The Continuity of the New 52 DC Comics: What Changed in Week 2
Welcome back to our weekly look at the continuity changes in the new DC Universe! This time we’re taking a look at the modifications to the Green Lantern and Batman titles (none), the Superman family (outlook unsure) and more Wildstorm characters, such as Grifter and Fairchild, who are seemingly being completely rebooted. We also look at the questionable existence of Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers due to events in Demon Knights and Frankenstein.
Speculation and spoilers below the jump!Batman and Robin #1 (Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason)
While many of the New 52 ongoings have taken their subjects back to basics, some are simply continuing the plots and status quos set up before Flashpoint. This is one of the latter. While it’s certainly an introductory issue, it’s not to a new, more iconic Batman status quo; in fact, this is an introduction to progression, as Bruce puts his parents’ murder behind him and readers are re-introduced to the current Robin, his son Damian Wayne. While Bruce’s return to Gotham happens to coincide with the New 52, that’s the only appreciable change from this book before the reboot, and could just as easily have occurred without it. So basically, other than Bruce’s new costume being reflected here, there’s basically nothing in this book that couldn’t have been printed a month ago.
Batwoman #1 (J.H. Williams III w/W. Haden Blackman)
This is in a similar situation to Batman and Robin; indeed, it seems like very few of the Batbooks are taking a fresh approach, with the exception of last week’s Batgirl. This picks up almost seamlessly from last year’s Batwoman #0 and the Greg Rucka run in Detective Comics; Kate Kane is taking her cousin Bette on as a sidekick, she’s still pissed off at her dad for not letting her know her sister was alive, and she’s got a burgeoning relationship with Maggie Sawyer. Other than the unclear status of Renee Montoya and Jim Gordon not needing Just For Men, this is another pre-New 52 book refitted into the new paradigm.
Deathstroke #1 (Kyle Higgins & Joe Bennett)
While this book could be interpreted as a total reboot, the end of the last issue of Eric Wallace’s Titans featured Deathstroke putting away his feelings for his family and deciding to re-prove to the world that the’s the Most Badass, Cold-Blooded Killer of All Time. That’s basically where this series picks up, with Deathstroke wearing new duds and trying to regain his reputation after getting the crap kicked out of him by a bunch of pubescents for the past few years.
Demon Knights #1 (Paul Cornell & Diogenes Neves)
Of the seven characters in this book, three (Horseman, the Amazon Exoristos, and Al Jabr) are completely new creations. Three of the other four — Etrigan/Jason Blood, Madame Xanadu and Vandal Savage — it makes perfect sense to have wandering around medieval England looking to get drunk and stay below the radar. The major wrench in the continuity works here is the presence of Sir Ystin (or Ystina), the Shining Knight created by Grant Morrison in his 2004 Seven Soldiers megaseries. While Etrigan was around for the fall of the last Camelot, Seven Soldiers established Camelot as a revolving cultural state, as Ystin was from a Celtic proto-Camelot thousands of years before the mythological medieval Camelot. Judging by Cornell’s dialogue, he’s keeping that aspect of the character, as well as her transgendered status. While Ystina dressed as a boy in Seven Soldiers due to cultural norms in proto-Camelot preventing her from fighting otherwise, here she seems to just be living as a man because he likes it. And drinking, apparently.
Additionally, when we last saw the Shining Knight, she was attending a private school and being told by Ali Ka-Zoom that records exist of a Queen Ystina the Good after the dark ages caused by the fall of her Camelot; it’s possible that this Ystin is after those events, having already been sent back into the past.
(I realize the pronouns here jump around a lot, but the ‘old’ Shining Knight seemed to identify as female and have a crush on Lancelot but masquerade as a man for necessity, while the ‘new’ one seems to identify as male for personal reasons. This could simply be a result of character development that we haven’t been caught up on yet.)
Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1 (Jeff Lemire & Alberto Ponticelli)
More shades of Morrison’s Seven Soldiers abound in Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., which is seemingly indebted to Morrison’s take (right down to his taking Melmoth the Sheeda King’s name in vain at the very end of the issue), while missing a very important detail: according to the first issue of Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein, Frank was out of commission for pretty much the entire 20th century, crushed under a train during a fight with Melmoth. Here, he refers to experiences he had fifty, sixty, seventy years ago. How or if Lemire plans on reconciling these issues is unclear.
