DC Comics has a long and storied history dating back to the 1930s. What began as the Golden Age of comics – as it was later termed – soon gave way to the Silver Age, Bronze Age, Copper Age, and then the Modern Age, for comics published after 1992. But even the Modern Age can be broken down based on when the most popular comic book characters, over the years disappearing and reappearing, were re-written for new and younger readers. This happened in 2011’s reboot with the “New 52,” and subsequently with 2016’s “Rebirth” series. With each new era in DC Comics we’ve seen our favorite heroes tinkered with, having origins changed, powers enhanced, or some just taken in an entirely new direction. It’s easy to forget what came before in the lives of some of the most iconic heroes, what has remained canon and what has been relegated to an alternate timeline, or universe.
Even the most avid reader could not be faulted for forgetting some minor details mentioned in a Superman comic in 1972, and never recalled again in future issues. Or, perhaps Batman gave up a juicy bit of family history in the early days – say 1946 – yet we never revisited that statement or made reference to it ever again. It is easy for these little nuggets of comic trivia to fall into history and be forgotten. I don’t claim to know them, and this list is by no means all-inclusive. Nevertheless, I give you ten incredible facts that you may have never known about DC Comics and your favorite DC characters.
10. DC Stands for Detective Comics
Many have heard of Detective Comics. It was the flagship title that gave us Batman in the early days. What you might not be aware of is that the comics company was originally founded in 1934 as National Allied Publications. Within a few years, due to some financial issues and corporate reorganization, the company took the name “DC” in reference to their most popular title. They are usually called “DC Comics,” which is odd because that actually would make them “Detective Comics Comics.” But I digress. Detective Comics remained a heavy seller and eventually published 881 issues between 1937 and 2011. It was the longest continuously published comic book in the United States. Don’t believe me? Just ask Guinness World Records. They certified it back in 2009!
9. Superman Uses Hypnosis to Keep People From Recognizing Him as Clark Kent?
That was the story back in the 1970s, at least. The story went that Clark Kent’s glasses were of Kryptonian origin and the lenses amplified his low-level hypnosis ability. As explained in Superman #330 (Dec 1978), this allowed him to control how others in his vicinity perceived him. This, in effect, created an illusion in others’ minds that Kent was a simple, frail, unimposing and, dare I say, mild-mannered, journalist. I do believe this notion was quickly discarded by the writers and never brought up again. Good thinking, but hey what do you expect from the guys that also gave us Pink Kryptonite (you know, the version of Kryptonite that gave Superman homosexual tendencies…)?
8. The Green Lantern Corps Has A Very Progressive Anti-Discrimination Policy
The Green Lantern Corps, established by the ancient and wise Guardians of the Universe, recruits its members from all sectors of space, being made up of many different kinds of beings. Some are more unique than others. There is one member called F-Sharp Bell. He comes from a race with no sight, no concept of light, the color green, or even what a “lantern” is for that matter. They do understand sound and his ring and chest emblem take the shape of a bell. Another member, Dkrtzy RRR, is actually an abstract mathematical equation, only perceived by the Guardians themselves. There’s also Mogo, the largest member, a sentient planet. Mogo wears no costume (c’mon, he’s a planet!) but instead arranges his foliage to depict the Green Lantern symbol as seen from space. There’s even a Vulcan member (like, from Star Trek), and the Sinestro Corps has a Predator (you know, from the Predator movies!).
7. The Original Green Lantern Was Powerless Against… Wood?
The original Green Lantern was Alan Scott, a World War II member of the Justice Society of America. This caped crusader used his emerald lantern to protect us against all kinds of threats, both foreign and domestic… and alien. While more modern Green Lanterns can’t use their powers against the color yellow, Scott was powerless against wood (hence, the rise of the WWII-era supervillain, #2 Pencil Guy!). Unlike the other Green Lanterns, Scott’s power does not come from the Guardians of the Universe, but from the Starheart, a type of alien living green flame, which took the shape of a green lantern. Scott’s Lantern kind of went away in 1949, with Hal Jordan becoming the more recognizable Green Lantern in 1959. The writers originally ignored the old Alan Scott tales, but later made him a parallel universe character, who gets to occasionally visit us.
