With a little more than two years under its belt, DC Comics’ New 52 still has plenty of corners left to explore and hundreds of characters of varying levels of popularity to re-introduce. (Where are you, Wally West?) So when I saw Celsius, Negative Woman and Tempest pop up in this week’s Justice League #24, I couldn’t help but smile a little.
Combined with the New 52 Robotman, who’s sporting a look very similar to the one Cliff Steele had when that version of the team debuted in 1977’s Showcase #94, we officially have Paul Kupperberg’s Doom Patrol joining the ever-growing ranks of “new” heroes opposing the seemingly all-powerful Crime Syndicate. But certainly more interesting than that, this panel, almost a throwaway, fills out the current DCU in a way we haven’t seen much since the early days of the relaunch.
While introducing the Kupperberg-era Doom Patrol seems an odd choice at a glance — it’s not exactly the most popular incarnation of the team, to say it nicely — it really makes sense. Beast Boy’s current origin is tied too tightly to the Teen Titans/Ravagers soap opera to allow Garfield Logan to take a role in founding another team, and as fondly as the original incarnation is remembered by longtime fans, it’s such a delightfully ’60s concept that it just makes sense for Geoff Johns and company to skip over it (for now) and go straight to the grimmer ‘n’ grittier ’70s-’80s version — which, possibly not coincidentally, also happens to be ethnically diverse.
And all of this is part of why I’m enjoying Forever Evil as much as I am. As ridiculous as it gets, it’s maintaining its internal logic — something I’m really big on — and is expanding the DCU in ways we haven’t seen since the first Justice League arc. I’m right there, raging on the inside whenever character X acts in a manner I don’t recognize, and wondering when we’re gonna see Ted Kord don his familiar yellow goggles so we can see the new adventures of Blue and Gold. But I love a good, heartfelt exercise in world building, and while I honestly didn’t see that coming when Forever Evil was first announced, it appears as though that’s exactly what we’re getting.