Phillip Morgan ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Just when you thought DC Comics was finished dropping massive bombs like showing off their entire film universe calendar or prematurely revealing the new Robin’s identity, here we are again, and this one might prove to be the most confusing and controversy-prone yet. DC Comics recently revealed that April and May of 2015 will mark a new major DC crossover event known as Convergence, which incidentally will be the 30th anniversary of their first world-shattering (perhaps continuity-shattering would be more appropriate) crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths. That alone would certainly generate a great deal of buzz, but what really has the comic book world in a frenzy is that Convergence will be bringing back the DC Universe prior to the Flashpoint crossover event in 2011 that ushered in the current era of DC Comics known as The New 52.
Confused? So is everyone else (for more info the event and some much-needed clarification, read up on Convergence here and here). Re-introducing years of previously scrapped history, character backstory and relationships, and storylines is going to raise a lot of questions about the elements that got lost in transition to the New 52 universe. So, we have compiled our top ten “What even happened to…?” moments that we would like to see addressed in the upcoming event. So, without further ado, it’s time to ask, “What even happened to…”
10. The Green Arrow Family?
We all know the original Green Arrow Oliver Green, be it through the comics or his show on the CW. We also know his first ward, Roy Harper, who operates in both Arrow and the New 52 continuity as the vigilante Arsenal (sometimes called Red Arrow). But in the pre-52 continuity, the Arrow Family was a bit bigger. At the head obviously was Queen, but after Arsenal left to pursue his own business, Queen was joined by his illegitimate son Connor Hawke, who became the second Green Arrow. Mia Dearden, a former child prostitute, then turned into Green Arrow’s second sidekick to operate as Speedy (and one of the few comic book characters that is openly HIV-positive). But then the New 52 happened, and suddenly Ollie was the lone Green Arrow again, and Roy Harper was off doing mercenary things as Arsenal and wearing horrendously dumb hats. What happened to Connor and Mia? Do they even have New 52 counterparts? It seemed like they were interesting enough characters and they certainly fleshed out the Green Arrow mythos, but only time will tell if they’re worth it to DC.
9. Amanda Waller?
Amanda Waller is basically the comic book interpretation of someone’s psychotic 8th Grade math teacher becoming a top-secret government agent. Pre-New 52, she was the cold, calculating, headstrong director of the Suicide Squad, a team of convicts who perform impossible missions in exchange for commuted sentences. However, the truly terrifying aspect of Waller was how even with her non-threatening outward appearance she was still one of the most intimidating characters in the DC Universe with her domineering personality towering over every super villain she conscripted to join. Then the New 52 decided that women have to wear leather, hold guns, be young, and not fat to be threatening, and rebooted her into the Suicide Squad’s field leader. Sure, she’s still the cold-hearted manipulator we know, but the change feels unnecessary, possibly even detrimental to the character. Waller was terrifying before because she looked like your friend’s grumpy mom led a team of death row killers, but now she’s just another cold-hearted woman with leather and guns, and trading her previously rich backstory for a youthful physique certainly isn’t going to help. Here’s hoping Convergence gives us the Amanda Waller we know and are really, really frightened of back; if only for a moment.
8. Superman’s Love Life?
For several decades now, Superman and Lois Lane have been the celebrity power couple of the DC Universe. He can (but usually won’t) break a planet like a cardboard box, and she’s a no-holds-barred investigative journalist who’s not afraid to start fights to get to the truth. It’s the couple we all know, the one fans have watched banter in the Daily Planet’s office, ferry Lois through the night sky to a private evening at the Fortress of Solitude, and punch alien warships in the face while she opens the warp gate to hurl them into *insert hellish parallel dimension here*. Knowing this of course, DC decided to do the smart thing during the New 52 reboot, and promptly tweaked the narrative so Clark and Lois had never been in a romantic relationship in the first place. And then they had Superman courting Wonder Woman, because DC knows what their female fans want. Of course, Lois Lane has still been very involved in Superman’s life, and she still engages with verbal warfare with Clark on a daily basis, but it just doesn’t feel right for Superman to go home to his Amazonian girlfriend. What’s worse, that appears to be more or less Wonder Woman’s purpose in the New 52, which is irritating in a franchise that claims to create strong, fully realized female characters. With two of DC’s heaviest hitters in the love triangle no one asked for, they’re all bound to be in quite a bit of the Convergence narrative, so if this isn’t addressed, that’d be pretty pathetic.
