DC’s Fresh Start and New Horizons
At the end of Dark Nights: Death Metal, DC sold us a future made up of more than just the New 52 and Rebirth that we’ve been reading for the past 10 years. We’ve got that and everything else that has existed in comics in one form or another. Before we could see that though, we had 2 months jumping into possible futures in Future State. Last week we made it back to the present with Infinite Frontier #0 as well as a number of new titles. To start things off, we have Crime Syndicate, Sensational Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, and Swamp Thing getting first issues. The 0 issue was meant to be a one-shot to kick start off the new reality. I guess DC decided that wouldn’t be enough and is actually expanding the title into an additional 6 issue mini-series. The one-shot gives us a first look on a number of areas of the DC universe and where they are going at the moment.
Infinite Frontier follows the Spectre leading Wonder Woman around to see what’s going on in everyone’s lives to let her know that there is no “great cost” to worry about. Each of the stories are only a few pages long but they each set things up for the future. In the first snippet, Superman sees that Black Adam (and yes, they even made a “Shazadam” reference) being a hero. We don’t know what is behind this but with all history coming back, the side of him we saw in JSA could be coming out again. They needed to do something if they are planning to put in him Justice League though. I just hope that there is a believable explanation for any changes. Next up is Arkham Asylum where we see Bane and pretty much everyone else in there killed by Joker gas. Only a few employees are seen to have been able to keep themselves safe. Who knows who was in Arkham at the time. Technically, this could have killed off half of Batman’s rogues gallery. We see Oracle back at the computer organizing things and Grifter off to save Lucius Fox’s family (including Tim/Jace who is shown to possibly be the next Batman). Batman is on the way but we have no idea what he’ll find when he gets there. Next, we’re off to Themyscira where we see Hippolyta ready to take Diana’s place in the world (another lead up to the new Justice League team) and handing off leadership of the Amazons to Nubia. Nubia mentions Yara which leads to a quick view of her in an airport ready for travel. (You know how bad things are in real life when I saw that and one of my first thought was that no one was wearing a mask.) Next, we’re in the Justice Society’s headquarters with Obsidian, Jade, and Green Lantern/Alan Scott. When DC published Earth 2 with revamped versions of a lot of JSA members, they made that version of Alan Scott gay which caused a big uproar because they were “changing an established character”. Technically, this whole world was a different version so the premise was flawed. Now, though, they are taking the original Alan Scott and having him come out. Alan grew up during the time of the World Wars and it wasn’t a period that one could really come out. Alan is finally getting the courage to come out now and he’s got some help with it given that his son, Obsidian, has been openly gay for a long time. Since they are making a big scene on this, I really hope that means that we’ll be seeing an actual Justice Society comic book soon. I’d like to see how the rest of the team reacts to this. (I’m not looking at seeing how others will react to the original GL coming out though.) There is one thing that really annoys me and that’s that Alan is wearing a ring like Hal Jordon. I really hope that they aren’t giving him a Green Lantern Corps ring and that the artist (Stephen Byrne) just made a really big mess-up. Alan’s ring is magical where the corps’ rings are based off the emotion spectrum and the power battery on Oa. The next view is a 2 page lead-up to Titans Academy where we see whomever is going to be Red X sneaking onto the boat going to Titans Tower. Superboy is next where we see Spectre warning that Jon is going to be some great evil but Diana believes in him and even shows that Jon can be a true hero by actions the Spectre never expected. He still thinks Superboy needs to be watched though so I’m not sure what this might foretell. Green Arrow and Black Canary are next up with them back together as they should be. While they are cuddled up, a phone rings but the person hangs up. Flip the page and it’s Roy Harper, back from the dead. Dark Nights: Death Metal said that some people may be coming back and it looks like Red Arrow is one of them. (I wonder what this means for heroes like Gunfire, Red Devil, Lagoon Boy, and Blue Jay that were also killed by Wally in Heroes in Crisis. I was always a Gunfire fan so I’d like to see him back.) We get a Stargirl and S.T.R.I.P.E. segment that leads up on something related to the original Seven Soldiers of Victory. Since Stargirl has a one-shot special coming up, I’m wondering if this is a lead-up to that comic. We jump back to Batman and see that all this happening at Arkham is a push toward the Magistrate taking over. The last couple segments are about Teen Lantern going to Oa and Barry handing off the Flash name to Wally (which he already was anyway) while he goes off to explore parts of the new Multiverse. Feeling confident that he’s shown Diana there’s nothing to worry about, he takes her back to the Quintessence who want her to join them. She turns them down so she can do what she feels she needs to do and leaves. This is just in time for us to see that the one person they couldn’t locate after reality was pulled back together appear, having escaped the prison the Quintessence put him in. Yes, Darkseid is back and apparently more powerful than ever since he may have just killed the Spectre, Phantom Stranger, and the rest of them without even trying. That’s a lot of powerful beings to kill as easily as he did so I’m hoping they aren’t actually really dead. (Also, is the Phantom Stranger still Judas in this reality? I always like the old one and not knowing who or what he really was.) So, that’s a lot of stuff to work with from just one book. Who knows where the mini-series and the rest of the regular books are going to lead us.
