The Bottle City Travel Guide: Pre-Crisis Gotham City
DC's Convergence crossover is built around pitting cities pulled from different eras against each other in an ultimate battle to determine which continuity reigns supreme, and as you may already know just from reading that sentence, that can get a little confusing. With all the Gothams and Metropolises (Metropoli?) throwing their heroes against each other, we thought it might be useful to offer our readers a handy guide to telling Pre-Flashpoint from Post-Crisis with a series of Bottle City Travel Guides!
Today, we're looking at Pre-Crisis Gotham City, the only version of Gotham where murder victims are actually outnumbered by giant billboards that look like coffee cups.
Pre-Crisis Gotham City
Era: 1984 - 1985
Major Players: If you thought the other domed cities of Bottleworld had a whole lot of superheroes, then get ready: This particular version of Gotham is currently playing host to not one, but three complete superhero teams, plus a bunch of other superheroes who apparently just picked a really bad day to go check out the giant typewriter museum:
Batman and the Outsiders:
- Batman - Bruce Wayne, Gotham City's most famous superhero. Widely known to both the police and the general public, this version of Batman recently quit the "two-bit Justice League" in order to found a new team called the Outsiders that could operate in situations where a high profile team wouldn't work.
- Metamorpho - Rex Mason, a world-traveling adventurer who was transformed into the Element Man, the Fab Freak of 1,001 Changes, by the mystical Orb of Ra. Possesses the ability to turn his body into any combination of the elements that naturally appear in the human body. Romantically linked to Sapphire Stagg, the daughter of his old boss and benefactor, much to the dismay of her other suitor, a thawed-out caveman named Java.
- Black Lightning - Jefferson Pierce, originally from the Suicide Slum neighborhood of Metropolis. Can shoot lightning out of his hands. One of two characters who refused membership in the Justice League but was later recruited into the Outsiders.
- Katana - Tatsu Yamashiro, a martial artist and expert swordswoman whose dead husband's ghost possesses her sword, Soultaker.
- Halo - Gabrielle "Gaby" Doe, a naive amnesiac with the ability to fly and use a variety of powers linked to different "halos" of light. At the time of this story, her true identity had yet to be revealed, but the short version is that her powers are basically keeping her human body alive and her original, basically sociopathic personality, suppressed.
- Geo-Force - Brion Markov, Prince of Markovia. Joined the Outsiders after being rescued in their first adventure from a political rival named Baron Bedlam which, really, should've been a clue to his army that he was probably going to be a whole lot of trouble. Has the ability to manipulate gravity and project lava blasts, as well as controlling chunks of the earth like his sister, Tara, better known as Terra, who betrayed the Teen Titans.
The New Teen Titans
- Nightwing - Dick Grayson, the original Robin. Founding member of the Teen Titans and current leader of the New Teen Titans. Married to Starfire.
- Starfire - Princess Koriand'r of Tamaran. Came to Earth after being enslaved by her evil sister, Blackfire. In the regular timeline, her marriage to Nightwing was interrupted when Raven, who was possessed by demons at the time, straight up murdered the priest and then attempted to impregnate Starfire with, and I quote, "Trigon's seed." This, I think we can all agree, is quite a faux pas, even at the most permissive weddings. Since Raven's not around on Bottleworld, this version saw their wedding happen as planned, albeit under a dome.
- Beast Boy - Garfield Logan. Former member of the Doom Patrol, has the ability to transform into any animal. Probably the only person named Logan in superhero comics who actually knows the difference between wolverines and wolves, and how it mostly involves burrowing.
- Cyborg - Vic Stone. Had most of his body destroyed in in a disaster at S.T.A.R. labs before being rebuilt by his father using advanced cybernetics. His dad also built a giant T where the Titans live, which I assume is because he misheard young Victor asking for a treehouse. Who lives in a T?
- Wonder Girl - Donna Troy. Literally the entire reason for every continuity problem in the history of DC Comics. The short version is that she's Wonder Woman's younger sister, with similar powers. Married to Terry Long, The Worst Possible Dude, which would place these characters' exact point of origin sometime after February of 1985, but see below.
- Kole - Kole Weathers, who has the ability to create and control crystals, because her father was worried about his family being able to survive radiation in the event of a nuclear war. If only he'd read those Legion of Super-Heroes comics, he'd know that radiation only makes teens more powerful.
- Jericho - Joseph Wilson is the son of Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke the Terminator. He has the ability to project his consciousness into anyone's body by locking eyes with them, and if you had that hair, you'd want to get out of your body too.
The Justice League of America
- Martian Manhunter - J'onn J'onzz, last survivor of the planet Mars. Founding member of the Justice League, and has all of Superman's powers plus telepathy and shapeshifting. Current leader of the Justice League team based out of Detroit.
- Aquaman - Arthur Curry, King of Atlantis. Has telepathic control over fish and the occasional seafaring mammal. This era was the only time in history where he was both a member of the Justice League and also not the worst member of the Justice League.
- Steel - The worst member of the Justice League. Hank Heywood III, grandson of the original Commander Steel, a hero active during World War II. Basically Cyborg without that part where anyone likes him.
- Vibe - Paco Ramone, former member of a street gang called Los Lobos, not to be confused with the long-running Grammy award-winning band of the same name. Has the power to create vibrational shockwaves, and is also an accomplished breakdancer. Legendarily despised by artist George Pérez, who saw him as a racial stereotype. In a book where he drew every member of the Justice League and Avengers ever, Perez drew Vibe as a pair of legs falling off an airplane.
