The New Golden Age #1 has arrived... and to no one's surprise, it poses plenty of questions.
Written by Geoff Johns, this double-sized one-shot features art by Diego Olortegui, JP Mayer, Scott Hanna, Jerry Ordway, Steve Lieber, Todd Nauck, Scott Kolins, Viktor Bogdanovic, Brandon Peterson, and Gary Frank; colors by Nick Filardi, John Kalisz, Matt Herms, Jordan Boyd, and Brad Anderson; and letters by Rob Leigh. If that credits list seems long, that's because it is - and it reflects just how many eras The New Golden Age #1 spans over its 48 pages.
Spoilers ahead for The New Golden Age #1
Spinning out of Flashpoint Beyond, The New Golden Age refers to a time approximately 18 years in the future of the present-day DCU, and it also shows events that take place in 1848, 1940, 1951, 1976, and 3022. Because comic book time is both static and fluid, some periods are referred to as simply "13 years ago," "Now," "10 years from now," and "18 years from now," with the latter demarcating the period in which The New Golden Age takes place in relationship to current DCU continuity. Current events in the DCU take place "Now."
And when the new Justice Society of America series debuts November 29, it begins 26 years in the future and approximately eight years after The New Golden Age.
Confused yet? Don't worry. This is everything that happens in The New Golden Age #1 - chronologically.
April 12, 1848
Way back in 1848, Notorious Time Master troublemaker Corky has a conversation with a young John Wilkes Booth - AKA the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.
Corky flat-out tells Booth that he'll one day assassinate the POTUS, and everyone will know his name. The scene seems to imply that Corky is thus responsible for Lincoln's assassination because Booth is thrilled to learn that he'll one day be that famous.
At this point, the rest of the Time Masters pick Corky up and Bonnie scolds him for talking to people without permission. Then, the team pivots to something more pressing. In addition to tracking down some of the 13 heroes who were supposed to be reintegrated into the 1940s, the team also has to find a boy named Dreiberg "before he's found by someone else... his biological parents, Ozymandias's fangirl... we have to find this boy before anyone else does."
Ozymandias's fangirl is Nostalgia, who appeared in the final pages of Flashpoint Beyond #6, seemingly on a hunt for the Watchmen. Although the Time Masters move fluidly through time, Corky's actions in 1848 obviously make an impact - and it will be interesting to see how that shakes out in later centuries.
November 22, 1940
The Justice Society of America meets for the first time, and Kent Nelson AKA Doctor Fate has a vision of the future so brutal his vision is temporarily impaired. He sees children lost, with a pale-skinned, redheaded man called the Stranger at the center of it all. (More on the Stranger later.)
Jay Garrick, AKA the Golden Age Flash, checks Kent's eyesight.
Meanwhile, we see a newspaper printed with the headline "Red Lantern burns Navy Ship, dozens dead," referring to one of 'The Thirteen' characters being retroactively inserted into DC history. Per the Who's Who pages in the back of the New Golden Age one-shot, the Red Lantern is Soviet agent Vladimir Sokov, who first appeared in 1941's The Green Lantern #1. And even without his power ring, he's the deadliest man in Russian history.
October 31, 1951
The Justice Society of America is asked to unmask and prove its loyalty to the United States of America. The lineup present in the courtroom includes Black Canary and Wonder Woman, as well as the Green Lantern, Doctor Mid-Nite, The Flash, and Hawkman.
November 22, 1976
Doctor Fate's vision is once again impaired, and as he gets an eye exam from Charles McNider, AKA Doctor Mid-Nite, he explains that the first time this happened was at the first-ever JSA meeting in 1940.
As he's talking, Power Girl and Sylvester Pendleton AKA the Star-Spangled Kid burst into the room, with the former ranting about how the JSA doesn't actually want women in its ranks and is bringing them on strictly for optics.
Doctor Fate calmly reminds her that Wonder Woman has been a member of the JSA for decades and that new blood will allow the "old men" she's ranting about to eventually move on from the JSA and leave the superheroics to her and others who are ready to take up the baton.
13 Years Ago
As mentioned above, comic book time is both static and fluid, and "Now" in The New Golden Age #1 refers to the present-day DC Universe - meaning what happened 13 years ago is in relationship to where things are "Now."
