I don’t think the writers often know what reality the DC Adventures comics took place in. They kept bringing in elements of the regular DC universe, although it would end up being contradicted by the DCAU shows, the source material in this case. For example, in issue #25 of The Batman Adventures we see DCAU Batman teaming with 90s mullet Superman and fighting full head and beard 90s Lex Luthor. In an upcoming (to be reviewed) issue of Superman Adventures we’ll have Superman leaving with the DCU version of the Justice League at the time, although the concept of a Justice League in the DCAU didn’t exist for a few years yet, AFTER The New Batman Superman Adventures went off the air. It’s like the writers really want to use mainstream DC stories but forgot they were writing an adaptation of the TV show based on those comics but not set in that world.
I’ve just assumed Adventures In The DC Universe was set in the main DC universe, but in the style of the Adventures comics. So while Doctor Fate’s bookending story has to take place in the DCAU based on how it ties back to Superman’s problems with Akamin, it gets confusing when we come to Zatanna and her two tales, which involve the same amulet, but involves characters that technically could be in the DCAU but never shown, yet contains a character I know isn’t in the DCAU ever (his first animated appearance wasn’t even in this continuity but in the later Young Justice show), everything gets really confused. I guess Fate was right about reality breaking down for this tale.
Adventures In The DC Universe Annual #1
DC Comics (1997)
“Something Wicked This Way Comes!”
WRITER: Hilary J. Bader
COLORIST: Rick Taylor
LETTERER: John Constanza
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Frank Berrios
EDITOR: Mike Carlin
Each of the tales are loosely connected and have their own art teams. We’ll look at them individually.
Doctor Fate: (penciler: John Delaney; inker: John Byrne)
This story bookends the rest of the events. Doctor Fate’s planned evening with his wife is interrupted when his amulet shows there’s a disruption in the fabric of reality, possibly due to Akamin’s messing with reality as much as why Fate is actually summoned by demons. But these are good demons who had their evil drained away (have they been near the Omega Capsule?) and now serve as a sort of demon police force. However, their evil has escaped and formed a new being who is a threat to all reality. Fate manages, with the demon cops help, to bind the evil being and take him where he won’t be a threat to reality. While this is going on, however, other events have transpired.
EVENT ONE: Impulse (penciler: Andy Suriano; inker: Rob Leigh)
Max calls Impulse to warn him not to use the Speed Force to do his chores, including long-distance ones like the book he borrowed from a library in Peru…because of course he did. Max senses a disruption he felt 10 years ago and the results could be unpredictable. Of course Bart doesn’t listen and ends up in the middle of nowhere. There he meets a medicine man who can also tap the Speed Force as well as somehow translate language (I think with that amulet he has, because amulets are a recurring theme in this crossover). He seeks Bart’s help in stopping a pair of would-be thieves from finding his hidden village. Using his brain as well as his speed, which does work for short distances, Impulse manages to trick the bad guys and send them far away. With the “speed god” quieted, Bart makes for the library and back home.
It’s a good story. While it could be assumed that the disruptions of the evil monster and Akamin are tied to the Speed Force disruption it doesn’t really tie into anything otherwise beyond the amulet motif. The colorist accidentally colors the black baddie white, and it’s interesting how color changes how a person looks, but otherwise I don’t have any complaints. It’s a fun little story.
EVENT TWO: Rose And The Thorn (penciler: Dick Giordano; inker: Terry Austin)
We open on fanservice, namely Rose in the shower. Steam and well-placed arms hide the goods but Rose is an attractive woman in the show and we do see that. She hears whimpering but can’t seem to find it, so when it stops she writes it off as her constant fears that her late father’s enemies might someday come after her. It doesn’t help that sleep is never restful for her. That could be because of her split personality that unleashes her “sister”, the superhero known as The Thorn. Thorn also hears the whimpering, which takes her to her late father’s shop downstairs and Zatanna, who was crying due to memories of her own late father, Zatara. When Rose/Thorn’s father was alive he built and hid a few things for stage magicians and she came here looking for information concerning the amulet in Batman’s care. (See what I mean about how confused writers were about continuity?) One of those is, you guessed it, yet another amulet, which Zatanna wanted to use to keep track of the Hypnotist. Good thing, because he uses his returning powers to get himself out of police transport to federal prison…which just brings other timeline questions out. The Hypnotist also tries to control Thorn but he accidentally awakens Rose, who unwittingly takes the spell meant for Thorn. Thorn uses her paralyzing thorns to paralyze the Hypnotist’s voice, forever robbing him of his power, and then returns the amulet to Zatanna.
