Starfire

Starfire joining Vril Dox’s LEGION

Eagle eyes readers of DC’s April Solicitations can’t have helped, but have noticed that Starfire – a recent convert to the JLA – appears to be joining another team already. The blurb for REBELS #15 read:

Straight from the pages of Titans, Starfire joins our merry band just in time for super-genius Vril Dox to pick up the pieces from last issue’s climactic battle with Starro the Conqueror.First on his agenda: rebuild his interplanetary police squad, L.E.G.I.O.N.

Well it appears that at one time there had been a REBELS/JLA crossover planned. During an interview with Tony Bedard, writer of REBELS (the current incarnation of Vril Dox’s LEGION team) and the new writer of Green Lantern Corps, CBR staff writer Jeffrey Renaud asked him about those plans:

Renaud: Any chance Green Lantern Corps will crossover with either of those popular team books because I believe there was a Justice League of America/R.E.B.E.L.S. crossover planned at some point?

Bedard: The Justice League of America/R.E.B.E.L.S. thing has evolved as the “War of the Supermen” event evolved, and James Robinson will end up handling Vril Dox’s role in the fate of New Krypton himself.

The reason that Starfire makes a logical choice for REBELS is that Dox is going to be setting up his new headquarters in the Vega System – the star system that Kory’s people were originally from.

Renaud: Can you give us any updates on what’s coming in R.E.B.E.L.S., like a certain new team member, and The Great Ten? And are you working on anything else these days?

Bedard: The whole Starro saga concludes in R.E.B.E.L.S. #14, and after that we’ll be seeing some exciting changes for Vril Dox and company. There will be a new L.E.G.I.O.N. headquarters in the Vega System — the most lawless sector in the galaxy. Starfire will join the cast, and there will be a lot of intrigue involving the Tamaraneans, planet Rann, and other cosmic locations and races that don’t fall under the Green Lantern umbrella. And we’ll see a showdown between Dox, his villainous son, and his father, Brainiac.

The entire subplot of bouncing between teams makes a certain sense for Kory as a character. It was built up in Titans that she was suffering from the slow dissolution of the team and that she really needed to move on with her life. Accepting Vixen’s offer of a position with the JLA was one way of doing that until it turned out that three other Titans were following her. Moving back to the Vega System may be the amount of distance she needs to escape the Titans.

The Graduates – Part IV: Starfire

We continue with this short series of profiles of the new Graduates, the quartet of characters who have joined the Justice League from the Titans. So far we’ve covered Dick Grayson and Donna Troy, Starfire is next.

Starfire

Starfire previewed in DC Comics Present #25 (Oct 1980), before making her first real appearance in The New Teen Titans #1 (Nov 1980), both appearances were by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Starfire’s name was a hold over from an earlier Teen Titans character, but the concept of a space amazon princess (“Red Sonja in space” as Perez once commented) was new. She was the heir to the throne of an alien planet in the Vega star system called Tamaran. Tamaranians are ruled by their strong emotions. They are open and loving with their friends, but they are also fierce warriors when roused to anger. Princess Koriand’r was the second daughter of Tamaran’s ruling family. She and her elder sister were fostered by the War Lords of Okaara who schooled them in the ways of combat and governance.

Koriand’r elder sister Komand’r (alias Blackfire) had been born without the power of flight and was thus deemed unfit to succeed their father. Komand’r rebelled and betrayed her people to the Citadel. War between Tamaran and the Citadel was only averted when the King reluctantly agreed to give up Koriand’r as a hostage. The Citadel then gave the two sisters over to the reptilian Psions as experimental subjects. The Psions experiments should have killed them, but it instead enhanced their natural Tamaranian ability to metabolize starlight and gave them the power to fire powerful energy blasts called “starbolts”. Koriand’r eventually escaped from the Citadel and made her way to Earth. Raven called a new Teen Titans group together to protect Koriand’r from the pursuing Citadel and she joined the Titans as Starfire.

Koriand’r, or Kory as her friends call her, has found Earth’s conservative customs confusing and has struggled to cope with the ways that human guard and hide their emotions (something antithetical to a Tamaranian). Kory started a long and passionate relationship with the Titan’s leader Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing/Batman). However, affairs of state from Tamaran have continued to divide them. She has outlived two Tamaranian husbands (one for politics one for love) and three homeworlds (Tamaran, New Tamaran, and Karma). Grayson once proposed marriage to her, but it never came to pass.

