Hello again. Alex Jaffe here, better known in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion. If you’ve seen this column before, you know it’s my personal mission to take on any question you have about the DC Universe—no matter how strange, granular, or obscure—and satisfy your curiosity. As a faithful steward of the truth, I offer my time in this monthly column to address these inquiries. If you’d like to submit a question of your own, you can stop by my office at any time in the DC Community to state your case, which I’ll address to the best of my ability.
Now, let’s get some answers!
Encyclopedia Extraterrestria, Vol. 2: L-M
Thanagarians, Kryptonians, Kherubims, oh my. How many aliens have come, gone, or stayed on Earth?
Continuing our countdown from last month’s column, here are some more of the many, many aliens which meet Jeff’s criteria throughout DC history. You can consult our previous edition for a list of caveats and exceptions. As always, feel free to contact me in the community if I’ve happened to omit anything, and I’ll include them in a later edition.
Klee-Tees: Green, globular humanoid race which can shoot lasers from their eyes, and sport additional eyes on their fingertips. Ran afoul of Superman and the Elite on Earth by running an alien trafficking ring.
Lanothians: A white monkey-like species, one of the many bottled and preserved by Brainiac. One Lanothian, "Koko the Space Monkey," used to accompany Brainiac as his favorite pet.
Lisnarians: Biomechanical race with glowing eyes capable of generating technology from their bodies, hired throughout the galaxy as living tools. Gear, a Lisnarian, comes to Earth 1,000 years in the future as a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Living Stars: Like the living planet Mogo, some stars in the universe have a sentience of their own and can even take humanoid form. Aquarius, an evil living star, was once depowered and imprisoned on Earth, where it battled the Justice Society.
Lizarkons: The reptilian cohabitants of the planet Thanagar with the Thanagarians and their sworn enemies. Isamot Kol, a Lizarkon Green Lantern, has visited Earth on Green Lantern business.
Makkorans: A bone-white humanoid alien race. The most renowned of all Makkorans was Selkor, Makkor's own superhero, who possessed great mental powers, teleportation and energy barrier generation abilities. Selkor was momentarily married to Supergirl during a time where she was stranded on Makkor with complete amnesia. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Salkor came to Earth to pay his respects to the woman he knew as "Jasma."
Maltusians: One of the oldest races in the universe, the powerful Maltusian people appointed themselves the Guardians of the Universe, founding both the Manhunters and the Green Lantern Corps from their centrally located headquarters on the planet Oa. One Maltusian, Appa Ali Apsa, accompanied Hal Jordan and Green Arrow for a time on a road trip across America. Some have suggested that Earth legends of leprechauns were actually Maltusian sightings on Earth, but that's silly.
Manhawks: An avian race of marauders native to Thanagar, the Manhawks led the more humanoid Thanagarians to develop Nth metal wings in order to combat them in the first place. Eventually, a contingent of Manhawks would arrive to plunder Earth, much to the consternation of Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
Martians (Green): The closest neighbors to Earthlings, all but exterminated by a psychic plague. J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, survives them as an Earth resident.
Martians (White): The Green Martians' rivals in a violent race war before their extermination. A few White Martians still survive, but none more famous than Earth resident M'gann M'orzz, Miss Martian.
Metaleks: A sentient artificial race resembling Earth construction vehicles, repelled from "xenoforming" the Earth in Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin.
Miranian: Not much is known about this human-resembling race, except that one, Glenn Gammeron, was an interstellar bounty hunter who tracked Despero to Earth and worked with Martian Manhunter and the Justice League Task Force for a time in the ’90s.
Missile Men: Another artificial race of living missiles from an unnamed junkyard planet, whose attacks on Earth are frequently thwarted by the Metal Men.
Myrgs: The monarchial humanoid race of the Golden Age Green Lantern villain, Prince Peril. The telepathic Myrg princess Ramia marries Alan Scott's sidekick, Doiby Dickles.
Myrmitons: Hairless, blue-skinned aliens who momentarily conquered Earth after luring Hal Jordan and Barry Allen off-world. The heroes sent them packing once they got back, one issue later.
Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Yadda Yadda
ZatannaAndHerSpells; Wrightline1.42741 asks:
Do you know how many versions there are of the Lantern oaths?
And I shall shed my light over dark evil,
For the dark things cannot stand the light.
The light of…the Green Lantern!
It may not rhyme, but it does have a bit of a biblical ring to it. Just a short while later, in 1943’s Green Lantern #9, Alan’s oath took a new shape. This revised oath was later immortalized as Hal Jordan’s own, and the standard oath for the Green Lantern Corps as a whole:
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!
It wasn’t until 1987 that writer Alan Moore first suggested that some Lanterns, as alien as they are, would have a completely different relationship to the broad concepts suggested in the standard Lantern oath, and may have their own variations to suit their personal experiences and personalities. During his brief but influential work with the Green Lantern Corps, Alan Moore crafted two new oaths for two unique corpsmen: one, in Swamp Thing #61, for the plant-based Medphyll, one of the Corps’ oldest members:
In forest dark or glade beferned,
No blade of grass shall go unturned!
