Make It So: DC – The Manga Universe 3 by Jerry Whitworth and Matt Eldridge
Over the past seven years, Jerry Whitworth and Matt Eldridge have offered their interpretations of manga versions of the DC Universe. In their first installment, they tackled Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, and Cyborg drawing inspiration from the likes of Dragon Ball, Kamen Rider, Urusei Yatsura, Super Sentai, Durarara!!, and Battle Angel Alita. In 2017, they produced a follow-up with Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Shazam, Green Arrow, Hellblazer, and Mr. Terrific as Marine Boy, Dr. Slump, Saint Seiya, Umineko When They Cry, and Black Butler offered jumping off points to mash-up. This time, another six brands will be re-interpreted in the Atom, Firestorm, Black Lightning, Suicide Squad, Plastic Man, and the Justice League.
Rei Jun was a biophysics student intern at Tokyo University of Science under Professor Alpheus Hyatt studying a newly discovered form of ambient radiation with startling properties that, if uncovered, could be an immense source of energy. During an experiment trying to explore this energy, Jun found himself transported to the world of Morlaidh. Caught in the middle of a war between the Katarthans and Dryads, Jun discovers he has the strength of 100 men. Siding with the Katarthans and their lovely princess Laethwen, Jun defeated the Dryad king Woodrue, returning power to their princess Maya, their rightful ruler. Seeking a way back to his home world, Jun embarked on a journey joined by Laethwen and Mynah, a giant bird Jun saved and made prosthetic wings for it to fly again. Crossing paths with the Bat-Knights of Elvana, Bug-Eyed Bandits, Panther Men, Ion Mask, Cult of M’Nagalah, Catamoore the Nation of Magic, and Gestalt the Nation of Science, Jun learned of a being who seemingly tapped into the radiation he investigated named Kronos. After defeating Kronos’ champion Dwarfstar, Jun discovered the secret of Kronos, Morlaidh, and the mysterious energy. Armed with this knowledge, he has to decide the fate of two worlds. What more, what is the Bleed and what secrets do new worlds like Htrae, Angor, Moz-Ga, and Transilvane hold?
While on a school trip to the Zither Research Institute, foreign exchange student Jason Rusch and his classmates Ryo Reimon and Leiko Reilei are present when ZRI’s head scientist Roger Zither transformed into a monstrous being of fire called Helix. Running for their lives, Reimon hid in an experimental atomic accelerator as Rusch tried to find him, warning him of the danger they were in. Activated in the confusion, Reimon and Rusch merged into a being of fire. Before they could try to come to terms with what happened, they saw Reilei about to be burned by Helix and stepped in to defeat him. Becoming the hero Firestorm, Rusch and Reimon became a target of the organization called the 2000. Escaping capture by the likes of Bazooka Junko, Obake, Memai, Multiplex, Slipknot, and Hyena, the friends stumble upon Martin Stein, a former researcher of the 2000 who revealed the group plotted world domination by assembling the five elementals of nature under their control. Having already created Suna no Akuma, Stratos, Typhoon, and Goldenrod which control earth, wind, water, and wood (as well as an unofficial elemental in Frost), the group sought the final element of fire. By chance, the group targeted Zither the same day as the class trip giving birth to Firestorm who they felt was their missing component.
After consistent failure at capturing Firestorm, the 2000 decided to renew its own experiments in creating a fire elemental giving rise to Aurora, Corona, Pozhar, Hurricane, Rakshasi, and Zhuque before Reilei was inevitably transformed into Hitaka. Fortunately, Stein was able to restore Reilei’s mind putting her in control of her powers. Fed up, Firestorm and Hitaka targeted the 2000 directly, defeating their four elementals. With little other course, the organization’s enigmatic leader Breathtaker used their research to transform into Tokamak, a fire elemental of immense power. Having restored the minds of the various fire-bred victims of the 2000, Stein transformed himself into a fire being and led the others against Tokamak alongside Firestorm and Hitaka, defeating the 2000 for good. But, the defeat of the 2000 gave rise to their true master, the Orisha-Nla.
