Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 DCU Movie Fan Casting: Zooey Deschanel as Zatanna

To me, the most important aspect of casting Zatanna is a girl next door quality. Zee isn't tortured or mysterious or haughty-- her appeal lies in her being extremely approachable and immediately likable. Basically, the ideal Zee is like a female Superman, except more easy going and relatable for a being of nigh infinite power. Not only does Zooey Deschanel fit the bill, but I'm pretty sure she was Ryan Sook's reference for her Seven Soldiers mini-series.

Diabolic Movie Fan Casting

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013 “109 Black Manta” by ColourOnly85

Click To Enlarge

Part of "The 215 Project 200 DC Characters."

I Want to be Evil

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Justice #12 (August, 2007)

Bio Booster Armor Batman got the captured Lex Luthor to admit that he had agreed to work with Brainiac because the alien was going to take the "lazy... sick... undisciplined... lowest common denominator" of humanity who wanted a "free lunch" off in the seven cities governed by legionnaires of doom away to outer space, leaving Luthor to shape an Earth made up solely of rugged exceptionalists unencumbered by the non-producers; basically outing him as the third Koch brother. Batman pointed out to one of the smartest men ever that Brainiac was always going to nuke whatever was left on Earth when he was done with it. Whatever your politics, shrill is shrill. Batman also threatened to murder Luthor if he didn't cooperate, with Lex even saying "You don't have to tell me, Grodd. I know he's not bluffing. Ross and company had an odd fixation on a brutal Batman unseen in popular media, even more incongruent within the context of a "mature" take on the Super Friends. Superman would truly turn a blind eye to that?

In Scarecrow's city, Zatanna teleported the Marvel Family to Toyman's city so that they could evacuate the children, which I thought was Superman's job, but he instead smashed into Scarecrow's city after beating the Toyman, so he could work longer, so he could earn more, so he could do more coke. Superman was needed there to... hear from Red Tornado that Brainiac had switched his consciousness to a robot body in another city, and from Zatanna that Black Manta had teleported away, so that he could deduce that Arthur Junior was now with Black Manta. Gee, Aquaman could never have put that together on his own. Oh, and he ordered all the super-heroes to keep evacuating Brainiac's cities, because dur.

Elongated Man was part of Supergirl's strike team against Poison Ivy's city, which also included Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Metamorpho. The Maid of Might had a "toad struck by lightning" level dumb exchange before knocking out Ivy so easily you'd wonder why the whole scene wasn't brushed off as a single captioned panel.

Aquaman alone went to Black Manta's city, because drama. Manta threatened to murder Arthur Junior most heinously, so Aquaman surrendered to a beating at the hands of Black's blacks. The Sea King had learned that Brainiac had given Manta the ability to "enslave" his African-American men through technology in his costume, which Aquaman wrecked. The men were no longer agreeable toward very late term abortions and/or being subjugated by one of their own, but they were all for unsubtle sub-text wherein they're emancipated by a white authority figure. Then the blond-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian royalty dressed in golden armor beat Manta like a... like a, um... red-headed step-president of the United States with a much disputed birth record? "I live beneath the sea. I rule and live in a kingdom surrounded by pressures beyond any human ability to measure. What chance did you ever have against me?" Yeah Aquaman, let's have a monologue about your innate superiority to Black. No mixed signals there.

After having helped the Manhunter and Grodd halt a global nuclear strike, Lex Luthor teleported himself to Brainiac's current location, where he revealed that he had always known the android would betray him. "You're an alien... Partner? As if such a thing were possible between us. I wanted you to know, when mankind does not die this day, that it was because of me." Luthor halted Brainiac's body hopping, preventing him from collecting his "heir" from Manta, and instead forced him to flee to his orbiting spaceship. "Get the hell off my planet!" Zatanna and her crew arrived in time to recapture Luthor and continue their pursuit of Brainic. Unfortunately, the Coluan's ship was miniaturized, stranding Zatanna in the vacuum of space. Superman froze the tiny ship in place with super breath (isn't space already pretty cold, and I guess the moisture was pure super spit?) then wrapped Zee in his cape to protect her from reentry and flew down to Earth. Zee still required CPR, administered across a 12-panel grid page. Zee finally coughed and said "Sknaht... I mean... thanks."

The Riddler was sent back to Arkham Asylum, where he was taunted by the similarly returned Joker. Aquaman kicked it with his reunited and fully restored family in Atlantis. Elongated Man proved his worth by serving duties usually reserved for inanimate objects by assisting in the loading and unloading of passengers from the cities of evil. Zatanna was neither barefoot nor pregnant, so she was unseen and unheard until the next time the League needed a magical teleport tube or a damsel in distress. Batman brooded. Our two year, twelve issue, international nightmare was over. "Chapter Twelve" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

2007 Zatanna: From Bruce Wayne's private files in the Batcomputer

Pencil art by Doug Braithwaite painted over by Alex Ross from the back pages of Justice #12 (August, 2007.) Text by Jim Krueger writing as Batman:
ZATANNA ZATARA is the daughter of the master magician Zatara, one-tine member of the All-Star Squadron. Zatanna's mother was believed to have died shortly after Zatanna's birth, forcing John Zatara to raise his daughter alone. Because of her lineage, she had some of her father's magical gifts. But her father's prominence made her the target of dark forces. A curse was placed on Zatara by one of his enemies so that Zatanna would die if he ever saw her again. And so her father left her. With him gone, she struggled though her childhood like many of us did, only to find a family of sorts in the Justice League of America.

Zatanna's magical powers are limited. She generally needs a conduit to her magic. This is necessary for her ability to teleport as well. She has, at best, a fair amount of hand-to-hand combat knowledge. It's her talent for the odds in the Justice League's favor that makes her invaluable.

I find that assessment questionable. Also, Scarlet Witchy.

The Batcomputer Files

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Justice #11 (June, 2007)

The Joker continued to blow up parts of the synthetic cities. "It's my party now! But don't act surprised I showed up. You should have expected me to crash. You really should. You're a regular Brainiac." Meanwhile, as villains from the Legion of Doom were teleporting to other cities, Poison Ivy asked Brainiac sarcastically if everything was still going according to his plan. "Yes."

