 pages.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Supergirl of Tomorrow

Whenever DC or Marvel kill off a character it’s always played for high drama and many drachmas. Marvel seems to kill at will for little reason. The folks over at DC take a little more care and use death to foster future plans. Usually.

When Supergirl was killed back in the ‘80s in the legendary Crisis on Infinite Earths it was not just a dramatic moment. It was a signal to comics readers that the industry was indeed taking a dark turn. Of course, Marvel had killed off a number of characters up to that time, but readers expected a little edgier storytelling from Marvel. DC was another matter. They had been even, even into the 1980s, in the Julius Schwartz style of story telling. This is not a knock. Considering how dark and deadly comics have turned in the past 20 years, I really long for the Schwartz era. It was fun and fast moving, equivalent to a popcorn movie of today. Nothing too heady, deep, or culturally important. Of course, there were many excellent stories in those days, some that left you thinking, but mostly comics were just fun.

Supergirl’s death, along with Barry Allen’s (the Silver Age Flash) demise, showed us that DC meant to change the way they handled their mainstream titles.

Over the years, many writers have tried to bring Supergirl back. DC’s edict that she stay dead forced these writers to come up with odd tales to explain away the new Supergirl, who really wasn’t Supergirl. Frankly, it was uncomfortable and not at all satisfying.

Well, DC has changed their mind. They want Supergirl back and they gave the task to the Superman/Batman scribe Jeph Loeb. There is a division in the six-issue story arc. The first three issues are very interesting and cleverly use Superman’s origin and the classic Supergirl origin in an updated form to make a believable story. Batman is instantly suspicious of the girl. Krypto hates her but, as Superman explains, he hates everyone. Superman, desperate not to be alone in the universe, is instantly trusting. Wonder Woman jumps into the mix and kidnaps Kara Zor-El, taking her to Paradise Island to be trained by the Amazons.

Each character – in extreme, broad strokes – acts according to their mythos. This is done, it seems, to heighten the contrast between DC’s Big Three. These are three very different people who approach the world with exceedingly different points of view. Kara is caught in the middle, a teenager, a stranger, an orphan, and a being with incredible powers.

And then there’s the second half. Darkseid steps in for somewhat obscure reasons. He wants Kara to use her as an enforcer. Her powers will match Superman’s. In fact, there’s some hint that she’s even stronger than Superman (although there is no mention as to why this could be so). Nor is there much logic to Darkseid’s actions when he is clearly more powerful than Superman or any other hero in the DC Universe – at least as he is portrayed here. If, in fact, Darkseid were that powerful then he would have killed every hero by now, especially Superman.
There is, though, a very nice scene with Batman taking on Darkseid that is reminiscent of Frank Miller’s Batman versus Superman scene in the original The Dark Knight Returns. Loeb shows, once again, that Batman is probably the most powerful hero in the DC Universe because he is ruthless. Darkseid even remarks on this with some appreciation.

But the story in the second half of the arc is obvious and telegraphed. That the heroes will win out is never in any doubt. Kara has been corrupted by Darkseid but once clear of his influence she regains her sweet demeanor. There is a question that bothers her – did Darkseid put the darkness into her or simply draw it out of her? It’s a question for another day and, truthfully, while Loeb may play with that concept, it’s clear that Supergirl is back to stay and will be on the side of the angels.

We have a moment when Supergirl is killed but we know it’s not true. The explanation is silly and shoe-horned into the story. The whole purpose of “hiding” her from Darkseid’s future attentions by faking her death is immediately negated when Kara decides to don the family uniform (albeit a sexier, skimpier version) and is introduced to a gathering of heroes.

The cover of the final issue of this run (#13) is worth the price of admission. Supergirl is indeed back, and welcome to her. Hints of future adventures are given and we know that she will return to Superman/Batman in issue #19. The first arc of this title was idiotic and childish, but this run makes you want to stick around for a while and see what comes next.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Why "The Last Man"?

Begun in 2002, Y, The Last Man (from DC’s imprint Vertigo) has been praised by many. Wizard has said, “This book blew us away.” Other reviewers have echoed this tribute.