Dark counterparts of ancient deities imprisoned for 2000 years, the Orisha-Nla reached out to Breathtaker and granted him power to form his organization to prepare the world for their return. With his failure, the group took a direct hand in sacking Earth, defeating all of the fire elementals save Firestorm. Escaping their assault, the Orisha-Nla transformed school bully Kurou Karumika into Arashikage, a dark double of Firestorm, to hunt their prey. When Karumika proved to be more bluster than practice and couldn’t kill his foe, he was stripped of his power and an entity called Arashishin was born. Unhindered by human emotion, Arashishin was death incarnate. Combating him, Firestorm unleashed a new power to split apart into two forms and defeated their shadow. The while, the Japan Self-Defense Forces analyzed Tokamak and the 2000’s research. Desperate to take back their country, Captain Nataku Atomu underwent an experiment to grant him atomic powers. Joining Firestorm, Captain Atomu helped combat the Orisha-Nla.
An English teacher who chose to work abroad in Japan, Jefferson Pierce was surprised to cross paths with another American in Lynn Stewart. Beginning a relationship, the couple’s romance lasted for several months until Stewart mysteriously disappeared as if into thin air. Years passed until Stewart returned, bringing Pierce two daughters named Anissa and Jennifer. Revealing herself to be the reincarnation of the goddess Izanami, she revealed Pierce was a special person born under a unique astral alignment. Their children would act as a bridge between their worlds but that they are in danger, that Pierce must protect them. Before he can say anything, Stewart touched his forehead unlocking a power deep inside him. Full of questions and left with two daughters as Stewart disappeared as quickly as she appeared, Pierce becomes the target of various divine-empowered beings. Wielding the awesome power of lightning, Pierce fought the likes of Warhog, Annihilist, Agent Orange, Duke, Nuclear Family, and Painkiller. When their servants failed, the deities descended themselves to intervene.
Over the course of his struggles, Pierce gained allies in Tatsu Yamashiro (a sword maiden in the service of Izanami), Rex Mason (a mercenary transformed to face Pierce but who side with him instead), and Brion Markov (a demi-god from Europe drawn to the divine conflict). The battles also drew the attention of the 100, a faction of the Yakuza lead by Tobi Kujira (a former yokozuna). Wanting to enslave the demi-gods for his own purposes, Kujira sent Ishmael and Queequeg, Steelfist, Demolition, Cyclotronic, Johnny Stitches, and the Syonide twins before involving himself. As for the deities, they sent the New Olympians and Masters of Disaster before the Court of Kobra itself emerged, lead by the serpentine Sssearr who instigated the conflict against the reborn Izanami and her daughters. When it appeared Pierce and his allies were beaten and Sssearr threatened to consume Anissa and Jennifer, Izanami appeared and sacrificed herself to deal a serious blow to the snake god so that Pierce could finish him off. Following the battle, an amnesiac Lynn Stewart emerged now with blonde hair calling herself Gabrielle, seemingly having lost her divine power.
With the increased attacks on Japan from various entities be it international, intergalactic, or internal, the Japan Self-Defense Forces coordinated with CIA liaison Amanda Waller to create a clandestine organization known as Task Force X. Lead in the field by JSDF Captain Riku Kokki, the group recruited criminals like Deadshot, Boomerang Buuma, Werner Zytle, Shade Black, Frost, King Shark, Parasite-Man, and Giman. Implanted with miniature explosives at the base of their skulls, the felons took on dangerous jobs that commuted their sentences over time. Their first assignment was to face a fire elemental in Brimstone made from the 2000’s technology. However, their missions were typically of a more covert nature such as stopping a terrorist attack by Onslaught, going behind enemy lines in Russia to recover stolen technology where they faced the People’s Heroes, taking down a rogue JSDF cybernetic bioweapon called Codename: Assassin, exposing a corrupt corporation using the mercenary group Force of July, capture escaped government experiment Emi the psychic vampire (forcing an alliance with the secret agency Checkmate and its operative Black Thorn), and stopping a coup d’état by an imperialist hate group called Rising Sun. Along the way, they picked up new heroic members in Bronze Tiger, Nightshade, Captain Atomu, Tatsu Yamashiro, and Peacemaker. Task Force X gained a notable rogue in the Calculator, a hacker who took control of the Lufur Towers’ Sky City for ransom before the squad took him down. They also went on a co-operative mission with the Israeli unit Hayoth onto the Chinese island of Oolong where they crossed paths with the Great Ten. Eventually, word of the existence of the unit began to leak online prompting a confrontation with the Justice League. When a prison break forced both sides to work together, an uneasy truce was forged where the League made Task Force X appear to be a group of villains called the Legion of Doom that they defeated in order to cover their identities.