At the big battle between the Super Friends and the Legion of Doom, Action Stealth Armor Batman™ (from Mattel®) fired real working phosphorous projectile pellets at Solomon Grundy. Meanwhile, Green Lantern John Stewart destroyed the nanite worms that were mind-controlling errbody while simultaneously liberating the non-powered supporting casts previously held hostage by teen super-heroes. This allowed the reunion of Batman Family members Batgirl, Robin and Commissioner Gordon. Zatanna had nothing but her white cloak and the company of Captain Marvel, who would oddly start wearing a white cloak himself in mainstream comics around this time. Conquering, err, saboteurs Black Canary and Green Arrow helped support a clearly weary Elongated Man as Sue Dibny and Martian Manhunter looked on. Plastic Man even gave Ralph a pat on the back, a too subtle not-quite-pay-off for the page devoted to Ralph giving Plas grief issues ago. Aqualad lingered alone from a remove. Zatanna teleported all the civilians to the Fortress of Solitude while the heroes prepared to deal with the escaped bad guys.

Aquaman followed Brainiac and son to Toyman's city, and despite a considerable lead, the Justice League caught up with him inside five panels. They would be needed, as thousands of Brainiac and Arthur Junior robot duplicates swarmed the streets. Beyond the dumbfounding specificity, there's a stupefying two-page spread of the heroes destroying all the robots savagely, relying on Superman's x-ray vision to determine that none of them were the real deal. But say, the Ductile Detective and the Pliable Paladin had a friendly team-up in the midst of it!

Zatanna contacted Superman. "I know if anyone can hear me, it's you. Brainiac- the signal I've been following for him, it's gone. And I can't find a trace of Aquaman's son in the city anymore, either. There are people here, children we need to save in addition to Aquaman's son." Superman stayed in Toyman's domain, while Zatanna magicked other heroes to Scarecrow's bleak Transylvanian-style fake city. The citizens of that plane were mind-controlled and sent against the heroes. "You only need to ask yourself how you are going to save them. How will you fight back when your every defensive blow will crush a soul. Break an arm? Make a cripple? We are legion! Green Lantern then showed up to fix that, then Scarecrow unleashed fear gas to make folks kill one another. Why Lantern didn't just fix that too, I assure you I don't know.

"Chapter Eleven" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite. Zatanna is little seen, but she seems to have the extraordinary power to fix continuity errors through patches in the script whenever needed. Since when does Zee track electronic signals and act as a message relay center? Yeesh!

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Justice #10 (April, 2007)

Previously in Justice

Black Manta was at a formal celebration taking place at a veritable Hall of Doom in one the the super-villains' cities, as was Brainiac. Arthur Curry Junior apparently had the perfect mind to be wired up by the Coluan and serve as vanguard to a replacement race for Brainiac's home world. "Yes, Arthur. Your father is coming for you. Of course, you'll be more my son by then, won't you? First of my people, the new Coluans." Sure enough, Aquaman in his protective armor and fellow heroes burst onto the scene. The Superman villain Parasite leapt at him, threatening to steal the Sea King's powers and then go after his wife. "Wrong thing to say, Parasite. Way wrong thing to say. You're not touching anyone." Without hesitation, Aquaman speared the creep through the chest with his trident, then slammed his body hard enough against the ground to shatter the floor. Manta came at him next firing eyebeams, so Aquaman harpooned his helmet. "You will never come between me and my son again, Manta!" Unfortunately, these distractions allowed Brainiac to escape with Aquacyborgbaby to another city via transport tube. "NOOOO!!"

Meanwhile, Batman knocked Riddler and Poison Ivy around in his "Beyond" looking red and black armor. Martian Manhunter preoccupied himself with Gorilla Grodd and Giganta. Zatanna secretly teleported Green Arrow and Black Canary to a sewer, then returned to the battle before she could be missed. Members of the Metal Men pretended to act as protective armor for the two missing heroes, while in fact working independently to conceal their absence. Still, the ruse was eventually detected, and Clayface dispatched to stop the duo. In a moment the creators failed to establish beforehand, Elongated Man (wearing a sort of Shadow Thief/ninja alternate costume) turned out to have been pretending to be Ollie's "shadow" in near light-less tunnel. "I want to see Plastic Man do this." Elongated Man encapsulated Clayface, who continued to writhe and press within. The Emerald Archer thought to himself "Ralph's wife isn't even one of those that were taken. He's here for us... Some look at Ralph as a joke. Next time anyone says anything about him, I'll tell them of this moment..." Elongated Man cried that Clayface was chewing on his insides, and that there was only so much pain and stress he could take. Ollie called out, "You're a helluva Leaguer, Ralph." Queen went on to locate the kidnapped supporting casts of the various heroes, and smuggled a power ring to John Stewart...

"Chapter Ten" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite. I'm guessing Ross and company thought they'd crafted the Elongated Man redemptive moment that would be praised by Wizard Magazine for years to come. Instead, it established that he was still motivated by his ego to go up against a second rate Batman villain and whine about it all being too much for him within the span of a few panels. Plastic Man gets a lot more done in subsequent issues, a reminder of what Ralph tried to keep from getting accomplished because of his stupid pride, and then throws a spotlight at his minimal competence for unflattering measure. They had better luck inspiring Geoff Johns' very popular "Have Trident, Will Skewer" take on Aquaman, but despite this being out of continuity, the guys he stabbed regenerate like video game players without a scratch on them in later issues. The Aqualobotomy subplot dragged on unbelievably, but "a Brainiac ate my baby" does its best to match it for incredulity. Mad props for giving Aquaman his big moment in the series while wearing a lame all-green armor that renders him virtually unrecognizable, by the way.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Friday, October 11, 2013

Justice Volume Two (2007)

Sue Dibny gently held her husband's arm and hand as Ralph placed a call to a mutual friend. "Look, Iris, it's me, okay? I know I'm just a JLA second-stringer and I'm lucky when I get called to tutor the Teen Titans. But I'm feeling kind of like an outsider here. Where's Barry?" The Flash had been missing for hours, and none of the rest of the League was returning the Elongated Man's calls. "Well, Batman never answers my calls, but..." Ralph had at least placed calls through to Rex and Zatanna...

Aquaman lay still and bloodied on an operating table. Lex Luthor wondered if he was dead, like most of the rest of the Justice League. "Does it matter," answered Brainiac. The Coluan knew Luthor was plotting against him, and said so, but everyone still had their roles to play. Brainiac had a handful of black marble "cities" whose time would soon come...

The Batman had his cave invaded by Captain Marvel and Superman, and when he protested, was decked and tied up with his butler. There were, of course, extenuating circumstances...

Dr. Jonathan Crane used a special solution to allow the blind to see in an impoverished land. Super-villains in civilian guise continued these miraculous acts around the world, while the media (including Vicki Vale) wondered what had become of the status quo enforcing super-heroes who had gone missing. The Joker, left out of the fun, continued his inquiries.

