Like any DC character who’s been around for more than, say, ten years, there’s no simple answer to that question. Characters get complicated when reality folds and bends around them semi-regularly. Never the less, I will try and muddle through what should have been a simple history.
Who Is James Gordon
As with any comic book character who has been around for decades (first appearance was in Detective Comics 27, which also featured the debut of a certain Dark Knight), Jim Gordon has gone through many retcons. I will do my best to make as much sense as possible out of them here.
There is very little detail available about Jim Gordon’s early life. The only two cities that come up repeatedly in his history are Gotham and Chicago, so it’s entirely possible he was born in one of those two places, but it has never been stated for certain, nor is anything known about his childhood or family. At some point, he joined the Army, and worked his way into the Green Berets, where he learned a lot about weapons, tactics, and hand to hand fighting. Eventually, he left the military and joined the Gotham City Police Department.
Gordon and his famed signal
As a rookie officer in Gotham, he was disgusted by the rampant corruption in the city in general and police in particular, but he couldn’t do anything about it. Matters came to a head for the young Gordon when he was involved in an ugly line of duty shooting. A corrupt cop and his wife were stealing from a warehouse when Gordon ran across them. They started shooting, and Gordon fired back. Gordon killed them both in the fight, but their son, acting as a lookout, survived. He would later return to Gotham as the supervillain Wrath, a kind of twisted mirror of the Batman. To cover up for the corrupt cops, Captain Gillian Loeb arranged for Gordon to be transferred to Chicago.
Jim Gordon served with distinction in the Chicago PD. While living here, he met and married Barbara Kean-Gordon (also sometimes identified as Barbara Eileen Gordon). The two had a son, James Gordon, Jr. Also at some point in this period of time, Jim had an affair with his sister-in-law, which would eventually result in the birth of a young girl who would also be named Barbara. Possibly in part because of this affair, Jim moved his family back to Gotham City while his son was still a toddler (Pre-Crisis, Gordon had a son named Tony who was eventually killed, but there has been no mention of him since, and it is commonly believed he was retconned out).
The most recent live action version of Gordon
Gordon was now a detective, and his time in Gotham was far from boring. Gordon met a detective sergeant named Sarah Essen, and began an affair with her. Gordon also encountered a man who had just embarked upon his own campaign to clean up Gotham — a vigilante who was called the Batman. Initially somewhat mistrustful of the masked man, Gordon would eventually become one of Batman’s most trusted allies. Gordon broke off his affair with Essen, and later, his wife left him, taking their son back to Chicago. Little to nothing is known of them after that point. Driven and largely alone now, Gordon fought his way up through the ranks of the GCPD, overcoming resistance from corrupt police and politicians, as well as dealing with entrenched gangsters like the Falcones, as well as the emerging super-criminal element. While still early in his career, Jim’s brother and sister-in-law died, and Jim adopted Barbara, who would later become the first Batgirl, then Oracle. Barbara was crippled, assaulted, and kidnapped by the Joker in an attempt to drive Jim Gordon insane, but he resisted, proving stronger than the madman had believed.
Years later, after Gordon had become Commissioner and married his former lover Sarah Essen, Gotham was wracked by a series of natural disasters and abandoned by the federal government, becoming a No Man’s Land. Gordon and a few dedicated cops stayed on, fighting for what was right. Towards the end of this time, the Joker struck at Gordon once more, murdering Gordon’s wife Sarah. Batman stepped aside and allowed Gordon the chance to take his revenge- Gordon shot the criminal in the leg, refusing even then to commit murder. Gotham was eventually rebuilt, Batman’s war on crime has continued, and James W. Gordon has remained one of his staunchest allies. Gordon has lost and regained his position as Commissioner, but always managed to regain his rightful place.
More “Who Is…” articles HERE
Who is Bane?
In the DCU, one of the myriad small countries is a place in the Caribbean called Santa Prisca. This nation first showed up during a story involving Vic Sage, the original Question. It later became better known as the home of this incredibly dangerous man the world knows as Bane.
Santa Prisca was a corrupt nation, and the government was constantly fighting against those who would overthrow it. One of the revolutionaries was able to evade capture time and again, so the government decided his young son would go to prison in the freedom fighter’s place. Bane spent much of his childhood and all of his teen years, as well early adult years inside the walls of Pena Duro, the island’s most notorious prison.