6. Superman Can Hear Every Heartbeat on the Planet
Superman is just too darn powerful for his own good. In Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, the 2010 limited series by Grant Morrison, Batman is missing and Superman and friends are hot on his trail. At one point, he confirms that Batman is truly gone, “I can hear every heartbeat on the planet, and Batman’s isn’t among them.” He has the ability to hear any sound at any volume or pitch, including every single heartbeat. He has enough control over his ability to block out ambient noise and focus on a specific source. He can hear the blood pumping through everyone’s veins, every foot step, and use that to identify a single person anywhere in the world!
5. In an Alternate Universe, Kal-el Crashes in Gotham and Becomes Batman
Did you ever read Superman: Speeding Bullets? If not, it’s cool. It was a one-shot from back in 1993. It describes a world where Kal-El crashed in Gotham, not Smallville. He is found by Thomas and Martha Wayne, and raised as their son. The couple calls him Bruce. When Thomas and Martha are killed by a mugger, the young Bruce kills the attacker with his heat vision, discovering his powers. He then decides to hide these powers as he is ashamed that he couldn’t use them to save his adopted parents.
When he grows older, Bruce creates the alter-ego of Batman to strike back at the criminal element in Gotham. Lex Luthor, disfigured in a horrible accident, becomes his nemesis, the clown prince of crime, The Joker. Bruce discovers that a more uplifting hero is needed and discards his Batman persona in favor of his new identity, as Superman.
4. Only One Lantern Corps Member Has Ever Wielded All Seven Different-Colored Rings At Once
Rings from each of the different colored Lantern Corps are inexplicably drawn to the Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. Representatives from the different Corps team-up and give chase to reclaim their “stolen” rings. The Guardians intercept Rayner, demanding to know how he could possess all seven rings. Of course, he doesn’t know and Guardians attempt to seize the rings. The rings, all of them, then “choose” Rayner as their official bearer, giving him their power.
Kyle Rayner is the first and, so far, only being to successfully use all seven colored rings of the different Lantern Corps at once. This collective power was so incredible that the rings themselves disintegrated, leaving their power residing in him permanently. This created the white light that transformed him into the White Lantern.
3. When They Say The Flash is Fast, They Mean Fast!
Barry Allen is the fastest man on Earth. We’ve all heard it. But I don’t think you grasp the full meaning of what that entails. The Flash once tuned every radio on Earth to the same station in one zeptosecond; that’s basically travelling 500 sextillion (that’s a 5 with 23 zeroes) times faster than the speed of light. Time literally does not apply to him as he can tap into limitless amounts of speed and has run fast enough to break the sound barrier, light barrier, time barrier, dimensional barrier and, ultimately, the Speed Force barrier itself. He ran so fast once that he shattered reality and created a new multiverse!
2. Batman is Unworthy to be a Green Lantern
What? Yes, I said it. Bruce Wayne, AKA Batman, is unable to be a Green Lantern due to his inability to get over the fear of losing his parents. Hal Jordan once lent him his ring as a type of therapy, to get past his inner demons, but Wayne admitted that he just wasn’t in a place in his life where he felt he could do that. In fact, Batman internalizes his fears and uses it as a weapon. That’s not saying that he’s afraid of anyone, or anything, just that he’s not able to overcome what happened to his parents. Until he can do so, he won’t be worthy of being a Green Lantern.
1. Superman Has a Naughty Tape!
What!? What?! Oh, yes, I hope you were sitting down for that one! Superman once had his mind-controlled by a villain called Sleez, who tricked our hero into recording a sex tape! It was Action Comics #592 and #593, and Sleez had mental control of the warrior Big Barda, a New God from Apokolips. After having her don a ton of make-up he recorded her dancing dance around in a slinky outfit. Sleez then was able to take control of Superman, and took them both to a film director where the tape was made. It’s unknown exactly what took place on the video but the director is seen remarking that Superman wasn’t displaying any sex appeal and lacked passion in his “scene.” Once freed from the mind control, by Barda’s humiliated husband, Superman claimed his memory was hazy of what transpired. Barda, with her husband by her side, felt it was best to leave it alone and it was never brought up again.
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