A Fact-Check for the Four-Color World

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Villains United #1

"And Empires in Their Purpose"
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Dale Eaglesham

When we are introduced to the new-and-improved Catman in the pages of the first issue of Villains United, it is after he has been approached by the Society in his new home, the "Medikwe Game Preserve."

Assuming that the spelling was intentional, there is no such place in the real world. However, Gail's inspiration is clearly drawn from the Madikwe Game Reserve in South Africa, near the Botswana border. It is over 230 square miles and is home to 66 species of large mammals and some 250 species of birds.

And yes, that includes lions.

It's also a very popular safari destination. Google the name and you'll see how many lodges are available. Plus, if you happen to get a hankering to see Catman's new turf for yourself, South African Airways has a great deal to Johannesburg this summer. It's still too rich for my blood these days, but it'd certainly be a change of scenery from the regular Convention season.

At one point in the issue, Deadshot refers to Fiddler's "Strad." This, of course, is a reference to the violins made by Antonio Stradivari (who this Telegraph author calls, despite Deadshot's objections, "the finest of all fiddlemakers"). Considered to be the greatest violins ever made, Stradivarius instruments can be worth millions, depending on their condition.

Strangely, the condition of Fiddler's instrument seems to change during the issue. When he first appears on page 11, his fiddle has the standard f-holes found in virtually all violins (including Strads):

But when the violin is shown later in the issue, including its full-panel close-up, the holes are c-shaped. That's highly unusual for a violin, and I daresay that such a feature is never found on a Stradivarius.

(And just in case you think that's the most nitpicky thing I could find, Fiddler's name is Isaac Bowin, not "Bowen." Heh.)

Finally, the title of the issue. It is drawn from an 1894 poem by Sam Walter Foss, entitled "The Coming American." Today the poem is engraved outside the US Air Force Academy, and was once turned into a song. It begins with these lines:

Bring me men to match my mountains,
Bring me men to match my plains;
Men with empires in their purpose
And new eras in their brains.