This young man grew up in this hostile environment, and learned from it. His teachers were other prisoners and the few others who would work there, including a Jesuit priest. Bane learned to fight, to plan, and to be strong. He spent his time in the prison library, devouring every book he could lay hands on, as well as the gym, where he trained himself to be as close to perfect as he could. Especially when younger, he was mocked for carrying a small teddy bear, which he called Osito and said was his only friend. Osito was eventually revealed to be the hiding place for the knife he used to kill those who bullied him or otherwise got in his way.
Even in a prison in a small country, some stories spread. As he grew, he heard of a city in America that was dominated by one man—his implacable will, skills, and determination bending the streets to his will. If one man could so dominate a place as corrupt as Gotham City, then Bane could rule this prison. He gradually rose to power among the inmates and ruled over them, as he had heard Batman did in Gotham.
The governors of the prison noted his power, and drafted him to become the newest test subject for a drug they were developing to create a more powerful soldier to combat the revolutionaries that plagued them. All other subjects perished, but Bane survived, and found the drug, called Venom, would greatly increase his physical prowess, although he needed regular doses every 12 hours to stave off debilitating side effects. A few years later, deciding the prison and the country had nothing more to offer him, Bane escaped with a few trusted aides, and decided to pit himself against this legend of fear and shadow—the Batman.
Being an intelligent man who understood the value of planning and reconnaissance, Bane had no intention of simply commiting some random crime and fighting Batman when he showed up. Bane studied the city, his foe, the Batman’s allies and tactics, and decided on a course of action. Bane staged a mass breakout at Arkham, and let the inmates run riot in the streets. Batman drove himself mercilessly to capture his enemies and protect his city. After he’d been worn down, Bane struck. Studying the city and its prominent citizens, he’d learned Batman’s secret, but had no wish to reveal it. He awaited the weary Dark Knight in the cave below Wayne Manor, and they fought. Bane beat him badly, and ended the fight by breaking Batman’s spine.
Batman later recovered, and took back his city. Bane was captured by the replacement Batman, formerly known as Azreal, and sent to Blackgate Prison. Here, he purged himself of the Venom, and spent his time in solitary confinement pushing himself to peak physical condition. Bane and Batman briefly worked together when they learned that a small time gang had gotten hold of a supply of Venom and was selling it to the highest bidder.
Bane left Gotham to track down his mysterious father. His search was sidetracked when he met Talia Al Ghul, who was impressed enough by him to introduce him to her father, Ra’s, another long time Batman enemy. Ra’s made Bane his heir, and together they attacked Gotham. Batman not only defended his city, but this time he beat Bane in their rematch. Later, Bane had a falling out with Ra’s, and devoted his considerable resources to destroying many of Al-Ghul’s Lazarus Pits, the mystical fountains that allow Al-Ghul to live as long as he has. Bane briefly worked for Lex Luthor during the events of “No Man’s Land” but left Gotham after meeting, but not fighting, with Batman again.
Later, Bane finally learns his parentage, as his father is revealed to be King Snake, a crimelord who clashed frequently with the third Robin, not a revolutionary as he had been told. Bane fought his father, preventing him from activating a powerful weapon, and also saved Batman’s life, nearly at the cost of his own. Batman put Bane in one of the surviving Lazarus Pits and let him go, with a clean slate and new life.
Somewhat out of character, Bane appeared during Infinite Crisis with the villains in the great “Battle for Metropolis” where he killed the Golden Age hero Judomaster. Still later, he clashed with the two Justice Society heroes known as Hourman. The research of Rex Tyler, the first Hourman, was used to create the Venom that had plagued Bane so often. Bane was intent on wiping out everything having do to with Venom and viewed the Miraclo using heroes as a loose end, but they defeated him, as did Judomaster’s son in a later clash.
Bane next went to work for the Suicide Squad, the team of black ops criminals doing deniable deeds for the US Government under the guidance of master planner Amanda Waller. Waller betrayed both Bane and Deadshot, sending them off with other villains to the so called “Hellworld” during the Salvation Run event. Bane escaped with most of them and returned to Earth.
