Wednesday, January 30, 2013

DC '78 # 10: Royal Flush Gang

The Royal Flush Gang started off as a simple
street gang that upgraded to costumes and gadgets.
After only causing minimal havoc for the Justice League,
they determined to up their game. They contacted an
investor and tech man via Intergang and not only
upgraded; they outsourced!
Now made up of multiple cells that all share
profits (along with motif, name, and weaponry,
safe houses, contacts, etc.)
the RFG are able to create a sense of confusion
regarding which members are in on a heist, making it
more challenging to figure means of defeating them.

Each gang sports a membership of 52, but the
main players are still the court card members.

The original team started a training center for bringing
street kids under their wing and then work them into
one of the groups when they are older and fully developed
in fighting skills and other necessary preparation.

Some of the tech supplied is quite enhanced, and
has proven able to take out even Superman and Green Lantern
on occasion. This shift in the RFG's formidability
drew the eye of Batman and the second Mr. Terrific,
after a JLA/JSA team up was barely able to defeat
two combined squads of the RFG.

What they discovered was that the tech was definitely not
of earth, and possibly not of this solar system.
Their chief leads now include either Weapons Master,
or--worst case scenario--Apokolips.

The RFG operates in rotation, but the various
squads do have stable home bases. They include
Midway City, Las Vegas, Washington D.C.,
 Los Angeles, Houston, Paris, and Edmonton.

With greater training, better weaponry, an
advanced network of shared information and
skills, and a determination to succeed at any cost,
the newly enervated RFG is the team to back.

That's exactly what their benefactor intended.

In the past, the RFG has had connections to
multiple 'Wild Cards' (a.k.a. behind-the-scenes
promoters and suppliers) such as the second Gambler,
Professor Fortune once again, Hector Hammond,
as well as other mysterious wealthy industrialists.

Members of the Gang don't tend to have a long shelf life,
finding ill-met ends or being incarcerated, but some of
the mainstays of the groups include Kerry, Queenie, Jack,
Tom Dillon, Joe Carny, Mona Taylor, Wanda Wayland,
'Deuce' Canyard, Ernie Clay, Melanie Walker,
David Essex (the father of the second Star Spangled Kid,)
and a handful more.

When some cities have had a RFG cell that gets sufficiently
busted up, the remaining members have been absorbed
into more successful cities or started anew in other
regions. Because of the severe territorial nature of the
gangs in Gotham, including the particular enmity between
the RFG and The Joker, there is no longer a Gotham cell.

There is speculation that the RFG is somehow
associated with an even larger organization known
as The Arcana, which does sport both Professor Fortune
and Felix Faust as members-- as well as a Who's Who of
mystics and business leaders from around the globe.

It's unknown if that rumor has a basis, or if The
Arcana may be behind the development and funding
of the Gang's expansion activity.

It's presumed that the 'stellaration' tech that originally enhanced
the gang members is still being used in some capacity
for new court members.

The specific origins of the tech used to create the individual
transports (giant playing cards) and the multiple androids
known as 'Ace' (following Fortune himself in the role
originally) are not known. Fortune has had several
criminal efforts with Professor Ivo, a master of android
creation, and that is one possible source.

Friday, January 25, 2013

DC '78 # 9: Texas Super Rangers

People joked when they heard that there would
be a government-sanctioned super-team doing
their business out of Texas, until they learned that
the Batman was in charge of selecting the team himself.

People asked "Well, why does Texas need a
super hero team? There's never been one before?"

Owlman is the proud son of the WWII hero,
the Flying Fox, and he was raised from early on to
be prepared for a life of social commitment.

His entire family carries on a tradition of noble
heroism started  by his father in World War II, who
relocated to the American Midwest, starting a family
after the war.

Fox's only full blood child, Nathaniel Little River is
also a shaman like his father, having studied and
trained under his father before his death.

Receiving modern equipment from the Batman,
Nathaniel was chosen by the Wisdom of the
Eyes to become Owlman.

Flying Fox II is the adoptive grandson of the
original, and the son of Owlwoman I.
Through a Vision Quest telling, his spiritual
grandfather (who had taken them under
his wing when his own father was killed,) was
led to bequeath his mystic cape and cowl
to Lawrence Echo Fox.