Donna Troy’s death prompted the Titans and Young Justice to reorganise as the Outsiders and as a new incarnation of the Teen Titans. These new Teen Titans were primarily younger heroes (successors to the original Teen Titans), but Cyborg, Beast Boy and Starfire returned to mentor and chaperone the new group. Starfire switched to the Outsiders after the groups new leader Jade asked her to balance the increasingly macho posturing between Roy Harper and Dick Grayson (Outsiders #16, Nov 2004). It was Grayson who convinced Kory to stop holding back and shoot down Brainiac’s ship with a single massively destructive starbolt – a rare example of her full power (Outsiders #25).

When Rann and Thanagar went to war Blackfire brought the Tamaran survivors into the conflict (Rann-Thanagar War #1-6, July-Dec 2005). Starfire was drawn into the same conflict when a resurrected Donna Troy recruited heroes to help her investigate a growing spatial rift situated in the war zone. Blackfire had encouraged the Thanagarian Grand Mor to escalated the war, but she and her sister reluctantly fought on the same side when the true nature of the rift was revealed (Infinite Crisis #1, Rann-Thanagar War Infinite Crisis Special #1, April 2006).

The rift been caused by a villain unsuccessfully trying to recreated an extinct Multiverse. Adam Strange tried to use a Zeta-Beam to teleport Earth’s heroes home as the rift collapsed. However, there was an accident and Starfire, Adam Strange, and Animal Man found themselves stranded amid the devastation of the Stygian Passover – a cult of  undead soldiers created by the Lady Styx. They also found themselves allied with the bounty-hunter Lobo (who was on a pilgrimage as an Archbishop of the Triple Fish God) and the Green Lantern of Vengar (pilot of the Emerald Head of Ekron), but the group split after Styx was defeated (52 Week 36-37, Jan 1007).

Kory formed a deep and lasting friendship with Buddy Baker (Animal Man) during her time in space. She took his death during battle badly and swore to return his signature jacket to his wife on Earth. A power boost from Rann’s three suns gave Kory the ability to fly unaided from Rann to Earth to deliver the jacket, but she almost killed herself and passed out from exhaustion on the Baker’s door step (51 Week 51, 25 April 2007). Unknown to Kory, Buddy had been resurrected and had already returned home. Kory spent weeks in a recuperative sleep in his spare room, but upon waking she found that she had lost almost all of her native Tamaran powers. She tried to adjust to normal life as the Baker’s childminder, but Kory found the experience difficult. Her stay with the Bakers was been complicated when Animal Man almost pushed their deep friendship into infatuation. She corrected him and remains close friends with Buddy, Ellen, and their family (Countdown to Adventure #1-8, Oct 2007-May 2008).

Buddy and Kory were reunited with Adam Strange when a contingency plague left over by the Lady Styx threatened to overwhelm Rann and Earth. Kory’s solar powered abilities eventually proved the key to destroying the virus after they had been jump started in a stunt similar to the one that had boosted her powers for the original flight from Rann to Earth (Countdown to Adventure #1-8, Oct 2007-May 2008). Adam Strange asked Kory and Buddy to aid Rann again when Lady Styx and the Church of the Holy Light ignited another war between Rann and Thanagar (Ran-Thanagar Holy War).

Kory was still staying with the Bakers when the former Titans were attacked by a trio of Raven’s siblings. The adventure proved so natural to the friends that they decided to reform the Titans. While they had been under the emotional influence of Raven’s siblings Dick and Kory had briefly resumed their former passion (Titans #1-4, June-Sept 2008). Kory told Dick that she couldn’t go on the with pain of the “Start. Stop. Lovers. Friends. Then back again.” cycle they were in and made him admit that he didn’t love her in the same way he use to (Titans #5, Nov 2008). Kory later confessed to Donna that she felt “betrayed and wounded” by Dick’s confession (Titans #11, May 2009).