Bane later joined the mercenary group known as the Secret Six, where he remains at present. He has developed an odd, father like relationship with the group’s leader, Scandal Savage. When he saw her about to be killed, his feelings were so deep that he actually took Venom again to save her. He remains with the team as a deadly planner and fighter.
Bane has no powers. He is an incredibly gifted athlete, hand to hand combatant, tactician, and planner. When he uses Venom, he temporarily attains low level superhuman strength and endurance. It has also been stated he has a photographic memory, and is fluent in several languages. Bane is among the deadliest fighters and schemers on Earth, utterly ruthless when he is convinced he is in the right.
Out of character notes-
Many assume Bane was created as an evil Batman, but his first writers have compared him more to the pulp hero Doc Savage (which makes his father daughter dynamic with Scandal Savage more ironic, although Doc and Scandal are not related). His assistants were based on helpers of Doc Savage and named after 60’s rock bands (Byrds, Troggs, Zombies). What happened to his helpers after their first big story in Knightfall remains mostly unknown.
Bane has been shown as a much more two dimensional thug on various cartoons, as well as in the horrible Batman and Robin movie that temporarily ended all super hero films.
Bane’s real name, if he has one, has never been revealed. When asked recently in Secret Six what his name actually was, he simply replied “Bane.” Presumably his last name would be Dorrance, as is that of King Snake.
Answering the question “Who is the Sentry?” might just be one of the most difficult questions to answer from a comic book readers’ point of view. To simply say “He’s the Superman of Marvel…” would not sufficiently answer the question. So, strap yourselves in, kiddies. I’m going to attempt to answer the question surrounding one of the major players of the Siege mini-series.
Volstagg the Valiant. Volstagg the Enormous. Volstagg the Voluminous. The Lion of Asgard. Whatever he goes by, Volstagg is one of the mightiest of Asgard’s warriors. In his earlier days, he’s known as one of the most fearsome and respected combatants, though that is under some protest depending on the origin you choose to believe.
Who is Harley Quinn?
In the real world, Harley Quinn is one of those rare characters that made the jump from an outside source into the comic world. She was introduced in the ground breaking Batman: The Animated Series as a foil for the Joker, and captured the somewhat demented hearts of many Bat-fans, myself included. Even with all her comic appearances, I can’t read her character without hearing Arleen Sorkin’s wonderfully loopy and mildly grating take on her voice. After a few years, she finally worked her way into the “mainstream” DCU with a special that was written by the same madman that created her- Paul Dini, now also writing her, along with Catwoman and Poison Ivy, in Gotham City Sirens. Coming into comics from a cartoon is the reverse of the way it usually goes, and has happened with a few, like Firestar over at Marvel, who went from the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends cartoon, where she was pretty clearly a powered up version of long time Spidey cast member Mary Jane Watson, to finally making it into the comics initially as a member of the villainous Hellions, counterparts to the New Mutants, and later a founding member of the New Warriors.
In the comics, Harleen Quinzell grew up in Brooklyn. Her father was a career criminal, in and out of prison for various con job related offenses. Her long suffering mother did her best by Harleen and her brother Barry. Barry was (and still is) a no ambition couch potato whose only notable skills seem to be video games and getting his on again, off again, girlfriend pregnant. There were high hopes for Harleen, who managed to get to collage (presumably through a scholarship awarded for her high intelligence) and eventually got a degree in criminal psychology. She chose this field in an attempt to understand her father’s choices of crime and other women over the family. Leaving New York, Harley ended up in the somewhat darker Gotham, and got a job at Arkham Asylum, home to many of the city’s notable costumed criminals. Here, she followed the long tradition of a brilliant woman falling for very much the wrong guy.
Harleen met Gotham’s most famous madman, the Joker. His utter insanity fascinated her, and she ended up falling in love with him. Finally, she designed her own costume, based on the classic clown character of the Harlequin, and staged the first of many breakouts for her “puddin’ ” as she calls her “Mr. J.” Harley has been by his side for many of his crime sprees, bizarre plans, and attempts to kill the Dark Knight. They have evolved (devolved?) into an abusive relationship with her always coming back for more despite his having continually degraded her, insulted her, and frequently tried to kill her. After one of her near deaths at his hands, she met another long time Batman foe and Arkham resident, Poison Ivy. Ivy, for reasons best known only to her, used some of her special plants to heal Harley, additionally granting her slightly better than human agility, strength, and Ivy’s own immunity to toxins. Ivy and Harley developed a deep friendship, and occasionally teamed up for various criminal mayhem.