Unagi Oishii was a juvenile delinquent, the head of a motorcycle gang called the Muhoumono. So, when he saved the life of a child about to be run down by a car by sacrificing his own life, no one could believe it. When monk Uizi Uinkusu witnessed this, he used the rare gingo fruit to bring him back to life. However, in addition to healing his body, Oishii gained the ability to stretch his body and mind far beyond human capability. Becoming something of an eccentric guru, he initially began doling out his wisdom to the people of his town to often humorous effect (notably, pet store owner Gordy Trueblood). Bizarre individuals such as Dr. Dome, Uncle Sam, Black Condor, Doll Man, Human Bomb, Phantom Lady, Ray, Granite Lady, Carrot-Man, Mizu-Sama, Batta, Madam Brawn, Figure, and Brickface began popping up in town, crossing paths with Oishii who used his equally bizarre abilities and methods to resolve emerging conflicts. In time, another more malevolent gingo fruit consumer in the Malleable Man appeared who sought an alliance with Oishii to conquer Japan. Being turned down, the two fought with Oishii defeating the villain. The incident drew the attention of international criminal Ruby Ryder who tried to use her feminine wiles to bring Oishii into her service. Instead, the villainess fell for the stretchy guru but by this time he had became infatuated with American journalist Angel McDunnagh who came to Japan to chronicle his misadventures.
When Batman and his Kamen Knights faced the last of the Sunakage in Slade and the Circle of Six, it appeared the hero and his allies had finally ended the legacy of Akuma no Atama. However, their battle was interrupted by Choujin Kenta who decimated combatants on both sides. Even a remotely piloted Batmobiru by Alfred offered little help but provided guidance to the last standing Batman when he noticed an eyeball over Kenta’s heart. As the Man of Steel moved to lay a final blow to the Dark Knight, Batman drew his sword and pierced the eye. Kenta’s face going blank as a loud shriek came from his chest, the pierced eye formed into a purple starfish that slid from Batman’s blade. Before the masked hero could get any answers, he found himself surrounded by the Zone of Space-Time prisoners. Fortunately, Wonder Woman appeared and helped Batman and Kenta escape as the prisoners applied starfish to the Kamen Knights and Circle of Six.
Wonder Woman related her school being taken over by the starfish (she followed the Zone of Space-Time prisoners when they flew overhead) while Choujin Kenta revealed his daughter Kara brought him a starfish she found in the river before his mind went blank. Batman and his allies retreated to the Batcave where Alfred appraised them of the situation as the starfish have spread across the country. The group is interrupted by the sudden appearance of Inazuma. He reveals he saw the three of them being chased by the starfish-possessed people and hoped they could offer some answers as to what’s happening. Finding no answers, Alfred tells them the possessed are attacking a group of people en masse. Showing the Lantern Corps on their viewer screen, the assembled heroes scramble to offer aid.
Trying to avoid harming the possessed people, the Lantern Corps are pressed by the emergence of the Kamen Knights lead by Nightwing. Batman, Choujin Kenta, Wonder Woman, and Inazuma turn the tide until the Zone of Space-Time prisoners again appear. One by one, the Lanterns fell until the White Lantern put in a timely appearance. Seeing how hopeless the situation became, he told Green Lantern (the only other Lantern still standing) to use her Flying Fish giant mecha to get the remaining heroes to their aquatic base to regroup as he distracts the possessed. Begrudgingly, she agrees but the turn of events left them at square one. Fortunately, Aquaman pulled up in the Sea Devils’ Flying Fish with some answers.
