Newsgroups: alt.comics.superman,alt.comics.batman


ELSEWORLD’S FINEST - SUPERGIRL & BATGIRL
Annotations compiled by Urac Daria Sigma
Based on the DC comic book by Barbara Kesel, Matt Haley and Tom Simmons
Contributions welcome to ratbat@rocketmail.com


Page 1. The Joker and Professor Emil Hamilton. The Joker is no doubt known to everybody as Batman’s nemesis in DC continuity. Professor Hamilton (or ‘Ham’) is a supporting character from the Superman titles - while he started off as a villain there, he’s a good guy now, and no longer so desperate as he’s portrayed here. (Thanks to everyone who pulled me up on his original DCU status.) The association between the Joker and Hamilton is completely new - as far as I know, they’ve never even met in the real DCU. In DC continuity, Venom is the super-duper-wonder-drug that juices Bane into a powerhouse. It doesn’t have anything much to do with either Hamilton or the Joker, although the effect is largely the same as we see here. But probably not as quick. ‘She’s got to notice me now!’ exclaims the Joker. ‘She’, of course, is Batgirl.

2.1. Our first sight of the Elseworld’s Finest Batgirl. Her costume seems to be a hybrid between the Silver Age Batgirl costume and the type of costume worn by Batpersons in the 1990s movie series. This author thinks that it’s also refreshing to have an Elseworlds Batcharacter whose internal monologues aren’t written as handwriting.
2.2. There is a Tarantula in DC continuity - a Golden Ager also known as Jonathan Law, best known for writing a book about himself and his fellow mystery men. There are vague resemblances between that Tarantula and the guy here, but we don’t know if the characters are intended to be linked. And is that really a zoom 210 times bigger? (Maybe it is. I wouldn’t know.)
2.4. Batgirl here runs vertically down a wall with large amounts of ease - in much the same way Batman had little trouble proceeding up a wall in the 1960s TV series. (Long live the One True Batman!)

3.2. ‘Don’t you get the newsfeeds from the real world in your town?’ Evidently Gotham City isn’t exactly enjoying an open relationship with the metropoli around it.
3.3. The first mention of the Justice Society - it seems that there was never a Justice League on this Earth, and unlike the DCU, the Justice Society kept going strong since its formation.

4.1. Well, Tarantula sure got in trouble for not being on the guest list - whatever it is Batgirl has about trespassers, she sure meants it.
4.2. Some more members of this Justice Society. From left to right, we have:
Dr Mid-Nite. There have been three Dr Mid-Nites in DC continuity, but this isn’t any of them (there was a female Dr Mid-Nite, but she was black, so this isn’t her).
Green Lantern. This GL is Abin Sur, who in DC continuity died right after giving his power ring to the Silver Age Lantern, Hal Jordan. I guess the EWF Abin survived to hang out on Earth for a while, and get himself a new outfit - which, may I add, looks damn nifty.
The Flash (hiding up the back). From what I’ve heard, a new Flash here - not anyone we would know in the suit. The costume is clearly based on the design of the outfits Barry Allen and Wally West have worn during their years as the Flash. And as we’ll see later, he’s got little accessories on his arms that remind me of the fractal armour from the Total Justice action figure. But that’s probably just me.
Revenant. Apparently a new character, but according to Barbara Kesel (I think), he’s actually derived from an existing DC personage. (My guess? Deadman.)
Wonder Woman. Well, you know...Wonder Woman. Diana, Princess of Themyscira, sent to Man’s World. All that stuff. New outfit again, though.
Captain Marvel. He’s sulking up the front of the bus in this panel, but he’s here...
Interceptor. A new character. I think. I might need help on some of these.
Ambush Bug. A surprise to me here! In as close as he gets to DC continuity, Ambush Bug is a figure of humour and parody, who learnt very early on to break the fourth wall in his comics. All the other heroes found him very annoying. His outfit here is different - apart from the fact that it’s way more sensible, it looks as if there might be Jack Kirby influences in it... (But then, I thought the boom-suits from DC 1000000 looked Kirbyish...)
Hawkwoman. Thanagarian cop extraordinaire, now with added muscles and spiffy new duds!
4.3. Remind me never to go to one of Babs’ parties...
4.4. A better view of Captain Marvel. The metal makeup of his costume, coupled with his apperance, suggests that this might be this world’s John Henry Irons (Steel in the DCU)... (Of course, his age would be off, but this is an Elseworlds.)

