Countdown Breakdown #48

A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: John Hays

By popular demand, and since I’m just so fond of the guy, here’s a bit more on Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy’s first official appearance wasn’t even IN comics. It was in the radio show The Adventures of Superman back in 1940. He moved to the comics the following year. Since it appears that Jimmy will be exhibiting many of his Silver Age powers as the weeks continue, let’s take a little trip down memory lane, shall we?

One of Jimmy's more frequent transformations was into Giant Turtle Boy. What a bizarre concept. I don’t see the appeal, but it’s lasted through the years. In post-Crisis continuity, Jimmy even dressed up as a Turtle Boy for a burger joint advertisement. My personal favorite transformation is that of Elastic Lad. Jimmy gained stretching powers similar to those of Plastic Man or Elongated Man. He even joined the Legion of Super Heroes in this identity. In a direct homage to Batman and Robin, Superman and Jimmy became Nightwing and Flamebird in their adventures in the bottled city of Kandor. Of course, a certain current DC hero ended up taking the Nightwing name, and it will be interesting to see if Jimmy ever teams up with him in the future. Beating Barry Allen’s debut by a mere month back in 1956, Jimmy drank a potion, as he had for his Elastic Lad persona, but this time he was granted super speed, becoming Speed Demon. He was even a werewolf at one point, as well as a human porcupine. For a multimedia tidbit, in 1991 the Spin Doctors released an album entitled Pocket Full of Kryptonite that featured the song "Jimmy Olsen’s Blues." It was a good album. Jimmy eventually appeared in the comics wearing Spin Doctors t-shirts around the same time period.

Donna Troy: Talk about someone with a convoluted past. Her first origin involved her parents dying in a fire and Wonder Woman taking her to Paradise Island where she was given Amazon powers by a purple ray. She then adopted the name Donna Troy and went about being Wonder Girl.

After the first Crisis, her origin started undergoing numerous changes. Since she now seemed to have debuted before Wonder Woman, her origin was changed to being saved by the Titans of Myth. They lived on a moon and gave Donna various powers and training before being given false memories and sent back to Earth. Some time later, Donna returned to the Titans to assist them and was given many gifts. She accepted them all and adopted a new heroic identity, Troia.

Donna was later married and had a child. This fascinated me at the time because the man she married did not look like a standard super hero comic leading man. He had almost an afro of curly red hair and a full beard, quite unique at the time. To be honest, I wasn’t a fan and kept thinking, “what’s she doing with this guy? Why isn’t she with Nightwing or one of the other Titans?” (To be fair, I was very young at the time.)

Due to some drama involving the child and time travel, Donna had to give up her powers and joined the Darkstars. Her husband and child were later killed in a car wreck, and Donna retired from the Darkstars. Wait, there’s more.

In the late '90s, Donna’s origin was changed once again, revealing her to be a creation of an Amazonian sorceress as a playmate for a young Wonder Woman. An evil villain named Dark Angel captured her and started rebooting her life over and over, erasing the world’s memory of her each time. Donna eventually overcame Dark Angel with help from her friends and was later accepted as a princess of Paradise Island. Donna was later killed by a Superman robot, but, of course, that wasn’t the end.

Once Infinite Crisis and 52 rolled around, Donna returned again, fighting the Titans of Myth again, and realizing she was the manifestation of all her parallel selves across the old Multiverse. In fact, Dark Angel was also one of her parallel selves.

Upon returning from space after the events of Infinite Crisis, Donna took over the mantle of Wonder Woman while Diana went to find herself. Donna seems to be appearing in both the Wonder Woman and Troia garments, depending on where I find her, so I’m not sure as to the status of her heroic identity right now. I like the character and have found most of the reboots rather unnecessary, though generally entertaining. What I’m interested in is how her knowledge of the previous Multiverse will play into the events of Countdown.

Starman/Star Boy: How about just Thom Kallor? Thom was born with the ability to increase an object’s mass all the way to that of a star. Thom is a member of the Legion of Super Heroes, although for a time he was expelled for killing Kenz Nuhor, his girlfriend Dream Girl’s ex-boyfriend, in self defense. He was later reinstated after a brief stint in the Legion of Substitute Heroes.

After Zero Hour, Thom discovered that it was his destiny to come back to the 21st century to take on the mantle of Starman and eventually lose his life. Later, in 2004 when Mark Waid rebooted the Legion, he recast Starman as a black man. While I’m all for cultural diversity in comics, I’m not a fan of changing existing characters to fit a demographic.

Recently, the original pre-Crisis versions of Legionnaires, including Thom, have appeared in the present on a mysterious mission as yet unrevealed. Thom has displayed strange behavior due to the 21st century drugs he is taking for his schizophrenia. When not adventuring, Thom stays in a mental institute voluntarily. It appears that in his travels to the 21st century, Thom made a stop in a parallel universe, which is more or less the Kingdom Come universe. I’m quite excited by this storyline, because this is my favorite era of the Legion, and I look forward to more adventures with Thom Kallor.

The final part of this story focuses on Lightray. Lightray is (was) a New God. For more on the New Gods in general, see my first Breakdown column. I’ve always liked Lightray because he provides a bright, sunny disposition to go with his name. Plus, he’s done a good job keeping Orion’s temper in check, with help from mother box. Now that he’s gone, I wouldn’t want to be around Orion. Lightray’s abilities were apparently great enough to generate a miniature sun when needed. In his final moments, he utters the word “Infinite,” which leads me to go ahead and possibly jump ahead a bit to mention who I think Superman saw flying off at the end. That would be… [WARNING, POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD…PURE SPECULATION, BUT YOU NEVER KNOW!!!]

Infinity Man. Infinity Man was originally a man named Astorr who, upon dying, gave the title to Darkseid’s brother Drax (interesting coincidence how this character’s name is Drax, as is the Marvel character whose mission has been to kill Marvel’s version of Darkseid, Thanos). Infinity Man went on to serve Highfather on New Genesis, being summoned by the Forever People when they touched their mother boxes in times of need. Devilance The Pursuer, a character recently seen in 52, was Infinity Man’s arch enemy. So, as far as anyone knows, Infinity Man is a good guy, but that could always change.

Another possibility is The Infinite Man. The Infinite Man is a character that has appeared in Legion of Super Heroes stories. His name is Jaxon Rugarth. Rugarth volunteered to travel in a new time machine created by Rond Vidar based on his previous inventions, the Time Cube and Hyper Time Drive (sounds familiar!). The machine ended up being too powerful and looped Rugarth through various times and dimensions over and over. A new more powerful being emerged, with knowledge of both the past and future, pulling almost limitless power from the time stream: The Infinite Man. Rugarth was eventually defeated but later re-energized by the Legion to capture the Time Trapper. He dragged the Time Trapper to the dawn of time, where they apparently are still grappling. If The Infinite Man IS involved in Countdown, the danger level just went up several notches.

That’s it for now, kiddies! The action’s ratcheting up! Can’t wait for next week!

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