Jul 15, 2010

Lex Luthor Meets Death of the Endless

So by now, everyone's heard this little bit of news, yes?

That's right, in October's Action Comics #894, written by Paul Cornell and with art (I assume) by Pete Woods, Superman's arch-foe Lex Luthor meets Death of the Endless.

This comes as a surprise because Dan Didio has, for the past several years, emphasized the division between the main DC Universe and Vertigo. The reasoning has always been that they're made for different audiences. Like what if Sandman showed up in Superman, which would then lead a Superman reader to Sandman: Seasons of Mists, and then from there go on to the Lucifer books, which wouldn't be appropriate for a Superman reader? That reasoning was always bullshit to me, since mainstream DC comics aren't what I'd recommend for a young audience anyway and that the average Superman reader is probably like me and in his late 20s, and quite frankly, they can stand to read some Sandman or Lucifer. And with this, it looks like they've softened up on the position, even if Paul Cornell was the one who suggested it.

Sandman, of course, actually started out in the mainstream DC Universe. The first storyline had him fighting Dr. Destiny! And he also interacted with then-DCU-now-Vertigo character John Constantine, and had brief encounters with Mr. Miracle and J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter.

The series then distanced itself pretty clearly from DC continuity, delving back only towards the end, with cameos by some familiar characters, such as Superman, Batman, Martian Manhunter:

And Darkseid:

The Endless have shown up a handful of times in mainstream DCU comics as well. The only time to my memory that Death has shown up in the DCU books is in Captain Atom #42, written by Cary Bates and Greg Weisman (yes, the Greg Weisman), and drawn by Rafael Kayanan and Romeo Tanghal, Captain Atom "dies" and meets the Black Racer (long the DC embodiment of death) and Death of the Endless, building up to a confrontation with Nekron (yes, the Nekron of now-Blackest Night fame). This was back in 1990, three years before the establishment of the Vertigo imprint, and Death was used without Neil Gaiman's permission. He was not very happy with the treatment, as the concept of Death (and the rest of the Endless) was always that she was death, the whole kit and caboodle. However, Bates and Weisman made her just an aspect of death - where the Racer was death as inevitability and Nekron was death as the ultimate opponent, Death of the Endless was just death as release.

Interestingly, Death was still colored in flesh tones here, as she was always intended to be (the white skin came later). But since she's been established as being as pale as Dream, we can always say that since Death's skin is flesh-colored in Captain Atom, that it's not really her. But that's a nitpick. 

I don't blame Gaiman for getting pissed, since this really limits the concept of Death  (and the rest of the Endless, by extension), and DC learned their lesson and now knows to ask Gaiman for permission every time they used one of his characters. So the next time they did, in JLA #22-23, drawn by Howard Porter, Gaiman had to give his blessing. Of course, it's not very surprising, considering the writer he gave his blessing to was Grant Morrison.

Yeah, that page is pretty funny, given recent DC history. Still, at the time, I thought it was one of the coolest issues ever. Morrison's basic concept was to create a contemporary story that gave the same vibe as when the Phantom Stranger used to show up in the old Justice Leagues, and Dream of the Endless was the most fitting modern-day analogue. Find those issues, kids. It's a cool story.

Of course, Destiny of the Endless wasn't always "of the Endless," as he was always a DCU character, going all the way back to 1972, and interacting with a bunch of superheroes.

His most recent appearance was in the Mark Waid/George Perez run of Brave and the Bold, where he met Supergirl, Lobo, and (my personal favorite) the Challengers of the Unknown. Oddly enough, in the pages of Sandman and related comics, Destiny's robe is a brownish gray, but in main DCU comics, it's purple. So like Death's skin color, it could be an easy way to say "Hey, look, it's not really him."

So basically, it seems like the walls of Vertigo and the DC Universe have begun to be torn down. I wonder who's next and what's next. As for Action #894 itself, I can't wait to read it. I'm hoping - and am pretty confident - that Cornell isn't dumb enough to have Lex Luthor get into a fistfight with Death, and I'm also hoping that he's not going to dilute Death's character by having Lex outsmart her. If Neil gives his blessing, I'm sure it'll turn out fine, and I just hope that the art can live up to the story.

So how come no one ever wants to use the other Endless in the DCU? Harley Quinn/Delirium crossover!


plsburydoughboy said...

I found out about this while randomly browsing and knew that you would have written about it XD Did you ever get to read this comic?

Duy Tano said...

There's a review somewhere in the Reviews section...

A. Clay Campbell esq. said...

You forgot about the time that Death met with Ambush bug.

I have to admit I'm a little surprised that Mirror Master has never met Despair. She lives in a universe made up of mirrors and he travels through mirrors. Seamed they would have crossed passes at some time or another.

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