7. The Blue Beetle Legacy?
Ted Kord (on the left), in his pre-New 52 iteration, is most famous for being the Blue Beetle who acquired the Scarab technology but could never quite make it work. So instead he made an arsenal of crime prevention tech using resources from his own company (if this sounds familiar, he’s basically Batman but fun at parties). Then he was murdered during the events of The OMAC Project, and eventually the Scarab found a suitable host in Jaime Reyes (pictured right), who carried on with Kord’s namesake as Blue Beetle after accepting the power of the Scarab. The whole affair was quite touching, as Ted Kord was one of DC’s most enjoyable characters, and it was interesting to see his successor take such a drastically different persona as Blue Beetle. New 52, however, started the Blue Beetle reboot off with only Jaime Reyes, with no mention of Ted Kord whatsoever. Honestly, that wouldn’t have been much of an issue if DC hadn’t had Lex Luthor randomly meet a young man who was pretty slick with technology in the ruins of Metropolis during the Forever Evil event. That guy’s name turned out to be Ted Kord, running Kord Industries in a very much non-Beetle fashion, while there is one Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle-ing it up elsewhere in the DCU. If that doesn’t deserve explanation via time travel dimensional gibberish, we don’t know what does.
6. Red Hood and Scarlet?
Jason Todd was the second orphaned kid in Gotham City to take on the mantle of Robin, and he quickly distinguished himself from his predecessor for being excessively violent, rude, and presumably not that good of an acrobat. Naturally, his tenure as Batman’s wingman didn’t end very well. He remained dead for quite some time, but then the revolving door policy comic books have towards mortality kicked in, and he was, we kid you not, punched back into reality. Understandably disturbed by the experience, he took the identity of Red Hood and dedicated himself ostensibly to doing what Bruce and co. never would in order to end crime for good, but in reality he just existed to constantly ruin everyone in the Bat Family’s day whenever he could. Then, comic guru Grant Morrison got ahold of Red Hood, and he picked up a freshly traumatized and vengeful sidekick named Scarlet. The pair then decided to become the new Dynamic Duo of Gotham with the recent death of Batman, violently murdering criminals and making life generally miserable for the Dark Knight’s actual successors. It was pretty interesting to see Jason evolve into a sort of Anti-Batman, employing brutal tactics against crime but still nurturing Scarlet as Bruce had him. Then the New 52 decided he was too unique, and rebooted him into trying to earn back favor with the Bat Family, even carving a red Bat Symbol onto his shirt, and just for good measure they wiped Scarlet out of existence. Another remorseful antihero is not what the Batman mythos needs, and the dynamic between the more rash Red Hood and Scarlet would be a welcome return.
5. Barbara Gordon’s Handicap?
Nearly everyone who’s hip to comics knows about Barbara Gordon, the first Batgirl, whose career was cut tragically short when Joker casually shot her through the spine in her own home, paralyzing her for life. Ironically, Barbara became way more important to the superhero community overall after that, busting out insane computer skills and operating as an information broker to the hero community known as Oracle. Basically a combination of Professor X and the NSA, she provided intel to Batman and other major players in the DCU, eventually forming her own all-female super team known as The Birds of Prey to take care of business in Gotham and abroad. Then the New 52 decided to reboot the feeling in her legs, along with returning the mantle of Batgirl to her. She still runs The Birds of Prey as their field leader, but something about all this still feels off, seeing as the comics still make references to her previously being in the wheelchair. This leaves one gaping question: How did she get out of it? You don’t just get up out of a wheelchair, even in comic books, and it leaves a massive, gaping hole in the continuity of Batgirl’s story. Learning exactly what happened, and getting more than a passing explanation of supposed “neural implants” that un-crippled Barbara would be intriguing, and it’d also be entertaining to see Oracle back behind the monitor once again.
4. Basically the Entire Green Lantern Corps?
In the case of the Green Lantern Corps (and really, the entire Lantern Corps Mythos), it’s not so much the awesomeness that was swept under the rug to make way for the New 52 as it is the insanity that was ushered in afterwards. Right after the New 52 got underway, major Green Lantern Kyle Rayner (pictured above freaking out) is suddenly drafted by the other six Lantern Corps. According to the Guardians of Universe (the head of the Green Lantern Corps) this would generally be an issue, as no mortal body can sustain more than one Ring at a time. Yet somehow, Kyle survives and becomes a sort of hybrid White Lantern. Also, the Guardians give known villain Sinestro a Green Lantern Ring again on the sole pretext that the recent departure of Hal Jordan (presumably because he knew things were getting crazy) has left an open space. Then, they attack Guardian Ganthet when he expresses concern about it because “they’re tired of his emotional responses.” Later, other human Green Lantern Guy Gardner and Supergirl become Red Lanterns and don’t go insane with rage. Somehow. It’s a good thing Green Lantern-related affairs take place in space anyway, because if any part of the DCU needs a cross-dimension intervention, it’s the Green Lantern Corps.