5.1. ‘The word’ that Batgirl can make Captain Marvel say is no doubt ‘Shazam’. That’d turn him back into a non-superperson. As will become increasingly more apparent, Oracle is the name of the electronic security system that Batgirl uses to keep an eye on...oh, pretty much everything in Gotham and then some. And in the DCU, Oracle is the name that Barbara Gordon (EWF’s Batgirl) now bears in her position as a computer genius.
5.2. Notice the ornamental wings at Wonder Woman’s ankles. Quite cute, given she’s supposed to have the speed of Hermes - a Greek messenger of the gods (and sometimes, God of Speed) who also has wings at his ankles thanks to his sandals. Big Barda’s costume is quite close to its DCU cousins, except for the curious display of cleavage.

6.1. Curious. In this panel it’s an image of Batgirl herself that asks for people’s titles. On the previous page it was the Oracle logo. Curious again: It really does seem to me that Batgirl/Oracle asking for Green Lantern’s retina scan is immediately followed by Dr Mid-Nite about to give one.
6.3. That blue guy’s Vectron. He’s new. In an interview, Barbara Kesel said that it was the EWF version of Will ‘Veridium’ Magnus, creator of the Metal Men…but that ask her again later and she might have changed her mind! :)

8.1. The man addressing everybody here is Bruce Wayne. In DCU continuity he’s...oh, he’s some superhero or another. Probably pretty obscure, it doesn’t matter... :)
8.2. ‘Did he bring her?’ Her who? Her Barbara Gordon, naturellement. If the books our friends in the audience are talking about really are based on real cases, then it’s probably a safe guess that The Binary Beast is about someone like the Gotham villain Harvey (Two-Face) Dent.

9.3. It looks like Bruce Wayne in this reality gets to be a shallow playboy for real in his spare time.
9.4. Can anyone else see a subtle bat-head-shape within the design of Barbara’s dress, or is my brain just doing too much?

Pages 10-11. Actually, you probably don’t need me to point out who everyone here is...

Page 11. In DC continuity, despite being a nasty villain at heart, Lex Luthor is seen by most people to be a megarich philanthropist. This would appear to be the case here, too - in fact, it looks like with no Superman to mess around with him, he’s even become a pal to the super-set, as Wonder Woman counts him as a benefactor to the Justice Society. She’s right, there is only eleven people there. Who’s missing? Their ‘most famous member’.

Page 12. And here comes that member - Supergirl. Wearing a costume that’s far closer to Superman’s DCU costume than almost anything a Supergirl’s ever worn. And speaking of her absent cousin, Supes (Are you allowed to call Supergirl Supes?) is holding aloft a car - a possible reference to Superman picking up a car on the cover of Action Comics #1, his first appearance way back in 1938.

14.2. LexCorp’s subsidiaries, STAR Labs and Cadmus. Both of these businesses (for want of a better word) are around in the DCU, although they haven’t got much to do with LexCorp (actually, LexCorp tried a hostile takeover of STAR Labs, but it ultimately didn’t work). STAR Labs is where DCU heroes go to get research done and ask bizarre science questions - they’re kind of like who they go to because there isn’t a Reed Richards. Cadmus are the geneticists, forever creating GELFs and clones and various things. They created Superboy, for a start...
14..5. Does this description of the Lexcell battery remind anyone else of Mr Fusion from Back to the Future?

15.1. I probably don’t need to tell you that this is the Joker here.
15.2. ‘They call me the Man of Tomorrow because I live with one foot in the future.’ The Man of Tomorrow is one of Superman’s nicknames...
15.5. I’m sure I’ll know what the driver’s singing and what it means by a later revision of these notes.

Page 16. She’s harsh, that Dark Knight. Here and on the previous page it looks like it’s Barda’s job to watch out for Ambush Bug...does a lot more for the theory that EWF’s Bug has influences from the Fourth World.

17.1. Look at the smile on the dead driver’s face. That pretty much confirms that the gas he breathed in on the previous page was the Joker’s laughing gas. He’s got a long history in the DCU of killing people this way.

Page 18. The Joker makes it sound like he and Lex are paraphrasing an old rhyme here. Can anyone help me as to what it is?