The Martian Manhunter helped Hawkman and Hawkgirl find Toyman in Metropolis.

Batman was bound in his newly amazonian Batcave by Poison Ivy, when he was appropriately rescued by Wonder Woman. However, the Dark Knight was being mind controlled, and return the favor with an electrocution attempt. The Lasso of Truth restored the Caped Crusader's psyche, and he made short work of Ivy. Super-Gorilla Grodd, speaking through the still-bound Alfred Pennyworth, cursed the stupid human animals. "I'm going to kill you. I'm going to dance on your bones. I will feast on your flesh. You have no idea what's coming."

"Shut up, Alfred. Are you okay, Wonder Woman? I'm so sorry." The Amazing Amazon was feeling raw, but Poison Ivy and Batman each had to be secured. "Your lasso is the only thing that's keeping whatever's inside me from controlling me... I need to be free to make sure whatever did this to me pays for it."

Elongated Man called in Green Lantern John Stewart from off screen.

Zatanna was quite busy this issue, despite not actually appearing. She was just in time to magic what was left of Red Tornado off the soon-to-explode League Satellite and send him to Doc Magnus for repairs. Aquaman's location was still locked in the android's head. Zee also guided John Stewart to Ferris Aircraft in Coast City to aid his search for Green Lantern.

The Martian Manhunter fretted as he made his way to the location Red Tornado had determined was Aquaman's last whereabouts. Using J'Onzz as a magical anchor, Zatanna materialized at his location. She remained hopeful against J'Onn's crestfallen pessimism, and was horrified at the state in which they found the Sea King's body. "What have they done to him, J'Onn? What have they done to his brain?"

Batman, still held in check by the Lasso of Truth, flew to the Fortress of Solitude with Wonder Woman. They were forced to wait outside until Superman arrived to lift his massive key.

Outside Atlantis, Aqualad fled the eye lasers of the Black Manta.

As other heroes arrived at the Fortress of Solitude, Batman apologized to Red Tornado for the damage he had wrought. Superman arrived to let everyone inside.

"People of magic should never be required to wait," griped Zatanna to Martian Manhunter at the headquarters of the Doom Patrol. She was concerned that Caulder couldn't "do more than he was able to do for Cliff Steele." Robotman took offense to that remark, while the Chief explained that there was nothing that needed to be done for Aquaman. While Caulder and J'Onzz compared notes on why Arthur had been assaulted in this manner, Zee thought, "The hole doesn't seem so large anymore. Did you replace some of the tissue?" Caulder assured her he had done nothing. Instead of offering a proper answer, the Chief directed his staff to place Aquaman in a healing tank he'd prepared. Zee asked Cliff "Is Niles always like this?" Robotman responded, "What, having three different conversations at once? Yeah, pretty much."

As part amphibian, Aquaman could regenerate the portion of his brain that had been removed. "He really is a man of untapped potential. Extraordinary." While Beast Boy covertly brushed against Zee's legs in cat form, the Sea King was revived with a name on his lips. "Mera...?"

Aqualad made his way to the royal palace to warn Mera about Black Manta, or so it seemed. Instead, Garth punched the queen out cold, then took her infant son from her arms. Clearly under someone's mental thrall, Aqualad fled the city to deliver Arthur Jr. to his father's greatest enemy. "I can't tell you how happy this is going to make Brainiac."

Still under the influence of the Lasso of Truth, Batman explained to Superman that there was little difference in their methods, only their effectiveness. Since Superman makes a point of letting everyone know how omnipotent he is, nobody in Metropolis wants to commit a crime based on the assumption the Man of Tomorrow knows all. The Dark Knight tried to make a parallel to the League's false assumption of safety, but Kal-El blew him off to chill out in space. Once there, he recognized the handiwork of Brainiac in the black sphere cities.

The Flash delivered Captain Cold to the Fortress of Solitude for questioning. While the rogue sat in a Plastic Man chair, sweating under a light, Batman threatened the icy villain with his own pistol. When Batman extorted information out of Cold at the potential expense of his larcenous digits, the lasso made clear it was no bluff.

Elongated Man bounced into a meeting elsewhere in the fortress to announce Batman's findings, as well as to enlarge an eye to inspect one of Brainiac's mind-controlling worm creatures under study. "Hmmm. Carter found this? Leave it to a bird to find a worm. And can someone tell me why I wasn't attacked? What's wrong with me? I have a lot of power. I'm formidable."

In a conference hall, Batman explained that the Legion of Doom had suffered reoccurring nightmares abut the world coming to an end despite (or perhaps partially because of) the Justice League's best efforts. "And so, our enemies have formed an alliance to either stop the coming end of life, or prepare a remnant of humanity to survive it." This involved killing off the heroes, seizing power, and "healing" people through the mind-controlling worms.

Zatanna materialized at the fortress, with Martian Manhunter, the Doom Patrol, and the revived Aquaman in tow. The Sea King immediately chastised the heroes for hiding in the fortress...

The Joker, pretending to be some sort of Amish preacherman, managed to score a ride to one of the black sphere floating cities.

Elongated Man decided to confront Plastic Man about his non-League presence. Eel retorted, "...Another one of those talks, is it? I'm sorry you're not the only stretchy guy... I wasn't attacked either. Maybe none of us are important. Feel better now?" Plastic Man kept trying to chill Ralph out, but Elongated Man kept insisting that the League didn't need this particular two of a kind. Eel rightly refused to leave, pointing out the similarities between Captain Marvel and Superman. Ralph insisted on being a jerk, while Plas thought maybe Elongated Man could take the form of "something the League actually needs one of these days."

Mera had Lord Yuko govern Atlantis while she searched for her missing son, beginning at the Fortress of Solitude. Elongated Man helped Mera inside, where she was reunited with her husband. Learning about the kidnapping, Superman wondered which other loved ones of the super-heroes were in danger.

Zatanna had asked the Phantom Stranger to find the missing Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and both returned from the furthest reaches of uncharted space. Zee thanked the Stranger for his aid. "It was a privilege, my dear. Perhaps now he really will be the greatest Green Lantern of them all one day." The Emerald Gladiator used his power ring to extract all the worms from Batman's body.

Aquaman stated his pleasure about everyone else being all right, but worried about his kid being in the hands of the enemy. "J'Onn told me that he had learned that Brainiac cut me open in an attempt to discover a means to control Grodd." The Sea King was furious with the Coluan and his war on all life. "He's a machine. Only a machine. And maybe that's for the best. Because I'm going to kill him."

