So I waited until they rebooted Batman to bother picking up Final Crisis. When I got to the shop, they’d sold the last copy of the trade paperback (TPB) of Final Crisis, so I could only pick up
Batwoman Detective Comics (Featuring Batwoman and The Question) and a copy of Final Crisis: Revelations. Now, the latter is pretty much a funky Christian Bible tale which I only made it through because I went to an Episcopal school for a few years, and I actually remember some of the Catholic dogma they taught in Christian Traditions. Otherwise, like most modern Jews, I learn about Catholicism via TV and Tom Lehrer’s Vatican Rag. In Final Crisis: Revelations we learn than Vandal Savage, an immortal super-evil-dude is actually Cain (which is why he can’t die) and his return is meant to bring Apokolips (not a typo). His daughter, Scandal, isn’t mentioned, but it got me thinking that perhaps she’s the Messiah in the DC universe.
I’ll try to explain the background in a non-boring way to you non-comic nerds, but this is fake religious hokum combined with comic books. It’s weird, just go with it or come back next week.
There are three main topics that will help you understand what converged to make me suspect that Scandal could be DCU’s messiah. Her father, herself and the Crime Bible. I’m personally an aficionado of The Question (both Vic Sage and the current Renee Montoya), do my knowledge is skewed that way.
The first time we learn about Vandal’s history, we’re told that he was born 50,000 years ago as Vandar Adg, leader of the Bear Tribe. He got hit by radiation from a meteor and became immortal (and super smart). Being a sort of jerk, he decided to take over the world. 50,000 years and he hasn’t done it yet, which is another story. Vandal Savage has been around forever since then, and his past has always seemed a little contradictory. He tells stories about how he either was or killed Julius Caesar, for example. He’s claimed a thousand different aliases over time (Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler) and they all sort of tell you what kind of fellow Vandal Savage is. Evil. That’s okay, we’re DC Comics.
In Infinite Crisis, Vandal Savage teamed up with a bunch of other criminals under the aegis of Lex Luthor (who wasn’t actually Lex but Alexander Luthor from another Earth … yeah, anyway, they were Group of Evil Dudes). The Secret Society of Super-Villains attacked another ‘villian’ group called the Secret Six, of which Scandal was a member. Vandal demanded the attack be called off, we don’t know why, and at one point wanted his daughter to bear him an heir. More on that when we talk about Scandal.
The Crime Bible is a tome that runs in a weird parallel to the Catholic Bible. Please don’t compare it to ‘The Bible’ because I can tell you this: the Crime Bible really doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the Hebrew Bible (aka the ‘Old Testament’) so I don’t feel comfortable implying otherwise. The best I can give you is this: While they never mention Jesus, the God they portray in the DCU is a pastiche of mostly Catholicism and Christianity, with a small dash of the Hebrew ‘Vengeful’ God. Not for good or bad, but there it is. The book centers on Cain (he who killed Abel) and Lillith (who in this world is sort of a lusty whore) and predicts a whole lot of things that end up happening.
The Crime Bible has four ‘Lessons’: Deceit, Lust, Greed and Murder. It’s worshiped by (among others) The Crime Syndicate (13 chapters in Gotham, baby!), the Daughters of Lillith (who use sex) and the Order of the Stone (who are the muscle). As Cain committed the first murder, he’s worshiped as “The First.” Now, this doesn’t mean it’s a book about how to be more evil, it’s more a history and prediction of the end of days.
The Question (Vic Sage) was interested in it, and his protege (Renee Montoya, the current Question) got sucked in when her ex-girlfriend Kate Kane (the current Batwoman) was said to be the ‘Twice Named Daughter of Cain [sic]’ and her death would herald a new age. Renee saved Kate, taking on the mantle of The Question, and the Order of Stone call her “Faceless” (due to the fact that the Question’s ‘mask’ makes her look like she has no facial features). Since then, there was sort of a schism. Some ‘True Believers’ feel that Kate’s survival means the prophecy was wrong and want to protect her. Others want to corrupt Renee and make her lead the Order of Stone (which involved them teaching her the Four Lessons rather brutally, poor Renee). Technically, Renee is the head of the Order of Stone, but she’s still a good guy so your mileage varies.