Most recently, Harley, allegedly off the Joker once again, and Ivy have teamed up with Catwoman for mutual protection, with Gotham being even more dangerous following the events of “RIP” and “Final Crisis” and the disappearance of Batman for a time, until his long time partner Dick Grayson assumed the role. Their (mis)adventures are chronicled in the ongoing series “Gotham City Sirens.”
Harley is, for all her insanity and Brooklyn-ese speech patterns, a brilliant psychologist, and all around highly intelligent. This is often over looked from her strange behavior, love of toys, and infatuation with the Joker. Ivy’s potion made her stronger and faster than human, just barely into the metahuman range, as well as making her immune from all manner of poisons and toxins. She has no formal fight training, but relies on her edges bestowed by Ivy, and a variety of joke based weaponry similar to the Joker. She seems especially fond of large mallets.
Recommended Sources for Harley:
Batman: The Animated Series – She wasn’t on every episode, but it was the origin of the character
Batman: Mad Love by Paul Dini – Harley’s introduction to the mainstream DCU
Gotham City Sirens – Her current title, also by Paul Dini as I write this at least
Youtube – I know this sounds odd, but bear with me. A man using the screen name “JustSomeRandomGuy” has made a long series of videos with scenes acted out by action figures, which are hysterical and show a deep familiarity with the comic world. Harley is in several, voiced by RandomGal, and well acted. The videos started off with “I’m a Marvel, and I’m a DC” parodying the Mac/PC commercials on TV, and grew from there. Well worth a look by any comic fan.
Really, pretty much any Harley appearance that Dini writes is worth looking at.
Who is Terra?
Well, we’re on our third one so far, but they’ve had their impact on DC Comics for sure, usually on the Teen Titans.
The first Terra was shown to be a troubled young woman who the Titans rescued from being held captive by terrorists. She became the first recruit to join the New Teen Titans since they banded together. She was a bit rough around the edges, but her heart seemed to be in the right place, and there was even hints of a romance developing between her and Changeling. What was gradually revealed, stunning many comic fans, was that she was a sociopath mercenary in the employ of Deathstroke the Terminator in another bid on his part to destroy the New Teen Titans. She was Deathstroke’s spy, and lover, and was simply learning as much as she could about the Titans to rip them apart from within. Things built to a head in the classic comic story “The Judas Contract”, possibly some of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s finest work, and that truly says something. She did betray them, and helped Slade capture everyone but Dick Grayson, who had abandoned his Robin identity but hadn’t taken a new one yet. Among the far reaching results of this arc were: Terra’s death; Changeling’s emotional trauma from her betrayal; Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing; Jericho joining the Teen Titans; and a story where the traitor working with the heroes not only doesn’t turn out to side with them, but tries her best to kill them.
In an odd development, wholly independently of each other, Wolfman and Perez were creating Terra about the same time Mike Barr and Jim Aparo made Geo-Force for their new title, Batman and the Outsiders. The two creative teams were bemused by the development of two earth powered characters at the same time, and created a mutual history, making them half brother and sister.
Years after the first Terra’s death, a group of time traveling teens calling themselves the Team Titans appeared in the DCU. One of their members was a young blonde with earth powers calling herself Terra, who greatly resembled the first. She was even interested in Changeling. Her own story became very complicated. At first, she was simply one of the time lost heroes who came back to prevent a horrible future, much like the Terminator movies with super heroes. Then, it was revealed that she was not from the Team Titans’ alternate timeline when they were wiped out by the fluctuations of Zero Hour, but she survived. Her destiny, and even history, were manipulated by such powerful beings as Lord Chaos, Monarch, and the Time Trapper. It was strongly hinted that she was somehow connected to the first Terra, with later scenes of Geo-Force discovering their DNA was the same and the first Terra’s coffin being shown to be empty. Terra II joined the New Titans, and served with another incarnation of the Titans. Later, during the rampage that was dubbed World War III, Black Adam killed her by punching through her chest.
