SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Justice League #26, on sale now.
The long history of superhero comics is full of alternate and possible futures, a trope that has led to some of the best stories in the history of both the genre and medium. Tales like “Days of Future Past” The Dark Knight Returns and “Age of Apocalypse” have all shown different ways their superhero universes could go -- and it usually doesn’t end too well for the heroes.
This week’s issue of Justice League, by Bryan Hitch, Fernando Pasarin, Oclair Albert and Brad Anderson, introduces a new possible future into the DC Universe in the first issue of the series' “Legacy” arc. But rather than older versions of the Leaguers, this future features the kids of the Justice League going up against a post-apocalyptic menace.
“Something’s Gotta Be Done About Your Kids”
The bulk of the issue takes place twenty years from now after the Earth has been ravaged by the villain Sovereign and most of the Justice League are nowhere to be found. The only people left to save the world are what seems to be the children of the League who are on the backfoot in the fight against Sovereign and scrambling to do anything they can to stay in the fight for one more day. While the issue doesn’t delve too much into who these characters are outside of their iconography, there are definite links to the current roster of the Justice League.
The team’s leader, Hunter wears Superman’s cape as well as Wonder Woman’s gauntlets and lasso of truth, suggesting his parentage is the erect of a rekindling of the headline-grabbing romance from several years ago. Cruise seems to be the daughter of both Barry Allen and Jessica Cruz, whose romance and flirtation has been a big part of Hitch’s Justice League despite Barry finally getting together with Iris in his solo series. Cube seems to be a descendent of Cyborg, and as expected from the child of Victor Stone, has serious technological enhancements that his father doesn’t. Serenity is an Atlantean and Aquaman’s daughter, and while Jason and Jenny bear the symbol of the Green Lantern, they seem to have an innate connection to the red spectrum of rage and yellow spectrum of fear respectively.
Extremely conspicuous by his/her absence is a child of Batman, suggesting that in this alternate or possible future that Batman possibly didn’t survive to have any more children. Or if he did, they didn’t survive either. The more likely scenario is that a child (or children) of the Bat is out there somewhere, planning and preparing, waiting for a dramatic reveal, possibly on the final page of an upcoming issue. Still, it’s very telling that there’s no Bat representative among the Justice League’s children as we get to know them.
While we don’t learn what happened to the Justice League in this future exactly, there are some hints dropped, and we do see one (or two) members in the form of Curry, the disgraced Aquaman, and Serenity’s father. Cube and Hunter both make reference to Curry using Cyborg’s technology to prolong his life. Not only that, he has a Black Lantern ring, and is able to use without appearing to be dead himself. There are lots of little hints to a larger history of the DC Universe scattered throughout the issue, with references to The Lightfall and other events endured by its heroes, all of which imply a lot of things without outright discussing any concrete specifics.
The issue itself builds on work Bryan Hitch has been doing with Justice League going back to his short-lived and eventually abandoned Justice League of America, which introduced the Infinity Corporation that the children find in ruins this issue. The theme of time travel or time manipulation has been a major aspect throughout Hitch’s work on Justice League, and it comes back in a few different ways in this issue, notably with the Timeless grenades used against Curry which harken back to a recent Justice League arc. Hitch recently confirmed he’d be leaving the title soon, and with the introduction of the Justice League’s kids here, it seems it may all be building to a head with this final story arc.