VILLAINS WATCH: Month Four

Welcome back to VILLAINS WATCH — although maybe we should be calling it HEROES WATCH! With DC’s New 52 having benched a large number of characters in its relaunch, expectation has been high for the publisher to bring back some of these key figures in Forever Evil, the upcoming New 52: Futures End weekly, and a few other select spots. Last month we looked at Blue Beetle (Ted Kord), The Doom Patrol, Manhunter (Mark Shaw), Ragdoll, and Black Alice, but now we’re back with EVEN MORE returning characters to the pages of Forever Evil! But first, a little recap:

Forever-Evil-Cv4_villain_CRecent Reviews

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #9
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #25
FOREVER EVIL: A.R.G.U.S. #2
JUSTICE LEAGUE #26

FOREVER EVIL #4
Johns doesn’t skip over anyone here, and they all — hero and villain alike — get a moment to shine emotionally… All of the villains have a deeply human streak to them under Finch’s pencils, even the worst of them, and that just makes this story all the more effective.”

Recent Features

A Look at Unbenched Characters – Part One!
Full Forever Evil Solicits [UPDATED with March 2014 information]
Interview with James Tynion IV on Stephanie Brown’s return in BATMAN: ETERNAL
Early Solicits for April 2014’s DC Comics Annuals (including THE FLASH ANNUAL #3)

 

Doctor Light

1277899-doctor_lightAlter Ego: Kimiyo Hoshi
First Appearance: Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 (1985)
Last Appearance: Secret Six #36 (2011)
Reappeared in: Justice League of America #4; (named) Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S. #3

In the wake of the greatest battle the heroes of the DC Multiverse would encounter, Doctor Kimiyo Hoshi of Japan was struck by a beam of energy summoned by the Monitor, a higher being of power who sought to save our matter universes from his anti-matter twin, the evil Anti-Monitor. Completely unharmed amid the devastation of her observatory, Hoshi took on the garb of the villain Doctor Light and fought alongside the heroes of many earths to save all existence from destruction.

That said, Hoshi wasn’t exactly a ray of light, personality-wise, but as the years went on, her harsh exterior gave way to truly heroic endeavors, membership in the Justice League of America, continued advancements in science, and raising extraordinary children as well. Now re-imagined as the surviving widow of one Doctor Arthur Light, the all-too-brief hero of A.R.G.U.S.’s Justice League of America, it seems only a matter of time before Kimiyo dons the black and white once again.

Key Storylines

  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #1-12 (1985-86)
  • Justice League Europe #37-42 (1992)
  • Justice League of America #39-40 (2010): Reunion

The Metal Men

Metalliens_ws42993318Featured Members: Gold, Lead, Platinum, Mercury, Iron, Tin
First Appearance: Showcase #37 (1962)
Last Appearance: Justice League: Generation Lost #12 (2010)
Reappeared in: (Platinum only) Justice League #18

The artificial creations of robotics scientist Doctor Will Magnus, the Metal Men were an enormous technological breakthrough that just couldn’t behave themselves. At their core, each AI has a device called a Responsometer, an invention that imbued both intelligence and personality to these metallic “people” — each taking on the traits of the metal from which he or she was formed. Prideful Gold, strong Iron, slow but determined Lead, excitable Mercury, nervous Tin, and the beautiful, elegant Platinum formed the Metal Men, and set out to have adventures and do good in the world.

Today, Doctor Will Magnus has been at the center of scientific discovery — alongside colleagues Silas Stone and Thomas Morrow — since the creation of the Justice League. Working through the federal government’s mysterious Red Room, Magnus has so far managed to debut his first robot, the faulty Platinum, who he sent in as a candidate for JL membership. While his first attempts have clearly been unsuccessful, signs point to an entire team debuting alongside a rejuvenated Cyborg to combat the threat the Grid poses to a ravaged United States.

Key Storylines

  • Showcase #37-40 (1962)
  • Wednesday Comics #1-12 (2009)
  • Doom Patrol #1-7 (2009-10)

Cassandra Craft

3135550-cassandra+craft+1First Appearance: Phantom Stranger #17 (1972)
Last Appearance: Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #2 (2005)
Reappeared in: Justice League Dark #25

A close friend and confidante (and maybe even more) to the man only known as the Phantom Stranger, the psychic known as Cassandra Craft appeared in a few brief Silver Age tales to assist and beguile the Grey Walker. While she possessed her namesake’s gift of second sight, Cassandra was in fact also blind, and ran an occult bookstore in San Francisco. Here she also encountered the sorceress Zatanna, and played an important role in delivering her to her destiny among six other magical soldiers.

