With the New 52Verse now firmly entrenched in the hands and minds of readers, the initial shock has worn off, and many DC readers have found things to like in the new books and its accompanying continuity. While I’ll admit the jury’s still out for me, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on:
The Top Five Things I Miss in the DC Universe
#1: The JLA/JSA Team-Ups
All throughout my childhood, the summer meant one thing for sure: the Justice League of America would be getting a visit from their Earth-2 counterparts in the Justice Society of America.
Sometimes there’s be a colossal cosmic crisis that would bring them together, and sometimes they’d just have a cocktail party in the JLA Satellite to catch up (although even those visits never ended well — just ask poor Mr. Terrific, who wound up coming home in a body bag).
Even after the CRISIS of 1985 did away with the multiple Earths paradigm, we’d still occasionally get some solid JLA/JSA team-ups, like the Grant Morrison-scripted gem from the pages of his JLA series. There was just something about having an annual reunion that felt so humanizing for these larger-than-life characters.
#2: Starman and Stargirl
James Robinson’s still-solidly satisfying THE SHADE series notwithstanding, looks to me like there’s no two ways about it: If there was never a Justice Society, then there was never a Ted Knight Starman, and if there was never a Ted Knight, there was never a Jack Knight.
It’s not as if Jack Knight was remotely active in the years leading up to the New 52, but I still liked the fact that he had been there, and left a mark not the least of which was the sight of his cosmic rod in the hands of his successor, Courtney “Stargirl” Whitmore. Stargirl had become one of the breakthrough new female characters in the DC Universe in the past decade, taking on a starring role in the popular JSA series, and even crossing over into other media with her appearances in TV series like JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, SMALLVILLE and BRAVE AND THE BOLD.
Makes me even more glad than ever that the STARMAN series was ended properly by Robinson, as there’s a complete start-to-finish chronicle of the character and his adventures, even if the continuity in which he existed has fallen by the wayside.
#3: “The Promise”
DC Comics was always more about the notion of the “teen sidekick” than Marvel was, and one of the coolest things about the way their universe developed in the 1990s and 2000s was that we finally got to see, as Mark Waid put it, heroes “fulfill the promise.” Barry Allen fell in the line of duty, and Wally West took up the mantle and became the Flash. Dick Grayson had several tours of duty as Batman. We would even occasionally see several generations fighting along side one another, as in Waid’s excellent FLASH run, which teamed the 1940s-era Flash and Johnny Quick alongside then-Flash Wally West and teen speedster Bart Allen.
It might be this feeling of legacy I miss most about DC these days, partly because I don’t really know what’s happened and what hasn’t. Was Roy Harper ever Green Arrow’s sidekick? For how long? What about Tim Drake? Was he a Robin? When characters are defined by their roles and relationships to other characters, if you cut those ties, they can feel a little lost.
#2: A Cast of Thousands
With a publisher that had been around since 1938, there were always scores of secondary and background characters that could always be picked up and utilized in guest-roles, supporting roles, you name it. Now, everything feels very limiting. What are the Metal Men up to these days? Wait, are there still Metal Men?
Even to go back to the earlier JLA example, not only have core members like Hawkman and Zatanna have never been members, but others like Ralph Dibny and Red Tornado have yet to be introduced. I think. It feels to me as if you had a vast playing field in front of you and suddenly limited yourself to a travel backgammon set.
#1: The Whirly-Bat
Batman kept one of these in the trunk just in case he needed it, don’t you know…
Scott Tipton wishes he had a whirly-bat in the trunk. If you have questions about DC or comics in general, send them here.