Let those who have the daylight spurned
Tread not where this green lamp has burned!
And my personal favorite, in Green Lantern Annual #3, where we are introduced to sightless Corps recruit Rot Lop Fan. With no concept of light or vision, Rot Lop Fan is trained by Katma Tui to hone his power not through focus on lanterns or color, but on a particular tone of sound, and the instrument that could make it:
In loudest din or hush profound,
My ears catch evil’s slightest sound.
Let those who toll out evil’s knell,
Beware my power, the F-Sharp Bell!
Since then, other Green Lanterns have put their own oaths to words, including the rebellious Jack T. Chance:
You who are wicked, evil and mean,
I’m the nastiest creep you’ve ever seen!
Come one, come all, put up a fight!
I’ll pound your butts with Green Lantern’s light!
The monastic, contemplative Barin:
“In this place of black and grey and dark,
The Green Lantern shall be my light, my hope, my strength.
All that is good is all I defend.
I shall not falter.
Kho Khari, the first Green Lantern chosen from the vicious, warlike Khunds:
Against dishonor and traitor’s flight,
I stand beside my clan to fight.
With dying breath I claw and bite,
Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!
And the Daxamite Lantern Sodam Yat, driven mad after a thousand years in Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds:
In brightest day, through blackest night,
No other Corps shall spread its light.
Let those who try to stop what’s right
Burn like my power, Green Lantern’s light!
In 2008’s Green Lantern #27, we’re introduced to the concept of the “Alpha Lanterns,” an internal affairs division to enforce the law among the Corps themselves. They came with an oath of their own:
In days of peace, in nights of war,
Obey the Laws forever more!
Misconduct must be answered for,
Swear us the chosen: the Alpha Corps!
The Green Lantern Oath has been shown to take a different form on other Earths as well, such as the mystical Earth-13 of the Infinite Crisis video game:
In forests deep where darkness dwells,
In dungeons dank beneath ancient fells,
Let those who seek to rule the night
Beware my power, the Emerald Light!
The groovy “Magic Lantern” of Earth-47 created by Grant Morrison first speaks his own oath in The Green Lantern #11:
When it's groovy, when it's grim,
We hum the Living Guru's hymn.
When other Lanterns lose their sh!t,
We keep the Magic Lantern lit!
In Dark Nights: Metal, the corrupt Bruce Wayne of the Dark Multiverse known as “Dawnbreaker” gets a ring of his own, which he wields with this oath:
With darkness black, I choke the light!
No brightest day escapes my sight!
I turn the dawn to midnight!
Beware my power—Dawnbreaker's might!
As Geoff Johns began introducing Corps of every color in his own Green Lantern run of the 2000s, each one came with its own attendant oath.
The fear-wielding Sinestro Corps had two variants. The main one goes like this:
In blackest day, in brightest night,
Beware your fears made into light.
Let those who try to stop what’s right,
Burn like my power, Sinestro’s might!
When Sinestro’s deputy Arkillo briefly took over as chief of the Corps in its founder’s absence, he tweaked the original oath to substitute “Sinestro’s might” for “Arkillo’s.” A small change, but I’m counting it as two.
Next was the rage based Red Lantern Corps:
With blood and rage of crimson red,
Ripped from a corpse so freshly dead,
Together with our hellish hate,
We’ll burn you all, that is your fate!
There are two versions of this oath as well, as this rather gruesome oath was toned down significantly when the Red Lanterns were introduced as principal antagonists of Green Lantern: The Animated Series:
With blood and rage of crimson red,
We fill men’s souls with darkest dread,
And twist your mind with pain and hate,
We’ll burn you all, that is your fate.
The Blue Lantern Corps was appropriately given a much more soothing credo for the troubled times to come:
In fearful day, in raging night,
With strong hearts full, our souls ignite.
When all seems lost in the War of Light,
Look to the stars, for hope burns bright!
The Star Sapphire Corps was given an oath which reflects their ability to draft others into their ranks:
For hearts long lost and full of fright,
For those alone in blackest night,
Accept our ring and join our fight,
Love conquers all with violet light!
The enigmatic and isolated Indigo Tribe has an oath as well, but one which has never been translated into English. We can only speculate based on context clues to its true meaning:
To lorek san, bor nakka mur
Natromo faan tornek wot ur
Ter Lantern ker lo Abin Sur
Taan lek lek nok—Formorrow Sur!
That leaves us with the Orange Lantern from the core (corps?) seven, whose oath was left a mystery until the very end of Geoff Johns’ nine-year run. For most of the time, since the sole Orange Lantern was introduced, the avaricious Larfleeze’s oath was assumed to simply be the word “MINE!” But Johns continued to allude towards an oath we’d one day learn in full, which was finally printed in 2013’s Green Lantern #20:
What’s mine is mine and mine and mine
And mine and mine and mine and mine!