Taking an old science fiction premise, writer Brian K. Vaughan and primary artists Pia Guerra and José Marzá, Jr., have built a new story around a curious Armageddon. All of the men died suddenly and mysteriously. In fact, every mammal with a Y chromosome died a violent, bloody death. All, that is, except for the eponymous character Yorick Brown and his pet monkey.

Adrift in a sea of estrogen (to paraphrase Yorick’s lament), this last man must find a way to solve the mystery of the deaths and keep the human race from dying out, despite his myopic desire to find his missing girlfriend.

This, of course, sounds like the start of an X-Rated movie. But Vaughn avoids the titillating aspects of the premise and builds action adventure/thriller-style momentum as Yorick picks up some traveling companions. Key among these is Agent 355, who is charged by the new president (formerly a low level Cabinet member) to keep the lone male resource alive, and a genetic scientist, who may be able to repopulate the world through science.

After reading the first 17 issues in the three trade paperbacks (Unmanned, Cycles, and One Small Step) it’s hard to agree with the positive reviews of this series. It is somewhat captivating, but only in the way that a train wreck, moving in slow motion, captivates a bystander. The artwork is quite good – very clean and simple. But the writing is not good.

This series is based on a single premise – and not the obvious one. Vaughn wants to show us that women can be as vulgar, petty, and dangerous as men. Every panel is filled with women behaving badly. You could (with minor alterations) plug men into the story in place of women and not lose a beat.

All of Vaughn’s characters speak with the same voice. Every one of them say “f---“ this and “f---“ that. Every character. Vaughn would defend his choice by saying that’s how people speak. Well, it isn’t. Certainly there are plenty of people who speak like that in the course of normal conversation, but not everyone.

But this complaint goes further than just a pile of expletives. Every character sounds the same. Their cadence is similar. Their word choice is similar. In short, there is no character in these characters.

Whatever Happened to Batman's Adventures?

After seeing a few episodes of the new The Batman series on Cartoon Network and reading the first few issues of the new DC animated-related series, I’m beginning to wonder about the Bats.

Something amazing happened over 10 years ago when the likes of Bruce Timm and company put together the Batman: The Animated Series for Warner Brothers. They found an impossible balance between an adult treatment of the character and a kid-oriented show. What these creators did was to break the mold of animated kids’ shows and develop a new template and a new high water mark.

I remember watching the first episode available for preview at the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention run by my friend Bruce Schwartz. Over the years, Bruce’s monthly convention has grown in stature and importance in the comic book and movie industry. He started with tables, graduated to guests, and finally to exclusive previews. The Batman episode was the first major preview I recall him showing. And what an impact it made. The artwork was beautiful. Batman was amazing. The action was incredible. The scene where Batman bludgeons Man-Bat was astonishingly violent considering what had gone before. Kevin Conroy’s Bruce Wayne voice was snickered at (a direct reason, I believe, for his modifying the voice in later episodes), but his Batman was eerie and disturbing. This was big and loud and yet very, very human.

It wasn’t the first plan for a return of Batman to the tube. After Hanna-Barbera’s contract for Justice League ended, the call went out for something different to be developed for the DC characters. Working at H-B at the time, I got the chance to see promotional scenes and storyboards for a new Justice League that used the best of the comics. The League was lean and tough, and Batman was modeled after Neil Adams’ take on the character. One particular scene was very moody and dark, showing the Dark Knight busting into a pool hall and cracking heads. Shadows were everywhere and a hanging lamp, knocked in the fracas, cast beams of spotlight-like light into the surrounding dark. Very cool looking stuff. Yet the version that surfaced turned out to be even better.

DC Comics followed quickly with a comic book tie-in that embodied not only the artistic look of the television series, but also its human sensibilities. There was pathos, human failings, and desire. We saw lust in a kids cartoon. We saw redemption for bad guys. We saw a man driven to criminal acts to preserve a loved one, and never really felt he was a criminal (compare the animated Mr. Freeze voiced incomparably by Michael Ansara to the clunky, foolish Mr. Freeze played by Ahnold – pulease!)

