Sunday, May 21, 2017

Mysteries of Rebirth: Where is Everyone Else?

With the Batman/ The Flash crossover "The Button" finally having ended, and the realignment of Superman's new continuity getting explained, it seems that we have now entered the "Phase 2" of DC Comics' "Rebirth" initiative. While the mystery of who stole the 10 years of time from the universe still remains for the characters, we the readers are now more than aware of who is responsible. While not explained why, yet, the recently announced "Doomsday Clock" crossover will more than likely answer those questions. And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you probably haven't been paying much attention to DC Comics for the last year.
It is fitting that we're now halfway through the "Rebirth" story. Initially, Geoff Johns mentioned that "Rebirth" would be a two-year story. It does seem like we're halfway there, in some respects. Several characters are keyed into the idea that they are missing major parts of their lives, from Barry Allen to Clark Kent to even Deathstroke, while we're still seeing a melding of tones and characters from the Post-Crisis world into that of the "New 52," (i.e. Arsenal and Green Arrow).

Still, mysteries remain both for characters and for readers. For characters, like I mentioned, they still don't know the extent of what's happening. In fact, they really have no clue. Batman's gotten close with detaining the Psycho Pirate, who still remembers the world from before Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Titans know that the word "Manhattan" will play into it, Tim Drake has broken out and found something, or someone, rather shocking in the Mr. Oz prison, and Superman was outright told by Mr. Mxyzptlk that there is a power even stronger than a Fifth-Dimension imp out there. Some of these questions are ones that we as readers are asking. How are Oz and Dr. Manhattan stronger than Mxyptlk? Who was it that Tim Drake saw in the prison? How much of Dr. Manhattan is Abra Kadabra aware of?

But I think the biggest mystery for us, as readers, remains within the location of certain characters. I know for me, personally, that's what I want to know for right now. Where'd everyone else go, and when will they make their returns into the world of "Rebirth"? So, for now, let's go through a quick list of characters that are quite important, but maybe haven't been around so much in "Rebirth."

Jay Garrick
Last seen: The Flash #22

Well, yeah, I think we all know where Jay Garrick is at this point. Much like Wally West, Jay Garrick was sucked into the Speed Force during the events of Flashpoint. But unlike Wally West, Jay was not able to anchor himself properly on an emotional level with anyone in the current timeline for an extended period of time, and was thus yanked away left for Barry to wonder just who that man with the Mercury Helmet was.

Presumably, all of the Flash-family from the Post-Crisis world is stuck in the Speed Force. It wouldn't surprise me if Bart Allen or Jesse Quick were to pop out of there sometime before November, when Doomsday Clock is slated to begin.

Billy Batson, aka Shazam
Last seen: Justice League #50

You'd think with someone being the God of Gods that they would have a rather vital role to play in the reconstruction of the universe. But, despite that honorific title, Shazam has been missing for the better part of a year. Black Adam, too, I believe, though I don't remember hearing much about him during the New 52 era, anyway, outside of maybe Forever Evil? That's besides the point. Shazam being gone seems a bit odd considering the main push for "Rebirth." DC wants to invoke a fun, more high-spirited tone in their stories, and what better character imagines that than Billy Batson? Sure he didn't have the most popular of runs during the New 52, but so many characters that are now being accepted by fans (Red Hood, Arsenal, the Teen Titans) that between 2011-2015 were absolutely hated. So you can't blame a lack of popularity.

There was a glimmer of hope for him to return, and maybe there still is, when there were rumors circulating that Tom King (Batman, The Vision) would be doing a story on the New Gods, which is where Billy got his new powers during Justice League's "Darkseid War" arc. It's been confirmed that King is actually writing a Mister Miracle series, which is curious but welcomed considering 1) He's a good writer 2) Mister Miracle is a fun, nuanced character. This lessens the likelihood we'll see Shazam in any major capacity, but there may be fun hints and clues to at least his whereabouts in that book. I mean, seriously, nobody on the Justice League is looking for this guy?!

The Legion of Super-Heroes
Last seen: Justice League United #10

Oddly enough, the Legion had a fairly substantial presence in the early days of the New 52, with Legion Lost and their crossover with Teen Titans. Their overall role in-universe has been rather minimal, but writer Jeff Lemire (Green Arrow, Moon Knight) recruited them for his run on Justice League United, where they had to combat the league over whether or not to terminate a child that would eventually lead to the future's destruction. I don't remember much of the events of that series, but it's curious that Saturn Girl, a Legionnaire, somehow remained behind.

According to both DC Universe: Rebirth #1 and Batman #21, she seems to recall major events yet to come. She aptly predicts the death of Reverse Flash, declares that Superman isn't going to be around much longer, and seems overall insane at the loss of her team. Whatever it is that happened to the space-time continuum, it would seem that she, like Psycho Pirate, remembers something. Now, unlike Jay Garrick and the JSA--who are missing but have a connection in that most members are missing--we've seen the Legion and know that they more than likely are not trapped in the Speed Force. Another interesting tidbit is that, in a 2016 panel regarding "Rebirth," it was confirmed that one of the current DC writers would tackle the Legion, given all the mysteries surrounding them (Saturn Girl's insanity, Superman's possible knowledge of their existence, and Emerald Empress declaring she wished to find "the Legionairre" in Justice League vs. Suicide Squad).

