Justice League of America: The Nail #2 Annotations

Page 1. We get another glimpse of the Metropolis of The Nail. Obviously, it is changed from the Metropolis of DC continuity, and is a further indication of the changes in the world of The Nail without Superman's presence. Both the separate lines for cars and the police officer's behavior and questions demonstrate an almost police-state approach. Indeed, if we didn't know any better we'd assume that Lois was passing from one country to another.

More interesting is Lois Lane's response to the questioning. While she wonders aloud if it's necessary, she seems not to find it otherwise remarkable, which says to me that the mentality of a fascist state, with security checks and questions about purpose and length of stay, has been in place in the world of The Nail for long enough for even a prize-winning investigative journalist like Lois Lane to find the questioning not an outrage, but only an annoyance. The absence of Superman would seem to have wrought a very dark effect on the world, indeed.

Page 2. Panel 6. The character seen here is Alfred Pennyworth, the faithful manservant and friend to the Batman.

Page 3. Panel 1. The Batcave is, of course, the headquarters and home of the Batman. And in proper Batcave fashion we see a number of items from Batman's past cases.

At the top of the panel we see Batman's transportation: a Bat-cycle (I do not know of Batman ever having driven a Bat-cycle, but the Barbara Gordon Batgirl certainly did, and her late-1960s "bat-bike" looked very similar to this one; this is another indication of Batgirl working closely with Batman, and the "Batman Family" being truer to its name than it is in DC continuity); the rear end of one Batmobile (I think), and, more clearly, two different models of Batmobiles, the one mostly obscured by the stalagmite being similar to Batman's 1940 roadster, and the more visible Batmobile being somewhat similar to various 1940s models of the Batmobile - Davis, though, might have created his own model of the Batmobile.

At the bottom of the panel we see various trophies from Batman's past cases: the robot dinosaur, originally seen in Batman #35 ("Dinosaur Island"); the Joker's playing card, originally seen in Detective Comics #158 ("The Thousands and One Trophies of Batman"); the glass case with the costume that Thomas Wayne wore as "The First Batman" in Detective Comics #235; and the hourglass-shaped cage, whose history I do not know.

Page 6. The non-speaking Green Lanterns seen here are: Kilowog, the Green Man, Ch'p, Driq, Flodo Span (or Eddore of Tront), Saalak, MeDphyll, Xax, Rot Lop Fan, Chaselon, Validus (who has never been a Green Lantern before this, but rather one of the deadliest of the enemies of the Legion of Super-Heroes), Galius Zed, Larvox, Kryssma, Apros, Drkzzy RRR, Hollika Rahn, the unnamed GL who was absorbed into the puffball collective, Deeter, and the GL of Penelo.

I'm not going to list their histories and such, for that would take far too long. Instead, I'm going to direct the curious to the Unofficial Green Lantern Corps Web Page, which you can find by clicking on the link right there. It's a truly outstanding resource for information on the late, lamented Green Lantern Corps, and has information on every character seen here who previously appeared in DC Continuity.

The Green Lanterns speaking are:

Chummuck. Chummuck's full name is Arkkis Chummuck; he first appeared in Green Lantern v2 #130, and died (in DC continuity) in combat against Maaldor.
Katma Tui. Katma Tui (later "Katma Tui Stewart," after her marriage to the Green Lantern John Stewart) first appeared in Green Lantern v2 #30. Katma Tui was from Korugar, the same planet as Sinestro, and became (post-Sinestro) the Green Lantern of Korugar's sector. She died at the hands of Carol Ferris.
Arisia. Arisia first appeared in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #1. The daughter of a Green Lantern, she was trained from an early age to follow her father, and became a member of the Green Lantern Corps while still a teenager. She was one of Hal Jordan's lovers, and died in combat against Major Force.
Tomar Re. Tomar Re (Tomar-Re, in DC continuity) first appeared in Green Lantern v2 #6. Tomar Re was one of the greatest of all Green Lanterns; he died in combat against the Qwardians, the ancient enemies of the Oans and the Corps.

