ASK…THE QUESTION: Why Wasn’t Batman or Green Lantern Reset for the New 52?


Welcome back to another edition of ASK…THE QUESTION, our regular feature where you, the members of our DC Community, can consult an expert to get answers to any question you may have about DC history and minutiae. I’m Alex Jaffe, better known to the community as HubCityQuestion. And I have the honor of being that very expert, providing stewardship in my capacity over the vast lore of the comic book multiverse. I’ve chosen a few of this month’s best questions to highlight below, but even if your answers aren’t met in this column, you can always find me in my offices. Now, let’s get some answers!

Unusual Suspects

Wrightline1.42741 asks:

How much of “Gentleman” Jim Craddock’s print history ties in to his animated Batman: The Brave and the Bold appearance, which connects him to Jack the Ripper?

That’s an invention of the show, as seen in the season one episode “Trials of the Demon!” The Jack the Ripper connection is never explicitly spelled out in text, per se, but it’s pretty simple to infer, given the time and place of the killings with which Craddock is involved.

In the comics, Jim Craddock was a stagecoach highway robber, as opposed to wealthy gentry who preyed on streetwalkers. As we learn in 2002’s Hawkman #7, Craddock met his end after escaping to the United States and getting hanged for his crimes by Nighthawk, the 19th century incarnation of Hawkman.

In other comics, the Doom Patrol villain Red Jack (below) has claimed to be Jack the Ripper. Several demons have taken responsibility as well: Calibraxis (in the Vertigo Hellblazer series), Buzz, a frequent antagonist to Supergirl in the 90s Peter David series, and Bertok-Raaf (in 2020’s DC: The Doomed and the Damned) also claims to have influenced Jack the Ripper.

Vandal Savage has also claimed to have been Jack the Ripper in the past, but it should be noted he’s a notorious liar. (Although on Smallville, Vandal Savage stand-in Curtis Knox probably was Jack the Ripper.)

The original “I, Vampire” stories in the House of Mystery stories of the 1980s identify Jack as a man named John Kelsey, who accidentally stabs himself with his own knife in a confrontation with vampire Andrew Bennett.

In the WEBTOON Zatanna and the Ripper, Jack is revealed to have been a double act between Shauna Belzer (the third Ventriloquist) and the Flash villain Murmur, displaced in time by Zatanna’s nemesis Allura.

The 1998 Elseworlds story Wonder Woman: Amazonia identifies Jack the Ripper as Jack Planters, a distant American cousin to the Royal family who inherits the throne. And in the original Elseworlds graphic novel Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, Jack the Ripper was revealed to be Jacob Packer, a surgical colleague to Thomas Wayne, but in the animated film adaptation, the real killer is revealed to have been Commissioner Gordon.

One Issue Wonders

KookieSuperApe asks:

So, I just stumbled across this issue written by Corey May and Dooma Wendschuh. What’s interesting about it is that this is the only issue that those two ever wrote for DC. It got me wondering, which writers have contributed one (and only one) issue, book or story to the DC Universe?

The short answer is…a lot of them. Over five hundred. When you include contributions to anthology titles, that’s just under one out of every seven people who have ever written for DC in the company’s history. Still, that means six in seven writers return to DC after writing one story for at least one more. So, if you’re called to write for DC once, the odds are in your favor that you’ll get called to do it again.

Listing every single credit I discovered in the course of answering this question would take up two whole monthly columns of space. But I don’t want to leave you hanging, so I’ve put together this (somewhat abridged) workaround for you. Using DC UNIVERSE INFINITE’s brand-new Public Lists feature, I’ve decided to create one featuring issues and graphic novels written or co-written by authors who, to date, have no additional DC credits, and which have been digitized to our archive. You can find it here!

Globby Guardians

moonknightrider2.98991 asks:

Going through some old Who’s Who, I realized the Green Glob was one of many neglected characters or concepts left out of that “definitive directory.” The Glob was brought back in the 1991 Angel and the Ape mini when it was retconned as an early experiment of the Guardians of the Universe. My first thought was to ask you if it has been used since. And then it struck me that there must surely be other experiments or weapons the Guardians did during their long millennia of existence. What experiments of the Guardians do we know about so far?

The Green Glob, which first appeared in 1964-1967’s Tales of the Unexpected #83-103, has yet to make a third appearance since its Angel and the Ape revival.  This may explain why it was typically left out of Who’s Who directories—up until the concept’s incorporation into the larger DC Universe in 1991, it was considered an isolated concept in a horror anthology with no bearing on the interconnected DCU.