He shares shamanistic magic abilities with his
uncle, the leader of the Rangers, and there is
some tension between the two over the
specifics of the handing down of the cowl.

Chief Man-of Bats and Little Raven
are also part of a coordinated effort to
assist crime-fighting in more remote
and less protected areas. Although, the duo
were active and quite good before catching
Batman's eye.

Donovan Sexton was a Theatre Arts major at
Arizona State University and found himself
unchallenged by the local arts scene.
Always an adventurous spirit, he had the
bizarre notion of formulating a living art project
centered around reenacting the career of
a 1940s costumed adventurer, The Whip.

After much training and research, he began
public displays to set the stage for his Whip's
reemergence, much to the chagrin of the real
Whip's granddaughter, who was carrying on his
legacy already. This became less of an issue when
she moved to Opal City.

After Donovan stopped a mugging at a street
festival some months into his art project, he
found he had a new passion; crime fighting...
and the adrenal rush it provides.

The White Whip is rather an amalgam of old west sensibilities
and modern technology. For someone with an impressive
mental ability (telepathy, which she uses to keep the
team connected over distances) she has some very
prickly ideas that often do not sit well with other members.

They often refer to her as the 'White Rabbit,' in referring to
her 'Tea Party' affiliations.

The first Apache Chief discovered his powers
in the same way that Rita Farr had, but rather
than let it be known he had (literally) fallen into them
accidentally, he built up a powerful cover story
so that he would be seen as gifted, more powerful,
and selected--all things he assumed he would need
to make his community proud of him.

Owlgirl is the daughter of Wenonah Littlebird,
and sister of Flying Fox II. She is somewhat
reluctant in the role of hero, not in any way due to
lack of heart, but because she lacks self-confidence.

Burdened with growing noticeably larger when
her mutative powers kicked in (presumably a nod
to the abilities of her unnamed father who had passed,)
she became very body-conscious as she gained the attention
of older tribesmen and lost the support of her peers.

Karen is a super-hero groupie and a punk rock chick!

Tye Longshadow is the second Apache Chief,
though only the legacy name is understood by the
people in his hometown. The origins of his
powers appear under some question,
possibly in conjunction with his disappearance
last year. It is unknown why he is no longer
friendly with Jaime Reyes.

John Trujillo is tight-lipped and mysterious,
but he takes crime-fighting very seriously.
Most among the group assume he's a
murderer due to his stark nature, and
it is known he worked for the government
in some capacity in the past (it's even
assumed this job may be an appointment
for him.)

His dedication to detail and professionalism made
him a sure pick for Batman.

Max Mercury has been many costumed names in his
long career! He went by 'Max Lightning' in the Old West
when he saved Bruce Wayne's ancestor!
That story might have gone untold, save for Jay Garrick
sharing  it with Bruce at a JLA/JSA annual get-together.

Seeking Max out, Bruce was impressed with the
grounded elder statesman's poise and knowledge.
Max was his first pick as speedster--and heart--
of this newfound group.
Though they have been relocated to Texas for
better deployment in cases under their purview,
all members still have ties to their hometowns and
families. Occasionally they have been known to
crossover with the more mid-western group,
The Western All-Stars.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

DCU: 1978 Revamp--an Introduction

DC '78

My first project for "Mash-terpiece Theatre' is a fantasy reimagining
of the entire DCU circa 1978. Consider it a retcon, a rebirth, a merging
of the past 75 years of history into a more manageable 40-year history.

The long-version of the name is "The DC Universe Retcon/Flashback
of 1978," or..."DC '78" for short!

How is this a mash-up?

Characters are paired in new and different ways, and all of the various
acquired properties of DC (Quality, Fawcett, Charlton) are being fully
melded for the first time (especially in a historical context.)

Also, characters from different time periods (everything post-1978)
are being merged with that time period, making for some interesting
mixes. A compressed timeline, if you will.
Although, I have to say that not much past 1987 made it in as
I haven't been very impressed. And thus, the desire to do this project.
The ultimate fan-fic shorthand.

Old and familiar names are reapplied to new teams and fresh concepts.
New line-ups, new names, new characters, new connections, and a
comprehensive crossing-over of all the multiple earths and all the many
retconned histories....with only my faves remaining.
For the most part!

Why 1978?