Meanwhile, Aqualad had joined other mind-controlled teen heroes in kidnapping the supporting casts of heroes that matter (i.e. not the Martian Manhunter.)

"Justice, Vol. 2," collecting issues #5-8 of the 2005 mini-series, was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Justice Volume One (2006)

The Earth was in its final minutes when the Sea King threw his hands up, ordering a crowd of frightened people back. Just as the planet's cities had burned, its oceans boiled away, leaving nothing but a burial mound for sea life the world over. Batman guided children down into his network of underground caves, hoping to escape their inescapable ends. "We all fall down. Ashes. Ashes."

Black Manta sat up in bed, sweating, cupping his face and neck. "Not again." The nightmare kept coming, and his fellow villains in the Legion of Doom shared it.

King Arthur's wife and infant son slept more peacefully, in the serene depths of their Atlantean palace. After his mother died, Aquaman promised his father he would use his powers to defend the world above and below the ocean. "I have to remind myself why I have to be anything other than a husband and father." The Sea King was restless, and explained to his queen Mera that he sensed something amiss in his domain. After playing with Aquababy for a moment, the hero excused himself to pursue his grim intuition. "If there is anything in this life I would choose again, Mera, it's you. When I need a reason to return to Atlantis, I think of you and Arthur."

Astride a giant seahorse, Aquaman surveyed his kingdom and beyond, coming upon a massive ebony dome. Suddenly, Black Manta and his men were attacking, firing lasers and clutching at limbs. Ultimately, the troop proved ineffectual, but a host of sharks ignored Aquaman's commands and set upon him. Manta taunted his foe as Arthur succumbed, then saw Aquaman into the dome. Lex Luthor shared Manta's nightmare, and as their common foe lay unconscious in the Hall of Doom, they plotted with their compatriots to save the world from the super friends...

The Riddler, garbed in a goofy-collared trench coat with an even more ridiculous interior illumination, was directing his gang on a heist. In an inspired move, the crooks had broken into Wayne industries to use its singularly powerful computer network to hack the Bat-computer. The security system detected Bruce Wayne himself rushing toward their control center, but it was in fact the Batman who would send them scurrying.

As the Batmobile pursued the Riddler’s vehicle, the Dark Knight received word from Red Tornado that Aquaman was missing. The android detailed, “Mera is accustomed to the dangers her husband faces. He’s gone missing before. But that does not make this easier.” Batman replied, “Of course not. No one wants to consider losing a part of the family. Arthur’s a friend, of course. I’ll do whatever I can.” The Caped Crusader suggested that the Martian Manhunter investigate, since the Riddler had gotten away with the identities of the Justice League and the schematics of their satellite. “I’ll devote myself to finding Aquaman once I’ve retrieved what the Riddler stole. This won’t take long.”

A grappling hook snared the van the Riddler’s crew was riding in. The Dark Knight pounced on the overturned vehicle, striking at the goons while the Riddler himself ran to “The Batcave.” Rather than the Caped Crusader’s secret headquarters, this was a Batman-themed bar in Gotham. The Riddler doubled back on Batman and swung with his question mark cane, but the blow was absorbed by way of armored gauntlet. Riddler’s men caught up with the pair and swarmed Batman, but batfan club kids pulled the goons off. The Riddler opened his coat to reveal blinding green light and a mix of holographic and material question mark throwing blades. Edward Nigma escaped, but by compulsion, left a clue behind.

Meanwhile, potions administered by Dr. Jonathan Crane allowed the infirm to walk again, Pamela Isley produced fruitful trees in the desert, and the media ate it all up.

The Dark Knight Detective used Riddler’s clue to track and capture Nigma in a local graveyard. Nigma began choking, but managed to recover, wondering “…what’s… wrong with me?” Delivered to Arkham Asylum, Nigma was harassed by the Joker, who was intrigued by tales of the apocalyptic dreams he’d been missing out on. “I deserve to be part of this…”

Batman couldn’t let go of the night’s case back at the real Batcave. “Why a cemetery?”

Aquaman awoke to find himself strapped to a gurney, an overhead light shining in his eyes. Lacking real peripheral vision, the Sea King was startled when an albino monkey landed on his chest, an electronic box wired into its skull. A voice explained that the monkey was less a pet, and more of a broken toy. Brainiac enjoyed his grisly little experiments, and as he approached Aquaman in his blood splattered surgeon’s uniform and bone cutting tools, the alien fiend expressed his desire to “get inside your head.”

Aquaman remained bound on an operating room table. Brainiac thought Aquaman was an enviably remarkable being, even by the standards of the Justice League, but the Sea King wouldn’t stop pestering him with questions. “Don’t interrupt me. It’s not befitting someone of your mental sophistication.” Brainiac felt there were two ways to deal with his envy: acceptance, or merely taking what he wanted.

Martian Manhunter had been assigned to find Aquaman, as he had remained missing for weeks. The search would not fare well, thanks to Gorilla Grodd.

Aquaman threatened that he would get free, while Brainiac expressed his disgust for humanity and its predisposition toward violence. The Coluan menace explained that we were born from chaos, but still longed for design-- for order. “That’s where I come in. The truth is that I’m only bringing you the very thing you’ve wanted.” Scalpel in hand, he continued, “Come now, Aquaman. Have an open mind.”

Edward Nigma was still an inmate at Arkham Asylum, constantly badgered by the Joker to be allowed into his scheme. From out of a purple haze, Lex Luthor materialized, the Riddler’s hat and coat in hand. Luthor was a bit put out by Riddler’s tipping his hand to Batman, but Nigma was unrepentantly his own man, which Lex could respect. “We all gloat in our own ways.” The Riddler told the Joker his goodbye as he vanished with Luthor, but the Clown Prince wasn’t prepared to give up that easily.

Aquaman was a major part of Brainiac’s plan. One continued his telepathic outreach while the other made his deadly incision. “You have no idea who it is who just killed you. You’re my hero, Aquaman. You really are.” Off the coast of Argentina, sea life formed crosshairs to direct the JLA Satellite to Aquaman’s location, but it would only do good if there was anyone left to look. Using Riddler’s stolen data and Gorilla Grodd’s telepathy, the Legion of Doom were striking out at the League. At that moment, the Scarecrow plotted outside the apartment of Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance, while ever more heroes were placed in crosshairs of their own…

"Justice, Vol. 1," collecting the first four issues of the 2005 mini-series, was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2013 DC Super-Pets Character Encyclopedia! Tibbar Entry

Click To Enlarge

Here's Zatanna's pet, as created by Steven Korté and Art Baltazar. Say it backwards. Cute and appropriate, no? The full color magazine sized 128-page book is available for just $7.95 in paperback or $18.95 in hardcover from Picture Window Books, a capstone imprint.

