Crisis Counselor

This week saw the end of DC's time and universe spanning crossover <b>Convergence</b>, and what an ending it was. SPOILERS AHEAD for those who haven't read the issue! <p>The end of <b>Convergence</b> saw the <a href="">restoration of the pre-<i>Crisis On Infinite Earths</i> DC multi-verse</A>, a status quo that's been gone for almost 30 years. This return of the Pre-<I>Crisis</I> DC got us thinking about some of the characters and stories DC has dropped over the years. <p>And now, with the entire history of DC comics on the table, and the New 52 branding dropped as of March, we thought it a good time to revisit this list of things we still miss from the old DCU. Maybe now we'll get some of them back!


It was one thing to realize that Superman was no longer married to Lois Lane in New 52 continuity – but then came the realization that the Flash was similarly no longer married to Iris (or even dating her), Hawkman had no Hawkwoman, and Aquaman and Mera were apparently in a relationship that may be long-term and committed, but definitely wasn't married. Oh, and then there's the whole Batwoman marriage that will apparently never happen. In New 52 continuity, it appears that only Animal Man and Ellen get to tie the knot. Even Superman and Wonder Woman seem to be heading for splitsville from the looks of this week's DC Sneak Peeks. <p>There's something strange about what appears to be some major commitment-phobia when it comes to superheroes and their loved ones over at DC these days. Maybe they're worried that the wedding band is made out of kryptonite, or perhaps it's concern over whether it'll ruin the line of their gloves – either way, it'd be nice to see a wedding or two at some point, for variety if nothing else.


2014 was a big year for fan-favorite characters making their comeback to the DCU after too long away, with Wally West and Stephanie Brown debuting in new incarnations. Ted Kord likewise was mentioned, and even the original version came back in <i>Justice League 3000</i>. <p>And them came Donna Troy in <i>Wonder Woman #37</i> ... or at least <i>a</i> Donna Troy. <p>For the moment the Donna Troy that was introduced then still isn’t much like the Donna Troy we know and love from the DCU of old. Maybe in a few more months or years she’ll resemble that Donna, but until she does, we’re holding out hope for a real return.


Okay, sure; <I>The Daily Planet</I> technically still exists – we've seen it in issues of <em>Superman</em>. But these days, you could be forgiven for remembering that, especially considering that Clark Kent quit to become a full-time blogger more than a year ago. The classic Superman supporting cast of Lois, Jimmy, Perry, et al. have been pushed to the side in the <em>Super</em>-titles since then, and it's an absence that can be felt in the books themselves. <p>Superman works best as a character when he's surrounded not only by friends and peers – you could argue that the Justice League serve those roles quite well, especially with Wonder Woman now Superman's girlfriend – but by <em>human</em> friends and peers that can put his super-actions in context and provide an alternative to his costumed lifestyle. <em>That</em> is something that was missing in the New 52: something to ground Clark Kent and make him more relatable to readers. <I>The Daily Planet</I> used to provide that, and Clarkcatopolis really can't compare.


In the pre-<i>Flashpoint</i> DCU, if a superhero wanted information, they knew exactly who to ask: Barbara Gordon, A.K.A. Oracle. Gordon's post-Batgirl persona wasn't merely an information hub to curious and lazy superheroes, however; she was also the center of the superhuman community, and a sign that the good guys may not always get along, but at least they could work together towards a common goal. <p>These days, Gordon is still around as the all-swinging, all-asskicking Batgirl, and she's got a disabled friend named Frankie working talking in her ear beginning in June (we really wish they'd call Frankie by the name "Oracle" already). But outside Burnside, heroes are either aligned with the Justice League or oversight committee known as A.R.G.U.S., or they're out on their own and working in the dark. While this new reality certainly provides material for drama moving forwards, the lack of a sense of community amongst the various superheroes of the DCU is something that makes the current DCU feel smaller, and not in a good way. <p>Recently, an Oracle-like character called “Coach” was seen aiding Harley Quinn in the 8-page preview of <I>Harley Quinn</I> post-<i>Convergence</i> storyline, so that’s something, at least.


Okay, this may be a strange one, but Oolong Island – the island state populated entirely by mad scientists that first appeared in <em>52</em> back in 2006 (Yes, nine years ago, and yes, you're getting old) – was a concept that celebrated the endless inventiveness of DCU science in all its goofy glory, as only befits an island where one of the inhabitants was a genocidal giant talking egg. <p>Oolong's various scientist inhabitants were reminders of everything that had been accomplished in the DCU, from lifelike androids to time travel to… well, what Doctor Cyclops, Dr. Rigoro Mortis and others brought to the party was somewhat obscure admittedly, but that was almost the point. It was a concept that reminded readers that <em>anything was possible</em>, which was as exciting as it was fun. Compare that to the mysterious, vague technology of the New 52, which seems limited in scope and invention for the most part, and it's clear that the current state of DC science needs a giant leap forwards. <p>At least there were scary science experiments on Cadmus Island in <i>Futures End</i>.


