Page 1. Panel 1. George Herbert (1593-1633) was an English poet of the Metaphysical School. The Metaphysical poets were a group of poets of the early 17th century whose poetry was usually concerned with the ideas and concepts of religion and was distinguished by very highly intricate and compressed meanings.
Herbert was one of the most famous of the Metaphysical poets. He was a clergyman who wrote a great deal of poetry which displayed great religious piety, original, colloquial rhythms, and a striking use of symbols and images from a wide range of subjects; the poems themselves were often arranged on the page in strange shapes, such as altars and crosses.
The verse that The Nail is based upon is from no. 499 of Herbert's Jacula Prudentum, which was a collection of proverbs published in 1652. The meaning of the verse is summed up in the section quoted here: that a seemingly minor alteration can drastically change much larger events, and that the outcome of great doings can often depend on what seem to be very small things. This is one of the central themes of The Nail.
Alan Davis says that "my late Mother is the source of the colloquial variation" of Herbert's verse.
The pair seen here are Jonathan and Martha Kent. In DC continuity they are the adopted parents of Superman. Before Crisis on Infinite Earths (the 1985 miniseries which revised DC continuity and did away with much of the continuity of the previous 47 years of DC comics) and Zero Hour (the 1994 miniseries that completed the revisions started by Crisis and corrected the errors and loopholes made by Crisis and the DC comics published between 1985 and 1994), the Kents found the baby Kal-El while driving into Smallville, whose location was never specified. On finding the infant Kal-El the Kents decided to adopt him almost immediately, and brought him to the Smallville Orphanage, and then began filing the adoption papers.
When DC revised their continuity, and gave Superman a new origin, the Kents were roughly the age shown here when they found the infant Superman. Smallville was placed in Kansas, as shown here. In the new continuity the Kents never went through the adoption process, but instead simply claimed, months after finding the child, that he was their biological child.
Because The Nail is an Elseworlds series, it's obviously not forced to adhere to current DC chronology, and so Davis can alter the chronology as he wishes.
Alan Davis says, of the Kent's that
"as with John Byrne's version, I wanted them to be young enough to have children. The idea of a `saucy implication' is a little off the mark. Although providing a human character moment, sex produces children and the Kents continue to try for a family. Kal El was the fulfillment of that desire but not in this reality."
(I of course only meant, with the "saucy implication" comment, that the implication of the Kents having sex was a bit more racy than is the norm for comics, especially Silver Age ones) Panel 3. Their portrayal here, as a loving couple, is consistent with their portrayal in DC continuity comics; they have always been shown as one of comics' most loving couples, although they have almost always been shown as an elderly couple. In the 1950s they were portrayed as being much older when they found Superbaby. In the 1960s depiction of Superman's origins they were portrayed as being roughly this age.
Needless to say, earlier portrayals of Martha and Jonathan lacked the somewhat saucy implication shown here.
In every scene, pre-Crisis, of Martha & Jonathan finding the baby Kal-El, Martha had her hair in a bun, which I guess was seen as the proper hairstyle for a farm wife.
Pages 2-3. Lex Luthor, in DC continuity, has never been shown as a beloved character. Before Crisis Luthor was a reviled and publicly-hated supervillain (except for the planet Lexor, which saw him as a hero and Superman as a villain). Post-Crisis he is, in DC comics, a villain, but in the mode of Marvel's Kingpin: a corrupt businessman, rather than someone who directly engages the heroes. The public does not know of Luthor's true villainy, in current DC comics, and sees him in a more positive light.
WGBS, seen on the side of the building on page 2, is the television station at which Jimmy Olsen and Cat Grant work. Pre- Crisis Superman worked there, but that is not the case in current DC continuity.
The appearance of the police here, as a heavily-armed, face- masked soldiers, is the first of several indications that the world of The Nail is a more tense one than that of current DC continuity. The "Aliens Out" sign is another example of this alteration; it is representative of the xenophobia which will be made even more clear later in this issue.
The use, by the police, of Lexcorp weapons, is a potential problem. In the real world the police would not be allowed to buy weapons from the company that the mayor owns, because of obvious conflicts of interest.
Page 4. Panel 3. Perry White, in DC continuity, is a friend of Superman. Both pre-Crisis and post-Crisis he is the editor of the Daily Planet, at which Clark Kent works.
Panel 4. Jimmy Olsen, in DC continuity, is the friend of Superman. Pre-Crisis he was Superman's sidekick, also starring in his own comic; currently he is simply one of Superman's cast of characters.
Jimmy is described here as being "Mayor Luthor's aide." In past and present continuity Jimmy Olsen was many things, but he was never shown as being an assistant to an evil man; he could be headstrong, but his heart was always in the right place.
Page 5. Panel 2. In Jimmy Olsen #33 Jimmy Olsen developed flame breath at one point, and in Jimmy Olsen #37 disguised himself as the devil, wearing a suit very much like the one seen here.
Alan Davis says, of this panel: "The RED DEVIL was simply an amalgamation of two old Olsen stores, both in Jimmy Olsen, 80 page Giant. #2 Flame Boy. #85 Devil disguise."
Panel 3. "Turtle Boy" is a part of both pre- and post- Crisis continuity. Before Crisis, in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #51, Jimmy Olsen was turned into a giant Turtle Olsen. In current DC continuity Jimmy Olsen was briefly "Turtle Boy," a kid's-tv hero a la the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Turtle Boy looked, in both cases, much as he does here.
Panel 4. "Elastic Lad" and "Professor Phineas Potter" are both a part of pre-Crisis continuity, but only Elastic Lad has appeared post-Crisis, to my knowledge.
Elastic Lad first appeared in Jimmy Olsen #31. Jimmy Olsen drank an "elastic serum" which gave him the ability to stretch his body, ala Plastic Man and Mr. Fantastic. With these powers he was made an honorary member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. His costume was as it is shown here. Post-Crisis, Jimmy Olsen was infected, in Adventures of Superman #458, by an alien virus which Superman was carrying after he returned from space; the virus made Olsen's body malleable. As far as I know Olsen has not become Elastic Lad again.
