DC Universe #0 (2008)

DC Universe #0 (June, 2008)
“Let There Be Lightning”
Writers – Grant Morrison & Geoff Johns
Pencils – George Perez, Doug Mahnke, Tony S. Daniel, Ivan Reis, Aaron Lopresti, Philip Tan, Ed Benes, Carlos Pacheco & JG Jones
Inks – Scott Koblish, Christian Alamy, Tony S. Daniel, Oclair Albert, Matt Ryan, Jeff De Los Santos, Ed Benes, Jesus Merino & J.G. Jones
Colors – Alex Sinclair, Tom Smith & David Baron
Letters – Nick J. Napolitano
Assistant Editor – Adam Schlagman
Editor – Dan Didio
Cover Price: $0.50

Had a whole big “thing” planned for today.  Seeing as though this is my 616th post, I was thinking of doing a DC/Marvel crossover.  Said it before… and unfortunately, I’ll likely say it again… moving house stinks, and many of my rooms look like they’ve been hit by a four-color explosion.

I think most of my DC/Marvel stuff is in Longbox #33… just haven’t the foggiest which room Longbox #33 might be in!

Soooo…. we’ll read and discuss something else.

We open with what appears to be the Universe (or perhaps a being who is “one with” the Universe)… monologuing.  It’s a long shot of the universe… and it claims to be “everything”.  It continues to speak of its defenders, the Justice League of America… and it’s the original seven (the real original seven).  We can also see several early recruits.  The narration continues… speaking of a Multiverse, and a pair of Crises… one that nearly destroyed everything, and another that brought with it multiversal resurrection… and threats of a third, and Final Crisis.

We shift ahead to the 31st Century, where Superman (wearing a Legion flight ring) is battling a baddie called Tyr.  Superman requests back-up from his teammates… and so, we see Legionnaires Brainiac-5 and the White Witch having a sort of seance.  Brainy says he’s attempting to drum up some help for the Man of Steel… however, the next page shows the entire Legion embroiled in battle with those Shadow Demons from Crisis on Infinite Earths!

Next up, we head to Arkham Asylum, presumably the “present day”.  Batman is visiting with the Joker, who seems to be using regular playing cards as a crazy sort of tarot.  Folks really had some fun trying to decipher this scene back in the day.  The first couple of cards dealt are the Ace of Clubs and the Eight of Diamonds… which if metasymbology.com is to be believed, the ACE is the card of “desire”… and the CLUB means many things, Education among them… so, it might symbolize Batman’s desire for information.  Or, it might just be a reference to the “Club of Heroes” or “Club of Villains”.  The EIGHT means “power” and “control”… DIAMOND means many things, among them Security.  Lookit me, pretending to understand this stuff!  (I don’t by the way, just so we’re clear).

Batman asks the Joker if he’s heard of an organization (or person) known as The Black Glove.  The next card dealt is the EIGHT of HEARTS.  Hearts, among other things, means vulnerability… which is pretty apt at this juncture.

The Joker is kinda tickled by Batman not knowing what’s to come.  He tells him that there are people who are looking to… and are capable of hurting him in a way that he won’t recover.  Next card is the ACE of SPADES.  Which could mean Acceptance… as the Joker follows up by pretending to blow his brains out with a finger-gun.  Also worth noting, and more likely the “symbolism” of this scene than any of the nonsense I just researched… H is the eighth letter of the alphabet… soooo, the 8A8A card layout spells… HAHA.

Batman insists that he isn’t afraid… after all, if he were, he’d no longer be Batman.  The Joker shows the final card of this “dead man’s hand” (Aces and Eights)… and, well, wouldja lookit that… the “wild card” is a JOKER card… didn’t see that coming!

Next we check in on Wonder Woman, who is battling a Minotaur.  Meanwhile, Zeus and Apollo appear to be plotting against her… assembling an army of men to take down the Amazons.

In Northern California, Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart are investigating a scene where the villain Black Hand (not to be confused with Black Glove… though, I’ve heard one fits perfectly into the other) exploded while being transported to a federal prison.  They see a burnt corpse… with a handprint on its chest… a handprint we’re about to become very familiar with.

We next follow Black Hand… and also take a tour of the emotional spectrum… as he is summoned by a… black lantern?!  Uh-oh.

Next up, we see a scene of the Spectre fighting off the Anti-Monitor from Crisis on Infinite Earths… however, this isn’t the green ghoul we’re going to be reading about today.  There’s a new Spirit of God’s Wrath/Vengeance/whatever around, and it’s former Gotham City cop Crispus Allen.  Our narrator is hopeful that, in the coming Crisis, he’ll learn that there’s more to his role than just vengeance.

We shift to somewhere between shadow and light, where a figure falls… a flaming figure, perhaps Darkseid?  Perhaps our narrator?

Next up, a meeting of a reformed Secret Society of Super-Villains… this time led by Libra… and the Crime Bible from 52?  Sure, why not?

We wrap up with our narrator’s caption becoming clear… it’s no longer shaded at one end… now, it features a… lightning bolt?!  Now “he” remembers!

Now, if I were to tell you that we were going to discuss an issue by Geoff Johns with “DC Universe” in the title, that was secretly narrated by the Flash… this probably isn’t the first one you’d pick out.

Lemme be honest here… this whole era took place during my unemployment-fueled exile from comics.  I did grab this one though… seeing as it only cost fifty pennies.  I recall hating it.  Not so much for the story, but for the fact that I’d only been away for about six months… and I was completely lost!  I think as a primer for new/lapsed readers… this book kinda fails.

If you were ensconced in 2008 DC, however, I think there’s a ton to like/love here.  This serves as a pretty decent bridge from (whatever the hell) Countdown (was) to Final Crisis.  I’ve tried several times over to read through Countdown… and never make it past the second (of four) trade collection.  I think if you were so inclined, you could probably skip that… and just read this.  If you’re a new reader, you’re going to be lost either way!

It’s even tough to discuss the individual scenes, as they all play out in different titles.  I suppose if you were following those books that would be one thing… I dunno… it’s really hard for me to put this one in a “vacuum”… it’s predicated on too many stories, and leads to too many more!  I really feel like the “introductory” price is a bit deceiving… as this isn’t new-reader (or even briefly-lapsed reader) friendly in the slightest.  Maybe if this was Countdown to Final Crisis #0… or Final Crisis #0 I’d think differently, but as a stand-alone… it disappoints.

And, no… we’re not going to get into Final Crisis today.  That’s a whole ‘nother kettle of wax, ball of fish… whatever… which is on the agenda (likely to be followed up with Reggie and I digging our way through a Weird Comics History episode), but that’s for another day.

This is a toughie to recommend, as it brings a whole lotta baggage with it.  If you wanna read this as a snapshot of post-Infinite Crisis/pre-Final Crisis DC, I’m sure you could.  You might not get much out of it… but, then again you may!  On the other hand, if you are doing a mid-aughts DC reading project, than this is a must.  How’s that for riding the fence?

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