DC Super-Pets!
  • Jumpa @ Diana Prince is the New Wonder Woman
  • Skitters @ DC Bloodlines
  • Spot @ Power of the Atom
  • Zook @ The Idol-Head of Diabolu

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2010 Workman DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex Zatanna card

DC Comics Super Heroes and Villains Fandex Deluxe
Celebrate 75 years of DC Comics with an obsessive Fandex Deluxe: a supersized deck of 75 iconic heroes and villains whose power over the popular imagination has never been stronger (think The Dark Knight, last summer's $1 billion blockbuster).

The gang’s all here: Batman, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, Justice League of America, the Flash. So are their nemeses—the Joker, Catwoman, Mr. Freeze, Lex Luthor, Cheetah, Brainiac, Poison Ivy, Deathstroke. Meticulously researched, with layers of information covering origins, biography, back-stories, affiliations, motivations, weaknesses, and fascinating trivia, the deck adds up to an insider’s history of the DC Universe. And what better way to present it than in the format with super powers—Fandex and its die-cut cards perfectly capture the characters in one dynamic pose after another, with the art taken straight from the pages of the original comics.

From the essential—learn about the Crisis on Infinite Earths—to the improbable—discover how Lex Luthor became President of the United States—to the offbeat—did you know that Clark Kent and Lois Lane lived in a building owned by Wayne (i.e., Batman) Enterprises: it’s a handheld feast for new¬comers and passionate comics fans alike.

Text by Randall Lotowycz
Other book format , 76 pages
ISBN: 9780761158561 (0761158561)
Published by Workman Publishing
$12.95(US) $15.95(CAN)
This title will be available for purchase from on Apr 22, 2010. For now you can pre-order from one of these online retailers.

Big thanks to The Irredeemable Shag for the pictures! Check out the links below for his full write-up of this novelty.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Power Squad proposal art by Trevor Von Eeden

Click To Enlarge

"The Time Has Come For New Power!!" Sometime between 1979 and 1982, noted DC heroine writer Jack C. Harris put together a proposal with artist Trevor Von Eeden to promote Supergirl and Batgirl as a genderbent "World's Finest" and create a recurring Defenders-style "non-team" alongside the Enchantress and the Vixen. You'll note that the Lady Fox is still in her original costume from Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #2, so this would have been her second aborted chance at getting published before finally appearing in a comic book story through Action Comics #521.
"Power Plus Two: Inborn ability together with a mystic amulet calling forth the powers of the beasts alter the identity of fashion designer Mari McCabe into the Lady Fix... The Vixen!"
DC Women Kicking Ass interviewed Harris about the sadly rejected proposal, which you can read here!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Justice League of America's Vibe #3 (June, 2013)

Vibe stood on the top of the Gimlin Building, twelve stories up, scanning the area for signs of trouble while talking to his brother on the phone. "You can't fly, genius! If you see any 'trouble' from up there, how are you supposed to get down in time to stop it?" Also, Dante was sick of lying to their father about Cisco's whereabouts while he was out on patrol. Not sick of lying about his own whereabouts, mind, just Cisco's.

At A.R.G.U.S., Director Amanda Waller asked, "Tell me, Agent Gunn--is this kid going to bend every order we give him? Or just the ones that are matters of interdimensional security?" Dale assured her that Cisco and Dante hadn't breached their confidentiality beyond confiding in one another. Waller still believed Vibe to be "one of the most powerful super-humans on the planet," so he needed to get up to speed with her needs fast, which included manipulating the Speed Force.

Vibe was on his way home when an A.R.G.U.S. airship showed up to carry him to New York in pursuit of the "thief and arsonist" known as Kid Flash ("though his relationship to the Flash is tenuous.") Dale Gunn had to reign in Cisco's enthusiasm at visiting the Big Apple as an A.R.G.U.S. squadron was guided by Vibe into the subway system. Cisco randomly decided to engage Gunn in small talk, learning he'd been recruited out of grad school by the C.I.A., served fifteen years, then transferred to A.R.G.U.S. as soon as it was up and running. Gunn also "had a daughter. Once."

In the tunnels, Kid Flash began disarming the A.R.G.U.S. troopers. Only Vibe was able to see him, and was able to defend himself against super-speed with his vibrational powers. Vibe managed to dampen Kid Flash's speed, and pursued him alone on foot, pretending that there was interference in his communication device to ignore orders to wait for back-up. Kid Flash reengaged Vibe, causing feedback that allowed Vibe to see parts of the Kid's history, and triggering explosive energy surges all the way back to A.R.G.U.S. equipment in Detroit. Both heroes were thrown for a loop, and Vibe was nearly struck by an oncoming train.

Kid Flash declared his innocence, his lack of the personal memories Vibe had uncovered, and his unwillingness to submit to further investigation by an A.R.G.U.S. stooge. Vibe had second thoughts about that back-up, but his communication equipment was really working poorly at that point. Kid Flash had been in the tunnels to visit his point of arrival after traveling from a future he couldn't remember, and though Vibe wanted to help him, Waller aborted the mission for fear that a negative feedback loop created by further interaction could unravel time itself. Kid Flash angrily refused Vibe anyway, then fled. Waller told Agent Gunn to chew Vibe out for his insubordination, but she was actually very happy with the mass of data collected during the encounter.

Unbeknownst to Waller, there was a major complication from the instances of feedback created by Vibe and Kid Flash. The power dampening generated in the Circus had faltered, allowing Subject 24 ("Gypsy") access to her abilities. Creating the illusion that she was a guard who had been trapped in her cell, Gypsy lured another guard into freeing her and escaping.

Back at the Ramon Family home, Cisco told Dante that for a supposed "violent criminal," Kid Flash passed up plentiful opportunities to kill him and his group. Cisco was finally asking questions about A.R.G.U.S., and Dante pointed out that this "super secret government agency" had already imperiled his brother repeatedly without his knowing much of anything about them. Francisco Ramon began working out a strategy to investigate A.R.G.U.S. when a figure in purple and gold armor teleported into his room to reinforce his suspicions. "...Time for you to start asking the right questions. And if you don't... you'll die just like all the others."