Professor Phineas Potter, pre-Crisis, was an eccentric inventor and scientist, who created a wide variety of inventions and who assisted Superman and Batman & Robin on a number of occasions. He first appeared in Superman #148.
Page 5. Panel 3. I originally described this group as being the All- Star Squadron. Alan Davis, however, said:
"This is NOT the All Star Squadron. It is a symbolic shot, possibly from a wartime propaganda film, showing whoever was free for the photo shoot. Earlier versions of the Justice Society (Bats, Wonder Woman [... and Superman???] would have been very confusing."
So this is not the All-Star Squadron (the modern successor to the Justice Society of America, starring all of the Golden Age heroes that DC owns the rights to), after all.
The list of heroes appearing here is: Blackhawk, Dr. Mid- Nite, the Star-Spangled Kid, unknown (in silhouette, over Robotman's right shoulder), Robotman, Uncle Sam, Phantom Lady, Commander Steel, Plastic Man, Starman I, Green Lantern I, Sandman I, Atom I, Flash I, Liberty Belle, Hourman I, and Amazing Man.
I wondered about the mostly-unseen figure over Hourman's left shoulder, and whether it was Johnny Quick or not. Alan Davis said: "Sorry, it's just a quiff to balance the composition."
The Blackhawks first appeared in Military Comics #1. They were a group of men who were survivors of the German and Japanese actions early in World War Two and who banded together and formed a military unit, and flew their charmingly-eccentrically- designed fighters against the Axis forces during the war. The figure seen here is Blackhawk, the leader of the Blackhawk unit. Blackhawk was a Polish-American who joined the Polish resistance as a pilot to fight against the Nazis only to lose his brother and sister to them. He swore vengeance against them and created the identity of the Blackhawk. Note that his crest, the black hawk set against a yellow background, here points to the right; originally, in DC continuity the head faced to the left (Blackhawk's right), but after Howard Chaykin's revision of the character, the head pointed to the right.
Dr. Mid-Nite first appeared in All-American Comics #25. Dr. Charles McNider was blinded when the hireling of the man he was to testify against threw a grenade into the courtroom in which Dr. McNider was to testify. Dr. McNider eventually discovered that the explosion had given him improved night-vision, and after developing goggles that allowed him to see during the day he began fighting crime in costume.
The Star-Spangled Kid first appeared in Star-Spangled Comics #1. Sylvester Pemberton, Jr. was watching a patriotic movie when a group of Nazis started a pro-German demonstration in the theater. Pemberton, along with Pat Dugan, a mechanic and former boxer, stopped the riot. They decided to work together to fight the Nazis; Pemberton put on the costume seen here and became the Star-Spangled Kid and Dugan (not pictured) became Stripesy.
Robotman I first Appeared in Star-Spangled Comics #7. Dr. Robert Crane and his assistant are completing the construction of a mechanical man ("to keep alive a human brain whose owner has died") when some criminals break into the lab in which they are working. Dr. Crane tries to stop them and is gunned down. The thugs mistake the robot for a statue and leave. Crane instructs his assistant to put his brain in the robot body, and begins fighting crime as Robotman.
Uncle Sam first appeared in National Comics #1. Ezra Smith attempts to oppose the Purple Shirts, a group of fascists terrorizing Smith's town. The Purple Shirts gun Smith down, leaving Smith's son Buddy alive. Buddy flees into the desert outside his town and is then greeted by Uncle Sam, who helps Buddy Smith defeat the Purple Shirts and went on to confront and defeat other enemies of America. (When Uncle Sam was acquired by DC Comics he was given a different origin, involving a white-bearded American named Sam being granted, as he lay dying, a vision of the spirit of American freedom in 1777, and Sam and the spirit merging to become Uncle Sam)
Phantom Lady first appeared in Police Comics #1. Sandra Knight was waiting for her father, on the steps of the Capitol, when two thugs attempted to draw their guns, to kidnap or assassinate him. Sandra stopped the thugs (originally with a rolled- up newspaper, in later tellings with her fist). She enjoyed the experience and decided to continue fighting crime, making use of a blackout ray with which she can turn invisible or deprive others of sight (originally sent to her father by a family friend, in later tellings the invention of a man she saved).
Commander Steel first appeared in Steel #1. Hank Heywood joined the Marines in 1939 and was defending a military base against saboteurs when a bomb went off, leaving him in dying. He offered himself up as a guinea pig for an experimental process which saved his life, and he was rebuilt with a mostly-artificial body, making him a cyborg. He put on the costume and began fighting the Nazis, both in America and abroad, as Steel. He was renamed Commander Steel later, by FDR himself.
Plastic Man first appeared in Police Comics #1. The criminal Eel O'Brian (later O'Brien) is shot while robbing a chemical plant. He overturns a vat of acid on himself as he stumbles away from the plant. He is nursed back to health by a monk, who heals both his mind and his body. The newly-reformed Eel O'Brian finds that the acid has made his body rubbery and stretchable. Eel captures his old gang and begins fighting crime as Plastic Man.
Starman I first appeared in Adventure Comics #61. Amateur astronomer Ted Knight discovered a type of unknown cosmic rays which he can focus through his Gravity Rod or Cosmic Rod. Putting on a uniform, he used the Rod to fight crime.
Green Lantern I first appeared in All-American Comics #16. Engineer Alan Scott is the sole survivor of a train wreck; he pulls a lantern from the wreck, and when the lantern begins talking to him he discovers that the lantern is magical and that, once he has constructed a ring from the lantern, he has magical powers for twenty-four hours. He then used the ring to fight crime.
Sandman I first appeared in New York World's Fair Comics #1. Wesley Dodds, a World War One veteran, is driven by dreams to fight crime, and does so with a gasmask and sleep-inducing gas gun.