19.1. The Mother Box Barda speaks of is/are the sentient computers used by the New Gods, and one of the most popular pieces of Fourth World technology. Izaya is Highfather Izaya, who’s well...actually, I don’t know much about the ups and downs of Apokolips and New Genesis, but he’s the boss of the good guys on Jack Kirby’s Fourth World. The Boom Tube is another product of the culture - basically a li’l wormhole people use to get from place to place.
19.2. That’s why it’s called a boom tube. Oh yah, I’m really smart...

21.3. Here we have Asteria, who’s new to me. Sitting in the chair on the other hand, is Tim Drake - who is Robin in DC continuity. Here, he seems to be filling a role similar to Snapper Carr in the old Justice League of America. Sitting around, helping out, generally being cool. And let me say, I love the whole idea of him like this. Ms Kesel, my hat off to ye.

22.1. Pretty damn cool HQ, too. I wanna see more of this JSA!

Page 23. Now, that’s a funky way to get dressed.

25.1. OK, another grand line-up. We have...
Interceptor, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Revenant, Tarantula, Black, Orchid, [Unknown in green], Firestorm, Jade?, Starbolt, Starfire (just her hand), Black Canary, Asteria, Tim, Green Lantern.
Black Orchid was kicking around the DCU for a while. She’s now had a mini-series by Neil Gaiman, who revealed she was a plant.
I don’t know who the woman with green and yellow clothes and white hair is.
Firestorm’s attitude here is in keeping with his counterpart from the DCU, although his costume is different.
Jade is the codename and nickname of Jenny-Lynn Hayden-Scott, the daughter of the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott. In current DC continuity, she lost her powers after quite a while, then became a Green Lantern in her own right in 1998. Her costume’s also different, but it’s probably safe to guess that the backstory is similar.
Black Canary. We don’t know much about her. More of less wears the outfit that the DCU Black Canary wore (mostly) from 1947 till 1996, but with the pendant that the DCU Black Canary acquired since the start of Birds of Prey. And this Black Canary is even...well, black...
Starbolt I have no idea about. Possibly this world’s counterpart to Starman? He does have Will Payton’s eyes (DCU Starman V) and Jack Knight’s haircut (DCU Starman VII). He also bears a passing resemblance to Justice, from Marvel’s Avengers comics, but him turning up here would be like Spider-Man and Captain America turning up in Kingdom Come…
Someone also suggested to me that Firestorm might not be being as silly as I thought…that this world’s president of the USA might indeed be Elvis Presley!

26.1. Wonder Woman addresses Supergirl as ‘Kara’. That means that we’re certainly dealing with a history that spins off from ‘Superman’s cousin from Krypton’ (pre-Crisis Supergirl) rather than ‘GELF from a parallel universe’ (post-Crisis Supergirl).

28.1. The villains are hanging out in Gotham Carnival. It wouldn’t be Gotham if there wasn’t an abandoned funfair...
28.4. Well, well...doesn’t it just look like our Lexie isn’t the saint he’s cracked up to be?

Page 29. Ideological confrontations are a frequent feature when the World’s Finest team meet up in the DCU (or, for that matter, in many many Elseworlds), so I suppose a change of gender wouldn’t make much difference. (Although I don’t remember many occasions where Batman took after Superman with a crukking great shooter-whatsit.)

31.1. ‘You always did turn adversity to advantage Lex...’ Yup. Very true. Of almost any version of Luthor you care to name. 31.3. ‘I want her to see how good I look in spandex!’ Treasure this line, readers...it’s not one you’ll hear often... :)

32.3. Well, it certainly looks like Lex has an ‘in’ with the JSA, what with designing their headquarters and all...
Gathered around him here, clockwise from top: Captain Marvel, the Black Canary, [Beats me], Wonder Woman and the Flash. I don’t know who the chap in blue and white is, but everyone gathered around the table is not only the DCU version of the hero in question, but they’re wearing the appropriate outfit. That makes the Flash there Barry Allen, and the Black Canary probably Diana Lance. Though I’m told she never actually wore that mask for very long in DC continuity. There has been speculation that the unknown might be Hal Jordan, somehow pursuing a superhero career without bothering to become Green Lantern, or that this could be Captain Atom or Triumph.