Page 7. Panel 1. The Green Lanterns are shown landing at the Central Power Battery of Oa, from which all Green Lanterns were powered.

Panel 3. That is, as Arisia points out, a Guardian of the Universe. The Guardians were one of the inventions of John Broome; Broome was heavily influenced in the creation of the Green Lanterns and the Guardians of the Universe by the Lensmen series of E.E. "Doc" Smith. In that series the Lensmen are agents of the Galactic Patrol, who work for the powerful Arisians and are opposed by the Eddorians; each Lensman bears a Lens, which is a bracelet which gives the Lensmen various powers.

Supposedly the visual look of the Guardians was based on David Ben-Gurion, who was the first Israeli premier.

Panel 4. Here we see three of the warriors of New Genesis. Big Bear (seen floating in the panel's center) was introduced in Forever People #1; he is a member of the Forever People, a group of the youngest New Gods. Lightray debuted in New Gods #1, is one of the most powerful of New Genesis' warriors, and is Orion's best friend. Orion first appeared in New Gods #1; he is Darkseid's son, but was raised on New Genesis, fights against the forces of Apokolips, and is destined to kill Darkseid.

Page 8. Panel 1. J'onn J'onnz, of course, is a shapeshifting Martian, and what Hal sees here is his true form, not the "hybrid form" that he is usually seen in.

Panel 5. Hal's reaction is in line with the way he was depicted in the Silver Age; he was a noble character who would not be put off by something as shallow as physical appearance.

Page 9. Panel 1. J'Onn J'Onzz's origin is essentially as he described here. The human Professor Erdel, trying to establish communications between Mars and Earth, accidentally created a teleportation machine, which brought J'Onn J'Onzz to Earth, stranding him here.

Page 10. All of the villains visited here by the Flash have world-conquering aims, and are exactly the types of villains that the evil mastermind of The Nail would target for destruction.

Panel 1. The Kobra Cult is a fanatical cult of worshipers of the supervillain Kobra, who first appeared in Kobra #1. Kobra was raised by a cult of cobra worshipers, who believed Kobra to be their chosen leader. Kobra believes it is his destiny to conquer the world, and has been an enemy to the Batman, the Outsiders, the Suicide Squad, and the Flash, among others.

I do not know of any precedent of the Kobra headquarters to be in Peru.

The red-and-lightning-bolt backdraft that the Flash leaves behind is not something that the Silver Age Flash had, but is a product of the current Flash.

Panel 2. Doctor Tsing Tsing is an old Batman enemy who was a member of the League of Assassins; he first appeared in Detective #404.

Panel 3. Gorilla Grodd is a talking, telepathic gorilla; he was first introduced in Flash v1 #106. In DC continuity he is from Gorilla City, a hidden civilization somewhere in equatorial Africa; apparently, in the continuity of The Nail, he conquered Gorilla City.

Panel 4. The Brotherhood of Evil was mentioned in issue #1 of The Nail. They've historically had ties to France and Paris, with their first headquarters being in a Parisian girls' school.

Panel 6. Ra's Al Ghul was mentioned in issue #1.

Page 11. Panel 1. We see, from left to right, Ra's Al Ghul, Amazo, and Talia.

Ra's Al Ghul's outfit here is different from the one he usually wears in DC continuity, which is a green suit and cape. Amazo was seen in issue #1, albeit in flashback. Talia was introduced in Detective Comics #411; she is the daughter of Ra's Al Ghul and, in DC continuity, someone the Batman was greatly attracted to (and who was attracted to the Batman in turn). Pre-Crisis she and Batman had a child together.

Panel 3. Doctor Magnus was first introduced in Showcase #37. He was a scientist who created the Metal Men, a series of sentient robots, each made of a different metal (Tin, Platinum, Gold, etc). It makes sense that Amazo, the greatest android of them all, would be given to Magnus for dismantling.

Amazo's statement, that the Flash is "not meant to be here," lends credence to the theory that all of the acts we have seen are being orchestrated & directed by some unknown force.

Panel 4. Amazo's powers are as he describes here.

