In this feature I explore the context behind (using reader danjack’s term) “meta-messages.” A meta-message is where a comic book creator comments on/references the work of another comic book/comic book creator (or sometimes even themselves) in their comic. Each time around, I’ll give you the context behind one such “meta-message.” Here is an archive of the past installments!
This time around, based on a suggestion from readers Jonathan S. and Sergio S., we take a look at how James Robinson had his characters treat their farewell from continuity right before New 52 in the final issue of Justice League of America…
Now, as many folks know by now, in the Summer of 2011, DC Comics relaunched their superhero line of comics as the New 52, which involved restarting their continuity fresh (while still carrying over some storylines from the previous continuity). One of the most notable changes is the near elimination of “legacy heroes,” which is to say that, take the Flash, for instance. In the previous continuity, there was an older Flash, Jay Garrick, then Barry Allen and then Barry’s protege, Wally West, who grew up to become the Flash himself after being Kid Flash – and then Wally’s protege (and Barry’s grandson), Bart Allen, who then became the Kid Flash. In the post-New 52 continuity, there was a Jay Garrick, but he was a college student on another Earth who had no connection to Barry Allen. There was no Wally West initially, and he certainly was not ever Kid Flash or the Flash. And there was a character named Kid Flash in the pages of Teen Titans, but he, too, had no connection to Barry Allen (he was even still named Bart Allen, but that turned out to not be his real name).
Therefore, some of the characters most affected by the change in continuity WERE those first and third generation heroes, since the New 52 was only spotlighting the second generation heroes (Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, etc.). While there was an Earth 2 title for re-envisioned versions of the first generation heroes (Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, etc.) there initially were no roles for some third generation heroes like Wally West. Similarly, Donna Troy had no place in the New 52. The New Teen Titans essentially did not exist, even if a few of the characters DID exist in some form or another when the New 52 launched (Roy Harper, Dick Grayson, Cyborg and Starfire, for instance).
James Robinson’s Justice League of America was pretty much ABOUT those third generation heroes “graduating” and taking over the Justice League of America, with Dick Grayson as Batman being the leader of the team and Donna Troy being sort of the Wonder Woman of the team and Jade (daughter of Alan Scott) being sort of the Green Lantern of the team and Supergirl being sort of the Superman of the team.
Well, in the final issue of that series before the New 52 (drawn by Daniel Sampere and Wayne Faucher), this version of the League decides to disband (in a clever bit, Robinson spends the first few pages showing the various adventures this League went on that we never got to see, and these were likely all storylines Robinson had planned for the title but never got a chance to write).
Dick Grayson’s reasons for leaving, just by themselves, seem sort of metafictional, as he speaks of the fact that he’ll probably end up going back to Nightwing (which he does in the New 52) and to let the new Justice League be someone else’s problem…
But the key bit is the end, when it is just Dick Grayson and Donna Troy together, longtime friends, discussing whether people (in this case, talking about readers) will remember this particular version of the Justice League and really, will people remember Donna at all? As she is about to be wiped from continuity (she eventually was re-introduced after a few years of the New 52 in David and Meredith Finch’s Wonder Woman run)…
Nice moment by Robinson.
Thanks again to Jonathan S. and Sergio S. for suggesting this one! If anyone else has an idea for a Meta-Message, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org