One Year In: 10 NEW 52 Questions We Want Answered

<i>by <a href=>Alan Kistler, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>It's now been one year since DC Comics launched The New 52 rebooting their DC Universe continuity along with decades of numbering and since that time fans have had a lot of questions about the nuts and bolts of the new reality. <p>A new timeline was established that so far maintains the heroic age truly began about five years ago. The World War II heroes of the Justice Society have been removed from the mainstream reality again and inhabit Earth 2. Superman is no longer married to Lois Lane in fact, he hasn't even dated her yet. Barry Allen has never dated Iris West, and Batman had four (or five) apprentices in a span of five years. <p>While several story arcs seem to be progressing quite nicely, there are still new and lingering questions amongst fans. Some are curiosities about what is being set up to be told in the future. Some are genuine concerns and confusion about where continuity stands for some characters and events. Most of the universe was rebooted, but contradictions have been rising and it hasn't helped that the Batman and Green Lantern histories appear to be largely unaffected by this universal restart. <p>So in our continuing look at the thus-far legacy of The New 52, let's take a look at some of the biggest questions that have come up. <p>Click "start here" in the upper-left corner to start our countdown. (<i>Vaneta Rogers contributed to an updated version of this countdown</i>.) <p><a href=>One Year In: The WINNERS of The New 52</a> <p><a href=>One Year of DC's the NEW 52: The 10 Best Things</a> <p><a href=>One Year of DC's the NEW 52: The 10 Worst Things</a> <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p> <p>


We were told time and time again that the Bat-books are relatively untouched by the changing continuity of The New 52 DC Universe. The idea seemed to be that most of Batman's adventures with the Justice League never happened and Tim Drake's career as a member of Young Justice is non-existent, but they still had their own adventures in Gotham. <p><i>Batman Incorporated</i> began before The New 52 relaunch, and the <i>Leviathan Strikes</i> one-shot is said to take place months before all the new issue #1's, explaining why Dick Grayson has not yet returned to his Nightwing identity and why Barbara Gordon still requires a wheelchair. In fact, Barbara's physical state means that parts of <i>Batman Incorporated</i> need to take place at least 6 months before <i>Batgirl #1</i>. <p>That's all well and good, but readers are getting a bit confused when DC refuses to address the continuity/chronology of the many Robins in the new DCU and creators remark at San Diego Comic-Con that Stephanie was not a Robin, yet <i>Batman, Incorporated</i> clearly says that this part of her history remains true. And while we're told in the pages of Justice League that the team has not had any new members in the five years since it formed, <i>Leviathan Strikes</i> includes remarks of Metamorpho's Justice League days. Was he a member but only for a short time now? Was he just an associate or consultant on a few cases? <p>Or perhaps all of <i>Batman, Incorporated</i> is now considered an out of continuity adventure, similar to <i>All-Star Batman</i>, and no one's told us. People are wondering things like this.


Since the relaunch started, the shady organization called N.O.W.H.E.R.E. has been part of <i>Superboy</i> and <i>Teen Titans</i>. It has touched <i>Legion Lost</i>, and it's a big deal in the new title <i>Ravagers</i>. And yet the organization is still shrouded in mystery. <p>There have been a lot of clues so far, although few answers. N.O.W.H.E.R.E. has an interest in metahuman teenagers and has been forcing them into "survival of the fittest" scenarios. The organization's leader, Harvest, has use of 31st Century tech. He was collecting meta-humans to "save the future." But why? <p>Some of the problems with understanding the organization have their root in a switch done with the reboot. At SDCC last year, writer Scott Lobdell stated that Superboy was still the creation of Cadmus and that his pre-Young Justice adventures were still in continuity. Yet the new comics have shown this is clearly not the case and N.O.W.H.E.R.E. seems to be responsible for his birth. <p>If we forgive the early confusion, we're still left with a year's worth of villainous activities whose motivations are... well, unknown. Tom DeFalco <a href="">promised Newsarama last month</a> that he would <a href="<a href=""">answer a lot of questions in the upcoming issues</a> of <i>Legion Lost</i> and <i>Superboy</i></a>. He implied that Harvest will show up in <i>Superboy #0</i> and in <i>Legion Lost #13</i>. "Up until now, we've been asking questions. With [<i>Legion Lost</i>] #13, we start giving the answers," he said.