36.4. ‘First Krypton died. Then, I was the only one to escape the destruction of Argo City.’ This is consistent with Kara/Supergirl’s pre-Crisis origin. Her home city of Argo was flung, intact, away from Krypton as it exploded, keeping its citizens alive in a kind of atmosphere bubble. Kara was actually born in Argo after Krypton bought the big one. And, actually, she’s slightly off with regards to pre-Crisis continuity - her parents did survive, escaping to the Survival Zone.

37.1. Evidently we’re at a midpoint in JSA history in this flashback. We have the new Captain Marvel and Black Canary, but Wonder Woman and Green Lantern are still wearing their old costumes.
37.2. And Supergirl’s wearing a different costume too! Actually, this was what she wore in DC continuity when she first appeared, in The Supergirl from Krypton in Action Comics #252, back in the 1950s. Except for the blue, instead of red, belt-loops. I’m a bit confused, though - in that story, Kara’s mother made her the costume by basing it on Superman’s...so where did it come from here? (Answer: The creative team knew full well that it’d be a bit silly replacing Superman with someone who didn’t even have the cool S-shield. Ratbat needs her butt kicked. :) )
37.4. The stool is cute.

38.1. Lex lost his family at a young age? Yeah, I think he killed them, didn’t he? (Although pre-Crisis, they disowned him.)
38.2. Considering that Wonder Woman’s been in charge since, well, forever, it’s not surprising that the JSA would be getting an Olympian complex.

39.4-5. I’m a bit confused again. Does Supergirl know about Kryptonite here? And lead-lined silk. That’s really cool.

41.2-3. All together now...eeeewwww! Guess Kal-El’s trip wasn’t as bright in this history. Kal-El, for those who don’t know, is Superman’s Kryptonian name. His presence here as a dead bottle-baby indicates that he was indeed rocketed away from Krypton as it exploded...he just didn’t land on Earth very nicely.

42.3. Oh, dear. Well, Luthor’s never been fond of competition. As he speaks of the male (Kal-El) being ‘allowed’ to mature, it’s clear that poor Kal’s non-alive condition can probably be traced back to our Lex. Somehow.
42.5. Look on the table - a bag from Big Belly Burger, one of the primary fast-food chains in the DCU.

43.1. Oh, she’s narked. Red eyes - that’s her heat vision firing up (and a nice indicator that she’s somewhat displeased).

44.4. Somehow I feel obliged to translate the Joker’s speech, unable to talk as he is with a rose in his mouth. ‘I’ve dreamed of this day forever and now it’s finally here... We’re alone. Together. Like the changes in my bod? Awesome, no? And it’s permanent. Kiss me, darling.’ Additionally, notice that the Joker’s getting very vein-covered in appearance. Not unlike what happened to Bane in the Batman & Robin film.

46.2. ‘Fortunately, our current laws don’t protect Xenos.’ I’m guessing a ‘xeno’ is an alien in layperson’s terms... Actually, considering that this world seems (apart from Superman) to be as drenched in powered beings and aliens and alien-affected persons, wouldn’t not including aliens in the laws be a bit odd? (To try to rationalise this in context, imagine someone coming along and killing Supergirl, Green Lantern, Barda and Hawkwoman in front of everybody then being allowed off scot-free.)

48.3-5. Venom being made from Kryptonite is new to EWF. In fact, as the DCU Lex Luthor discovered the hard way, shoving DCU Kryptonite too close to yourself for long enough, and you die of cancer. But then, maybe Emil’s done something to it. Or just no-one cares if the Joker dies.
48.4. I realise that’s supposed to be green-hued blood leaking from the Joker’s face, but it looks a bit like he has a runny-nose...

51.1. That ring Batgirl pinched from Lex? Lex had one of those Kryptonite rings in DC continuity as well. He doesn’t know that Batgirl’s really done him a favour here - this was the aforementioned carcinogenic sample of Kryptonite.
51.4-5. And here we have the Secret Origin of Batgirl. If the Waynes are there and about to get attacked, then this is probably a Zorro film. Also, if Barbara is as young as she looks here, then unlike the retcon-result status in current DC continuity, she’s probably the natural daughter of police officer Jim Gordon, sitting to her right there. While for a long time this seemed to be the case in DC continuity, we’ve since found out that (ugh) Barbara is actually Gordon’s niece, adopted by him when she was a teenager. And that would be Joe Chill threatening Bruce, Thomas and Martha Wayne there. Joe Chill, like Barbara’s natural-daughter status, is a recent casualty of retconnery. While his identity was quite clearly known for years, when history was rewritten in Zero Hour, Denny O’Neil decreed that Batman had never known who his parents’ killer was. No-one really believes him.