Page 13. Panel 3. The Flash's move here is logical, and reminiscent to me of one of the quintessential aspects of the Silver Age: that heroes would prevail against more powerful enemies not through the strength of their powers but through their wits. As Elayne has pointed out, this book is deliberately modeled on Silver Age comics on a number of levels, and I believe this is one of them.

Panel 5. The bald character on the far left is Ubu, the faithful bodyguard of Ra's Al Ghul.

Page 14. Panel 2. The New Olympians Ra's Al Ghul refers to here were introduced in Batman and the Outsiders #14. They were formed by the insane gangleader Maxie Zeus, who believes that he is Zeus. He formed a gang, the New Olympians, who had superpowers similar to those of the Greek gods. They were not, originally, on the same level as the Kobra Cult and the others, however.

Panel 3. The cape Ra's Al Ghul is wearing here is visually similar to the one he usually wears in DC continuity, although that one is pine green with gold trim, rather than the blue seen here.

Page 15. Panel 1. The figure encased in crystal is, of course, the Bat-Mite. (No Silver Age story involving the Batman would be complete without him, would it?). The Bat-Mite was introduced in Detective Comics #267; he is a mischievous imp from an alien dimension who idolized the Batman and came to Gotham City to watch his hero at work.

Page 16. The Thinker was mentioned in issue #1.

There have been complaints about the Atom's expositional monologue on this page and the five pages following. But, as Elayne has pointed out, this book is deliberately modeled on the books of the Silver Age, and one of the aspects of books of that era was expositional monologues and dialogues. Davis is deliberately hearkening back to that era.

Page 20. Panel 2. It makes a certain amount of sense that the Thinker, a very intelligent criminal, would be the one to piece together many of the clues that would reveal the source of the heroes' problems - at least, reveal it to the knowledgeable reader. There is, of course, one significant figure who would stand to benefit from a "reduction in the specturm of solar radiation reaching the earth."

Panel 5. The source of the chemical compounds around the corpse's throat will become apparent in a couple of pages.

Interesting that even the Thinker couldn't solve the Rubik's Cube.

Page 21. Panel 1. Rohrshach has grown a beard, I see.

Panel 6. Presumably the "Tresser" mentioned here is Tom Tresser, aka Nemesis. Nemesis was introduced in Brave and the Bold #166; he was a member of a large American law enforcement agency who eventually went freelance and joined the Suicide Squad.

Page 24. Panel 2. Mera first appeared in Aquaman v1 #11. In DC continuity she was the Queen an undersea kingdom in another dimension who fled to Earth. She met Aquaman, who helped her free her kingdom, and eventually the two fell in love and he married her. In DC continuity, however, she separated fro Aquaman and eventually died; in The Nail events seem to have taken a happier turn.

"Professor" Vulko is one of Aquaman's supporting cast of Atlanteans, and in DC continuity acted as a sort of senior advisor to him.

Panel 5. Orm, aka Ocean Master, was introduced in Aquaman v1 #29. As noted here, he is Aquaman's brother (half-brother, in DC continuity), and also his arch-enemy.

The Marine Marauder is an enemy of Aquaman; she first appeared in Adventures of the Outsiders #37.

Page 28. Panel 2. The Shark, seen here, debuted in Green Lantern v2 #24; he was a mutated tiger shark that gained humanoid form and bedevilled both the Green Lantern and Aquaman, going so far as to depose Aquaman as the king of Atlantis at one point.

Page 29. Panel 1. Pete Ross, in DC continuity, was introduced in Superboy #86; pre-Crisis he was one of Superboy's best friends, and one of the few who knew who Clark Kent really was. Post-Zero Hour he is one of Clark Kent's best friends, and is Lana Lang's husband, but does not know who Superman is. Interestingly, in The Nail he is still part of the "Superman Family" group of figures, being another reporter for WGBS.

Panel 3. "Senator" Maxwell Lord, in DC continuity, was introduced in Justice League #1; he was a wealthy financier who was responsible for forming that incarnation of the JLA.

Panel 5. Interesting that Selina Kyle, the purported enemy of the Batman, knows about the Batman's origin. It may be that Alfred, when he got Selina to put on Robin's outfit, told her just enough of Batman's origin to rouse him.