Of course, when the Blackest Night arrived, the Black Lanterns’ herald, Black Hand, had an oath of his own:
The Blackest Night falls from the skies,
The darkness grows as all light dies.
We crave your hearts and your demise,
By my Black Hand, the dead shall rise!
(If the contrasting White Lantern Corps comes with an oath, we know it not.)
Two other oaths have been introduced since the end of Johns’ tenure on Prime Earth. First, the oath of the “Phantom Ring” in Green Lanterns, a highly dangerous artifact which can emulate the powers of any ring on the emotional spectrum for anyone who wields it, regardless of their worthiness or merit. Its oath:
In desperate day, in hopeless night,
The Phantom Ring is our last light.
We yearn for power, strength and might,
I seize the ring, that is my right!
And finally, the Ultraviolet Corps of negative emotion discovered by Sinestro in Scott Snyder’s run on Justice League:
By shield of day, and shield of night,
We feed and grow, beyond all sight.
Your darkest self shall be our knight,
Wield the sword of unseen light!
I’d say the meter on that last one’s a little off if you ask me, but tallying all these up…it looks like the answer to your question, barring the various “parody oaths” like G’nort’s variants in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, or like, that one Duck Dodgers episode, is…twenty-three!
One Fine Mess
When did they stop using the Milton Fine design for Brainiac? The outfit is hot (that bodysuit and cape OH LAWD), but I guess the DCAU version had something to do with it? By the mid-2000s and the Superman: Brainiac arc, he looked closer to his New 52 design.
For those less familiar with the immediate Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths status quo of Brainiac, the character was reintroduced by John Byrne in Adventures of Superman #438 as carnival psychic Milton Fine, “The Amazing Brainiac,” who unwittingly channels the disembodied Coluan scientist Vril Dox. This human/Coluan hybrid Brainiac would remain the form of Superman’s adversary through the mid-eighties and all of the nineties. So if you’ve ever wondered why Brainiac sports that goatee in the 1992 “Panic in the Sky” crossover event, that’s Milton Fine’s facial hair that Brainiac is wearing.
Your instincts regarding the more robotic DC Animated Universe incarnation of Brainiac from 1997’s Superman: The Animated Series heralding a design change in the comics may be on the money. Because it was in 1998’s Superman: The Doomsday Wars that Brainiac attempted to defeat the Man of Steel by switching to a more suitable body, after Fine’s perishes in an automobile explosion. Specifically, the body of Doomsday, the beast who Superman died fighting not too long before. But by the time Superman was done with this Doomsday-Brainiac hybrid, the Coluan scientist was left without a biological host, forcing him into a cybernetic containment suit more evocative of his animated visage.
State of Affairs
Hey, where is Gotham actually at in the United States?
Over the many years since Batman first stalked the night, this question has had three answers. More than any other city, Gotham is inspired by New York City, where creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger lived as they crafted the world of the most popular superhero in fiction. It’s been said at times that Metropolis is New York during the day, and Gotham is New York at night. Or that Metropolis is New York above 14th street, and Gotham is New York below. But that can’t be the answer because—as we’re seeing right now in I Am Batman—New York City itself is still very much a going concern in the DC Universe. So where in the world is Gotham City?
The most common answer you’ll find to this question today is “no comment.” Specifically defining Gotham City’s location, many creators would argue, would limit the potential stories you could tell with it, rather than keeping it an ambiguous “everycity” which could stand in for the unique challenges faced by every urban center in America.
But the more satisfying answer to those of us more cartographically inclined, which has been endorsed on and off by authorities at DC itself over the years, is New Jersey. The first time this very commonly asked question was answered this way on record was a 1977 issue of The Amazing World of DC Comics, an in-house fan magazine produced by DC themselves at the time. This tossed-off factoid for nosy busybodies like you and I made its way into the comics for the first time in 1979’s World’s Finest Comics #259. In 1983’s Detective Comics #503, Gotham’s location is narrowed down further still, where it’s specifically twenty miles south of the Jersey Shore. And lest you believe this is strictly a “Pre-Crisis” idea, Gotham’s Garden State location has been reaffirmed in 1991’s Batman: Shadow of the Bat Annual #1.
To date, the most important resource for those wishing to map DC’s America is 1990’s Atlas of the DC Universe, a resource book published by Mayfair Games as a supplement to the DC Heroes roleplaying game. Over thirty years since its publication, Atlas of the DC Universe still represents the most complete attempt to map the locations for all of DC’s most notable fictional settings. (Metropolis, before you ask, is just across the bay from Gotham, in Delaware.) Although it’s been quite a while since Gotham’s specific location has been recommitted to in the comics themselves, Gotham’s New Jersey location is still a part of the “DC Extended Universe” films, with promotional material and easter eggs adhering to the suggestions from the 1990 Atlas.
Got something that's keeping you up nights? If you have a question about the DC Universe that you'd love to get answered, you can head on over to the DC Community and ask it here.
Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.