<i>by <a href=http://www.twitter.com/graemem>Graeme McMillan, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>Last week, we showcased some of the <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/10-marvel-cliffhangers.html>many comics in Marvel's history</a> that didn't exactly manage to end despite the cancellation of the series. <p>That's hardly a problem restricted to the House of Ideas, however; DC Comics also has many, many series that disappeared with all manner of loose ends left dangling. Just Imagine? You don't have to. Here are 10 of DC's unfinished classics. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p> <p>
Anyone reading this issue back in 1971 would have been forgiven for thinking that maybe they'd missed a page or two along the way. The end of "The Creature That Devoured Detroit" was surprisingly sudden, ending with Aquaman destroying a satellite that was causing an algae monster to threaten the motor city but lacking any denouement that suggested that, well, Detroit was okay as a result. Instead, the story ends with an explosion in space, and the caption "And at that same instant, far from the surface of the Earth..." Was that <em>really</em> the end of the story, never mind the end of the series? <p>Well... Yes and no. Because, while that was the last issue of <em>Aquaman</em> for six years, it wasn't meant to be. Writer Steve Skeates had planned a second part to the story, and three years later, he managed to tell it. In a <em>Sub-Mariner</em> comic. <p>No, really; <a href="http://www.dialbforblog.com/archives/162/">this actually happened</a>, with Skeates just replacing Arthur with Namor and going on as if nothing had happened. Weirdly enough, the issue that completed the storyline, <em>The Savage Sub-Mariner</eM> #72 from 1974, turned out to be the final issue of <em>that</em> series, as well. Clearly, comics couldn't handle the idea of an algae monster threatening aquatic villains back then.
One of the most famous "unfinished stories" in comic history, 1972's final issue of Jack Kirby's core Fourth World title didn't even attempt to tie up any long-term storylines, leaving the ongoing battle between Orion and Darkseid for the safety of the human race and secret of the Anti-Life Equation to other titles - including Kirby's own <em>Mister Miracle</em>, which continued for some time after this book's cancellation - and moving on to all-new ideas and characters, as was his way. <p>The series was revived five years later as <em>Return of The New Gods</em>, with Gerry Conway and Don Newton doing their best to explain what happened next, but the closest this storyline has ever come to a conclusion is Kirby's own 1985 graphic novel <em>The Hunger Dogs</em>, which brought a surprising depth and melancholy to the characters, deposing Darkseid and destroying New Genesis. Of course, that was later retconned as being out of continuity, so perhaps we'll have to look to Walt Simonson's underrated 2000 series <em>Orion</em> as the place this really found something resembling a finale.
The final issue of the first series for Ron Raymond and Professor Stein's composite hero ended with two of his enemies the Hyena and Multiplex forming a partnership to defeat the flame-headed hero once and for all... and then nothing happened. <p>The reason for that was that the title was caught up in the <a href="http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Great_DC_Implosion">DC Implosion of 1978</a>, which saw close to 30 titles cancelled without warning due to financial troubles. There was supposed to be a <em>Firestorm</em> #6 it had even been written and drawn but it just never happened. <p>It would take two years for the villains to follow through on their threat, as the material created for the never-published sixth issue was reworked into a back-up strip that began in 1980's <em>The Flash</em> #289. In the meantime, the character lay dormant until being revived in 1979's <em>DC Comics Presents</em> #17 and joining the Justice League in <em>Justice League of America</em> #179.
Another series cut short by the DC Implosion, the final issue of <em>SSOSV</em> saw not one by two different Secret Societies in action on two different parallel Earths. On Earth-Two, one team led by the Wizard fought the Justice Society and sought to find a way back to Earth-One, where Mirror Master, Copperhead and the Silver Ghost were busy setting up their own replacement team. As the series ended, the Wizard's team were still trying to find their way back to Earth-One... <p>...which they managed to do a year later in 1979's <em>Justice League of America</em> #166, coming into conflict with the JLA and swapping bodies with the team as a result. Yes, without the cancellation of <em>SSOSV</em>, you never would have had the storyline that eventually led to the creation of <em>Identity Crisis</em>, more than two decades later. You're welcome, Brad Meltzer.
The 1988 crossover series <em>Millennium</em> took its toll on the DC Universe, with friends, family and the entire town of Smallville being revealed to be pawns of the robotic Manhunters, out to prevent the next stage of human evolution. But few suffered as badly as the Outsiders, Batman's former teammates; at the end of their final issue, Metamorpho was presumed dead, Halo was left in a coma and Looker had been transformed from her superheroic self back into plain, powerless Emily Briggs. <p>While Metamorpho would return in the aftermath of the following year's <em>Invasion!</em> crossover event and join the Justice League Europe, it'd take until 1996's second <em>Outsiders</em> series for Looker and Halo to reach any resolution of their predicaments... even if Looker's involved becoming a vampire, which was hardly an improvement.
