Cram Session: Vandal Savage

Vandal Savage is truly one of the DC Universe’s deadliest villains. He is an immortal that is practically the perfect tactician due to a literal centuries worth of knowledge and experience; and with this, he is a man who is able to live up to his namesake. As an immortal, Vandal Savage has left numerous marks in DC’s comic history, as well as its present. His overall history is worth going over in order to understand the sort of impact he left on the DC Universe.

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Vandal Savage’s origin starts out strange as he was born around 50,000 B.C. as the caveman, Vandal Adg (a pretty fancy name for a caveman…), and was the leader of a Cro-Magnon tribe. His life is inadvertently changed when a highly irradiated meteorite comes crashing from the sky near Vandal’s location. When coming into contact with the meteorite Vandal absorbed all of its energy and became a highly-intelligent immortal (‘cause in comics’ radiation gives you rad powers and not cancer…). Despite being highly intelligent Vandal has little empathy for human life as there have been records of him being the first cannibal in human history (talk about “savage and no chill”). Eventually Vandal would drop his last name “Adg” in place of “Savage.”

Savage would eventually make his first mark in human history as he formed a group that would later be known as the “illuminati,” who have helped aided him in successfully toppling and literally destroying the famed civilization, Atlantis.

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Throughout DC’s history he would adapt various names and personalities that would eventually become historically infamous including: two ancient Egyptian rulers (Khafre, Cheops), Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Blackbeard, Vlad the Impaler, and Jack the Ripper. He also served as an advisor for other infamous historical figures including: Erik the Red, William the Conqueror, Napoleon Bonaparte, Otto von Bismarck, and Adolf Hitler (‘cause nothing says evil like being bros with Hitler).

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It was during the 1940’s Vandal Savage came into conflict with the first iteration of “The Justice Society,” setting him up as a legacy villain for those who took on Green Lantern and Flash mantle. With his newfound hatred for the Justice Society, he would set up his own group, appropriately named, “Injustice Society;” with members including: Wizard, Brainwave, Gambler, Per Degaton, and The Thinker (no, not that Marvel villain…). Though they came in conflict with the Justice Society multiple times, they were never successful in defeating them.

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With his iteration of Injustice Society being unsuccessful, Vandal Savage would form another group known as the “Tartarus,” which has been covered in an earlier article on Damien Darhk.

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In later events Vandal Savage would attempt a financial takeover of New York through the distribution of “Velocity Nine” (the same drug that the “Rival” concocted years ago), as a drug to people in influential positions—including lawyers and stockbrokers, in order to control them. Wally West soon comes into the picture as he begins to notice that people are exhibiting similar speed powers as him. His investigation would bring him into conflict with Vandal Savage. As the two fought Wally was injected with Velocity Nine, temporarily leaving him powerless. Before Vandal could give Wally a second dose one Vandal’s subjects turns against him and injects him with the speed drug, rapidly aging him.

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Vandal Savage would later recover and play a prominent role during the events of, “Final Crises.” During this event Vandal Savage is approach by the organization, “Religion of Crime” (Their worst crime? Soliciting people at their doorsteps…I kid—kid…). They reveal to him that they ‘ve worshipped him as they believe that he is the Biblical Cain, the first murderer. The organization would then revive Cain within Vandal Savage by plunging the Pick—err I meant the Spear of Destiny into him (no innuendo, get your mind out of the gutter). As the newly-awakened Cain, Savage hunted down Spectre, the Spirit of Vengeance (who would have made his debut on Constantine…thanks NBC…) and enslaved him with the Spear of Destiny by separating him from his human host. The Spectre’s enslavement would only be temporary as the heroine Renee Montoya, under the guise of “The Question,” reunites the spirit with his human host. When back in power, though the Spectre spares Vandal Savage, he brands him with the “Mark of Cain,” opening him to eternal persecution by the human race until he faces God’s final punishment.