"Trial by (Flash) Fire" was by Sterling Gates, Pete Woods & Sean Parsons, and Fabiano Neves. Gates doesn't quite keep up the humor of the previous writers, but he does immediately move Vibe past being a well-intentioned patsy into a more thoughtful and challenging protagonist. I've never been fond of Woods' work, so I perked up on the pages Neves drew on his own, adding a dynamism and heroic sheen previously lacking.

New 52's Day

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

2013 “Injustice: Gods Among Us” Zatanna DLC Trailer

I'm on teh tweeters now, where @Jslab425 let me know that the Mistress of Magic was following Martian Manhunter as a downloadable character for play in the very popular NetherRealm Studios video game Injustice: Gods Among Us. While the game featured most of the iconic DC heroes and a fair amount of villains, the developers intentionally held back on playable characters with the intention of offering them later as downloads, thus extending the playing life and promotion of the game. Lobo, Batgirl (Barbara Gordon,) the Mortal Kombat character Scorpion, and General Zod were released as part of a pack earlier this year, with Martian Manhunter the first entirely new character to be offered since. Zee is the second, after having won a fan request poll. There's too much kicking and punching to suit her, and damn are her legs developed, but her tricks are pretty neat. My favorite is where she sends Solomon Grundy to take punishment in another part of the game itself.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Friday, August 2, 2013

Detroit Doody #1

By the time I dropped all the X-Men titles in the early '90s, I'd already moved on to collecting mostly DC Comics. 1993 was a year bursting with major events, and the glory of the Chromium Age at its height fired up my own paltry imagination. "Reign of the Supermen!" was either on the way or progressing, so I figured Batman would have at least one new costume coming out of "Knightfall." I decided to try out some ideas, none of the ones seen here remotely good, all of them embarrassing, and I should frankly be ashamed for wasting your time. However, this is the internet, so what else were you expecting?

Pooping on the DCU

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Justice League of America's Vibe #2 (May, 2013)

"You are going to get eaten! Or stabbed. Or blown up. Or erased from time. Or, if you're really lucky, just plain old-fashioned gut shot... Why else would they have you in the Justice League of America other than cannon fodder? You're the red shirt, man. They can throw you at super-villains, and while they're distracted debating on how to kill you, the JLA can swoop in and save the day." Clearly, Dante Ramon wasn't supportive of his brother Cisco becoming a super-hero, especially on a JLA "b-team" whose other members had yet to be revealed to him. Vibe was showing off the costume he'd been given by A.R.G.U.S., including the glasses that were only supposed to record his activities while on duty, but through which Amanda Waller and Dale Gunn were viewing this breach of confidentiality.

Vibe heard a call for help and went out on patrol, and in a scene paralleled in another comic, caught a little boy who had merely stolen a candy bar. "Look... um... Promise you'll never do it again and it'll be our secret, okay?" Dante questioned whether the League had confused Cisco with another, more competent Vibe, and worried about losing "the only brother I've got left." Cisco paid the shopkeeper for the candy bar. Agent Gunn was dispatched to confront Vibe about his frivolous use of power when he was desperately needed to protect the Earth from invasion, and dressed him down for confiding in his brother, a designated "unreliable factor." Vibe put Dante's question to Dale, who explained "you have a power no one else does." Dante continued to mock the "Vibe" moniker and teased tattling on Cisco to their father.

On the streets of Detroit, an odd looking alien was roaming the streets menacingly. A television in a store window discussed a terrorist situation involving the terrorist Sons of Adam taking hostages at Stagg Industries, and the alien reacted badly when possible intervention by A.R.G.U.S. was mentioned. Vibe sensed the creature's presence, and A.R.G.U.S. asked him to track it. Dale referred to it as a "breacher," referring to "interdimensional beings that breach our world." The breacher had taken a cop hostage, turned invisible, and scaled a building. Vibe used his powers to knock over a light pole and scale it to the building's roof. Vibe zapped the breacher, who promptly surrender and tried to give Cisco a document written in an alien language. Agent Gunn shot the breacher with an energy weapon, claiming it was still a threat, and that his message was a declaration of war.

At the Circus, Amanda Waller had the document, and gave it to one of her prisoners to translate. "...It has your name on it, doesn't it? Written in your language. It's a letter. Someone went to a great deal of trouble getting this to you..." The prisoner asked after the fate of the courier, and explained that the letter was a request from her father to come home. "You seem to prefer a more nomadic existence. That makes you something of a trans-dimensional... Gypsy." Waller wanted the girl to tell her father that she was safe and well cared for, but if he decided to try to take his daughter back, he'd share her "accommodations." Gypsy felt that Waller had no right to keep her, and Amanda agreed, but also noted that some of her superiors would prefer that her holding facility become an abattoir. "I want out! I'll take my chances out there! Please..."

A day later, Cisco was the first member at the new Justice League of America headquarters in Washington, D.C. In a phone call, Cisco was debating quitting before proving himself "a sucky Justice Leaguer," but Dante finally supported him. At a press conference before the Capitol Building, President Barack Obama introduced the press to Katana, Vibe, Stargirl, Martian Manhunter, and Hawkman. Cisco whispered to Courtney that he wished his brother could have been there, then Colonel Steve Trevor told him to "Can the chatter." Steve confided to Waller that Vibe was wide-eyed in awe of the spectacle, and worried for his safety in times to come. To better vet the kid, Director Waller informed Agent Gunn that she wanted to see how well Vibe could establish a connection to the Speed Force...

"Why Me?" was by Geoff Johns & Andrew Kreisberg as writers; Pete Woods & Andres Guinaldo on pencils; Sean Parsons, Pete Woods & BIT on inks. The issue felt very much like a placeholder or series of deleted scenes, weaving in and out of sequences from Justice League of America #1 & 2, advancing subplots without a true core story of its own to tell. Woods' art improved, but since he was sharing chores with so many other hands, the overall quality of the book was inconsistent. I'm not at all keen on Gypsy's new backstory, Cisco remains a calculatingly inoffensive bore, and how many reminders do we need that Amanda Waller is in a shady business?

New 52's Day

Sunday, July 28, 2013

2007 Black Manta color art by Terry Huddleston

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"Black Manta. Bar-nun, the creepiest DC Villian."
The Great Wall of Villains

Monday, July 22, 2013

Aquaman #16 (March, 2013)

After the U.S.S. Mabus fired on Atlantis, Ocean Master declared war against the surface world. The Justice League fared poorly in their initial confrontation with him, as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were sentenced to death in the Trench. Meanwhile, Cyborg underwent voluntary surgery to replace his lungs in order to carry the fight under the sea. Silas Stone initiated the procedure, though his associate T.O. Morrow argued "We wouldn't have to subject your son to this horrific operation if you'd just agreed to letting me activate the android... the Tornado could--" Thomas was cut off as Cyborg's idling mind went to work on the mystery of the missile strike.