- Gypsy - Cindy Reynolds, suburban runaway with the ability to telepathically hide herself. Joined the Justice League after tagging along on a mission, unnoticed by the others.
- Vixen - Mari McCabe, world-famous supermodel superhero. Possesses the mystical Tantu totem that grants her the power of any animal. One of DC's most prominent African superheroes.
- Zatanna - Zatanna Zatara, a mystical crime-fighter following in the footsteps of her heroic father, John Zatara. Casts spells by speaking backwards.
- Elongated Man - Ralph Dibny, who gained the ability to stretch his body thanks to a chemical compound called Gingold, which he discovered after he noticed that a bunch of circus contortionists all preferred the same soda. Really. An accomplished detective and good friend to the Flash, he prefers operating without a secret identity. Married to Sue Dibny, who also ended up under the dome. Does not have a very good code name.
- Superman - Hey, it's this guy again. This version is Clark Kent, who was rocketed to Earth from Krypton and fought crime as Superboy in Smallville before moving to Metropolis following the death of his adopted parents. Currently employed at WGBS as a television news reporter. Has almost limitless powers, despite increasingly frequent periods of self-doubt.
- Supergirl - Kara Zor-El, Superman's cousin, who was sent to Earth as the lone survivor of Argo City after the ground turned to Kryptonite. Was raised in an orphanage as Linda Lee before being adopted by the Danvers family, has similar powers to her cousin. Is not going to have a great 1986.
- Flash - Barry Allen. A police scientist who gained the ability to run at super-fast speeds when a bolt of lightning struck a cabinet full of chemicals. At this time, Barry had retired from his career as a superhero after an extremely long trial over the death of his arch-enemy, Professor Zoom, who killed Barry's wife, Iris, who was not actually dead but just taken back to the 30th Century, where she was originally from. Barry currently lives in the future with her, but was visiting 20th Century Gotham when the dome came down and cut off his super-powers. Is also not going to have a great 1986.
- Batgirl - Barbara Gordon, former librarian and congresswoman. Semiretired from crimefighting, she has apparently returned to an active role to pitch in under the dome.
- Green Lantern - Guy Gardner. One of two humans who qualified to take over as Sector 2814's Green Lantern after the death of Abin Sur, but Hal Jordan was closer and got the job instead. Became a "backup" Green Lantern, which did not work out well for him, as he ended up being in a coma and suffering brain damage that, once he woke up, left him with quite a temper.
- Wonder Woman - Diana of Themyscira, Princess of the Amazons and founding member of the Justice League. Sculpted from clay by Hippolyta and animated by the Greek gods, Wonder Woman possesses super-strength, super-speed, and the ability to deflect bullets with bracelets made of Amazonium. Spent some time as a non-powered adventurer, but regained her powers and traditional costume. Somehow wound up endomed in Gotham City with both Steve Trevor and Etta Candy.
- Hawkman - ugggghhhh
- Hawkgirl - Shayera Hol, who came to Earth with her husband, Katar, from the planet Thanagar. Essentially super-powered police officers, they employ harnesses made of Nth metal and wings to fly. Act as museum curators in their secret identities, because who would suspect museum curators of being the two weirdos who beat people up with a bunch of medieval weaponry?
- Swamp Thing - A plant elemental built around the body of scientist Alec Holland. Connected to "the Green," Earth's network of plant life, which gives him incredible abilities like regeneration, the ability to create new bodies, travel almost instantly between plants, and produce psychotropic potatoes on his back. Caught in Gotham with Abigail Arcane, the niece of his arch-enemy, Anton Arcane. According to Convergence: Swamp Thing, Abigail knows that something is wrong with her husband, Matt Cable, but doesn't know that he's dead and that he's being possessed by her uncle, which would place these characters' point of origin somewhere between June and October of 1984.
For those of you who might've lost track, that's a full thirty superheroes, all shacked up in one version of Gotham.
Major Attractions: In addition to bumping into a former Justice Leaguer every time you take three steps, a trip to Pre-Crisis Gotham definitely rewards fans of interesting architecture. In addition to the signature advertising that flourished in the '50s and '60s, be sure to check out the truly bizarre Wayne Foundation building:
The building has been constructed around an open-air atrium containing a gigantic fake tree which itself hides an elevator shaft from Bruce Wayne's penthouse apartment to the Midtown Batcave. The cave was used as Batman's headquarters from the early '70s to the early '80s, and is currently being used as the base of operations for the Outsiders.
Why It Ended: Of all the worlds seen in Convergence, this is the one most directly tied into Crisis On Infinite Earths --- the Swamp Thing issue even mentions the red skies seen at the start of the crossover. Most of the major characters would see pretty dramatic changes over the course of that series; Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman would get new origin stories, the Flash would die and be replaced by his former sidekick, and Supergirl would die and be written out of continuity like she never existed. The "Detroit Era" of the Justice League would come to an end as well, replaced by the Justice League International era that was able to draw from a new group of superheroes, like Blue Beetle and Captain Atom, who hadn't been a part of the previous universe.
There's plenty of stuff here that would make it through relatively intact --- New Teen Titans would continue for another decade pretty much unscathed, aside from two or three stories that attempted to explain just what the heck Donna Troy's deal was.
But as is usually the case with this sort of thing, the moment just before the reset is when things are at their biggest, which definitely comes through in the cast of characters. We've got three major super-teams, plus enough characters left over to form a Justice League all on their own --- one that includes Superman at his most powerful.
Pre-Crisis Gotham has a pretty deep bench, and if the battle for Bottleworld is going to be decided in an all out clash, they should be able to make a pretty strong showing.