You know the phrase women in refrigerators? Well, Alex DeWitt was the woman who was literally found in the fridge. A love interest to the Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, she was a very strong, opinionated woman who was essential to helping the young man mature into a stronger hero. And then Major Force showed up and, seemingly for the pleasure of it, killed her and stuffed her in the fridge just to show Kyle that he meant business and was a dangerous person. <p>Alex's death has been a major part of Kyle's character ever since. Her ghost has haunted him (sometimes literally) and it's not an event he's ever gotten over. It also made Major Force his first archenemy. <p>But here's the thing: Major Force was given powers because someone attempted to recreate the project that created Captain Atom. Essentially, he was the evil Captain Atom, with the same abilities. But in The New 52, Captain Atom has only been around for a few months. and there is no Major Force yet. So... who killed Alex years ago?


The Justice League formed roughly five years ago and Superman made his debut just under six years ago (<i>Action Comics #1</i> took place six months before <i>Justice League #1</i>, and said he'd been operating for a few months already). We've been told that Batman (and Hal Jordan) had been operating as heroes before Superman's debut and that the world at large was simply unaware. <p>But just when did Batman begin? If we presume that Dick Grayson became the original Robin after Superman's debut but before the formation of the Justice League, then Batman was probably operating for at least three or four years earlier (taking into account his solo adventures and the previous timeline). So let's say Batman has been around for nine years. Well, his son Damian Wayne is 10. When exactly did Batman meet Ra's al Ghul and Damian's mother Talia in the new reality? Before he was ever Batman? <p>Another problem arises when you consider that Batman's origin is still said to be <i>Batman: Year One</i>. But if that story features the birth of James Gordon Jr., then it must take place almost 20 years ago since James seems to currently be in his late teens, if not older. So has Batman been operating for 20 years now, meaning he was running around for at least 14 years before Superman and the first Robin showed up?


Previously, Barbara Babs Gordon was Jim Gordon's niece (named after his wife, Barbara), whom he adopted when she was a young teenager, after her parents died. A later story implied that Jim Gordon may have even been her biological father. Later on, Mrs. Gordon left and took James Jr. with her. After a divorce, James reunited with his old partner Sarah Essen, who served in the GCPD and was even commissioner for a while. Jim and Sarah were married, but her life later came to a tragic end at the hands of the Joker. <p>In the new reality, however, we find out that Jim Gordon's wife Barbara left on her own, leaving both kids behind. What's more, Babs and Mrs. Gordon are directly related, rather than Batgirl having an adopted parent. In the New 52, Jim Gordon "never" remarried. If <i>Batman: Year One</i> is still canon, then what happened to Sarah Essen? Did she never reunite with Jim in the new reality? Did they reunite but never marry? And if Babs/Batgirl is the biological daughter of Jim Gordon and Barbara Gordon, then that brings us back to wondering about the timeline and continuity of Batman: Year One and who that baby is that is being born, and is said to be Jim's first child.


Diana's story has always been that she was the only child to ever grow up on Paradise Island (barring a few stories where she had the company of a magically created clone). As a child of Hippolyta, she was the only Amazon who had not already lived in Patriarch's World before being brought to the island where they would be ageless. <p>Having Diana learn that she's actually the daughter of Zeus doesn't change this upbringing. What does alter it is the recent revelation that Amazon women, on a regular basis, go out to copulate with sailors in order to get pregnant and then kill the men. This is apparently to keep their population up. <p>But if Amazons are ageless, why the need to increase population? And if this happens on a regular basis, this means Diana should have known some other children running around the island, even if they several years older or younger than her. Where did she think they all came from? Did she believe that they were all made from clay that was brought to life as well? Why did Hippolyta even feel the need to make up a story about Diana's birth if all she had to do was say that she had gone out and bedded a man like all the other Amazons were doing? <p>There may be a good explanation planned, but we haven't heard it yet.