The year of 1978 was an exciting time for comics fans as DC Comics
had an expansive line and was growing exponentially. Fun new characters
and concepts, new art styles, a good bit more interaction and use of
history, the beginning of legacy characters, and the height of nostalgic
fan writers' arriving. So, before the axe fell!

The Seventies had brought about a new face in comics, with copious
amounts of strange and alluring real-world interests.

This was the era prior to multitudinous rapes and gratuitous murders,
not to mention graphic depictions of violence (even in mainstream,
unlabeled books.) Don't let the simpler times fool you, however.

There were story and character developments that occurred which
probably outraged the fans of that day's prior continuity in the
same way that me and mine were upset by much of the 1980s' and
1990s' developments.

There was the League's betrayal by Snapper Carr, the introduction of
a replacement Doom Patrol, Wonder Woman and Jean Loring
losing their minds, and of course the murders of Mr. Terrific, Iris Allen,
and several others. Speedy was a junkie, for crying out loud.

Changes, major ones even, but in my opinion,
 done better ...and for story content, not merely shock value.
It seemed more like family, not business.

Why 'eliminate' the last 35 years?

There hasn't been much to interest me (on whole) from those years,
and especially the nauseating, endless revamps and rewrites that
have existed since the Crisis have bothered me greatly.

 I especially hated the dark and dire
turn of extremist behavior and death that overtook the industry for
over a decade, still permeating to this day.

1978 was a good focal point for one of the last times comics were
truly fun, magical, simple, and accessible. I wanted to recapture that,
if only for a moment.

(And, from a logical point of view, Ted Knight having a 20-year-old son
in the 1970s makes a good deal more sense than having one in the year
2000! A forty year history of stories ('38 to '78) is a monumental play-
ground, and quite ample for doing a truncated version of DC (et al) and
their massive collection of characters!)

(There's another good reason for a lightening of the load!
The less-populated universe was a less-complicated universe.
You didn't need a manual to comprehend every character,
despite what Marv Wolfman and company thought!)

No character will appear in more than one entry, so some
of your faves will be missing from the spot you may expect
them to be in order to pull duty elsewhere.

Is it too many characters in one place at one time?'s comics. We make it work!

DC '78 begins here! DC '78 # 1: Legion of Doom


Saturday, January 19, 2013


After leaving the Justice League of America due to
personal issues (and feelings of inadequacy in that cosmic setting,)
the second Black Canary (daughter of the original heroine by
the same name) was approached by the mysterious 'Mockingbird'
and asked to join a new group.

Skeptical but intrigued, Dinah Lance listened to the pitch
of the Mockingbird...and soon found herself with a new found
sense of confidence and lease on life.
The Justice League of America will always be family,
but the Birds is something with legacy...yet something
she still feels is all her own.

Agent Starling, one of two field heads of the group.
Looker keeps everyone linked for faster communications, though
Starling has given special ops training and field communications
training to everyone in the event Lia is ever incapacitated.

The Huntress from what was dubbed 'New Earth,'
Helena Bertinelli is shrewd, capable, and fierce. But she
has the eye of a certain Helena Wayne, who just fought for
and won the right to be called the only Huntress in this
cape community. (Wayne also takes issue with Bertinelli's
methods, and resents that she was asked to join a group her
mother was originally a member of in the 1940s.)

Lady Blackhawk (Zinda Blake) was also an
original member of the Birds. She's unsure if the
Mockingbird is one of the gals she worked with back then,
but she's  more of a 'bottom line' kind of hero, and thus unconcerned.
So long as there's action and a paycheck, she's on board.
(And she does like the work they do, even if she'd
fear her teammates thought her soft to discover it!)

Looker is something of a mystery. She seems to have
another agenda besides Mockingbird's. Lia only recently received
her powers, and is still getting a feel for her abilities. But her
telekinesis and telepathy prove invaluable in their undercover ops.


'Katana' is something of a wild card, but a more devoted
and loyal companion you won't find. She's not just dedicated
as a concerned citizen, though; Tatsu has a task she needs
help with, and has been assured that the Birds will step up when
the time comes.
Sisters Dawn and Holly are polar opposites.
When Don and Hank Hall were away in Dimension X for a
Teen Titans mission, The Source that provides their powers
believed them dead and sought out new agents. Thus
were Holly and Dawn selected. After proving themselves
so useful, The Source decided to keep both sets of agents
in play. All will be useful in the coming War of Chaos and Order.

