Menagerie (DC Comics)
||It has been suggested that this article be merged into List of minor DC Comics characters. (Discuss) Proposed since August 2011.|
Sonja shapeshifting, art by Doug Mahnke
|First appearance||Pamela: Action Comics #775, (March 2001)
Sonja: JLA #100 (August 2004)
|Created by||Joe Kelly
|Team affiliations||Justice League
|Abilities||Controls symbiotic alien parasites.|
Menagerie is a name shared by two anti-heroines in the DC Universe, both members of The Elite. The two are Puerto Rican sisters who are linked with a symbiotic alien weapon crèche, called symbeasts. Both were created by Joe Kelly and Doug Mahnke.
Fictional character history
The first Menagerie was a Puerto Rican woman named Pamela (last name unrevealed). While the origins of her powers are unclear in Action Comics #775, Manchester Black states that the rogue Men in Black (from the Department of Extranormal Operations) once picked up the dregs of society, turning them into weapons and selling them off to the highest alien bidder. Pamela was bonded to an "alien warrior cache" (or symbeasts). The beasts could be controlled to be used as weapons or to assemble into other shapes. The tale of Pam's first contact with these beasts has never been told, nor has any light been shed on the days before she met the villainous Manchester Black.
Black recruited Pam to be a member of his group of extremely powerful metahumans called the Elite. This group took it upon themselves to "free the Earth of scum." They abided no laws and thus quickly came into conflict with Superman during their first mission in Tripoli, Libya. They quickly dispatched Superman then disappeared. Superman called them to a showdown on Jupiter's moon, Io, where they seemingly killed the Man of Steel. But Superman returned triumphant. He managed to poison Menagerie and disabled the others as well. The Elite were delivered into custody, but soon released by President Lex Luthor.
Now a government operative, Black began shadowing the Man of Steel. He betrayed Luthor and reassembled the Elite one last time. During an assassination attempt on Luthor, Menagerie revealed to Superman that the Elite were acting against their wills. For her betrayal, Black induced a stroke in her, putting her in a permanent vegetative state.
Upon Black's apparent death, his sister, Vera Lynn Black, took it upon herself to clear the family name and reassembled the Elite as a force for good. As Sister Superior she convinced Pam's sister, Sonja to assume control of the alien cache as the second Menagerie. Vera then approached the JLA with a proposition to form a sort of black ops JLA team: the Justice League Elite. With her deep cover experience, Vera envisioned a team that could use unconventional means to combat unconventional threats.
Vera did not realize was that Menagerie's intentions were not pure. Sonja's hatred of Manchester Black became a hatred of the Elite. Sonja saw this as her opportunity to kill Vera's dream, so she played along and joined the team. This Elite became a sort of "not-exactly-sanctioned don't-ask-don't-tell covert operations unit." Their mission was to hunt and eliminate extranormal threats to the Earth before they went public. In their first mission, Menagerie secretly coaxed Coldcast into killing the foreign terrorist dictator, Hi-Shan Bhat. Coldcast retained no memory of the act, and no other members were present.
Menagerie laid low during the fallout, and put effort into her personal relationship with Coldcast. The two had become lovers and were drawn together by their shared affection for Pam. Then while most of the Elite went underground, Vera was finally fully overtaken by the disembodied Manchester Black.
While Black threatened Earth with a Fourth World god, Menagerie went mysteriously missing, and Coldcast was arrested by the JLA for Bhat's murder. In their absence, the Elite's coordinator, Naif al-Sheikh, had found DNA evidence linking Coldcast to the deed. Coldcast confessed to the murder and was taken to the Slab prison.
In the Slab, Coldcast was visited by the spirit of the recently departed Manitou Raven. Raven's magic dislodged something in Coldcast's mind and he vomited up a heap of Menagerie's symbeasts. Free from their control, he began remembering that he had been coerced by Menagerie into killing Bhat. Menagerie herself was nowhere to be found, and Coldcast rejoined the others.
It seemed Menagerie's sabotage was complete. But Manitou Raven's power led them to victory over Manchester Black. Coldcast was exonerated and the team tracked Sonja to Costa Rica. She was outnumbered and taken into JLA custody. On the Watchtower, she was deprived of the aliens and began a gradual separation they hoped would sever her connection to the beasts. It seems this will take some time, as she could only bear to be a short distance away from the cache.
Powers and abilities
The alien symbeasts have shown a variety of effects and uses when used by either Pam or Sonja. The symbeasts can be assembled to shift over the host to form various shapes and weapons such as claws, spikes or whips. Most commonly, they form around the body and take the form of wings, enabling Menagerie to fly. She can also instruct them to take other forms, or detach from her body and attack an opponent independently.
Sonja also once used them to spy on a place of residence from afar by implanting a literal "bug" on the window. Also, she created a facsimile of a drug once from the secretion of one of her creatures for a specific "bait and switch" operation. Another creature had a bite that could force its victims to tell the truth. According to Vera Black, there was also a creature among the creche that could create bioelectric bursts. Menagerie had acidic blood as well and Sonja often allowed herself to get hurt by her opponents as a combat tactic.
The beasts have a sympathy for Pam's bloodline, as they readily bonded to her sister Sonja when Pam was hurt.
It was said that the members of the original Elite all possessed Palmer Metahuman (PM) ratings which rivaled Superman.
During the Forever Evil storyline as part of "The New 52" (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), there is a group called Menagerie which is led by Cheetah. It consists of Elephant Man, Hellhound, Lion-Mane IV, Mäuschen, Primape, and Zebra-Man. Steve Trevor and Killer Frost had to fight them in order to claim Wonder Woman's lasso which is needed to save the trapped Justice League members from the Firestorm Matrix. While Steve Trevor managed to defeat Cheetah, the rest of the Menagerie were frozen by Killer Frost.
In other media
- Adventures of Superman #593-594
- Action Comics #795
- JLA #100
- JLA Secret Files 2004
- Justice League Elite #1-3
- Justice League Elite #4-7
- Justice League Elite #10-11
- Justice League Elite #12
- Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S. #5