As reboots go, Vandal Savage’s status is soon reverted back to normal in the aftermath of the “Flashpoint” event. He is last seen as the leader for another group called, “Secret Society of Super Villains” (‘cause Savage knows how to keep a low profile), and is in conflict with Pandora (yes, that Pandora); and—oh yeah, he has a daughter in the FBI named Kate Sage.

Be sure to check out Casper Crump’s take on Vandal Savage on CW’s Legends of Tomorrow!

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Nerd Cram Session: Rip Hunter

Rip Hunter is probably one of the more unsung time-travelling heroes of the DC Universe, especially when compared to Booster Gold. But now he’ being given a chance to shine as the leader of the group of reluctant heroes in CW’s Legends of Tomorrow. With this, it’s a great time to briefly go over his comic history.

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Introduced during the Golden Age of DC comics, Rip Hunter made his first appearance on Showcase #20, in 1959. When introduced he just so happened to stumble upon a grand McGuffin known as the “time-sphere,” which would allow him to travel backwards and forwards through time. Originally he travelled through time, adventuring with a group of friends, causing shenanigans like befriending Cleopatra and meeting Adolf Hitler.

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He is later recruited by a subtly named hero “The Immortal Man” into his group called the “Forgotten Heroes.” Together, they ally with Superman and fend off a major alien invasion. This team was not to last though as a multiversal catastrophe dubbed, “Crisis on Infinite Earths” led to the death of the team leader “Immortal Man” (I bet the ironic name was what really hurt him the most). In the aftermath of this event drastic changes are made to the timeline, which alters many DC characters (ah, yes the first of many retcons…). The only one not affected was Rip Hunter, leaving him a literal man out of time. He soon finds himself recklessly traveling through time, trying to get to the event that disrupted the timeline. This drew the attention of a group of time cops known as the “Linear Men.” Though they charged him for disrupting the timeline they were impressed enough by his time traveling abilities to recruit him. This was another short lived alliance as Rip Hunter later broke away from them in order to help Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman take on a time-traveling Gog, who is trying to ensure that the events of “Kingdome Come” do not come to pass. While aiding the DC’s trinity Hunter inadvertently breaks down the “Hypertime” barrier, revealing new alternate timelines.

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In a later adventure Rip Hunter finds himself working with Booster Gold, helping to keep the timeline from collapsing. While aiding Booster Gold in a fight against the villain “Mister Mind (a hyper-intelligent worm, ‘cause comics),” who is feeding on different universes. It is revealed that he is the son of Booster Gold (Whut a Tweest!).

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Soon Flashpoint happens, which results in another disrupted timeline (‘casue relevancy) Rip Hunter is seemingly erased from existence. He has recently reemerged from non-existence and appears to be working against his own father, Booster Gold for reasons, at the moment, remain unknown.

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Be sure to catch Rip Hunter on CW’s Legends of Tomorrow, coincidently portrayed by Dr. Who Alum, Arthur Darvill!

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Nerd Cram Session: Hawkgirl

By: DC

With Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl set to be one of the primary characters of CW’s, Legends of Tomorrow, it’s a perfect time to go over her rather unique, yet complex comic book history.  It should be noted that both her pre and post flashpoint history will be covered.

Before delving into Kendra Saunders history, it’s best to go over her two past lives’ as “Chay-Ara,” and her later incarnation, Shiera Hall.

  Kendra’s first life as “Chay-Arya” happened centuries ago in ancient Egypt. During that time, she was a consort for the Price of Egypt, Khufu. As his consort the two eventually fell in love. Their time together was then cut short as they both found themselves in conflict with a sorcerer named “Hath-Set.” As they fought with him they were both cut down by his blade which was forged by the alien material, “Nth Metal.” Combined with the properties of Nth Metal, and their strong love for each other, their two souls were then bond to each for each other for centuries, as they found themselves in a nearly endless cycle being reincarnated and drawn to one another.