Things were coming to a head for Kory emotionally. She loved her friends, but the Titans were drifting apart again as they each returned to their normal lives. She came from a naturally free and joyous race, but she had been through many cycles of enslaved since her childhood – by her own sister, by the Citadel, by her friend’s siblings, and metaphorically by her own feelings for Dick Grayson. When Darkseid enslaved the world with the Anti-Life equation Kory was one of the first to fall and served as a Justifier under his control (Final Crisis). She was freed, but the feelings of helplessness connected with her wider depression. She accidentally blew a hole in her bedroom wall while sleeping (Titans #14, Aug 2009) and had to be restrained by her friends during an operation against Intergang in Metropolis. At Donna’s insistence Kory began seeing a psychologist in Metropolis called Claire Foster. She helped Kory to begin  reconciling the contradictions in her life (Titans #16, Oct 2009).

When Vixen was looking to rebuild the Justice League she asked Kory if she was interested.  This was at a low point in Kory’s life, before she started seeing Dr Foster,  and she was unsure if she wanted to belong to any team (Titans #16, Justice League of America #36, Oct 2009). One of the few friendships Kory maintained outside of the Titans was with Buddy Baker and his family. Kory and Donna were using his the Baker’s pool when Congorilla and Starman arrived seeking Buddy’s help with their investigation into Prometheus. Kory helped the Justice League fight Prometheus and was with them when they discovered that Roy Harper’s arm had been torn off (Cry For Justice #5-7, Jan-Apr 2010). She discussed the JLA offer with both Dick (now Batman) and Cyborg and they both agreed that it was the best place for her. However, it was an attacks by the villain Phobia and the Black Lantern Omen that showed Kory that most of her fears of abandonment were tied to Titans Tower and facing those attacks gave her the strength to finally move on (Titans #20-21, Feb-March 2010, Blackest Night: Titans).

Why does Starfire deserve to be in the Justice League? Over the last few years Kory has grown as a member of the Titans, and she had, if anything, out grown them. From her appearance in 52 forward she had become a full-blown member of the DC interstellar superhero set with a range and experience that propels her into a different League as a heroine. In terms of raw power she can fly unaided in space (Rann to Earth with a power boost), and can project some of the strongest attacks in the superhuman community (she once shot down Brainiac’s skull ship with a single shot). An interesting coincidence in this group is that Doctor Light and Starfire both have links to the Vega star. Starfire worships X’Hal, the goddess who embodies Vega, while Doctor Light’s powers are fuelled by Vega.

One of the biggest problems for Starfire in this new JLA has to be the association of the other Titans. She was asked to join the JLA by Vixen long before Dick, Donna, and Cyborg joined up, so she has had to undergo something of an emotional journey to leave the Titans behind. Yet, suddenly here they all are again. Kory is back with the same people, albeit friends, that she was trying to move beyond. How that will bear out for her long term prospects with the League remains to be seen.

The Lost in 52 – Part II: Confronting Lady Styx

Now our detour ends, the second part of our look at the heroes who had been lost in space for year in 52. The Universe had been saved, but getting home from the job was a little bit more complicated that it should have been. Starfire, Adam Strange, and Animal Man had been stranded in deep space and their only guide home was the homicidal bounty hunter turned homicidal religious fanatic Lobo. They discovered that they were in part of the Galaxy that had been wiped clean by an invading force called the Stygian Passover and the front line was moving ever closer to their homeworlds.

Lady Styx, Believe in Her

Whence came the Lady Styx is not known. The Guardians of the Universe recognised her armaments as Void technology and described her as approaching from “the eternal pit beyond the gates of space-time itself.” This is not dissimilar to the description given for the place where the Maggedon Warhead was chained. Wonder World once patrolled that border, but its destruction by Maggedon could have left the way open for Styx to approach. Her forces had already swept Sector 3500 clean of live in a process that had been called the Stygian Passover.

When the Stygian Passover reached the planet Vartu Captain Comet was waiting for it. He was a veteran superhero from the 1950s who had left Earth to adventure on other worlds. He had faced almost every conceivable foe, but even he was unable to stop the Stygian forces. Before he died he managed to send a final telepathic distress call.

I witnessed seven million minds fall apart when the unimaginable end arrived. I saw machines, the scale of which there no adequate words to describe, and armies…

Are you receiving me?

First of all, the Believer Cubes anchor themselves to a planet’s surface and shatter the ecosystem irreparably. Then the Glorifiers emerge in their billions. Walking dead men, chanting her creed, unstoppable. Where she passes, her armies grow, devouring all in their path as they spread the contagion, the living word of the Lady, the Lady Styx.