Even though everyone involved in the creation of this 1989 issue knew that it was the end of the road for this particular run with writer Paul Levitz stepping down after eight years in charge of the 30th century it still left all number of storylines unfinished to be picked up by future writers, whether it was the reemergence of magic as a dominant force in the universe or the apparent death of Mon-El. <p>Sadly, the following series never quite got the chance to answer them. Yes, Keith Giffen and cohorts purposefully set the following month's <em>Legion of Super-Heroes</em> #1 "five years later" to give themselves a relatively clean slate to work from, but any hope to go back and deal with Levitz' loose ends was thwarted when, less than a year in, word came from up high that certain things in Legion history could no longer be mentioned again clue: The prime offender begins with "Super" and ends with "boy" leading to not one, but two continuity reboots in quick succession. Suddenly, dealing with old business really didn't seem to be a pressing issue.
What's that, you say? You don't remember <em>Armageddon: The Alien Agenda</em>? Well, I can't blame you - This 1992 mini-series picked up from the confusing finale of the previous year's <em>Armageddon 2001</em> and tried to make sense of the hastily-rewritten "Who is Monarch?" storyline that left both Captain Atom and Hank Hall lost in time, apparently forever. After four issues of time-travel shenanigans that revealed a whole-new side to Captain Atom's powers, the series finished with Atom back in the present day and Monarch lost in time, plotting his revenge against the hero that would appear in a promised all-new ongoing <em>Captain Atom</em> series that never appeared. <p>Instead, Monarch became drawn into the 1993 crossover event <em>Zero Hour</em>, changing his costume and identity to become Extant for no immediately apparent reason before killing half of the Justice Society of America. Meanwhile, Captain Atom gave up waiting for his new solo book after three years and eventually re-appeared in 1995's <em>Extreme Justice</em> series. Maybe he should have stayed in limbo after all, considering though he did have a solo series as part of the initial New 52 launch that lasted 13 issues (counting #0).
After 18 issues there was an #0 to launch the series the 1995 final issue of Milestone Media's <em>Shadow Cabinet</em> did that thing that <em>X-Men</em> only flirts with on a regular basis: It revealed that Dharma, the figure behind the team, was actually the bad guy all along, and maybe he had no problem taking out the superheroes if they weren't willing to do his bidding. One of the team, Iron Butterfly, had fallen in love with him by this point, but the team's power couple the wonderfully named Donner and Blitzen escaped his clutches. Surely there was a big dramatic showdown in the offing, right? <em>Right?</em> <p>Well... No, not so much. Instead, Donner and Blitzen moved on to the 1996 mini-series <em>Heroes</em> (where, to be fair, the Shadow Cabinet <em>did</em> show up, now firmly the bad guys), but after that, it would be fourteen years before we'd see Dharma again, and this time, he was a quasi-good guy again, saving the Milestone Universe as part of <em>Milestone Forever</em>.
Oh, the many, <em>many</em> loose ends left behind with the New 52-enforced cancellation of the <em>Justice Society</em>. Where to start? Well, there's the never-explained new members that appeared out of nowhere in the last storyline of the series, or the mystery behind why Green Lantern was suddenly wearing a new outfit that looked like a giant lantern (There was something about him needing the outfit to walk after being crippled and it was Starheart-powered, I think?). Or what the deal was with Monument Point, the Society's new home base, and whether or not Mister Terrific was going to somehow think his way out of losing his intelligence, or how Jay Garrick would take to politics, or or or... <p>(The unresolved plots actually go all the way back to Geoff Johns' run: What <em>had</em> happened to Earth-2's Superman, anyway?) <p>As for any hope of resolution of any of these plots... Sadly not. <em>Flashpoint</em> and The New 52 meant that that Justice Society had never existed, meaning that quite where Marc Guggenheim was planning to go to deal with the many stories he'd set in motion will forever remain a mystery.
And speaking of storylines cut short by The New 52, it's fair to say that <em>Brightest Day</em> as an entirety suffered as a result of DC's 2011 reboot, with multiple new storylines being introduced and new status quos being established just to be disregarded months later (Remember when Firestorm discovered that he was counting down to a big bang?). <p>The series that suffered worst, however, was <em>Generation Lost</em>, the 24-issue, year-long arc that served to bring the Justice League International characters back together and demonstrate that they were a force to be reckoned with, while also returning Maxwell Lord to a position of power within Checkmate. The series ended with Lord having successfully bamboozled his way back into the public's affections, and Batman telling Booster Gold that the brand-new Justice League International would have to stop whatever his nefarious plan was. "To Be Continued In The New Monthly Series: Coming Soon!" read the final words of the series. <p>And then Barry Allen had to go and screw things up. <p>We'll just have to wait for The New 52's Max Lord to make his next step to even get a hint about where this storyline could have ended up going.