Spoilers below, you have been warned.
For more on the issue, check out our review here.
Today’s The Green Lantern #9 saw the introduction of a brand new super-team. One made up on solely alien superheroes, cosmic protectors with almost little to no ties or roots in or with Earth. And the best part? They’re all old, pre-existing DC characters. Obscure ideas given new purpose and form in a modern era. But who are these heroes? Where do they come from? Where are they based? And what do they do? All of these are obvious questions that pop up and all of them are worth getting into, as is the context for the team and its presentation. But let us start with its name, first:
Introduced as a body based in Throneworld, the birthplace and home-world of Prince Gavyn Starman, The Superwatch is mostly made up of old characters from issues from The Silver Age. But more specifically mostly from the Superman line of comics, from Action, Adventure, Superman, Superboy, Lois Lane and World’s Finest. The Superwatch works with The United Planets, a body with strong ties to The Legion Of Super-Heroes. Retconned in as a body that unites various disparate, almost random and forgotten cosmic characters, it’s a massive superteam. Its list of members hits at least a 21, although they suffer heavy losses in the issue.
The creation of the team and its subtle retcon addresses and ‘fixes’ a long-standing issue of present the DC Cosmic universe. Earth has cops, sure, but it also has a vast, connective superheroic community. However, that privilege isn’t offered to the entire universe at large, leading it to feel small and confined, as only space cops, in the form of Green Lanterns, really exist, with no real superheroic community there. The Omega Men are sectioned-off terrorists, The L.E.G.I.O.N and R.E.B.E.L.S aren’t exactly that connective super-team that the DC space needs, as various chunks of space feel cornered off into separate isles which barely relate to one another. Even the recently formed Justice League Odyssey is locked away in a corner dubbed ‘The Ghost Sector’, unable to interact with any of the larger pieces, forced to invent mostly new ones.
There’s a lot of things on the table, but no sense of real texture of connectivity to give it the lived-in sensibility and feeling that one gets from, say, Marvel Cosmic, especially under the likes of writers such as Dan Abnett or Jonathan Hickman. The Green Lantern has been trying its best to remedy this issue wherever it can but The Superwatch is its biggest addition in this regard, tying together various alien figures across space to say ‘Well, they never appeared beyond their small appearance because they had their own space adventures and team-ups to deal with, they all know each other and are pals after all!’ It’s retroactively creating the texture and lived-in history that was otherwise absent prior, it’s Morrison writing to theme and idea in a way such that the world he implies and displays comes off better than the one that’s actually existed in practice.
Thus, since so many of these characters are back on the table and so many are ridiculously obscure, often appearing in only one issue or a few panels, it’s worth taking a look at some of them.
Superwoman/Luma Lynai of Staryl – Superman’s Super Courtship! (Action Comics #289)
The resident of a world with an orange sun dubbed Rhythmrum, Luma hails from Staryl. She was introduced in a narrative where in Supergirl was desperate to find Superman his true love so he could marry. And thus the ridiculous romance manga-esque setups by Kara began, including but not limited to Saturn Woman (a grown up Saturn Girl) of The Legion Of Super-Heroes. The Super-Courtship is, alas, not to be, as the fate of Luma and Clark ends in tragedy. Clark reaches out to her and they quickly get on well and in classic Silver Age fashion, decide they’re going to get married, because that’s what all this fuss has been about: Super-Marriage!
But Kara’s plot to get Clark a wife fails when the couple realize that Luma becomes weak and cannot survive under the Yellow Sun world of Earth, with her powers only prospering under the orange sun. And thus they split, never to meet again. Luma is a fun character, brought back here as an archetypal self-less hero, pals with Marta (who we’ll get to in a moment) and she makes a brave sacrifice in the issue, proving she is no less than any superhero in the DC Universe.
Strong-Woman/Marta of Thronn – Power Battery Peril! (Green Lantern #32)
Introduced as Strong-Girl in one issue of Green Lantern and featured in about 6 panels max, Marta is a character that never even had her own name beyond the title. Morrison and Sharp have given her the name, cut out the silly logo and given the appropriate muscular, body-builder look over the sleek Silver Age one to reflect the title she bears. Weary and almost Bryan Hitch-esque, with a li’l Ultimate touch, she’s a great mate for Luma. She hails from Thronn and apart from being part of The Superwatch, is also a member of The Honor Team Of Thronn, her homeworld’s superhero squad. Freed by Hal Jordan on his first trip to her planet’s sector, she’s someone who’s met and knows the legendary lantern, albeit briefly.