“Believe in her,” they say. “Believe in her.”

Are you receiving me?

The Green Lanterns Thormon Tox and Xax had been searching for the Lantern of Vengar when they heard Comet’s telepathic distress call. They came to Vartu, but found themselves abandoned when the Guardians ordered all Lanterns out of the occupied zones and cut power to any who remained. Tox,  Xax, and Captain Comet each fell to Styx’s Glorifier army (52 Week 31, 6 Dec 2006).

Starfire (Kory), Adam Strange, Animal Man (Buddy Baker), Lobo and the Lantern of Vengar heard Comet’s distress call (52 Week 31, 6 Dec 2006). They resolved to stick together despite the Earth heroes still having a bounty on their heads and finally reached the edge of Sector 3500, the Vega System (52 Week 32, 13 Dec 2006). As they searched through the rubble of Vartu Adam Strange recognised Lobo’s plan and made him confess that he was taking them to Lady Styx for the bounty she had placed on their heads – his way of getting past her security (52 Week 36, 3 Jan 2007).

Styx refused to pay the bounty and decided to take Starfire, Animal Man, and Lobo as her new soldiers. She baited Lobo with insults and finally made him lose his cool by calling him a coward. However, Lobo and Strange had deliberately timed their assault to coincide with the migration of the Sun-Eaters (powerful cosmic fauna that graze on stars). The Lantern of Vengar sacrificed himself and the Emerald Head of Ekron to carry Lady Styx into the mall of a Sun Eater where she was destroyed (52 Week 36, 10 Jan 1007).

Parting of the Ways

After Lady Styx’s defeat the group of adventurers went their separate ways.

Animal Man Buddy Baker had been wounded in the battle with Lady Styx and died on the bridge of her command ship. Before he died he asked Starfire to return his jacket to his wife on Earth (52 Week 36, 10 Jan 2007). Adam Strange wouldn’t take the risk that his friend’s corpse would regenerate as one of Styx’s Glorifiers. So, after Lobo had preformed a blessing from the Triple Fish God, they left Buddy’s corpse on an asteroid in deep space (52 Week 37, 17 Jan 2007). The Yellow Aliens who had remade Animal Man once before took notice of his death and restored him to life. They enhanced his existing ties to the morphological field so that he could draw on abilities of interstellar lifeforms like the Sun Eaters. In an instant he gained the ability to fly unaided through space at translight speeds (52 Week 43, 28 Feb 2007).

Animal Man met the Yellow Aliens again when he used the Sun Eaters’ ability to access “Space B”. From Space B a traveller could access any place or time in the Universe, this was how the Sun Eaters migrated between galaxies. The Yellow Aliens showed Buddy an image from one month hence of a man, Buddy’s best friend Roger, apparently making a pass at his grieving wife (52 Week 47, 28 March 2007). Ellen had actually given Roger the brush off, but it was the point of reference Buddy needed to jump back to Earth from Space B. Ellen and his children were overjoyed to see Buddy again – even if he was sat on the front lawn glowing from the residual solar radiation he had channelled (52 Week 51, 25 April 2007).

Lobo Lobo left to return to his pilgrimage for the Triple Fish God while Adam Strange and Starfire turned towards Earth (52 Week 37, 17 Jan 2007). He returned to the Three Golden Planets with the Emerald Eye of Ekron. The Triple Fish God unwisely revealed that Lobo had been sent to retrieve the Eye as it was only thing in the Universe that could kill him.  Lobo’s reaction to this news was to try it out for himself (52 Week 51, 25 April 2007).

Adam Strange and Starfire Despite Styx’s defeat the bounty on Adam and Kory remained active. A bounty hunter called Molek the Hunter wrecked their ship, but committed suicide rather than accept defeat by them.  Starfire was injured during the fight with Molek and the blind Adam Strange had to carry her free from his exploding ship. Fortunately for them the flare from the explosion was noticed by Green Lantern Opto309y and their failing craft  was brought into a crash-landing on the planet sized Green Lantern Mogo (52 Week 41, 14 Feb 2007).