First up in terms of new titles is the 6 issue mini-series Crime Syndicate. This is not your father’s Crime Syndicate either. The team is still on Earth 3 but the characters aren’t the same as they were. Ultraman is still Clark Kent but he’s one that, as a kid, killed JFK. This Earth’s Superwoman isn’t Lois Lane this time. It’s Donna Troy. (And Oliver Queen is president!) As if poor Donna hasn’t gone through enough transformations and alterations over the years, do we really need to do this to her too? [sigh] Power Ring is not the weak version of Hal Jordon with Volthoom’s ring that we last saw. This one is Jon Stewart. I guess this is some diversity for the team. Atomica (a female version of the Atom) is around as well as a new and weird looking version of Johnny Quick. Additionally this Owlman is Thomas Wayne, not Bruce, and he’s teamed with a quite evil and sadistic version of Alfred. Take all of this and toss in a big dose of Starro and you have the first issue. (I really think we need to see an homage cover to the old JLA vs Starro cover.) There’s no sign of Deathstorm in here yet. I’m not sure if they purposely dropped him from the team or if there will be more members to come. This team has always been one of my favorite villain teams so I’m looking forward to see where this goes.
I’m honestly not sure what to think of Sensational Wonder Woman. I mean, it’s definitely an interesting story with her and Hawkgirl fighting Dr. Psycho. (For being a regular comic, he doesn’t seem any more scary than he does in the Harley Quinn cartoon.) The thing is that Diana is now a goddess so is this just going to be a bunch of random history stories? It obviously doesn’t take place with the version of Diana we just saw in Infinite Frontier. While a good story, this confusion keeps it from being something I plan to pick up from here on out.
Suicide Squad is the next book to look at. Rick Flag is no longer team leader. In fact, Waller has a whole different view for the team. Remember the team from Future State? It looks like we’re going in that direction because she sent Peacemaker off to get Talon (who has gone a little cuckoo) out of Arkham. He’s just in time too since this takes place with the Joker gas attack from Infinite Frontier #0. The team lives up to it’s name because almost none of the team survives and the new members will make up a Task Force Z (not X) which will be a “rival Justice League” as Rick Flag puts it. And with Connor Kent/Superboy captive, Waller is well on the way to achieving this. I may stick around at least for a bit to see how this unfolds.
Finally, we have Swamp Thing. The Swamp Thing is know is Alec Holland. This comic focuses around Levi Kamei who I’ve never heard of and who is dreaming about the Swamp Thing. Enter a being called The Pale Wanderer who just seems all messed up and we’ve got the new story. After the first issue, I’m even more confused than I was before I started reading. I don’t know where this is going, if Levi is taking Alec’s place or if there will be another Swamp Thing but I think I’m going to jump ship on this one. I’m not saying it’s a bad book (a little confusing for the first issue maybe), but I don’t think it’s for me.
It looks like we have a lot to unpack from this week and I’ll have 3 new titles (counting the upcoming Infinite Frontier mini-series) that I’ll be picking up. I hope there’s more good stuff coming along for this new phase of DC’s history. We already know there are new titles for Harley Quinn, the Joker, Yara/Wonder Girl, Teen Titans Academy, Green Lantern, Batman, Robin, Mister Miracle, and Supergirl at least. As I said, I’m still waiting for the Justice Society to join that list since they came back along with the Legion of Super-Heroes. (And on that line of though, can we get the original Legion back again? That was the original direction things were going in Doomsday Clock and even well before it after all.) All we can do is wait and see though. What would you like to see?