Monday, November 19, 2012

Who's This? A Preface to my New Who's Who Project

The original Who's Who: The Definitive Directory to the DC Universe has long been one of my favorite things ever, as I MAY have made clear in a recent post on the subject, and yet, I've never been able to use it all that well as fuel for a regular Blog of Geekery feature. But I've had an idea. Which happens when you think about something too darn much. I call it Who's This?

One of the great joys of the original Who's Who in the mid-80s (and still today) was discovering within its pages characters you'd never heard of before, a testament to DC Comics' long history, motivation to seek out back issues, and immediate joy when those characters appeared in Crisis on Infinite Earths or elsewhere later. For the comics geek, the feeling of "hey, I recognize that obscure character!" is great indeed.

And over the years since - it's been more than a quarter-century - a lot of those obscure DC properties have appeared, in their original or redesigned forms, probably thanks to Who's Who itself (unless we're talking about Roy Thomas). Today's comics writers likely grew up with Who's Who and dreamed of writing stories for those unknown and yet so interesting characters. But when I flip through my old Who's Who (which is FREQUENTLY), there are still characters I've never seen in a story. A one-panel cameo in All-Star Squadron, maybe. As a completely different legacy, Elseworlded/Vertigo-ed, or name-appropriating character, sure. But those actual characters in those forms? Not really. That ends now.

With Who's This?, I'll be choosing Who's Who's most obscure, least-used and least-remembered characters to talk about one of their old stories. I'll be seeking out, reading and discussing their first story, maybe, or at least a typical example of their adventures. I'll be doing this alphabetically, trying to pick at least one per issue. The focus will be largely on heroes, but I wouldn't count the villains out. Expect a number of Golden Age and non-superhero characters, because those are the ones most likely to have been sequestered in Limbo, but one-or-two-issue wonders who nonetheless got a Who's Who entry are also likely.

For example, first up TOMORROW, will be the Golden Age Air Wave. And next week, Automan. I hope the experience will be as educational for you as it will be for me!


Teebore said...

That sounds like it could be very interesting, and a great use of the format. Kudos for finally stumbling onto it! :)

I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

Siskoid said...

Yeah, stubbed my toe on it when Shag and Rob would say things in their Who's Who podcast like "I'd never heard of this character!".

mkhall said...

I'm looking forward to this. I always enjoyed reading Who's Who, and still have a set shredded and dumped into binders with their DCHeroes stats included (which I started before Mayfair published theirs).

Boosterrific said...

You going to be using just the original 85-87 WHO'S WHO, or should we expect winners like Blackguard from UPDATE '87 or Strobe from '88? Just curious.

(I keep my entire run of WHO's WHO in a short box beside my desk because... well, just because.)

Siskoid said...

That's still a ways, but the updates are fair game. Except Blackguard and Strobe were never obscure to me because I had their first appearances (in Booster Gold #1 and Power of the Atom #3 respectively, he said without checking).

So the contemporary characters of the time probably won't make it. But the updates did have characters forgotten the first time around, like Kite-Man.

Martin Gray said...

What an excellent idea, best of British with this undertaking!