When I last put a piece of text here, we left Captain Nathaniel Adam hovering over a devastated city in his world and wondering what was going on. In oh so many ways, there are a few of us who wish that had never ever being answered, because the answer was a series that certainly raised more questions than answers.

Battle For Bludhaven was one of the Crisis Aftermath series that were published by DC to set up the world after the events of Infinite Crisis. First, a history lesson. If Gotham City could be thought of as Sodom, then Bludhaven was Gomorrah – the little brother of the metropolis that tried to outdo it in every way. Introduced in the pages of Nightwing by Chuck Dixon, it soon established itself as an important location in the Bat-lore – until the events of Infinite Crisis, when Lex Luthor ordered his Society to make an example of the city by dropping a bomb on it.

That bomb was the chemical entity known as Chemo, and as a result the city and most of the then-present population were destroyed. After the event, heroes such as Superman and the Titans removed Chemo from the site, but the city was declared a disaster area and sealed off by presidential order.

One year later, and the city is still walled off and under the control of the government. The official reason is the high level of chemical and nuclear contamination – but Chemo was a chemical mix, so where is the nuclear contamination coming from? More to the point, why has the government-sponsored team known as Freedom’s Ring ordered all super-heroes out of the area?

As the story opens, the refugees are camped around the city, where they are helped by a being known as monolith – a golem-like creature that was the subject of a mini-series by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey, who wrote this series as well. The Titans want to help, but fell compelled by the government edict to stay out for now. It is obvious, however, that some people in the city have gained powers as a result of the attack, such as a young man called Firebrand who is leading the protests against the government.

Meanwhile, within the city, there are a number of factions vying for control. The government forces, including Freedom Force, are co-opted by a man called Father Time into the Super-Heroes Advanced Defence Executive, with orders to find out how people are escaping. A former drug lord has taken control of other parts of the city as the Black Baron. Finally, and most mysteriously, a group known as the Atomic Knights have both helped people out of the city and appointed themselves the city’s defenders.

When Firebrand persuades the Titans to enter the city, the stage is set for a battle royale, as Father Time brings in a group of government operatives that have taken the names and costumes of the deceased Freedom Fighters to battle them.

And Captain Atom? Well, it is revealed that he had appeared over Bludhaven, but his containment suit was damaged, and the Knights have to place him in a new suit – one very familiar to fans of DC comics in the late eighties…

Does the series work? In some ways yes, in others no. Take the character of Father Time for example – he is depicted here as an old white man, but in the Seven Soldiers series he first appeared in he was a young black man. Although this was eventually explained, it did cause some confusion.

Then there’s Captain Atom. Forced to wear the new containment suit, he becomes the being known as The Monarch, takes his revenge on one of his greatest enemies in Major Force, and then destroys what is left of the city in an atomic blast. Later series would explore what happened further, but to me it ruined what had been established in the Wildstorm series about his character.

On the other hand, the re-introduction of the Atomic Knights to the New Earth was handled well, and definitely raised more questions than answers – especially when they escaped the devastation of the city by Monarch by retreating to Command Bunker D. It was left to Grant Morrison to pick up those threads in Final Crisis.

Father Time, Firebrand, and many of the other characters would move on to appear in the two Uncle Sam mini-series, of which more will be said in later columns.

So more of a score draw in terms of how the series played out and the influence in the future of New Earth. You can’t shake the feeling that lot of stuff was thrown in and mixed together – some works, others don’t. I still recommend reading it, but just go in prepared not to have all your questions answered – especially when Firebrand gets the message to head south…

Views: 274

Comment by Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) on October 23, 2009 at 5:07pm
I skipped this when it first came out, you do make it sound interesting at least. How long was the series? Furthermore, since I am too lazy to look it up do you know if a trade was released?
Comment by Figserello on October 24, 2009 at 4:25am
Very interesting that it both leads from Seven Soldiers and into Final Crisis.

Given that Mr Morrison was the semi-official 'ideas man' at DC around this time (working on 52 and having designed the new Atom etc), I wonder how much of this story was driven by some blueprint of his? Would he have included Command D and the Atomic Knights in Final Crisis just because they had appeared in a recent - not very popular - mini-series? He threw so much into FC and there was hardly any room for most of what he did bring into it, that I find it hard to believe that he made room for a few ideas from this editorially driven continuity-heavy mini-series.

With this and S.H.A.D.E appearing, it looks to have had some influence by him. Like Countdown and Death of the New Gods, it might have been 'inspired' by some vague soundings of where Morrison would be going with FC.

I haven't read this series - having avoided it like the plague at the time - but it does seem to be Quite Interesting, as Stephen Fry might say.

Gray and Palmiotti aren't bad writers either.

There seems to be a lot here for followers of the DC uber-story. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies lead directly on to Captain Atom: Wildstorm, as well as kicking off Infinite Crisis. Then from Wildstorm to this and on into Countdown and then to Final Crisis.

The editorially driven uber-story does have its drawbacks. I liked Captain Atom's character and 'journey' in Wildstorm, but they seem to have binned that here just to bring back Monarch, who was universally reviled in the first place. The decision-making can be very anal too. Yes, Captain Atom was supposed to be Monarch before fans got wind of it and they changed it to Hawk.

But why was it nessecary to implement this in this series? Off-putting meta-continuity for its own sake!

The other problem with the Uber-story concept, which is now such a big part of being a Marvel or DC fan, is that you never know what is important to the threads you are following and what isn't. Only by reading your post now have I found out that this series has a bearing on FC. No-one mentioned it at the time FC came out, but that was probably because the cross-over readership for post Infinite Crisis continuity-fests/cash-ins like this and Morrison's latest demanding mind-bomb isn't very large.

I'd like to read this in the lead up to my next reading of FInal Crisis, but I'm not sure I want to pay to read it!
Comment by Figserello on October 24, 2009 at 4:43am
Plus the Command D sections of FC were the sketchiest parts of it, (and that's saying a lot!) , so I'd be interested in any further crumbs of info about what was supposed to be happening in those bits of the story.
Comment by Figserello on October 27, 2009 at 8:10am

Comment by Mike Williams on November 6, 2009 at 6:57pm
Sorry - I still need to track down a copy of Final Crisis and try to make some sense of it myself...
Comment by Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) on November 6, 2009 at 7:44pm
I'm not sure -- I didn't read the series where it happened long ago, because it looked *horrible* -- but I think I recall some Armageddon 2000 spinoffs where Captain Atom *did* become Monarch for a while. So this wouldn't be Nathan's first time in that suit.

In any event, when anyone says Monarch, I think of this guy:

Comment by Cavaliere (moderator emeritus) on November 6, 2009 at 8:51pm
Is that a Tick villain, Rob? I'm not familiar with him or his henchmenbutterflies.


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