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Eventually in the later 20th century Chay-Arya was reborn as Shiera Hall. In this incarnation she was a museum curator with her *literal* soulmate, Khufu, who now goes by the name, Carter Hall (…and oh yeah—they were also alien police officers from the planet Thanagar…lets’ not delve too much into that …). During this incarnation they used the Nth Metal to construct anti-gravity belts to use along with faux-wings in order to fly. With these faux-wings and an armory of various archaic melee weaponry they both became Hawkgirl and Hawkman. They soon became formidable heroes that have joined various teams including the All-Star Squadron, Justice Society, and the Justice League. Later during a cataclysmic event in the DC universe, dubbed “Zero Hour,” Hawkgirl and Hawman had to merge their souls in order to become the “Hawkgod” (fusion dance not included). Shiera died during the process.

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Years later it is revealed that Shiera Hall has a grandniece by the name, Kendra Hall. Kendra was a trouble young woman who took her own life. As her soul left her body Shiera’s entered Kendra’s body. As Shiera possessed Kendra’s empty body she took on her memories, and even believed herself to be her grandniece. Kendra’s grandfather, Speed Saunders noticed this change due to the change in Kendra’s eye color, and encourage her to take on her former life’s role as the new Hawkgirl. With this she eventually took on the mantle and joined the Justice Society. Though Kendra was following the footsteps of her past life, she still refused to believe that she had a past life as Shiera Hall. This greatly frustrated Hawkman who still retains the memories of all his past lives with Shiera. Despite this, Kendra still felt an attraction to him, even if superficial compared towards Carter’s feelings for her. Together, they served as protectors of St. Roch, Louisiana. Though they’ve gotten close to each other it was Kendra’s haunted memories of her parents’ death at the hands of a corrupt cop that strained their relationship.

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Later Kendra joined a newer form of the Justice League. There she started a *brief* relationship with Roy Harper—Red Arrow. Soon Hath-Set remerged as a threat to Hawkgirl. While confronting him Shiera’s soul reawakens and finds that the best way to end to end the reincarnation process shared between the hawks and Hath-Set, her soul needed to move on. As Shiera’s soul moves on to the afterlife Kendra’s very own soul comes back and repossess her own body. With Kendra 100% back—mind, body, and literal soul she then flies off with Carter to a supposed happy ending—which was cut short during DC’s next big event, “Blackest Night,” which involves Black Lantern Rings bringing hordes of dead characters back to life. As Kendra and Carter share an intimate moment, they are both brutally murdered at the hands of the Black Lantern-possessed Elongated Man, and his wife Sue Dibny, and then were then reanimated as Black Lanterns. The hawks’ death was only brief as The Black Lantern threat was negated by the White Lantern Corps, and the “Entity of Life” brought them back. As Carter Hall comes face-to-face to the newly resurrected Hawkgirl it is revealed that she is physically Shiera Hall, not Kendra Saunders. To sum up what happens to the reunited couple after their resurrection, more shenanigans ensue and somehow Shiera turns into element of air and dissipates into nothingness (to quote Vonnegut, “So it goes.”).

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Later all of this changes as Flash goes around messing with the timeline in the other DC event, “Flashpoint.” Now Kendra Saunders is alive and back on “Earth 2” as Kendra “Munoz-Saunders,” a bad-ass treasure hunter. While excavating ancient Egyptian ruins she accidently triggers a sort of “curse” that grafts wings to her back. With these wings she becomes Earth 2’s very own Hawkgirl, with her primary weapon being a various ranged weapons including pistols and a crossbow.

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As for Shiera…

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she’s back on “Earth One,” and is the princess of Thanagar who wants revenge on Carter Hall who she believes to be the murderer of her brother, the Emperor Corsar. Long story short she dies…again…(“So it goes.”)

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Be sure to check out Ciara Renée’s take on Kendra Saunders Hawkgirl on CW’s Legends of Tomorrow!

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