Page 31. Panel 2. There's a nasty sort of inversion going on here. Hal Jordan, originally, was given the ring of the Green Lantern Corps because he was "without fear" - literally.

Page 33. Panel 1. Major Disaster was first introduced in Green Lantern v2 #43. His powers and costume, in DC continuity, are esssentially as seen here (although post-Underworld Unleashed he is usually in plainclothes). In DC continuity, however, Major Disaster knew Hal Jordan's secret identity.

Count Vertigo was first introduced in World's Finest Comics #251. His costume is slightly different here, with the bullseye being lower down on his chest than in continuity.

While Major Disaster was originally a Green Lantern enemy, Count Vertigo, to the best of my knowledge, never opposed Hal Jordan. Instead, he bedeviled the Green Arrow (before joining the Suicide Squad, of course, and becoming more of an antihero). Nor did the two ever team up, as far as I know.

Page 35. Panel 4. Note the presence of the WGBS camera; even though they are an American newsstation, they were still waiting for Hal Jordan, as he himself points out. This lends more credence to the conspiracy angle.

Page 36. Panel 2. The two dead figures are indeed Simon Stagg and Java.

Page 4. The giant doorway with the keyhole entrance is a part of pre-Crisis continuity. Superman's Fortress of Solitude, deep in the "uninhabited Arctic wastes," was beneath "fifty feet of rock" and could only be accessed through the doorway, which was so heavy that it could only be opened with the enormous giant golden key, which only Superman could lift.

Page 5. Superman, in DC continuity, is the "man of steel." I am unaware of Geo-Force ever having been called the "man of iron," but given his earth-based powers, the phrase does make a certain amount of sense.

Page 37. Panel 1. I am unaware of Geo-Force ever having been "the strongest man on Earth," or having been called that. In DC continuity that title belongs to Superman; in the continuity of The Nail, though, the title would be up for grabs (and, again, given his powers, Geo-Force is as likely a candidate for that title as any).

Page 38. Panel 3. Brainiac was introduced in Action Comics #242, and was an alien computer who became one of Superman's arch-enemies. With Superman's absence from the world of The Nail, someone would have to fight him, though, and why not the Outsiders?

Brainiac, as a computer, would be vulnerable to electricity and sonic attacks, so it makes sense that Black Canary and Black Lightning would be able to defeat him.

Panel 6. The following is SPOILER, so don't read any more unless you want the ending SPOILED. It's probably obvious who is behind this, but I'm going to spell it out in case it isn't:

the villain is invulnerable to the Canary's sonic scream and to the lightning of the Black Lighting.
the villain is capable of moving the Keyhole Door unaided (panel 1) and of piercing the Shade's force-field (panel 3).
the villain wears flowing robes, as seen in this panel.

The villain must, obviously, be Herbie the Fat Wonder.

Page 39. Panel 1. The Creeper was introduced in Showcase #73; reporter Jack Ryder dressed up in a makeshift suit and used it to fight crime. His manner in the comics has always been faux-psychotic, much as he's shown here.

Panel 2. Professor Hamilton is, in DC continuity, an eccentric scientist and a friend to Superman; he was first introduced in Adventures of Superman #424.

Panel 3. The snarling figure being operated on is Eclipso. Eclipso was introduced in House of Secrets v1 #80; in current DC continuity he is a somewhat warped and twisted version of the Spectre.

We can see Hawk and Dove being led away in the upper right of this panel. Hawk and Dove were first introduced in Showcase #75; they were a pair of brothers who fought crime but had differing philosophies, as reflected in their names - Hawk as militant and Dove was a pacifist.

Panel 4. The character prone on the floor is Chemo. Chemo was first introduced in Showcase #39. He was a humanoid plastic mold who was filled with a mix of strange mix of chemicals which combined to give him a kind of life. He was customarily, in DC continuity, an enemy of the Metal Men.

Being marched along on the walkway is Magpie, who was introduced in Man of Steel #3; she was a thief who in post-Crisis continuity was the cause of Superman meeting Batman.

