Make It So: DC – The Manga Universe 2 by Jerry Whitworth and Matt Eldridge
Over three years ago, ComicArtCommunity.com tackled a concept for a manga re-imagining of DC Comics. Characters such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Cyborg were given an Eastern spin with an inspired flair from the likes of Dragon Ball, Kamen Rider, Urusei Yatsura, Super Sentai, Durarara!!, and Astro Boy. Noted elsewhere (specifically several of the linked articles in the previous sentences), the connection between American and Japanese comics are not so vast. Indeed, Osamu Tezuka, the father of manga (and creator of Astro Boy), was inspired by Western cartoons like Felix the Cat, Betty Boop, Popeye, and Mickey Mouse. Further, while Dragon Ball was inspired by Journey to the West, its sequel Dragon Ball Z borrowed elements from Superman (as creator Akira Toriyama parodied Superman with his character Suppaman, or Sourman in English). Toei’s Super Sentai (which became Power Rangers in America) would develop in part from adapting Spider-Man for his own live action series and its show Battle Fever J which very loosely was inspired by Captain America. In this second installment of Make It So: DC – The Manga Universe, we’ll take a look at Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Shazam!, Green Arrow, Hellblazer, and Mr. Terrific.
The son of a well known deep water explorer, Aquaboy lost his mother at a young age and had his body transformed by his father from ancient machines discovered in ruins on the floor of the sea. Able to breath underwater, converse with various fish in their own language, and blessed with superhuman attributes, Aquaboy saw his father develop a suit for his son resistant to deep water pressure (as well as against many firearms), boot turbines that propel him at immense speed, and a sonic trident blaster. Sadly, much of his origins remain a mystery even to Aquaboy as a figure in black murdered his father and hunts him to this day. Fortunately, Aquaboy would stumble upon the Sea Devils, a peace organization for the world’s oceans that police its water against pirates, poachers, and polluters. Lead by Captain Tom Curry and including Commander Dane Dorrance, Lt. Biff Bailey, and Ensign Judy Walton, Aquaboy quickly became a valuable addition to their team who made fast friends with their trained dolphin Porm. The team would take on many foes including the Scavenger, Fisherman, Black Jack, Human Flying Fish, Awesome Threesome, and the Sea Devils’ chief nemesis in the organization O.G.R.E. Along the way, Aquaboy would make a new friend by saving the life of Mera, an amnesiac female who can survive underwater just like Aquaboy but could also manipulate water employing a tiara on her head.
In time, the black figure who killed Aquaboy’s father would re-emerge and reveal himself to be Manta, former partner of Aquaboy’s father looking for the lost kingdom of Atlantis until a falling out when it came to light Manta worked for O.G.R.E. Wishing to become the king of the Seven Seas, Manta copied Aquaboy’s equipment for himself and used his father’s facilities to clone the hero producing Orm (a misspelling of Aquaboy’s birth name Orin). Further, Manta created monsters like Charybdis, King Shark, Fire Troll, Tiamat, and Seaquake to combat the Sea Devils. Eventually, Manta would locate Atlantis thanks to Mera who had a memory of her past leading her to the kingdom where she was a high priestess in training. Therein, chancellor Vulko would recognize Aquaboy as bearing a strong resemblance to their departed queen Atlanna. Thrust into the role of prince, Aquaboy forged an alliance between the Sea Devils and Atlantis as they had to stand united against the forces of Manta and O.G.R.E. Aquaboy would also befriend Garth, the orphan of a priest living at the castle with his pet walrus Tusky. However, Atlantis was not without its own troubles as ancient threats like Garn Daanuth, Gamemnae, Qwsp, Kordax, and Slizzath would re-emerge to test the young prince (as well as new lands discovered to explore like Skartaris, Gemworld, and Dinosaur Island).