With the League overwhelmed, reserve heroes were called in by Cyborg to stymie the Atlantean offensive, including The Vixen, Firestorm, Black Lightning, Black Canary, Element Woman, Hawkman and a concealed Tiny Titan. The heroes were not used to one another though, which caused problems. Mari demanded "Watch where your (sic) flying Firestorm! We need to get better organized, Black Canary. Where's Batman? ...All I can smell is seawater." The reservists were then knocked out by an explosion.

Cyborg received his upgrade and joined Aquaman and Mera in rescuing the DC Trinity. Victor Stone also had a lead on who was behind the Mabus attack... Aquaman's old advisor Vulko!

"Throne of Atlantis, Chapter Four" was by Geoff Johns, Paul Pelletier, and Sean Parsons.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Brave and the Bold #51 (December, 1963-January, 1964)

A rogue narwhal (a violet color whale-like creature with a long horn on its snout) began battering the glass dome over Atlantis. Aquaman couldn't control the creature, so he had an undersea bullfight with the narwhal until it became fatigued enough to respond to telepathy.

A giant toad-like creature with massive bird wings on its back was afraid that might happen, so he left the sea to take to the air. It traveled to the Golden Cliffs, where the giant condor Lokir guarded the Pipe of Quixtol, a horn that could command all birds. Dragged by combat into the sea, Lokir had to abandon the pipe and survive another day. Lokir flew to Midway City, where museum curators Carter and Shiera Hall tended to the condor's injuries. Able to speak to birds, Hawkman and Hawkgirl learned Lokir's story, and suited up to pursue the Pipe of Quixtol.

Aquaman and Aqualad visited the cave where The Old Man of the Oceans could be found. A survivor of the sinking of Atlantis, the Old Man explained that their foe was surely The Outcast of Atlantis. Long ago, Tyros tried to become dictator of Atlantis, but was defeated, exiled, and by now presumed dead. Also, Tyros was the only Atlantean to share Aquaman's ability to command the denizens of the deep. The Old Man vanished, but before the aquatic heroes could act, they were pulled into the air by an "upside-down waterspout" created by countless birds circling above at top speed. Meanwhile, the creatures of the deep renewed their assault on the dome over Atlantis.

Aquaman and Aqualad were rescued by the Hawks, who fought for control of the birds with the Pipe of Quixtol. The attacks of the creatures relented, but Tyros kidnapped Hawkgirl. Returning to the cave where Tyros had been mutated into his current state, Hawkgirl's exposure to the strange gem within turned her into a harpy. The disturbing transformation of his wife caused Hawkman to recoil in horror and return to Midway City... but not before working out a plan of action with the Sea King.

Aquaman was forced to reckon with a sunken ammunition ship that had broken loose, not realizing that it was a trap set by Tyros. An explosion nearly killed Aquaman, and in his absence, Atlantis was given over to Tyros. In Midway City, Hawkman hatched a plan, literally from an egg.

Aqualad recovered from the explosion, and used stinger fluid from an Atlantean Spiny-Fish to revive the ailing Aquaman. However, the spiny-fish came into contact with the transformative gem, and grew to giant size. Far enough out from Atlantis, Aquaman simply commanded the fish to settle down. Aquaman took the gem carefully, then met with Hawkman to launch a two pronged plot against Tyros.

Using a secret entrance known to royalty, Aquaman and Aqualad invaded the throne room. While Tyros slept, shelly mollusks were used to pump out all the water in the room, depriving Tyros of his aquatic guards. Meanwhile a Thanagraian Mytrus bird, artificially hatched and immune to the Pipe of Quixtol, was set upon the Hawkgirl-Harpy. Hawkman used the distraction to defeat his bride and claim the pipe. Through a plastic tube to Atlantis, the Winged Wonder commanded an army of birds against Tyros, while Aquaman saw the strange gem crushed by a giant clam. Everyone, including Tyros, were returned to their natural selves. The heroes congratulated one another, while Tyros returned to exile.

"Fury of the Exiled Creature" was by Bob Haney and Howard Purcell.

DC Comics Presents

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

King of the Seven Seas: Hooks for the Aquaman Movie

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Whatever peoples' misgivings about Man of Steel, it's made a lot of money, and the Marvel Studios model has made very much more money. Warner Brothers wants to cash in, and recent reports suggest they're looking into doing so with Wonder Woman and Aquaman. Now, I'm a fan of the Sea King, but I'm not sure this is the right time for a solo motion picture. Like Green Lantern, Aquaman is popular in comics currently, but that doesn't translate into a public demand. I believe people actively want the DC Trinity in cinemas, whereas Green Lantern had to be sold to the public in 2011, and the result was at best breaking even on the budget. Aquaman is a better known property, but that familiarity comes in part from being an easy punchline, and the property as a whole is more problematic a transition to live action. I think the failed Mercy Reef pilot did a decent job of cracking the Aquaman story for general audiences, but an "alien" refugee on our world hunted by his own people was already used in Man of Steel, so writers need to start from scratch with Aquaman. I have some suggestions on how to go about that...

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1. Royalty is unsympathetic.

Superman is already the messianic Aryan figure sent by a heavenly father to lead mankind by his glorious example and willingness to level a populated area if it gets in his way. Wonder Woman as an Amazon princess is also a given. If Marvel get around to doing the Sub-Mariner, his regal bearing is an integral part of his character, and ditto Black Panther. In the United States, rebels are valued a lot more than kings, and I'm not too sure the monarchy is all that popular abroad anymore.

Aquaman managed to last a couple of decades in comics before being crowned a Sea King, and to some degree it dropped off his head and hung around his throat. Aquaman's recent return to popularity can be partially credited to his being treated as a more straight-ahead super-hero in a conventional costume with a bit of an attitude problem, making him an edgier, angrier protagonist. Regardless of the Nolan-y title of this piece, we should see less King Arthur and more Robin Hood if Aquaman means to stand out in the company of the JLA.

2. The right origin can be very sympathetic.

In his first origin, Arthur Curry was a surface dweller whose scientist father injected him with some Atlantean goo that gave him his powers. In the Silver Age, Arthur was raised in a lighthouse by his normal father after losing his Atlantean mother, and his resentful stepbrother grew up to become Ocean Master. Haven't we had enough of super-heroes being defined by their daddies, surrogate or otherwise? Jor-El, Pa Kent, Uncle Ben, Alfred... it's played out patriarchy.