Atom I first appeared in All-American Comics #19. Al Pratt, down on his luck, buys a meal for a former championship boxer, who trains him and teaches him how to fight. Al Pratt then puts on the costume and fights crime.
Flash I first appeared in Flash Comics #1. Jay Garrick accidentally breaks some glass vials in his lab and inhales "hard vapors." After using his newfound super-speed to impress his girlfriend and win a football game for his college, he puts on costume, complete with charming helmet, and begins fighting crime.
Liberty Belle first appeared in Boy Commandos #1. Libby Lawrence gains fame by escaping from France via the swimming of the English channel. When she returns home to the US, she puts on her costume and begins fighting crime, discovering that when the Liberty Bell, in Philadelphia, is rung, she gains extra speed and strength.
Hourman I first appeared in Adventure Comics #48. Chemist Rex Tyler discovers a chemical compound he names Miraclo, which give him super-powers for an hour at a time. He puts on a costume and begins fighting crime as Hourman.
Amazing Man first appeared in All-Star Squadron #28. Will Everett is subjected to experiments by the villainous Ultra-Humanite; these experiments give him the ability to absorb the property of any material which he touched. After discovering that he has been duped by the Ultra-Humanite he turned on him and joined the All-Star Squadron.
The All-Star Squadron seen here, however, is not quite the same team as is was seen in the pages of All-Star Squadron. Blackhawk did make an appearance in All-Star Squadron but was never formally a member. The continuity All-Star Squadron had a significantly larger number of members; I suppose we can presume that they were members in the world of The Nail, as well, but that we simply don't see them. Originally, pre-Crisis, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, all members of the Justice Society of America, were members of the All-Star Squadron, but post-Crisis, when the existence of the original, Golden Age Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman were deleted, they were replaced.
The attitude described here of the public towards the Golden Age heroes - "they made us feel safe" - is in line with the attitude of the public in DC continuity.
Panel 5. The figure on the left is Ragman, who first appeared in Ragman #1. Rory Regan, the son of a junkman, discovered that his father had been killed by a gangster. Regan put on a costume, made of rags, that his father had made for him, and began to fight crime in the slums of Gotham City.
Alan Davis says, of this panel:
"Ragman is fighting the Apokoliptian storm trooper, Darkseid's agent, who was stranded on Earth in the Cosmic Odyssey. Neither character is Silver Age, and this encounter never took place in *real* continuity. (The Apokoliptian was stranded primarily due to Superman and subsequent encounters involved the Batman)"
"Obviously, in the context of Perry's narration/documentary this image is primarily symbolic but, for anyone who does know Cosmic Odyssey, it is another hint at the altered history and an introduction to the presence of Darkseid's troops on Earth. Aside from that, I like the Ragman and Mignola's creature design."
Page 7. Panel 1. This is our first glimpse of the Justice League of America of The Nail in action. They are fighting The Nail version of Xotar, the Weapons Master. The Weapons Master first appeared in Brave and the Bold #29, which was the second appearance of the JLA. Xotar was a criminal from 11,960 AD who came back to the past to his weaponry against the JLA so that he could conquer the future.
Panels 2-6. I didn't know who the aliens shown here were. Alan Davis said: "ALGOLAN Aliens. JLA #7 or Archives 2."
This is our first glimpse (after the cover) of the Justice League of America of The Nail. They are as follows:
Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman first appeared in All-Star Comics #8. Princess Diana of the Amazons wins a competition among the Amazons and is sent to America to protect and preserve American liberty and peace. (This origin was later changed to make Diana an ambassador of peace to the world, rather than only America)
The Atom II. Atom II first appeared in Showcase #34. Physicist Ray Palmer, with the help of a fragment of a white dwarf star, discovered a way to reduce matter in size; he used this discovery to make himself a lens which would enable him to reduce and enlarge his own size.
The Flash II. Flash II first appeared in Showcase #4. Police scientist Barry Allen was working in a police lab when a bolt of lightning struck him and a cabinet of chemicals, which doused him; Allen discovered that the accident had somehow given him superspeed.
Aquaman. Aquaman first appeared in More Fun Comics #73. Arthur Curry is the child of Tom curry, a human lighthouse keeper, and an Atlantean woman; because of his strange, mutant physiology Arthur Curry has certain superpowers, which he uses as Aquaman to fight crime.
Hawkman II and Hawkwoman. (Hawkman is not named here, for reasons which will soon become apparent, but is shown flying next to Hawkwoman). Hawkman II and Hawkwoman first appeared in Brave and the Bold #34. Katar Hol and Shayera Thal, of the planet Thanagar, are members of the Thanagarian police force; they came to Earth in pursuit of a Thanagarian criminal. Once here they used their advanced science to fight crime on Earth as they had on Thanagar.
Green Lantern II. Green Lantern II first appeared in Showcase #22. Test pilot Hal Jordan is transported from his trainer to the crash site of an alien spaceship; the alien tells him that he, Hal Jordan, has been chosen to receive the power ring of the Guardians of the Universe and to become a member of the interstellar police force, the Green Lantern Corps. Hal Jordan, being no fool, accepts.
J'Onn J'Onzz, the Martian Manhunter. J'Onn J'Onzz first appeared in Detective Comics #225. J'Onn J'Onzz, a Martian, is pulled from his planet by accident by the misdoings of Professor Erdel. J'Onzz, with no way to return home, decides to stay on Earth and fight crime (something obsolete on his own planet).
The Batman. The Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27. Bruce Wayne witnesses the murders of his parents by a thief; this drives him to become the greatest detective and crime-fighter in the world.
The description of the JLA members in panels 3-6 is mostly accurate, insofar as it goes. Aquaman is the king of the oceans, having been appointed king of Atlantis when the previous king died. Hawkwoman is a literal alien. Green Lantern II is a member of an alien police force. J'Onn J'Onzz is a Martian. However, the slant put on the descriptions is a hostile one, fitting the xenophobic world of The Nail. And the Batman is neither alien nor demon, although the mystery surrounding his true nature is understandable, given the degree to which he has traditionally avoided the spotlight.