Panel 5. The three characters in the background are Silver Banshee, Firestorm, and Black Orchid. Silver Banshee first appeared in Action Comics #595; she is a lethal ghost. Firestorm debuted in Firestorm #1; he was a high school student transformed by a nuclear accident into a superpowered being who eventually become Earth's fire elemental. Black Orchid first appeared in Adventure Comics #428; she is a kind of sentient plant.

Page 40. Panel 1. The characters in the foreground are unknown (gorilla arm on the left), Manbat, Congorilla (I think), Animal Man, B'wana Beast, and Dolphin.

Man-Bat debuted in Detective #400; he was originally Kirk Langstrom, a zoologist who injected himself with extract of bat-glands and turned himself into the Man-Bat, becoming an anti-hero opponent of the Batman.
Congorilla is the golden gorilla form of Congo Bill, an adventurer who saved the life of an African chief and was given a ring which would allow him to change into the golden gorilla Congorilla. Congorilla first appeared in Action Comics #248; Congo Bill's first appearance was in Action Comics #1.
Animal Man debuted in Strange Adventures #180; Buddy Baker found a crashed spaceship and was exposed to strange radiation, which gave him the power to absorb the abilities of any animal near him (although not its shape, unlike here).
B'wana Beast first appeared in Showcase #66; college student Mike Maxwell was stranded in a cave atop Mt. Kilimanjaro and drank rainwater that had been filtered through the cave's walls, which gave him superpowers. Djuba, the intelligent ape living in the cave, then gave him a helmet which allowed him to communicate with her.
Dolphin first appeared in Showcase #79; most of her past is still unknown, although her recent appearances in Aquaman have revealed parts of it.

Panel 2. That's Star Sapphire in the foreground, presumably the same Star Sapphire who was seen in issue #1 of The Nail. It may also be Star Sapphire I, who first appeared in All-Flash #32, or Star Sapphire III, who first appeared in Secret Society of Supervillains #6.

Interestingly, for all of the many heroic aliens in the DCU, none of the figures seen here are alien.

Panel 5. Lana Lang first appeared in Superman #78; she was a childhood friend of Clark Kent and Superboy, and in current DC continuity she was the first to know of Superman's civilian identity.

Page 42. Panel 4. Note that J'onn J'onzz's belt buckle is the same design as his earrings were while he was disguised as the blonde.

Page 44. "H'ronmeer," in DC continuity, is the Martian god of fire and death and art.

Page 46. Panel 7. In DC continuity it is Superman who fights for "truth and justice," but in The Nail it is fitting that his parents, who gave Superman his sense of morals, would continue that struggle.

Page 47. Panel 1. The three costumed characters are the Elongated Man, Ultra the Multi-Alien, and Beast Boy (last seen in issue #1).

The Elongated Man is Ralph Dibny, drank gingold juice and gained stretching powers. He first appeared in Flash v1 #112.
Ultra the Multi-Alien first appeared in Mystery in Space #103; the alien Ace Arn was transformed into a combination of four different aliens, and gained their abilities, using them to fight evil.

Panel 3. Originally, in DC continuity, Lana Lang's desire to be a reporter is what compelled her to leave Smallville and go to Metropolis.

Page 48. Panel 2. The object on the table at the bottom of the panel is very similar to the spaceship which brought the baby Kal-el to Earth.

Panel 3. The starfish-shaped figure is Starro. Starro is a cosmic, world-conquering starfish who first appeared in Brave and the Bold #28.

Panel 4. Starro has always had the ability to absorb energy and use it for his own ends, although he has not used this ability very often.

Thanks to: Elayne, for pointing out the nature of the dialogue on page 13; Jason Borelli, for pointing out the shape of the earrings on page 41; Owen, for noting the lineage of the costume in the Bat Cave and pointing out several other errors; Ben Munson, for pointing out that yes, Starro does have energy blasting ability; Bala Menon, Danny Sichel, montyburns7, and the contributors to the GLC Name Game thread, without whom I would never have been able to identify the Lanterns on page 6.

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