Personally, I think Aquaman needs more of his Post-Crisis origin to make a dent cinematically. Leave out the Atlan part and just have Aquaman born with some ominous physical aspect among a merciless, superstitious people. Go back to Mercy Reef and see this infant left to die for the sin of being different, only to miraculously survive due to genetic variances known to turn up in the royal family and a mystical destiny to be revealed later. Do the whole Tarzan of the Dolphins thing, with Aquaman raised as a noble savage, belonging to no people while forced to confront all of them. I'm telling you, the girls hearts will go out to him and the boys will respect him as an embattled loner. He'll go from a spare smelly Superman to the team's Spider-Man or Wolverine without compromising the character.

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3. Steve McQueen > James Dean.

What DC needs on the Justice League is a wild card... a bad boy with heavenly looks. The role of smirking anti-authoritarian ladies' man is more predictably applied to Green Arrow, but for television that character has returned to his roots as a Batman stand-in, which has worked for an established audience. Aquaman may not be allowed to be jubilant and grin unironically, but the next best thing would be a troubled loner covering for his private pain with a smirk and a bit of flippancy. The DC heroic pantheon suffers from an excess of self-centered pathos on a textured sleeve between the movie Superman and Batman. As heartening as it may be to see the financial success of Man of Steel, it'll still run a distant second to Iron Man 3 at the box office. The Justice League could use some Tony Stark mojo. Let Aquaman be the cool, fun, enthusiastic, "outrageous" alternative to three dour Captain Americas in the DC Trinity. If he must be a king, make him a reluctant, defiant, progressive one.

4. We don't need a four-color family.

You know what I dread the most about Superman movies? The obligatory presence of Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and sometimes Lex Luthor, all hanging out at the Daily Planet. It's one thing if a creator really needs some of those characters to tell a story (even if it was as unfortunate as babymama Lois in Superman Returns,) but quite another when you're sticking Margot Kidder in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace where she doesn't belong. A selling point for Smallville was that it featured underrepresented classic characters like Lana Lang and Pete Ross, new takes on relationships like Clark & Lex's, and the breakout character was still the wholly invented Chloe Sullivan.

I think steering clear of an extended Batman Family has only helped that franchise's vitality. Focusing on the always agreeable Alfred, offering supporting roles to guys like Lucius Fox, altering cinematic relations with the likes of Harvey Dent and providing closed arcs for key inventions like Rachel Dawes all bolstered the Dark Knight after Robin and Batgirl weighed the guy down. With the exception of Mercy Reef, every Aquaman to cross over into the media has been shown as a mid-career family man, the adventures of AquaDad. Save rescuing and mentoring Garth for later films. Let Mera come along when the franchise needs a reboot. For now, make an Aquaman movie work unhindered by add-ons and allow the screenwriters the room to plot a course for their own supporting cast that does not require biblical fidelity to past representations.

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5. Who to punch? Who? To? Punch?

Aquaman has exactly two villains, Black Manta and Ocean Master. One is basically the Darth Vader of the deep, but a lot of his rep came from murdering Aquaman's son. His most recent origin is very similar to how things played out between Jor-El and General Zod in Man of Steel, and it requires going back to Aquaman having daddy issues that will make him derivative cinematically. Black Manta is your Joker... your Mandarin... an ace in the whole to hype a sequel. Wait until there's room for a better, filmic origin story to tell about him.

Option #2 is Ocean Master, who isn't very interesting, doesn't have a fraction of Manta's fan base, and meanders into the same patriarchal concerns. If you want to use him, make Orm either Aquaman's father or further estranged brother. Maybe he thrived in Atlantis in Aquaman's lifelong absence while practicing ancient, evil magic that may have tied into our hero's "affliction" and very late term attempted abortion. At least that would be a twist on samey-same cinema. Alternately, have his mother be the evil sorceress, to further shift the script away from well trod ground.

Evil king, evil queen-- it puts Aquaman in the right position to be a populist hero instead of snooty noblesse oblige to be resented. Let Aquaman overthrow a monarch instead of serving as one. Maybe he even brings democracy to the sea as a rebel leader, and objects to Superman's more overbearing, unilateral approach to heroics? If the Atlanteans are as big a bunch of ignorant stubborn jerks as they are portrayed in the comics, you create a whole new conflict where Aquaman is forced to look after their obvious best interests in opposition of their loudly protested wishes.

Of course, Atlantis & magic equals an effects budget along the lines of Green Lantern, which should be saved for when it's been earned. In a first film, there's plenty enough story in the origin and development of Aquaman as a hero of two worlds without literally rendering one of them in full CGI glory at feature length. Let Aquaman save surface dwellers from horrors out of the deep like the Trench, which could blend practical and digital effects with a Cormanesque economic use of shadows to keep costs down and tension up. If Aquaman can't come across to audiences on his own, Black Manta and Ocean Master will be about as much help as Mark Strong's Sinestro or John Malkovich's Quentin Turnbull.

5. Be funny. Be scary. Be different.

Is Nolan's Batman is Coca-Cola Classic and Snyder's Superman is (let's be honest) Diet Coke, don't treat Aquaman like Royal Crown. Aquaman has brand recognition, but not a rigidly defined formula, so Do the Dew with the dude. Dark fantasy is big right now, so go all Game of Thrones with Atlantis, or focus on scary sea creatures like The Host or Aliens. Pillage the Marvel movie feel by allowing Aquaman to have fun as a hero, or the Sony scene of heavier soapy romantic elements. Don't borrow from Fox, because you've got enough problems. The heavy hand of the Nolan aesthetic would suffocate Aquaman, and viewers will resent it for not being another entry in the Superman/Batman series. The pedestrian hand of the Green Lantern crew would fare even worse by pleasing no one. A project isn't visionary if it's the same vision recycled since 2005, so find a creative team with something fresh to say about super-heroes while still honoring Aquaman's strengths and gelling with the DC cinematic universe.

If Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling are looking to reteam for a more commercial project than their norm, take a chance. If Wes Anderson wants to get all quirky and twee with Paul Dano, give it some thought. Who else is up for David O. Russell and Bradley Cooper offering oceanic adventure as serio-comic commentary on self-determination vs. social obligation? If David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen have an angle completely out of left field, it's worth considering for Aquaman. If the super-hero genre can't be expanded, and more adaptable heroes like Aquaman can't be used to push those boundaries, the countdown begins on the death of a fad. Give the Sea King an opportunity to rule.