Of course, the Guardians messing with the forces of the universe is nothing new. There are the original Manhunters, the “Phantom Ring” seen in 2016’s Green Lanterns, which can channel the entire emotional spectrum, and the Starheart, the power source of Alan Scott’s Green Lantern ring, which the Guardians created in an attempt to control the wild forces of magic in the universe. They followed up the Manhunters and the Corps with a “Third Army” in the New 52 Green Lantern titles, which the Guardians genetically engineered as a more controllable alternative to the Green Lantern Corps.

In 2003’s “JLA: Trial By Fire,” we learn one of the Guardians’ most invasive experiments was on the Martian race 20,000 years in the past, instilling a psychological weakness to fire in them to curb the risk that they would develop interstellar travel and conquer the universe. Don’t ask J’onn about that one, he’s still touchy about it.

They’re Just Sleeping

Corpsmember.78 asks:

Did Superman kill Zod and his cohorts at the end of Superman II? Also, in the 1989 Batman movie, does the tower scene at the end when Batman flips the one ninja thug down the tower count as a kill?

If these are credited kills, why is it the movie versions of our beloved superheroes break off from their comic book counterparts’ no kill rules?

With Superman II, the answer to that ultimately depends which version of the film you’re watching. The theatrical cut intentionally leaves it vague, so you can’t be sure what happened to Zod and his cohorts. None us know the layout of the Fortress. No body, no death.

As you may know, Superman II had two directors over its development, and therefore two director’s cuts—one of which was only distributed in 2006. In Richard Lester’s director’s cut of the movie, there’s a restored deleted scene at the end which shows a powerless Zod and company getting arrested after the fight, assuring us of their survival. But in the Donner cut, Superman pretty unambiguously leaves Zod, Ursa and Non for dead when he blows up the fortress behind him.

Tim Burton’s Batman, however, is unambiguous. He kills with abandon in that movie and the next. Between Batman and Batman Returns, Batman murders about twenty guys.

The reason for both, I believe, is not the adherence to a standard in comic book heroes, but an understood standard for film action heroes. In both cases, writers and directors have conferred the morality of the typical Hollywood movie protagonist on their scripts. They’re making films for general audiences who, at the time, expected the hero to prevail and the villain to die. Comic book morality, where the hero must spare the villain (if we’re being honest) so they may live to fight again next month, doesn’t apply to what is ostensibly a self-contained cinematic project. You don’t have to keep Zod or the Joker alive because as a filmmaker, you can plan to never use them on screen again.

Of course, in the era of the cinematic universe we find ourselves in, where characters are no longer understood to be confined to one particular film or storyline, we have new expectations of our cinematic heroes. Death is no longer the answer when multi-film contracts are de rigueur.

The (Mostly) New 52

Row.Harper asks:

I have kind of a loaded question here, but in reading through the New 52, I’ve noticed that some characters got reimagined into versions that are completely different from who they were pre-Flashpoint, while others stayed relatively, if not exactly, the same. Was there any reasoning to these changes or non-changes?

The mission statement of the New 52 was a complete reinvention of DC’s entire publishing line for a brand-new audience, but a couple exceptions were built in. Though their series began with new issue #1s, narratively exempt from the reset were Batman and Green Lantern. The reason? Sometimes a star burns brighter than a publishing directive. And in 2011, both the Batman and Green Lantern titles had white hot writers at the helms. Writers with long-term plans they weren’t ready to interrupt, and sales to ensure readers would continue to check in until they had finished their stories.

The Dark Knight had Grant Morrison at the helm, who had still not finished their Batman saga. It would eventually continue into 2012’s Batman Incorporated, where it would conclude. The big climactic turning point for that last act was the death of Damian Wayne, so most of that story needed to stay in place for Morrison to bring it home on their terms.

Meanwhile, Green Lantern was in the middle of a major multi-year epic helmed by Geoff Johns, still running high off the success of Blackest Night. At the time, Johns’ Green Lantern books would regularly outsell even the Batman titles. It was the hottest thing DC had going on, and nobody was keen to prematurely end a good thing. So, the Green Lantern corner of the universe was left relatively untouched as long as Geoff was keen to stick around.

That’s all for this edition of our column. I’ll see you all in a month! What mysteries our next column will hold is entirely up to you and the cases you bring to my doorstep when you ASK… THE QUESTION.

Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly “Ask the Question” column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for Find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros., nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.

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