Doctor Erdel dedicated his life to attempting to contact alien worlds only to accidentally summon an alien instead. A tiny, chubby green Martian creature, Li’l J’on only cared about watching television and eating chocolate sandwich cookies. However, J’on developed a penchant for getting into trouble thanks to his ability to look and sound like anyone or anything. Along the way, J’on would catch the attention of village miser Mr. Diabolu, secretly an ancient wizard seeking eternal youth that believes J’on is the key to attaining his deepest desire. Unleashing monsters to capture the Martian, J’on would constantly outsmart the rather dull beings with his antics. In one instance with the creature Zook, J’on would even befriend Diabolu’s monster who consequently became his partner-in-crime. Other Martians would find their way to Earth and cross paths with J’on like J’uz, B’rt, B’nx, T’or, M’gn, and J’on’s mischievous brother M’al. As word spread on Mars of J’on’s adventures, other aliens showed up like Thantos and S’vor leading Earth-based weirdos like Mr. V, Human Squirrel, Mr. Moth, and Professor Hugo to emerge in town. Eventually, Mars would attempt to invade Earth but J’on convinced them he had already conquered it.
Orphan Billy Batson survived on the streets alone until one day when he followed a mysterious stranger onto an empty subway train and was transported to the lair of the wizard Shazam. Presented with the Armor of Aquila, forged by Hephaestus and imbued with power from Zeus, Batson inherited the mantle of Marvel and was instructed to find the five other armors and their champions for the sake of humanity (as the wizard, his duty done and mission over, faded away). Traveling the globe, Marvel would find Freddy Freeman with the Armor of Lyra, Kit Freeman with the Armor of Noctua, Tawky Tawny with the Armor of Sagitta, Willie Fawcett with the Armor of Lupus, and Billy’s believed deceased sister Mary Bromfield (adopted name) with the Armor of Columba. Along the journey, Marvel and his fellow knights faced several threats of ancient myth such as the Hydra, Cerberus, Minotaur, Sphinx, and the Cyclops. This was a plot by Black Adam, former student to Shazam and wielder of the Armor of Cervus, who tried to prevent the destined warriors from obtaining their armors (so far as slaying Billy and Mary’s parents, though the children would survive). Adam had assembled his own knights in hopes of ruling the world, his ranks counting Ibac with the Armor of Draco, Sabbac with the Armor of Taurus, Oggar with the Armor of Aries, Stygia with the Armor of Capricornus, and Amber with the Armor of Scorpius. By the ancient laws that abide the armors, Adam challenged Marvel and his knights to a tournament where, should Adam win, Marvel’s knights could not interfere with his conquest of Earth whereas, in the event of their loss, they must abandon their evil ways.
Inevitably, the tournament between the knights held in the ancient Colosseum ended in a tie with Marvel defeating Black Adam. In a such an event, a council of the Gods would convey the winner but before such could occur, the demon Blaze sprung forth from Adam. Having possessed Adam centuries ago and saw him turn on his master, she implanted her six fellow Deadly Enemies of Man into Adam’s knights (Amber host to two of these demonic entities). With her plans jeopardized by Adam’s failure, she summons the Three Faces of Evil to lay waste to the Earth. Working together, all twelve knights defeat the menace as an emissary of the gods in Isis banishes the demons back to Hell so that they can’t again possess the knights. Adam and his knights thank Marvel for freeing them and offers their aid should he ever require it.
Marvel’s knights would next combat the Fourth Reich empowered by Dr. Sivana with his super Nazis and giant robot ATOM. This would be a prelude to an invasion by the Venusian worm Shisou (who supplied materials to Sivana) and his alliance of 247 alien worlds. Adam’s knights would return to help save the day only for them to later fall to a new threat. While Marvel’s knights dealt with the invasion of King Kull and the Beast-Men from the center of the Earth, Adam’s knights were defeated and robbed of their armor by the warrior Sabina. A descendant of Shazam, Sabina had an armor forged in Hell empowered by the six demon lords which could absorb the armors of Shazam. Once all twelve armors are combined, it would be capable of tearing open a portal between Earth and Hell. With such a dire threat, Isis would return to warn Marvel and inform him that his armor has a similar ability (only, he could absorb his fellow armors if they were offered willingly). Sabina would drag Marvel to Hell itself where they fought before its ruler Neron as Marvel would win out and destroy Sabina’s armor (restoring Adam’s knights). The timely intervention of the angel Zauriel would help return Marvel to Earth as Neron would become a new ongoing threat (making bargains with humans for power and sending demons to combat the knights via his operative Lucifer).