Aquaman revealed the starfish invaded Atlantis where he made contact with the central entity controlling them. Calling itself Starro, it was an ordinary starfish transformed by a warm light and reborn with a purpose to bring order to the chaos of the world and beyond. Aquaman tried to go to the place where Starro was born but the starfish-controlled aquatic life blocked his way. It was at this point he monitored news reports where he heard about the assembled heroes coming together. With another clue to the cause of the crisis, the heroes fought their way to an underground cove where they discovered a metal man.
Using what knowledge of cybernetics he gleaned from studying his father’s research, Batman activated the metal man. Referring to himself as Cyborg, he revealed an experiment at Project M went awry creating a black hole. Believing by unleashing his Source core in the event horizon that it would collapse, he awoke now in what seems to be another place and time. Batman added this Source energy is likely what evolved Starro. The cavern began to shake as Alfred contacted Batman to make him aware a giant starfish was attacking Tokyo Harbor.
Fighting their way back to the surface, the seven heroes were greeted with a small army of their friends, foes, and other super beings. Unable to make it past Starro’s advance guard, a sudden high-pitched sound caused the possessed to stop in their tracks for a few moments. The heroes turned to see Lufur, Joker, Cheetahs leader Priscilla, Captain Cold, Sinestro Yellow, Manta, Slade, and Solomon Grundy. Lufur told the heroes to defeat Starro while he would hold off the possessed. While hesitant to comply, the heroes agreed as Choujin Kenta used his new technique to grow to massive height, Batman summoned the Batmobiru and Wonder Woman her invisible jet as Green Lantern and Aquaman piloted their Flying Fish. Cyborg tapped into the Earth’s information grid to try and find some semblance of the Source in this time and place, stumbling on a research experiment at Tokyo University of Science.
Inazuma sped to the college and convinced biophysics student intern Rei Jun to let him borrow a prototype apparatus tapping into this power. Cyborg theorized if Inazuma could use his speed to saturate every inch of Starro with the energy at approximately the same time, the over saturation would break down the starfish’s cells forcing it to de-evolve. However, to do that, it would have to be lifted out of the water. Cyborg used his nanotechnology to transform the Batmobiru, invisible jet, and Flying Fish into a power armor for Kenta allowing him to lift Starro which permitted Inazuma to defeat their foe in a flash. Exhausted, the heroes turned to see a giant spinning saucer approach them with Lufur and his group (an unconscious Zod Shogun now with them) on a platform hovering beneath it. He told the heroes to savor their victory for when the Injustice League attacks, the world would be theirs.
Inspired by Lufur’s Injustice League (as well as the work they did together), the seven heroes formed the Justice League. The Japan Self-Defense Forces coordinated with the group to construct the Hall of Justice, a facility to house the League staffed by the JSDF and managed by Major Tai Karu. Almost immediately, the Hall developed a pest problem in a miniature Martian named Li’l J’on who plays pranks on the Leaguers (though, he reveres Kenta as his “aniki”) and staff. Over time, the League faced Lufur’s group as well as a myriad of threats like Amazo, Despero, Kanjar Ro, Unmei-ishi, Felix Faust, Jikan no Omo, Hikari-ishi, Queen Bee, Crime Syndicate, Kagi, Royal Flush Gang, Shaggy-Man, and assorted alien invaders. The League’s members also saw their individual enemies come together to face them, the Rogue Network and the reborn Akuma no Atama with his Sunakage of note. At one point, Cyborg’s experiments to try and return to his own time and place brought the League to Mr. Terrific’s time period, inspiring him to form the Justice Society. The League also grew, gaining new members in Marvel, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Atom, Firestorm, Captain Atomu, Black Lightning, and Plastic Man. As it turned out, Earth needed every hero it could manage when Cyborg’s experiments brought Darkseid and the New Gods back to life and the Atom’s experiments unleashed the scourge of the Dark Multiverse.
Next time on “Make It So: DC – The Manga Universe”: Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Adam Strange, Icon, Spectre, Teen Titans, and Crisis on Infinite Earths.