This week's Justice League of America had a little-noticed moment that might speak volumes about the characters still missing from "Rebirth."
In Justice League of America #7, Caitlin/Frost and Ryan/Atom are discussing her powers, when Ryan mentions a historic artifact and its relation to "Ice, from the old Justice League International."
That's a significant mention, confirming the team's existence in "Rebirth" continuity.
Readers have already been shown clues that certain characters from the Justice League International days not only existed in the new "Rebirth" timeline, but that they were associated with the Justice League.
Specifically, several artifacts from characters associated with the JLI were shown within the pages of The Flash #21, an issue in DC's crossover event, "The Button." The issue showed The Flash traveling with Batman to the Justice League Watchtower and its Hall of Lost and Found. The room was filled with Easter eggs for DC fans — and JLI fans in particular — including Skeets (the robot friend of Booster Gold from the future), a version of Blue Beetle's Bug, and Martian Manhunter's costume.
To DC fans, those artifacts indicated that characters from the JLI were once part of the heroic team, even if it didn't exactly verify their history still existed. But there was a chance that the continuity established during the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis years of the Justice League was back.
Another clue came in Blue Beetle #8, when Ted Kord — the Blue Beetle from the JLI era — told the story of his time wearing the Blue Beetle armor. He said that he was the Blue Beetle until he had a heart attack — a moment that was part of the Giffen/DeMatteis continuity.
Now comes this confirmation in Justice League of America that the team was called the "Justice League International," and that Ice was a member.
Of course, Ice is one of several regular members of the JLI who haven't had a role in the "Rebirth" continuity. There's been no Fire, no Billy Batson (even though he was teased as a "Rebirth" player at the end of the original DC Universe: Rebirth #1), and no Martian Manhunter (although as mentioned above, his costume was seen during "The Button").
Other characters are back, but it's not clear whether they're connected to other JLI members. For example, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps includes Guy Gardner, but there's no mention of his JLI history.
But of all the missing characters, perhaps the most unusually absent is Booster Gold. The character, who's been associated with fixing time anomalies, would be an ideal addition to the many "Rebirth" mysteries about timeline manipulation. And he's supposed to be the subject of one of Warner Bros.'s upcoming DC movies.
But Booster hasn't been used in the DCU (outside an appearance in the past of The Flinstones) since he had a two-issue spotlight title in Convergence: Booster Gold. In that comic, he was actually two different characters (thanks to time travel) — one being the younger version from the New 52, and the other an older one from pre-Flashpoint. By the end of the story, the older Booster had evolved to become the powerful Waverider, a being who has the knowledge of past and present. There's no word if the events of Convergence are still in continuity (parts of that story were erased in Superman's history since his "Reborn" story), so it's unknown if any version of Booster is still around.
Another character who might make sense in the DCU right now is Martian Manhunter. He had his own series during the New 52, and he was teased in the "hourglass" image that promoted "Rebirth" in April 2016. But the character hasn't been seen in "Rebirth" continuity, save the aforementioned costume and a glimpse at past continuity within the timestream in The Flash #21.
But if the "Rebirth" teases about Dr. Manhattan are accurate and he's functioning on Mars, wouldn't it make sense for J'onn J'onnz to be involved with the story about encountering him?
Whatever the status of the Justice League International characters in "Rebirth," this week's mention in Justice League of America makes it clear that they were team, and other clues indicate they were an important part of DC's current history. Let's hope fans will get their wish and some of these key members of the JLI will be an important part of DC's current future as well.