Crisis Counselor1 of 13When the ending of Convergence brought back the pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths version of DC’s multiverse, DC Comics promised that the door was now open to the return of elements of its pre-"New 52" continuity – and, to any version of its history and characters.
While those possibilities have yet to be largely explored, DC does have a handful of titles coming up that promise some connection to DC’s long (and discarded) history. Superman: Lois & Clarkfollows a version of Superman based on his pre-"New 52" incarnation, but in the current mainstream DC Earth and married to Lois Lane, and the pair even have a child together. Meanwhile, Titans Hunt will delves intothe “secret history” of the Teen Titans. And though it focuses on the current incarnations of the characters, its connection to the Teen Titans of old is clear.
Even though there is plenty to love about DC’s new direction, there’s still a lot we miss about what came before. DC’s 75+ years of continuity hold many treasures still missing from the New52, and DCYou. Here are 11 things we (still) miss about the old DC Universe.
THE SACRED INSTITUTION2 of 13It 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 marriage. 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.
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.
Fortunately, there may be some silver-lining - a second version of Superman and Lois Lane, recently coming from an alternate dimension as seen in Convergence, are joining the main DCU -- with a son, no less - in the upcoming Superman: Lois & Clark series.
THE REAL DONNA TROY3 of 132014 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 Justice League 3000.
And them came Donna Troy in Wonder Woman #37 ... or at least a Donna Troy.
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.
THE DAILY PLANET4 of 13Okay, sure; The Daily Planet technically still exists – we've seen it in issues of Superman. 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 Super-titles since then, and it's an absence that can be felt in the books themselves.
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 human friends and peers that can put his super-actions in context and provide an alternative to his costumed lifestyle. That is something that was missing in the New 52: something to ground Clark Kent and make him more relatable to readers. The Daily Planet used to provide that, and Clarkcatopolis really can't compare - though Kentville might be headed in the right direction.
ORACLE5 of 13In the pre-Flashpoint 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.
These days, Gordon is still around as the all-swinging, all-asskicking Batgirl, and she's got a disabled friend named Frankie talking in her ear (we really wish they'd call Frankie by the name "Oracle" already). But outside Burnside, heroes are either aligned with the Justice League or the 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.
Recently, an Oracle-like character called “Coach” was seen aiding Harley Quinn, so that’s something, at least.
OOLONG ISLAND6 of 13Okay, this may be a strange one, but Oolong Island – the island state populated entirely by mad scientists that first appeared in 52 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.
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 anything was possible, 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.
At least there were scary science experiments on Cadmus Island in Futures End.
THE DC UNIVERSE7 of 13Once 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.
Consider Hal Jordan, who left Earth (and the Justice League) to go deal with the problems in Green Lantern 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.
That all said, we do think Justice League United has started to address this concern, and there was a tease at the end of Convergence that Earth 0 heroes would be seeing Earth 2 again. It's still early, but things are looking 'up' (get it?)
C-LISTERS8 of 13The New 52 DC Universe felt like a smaller place. That shouldn't be true, 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.
Oh, the ranks of those outside of the New 52 spotlight have been grown by series like James Robinson's Shade, Batman, Incorporated and DC Universe Presents, 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.
A SENSE OF HISTORY9 of 13It sounds snarky, but it's meant genuinely: Almost four years into the "New 52," keeping track of what's actually happened is sometimes more 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, we did an entire countdown just about these sorts of things!)
Adding the multiverse into the equation in full force is only going to add to this issue, sadly. Continuing the Secret Origins series might clear a few things up, but better yet would be a brand new Who's Who or History of the DC Universe.
THE JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA10 of 13In 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).
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.
LEGACY11 of 13Another 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.
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.
TEEN TITANS12 of 13Yes, we know that the Titans still exist in the new DC Universe, but let’s be honest – the current team hardly resembles the one we knew for so many years in previous continuity. And while that could be a good thing, there’s been no end to the confusion cause by the team’s current incarnation and their place in DC’s revamped history.
All that could be changing, however, with Titans Hunt, a post-Convergence story that will reveal a secret history behind the Teen Titans, and tie the team back to classic members like Dick Grayson, and even the "New 52"’s vastly different takes on Donna Troy and Aqualad.
While don’t know exactly how it’s going to work – the mystery is part of the fun, right? – just the possibility that one of DC’s most classic and fun legacies could finally be restored has us salivating for what’s to come.
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