Marvel Maid/Lea Lindy of Terra – The Second Supergirl! The Supergirl Of Two Worlds! (Action Comics #272-273)
Bearing the name of The Distinguished Competition’s competition, Marvel Maid is from the planet of Terra. On this world, a lot of things are the same, but they’re not the same at all. History differs, key landmarks, such as The Eiffel Tower, are in different countries entirely and rather than Metropolis, she watches over Macropolis. But most amusingly, to contrast the Superman and Supergirl of this era, she’s the main hero of her world, while Miracle Man, the Superman equivalent, is the ignored and lectured-to sidekick, in the place of Supergirl. Being the great champion of Terra, she resides in her cosmic fortress above Earth called The Fortress Of Marvels, keeping all her things the way Superman does in his own Fortress. A charming, affable and fun contrast, Lea Lindy is a figure of hope to her people.
Regor/Winki Lamm of Uuz – The Case Of The Second Superman! (Superman #58)
A fun reverse-take on the Superman myth, Winki was a boy rocketed off from Earth, as his parents’ isle was exploding. Arriving on the cold, sun-less world of Uuz, the boy was a superchild, able to see through all of its transparent walls, lift up its heaviest objects and traverse space. He grew to be the superman of this world, with his own Lois Lane-equivalent and identity troubles. When trouble brewed on his world, Winki fled to Earth and sought Superman’s aid, who helped take care of dastardly criminals of Uuz, who plotted to charge people for their heaters on their icy planet of Uuz. Superman solved the issue by literally building them a new sun and changing the planet’s orbit to ensure such a thing could never happen again, for every world deserves a sun! Since then, Regor’s remained a guardian of a new Uuz, full of radiant light and glorious heat.
Logi and Quisto of Durim – The Mystery Of The Alien Super-Boy! (World’s Finest #124)
Logi, the young alien superboy of Durim is a charming fellow. Empowered by the cosmic rays of a meteor alongside a Professor, who goes onto become his sworn enemy across all the lands of Durim, Logi arrives on Earth hunting his great foe alongside his trusty companion and pet Quisto. A special tracking hound, Quisto is the good old buddy that will never give up on you and will always stick by your side. Together, these two made a great team and crime-fighting duo and they held off all the threats of their world on their own. A boy and his pet with a world of burden on their shoulders and yet they never stopped, always giving it their all.
Vartox of Valeron – Mystery Mission To Metropolis (Superman #281)
An honorable man and a considerate man, Vartox fights for his own strong ideals and what he believes to be right. And yet he thinks things through whenever and wherever he can. Although he may seem like a brute, he’s a good, thoughtful man driven by his heart and his need to wear nothing but those long boots and a jacket over his shirtless body. Looking like some vintage wrestler, Vartox is one of the more popular members of this cast, which is an odd thing to type, considering Vartox and popular don’t really go together all that well. Although he’s been reduced to cheap comedy in humor books these days, pining after the likes of Power Girl, Vartox is a space hero with a lot of genuine pathos and heart.
Super-Male/Irn Brimba of Soomar – The Super-Suitor Of Soomar! (Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #41)
A Super-Suitor, if there ever was one, Super-Male is the super romance-driven, knee-baring and chest-open hero of Soomar. Caught in a weird and bizarrely confusing logical romance problem with his own Lois-equivalent, he’s a strange guy, to say the least.
Vidal/Allen Greene of Inter-Galactic Patrol – The Kents’ Second Super-Son! (Adventure Comics #260)
A charming youth operative of a cosmic superhero team, Vidal used to be a superhero in training for the Inter-Galactic Patrol. Clearly he’s graduated since and works for more than just the one group. But originally, he was sent out by the team on a special mission: Find poor Superboy parents. The heroes felt bad for the young adventurer as every child must have parental love and thus it was Vidal’s task to find Superboy the best one. His pick? The Kents. The one catch? Neither The Kents or Superboy must reveal Superboy’s secret to his brother-to-be, Clark Kent! As Vidal waves him off about being careful around Clark so his identity is safe before heading back to Patrol HQ, Clark only grins in happiness with The Kents. Part of two intergalactic squads, an altruistic and well meaning-lad, even if crippled with shoddy intel. Vidal’s a good man.
Power-Boy/Zarl Vorne of Juno – The Power-Boy From Earth! (Superboy #52)
Hailing from Atlantis and residing on Juno, the moon, Power-Boy is a special hero, who albeit cannot co-exist with Superboy. Although, as is evident, he is a boy no more, sporting a mustache, he’s a grownup and a proper adult superhero. Oh how the lad has grown. His costume design, ridiculous as it was and still is, somehow works even now, in an odd way.