Page 8. Panel 1. Green Arrow II seems to have been one of the original members of the JLA of The Nail (we've no way of knowing what the founding lineup of the JLA was in the world of The Nail, but the narration certainly seems to imply that the members shown here were the original members).
Green Arrow II first appeared in Adventure Comics #250. Oliver Queen is thrown overboard while on a South Seas cruise and washes ashore on a deserted island. To survive he learns how to hunt with bow and arrow. While being rescued he discovers a mutiny and stops it, and uses his archery skills to fight crime in civilization.
This line-up is different in some obvious ways from the original roster of the continuity JLA. Originally, in Brave and the Bold #28, the founding members of the JLA were Superman, Batman, Flash II, Green Lantern II, J'Onn J'Onzz, Aquaman, and Wonder Woman; they first formed to stop the attacks of the Appellax aliens. In current DC continuity the founding members of the JLA were Aquaman, Green Lantern II, Black Canary II, J'Onn J'Onzz, and Flash II.
Obviously, the JLA of The Nail would lack Superman. Green Arrow II did not join the continuity JLA until issue #4. Hawkman II did not join the continuity JLA until issue #31; Hawkwoman did not join the continuity JLA until issue #146; Atom II, too, was not a founding member of the continuity JLA, but joined in issue #14. Green Arrow, Hawkman II, and Hawkwoman were were not members of the JLA, in DC continuity, when the JLA fought the Weapons Master.
Alan Davis said:
"This League banded together much like the original Silver Age grouping - Minus Superman, of course - and with an earlier enlistment of Green Arrow, who had already adopted his Adams' revamp, along with Black Canary, Hawkman and Hawkwoman."
"These, and all other inconsistencies can be explained by simply accepting that, in Superman's absences, different characters have followed their established evolution at different rates. (Aside from that, this is my story and I can do what I want.)"
Panel 2. Amazo first appeared in Brave and the Bold #30. The criminal Professor Ivo constructed an android which gained the abilities of the JLA and became one of their most powerful recurring enemies. His costume here is different from his DC continuity costume.
Page 9. Oliver Queen's attitude here, one of rabid distrust for the heroes, is not part of DC continuity, and is an extension of the xenophobia and anti-vigilante nature of the world of The Nail, but the DC continuity Oliver Queen was this cranky, just about other matters.
I said that I thought Oliver Queen's missing right arm was an homage to the Oliver Queen of The Dark Knight Returns, who lost his arm in combat with Superman. Alan Davis said:
"No. Obviously I had read The Dark Knight Returns but I had forgotten Green Arrow was even in that story. If, for whatever reason, I had intended a homage I would have amputated the same arm. Taking an archer's arm is the clearest way to disempower them. Oliver Queen's condition is a story point to establish that this Elseworlds is darker and nastier than the Silver Age because of Superman's absence. Not only would Green Arrow have been saved if Superman had been there [AND Hawkman too. Don't overlook his death as this Elseworld's media did.] but without Superman's wholesome, clean cut goodness things aren't so rosy."
"On the subject of homage, this whole series is a homage to the creators of all the characters that inhabit it and the DC Universe. I had hoped taht the inner cover of each book would list them and the characters' first appearance but this wasn't considered viable for the series but may happen if the three books are reprinted as a single volume. There aren't any other hidden meanings although, I'm sure once readers start looking they'll find them everywhere."
Page 10. This is the headquarters of the JLA. In DC continuity the JLA's first headquarters were inside a mountain outside the town of Happy Harbor, on the East Coast of the US. (Happy Harbor was later identified as being in Rhode Island). It appears, given the rock background of this room, that the JLA's headquarters in The Nail are also inside this mountain.
Alan Davis says, about this: "I intended this to be the League's original HQ but I didn't want to tie myself to a precise geographical location."
The costumes of some of the heroes are altered in various ways. J'Onn J'Onzz's costume in DC continuity has the crossed red stripes, but they are smaller, and only meet at the horizontal belt, unlike the upturned stripes here. The belt-zigzag-stripe on Flash II's costume was more horizontal in DC continuity; his costume here is similar to the current, in-continuity costume of Flash III. Aquaman's hair, in DC continuity, was much shorter. Hawkwoman's costume here is new; previously, in DC continuity, she wore a yellow v-necked blouse, with no stripe or hawk-crest (this version is superior, I think).
Alan Davis says, about this:
"I had always planned to tweak a few of the Silver Age costumes because some things like the Flash's angled belt (and Robin's logo) are aesthetically more pleasing with the recent/modern revisions. However, although I love the character of J'onn J'onzz I have always found his costume clunky. I tried to streamline the design, making it more organic (as befits the fact it is part of him. It is not clothing) while retaining the general look of the original."
"With Hawkwoman, I could never figure whether, or how, her wings were supposed to be attached to her or her halter neck top."
"I also wanted to make the Hawkwoman costume a little more like a military uniform."
Page 12. Panel 4. Wonder Woman's costume here is new.
Page 13. Panel 6. Lois Lane is, in DC continuity, the wife of Clark Kent (aka Superman), and is an honored journalist. It makes sense that, in the world of The Nail, without the competition of Clark Kent, she would be that much more famous and accomplished.
Page 14. The group seen here, and on page 15, are the Outsiders. In DC continuity the Outsiders were formed after the Batman had quit the JLA over their unwillingness to intervene in a conflict in the country of Markovia. Batman traveled to Markovia with Black Lightning in an attempt to rescue a friend and employee of Batman; while in Markovia the Batman discovered several other superhuman beings. The group saved Markovia and decided, afterwards, to remain a group of crime fighters, under the name The Outsiders.
In DC continuity the Outsiders were Batman, Black Lightning, Geo-Force, Halo, Katana, Looker, and Metamorpho. In the continuity of The Nail they seem to have been Black Canary, Black Lightning, Shade II, Katana, Geo-Force, and Metamorpho.