Once upon a time, DC's Earth was an intergalactic hub – characters would arrive from other planets, leave for other planets or simply just take jaunts in space whenever they felt like it. Since the New 52 began, there's been an odd separation between what happens on Earth and "out there." That's not to say that characters don't occasionally switch from one to the other – it's just that, when they do, they don't appear to be buying return tickets. <p>Consider Hal Jordan, who left Earth (and the Justice League) to go deal with the problems in <em>Green Lantern</em> a while ago and hasn't been seen on much Earth since outside a recent return in Justice League. It's not that there aren't stories happening out there in DC Universe Space, it's that there seems to be a disconnect between what happens there and what happens here. <p>That all said, we do think <i>Justice League United</i> has started to address this concern, and there was a tease at the end of <i>Convergence</i> that Earth 0 heroes would be seeing Earth 2 again. It's still early, but things are looking 'up' (get it?)


The New 52 DC Universe felt like a smaller place. That shouldn't be true – there are, currently, adventures on three different "worlds" to contend with, thanks to <em>Forever Evil</em> – but restarting the universe only three years ago has had the unintended consequence of meaning that almost all of the superheroes in the current DCU have had their own comic books, or been members of teams that do. Gone are the days of a world where obscure characters like B'wana Beast, Atlas and the Little Mermaid were out there, toiling away in the background while the Justice League got all the headlines. <p>Oh, the ranks of those outside of the New 52 spotlight have been grown by series like James Robinson's <em>Shade</em>, <em>Batman, Incorporated</em> and <em>DC Universe Presents</em>, but it'll take a long time to regrow the amount of crime fighters (and supporting characters, and villains) that existed in the old days, when you really didn't know if an old favorite could re-appear without any warning whatsoever.


It sounds snarky, but it's meant genuinely: Three years into the New 52, keeping track of what's actually happened is sometimes <i>more</i> difficult than it was before the universe was rebooted, and you had multiple (again, sometimes contradictory) stories to try and make work together. Was Tim Drake actually a Robin or not in the New 52? Was Starfire a member of a Teen Titans team we've never seen? Has Doomsday already killed Superman already, and if so, did he come out of the Phantom Zone? (Oh, in fact, <a href=>we did an entire countdown just about these sorts of things</a>!) <p>Adding the multiverse into the equation in full force is only going to add to this issue, sadly. Continuing the <i>Secret Origins</i> series might clear a few things up, but better yet would be a brand new <i>Who's Who</i> or <i>History of the DC Universe</i>.


In current continuity, superheroes have only really been active on Earth since the debut of Superman, which happened – at most – six or seven years previously. That means that a large part of DC mythology – the entire career of the Justice Society – has been entirely discarded, both on the main Earth and, as we've seen, on Earth 2 (which, if anything, may be lagging behind the main Earth in terms of superhero timelines). <p>This shift makes a lot of sense in terms of trying to make the DC Universe more appealing to contemporary audiences, but now that the DC Multiverse is potentially "infinite," DC could undo the loss of characters who represent DC's origins as a publisher - the original incarnations of Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, Ted Grant. If DC had any reason to celebrate its history, the end of <i>Convergence</i> would be the perfect time, and the JSA the ideal team.


Another casualty of the updated timeline for the New 52 is the sense of superheroics being a legacy career. Barry Allen was no longer inspired by Jay Garrick, and Wally West no longer took up the identity after Barry. The notion that a superheroic identity is somehow bigger, or more long-lasting, than any one individual is another part of DC's DNA as a publisher, subtext from the Silver Age made into text during the 1980s and '90s when the characters started acknowledging their predecessors right there on the page. <p>More than anything else, this is why Wally West was so missed when the New 52 launched, and why the new version doesn't have the same appeal (at least not yet): Wally was the sidekick who managed to grow up and into the mantle handed down to him, and win the respect of his fellow superheroes and the readers in the process. It was something that made the character almost unique, and very appealing to readers, because we got to see him grow up. Although the young age of the new "DC You" has a lot of benefits, the legacy that appealed to so many DC fans is missed, and the new Multiverse might be the ideal way to bring it back.

Dear DC: 10 Things From OLD DCU We Want Back, Please

Date: 28 May 2014 Time: 09:15 PM ET