Hyperman/Chester King of Oceania, from Zoron – The Superman From Outer Space! (Action Comics #265)
Once more, a lovely twist on the Super-narrative, Hyperman is a Zoronian who fled his dying world as a baby and found Oceania, another world very much like Earth. (If any of this sounds a tad bit like Moore and Sprouse’s Terra Obscure, tales like these are key influences on that.) There he grows to be a TV man, with his own Lois-equivalent in Lea Lindy. The lady suspects Chester King is Hyperman and thus King arrives on Earth to ask Superman for aid. Since they both look exactly the same (the magic of Silver Age), Superman would fill in for him and pretend to be Hyperman, clearing King.
But using his future-machine, Clark discerns that Hyperman is dying of poisoning via radiation, due to a certain type of Zoronite (ala Kryptonite) and thus decides to do the opposite. He fails deliberately at every turn and outs King, who loses his powers and marries Lea and lives a happy married life until a year, after which he seemingly dies. It’s the ultimate ‘What if Superman retired and was a beloved ex-hero as Clark?’ concept, taken to a tragic end, for he dies. That said, Chester certainly doesn’t look dead here, as Morrison and Sharp seem to have now twisted the poor man’s tragic end into an optimistic one, for he still lives! And he leads The Superwatch!
Halk Kar of Thoron – Superman’s Big Brother! (Superman #80)
Arriving as an amnesiac, Thoron’s Kar is a man that briefly befriended Jor-El but forgetting that, assumes he’s Superman’s big brother. Kar is a fun little idea and here in Sharp and Morrison’s vision, he’s represented as the ultimate relaxed, beer-chugging, cereal-eating bro, with his boots off, just relaxing on the couch, maybe awaiting to hear the score on the galactic sports feed. In any case, he’s a concept worth bringing back in. There’s a charm to him.
Aeroman and Windlass of Marr – The Duel Of The Super-Duo! (World’s Finest #163)
Appearing in essentially a single panel in a Jim Shooter story centered around a bogus Intergalactic Hero Convention, the duo of Aeroman and Windlass are popular superheroes across the stars, but most well known on their world of Marr. Operating from a mighty tower, the pair use super jets to pull off the impossible and are a happily married couple who fight the cruelties of crime one cosmic day at a time.
Hyperboy/Kirk Quentin and Hyperdog/Klypso of Trombus – Superboy’s Stolen Identity! (Superboy #144)
Imagine if Jor-El, Lara and Clark had all gotten out and escaped Krypton’s destruction and arrived on a Earth and been a superfamily. Well, that’s the story of the Quentins. They fled their dying world in a rocket and arrived on Trombus, a world not unlike our own, except, it’s under a Red Sun, which powers this Hyper-Family of heroes. Hyperboy is their leader, having a super evolved brain, with his best pal being Klypso the Hyperdog. The Hyperfamily uses Clark as a guinea pig to test the resilience of their Hypersuits in their appearance and later reveals the ruse, thanking him and sending him off happily. The Quentins are a fascinating reflection, an intriguing what-if thread in the Superman narrative and the return of Kirk and Klypso is a joy. A cosmic superboy and his superdog who leads his own superfamily across space adventures? It doesn’t get better than that.
Maxima of Almerac – My Lady Maxima! (Action Comics #645)
Arriving as a barbaric warlord seeking ‘the perfect mate’ to continue her line and house of Almeracian royals, Maxima began as a problematic, dated villainess. Over time she got relatively better and heroic, growing from that point. She’s easily the most popular and well known better of this roster, being adapted into the DC Animated Universe and thus being known by wider audience. Boasting Perez’s design and X-men influences in her look, she’s a character that’s never quite broken through and gotten the appropriate revamp or purpose. The New 52 had a different spin on her and that incarnation was very much in conversation with the prior one, acting as a necessary critique by a woman of the sexism and ingrained problems within the character, as conceived by two men decades ago. However, past that, she’s now ready for more adventuring across the space-ways.
These are the ones that are hard to crack. The first two fallen ones are evidently some sort of Alien Super-Creatures of sorts, but the the other two heroes remain elusive and ever mysterious.
What do you make of this new team and all of these old-school characters? Spot any you like? Feel free to venture out and learn more about them. Know what the mystery ones are? Let us know!
The Green Lantern #9 is out now!