There’s more here that could be said, like about the Spectre (God’s Vengeance) and Radiance (God’s Mercy), but all you need to know is that the Crime Bible prophesied that the Faceless (Renee) would use the Spear of Destiny (aka Spear of Longinus) to return Cain to this Earth and bring Apokolips (STILL not a typo) to Earth.
Scandal Savage, born of the only mortal woman Vandal Savage ever loved, raised in Brazil without her father’s influence, and yet cognizant of her heritage, is a ‘bad guy.’ She’s not really, she’s more of a ‘grey guy’ in that she’s not exactly evil, but she’s sure not good either. Scandal is a member (and kind of leaderish with Catman) of the Secret Six. She’s also a lesbian, in love with a Fury from Apokolips by the name of Knockout. Scandal’s complicated and not really explained very well. She’s exceptionally gifted, but her only ‘super power’ appears to be the ability to heal very quickly.
There are other descendants of Vandal Savage out there. Roy Harper, the original Speedy (sidekick to the Green Arrow) who is currently using the name Red Arrow, is the great great blah blah blah grandson of Vandal Savage, and he too is freakishly gifted, but has no healing powers. While there’s a possibility that he’s just too far down the line in descendants to get any cool powers, there’s also the possibility that Scandal is special.
Shortest version ever. Darkseid (who wants Wonder Woman to be his bride), is the ruler of the planet Apokolips (told you it wasn’t a typo). Darkseid used the Anti-Life Equation to control the world and bring about the Fifth World. It went badly and now Apokolips is no more, everything’s messed up and Batman is dead.
This is all tied into the Crime Bible in ways not yet explained. What we know, however, is that Wrack (the de facto leader of the Order of Stone) used the Spear of Destiny to ‘turn’ Vandal Savage into Cain. Since the prophecy was that the Faceless was to turn him into Cain, things didn’t go as planned. Renee became immune to the powers of the spear and used it to ‘fix’ the Specter and save the world from the return of Cain. Vandal Savage/Cain was now ‘unmasked’ and everyone could see the mark which told them not to kill him. He was, once again, an outcast.
That got me thinking. Vandal is Cain (either reborn or he always was, and I can accept either way). Scandal is the Daughter of Cain. In the normal DC Crossover way, clearly you can bring Scandal to Gotham (which is the epicenter of the Crime Bible for some reason) by having her be deemed the Crime Bible’s Messiah. Daughter of the First, and all that. She gets to decide if she wants to keep being kinda evil/mercenary for hire, or go whole hog and be evil evil. Make it even better, Knockout is dead currently. Since, in comics, death is a transitional state, and Scandal has a ‘Get out of Hell’ card which, presumably, can get Knockout out of an Apokolips Hell, the Order of Stone could try and lure Scandal in with the promise of helping her free Knockout. Instead, they actually want to return Apokolips to Earth. Evil ensues.
If you wanted to go all the way with it, you have them try to kill her to cast sin upon all humans (in a play on Jesus’ death removing sin, you see), which then lets Darksied (currently spending time on Earth-51, please don’t ask) bring his havoc back on Earth (which is actually Earth-0, I told you not to ask).
The downside to all this is, of course, the fact that you make a whole lot of religious people pissed off at the perceived mockery surrounding their religions. And to them I point out that these are comics. No insults are, generally, meant, and it’s all a giant game of ‘What if people put their underpants on the outside of their tights and fought evil.’
If you really want to bake your noodle, go read all about the New Gods and the Fourth World. I really have never been a huge fan of Jack Kirby, since he comes up with great epic, messes with everything, concepts than never come into fruition. His New Gods are actually aliens comprised of a mashup of the Greek/Roman Gods, the Norse Gods and the Christians. To me, the idea of the Crime Bible based religions was a little easier to wrap my head around. And any inconsistencies from then to now are easily explained by in-world misunderstandings. After all, if you were Vandal Savage, you’d lie to make yourself cooler. It’s noto like someone’s going to time travel back and question Alexander the Great to find out of you were him or not. If you did go back in time, Vandal would know in the ‘now’, after all.
So my little fanworld imagines a cross-over event called ‘Oh Savage World’, in which Scandal has to either start or stop the end of the world.
Unless of course … she has a sister.