Panel 1. The "M" on the side of the plane most likely stands for "Markovia," the home country of Outsiders member Geo-Force.
Panel 2. Black Lightning first appeared in Black Lightning v1 #1. Jefferson Pierce, seeing the widespread crime in Metropolis' Suicide Slum, used the electronic power belt designed for him by a friend to fight crime in Suicide Slum and to stop the corruption of his students. His costume here is similar to his original costume, rather than the one he wore in his second series. Shade II first Appeared in Shade, the Changing Man #1. Rac Shade, native of the other-dimensional world of Meta, was an agent of the Metan secret service. Shade was framed, on Meta, for attempted murder and treason, and was sent by an accident into the Zero-Zone, from which he escaped to Earth. Shade was never a member of the Outsiders in DC continuity.
Katana first appeared in Brave and the Bold #200. Tatsu Yamashiro, a bookstore owner, was engaged to be married to the brother of a member of the Yakuza. The Yakuza member, jealous of his brother, killed his brother and Tatsu's entire family. Tatsu swore vengeance and began fighting crime. Katana's hair in DC continuity, is much straighter, unlike the more feathered look here.
Alan Davis says:
"I drew Batman and the Outsiders from #22-35. I've tried to be faithful to my versions of the characters. Including my revision of Katana. Her spiky hairstyle was inspired by the crests of Samurai/Somen armoured masks."
Panel 4. Black Canary II also seems to have been one of the original members of the JLA of The Nail. Black Canary II first appeared in Justice League of America v1 #75; Dinah Laurel Lance is the daughter of the Golden Age Black Canary and follows in her mother's crime-fighting footsteps. (She was originally, in JLA #75, the original, GA Black Canary, but successive redoings of her origin have left her as the daughter of Black Canary I)
Page 15. Panel 2. Metamorpho, mentioned but not seen here, first appeared in Brave and the Bold #57. Explorer and adventurer Rex Mason ventured into the lost pyramid of Ahk-Ton and was exposed to the emanations of the Orb of Ra, which altered his molecular makeup and gave him the ability to change his body into an element and shape he can imagine.
Panel 3. Geo-Force first appeared in Brave and the Bold #200. Brion Markov, Prince of Markovia, was given superpowers in order to put down the revolt in Markovia. In DC continuity Geo-Force's facemask leaves more of his forehead bare, and the "G F" of his logo takes up less room in the logo oval.
Simon Stagg, mentioned here by Geo-Force, is the sometime-employer, sometime-nemesis of Metamorpho; as Black Canary points out, Stagg has been involved in criminal activities in the past, both in DC continuity and, apparently, in NAIL continuity. Sapphire is the daughter of Simon Stagg and the wife of Metamorpho.
Panel 4. The non-interference aspect of the Outsiders' charter is new. Alan Davis says, about this:
"I don't think the `non-interference aspect' is new. It just hadn't been revealed as such. I'm sure Mike Barr conceived of the notion and used it to motivate the Outsiders' unusual group dynamic."
Page 16. Panel 6. Perry White, in DC continuity, is a respected journalist; his acting unethically, as a scaremonger, is new.
Page 18. Panel 1. Arkham Asylum, in DC continuity, is the prison in which the insane costumed criminals are kept.
Panel 2. The doctor shown here is a new character. Alan Davis says:
"I originally planned to use Hugo Strange in this role but it seemed too much of a stretch without some background to explain his transformation."
Catwoman II first appeared in Detective Comics #369. Selina Kyle, bored with her life, decided to turn to crime for kicks, and adopted a cat costume out of her affection for cats. Panel 3. Catwoman's costume, in the middle picture, is identical to her 1940s costume, which she also used in her early 1980s Batman backups; the costume she is wearing in this sequence is the costume she currently, in DC continuity, wears. The costume on the left is one that she wore, in DC continuity, for only six issues, starting in Batman #210. The costume on the right is quite similar to the one Catwoman wore in Detective Comics #369, which was based on Julie Newmar's TV show version, although Davis has changed the collar from green to white.
Page 19. Panel 1. Catwoman's desire for and pursuit of the Batman is a long-running standard of DC continuity, although I believe it has been toned down currently.
Panel 2. The "Commissioner Gordon" referred to here is James Gordon, who in DC continuity is the Commissioner of the Gotham Police Department. His murder is obviously a part of NAIL continuity, rather than DC continuity.
The "new powers" mentioned here are not a part of DC continuity. In DC continuity the police of Gotham City, and of the US generally, have essentially the same powers and limitations as the police in the real world. Given the general xenophobia of the world of The Nail, it makes sense that they would be given greater powers, in order to deal with what are seen as basic threats to society.
Panel 3. Catwoman's characterization of the Batman - as the "only credible defense Gotham has" against supervillains and crime in general - is essentially the same way he is characterized in DC continuity.
Page 20. The lineup of criminals seen here is the Rogues Gallery of the Batman. All of the members are presumably the same as their DC continuity counterparts. They are: Joker, Two-Face, the Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, the Riddler, Penguin, Croc, Poison Ivy, and Clayface III.
The Joker first appeared in Batman #1. A nameless lab worker, committing crime in the identity of the Red Hood, swam through a mass of chemicals in an attempt to escape from the Batman. He found that the chemicals had permanently dyed his hair, skin, and face, and the shock of his new appearance drove him insane.
Two-Face first appeared in Detective Comics #66. Attorney Harvey Dent was prosecuting a case against mob figure Boss Maroni when Maroni hurled a vial of acid in Dent's face, permanently scarring him. Dent, driven insane by his disfigurement, fixated on a silver coin which Maroni had always carried with him, and developed an obsession with duality.
The Mad Hatter first appeared in Batman #49. Master criminal Jervis Tetch is called the Mad hatter due to his obsession with hats and his resemblance to the Tenniel illustration of the Mad Hatter in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. He never had a mustache during the Golden Age, but he did during the Silver Age.