Oliver Queen, one of the wealthiest teenagers on Earth, woke up one morning in a strange mansion on a small remote island. Inside this mansion, Queen would discover several others: Dinah Lance (daughter of a PI), Roy Harper (orphaned son of a forest ranger), Jade Fei (mysterious girl skilled at archery), Eddie Fyers (teenage rebel), Werner Zytle (deposed royal of Vlatava), Arthur King (creepy hacker), Temple Fugate (son of a jeweler), Thomas Bolt (politician’s son), and Danny Brickwell (teenage gangster). Once assembled, a video plays informing the ten youths they were assembled for a purpose and that they must discover that purpose in sixty days or be killed. Over time from speaking to each other, they learn their lives intersect in certain ways as clues appear to be found inside the mansion and on the island’s grounds alluding to their relations. But the deeper these connections become, the more dangerous the search for answers as deadly traps with clues at their center emerge. Further, it appears one of the ten is not who they seem as the youths begin to disappear one after the other. Queen must solve the mystery and learn who he can trust before he too vanishes or is killed at the end of the sixty days.
Most investigators, you would look up online or in the phone book but in certain circumstances, you need something more. For John Constantine, often its meeting the right person at your worst time. As a teenage British punk rocker, Constantine and his friends would stumble upon witchcraft. Enamored with the power, Constantine’s life would be forever changed when he summoned the demon Nergal. Attaching itself to a little girl named Astra, Nergal massacred Constantine’s friends and left the teenager deep in the throws of madness. Cursed with visions of the horror Astra and Nergal spread across the world, Constantine was committed to Ravenscar Asylum until the Archangel Gabriel cured him of his madness. Able to see the invisible world now (angels, demons, ghosts, fairies, etc), Constantine can see the scar on his soul left by Nergal (which grows as the demon roams the Earth) that can only be alleviated by returning demons to Hell. Something of a hitman for Heaven, Constantine waged war on the host of Hell on Earth across the globe making a number of allies (including the plant elemental Swamp Thing, magician Zatanna, vampire Andrew Bennett, fellow investigator Jason Blood, ghost Boston Brand, fortune teller Madame Xanadu, police officer Jim Corrigan, cabbie Chas Chandler, urban mage Map, succubus Ellie, psychic artist Zed Martin, and the Mafia-connected Epiphany Greaves). After years of searching, Constantine would find Astra and tried to upset Nergal’s plans and free the young woman from his grip. However, doing so puts Constantine on a path to the First of the Fallen, God’s first being and ruler of Hell.
In the near future, technology is dominate at every level. Virtually all data is online, most manual labor is performed by machines, and most humans sport cybernetic enhancements. Billionaire tech genius Michael Holt reaped great benefits from this world until the death of his wife and unborn child in an accident caused by a malfunction in their self-driving car. In time, Holt would learn the malfunction was no accident, instead the work of a shadowy organization called the Council trying to take the billionaire’s company by ending his life. Placing his corporation in a trust designed to protect it from the Council, Holt went underground to learn more about them. Designing a mask able to make him invisible to all forms of technology and employing nanite robots that performs a multitude of services, Holt became Mr. Terrific (in honor of a tokusatsu series he watched as a young child). Over time, Terrific would disrupt various operations run by the Council making several allies along the way including Manhunter (Kate Spencer), Nemesis (Tom Tresser), and Matrix. Terrific would learn the Council was part of a vast network operated by Vandal Savage, an immortal over 50,000 years in age. Across the centuries, Savage has tried to rule the Earth only to be consistently thwarted by its heroes. As Earth prepares to settle Mars, Savage has plans to usurp rule on the red planet during its very foundation and wipe out the Earth afterward. It falls onto Terrific and his new friends to stop Savage and save both worlds.