The Green Lanterns took Adam Strange back to Rann where Sardath was able to restore his eyes using copies of his daughter’s eyes laced with genetic improvements which allowed him to see the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Kory didn’t stay on Rann, she took a few hours to absorb energy from Rann’s suns and then left for Earth. She still believed that Animal Man had died in space and was determined to return his jacket to Ellen. She arrived just in time to stop a final pair of bounty hunters attacking Animal Man and his family before collapsing from exhaustion on their front porch (51 Week 51, 25 April 2007).

The Lost in 52 – Part I: Stranded

And now for a brief detour. When I came to write Starfire’s entry for The Graduates series of posts I realised that a lot of her recent history led back to 52. Last summer I ran a series of posts under the banner “52 in 52” charting the return of the Multiverse in 52. The idea of 52 was that it chronicled a missing year of stories in a weekly, year-long series written by the cream of DC’s talent – Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid. However, the Multiverse was just one of the plot lines in 52. The one I’m interested in today is one I’m calling the “The Lost.” These are the adventures of Animal Man, Adam Strange, and Starfire as they try to make their way back to Earth.

52logo

Infinite Crisis Recap.

Alexander Luthor and Superboy Prime were survivors from the first Multiverse (from back before it was compressed down into a single Universe with a single Earth). They moved entire star systems to create the cosmic alignment they needed to engineer the return of their Multiverse. This caused chaos among the interstellar empires and spawned a war between Rann and Thanagar. Many other races were pulled into the Rann-Thanagar conflict, but it was dwarfed by the growing spatial anomaly created by Luthor’s manipulations of reality. Superheroes from the planet Earth and the Green Lantern Corps managed to stop his insane plans. Unknown to anybody at the time a new Multiverse of 52 Universes had been created, the revelation and the mystery of which would play out over the following 52 weeks.

Adam Strange (the human defender of Rann) tried to save the Earth heroes from Luthor’s collapsing space rift by teleporting them away using Zeta-Beam technology. There was an accident, a refraction of the Zeta-Beam with the spatial and temporal distortions, that scattered the heroes through space and time. Most arrived back on Earth with strange injuries (Hawkgirl was turned into a giant), but Supergirl was catapulted a thousand years into the future. Starfire (Princess Koriand’r of Tamaran or Kory for short), Animal Man (Buddy Baker of Earth) and Adam Strange were less fortunate.

Pursued by Devilance the Puruser

Kory, Adam, and Buddy managed to get to a small Thanagarian ship, little more than a life boat, but they were in unknown space and their craft was damaged. They set down on a beautiful alien world to allow Adam Strange to make repairs – a compromise made even harder as Strange had lost his eyes in the accident. Kory enjoyed the beauty of her temporary home, but she recognised the world from ancient myths. On this world the passage of time was determined by the position of the sun in the sky – as the sun set time slowed down until it stopped entirely during the planet’s night (52 Week 5, 6 June 2006). Despite their plight neither Kory nor Buddy were too concerned as their minds had been befuddled by local fruit which, unknown to them, was narcotic.

The trio were captured easily by Devilance the Pursuer, the evil New God of the Pursuit. They had seen into the anomaly and had witnessed things that mortals were not meant to see. During the same event the Red Tornado had recorded a map of the Multiverse and was being stalked for it by Mister Mind. Kory, Buddy, and Adam didn’t remember the same amount of detail, but Devilance did not want their knowledge escaping. He believed that knowledge of the Multiverse belonged to the gods alone. Devilance was not the only being who knew what they had seen and he revealed to them that every bounty hunter in the Universe was after them (52 Weeks 7-9, 21 June – 6 July 2006). It was Devilance who unwittingly supplied the heroes with the power to escape the alien prison paradise. They managed to escape from his cages and stole his signature weapon, his Lance. With it they were able to power their Thanagarian craft and blast free of the planet before time stopped there all together (52 Week 16, 23 Aug 2006).

Adam Strange’s plan had been to jump several parsecs out into space and then contract the nearest inhabited planet – of which there should have been many – but they found the Universe around them had been wiped clean of life. The planets had been reduced to rubble and they found themselves navigating through a particularly dense asteroid field. After weeks cramped up in the little ship the normally easy-going Starfire and Adam Strange were beginning to get on each others nerves. They still had Devilance’s Lance and the New God of the Pursuit eventually caught up with them. Surprisingly, Devilance disappeared at the last moment to be replaced by the bounty hunter called Lobo (who had killed Devilance whilst the humans weren’t looking). Starfire went out into space to negotiate with Lobo and he surprisingly agreed to lead them out of the space wilderness (52 Week 17, 30 Aug 2006).