The Joker(s)
Last seen: Batman #51

This one's a bit easy to answer, since we know that Dark Night: Metal will more than likely involve the Clown Prince of Crime in some way; this story may possibly serve as a crescendo of sorts for him. Snyder and Capullo have insisted that their Joker story is a trilogy: "Death of the Family," "Endgame," and now "Metal."

Still, it makes one wonder what he could be planning. In a small panel in Batman #51, the Joker conspicuously crushes a bug between his fingers and declares "Not tonight," when Batman heads out into the streets. Curious, as we were meant to believe that the chemical keeping him alive for so long also wiped much of his memory as it did for Batman.

However, this does not explain the idea that there are two other Jokers running around. It was either Justice League #50 or DC Universe: Rebirth #1 that revealed there were Jokers attacking places simultaneously, or perhaps it was to show the Joker had attacked three times in odd places. So, this one isn't so much a question of "where" but of "who?" The most likely story is that this New 52 Joker is indeed some sort of "god," possibly a creation by someone else. The Joker that's infamous for killing Jason Todd and paralyzing Barbara Gordon is likely a different character...but the third Joker? Hmm. Still unsure on that front.

Last seen: Convergence #8

As the surprise centerpiece for 8-issue event from 2015, Brainiac's involvement in the DCU comes off as rather shocking. Consider this: a psychotic, but genius, villain from the pre-Crisis Earth has somehow escaped through the barriers of time and space, barging through the Source Wall to come upon this new Earth that has been ravaged by Crisis after Crisis. Each new Crisis, and each new incarnation, damages him and creates new mutations to him--eventually, he has enough, and creates a pseudo-son to take pockets of the old world and force them into battle (completely unlike Secret Wars...yeah...). Finally, he's restored...but at what cost?

Convergence is, essentially, a continuity nightmare. While it does safely restore the idea of the multiverse back into the fresh 2010s era of comics, it also makes you wonder what the heck history is like now that apparently Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour were averted. But, again, besides the point. The fact that Brainiac was able to escape the total decimation of everything leads to a bunch of narrative potential. Like Psycho Pirate, he likely remembers things from the old world. Does he know what created the New 52 world? Unlikely, but, perhaps he does.

After all, there's still a fourth prisoner in Oz's holding. He's shown the ability to contain Mr. Mxyzptlk, so why not an inter-dimensional being who was able to escape outside of time and space itself? What not Brainiac? The villain's return would certainly help complete the circle for Superman's rogues gallery and would throw another wrench into the "Rebirth" mystery.

Superboy Prime
Last seen: Teen Titans #98

This one is mostly here because it kind of seems like Geoff Johns has some sort of fixation with the guy. I mean, he outright makes him the centerfold for Infinite Crisis (and later Countdown to Final Crisis would expand on him, but who cares?). He featured heavily in events following, but was last seen being trapped within the Source Wall by the Teen Titans.

Some have speculated that he is the true cause of "Rebirth," and the recent interview where Johns says, regarding Doomsday Clock, "Everything I've written has built up to this." Now, I took that as he has been preparing, as a writer, to take on something this massive through all the stories so far. I don't think we'll see a culmination of Geoff Johns's stories as a writer with this single story (though we may, you never know).

Still, I wouldn't expect to see this guy anytime soon. He's likely been washed aside like Conner Kent was in the wake of the recent "Superman Reborn" crossover between Superman and Action Comics.

The Monitor(s)
Last seen: Final Crisis #7

I suppose I could be talking about either Monitor, from Crisis on Infinite Earths, or the Monitors from various pieces of Post-Crisis stories, but my question is the same: how in the holy Hell have we not at all seen the Monitors in like a DECADE with the huge shenanigans that the Anti-Monitor tried to pull off in "Darkseid War"? The Monitor made a big deal about the coming of the Anti-Monitor in Crisis on Infinite Earths, gathering up the greatest warriors the Multiverse had ever seen through Harbinger and creating weapons across time in order to stop him. But in flippin' "Darkseid War," Mobius just shows up outta nowhere and gets into a punching match with Darkseid!

Where were you, Bob?

But seriously, I think the Monitors have gone missing either from the minds of the current DC creators, or they've gone missing by the hand of Mr. Oz. Unless Final Crisis is in continuity (which God only knows what the continuity is at this point) in which case I think there's at least one Monitor still laying around. He should be doing something with all these temporal distortions going on. Sure the Anti-Monitor has gone quiet, for now, but come on. The Flash and Batman took the timestream and ripped it shreds a couple weeks ago, they should've reacted to that.

And those are the big ones that I can think of that haven't had minor roles in "Rebirth" already. Sure there are others like Booster Gold that maybe deserve attention, but I honestly didn't follow him much during the New 52 and wouldn't be at liberty to speak on where he is now. Plus, Rip Hunter has just appeared in the pages of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, so we're likely to see some time-travellers returning soon. Zatanna's coming appearance in Detective Comics likely spell the return of magic-based characters as well.

But it's fun to speculate and wonder where these characters are. It gets us hopeful that we'll see them again, which of course we will. It's not like DC is going to never publish a JSA comic again, or never answer that question of the three Jokers. For now, all we can do is keep reading, and keep finding those "Rebirth" clues that several geeky sites eat up like candy.

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