Also interesting in this issue is the appearance of Ray Palmer, formerly the Atom in the old DC Universe and the subject of a series of Adventure Comics backups (and two one-shots) by Lemire in 2009. The Ant Farm, S.H.A.D.E.’s base in this title, was introduced in those Atom backups as the invention of Ray’s superscientist uncle. Whether or not this Ray Palmer was ever the Atom is unclear, especially with rumors of Ryan Choi’s appearance as the Atom upcoming in Justice League.
Green Lantern #1 (Geoff Johns & Doug Mahnke)
This is Green Lantern #68. Absolutely nothing has changed.
Grifter #1 (Nathan Edmondson & CAFU)
This is a complete reboot of the character, and while I’m not hugely familiar with the old Wildstorm universe, this is definitely a complete reimagination of Cole Cash, the Grifter. In the old Wildstorm Universe he was a member of military unit Team 7, who got exposed to the Gen Factor and given psionic powers. He later went on to be a badass superoperative and member of the Wildcats. Here, he’s completely reimagined as an actual literal grifter who goes around cheating people out of their money with dashing good blonde looks, like Sawyer from Lost with killer sideburns. They’re trying to turn him into a Daemonite, he escapes, and now he can hunt Daemonites.
Legion Lost #1 (Fabian Nicieza & Pete Woods)
This is such a non-reboot it actually has the word “Flashpoint” in it. Seven Legionnaires from the future show up on present-day Earth and get infected with a virus they can’t take back to the future, so they’re stuck here. This picks up completely from the events of Paul Levitz’s last Legion of Super-Heroes run, which will continue presumably equally unimpeded next week.
Mister Terrific #1 (Eric Wallace & Gianluca Gugliotta)
In both the old and new DC Universes, Michael Holt was a multimillionaire, degree-collecting Olympic decathlete who lost his wife in a random car accident and simultaneously lost his faith in God.
In the old DC Universe, he was visited by the Spectre, who told him about Terry Sloane, the old Mister Terrific, and inspired him to take up his slogan of “Fair Play” and dedicate his life to fighting crime and inspiring others, eventually joining the reestablished Justice Society of America.
In the new DC Universe, he went to his lab to try to commit suicide, but ended up being visited by his time-traveling son, who inspired him to take up the slogan of “Fair Play” (now with no precedent) and dedicate his life to fighting crime and inspiring others.
Red Lanterns #1 (Peter Milligan & Ed Benes)
No apparent change.
Resurrection Man #1 (Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Fernando Dagnino)
While the villainous Body Doubles return from the last run of the series, there’s very little information given about Mitch Shelley, the Resurrection Man. They don’t even mention his last name, or how he got his powers, just that angels and demons are after his soul. It’s difficult to tell what could and could not have changed.
Suicide Squad #1 (Adam Glass & Federico Dallocchio w/Ransom Getty)
Man, I’ve got nothing. King Shark’s a hammerhead, Harley still wants Joker back (they say they split up due to Detective #1, but if Morrison’s Batman is still in continuity, they broke up way back in Batman #663), Deadshot shaved. Amanda Waller is really skinny because she’s been de-aged and apparently used to be breathtakingly beautiful before becoming the squat brick s***house we all know and love as The Wall.
Superboy #1 (Scott Lobdell & R.B. Silva)
While this looks like a total reboot, writer Scott Lobdell stated at San Diego Comic-Con this year that Superboy’s tabula rasa state at the beginning of this series isn’t because he was just born, but rather because he was kidnapped by the villainous N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and reverse-engineered with a mindwipe along the way. Since he stated Superboy’s existing origin is intact, it stands to reason that Superboy’s human DNA donor is still Lex Luthor, which makes sense with the mentions in this issue that Superboy’s human side must have been a self-obsessed narcissist. (And also brings up some thorny questions about nature vs. nurture and genetic destiny that were already put to bed by Geoff Johns like forty times in his Teen Titans and Adventure Comics runs, but I guess we’re back to My Two Super-Dads.) The book also features Caitlin Fairchild from Wildstorm’s Gen13 as a researcher for N.O.W.H.E.R.E. sympathetic to Superboy, and Rose Wilson, Deathstroke’s daughter, as his handler, now with two eyes again since the Johns Teen Titans run has been seemingly completely wiped out of continuity.
Since Superboy and Teen Titans are to be very interwoven, it stands to reason that Fairchild’s transformation into her old bodice-ripping superstrong self may still occur, and that she might even join the new DC Universe’s Teen Titans.