Archbishop Lobo and the Emerald Head of Ekron

Lobo, the superhuman Czarnian bounty-hunter, had a reputation as the “Main Man” – the deadliest and most powerful bounty hunter in known space. He’d always had a fondness for space dolphins (“fishies” as he called them), but now as Archbishop Lobo he had found religion in the service of the First Celestial Church of the Triple Fish-God. Lobo had been on a pilgrimage in the wasteland of Sector 3500 – the area of space Kory, Buddy, and Adam had just escaped from – for the Triple-Fish God and was returning to the Three Golden Planets when he encountered the Earth heroes. Lobo took them back to a refugee camp populated by aliens from a hundred world – the last survivors of Sector 3500 who were bartering away their races’ last treasures just to survive (52 Week 19, 13 Sept 2006).

Lobo’s pilgrimage with several space dolphin attendants had been to retrieve the Emerald Eye of Ekron from the Emerald Head of Ekron. He kept that secret until he was killed by a swarm of carrion eaters that attacked the refugee camp. Starfire used the Eye to destroy the parasites before Lobo could regenerate his body from a drop of his own blood. He was livid that she had used the Emerald Eye as it would serve as a beacon to the Emerald Head. It was searching for the thief that had stolen its Eye and would home in on them. Lobo hitched their ship to his space bike and they fled before the Emerald Head arrived (52 Week 20, 20 Sept 2006).

The Head eventually caught up with them and they began a desperate flight to avoid its attacks. It was Starfire who recognised that the markings on the Head belonging to the Green Lantern Corps. A lot later Adam Strange learnt from Green Lantern John Stewart that the Emerald Head had been a prototype weapon from the early days of the Green Lantern Corps and had been missing for centuries.

The Emerald Head was piloted by the Green Lantern of Vengar, a planet from Sector 3500. He had been driven insane by the sight of the worlds he protected being reduced to rubble. Archbishop Lobo was bound by a vow of non-violence so he need Starfire, Animal Man, and Adam Strange to fight off the insane Lantern’s attack. Despite Adam Strange’s anger with Lobo for getting them into this mess, Starfire recognised that he, they, and the Lantern of Vengar may be the only people able to stop the Stygian Passover (the force that had wiped Sector 3500 clean of life) from reaching Earth (52 Week 28, 15 Nov 2006).

Next – The Lady Styx of the Stygian Passover

The Graduates – Part I

The Justice League has just received an infusion of new blood from a band of former teen heroes called the Titans. This is a short series of posts where I’ll go over those character’s recent histories and the developments that have led to them being considered ready for the Justice League. However, first a few quick notes about them as a group.

The Titans

The original Teen Titans team dates from the early 1960s, but it’s really Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s team from The New Teen Titans #1 (November 1980) that most people know of as the Titans (minus the Teen prefix).

This group was composed of the three founding members of the Teen Titans – Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing), Donna Troy (Wonder Girl/Troia), Wally West (Kid Flash/Flash) – plus one Doom Patrol graduate – Garfield Logan (Changeling/Beast Boy) – and three new characters Victor Stone (Cyborg), Princess Koriand’r of Tamaran (Starfire), and Raven. The two other founding members of the original Teen Titans were Roy Harper (Speedy/Arsenal) and Garth (Aqualad/Tempest). This is the broadly the same group that has run in the Titans ongoing series.

Of late, the Titans have begun to grow apart. Raven and Beast Boy are the closest in age to the current Teen Titans and have moved to their team to give them more experience. Garth was killed in Blackest Night #1. Roy Harper is still a driving presence in storylines coming out of Cry For Justice, but for the moment he is still laid up in hospital. Wally West was meant to have had a co-feature in the new Flash ongoing series, but that was shelved in order to have a cleaner reintroduction of Barry Allen’s character. So over half of the team have found niches elsewhere. The remaining Titans (Donna Troy, Cyborg, Starfire, Dick Grayson) are among those who are either the most powerful or those that have had the most exposure over the last few years.

