SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Justice League of America # 13 by Steve Orlando, Ivan Reis and Julio Feareira, on sale now, as well as DC Comics’ greater Rebirth storyline.
Now that we’re more than a year into DC Comics’ Rebirth initiative, major elements from pre-Flashpoint continuity have been forcefully integrated into the former New 52 universe, creating a whole new reality. In Justice League of America #13 by Steve Orlando and Ivan Reis, readers get a look at these macro-level changes from a subatomic perspective, as Ryan Choi leads the team into the microverse in search of his mentor Ray Palmer, the previous Atom.
As it turns out, things like Superman’s conflicting histories and whatever Dr. Manhattan is doing to the multiverse have dire physical consequences for the Microverse’s billions of inhabitants, as quantum storms wreak devastation with unpredictable and unavoidable fury.
“Panic in the Microverse” part 2 catches up with the Justice League as Choi — joined by Batman, Killer Frost and Lobo — traces the source of Palmer’s distress call to a lone cloaked figure wearing the Atom’s bio belt. But instead of the heroic physicist, the team finds a native of the Microverse named Preon, who claims to have been Palmer’s guide in the strange microscopic universe. Preon claims that Palmer gave her the belt before she was separated from the Atom and his assistant (another local named Aron Aut) during a Quantum Storm. However, when Preon and the League catch up with Aut on planet full of desperate refugees, Aut attacks Preon, and tells Choi and company that they are deceived, that the guide is actually a pirate. As Batman so astutely observes, “someone is lying.”
Beyond the very solid superhero adventure, though, are JLA #13’s contributions to the DC meta-story of Rebirth. Orlando draws from the Grant Morrison theory of a “living universe,” where changes to one part affect the whole. So when Superman’s past is rewritten, it doesn’t merely affect the Man of Steel, or even those closest to him, or even still those who have had even a passing acquaintance with him over his many heroic adventures. It affects everything, not matter how large… or small.
“Memories, families, whole truths are burning in an instant,” Preon tells the League. Everything you knew is wrong! It’s a simple take — and logical consequence — of everything that’s happened since Rebirth, and for all that quite exciting.
Later, the League is caught in a quantum storm — what’s happening right now, in the Macroverse? — and Lobo is struck by the reality-rending lightning, costing him an arm. Lobo will be just fine (he regenerates quickly, and remained standing after the blast), but it will be worth watching to see if there are any direct consequences of being hit by this particular form of energy.
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