Each subsequent series maintained these sensibilities even as they moved forward with the characters and situations. Robin grew to Nightwing. A new Robin came onboard. Batgirl went from being a ditzy college girl to becoming an accomplished sidekick. Batman learned to rely on his “family”, in his own fashion. The stories rarely lacked cleverness and the occasional miscues in the art were easily forgiven, both in the animated series as well as in the comic book.
Batman Beyond came in and, while that used more action and destruction to power its episodes, there was still the human anchor. Bruce Wayne, old, unable to still kick it like the old days, yet still (and thankfully) voiced by Kevin Conroy, provided a necessary link to the old days. Wayne’s struggle, not so much to go on with his mission but to adapt to his changing role (something difficult for any aging patriarch), was as much a part of the show as Terry’s growth in his assuming the mantle.

With Cartoon Network’s The Batman, however, all of that is lost. The clock has been turned back. We see a young Bruce Wayne embarking on his newly established mission with all the verve and smart-alecky banter of Spider-Man. Nowhere do we see even a hint of the dark soul that started him on his original quest as a boy – the quest to become something that could end crime and, in a way, atone for his inability to save his parents.

The first episode I saw of The Batman highlighted, ironically, the story of the Man-Bat. We are treated to a mad scientist who has secretly used Wayne Foundation funds to pay for his experiments. Not experiments to help people or understand the animal kingdom (as in the original Batman Adventures), but to make the scientist, Langstrom, a powerful being that can rule the night. The beauty of the old show (and comic) was its ability to take old characters and make them fresh, to give them new origins with tragic, human elements. In this new series, the producers return to trite, old stories that leave the reader unmoved.

The comic book takes the animated episode as its cue and launches into a second Man-Bat story that simply echoes elements from the TV show. Gone is the pathos, the human elements that made Batman Adventures the best Batman stories ever produced, and some of the best comic book character stories ever told. The trend seems to be toward loud and explosive (perhaps to compete with video games?), but in the end all it will do is drive away viewers and readers. Batman Adventures is a classic and it endures. The new The Batman show and concomitant comic book is not, and quickly will be forgotten.

For more information about the monthly Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention please visit:

Hits and Misses

Top of the Heap – November

Ultimate Spider-Man – continues to be well written and respectful of the original. There is almost always a sense of “what comes next?” about the title. Peter Parker is again a kid struggling in an adult world. A great read. And the artwork is better than that deformed Ramos garbage.

Savage Dragon – never-ending comic book smash style fun! You don’t get emotionally involved with these characters but you do have a lot of destructive fun. We have yet to find out the truth about the dragon, yet does anyone truly care. It is an auteur’s piece and should be celebrated for that fact alone.

She-Hulk – I love it. So, of course it’s being canceled. This story has a nice feel to it. There’s humor, some nice below-the-radar subplots, great art, good writing. All-in-all, nicely done. When it comes back in May it won’t be the same and it won’t be as good.

JLA – I enjoyed John Byrne’s short run on the book and I didn’t mind the introspective follow-up run that should have taken a reflective look at the first failures of these heroes rather than having them experience failure now and being devastated. Of course any failure these heroes suffer should affect them, especially when life is lost. They shouldn’t be inured to it, but they should by now have developed a philosophy about it. Casting the events in issues 101-106 in a flashback sequence would have helped make the run more realistic and they could have had one of the sidekicks or newer heroes (the new version of Firsestorm?) suffering his first loss instead. I look forward to Kurt Busiek’s eight issue run. Busiek plans, of all things, to do a comic book story: adventure, excitement, thrills. No politics, no social commentary, no posturing. Just good comics. Imagine that!

Daredevil – I totally hate Brian Michael Bendis. The more he writes the better he seems to get. I know for a fact that he’s taking at least one opportunity away from me to write a book for Marvel ;>) Still, his Daredevil – while occasionally suffering from verbosity – is an elegant piece of work that many issues ago redefined the character without tearing him down. Coupled with the stunning artwork of Alex Maleev, this is one of the best books extant.