Why yes, that is indeed two Superboys fighting each other, and surprisingly that is the least weird choice made for Superboy’s New 52 reboot. The main Superboy (Conner Kent AKA Kon-El) is a clone made from Superman’s DNA by Secret Evil Science Collective #75623 who broke out after figuring out they were training him to be a human weapon. Alone, that’s more or less the original Superboy origin, but throw in the double and everything gets really weird. The other Superboy is one Jon Lane Kent, the future son of Superman and Lois Lane (????) who is insanely powerful due to being born under a yellow sun. Unfortunately, he fell severely ill shortly after birth (human and Kryptonian genes don’t mix well), and was whisked to the past (our present) by evil time-traveler Harvest, who stabilized his condition by genes extracted from the clone Conner Kent (this is apparently the real reason he was created) and raised Jon to be his true ultimate weapon against metahumans. So, Conner’s escape understandably drove Jon on a mad rampage, as his DNA is the only thing keeping him alive, and that’s why we have two Superboys demolishing the Earth trying to kill each other above. Did we mention that now both Superboys have telekinesis, because apparently not even Superman’s relatives are safe from randomly getting powers that don’t fit their character. Hopefully Convergence can help sort some of this mess out, but judging by the way the current Teen Titans title has been going, the odds are grim.
2. The Dick Grayson/Damian Wayne Dynamic Duo?
Back before New 52, Grant Morrison certainly left his mark on the Batman Universe when he created the current Robin, Damian Wayne. His greatest narrative contribution, however, is undoubtedly the brief but beautiful Dynamic Duo with Damian Wayne serving as Robin under Dick Grayson’s Batman, as Bruce Wayne was thought to be dead following the events of Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis. Transcending all expectations, Morrison’s run of Batman and Robin prove to be one of the freshest takes on the Batman Mythos in quite some time, as the character dynamic between Dick and Damian gave readers a completely different Dynamic Duo than what they were accustomed. This time around, Batman was the optimistic wisecracker, and Robin was the cold-hearted hunter, and the twist allowed for an entirely different kind of stories for the new Dynamic Duo, and many of Morrison’s creations (Damian and some of the major villains) have manage not only to outlive his run but thrive in the post-Morrison Batman Universe. Sadly, New 52 brought it all to a screeching halt, giving Bruce Wayne his job as Batman back and sending Dick off on his merry way again as Nightwing. Now, this didn’t cause any major problems (in fact, the Batman titles have so far been the strongest of the whole New 52), but when Dick and Damian speak shortly before Damian’s untimely death they make several references to their time together as Batman and Robin. Damian even says, “We were great, Dick. We were the best,” which begs the question of why they even abandoned their post in the first place, a question Convergence is in a very convenient position to answer.
1. Wally West?
Pre-New 52, Wally West was the nephew of Barry Allen, the most famous Flash, who became the original Kid Flash and later took over the Flash mantle after Allen’s passing (pictured left). He was also married and was raising a family by the time Bart Allen, Barry’s grandson and second Kid Flash, entered the fold. This raised a lot of eyebrows when the New 52 started and Wally West was nowhere to be found, but there was a Kid Flash referring to himself as Bart Allen running around in Teen Titans. Though what really sent the comic book world into a frenzy was when Wally did finally enter the New 52, he was slightly than less the current Kid Flash, and suddenly mixed race instead of pale ginger. Honestly, Wally’s ethnicity is the least problematic aspect of this. In both pre and post-New 52, Wally’s biological father abandoned him and his mother when he was young, so it’s entirely possible that his mother wasn’t white in New 52. Rather, it’s the fact that he is a completely different character from the Wally West of old. Before, West was close to Barry and had a talent for science that ultimately proved part of the reason he became Kid Flash. Now, he’s a delinquent teenager who’s not even the least bit interested in Barry Allen or science, preferring to deface public property in his spare time. And yet, somehow according to the Future’s End promos (pictured right) he’s going to get speed powers and become some sort of Flash-affiliated hero. So much about how reality was altered so greatly regarding Wally West is just ignored completely, and Convergence is the perfect time to address this and put things in perspective for everyone. If nothing else, comic book readers will stop getting angry because “Wally West is a black guy now,” because honestly that’s a stupid thing to complain about given everything else.
All images from dc.wikia.com