And 13 years ago, Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman steals the Cursed Shen Ring of Hauhet despite warnings from Doctor Fate that she should leave it be. As she moves to leave, the ring goes off and kills Doctor Fate - which is a repeating pattern throughout The New Golden Age #1.
Before he dies, Doctor Fate warns Catwoman that when her daughter (who at the time is non-existent) joins the Justice Society of America, she'll be killed by the mysterious Stranger just like everyone else on the team.
Helena Wayne is born.
At this point, it becomes obvious that The New Golden Age #1 takes place in a possible future timeline that doesn't connect to DCU continuity. Since Helena is Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne's daughter, the pair are currently broken up, and there's been no mention of Selina being pregnant in the ongoing Catwoman solo series, it's safe to say Helena won't be born amidst Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths or the upcoming Dawn of the DCU.
However, she does exist in the Batman/Catwoman series, which takes place in a timeline where Selina and Bruce go through with their wedding and have their daughter. There have been various iterations of her throughout DC Comics history - she first appeared in 1977 on Earth-2.
And now she's born in the New Golden Age, which sets up the new Justice Society of America series debuting at the end of November.
In the meantime, Khalid Nassour AKA Doctor Fate goes to a bar with Detective Chimp to meet with Deadman so they can ask him to exorcise Hauhet from the Helmet of Fate. Before they find him, Hauhet asks Khalid to "look before it's too late" and he has a vision of a different Doctor Fate being killed in the year 3022.
November 22 - 10 Years from Now
A 10-year-old Helena Wayne keeps seeing a pale-faced, orange-haired man she refers to as the Bogeyman and calls The Stranger - the same man Doctor Fate saw in his vision at the first JSA meeting in 1940.
Helena makes a plan to hurt the Stranger if he comes near her again. She sleeps with a knife under her pillow, and one night when she hears someone creeping around her house, she goes downstairs and stabs them. But it's not the Stranger - it's Batman.
Bruce confesses to Helena that he's Batman, which prompts an odd question from her: "Does mom know?"
Bruce takes her into the Batcave, where we see the snow globe containing the Flashpoint Universe and several other nods to Bruce's various exploits. Helena is fascinated by it all, but before she can ask too many questions, Selina storms in and she and Bruce fight while Helena pretends to sleep upstairs so she can listen.
Selina has left the masked antihero life behind, and she thought Bruce had too. When she learns he's still Batman, she gives him an ultimatum: Retire immediately, or Selina will take Helena somewhere Bruce can never find them. She fears Helena meeting a fate similar to all of Batman's past sidekicks, his "kids." For the sake of keeping his family together, Bruce stops being Batman. Or so he says.
18 Years from Now
Batman is murdered. Despite his promise to retire (again), it seems Bruce Wayne hasn't hung up his cape and cowl after all - and the Justice Society of America informs Selina of her husband's murder. Helena is also there to receive the news, and her response is to become a caped crusader herself.
On the final page of The New Golden Age #1, Helena says, "I swore I'd find his killer ... and then throw them off the tallest building in Gotham ... but what I didn't know, was that this mission of vengeance would take me back to the beginning, to the center of a conspiracy to murder not only those who fought for justice... but the entire society that started it all.
"My name is Helena Wayne. I am the Batman's daughter. I am the Huntress. Whether my mom wants me to be or not."
This is the setup for Justice Society of America, in which Huntress goes back in time to the present-day DCU to figure out what happened to the JSA.
November 22, 3022
As mentioned above, a different Doctor Fate from either Khalid Nassour or Kent Nelson is killed a full millennium in the future. Her name is Sophie, and we don't know much about her, other than the fact that the Stranger murders her and then dons the Doctor Fate costume to wipe out the rest of the newest Justice Society of America. At this point, the team apparently includes a new Green Lantern and Atom.
This follows a pattern wherein each iteration of Doctor Fate is killed, followed by the rest of the JSA, as established throughout the timelines present in The New Golden Age #1.
The Stranger himself is an unknown quantity as of now, but we expect to learn more about him, his powers, and his impact on the history and future of the DCU - at least in the New Golden Age timeline - in both the new Justice Society of America series and the upcoming Stargirl: The Lost Children limited series.
The JSA is one of the best superhero teams of all time.