Scarecrow first appeared in World's Finest Comics #3. Jonathan Crane, a professor of psychology, had been obsessed with fear since his childhood, and decided, after hearing himself mocked by his students, to turn to crime as a way in which to gain more money and thereby gain more respect.
The Riddler first appeared in Detective Comics #140. Edward Nigma, dishonest in his use of games and riddles all his life, began using his obsession with riddles in his crimes.
The Penguin first appeared in Detective Comics #58. Oswald Cobblepot, taunted since childhood due to his appearance and penguin-like waddle, turned to crime to revenge himself on society after the foreclosure of his family's bird shop.
Croc first appeared in Batman #357. Waylon Jones, cursed with a hereditary disease which gave him scaly skin and a reptilian appearance, was tormented all his life by others because of his appearance until he finally just went bad. His appearance her is different from that of the continuity Croc.
Poison Ivy first appeared in Batman #181. Botanist Pamela Isley, poisoned by her supposed fiancee, was somehow thereby made immune to poisons; the poisoning seemingly drove her insane and led her to adopt the identity of Poison Ivy, using her interest in plants in the course of her crimes.
Clayface III first appeared in Detective Comics #478. Preston Payne, a victim of acromegaly, was attempting to find a cure for his condition when he isolated an enzyme from the blood of Clayface II, who was superhumanly malleable and could alter his appearance. The enzyme, however, made Payne's own feature run uncontrollably, and made his own body secrete an enzyme which reduces whatever Payne touches to protoplasm. Payne melted one of his dates in this manner, and the guilt of this act drove him insane.
Page 21. Panel 1. The villains mentioned here are all, as Wonder Woman says of Ra's al Ghul, capable of such an intricate scheme.
Ra's al Ghul is, in DC continuity, a Batman enemy; first appearing in Batman #232, he is the leader of a vast, worldwide criminal organization devoted to protecting and righting the eco- balance of the Earth. (This aim usually entails the planned deaths of many people).
The Thinker is, in DC continuity, a Golden Age Flash (Flash I) opponent; he first appeared in All-Flash #12. D.A. Clifford Devoe, embittered by his inability to prosecute a notorious bootlegger, decided that crime did in fact pay and that he would make it pay for him. To assist him in his crimes he made himself a thinking cap which raised his intellect, while he wore it, to superhuman levels as well as giving him psionic powers.
Kobra has, in DC continuity, fought many heroes, including the Batman & the Outsiders and most recently Flash III. He first appeared in Kobra #1; an American, he was kidnaped as an infant and raised by a cult of cobra-worshiping fanatics who believed he was their chosen leader.
Sinestro is, in DC continuity, a Green Lantern II enemy; he first appeared in Green Lantern v2 #7. Sinestro, an alien from the planet Korugar, was a member of the Green Lantern corps but was soon seduced by the power of the ring and became a tyrant on his home planet, at which point the Guardians of the Universe punished him by banishing him to the planet Qward. Sinestro was supposed to learn what happens to those who are ruled by evil, but instead used the planet to help him achieve universal conquest.
Interestingly, with the exception of Sinestro, all of the criminals referred to here are mentioned by the heroes they traditionally (that is, in DC continuity books) did not face. It would seem that the history of the JLA and heroes of The Nail is more tangled and involved than it was at this point (presumably year one of the JLA's history) in DC continuity.
Alan Davis says: "This is one of the few hints I could give to the altered history without laboring the point, and..."
Panel 4. Wonder Woman's words here indicate the most obvious effect of Superman's absence on the Metropolis of The Nail, and drive home the point of the verse which gave The Nail its name.
Alan Davis says,
"`Drive the point home' YOOWCH!! (Sorry - Annotator) As above, the reader knows Superman should have protected Metropolis."
Page 23. Panel 6. I do not know who the hero or villain/alien on the poster are meant to be; the hero might be the Atom II. Alan Davis says:
"The poster doesn't show any particular character(s). It would be too limiting and specific for any broad propaganda."
Lois Lane's words - "a champion of truth and justice" - unconsciously (on her part) echo the traditional description of Superman as the "champion of truth, justice, and the American way."
Page 24. Panel 1. Star City, in DC continuity, was the base of operations of Black Canary II and Green Arrow II; Wonder Woman, who in DC continuity operated out of Boston and Washington, DC, seems to have chosen it as her home.
Alan Davis says: "J'onn is based in Star City. Not Wonder Woman."
Page 25. Panel 1. Central City, in DC continuity, was the base of operations of Flash II.
The casual attitude with which Ray Palmer and Barry Allen change from their costumes to their civilian identities is different from the DC continuity JLA, whose members did not know each other's identities for many issues.
Alan Davis says: "See page 8:1."
Page 26. Panel 1. In DC continuity Codsville, Maine, was the small fishing village for the Doom Patrol sacrificed themselves, in Doom Patrol v1 #121; Captain Zahl and Madame Rouge threatened to blow up Codsville unless the Doom Patrol let themselves be killed by the nefarious duo.
Page 27. The group shown here, the Doom Patrol, first appeared in My Greatest Adventure #80. They were formed when the wheelchair-bound genius Niles Caulder summoned three "victims of a cruel and fantastic fate" together and asked them to join him in using their handicaps to help people.
Panel 1. Midway City, in DC continuity, was the base of operations of both Hawkman II/Hawkwoman and the Doom Patrol.
Panel 2. The members of the Doom Patrol are as follows:
Negative Man. He first appeared in My Greatest Adventure #80. Larry Trainor, a test pilot, was flying an experimental plane when its controls jammed and propelled him through a radiation belt in space. Trainor discovered that, simply by wishing, he could summon an energy being - the Negative Man - from his body. He eventually was wrapped in radiation-proof plastic bandages, as seen here.
Mento. He first appeared in Doom Patrol v1 #91. Steven Dayton, a millionaire, wished to impress Rita Farr (see Elasti-Girl, below), and so devoted his research towards the development of the Mento helmet, which allowed him to harness and direct his latent psychokinetic abilities. Using the helmet, he assumed the costumed identity of Mento and eventually joined the Doom Patrol, although he never officially became a member.