Page 52. Now, this makes history rather different. The Gordons, of course, weren’t there in DC continuity. Not only that, but after Joe Chill (Yes. Joe Chill. I don’t care what Denny says.) killed his parents, young Bruce certainly didn’t pick up his dad’s gun and aim it at Chill’s nuts! (Though some re-tellers of the story would have you believe that Bruce stared at Chill really hard and that frightened the hardened killer into running off. Yeah. OK.) And Danny Sichel pointed out the pun that she says ‘FREEZE’ to Joe CHILL. (I bow to anyone that gets a pun I miss.)

53.1. Barbara was taken in by the Wayne family. Well, that was nice of them.
53.2. It wouldn’t be super-hard for her to find that cave, neither. Traditionally it’s been underneath Stately Wayne Manor.
53.4. This is the first proper costume Barbara wore as Batgirl in DC continuity. Right down to that utility purse. No, I kid you not. She had a utility purse. Because it was 1967 and girls had purses, OK?
53.5. Presumably Barbara ‘makes crime pay’ by writing novels based on the things she does. Obviously this is an early case. I mean, oh my...the sheer horror of Killer Moth. Ooh. Scary. Oh, and the cover of the book here is similar to the film poster for The Silence of the Lambs. (In the DCU, Killer Moth was a Batman villain who…well, was a bit laughable, really. Eventually even most of the other villains didn’t think he was much cop. He was a guy in a moth suit. (Although now he’s been turned into a big ooga-booga mothoid creature by Neron (a la Underworld Unleashed), changed his name to Charaxes and become scary as heck.))

54.2. If Joe Chill was only recaptured later in life, why did he never get round to carrying out his contract on the Waynes? Guess he could only afford a couple of bullets. That cop behind Batgirl could well be Harvey Bullock, a popular Gotham cop in the Bat-titles. Is he commissioner in this world? Possibly. Mind you, judging by the rules so far in EWF, the commissioner of the GCPD is probably Sarah Essen.
54.3. Quite why did Lex Luthor want the Waynes killed? We never find out, though we do discover that it’s all linked to why Batgirl let him and the JSA anywhere near Gotham City. She’s clever, she is.

55.3. ‘The Last Child of Krypton’. A play on ‘The Last Son of Krypton’, a common Superman nickname.

57.2. Another leaf straight out of Batman’s book, especially these days. Duck out on the person you’re talking to while their back is turned.

58.1. That would be Starfire up the back there. She seems fairly unchanged from DC continuity. That big blue bloke is Blue Devil, also much the same. New beard, though, I think.

59.1. The microphones surrounding Lex and his buds include representatives from the Daily Planet and ‘WF!’. ‘WF!’ seems to me to be a reference to World’s Finest, the comic that featured Batman and Superman teaming up so many times over the years, and soon became a name to describe the pair of them. That exclamation make could be straight out of Kids WB!.
59.3. Another microphone - WGBS is the TV station Clark Kent used to work for in the 1970s.

62.3. Bruce’s ‘friend’ is caught up in the live broadcast after the whole affair, implying she could be a journalist of some kind. Possibly Lois Lane here? (Or Vicki Vale, I suppose.)

63.4-5. Batgirl’s holding onto the Kryptonite ring, and her reasons for it, are much the same as why Batman has the DCU ring in DC continuity. Though I’m fairly sure Batman has Superman’s blessing for it, this Batgirl’s paranoid nature makes it unsurprising she just up and took the bloody thing.

Page 64. Awwww...
64.2. Some have speculated that the faces in the gathering here represent those of Barbara Kesel, Matt Haley and Tom Simmons.

Well, that was a fun book. Everything copyrighted to DC Comics remains © DC Comics 1998. The book was written by Barbara Kesel, illustrated by Matt Haley and Tom Simmons, and plotted by all three of them. Colours and separations by Moose Baumann, and letters by Bill Oakley.
These annotations were complied by Urac Daria Sigma - thanks to Dale Hicks, Tim Hodge, ReGenesis0, John Savard, Danny Sichel and KalEl el Vigilant for help and contributions.
If anyone has any additions, contributions, corrections or comments for these annotations, ye can E-mail me at ratbat@rocketmail.com.

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