DC Comics is in the middle of launching a new initiative called The New Age of DC Heroes that takes place after the events of Dark Nights: Metal. One of the main titles that will follow up on some of the plot points of DC's event series is The Terrifics, a team title that looks to be in the same vein as Marvel's Fantastic Four. The book will follow the adventures of Mister Terrific, Plastic Man, Metamorpho and a character that, until recently, was believed to be Phantom Girl from the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Series writer Jeff Lemire recently commented on a Twitter thread that Phantom Girl is not who we all expect her to be. In his own words, the writer says this is not the character from LoSH continuity, but is actually her ancestor from the present day DC Universe. Rather than being the familiar Tinya Wazzo of Bgztl, she is a completely new character who happens to share a superhero name and costume with her descendant from thousands of years in the future.
This revelation changes everything.
Since the early Rebirth revelation that Saturn Girl is in the present day DCU, Legion fans have been dying to know what this means for the team's future. When The Terrifics was announced with a character that looks exactly like, and is actually referred to as Phantom Girl, people thought this was the next piece of that puzzle.
The team has a long history of appearing in the present day. Even Phantom Girl herself became a member of the galactic police force L.E.G.I.O.N. in the 20th century at one point in time (though this was later retconned to being the cousin of the actually Legionnaire). Having Saturn Girl in the Rebirth special, and then seeing Phantom Girl show up, didn't seem that outlandish. What is actually confusing is the notion that the character has a modern day doppelgänger running around.
The biggest reason for all this confusion, though, is the fact that so little has been explained about the New Age of DC Heroes initiative. It was originally called Dark Matter before taking on the wider, and vaguer name that it has now. The initial release revealed the line of titles and their creative teams, and the subsequent addition of several more comics (including The Terrifics), and that's essentially been it. It's hard to tell what the New Age of DC Heroes is about as an initiative, other than putting the names of the artists before the writers.
It's unlikely this is the result of a late change in editorial direction, because Jeff Lemire made a vague remark about the character's identity all the way back in July within the same Twitter thread. It's more likely that something was not properly or fully conveyed to DC's PR people, because when your character looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, but it's apparently not really a duck, well -- that's going to lead to disappointment among readers.
It's an unfortunate turn of events that may leave Legion fans disappointed. We all knew DC was waiting for Geoff Johns and Gary Frank to tell their story in Doomsday Clock before the Legion would fully return. However, Phantom Girl's apparent inclusion on The Terrifics led people to make the wrong assumptions about the title. While it's unlikely that this will hurt the series' chances of finding an audience, and it's in no way an indictment of what looks to be a really, really fun comic, it is indicative of the mis-steps DC has made in promoting its New Age of DC Heroes.
Now, this new Phantom Girl may still play into the Legion mystery, even if no true Legionnaires will be seen before Doomsday Clock has told its story. But the bottom line is, fans have been without the Legion of Super-Heroes for several years now, and now it appears they might have to wait a few more.