I would note that this is not the first time that there has been “graduation” from the Titans into the Justice League. Wally West was the first to graduate to the Justice League in Justice League Europe #1. Roy Harper graduated to become Red Arrow at the start of this current Justice League of America series, but lost his arm to Prometheus in Cry For Justice #5 and remains inactive. Kyle Rayner (Green Lantern/Ion) and Conner Hawke (Green Arrow) are contemporaries (in terms of age) of the original Titans and they were both members of the Justice League. In Kyle’s case he was Green Lantern for all of Grant Morrison and Mark Waid’s runs on JLA.

In many ways they are a generation of lost heroes. The Titans are really a bit to too old to be considered inexperienced or sidekicks any more, but the perpetual DC timeline means that their mentors haven’t retired yet. That has slightly changed during this last year as the big three have been taken off the map by adventures within their own books. That has allowed Donna Troy and Dick Grayson to step forward into Wonder Woman and Batman’s positions with the Justice League.

Dick Grayson has been in the League before,  he was the leader of the Batman’s replacement Justice League in Joe Kelly’s “Obsidian Age” storyline. When Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were building a list of potential members in “The Tornado Path” they even  considered Grayson as a member. Superman and Wonder Woman were in favour, but Batman noted that he’d already asked Nightwing and that he declined at that time. Cyborg’s name was also put forward by the Trinity and he was universally agreed upon – Batman noted that Dick Grayson had told him Cyborg was ready to join the League and he would definitely say yes if asked. As fate would have it Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman didn’t get to decide the roster of that League so Cyborg wasn’t asked.

My argument is that the appearance of these four Titans in the League isn’t some random chance. These characters have been built up over the five years or so to have larger presences in the DC Universe and that has naturally culminated with them joining the Justice League. They are great characters and I look forward to their adventures with the League.

JLA roster revealed in BN #3 advert

bn3-jla-advert

A full page advert (above) in this week’s Blackest Night #3 revealed the JLA roster that had previously been blanked out on preview images. The advert proclaims “October 2009. James Robinson. Mark Bagley. Justice League of America. Issue 38. A new era begins.” It also features a copy of the preview artwork with the full cast revealed (shown below).

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There are three distinct groups of overlapping characters in that picture. The first group is Green Lantern (Hal), Green Arrow (Ollie) and the Atom were members of the original League and are the feature characters in Robinson’s current JLA: Cry For Justice mini-series. Congorilla is also featured in Cry, but this is his debut as a proper Justice Leaguer.

The second group is what I’d called the “Conway members”, those members of the League added to the rollcall because the writer happens to also be writing their solo title, i.e., in the way that Gerry Conway brought his Firestorm into the satellite era League or Grant Morrison brought Aztek into the Big 7 run. In this case Robinson is currently writing Superman featuring Mon-El. The Guardian is a major supporting character in Superman and he’s been flirting with his neighbour, Doctor Light. Mon-El, Guardian, and Light are all in the above image. She’s also important as she’s the only member shown who survives from the end of Dwayne McDuffie’s League.

The third group, and in some ways the most surprising, is the Titans. Donna Troy is appearing for Wonder Woman and Dick Grayson is there as he’s currently Batman. I suspect there is a major event building for Wonder Woman in Blackest Night – she’s in the final wave of BN DC Direct figures, but nobody knows why. We knew Dick and Donna already, but they’re now joined by Starfire and Cyborg.  She had recently refused Doctor Light’s offer of League membership. Where this leaves the currently meandering Titans title is unknown, but we had been warned the two teams would be coming closer together.

When Brad Meltzer relaunched this title he included Arsenal as the Titan who steps up to take his mentor’s place as Red Arrow. Former Titan Wally West eventually rejoined the group as the Flash, but he’s been a JLA member since his time with Justice League Europe. And while I’m on this divergence – notice that there is no Flash in the image, neither Barry Allen or Wally West appear, but that stop  any Flash Rebirth spoilers.

It’s an interesting roster and at eleven members one of the larger we’ve seen recently. I wouldn’t be too surprised if that image changed slightly when the issue actually ships (its something they did with the last comparable image). I certainly expect that Mon-El, Dick, and maybe Donna will make way for the real Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman once their individual plot-lines are tied up. That wouldn’t make the line-up look so radical – you’d then have six original members and only two former Titans.