Elasti-Girl. She first appeared in My Greatest Adventure #80. Rita Farr, an actress, was exposed to chemical vapors which allowed her to shrink or grow at will. Mento's hand on her back, and her hand on his knee, most likely means that they are at least dating, or may even have married, as they did in DC continuity, in Doom Patrol v1 #104.
Robotman II. He first appeared in My Greatest Adventure #80. Sportsman Cliff Steele was badly injured in a racing car accident; Niles Caulder transferred his brain into a robot body, and Cliff Steele became Robotman II.
Chief. He first appeared in My Greatest Adventure #80. Niles Caulder, a brilliant scientist, discovered that the man who had been funding his research into immortality was actually the notorious criminal General Immortus. When Caulder attacked Immortus he wound up being paralyzed. Caulder gathered together a group of other physical misfits and formed the heroic team the Doom Patrol.
Beast Boy. He first appeared in Doom Patrol v1 #99. Garfield Logan, as a child, caught Sakutia, a rare tropical disease. To save him, his father treated him with an experimental machine, which turned his skin green and gave him the ability to change into the shape of any animal. (Logan later changed his name to the Changeling and joined the New Teen Titans)
Alan Davis says:
"Beast Boy has a green face here as opposed to the classic purple colouration so that his transformation into a gorilla looks, in comic terms, more obvious."
Panel 3. The individuals the Chief refers to here were the greatest enemies of the Doom Patrol.
The Brotherhood of Evil first appeared in Doom Patrol v1 #86. They were gathered together by the disembodied brain The Brain for the purpose of conquering the Earth. In DC continuity their membership included the Brain, Monsieur Mallah, Madame Rouge, Garguax, General Immortus, Houngan, Phobia, Plasmus, and Warp.
General Immortus first appeared in My Greatest Adventure #80. A very long time ago a man who later became known as Immortus gained a supply of chemicals that gave him immortality. He used his immortality to create a world-wide crime network.
Captain Zahl was a Nazi war criminal who joined forces with Madame Rouge some time after the Brotherhood of Evil first formed. In DC continuity he was originally a Captain, then later promoted himself to Colonel and then General.
Panel 4. "...and rumors from the criminal underworld suggest they have been eliminated as part of a takeover by a single, super powerful...alien..." This is what is known in literary circles as foreshadowing. Alan Davis says: "Also known as a RED HERRING...or is it?"
Page 28. Panel 2. Beast Boy was eating bananas on page 28, so it makes sense (sorta) that he'd turn into a gorilla here.
Panel 3. Mark Coale points out that Beast Boy's unconscious-gorilla face is quite reminiscent of the Bob Oskner books. Alan Davis says: "I am embarrassed to say although I have heard of Bob Oskner, I can't recall any particulars of his style or if I have ever seen his work. This doesn't mean the influence isn't there. All artists cross pollinate and although most readers recognise the surface influence of Neal Adams, Gil Kane, Frank Bellamy...etc, in my work, I am still affected by earlier influence of Mike Sekowsky, Bruno Premiani, Steve Ditko and many more. Some of whom I never knew the name."
Bob Oskner was the artist who did (among other things) the Silver Age Adventures of Dobie Gillis & Adventures of Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis.
Page 29. The being defeating Negative Man & Robotman might be Metamorpho (mentioned above, on pages 14 & 15); he is a shapeshifter, and could transform into elemental bodies that would hurt the Negative Man and melt Robotman, as well as the gas shown in panel 5. Alan Davis says: "Of course."
Page 30. Panel 2. Harvey Bullock first appeared in Batman #361. He has always been portrayed as a slob, similar to his appearance here. In DC continuity he is a long-time detective and assistant to James Gordon, Gotham's Police Commissioner, so it makes a certain amount of sense that, in the world of The Nail, with Gordon having been murdered, Bullock would become Commissioner.
Batgirl first appeared in Detective Comics #359. In DC continuity Barbara Gordon (the daughter of James Gordon) saved Bruce Wayne from being kidnaped and discovered that she enjoyed the excitement and danger, and decided to fight crime full- time as Batgirl. The Batgirl of The Nail may be Barbara Gordon, although at this point we've no way of knowing. (Yes, I know about Betty Kane, the first Bat-Girl, but she's not relevant here).
Robin first appeared in Detective Comics #38. Dick Grayson's parents were killed by a mob boss, and Grayson helped the Batman capture the gangster. Bruce Wayne became Dick Grayson's guardian, and Grayson put on the costume of Robin and became the Batman's sidekick. In DC continuity there have been three Robins: Dick Grayson, Jason Todd (who was killed by the Joker) and Tim Drake, the current Robin. At this point we do not know which one is the Robin of The Nail. Robin's logo here is that of the modern DC continuity Robin, rather than that of the Golden or Silver age version.
Alan Davis says:
"Yes. This is Barbara and Dick. Both Wards of Bruce Wayne. Barbara joined the Wayne household after Commissioner Gordon died. The story would become too dense if every detail was included. I stuck to what I thought essential and let the reader draw their own conclusions about the rest."
Page 32. Panel 1. Hal Jordan's words here are his oath, which he recites every time he recharges his ring.
Panel 3. The Guardians of the Universe, who run the Green Lantern Corps and power their rings, are located on the planet Oa, which is located at the center of the universe. They plotted out an imaginary globe stretching far out into space, with Oa at its center, and divided this globe into 3600 segments. Each member of the 3600-member strong Green Lantern Corps is assigned one of these segments, which is theirs to patrol and protect. The segment containing Earth is Sector 2814.
Page 33. Panel 2. Star Sapphire II first appeared in Green Lantern v2 #16. Carol Ferris, the employer of Hal Jordan and owner of Ferris Aircraft, was traveling the world when she was selected by the Zamarons (a race of immortal Oan women warriors) and given a star sapphire gem, which granted Ferris magical powers. She opposed Hal Jordan as a proxy for the Zamarons. In DC continuity Hal Jordan knew that Carol Ferris was Star Sapphire from the very beginning. Hal Jordan did not tell Ferris/Sapphire that he was also the Green Lantern until much later, however.