JSA – I can’t remember the last time a team book has been done so well. With such disparate characters, this series could have become a hopeless jumble, but Geoff Johns and David Goyer have really kept this title humming. The stories take wild turns and keeps the reader guessing along the way. The usually good artwork helps, too. Get the earlier trades and then catch up with current issues. It’ll be worth it.

Goon – This is just a lot of weird comic book fun. Eric Powell is a genius. Nothing having to do with reality. Just plain gooey fun. Reminds me of the wild abandon in the old Madman and Flaming Carrot Comics. We need more of this and less posturing and pontificating.

Bottom of the Barrel – November

Marvel’s Marvel Age – I don’t like the entire line. I don’t think kids need or want “manga” style comics using the classic American characters. Sales for the FF and Spidey titles probably prove me wrong, but the Hulk and Team-Up titles back me up. Regardless, the best way to attract new, young readers is not to develop a new line of books (they’ve done that with mixed results!) but to gear a few of their mainstream titles toward younger readers. Today, the median age of readers is in the mid-20s. Comics used to be for pre-teens. There ought to be a few titles out there that can be directed toward that historical audience without turning away the current readership.

Batman Strikes! – What happened to stories in these animated Bat-books? For four series and about 150 issues we got good stories, not just cat-chasing-mouse cartoons. Characters had pathos, there was meaning to their actions. Man-Bat is a prime example. In the animated show (and in the pages of Batman Adventures), Kirk Langstrom is a well meaning scientist whose creation gets away from him. In Batman Strikes (and the concurrent “The Batman” animated series) Langstrom is a man set on gaining power. Where are the moral questions and the deeper decisions that some of these characters had to resolve? Victor Fries is another great example. Here is a man who appears evil, but is motivated by true love. Even when he is successful in rescuing his wife, circumstances for him into bitterness, and crime, again. This series ain’t “da bomb,” it’s just a bomb.

District X – gets a big Who Cares from me. There was no suspense in the story. Except for the mutant aspect of crime, there was nothing in the first six issues you haven’t seen on “NYPD Blue.”

The New X-Men (X-Men Academy) – Yawwwwnnnnn. The only thing of interest is at the end of the first arc when former New Mutant Rahne (now a teacher at the academy) does a little necking with a *gasp* student. All of the new students are non-descript. And, is it just me, or are mutant powers getting lamer.

Conan – Just couldn’t get into it.

Starjammers – Why did I buy this series? Somebody tell me!

Fantastic Four – World’s Greatest Comic my backside! Neither the mainstream title or Marvel Knights 4 is worth the paper it’s printed on ($2.99!). They are boring and devoid of character. Where are our heroes? Where’s the First Family of Comics? I don’t think even the Galactus run can help. Both are off my list, although I’ll probably get the Galactus story when it appears in trade about an hour after the last issue in the run is published.

Worth Watching

Fade From Grace and Ballad of Sleeping Beauty – Both titles from Beckett Comics. These are value priced, but loaded with good artwork and pretty good writing. They may be tough to come by in your comic shop but you should get the run as long as it lasts. In Fade, they deal with superpowers in a very human way. In Ballad they use fantasy and horror in a western motif without deconstructing iconic characters (à la Marvel’s Two Gun Kid).

Aquaman – I like the King of the Seven Seas, even more than I like Namor. But I never cared for his angry, bearded phase, and I certainly hate that water hand of his. Thankfully, it looks like the hand will be gone soon and (hopefully) a real hand will grow in its place (hey, why not? Arthur really is a mutant so stuff like that can happen). What’s interesting about this series is the fact that the title is taking some surprising turns, not just trying to stir up old Atlantean waters. As big as it was, the sinking of San Diego was a masterstroke in story telling. (What is it with the destruction of San Diego? It seems to be a favorite target among SF folk.) It opened up a whole new range of stories for the character. About the only thing I regret is that Aquaman was not included in the “Pain” issues of JLA. I mean, really, he’s got to be feeling some (undeserved) guilt for so much loss of life in his oceans.