Savant is the only male agent, thus far. He, like all the rest, was
specially selected based on skill sets needed. He has a dark side that
bears watching, but most members of the team are fallen birds
in some respect.
Kendra Saunders is not the first to pick up the mantle of 'Hwawkgirl'
and she knows it is a long and proud legacy. She lives in The Aerie
with the other Hawks, and is the granddaughter of Speed Saunders,
a World War II adventurer. Though young, she is tenacious
and highly skilled, having trained with the original Hawkgirl and the
Thanagarian police. Katar and Shayera, the girl's guardians,
only allowed her place due to Dinah's involvement with the team.

The second Silver Swan is Vanessa, a young friend of the current Wonder
Woman. After being rehabilitated by Paradise Island's Purple Ray,
Nessa became an activist and philanthropist with the Wonder Woman
Foundation. She serves proudly as a Bird to help repay her debt to
Princess Diana and the world. Though timid and uncertain, she
is full of heart and compassion

The mysterious Mockingbird seems to be pulling the birds'
strings as they do her bidding, knowing nothing of her
real identity and interests (save that Barbara Gordon
vouched for her.) Only she knows the reasons
behind the exact make-up of the Birds teams that she selects for
each particular mission (sometimes bringing in specialized
outside agents like the female Manhunter, Speedy, and
other heroes.)

Her missions are a mix of humanity-saving exploits such as
shutting down slave trades, rescuing missing children,
and stopping abuse (in whatever country the offenses are
found,) and then she has missions that pit her team against
the criminal Ravens squad, who seem especially intent on
stopping the Birds...permanently.


The original incarnation of The Birds, with
Black Canary I, Phantom Lady I, and Lady Blackhawk.
(Not pictured: The Golden Age Catwoman, Bulletgirl, and
Miss America, performing other mission tasks at
the time.)


Monday, January 14, 2013

DC '78 # 7: Opal City Protectors

Jack Knight is the newest Starman, and he reflects the
heart of the city that has become a home for so many
of the bizarre and ostracized. He is a fiery solo artist,
stylized and defiant, bold and passionate. He has his own
means of going about his business, just like Opal--that dark
lady of shadow and loss, struggle and redemption.

Ted Knight, the most famous denizen of Opal,
and its brightest star. He continues on in his
scientific studies and overseeing/assisting his son
Jack who has finally, reluctantly, taken up the
mantle of Starman to defend the city.
The O'Dare family of crime-fighters;
entrenched in the city for generations.
The Shade, an astute old soul with dark
shadow powers.

The enigmatic Charity has been of great help
to Jack on many quests, and is of special
interest to one Mason O'Dare.
But it is unknown what her relationship with
Madame Xanadu may be, and what importance
it may have regarding her loyalty.

Sadie Falk, Jack's first serious relationship,
finally came clean about what brought her to Opal.
Jake 'Bobo' Bennetti
Opal is a unique city, full of its own bristling
wonderment; a dash of yesteryear, more than
a smidgen of lost dreams and longing.
A dark place, where grey folks are the norm,
and there's a tough grit to the flock.

People come to Opal to find something...
to be a part of something....
to be content amidst the other proud
outcasts, loners and radicals.

Opal is a place of strange mysteries, wild
adventures, odd occurrences, and times
gone by. Its heroes and protectors reflect that.

After being saved from an evil carnival ( a recurring
theme; Sandman and Starman fought another in the
'Golden Age,' as they refer to it) this blue-skinned
Starman of space stayed on to recuperate, indeed
developing friendships and ties.

Originally seeking help for being trapped in his
Golden Gorilla's body, Congo Bill eventually
realized this was his fate, and embraced becoming
'Congorilla' permanently. He found a kindred spirit
in the blue Starman, Mikaal, as these two outsiders
both began new paths on their own.

Greg Saunders likes a challenge, and after his years in Vegas,
he knows from corruption. In part responding to the call
from an old friend (the reincarnated Brian Savage, whom
Saunders had met while stranded in the Old West,) the
original cowboy--the Vigilante--is a proud temporary
citizen....but hopes to return to his southwestern dude
ranch and business interests.

Bruce Gordon came seeking the disappeared mark Merlin, last
spotted in Opal, and now feels the demonic busyness of
the olden streets may be the perfect place to help end his
counter, Eclipso, for good.

