Now that Donna Troy is back in DC comics — along with Wally West, Stephanie Brown, and the Secret Six — most of the major DC heroes have made their way into the New 52. But there are still a few characters that haven't shown up — and maybe never will.
The last holdouts range from the oldest characters in DC's arsenal to some more recent additions, all missing since the publisher rebooted the comic book universe in September 2011. And although few of them are fan-favorites, there are good arguments why they'd be worth bringing back.
So although this is far from being a complete list of characters still missing from the New 52, here are four MIA characters from the DCU we'd like the publisher to consider bringing back next:
Elongated Man (and Sue Dibny)
Although beloved by long-time readers, Ralph Dibny (the Elongated Man) probably hasn't been a priority for DC to bring back into the fledging New 52 universe. Introduced in the '60s, Ralph Dibny was a crack detective and was one of the earliest DC heroes to give up his secret identity and get married (and stay happy being married). But since that time, his stories have been few and far between.
That said, Ralph and his wife Sue were both members of the Justice League of America, and they became particularly high-profile in 2004, when Sue's murder lay at the center of Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales' best-selling mystery mini-series, Identity Crisis. A couple years later, Ralph was again a key player in a top-selling comic — the ground-breaking weekly series 52.
The 52 writers set up a great way to utilize them in further stories, as the dead couple were "ghost detectives."
Why We'd Like to See Them Back: OK, let's be honest: Even the readers who loved Identity Crisis were uncomfortable with the revelation that Sue Dibny had been raped years ago — as well as the way both Ralph and Sue were killed in the modern-day DCU. If DC brought these two characters back, the publisher could reboot the couple's story to eliminate those nasty parts of the past, and hey! DC could actually let a couple get married — breaking their much-maligned rule in a way that would make sense.
But one last bit of advice for DC — if you bring back Ralph and Sue, just let rapist Dr. Light stay nonexistent, would ya?
Yes, DC, we know you just gave us Stephanie Brown, the former Batgirl now co-starring in Batman Eternal. Let us all pause for a moment and say… thank you.
But you know as well as we do that there's just another former Batgirl we haven't seen — Cassandra Cain. Introduced in 1999, she was the Batgirl of a whole generation of comics readers. She had one of the coolest female Bat-costumes and was arguably the best martial artist in Gotham City.
Why We'd Like to See Her Back: If the above description of her kick-ass-ness doesn't convince you, then what about the promise by DC that they would bring diversity into their comics? Yes, there have been quite a few female characters running around Gotham City — and female readers are loving it — but there's not a lot of color among the ranks, and Cassie is Asian.
And that's another reason to question why she's not back. All these women running around Bat-family, and DC can't find room for one more? I mean come on, DC — you brought Helena Bertinelli back. Why not Cassie?
And the truth is, we're not even sure if she's technically "nonexistent." Although she hasn't been seen in regular DC continuity since Flashpoint happened, she was part of Batman Inc. (which is still canon, right?), and she appeared in the Batman: Gates of Gotham mini-series, which is still canon, right?
Yet, once again, there are parts of Cassie's continuity that fans wouldn't mind seeing rebooted and/or retconned in the new universe. Remember that weird story where Cassie was drugged and turned toward evil? Remember how hard DC tried to back away from that story, after fans got upset? The New 52 could undo that, and with the current line-up of Bat-creators working on Cass, she might even be new and improved.
There's been more than one character called Aqualad at DC, but both have a lot going for them. And neither have shown up in the DCU.
Whether it's Garth, who was a founding a member of the Teen Titans in pre-Flashpoint continuity, or the later Jackson Hyde, who debuted on the animated series Young Justice, Aqualad has a name that's instantly recognizable to new readers and is already well-known to long-time fans.
Why We'd Like to See Him Back: The Teen Titans could use a little diversity — and by that we don't just mean Jackson's skin color, but even the diversity of superpowers offered by any Aqualad. And the fact is, Aquaman is currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity, so it would be a good time to re-introduce him into the mix.
In the rebooted New 52 universe, superheroes have only been around for five-ish years, and Superman was the first super powered dude in tights.
But when DC abandoned its long, pre-Flashpoint timeline of superheroing, it also walked away from the organization called the Justice Society of America, where older heroes mentored younger, legacy characters.
Yes, the Earth 2 series introduced a few of those older heroes as fresh, new incarnations for a modern world. And sure, that series ended up being pretty cool.
But what about all the younger members of the JSA that readers grew to love during Geoff Johns' time on the book? The DCU may have Stargirl, but there are a slew of other young heroes that were introduced during the comic's years as one of DC's top-selling titles.
Bringing some of them into the Earth-2 series would be difficult, since most of them relied on a legacy being passed down from older heroes. For example, Obsidian couldn't be a hero yet on Earth 2, if we're going to get technical, because he's Alan Scott's son. And Al Pratt was just introduced on Earth 2, so the legacy characters who followed in his footsteps haven't even been born yet.
Of course, new versions of these characters could have new origins — after all, Stargirl in the New 52 didn't rely on the Starmen before her. So they could show up on Earth 2, or on the main DCU Earth, or anywhere in the DC multiverse.
Why We'd Like to See Them Back: Not only did DC throw away characters introduced during a significantly successful run on the Justice Society book, but they tossed out some fresh concepts that brought a lot of diversity to the DCU.
And isn't young and diverse supposed to be what the New 52 is about?
And in that diverse list, there are some pretty colorful concepts (that readers have already supported during the heyday of Johns' Justice Society) — from the adorably cool yet amazingly powerful African-American teen Jakeem Thunder, to the insecure and indecisive (but dependable) Atom Smasher, to the fast-talking, feminine teenager Cyclone, to the schizophrenia-suffering Starman (who was hailed by psychiatrists for his portrayal of a mentally ill character),
Plus, Cyclone had a monkey. And who doesn't love a character with a monkey?