Page 34. Panel 1. In DC continuity the Zamarons lived on the planet Zamaron, to which they'd migrated after splitting with the male Oans.
Page 35. Panel 1. Adam Strange first appeared in Showcase #17. Archaeologist Adam Strange was struck by a Zeta Beam, sent from the planet Rann to communicate with Earth. The Zeta Beam instead transported Strange to Rann, where he became the hero of the planet and the lover of Alanna, the daughter Sardath, of Rann's chief scientist.
Page 40. Both Batgirl and Robin, in DC continuity, were victims of the Joker; Barbara Gordon, the DC-continuity Batgirl, was rendered paraplegic by the Joker in Alan Moore's The Killing Joke (1988), and Robin II (Jason Todd) was beaten to death by the Joker in Batman #428. Their fate here may seem like a metatextual homage on Davis' part, but he says otherwise:
"No! This is not a homage. It's wish fulfilment. I wanted to have Batman kill the Joker - It bugged me that Bats had never considered killing off the Joker to save all of his future victims. He was clearly a psychopath who was always sure to escape from Arkham and slaughter more innocents - But, to anyone unfamiliar with the Joker's record, Batman had to have sufficient motivation.
Page 41. Panel 1. Apokolips, in DC continuity, is one of two planets (along with New Genesis, also mentioned here) that formed from the remnants of the home of the Old Gods, after that world, and the Old Gods themselves, were destroyed in a final great war. Apokolips and New Genesis are now the homes of the New Gods. Apokolips is the home planet of the evil god Darkseid; it first appeared in New Gods #1.
Panel 2. Parademons (seen in the view screen) are the nearly mindless cannon fodder that make up the mass of Darkseid's armies. A Boom Tube is a teleportation device by which those of Apokolips and New Genesis travel. The "x-element" was used to invent the Boom Tubes, and seems to fuel them.
Panel 3. Desaad is the chief torturer and very craven lackey and lickspittle of Darkseid.
Panel 5. The individuals arrayed here are some of the most powerful and evil members of Apokolips - a literal murderer's row. They are: Dr. Beldam, Slig, Mantis, Virmin Vundabar, Darkseid, Granny Goodness, Kanto, and Glorious Godfrey.
Dr. Bedlam is one of Darkseid's scientists.
Slig is the leader of the Deep Six, who are aquatic agents of Darkseid. He, and they, appeared in New Gods v1 #2.
Mantis is another of the evils of Apokolips, although he has been more of an ally to Darkseid than an underling. He first appeared in Forever People #2.
Virmin Vundabar is a leader of Darkseid's troops. He first appeared in Mister Miracle #5.
Darkseid is an evil god and the ruler of Apokolips; he first appeared in Jimmy Olsen #134.
Granny Goodness is the psychopathic ruler of the "orphanages" of Apokolips, where the children of Apokolips are trained to follow and worship Darkseid. She first appeared in Mister Miracle #2.
Kanto is Darkseid's chief assassin.
Glorious Godfrey is a master orator used by Darkseid to spread dissension and strife. He first appeared in Forever People #3.
Page 42. Panel 1. More of the New Gods: a Parademon, Amazing Grace, Brola, Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Kalibak, and Darkseid.
Amazing Grace is the sister of Glorious Godfrey. She first appeared in Superman v2 #3.
Brola is a member of Darkseid's forces. I know nothing about him. Alan Davis, correcting my initial error of identifying Brola as Stompa, says:
"Not Stompa. BROLA (Who boasts a lethal hand of stone - that looks like a fist with a brick)"
Mr. Miracle first appeared in Mister Miracle #1. He is the son of Izaya Highfather (the opposite of Darkseid), and was raised in one of Granny Goodness' "orphanages." He is the world's greatest escape artist, which explains the complex rig that the Apokoliptians are restraining him in.
Big Barda was the leader of the Female Furies before falling in love with Scott Free (Mr. Miracle) and joining the forces of New Genesis. She first appeared in Mister Miracle #4. Kalibak is the brutish son of Darkseid. He first appeared in New Gods #1.
Page 43. Panel 1. Metron is a member of the New Gods; he is from New Genesis, but has always had a more ambiguous morality, which belies Darkseid's words here. Metron first appeared in New Gods #1.
Alan Davis says:
"Metron. Re: the earlier encounter of the Ragman and Darkseid's agent. (Page 6.5) This encounter altered events that led Metron to side more closely with Izaya - or at least that is how Darkseid sees it. His morality is no less ambiguous than previously established."
"As previously noted, the Nail story is too dense to incorporate every detail - even though I did chart a rough alternate history, some of which survived into the early drafts of the plot but a lot was discarded as the story coalesced."
Page 44. Panel 2. Francis Bacon is an English painter of nightmarish, half-realistic images.
Thanks to: Elayne Wechsler-Chaput, for approaching me about this in the first place, and acting as a go-between with Mr. Davis; Alan Davis, obviously, for writing The Nail, and for letting me run this by him; Mark Coale, as always, for answering all sorts of questions and catching any number of things I missed, among them continuity matters and costume alterations; John Moret & Michael Standish, from the JLA list, for answering my question about Xotar the Weapons Master; Owen, for catching still more of my mistakes; Tom Galloway, for correcting my Doom Patrol, Midway City, Captain Zahl, Black Canary, and Amazing Grace mistakes; Michael Standish, for correcting my Hawk-errors and passing on additional Red Devil information; Yeechang Lee, for correcting Luthor's postboot status; Dale Hicks, for various things; Sean, for i.d.ing Amazing Grace; Louise Freeman; Dan Thompson, for giving me info on the Blackhawk crest; Dave van Domelen for various comments; and Sasha for her comment about Scott Free.
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