Not much is known of this confused and eccentric
anti-hero, yet another Harlequin. Enigma is not her
intention, for once, however; she is a survivor of the
Explosion (known as 'The Crisis' in some circles)
that changed the face of the world earlier in 1978.

She is one of but a handful of people to survive her earth's
destruction. When Opal reached out its hand to the
regular citizens of her earth when survivors were

being held in camps and divided amongst the world
populaces, this Harlequin hitched along and started
yet another reinvention. Her allegiances are unknown.

Adam Strange was involved in a case involving Starman (Ted Knight,)
Hawkman (Carter Hall,) and a theft of museum artifacts
both historically valuable and dangerous.
Once The Untouchables
were tracked and defeated, Adam had a friend in Ted Knight.
Upon his Zeta-trips to earth, he makes a point to check
in, dividing his time between League cases, science work,
and helping with meta-crime in Opal.

During a spell cast by Blackbriar Thorn during a
Legion of Doom assault on the Secret Society of Super-
Villains, the body of Solomon Grundy
(the swamp monster) was split into many versions of
the creature. They proved difficult to control, as each
maintained autonomy and an individual personality,
just as happened each time Grundy is destroyed and
subsequently reconstituted.

Eventually, the Wizard and Blackbriar Thorn
destroyed all but the original Grundy in a blast,
but one 'duplicate' was only nearly ruined. He managed
to escape the area, in dire shape, and was captured by
a carnival. With the aide of Jack Knight, he eventually
found freedom and friendship.
The spirit of the original Black Condor brought
this new, mysterious protegee to Opal for
reasons as yet unknown, but seemingly
related to a rash of disappearances happening in the town.

Beth Chapel became a 'super-hero' merely by chance.
Her dedication to the legacy of Dr. Charles McNider
and the field of medicine brought her to Opal City
to complete unfinished business for Charles (her
predecessor in the costume) from his time as Starman
(which she was informed about via a letter that was
delivered upon his death.)

Beth mostly spends her time working at a free clinic
set up to handle the influx of new residents from both
the release of prisoners of the "Poster Demon"and the
new residents from the alternate earths Her nights she
spends devoted to McNider's mission...and forgetting
her feelings for Rick Tyler.

The 2nd Whip, another legacy character drawn to Opal's streets.
She strikes up an unlikely relationship with the original Vigilante,
becoming partners of a fashion. He has even considered her for
a new version of his old team, the Seven Soldiers, along with
another Opal resident....I, Spyder.
The second Midnight has a nose for solving crimes
and mysteries, and is a throwback to another age.
His bare-knuckled noir antics made him a popular
cult figure amongst residents....a welcome change to the
'Ragdoll' followers that continue to congregate.

Following in his predecessor's footsteps, his motto is
'friend of the needy.' He focuses on helping the little man
and unseating fat cats. He is hellbent on keeping corruption
down, and downright obsessed with crime-fighting. The
inspirational voice in him that led him to this identity also
brought him to Opal, in search of an occultist by the name
of Debral Lincoln....though he has no idea why.

Phantom Lady II, Dee Tyler,
began checking out mysterious phenomenon in Opal
as a favor to her mentor, the original Phantom Lady,
who is Ted (Starman) Knight's cousin.

Dee is also working on the side to
follow up on some personal business; tracking down
her friend and flame, Will Payton, whom sources
found trace activities leading to Opal. 
Adventurers Wesley Dodds and Diane Belmont came through
Opal periodically, as it was known as a hotbed for magic,
reincarnation, occult activity, troubled spirits and more.

The original Sandman was also one of the few early heroes
which Ted Knight had rapport with, as Wesley's sensibilities
mirrored those of the reclusive and quirky Knight.

Ralph & Sue Dibny, sleuths of global proportions,
came to town nosing out a mystery and in search
of hero Hamilton Drew. They quickly found a home
that suited this unorthodox power couple.

On the matter of those paranormal activities...
Opal maintains several elite ghosts in residence,
including the city's fallen son, David Knight, the
first to take up the family mantle.
 Jon Valor, the Black Knight, is seeking
vindication for his sullied name, and helps
Jack in his quests when possible.

Though not a unified or formal
group by any stretch,
these unconventional souls have a
cameraderie that transcends their various
differences and styles.