Years later, yet another heroine appeared with earth powers, calling herself Terra. At least this one was clearly not a repeat of the first two, being a striking brunette with a much different look. After a few enigmatic appearances, she starred in a four part mini series which explained all the Terras. The first was given her powers by Dr. Helga Jace, at first an ally of the heroic Outsiders but later revealed as a Manhunter sleeper agent. Tara was never wholly stable, and Slade Wilson used an early version of a serum that made its subjects susceptible to suggestion on her, causing brain damage. He later would use this same serum on Cassandra Cain (Batgirl) and his own daughter, Rose Wilson (Ravager). Her insanity caused her death when she tried to kill Slade, the Titans, and everyone else nearby. The second Terra was a resident of a hidden subterranean city called Strata, whose body chemistry allowed her to gain earth powers from exposure to a rare element of theirs called “Quixium.” Quixium was to have played a part in the first Terra’s history as well, but in the real world, the nearly year long delay between Last Will and Testament and the Terra series forced some changes. The second Terra lost her early memories completely and then became a pawn in the game between Lord Chaos and Monarch. The third Terra was also from Strata, but they did not try and make her resemble Tara Markov when they changed her to her human appearance. During the miniseries, Terra struck up a friendship with Power Girl, later appearing in her ongoing series as a sidekick of sorts, being mentored in both heroics and human society.
Team Titans 1 Cover
Who were the Team Titans?
In the many decades long history, the Teen Titans have had many off shoots and variations of the team. The Team Titans were probably one of the odder ones. In the early nineties, a mysterious band of young supers showed up in the DC Universe. Eventually, it was learned that they had been sent back from the future to prevent a hideous chain of events from occurring. Their time was ruled by a tyrannical, incredibly powerful being called Lord Chaos. He had risen to power and slain all of Earth’s superhuman champions who resisted him. In the wake of this, a shadowy underground resistance was formed, led by an anonymous hero who was reported to be a former Teen Titan. This underground was called the Team Titans, the name also used by the ones sent back to our “present.” Because Lord Chaos was too powerful to handle any other way, it had been decided by the leadership that the best way to eliminate him was to kill his mother before she gave birth. This got more complicated when it was revealed that the mother was Donna Troy, formerly Wonder Girl, who at this point was without her powers.
After several clashes with the present day version of the team, calling itself the New Titans, an uneasy peace was made. The Team Titans got their own book, being trained to be young heroes in a much more pleasant time than the one they came from. Donna even acted as their mentor, which created some tensions with her husband, Terry Long. This group of Team Titans consisted of their leader Mirage, who could make herself look like anyone; Terra II, eventually revealed as a clone of the original who died betraying the Teen Titans; Red Wing, a flying girl with her own wings who later further mutated into the creature called Warbird; Night Rider, a young man made into a vampire; Kilowatt, an electrical hero; and Prester Jon, a disembodied consciousness that could control machinery, resided in the team’s communicators, and was revealed to be Red Wing’s brother. Shortly after the team established themselves on Donna’s farm, they were joined by their drill sergeant, also sent back from the future, the warrior called Battalion.
They did their best to fit in and act as heroes, but they slowly learned that they had been lied to in their future. They details they could recall of the previous lives did not match up with what they could check in the present. It was also shown that several other teams of “Team Titans” were sent back in time to do various deeds. The team was also haunted by Deathwing, an evil future version of Nightwing. Mirage had a relationship with Deathwing in the future, which led to further strains between the Team Titans and the New Titans. Mirage even captured and impersonated Starfire for a time to be closer to the modern day Nightwing. She gave him the version of his costume with the glider wings at this time. Eventually, the world was engulfed in the time bending crisis known as Zero Hour. As part of this event, the future that the Team Titans came from was prevented from happening. Of all the different teams that were brought back in time, the only survivors were Mirage, Terra II, and Deathwing. All others were erased as if they had never been. Mirage eventually had a child by Deathwing and retired from heroics, Terra II was killed by Black Adam on his rampage that was called World War III, and the fate of Deathwing remains unclear. During Zero Hour it was also revealed that the Team Titans had been misled from the beginning, and that their shadowy leader was actually Monarch, formerly the Titan Hawk, who manipulated their entire history to remove Lord Chaos as a potential rival in his own time twisting schemes against Earth’s heroes.
The Team Titans from Titanstower.com