Thorn is a protector of all “father’s daughters”, a consequence of the events in Rose’s life that led to Thorn’s creation. She’s an underused character in the DC Universe so it’s nice that she got a part here, but as I said, this really messes with continuity. I know reality is supposed to be messed up but if they’re trying to say that the DCU and DCAU are temporarily merged or something they don’t state it, and the writers have gotten it mixed up so often in the past and future of the DCAU comics it’s hard to really tell what’s going on, considering Zatanna and this amulet play a strong role in the next event. However, it feels like an epilogue to the Batman & Robin Adventures story that wasn’t really necessary unless Bader just wanted to make sure the Hypnotist didn’t show up again.
EVENT THREE: Superboy (penciler: Michael Avon Oeming; inker: Ron Boyd)
At this point Superboy was still a brash punk kid who had settled in Hawaii. It’s the 10th annual festival dedicated to an active volcano that has never erupted in recorded history. The natives credit a “volcano god”. Zatanna is performing at this event, and has the amulet from the Rose & The Thorn story. She challenge anyone to hide it, so Superboy, being an occasional jerk at the time, tosses it into the volcano. A villain I think is name Joquian and his men take the event hostage, forcing Superboy not to move or he’ll explode a bomb places inside the volcano, which he’ll also do if his demands are not met. With a little trickery and both kinds of magic (stage and mystical), Zatanna uses the amulet to bring Superboy to the island, where he has to protect lava people living in the volcano (a mother and her children). He gets rid of the bomb and foils Joquian’s plans, then apologizes for getting in Zatanna’s face earlier.
I like this one. The amulet actually plays a part in the story besides being there, although it’s still a McGuffin and not a threat before. The art isn’t bad but it’s easily the weakest of the stories in this issue, but the writing makes up for it. I think I like this version of Superboy better than what he became just prior to the New 52 because he has more personality to him. the later, New 52, and Young Justice cartoon versions have little to no personality.
EVENT FOUR: Mister Miracle (artist: Mike Manley)
Mister Miracle is forced to spy on a cheating husband to pay bills, but his investigation is interrupted by the arrival of an odd Boom Tube and a younger version of himself. The younger Scott Free managed to escape after “killing” a parademon (parademons aren’t alive necessarily, they’re artificial creations of I believe Desaad to serve Darkseid), but it’s long before Scott Free escaped, plus he’s in his own future now. Mister Miracle is forced to bring his younger self back to the proper time period on Apocalypse, where he does manage to make contact with the underground run by Scott’s friend Himon. Then Mister Miracle defeats an invading parademon force before returning to his proper time period.
This is the last story before the epilogue, where we see Fate deal with Akamin and help Superman restore the fabric of reality. Oddly there is no amulet, just the Mother Box. It does sort of go along with the disruption in the Speed Force from our first event, but ultimately it’s kind of filler since it otherwise doesn’t match the themes we’ve seen thus far (the lack of an amulet) and is a story that really didn’t need to be told since it doesn’t have an effect on anything other than Scott learning about Himon’s underground network early.
We end with Fate’s return and going to help Superman against Akamin, thus setting everything right again, as Kent and Inza go to have a quiet dinner.
They’re all good stories and I enjoyed the book overall, but it easily speaks to the problems these writers had keeping their continuities straight, like they were trying to shoehorn the DCAU into the regular DCU and being foiled constantly since that’s not what Bruce Timm had in mind when he created any of the shows. He was telling his own stories, forming his own universe, even if a shared universe wasn’t in his plans when he created Batman: The Animated Series. Also, we do learn that the boy was the young Scott Free but that information goes nowhere, tying up the loose end of what Doctor Fate was doing around this time. Did Akamin cause these events in his search for Superman or did he merely take advantage? I don’t really know. Overall it’s a good issue but it feels tacked into the events of the other two comics. I still recommend it, mind you, but for its own worth and not the crossover.
As for the DCAU comics, when I get back to reviewing them in “Yesterday’s” Comic we’ll have the adaptation of the episode that welcomed Batman and company to Kids WB before beginning the miniseries that bridges the transfer of networks. There will be more to come on that route because even when they mess up continuity the DCAU books were sometimes better than what the main line was doing, with exceptions. Even the 90s got a few good ones in.