Sometimes, editors and writers appear to just miss something, or perhaps don't double check with other books. It can lead to a few continuity gaffes. In The New 52, there are conflicting accounts on whether there was or was not a previous group of Teen Titans that existed before the current team. Exactly how much Batman is trusted by the government and law enforcement changes depending on whether you're reading the Bat-titles, <i>Justice League</i> or <i>Justice League International.</i> <p>In <i>Flash</i> right now, title hero Barry Allen is meeting the villain Gorilla Grodd for the very first time. This is Grodd's first encounter with a true human enemy and we can see in the story that Barry is startled to learn that there are gorillas that can talk. He makes it very clear he's never encountered such a thing before. <p>Yet five years ago, in the pages of <i>Justice League</i>, Barry Allen and Hal Jordan speak very glibly and matter-of-factly about how they joined forces to stop a talking gorilla a while back. Did Barry forget this seemingly memorable case? Was that not Grodd but some other speaking gorilla such as Mallah, or Detective Chimp, or the Ultra-Humanite? All of that's possible, but then why is Barry so shocked when he meets Grodd and finds Gorilla City? A simple remark could've explained this away, such as Barry saying, Wow, I met <i>one</i> talking gorilla before, but a whole city? Weird.


Yes, we know this mystery will be answered in this fall's "Death of the Family" event, but it's still one of the most interesting questions remaining in The New 52. Batman's greatest enemy has been missing since issue #1. He was imprisoned in Arkham and then escaped, leaving only his face behind. It seemed to be his true face (though in a universe where cloning is possible, who can say?). <p>If there's anything Batman fans know, it's this: if the Joker is not imprisoned and hasn't been seen for a while, he has something big planned. Something terrible and dark. Is he attempting to recreate himself, as he has in the past? Will he expect Batman and the world to follow suit? Perhaps he, being a madman, actually knows what happened to the universe and continuity, and it's driven him even crazier. <p>Who's to say? Only time and <i>Batman</i> writer Scott Snyder will tell.


In all of The New 52's #1 issues, we saw the hooded woman. In the pages of <i>Justice League</i>, we finally learned she is the legendary Pandora, as in, "Pandora's Box." In DC's Free Comic Book Day special, we saw that she, along with two others, was punished/cursed for crimes that she still defends. One of these other two is The Phantom Stranger, which gives him a definite origin story for the first time (previously, he was given multiple origins so readers could debate which one was real). The other member of the trio seems to be The Question, or perhaps a mystic being who inspires the legacy of The Question in this reality. <p>But what is Pandora's true nature? What is her plan? She seemed to be interested in helping the DC Universe become stronger when she showed up in the pages of <i>Flashpoint</i> and arranged for its continuity to alter as she merged it with the Wildstorm reality and the Vertigo world. But a later conversation with the Phantom Stranger implied she may have done this for selfish, sinister reasons. <p>And if the Phantom Stranger and Pandora are aware that this reality has been altered, does that open the door for the old universes to come back? Why reboot all of history if you're going to mention that this isn't how things used to be? Are we leading to a new Crisis? <p>Now that we know Phantom Stranger will be explored more in his new solo title by DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, and the fact that Pandora was once again highlighted in this week's <i>Justice League #12</i>, we've been warned by DC multiple times that something major is coming from these characters.


It's been nearly a year and fans still aren't clear on certain things. The <i>Death of Superman</i> seems like it couldn't have happened now, but if it didn't, then how did the cyborg Hank Henshaw come to destroy Coast City? <i>Blackest Night</i> is said to have still happened, but what about all those scenes with characters who no longer exist in the new reality and are now said to be inhabitants of the parallel world Earth 2? <p>Batman's death and time-exile evidently still happened, and we assume Darkseid was still responsible. But that happened in the pages of <i>Final Crisis</i>. If that's still true, the events of that story must have been very different since Billy Batson and the other Shazam-characters don't have powers yet, and since a major part of that story revolved around Barry Allen coming back from the dead which in the new reality definitely didn't happen since recent issues of <i>Flash</i> make it clear that Barry has never traveled in time, or to other universes before. <p>As we get to the end of this list, perhaps the biggest question is why DC has been referencing plenty of old tales from before the reboot, without making clear exactly what "counts" and what doesn't. When it comes to the New 52 timeline, any discussion of past continuity being "canon" just isn't easily answered.

One Year In: 10 NEW 52 Questions We Want Answered

Date: 01 June 2012 Time: 08:16 PM ET