Cassandra Craft is one of a handful of supporting characters — Etta Candy, the wizard Shazam, Lee Travis — who has returned to the New 52 with a significant makeover. Now portrayed as a young, African-American woman, Cassandra Craft is still on hand to assist the dark practitioners of the DC Universe from her bookstore, but is joined by a brand new companion named Liam. What competition this young man may pose for the Phantom Stranger remains to be seen.

Key Storylines

  • Phantom Stranger #22-24 (1972): Circle of Evil
  • Action Comics Weekly #631-634 (1988-89): Cat and Mouse
  • Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #1-4 (2005)

Plastic Man

2007-04-12_132034_PlasticMan_dotsAlter Ego: Eel O’Brien
First Appearance: Police Comics #1 (1941)
Last Appearance: Justice League of America #59 (2011)
Reappeared in: Justice League #25

A homeless kid without a real chance in life, who got swept up in a life of crime, Eel O’Brien was a small-time gangster who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time — or so he believed at the time. Shot in an attempt to escape police custody, and doused in the refuse of the chemical factory he attempted to rob, Eel would later wake up to discover his body was now a super-stretchable, amorphous form. Turning over a new leaf, he became the wacky hero known as Plastic Man, and a legend was born.

Plastic Man popped in and out of comics for decades, never quite fitting in to the DC Universe until joining the JLA in the early 2000s. Noticeably absent from the New 52 (except for what we will now consider a forgettable cameo in Justice League International #1), Eel made his return — and relived his origin — in a confrontation with Crime Syndicate member, the Owlman. Where we’ll see him relive his heroic development next is anyone’s guess!

Key Storylines

  • Plastic Man #1-10 (1966-8)
  • JLA #65 (2002): Bouncing Baby Boy
  • Plastic Man #1-20 (2004-6) by Kyle Baker

Traci 13

tumblr_lhglflGfRQ1qc72dyo1_400Alter Ego: Traci Thirteen
First Appearance: Superman #189 (2003)
Last Appearance: Flashpoint: World of Flashpoint #3 (2011)
Reappeared in:  (cameo) Trinity of Sin: Pandora #6

The magic-wielding daughter of chronic Silver Age skeptic Doctor Terrance Thirteen, Traci 13 first appeared in Metropolis amid a gaggle of Supergirls, determined to make her own way in the world. Quickly becoming a fan favorite, Traci stood side-by-side with her doubting father on one of the wildest, continuity-bending adventures ever — all the while remaining the apple of his eye, despite her deep connection to magic.

Traci would eventually meet other young heroes her own age, as she began a romantic relationship with the newest Blue Beetle. She joined a makeshift coven made up of herself, Zachary Zatara (cousin of the Justice Leaguer Zatanna), and Black Alice, before getting caught up in the Flashpoint event and disappearing prior to the launch of DC’s New 52. With her father appearing to be much younger in this new continuity, all seemed lost — that is, until a big portrait of Traci appeared on the wall of the Thirteens’ mansion during a visit from the Justice League Dark. It’s not much to go on, but Traci’s existence in the New 52 is unquestionable now. We just need to see her in action!

Key Storylines

  • Action Comics #806-808 (2003): Hungry Ghosts
  • Tales of the Unexpected #1-8 (2006): Architecture and Mortality
  • Flashpoint: World of Flashpoint #1-3 (2011)

BONUS UNBENCH: Wally West

Flash-Annual-3Alter Ego: The Flash
First Appearance: Flash #110 (1959)
Last Appearance: Green Lantern #65 (2011)
Reappears in: Flash Annual #3

More than any other character, Wally West grew up alongside a certain segment of fans (myself included), as he grew from sullen teen to spoiled twenty-something player to responsible husband and father — all while carrying on the mantle of his martyred uncle. As the Flash, Wally represented the first breakthrough in a sidekick (formerly Kid Flash) who made it to the big time, and stayed there. Unlike Dick Grayson, who would take brief runs at replacing his mentor, Wally was forever the Flash once he put on the red, shiny togs after Barry Allen’s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Flash forward (heh) to Barry Allen’s return from the dead in 2008’s Final Crisis, and Wally suddenly is propelled back to also-ran status. But with everything in the New 52 open to re-imagining, it seems Wally West has a new lease on life ahead of him, and far, far ahead of Barry’s. Solicits would seem to indicate Wally really could be the Flash of the future, and even if not, there’s no question we have a thrill-packed road ahead of us with his return!

Key Storylines

  • Flash #62-65 (1992): Born to Run!
  • Flash #92-100 (1994): Terminal Velocity
  • Flash #197-206 (2003-4): Blitz/Ignition

What characters do you want to see unbenched in the remaining months of Forever Evil or New 52: Future’s End? Sound off below!

 

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