The New Golden Age is about DC's past AND future, says Geoff Johns

Stargirl: The Lost Children #1
(Image credit: DC)

Courtney Whitmore AKA Stargirl has a lot on her plate in the new Stargirl: The Lost Children limited series written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Todd Nauck, colored by Matt Herms, and lettered by Rob Leigh. Her parents want her to re-commit to school and actually go to class - something she hasn't done consistently because of her work as a superhero - but her best friend, Emiko Queen AKA Red Arrow, needs Courtney's help solving a major mystery.

Spoilers ahead for Stargirl: The Lost Children #1

(Image credit: DC)

As implied by the series' title, Stargirl: The Lost Children sends Courtney and Emiko in a mission to find superhero kids who have been literally misplaced in time. We got our first extended look at these characters in the 'Who's Who?' pages from The New Golden Age #1, which introduce the 13 heroes and sidekicks who have been retconned into DC's Golden Age.

And in Stargirl: The Lost Children #1, we learn a little bit more - though Johns tells Newsarama the mystery behind the Lost Children and the 13 will be slowly unraveled over the coming months in both Stargirl and the upcoming Justice Society of America series.

"One of the things that was important to me was to make sure that when you read The New Golden Age, it isn't just about the '40s and the JSA. It's about the history of DC, from the past to the future," Johns says. In regards to the character Legionnaire, whose visage and information are completely redacted in the one-shot special, Johns adds, "Having that character in there [is] just to signal to everybody that this involves not just the past, but the future too."

(Image credit: DC)

The New Golden Age #1 spans millennia, and Stargirl: The Lost Children and Justice Society of America will pick up different threads. There will also be plenty of crossover, but Johns says readers will be able to follow either story without necessarily knowing everything about the New Golden Age era as a whole.

Stargirl focuses primarily on the sidekicks who disappeared before they could be properly reintegrated into the Golden Age, according to the Time Masters.

"The main thematic we're dealing with is the first generation of teenage heroes. The papers called them 'sidekicks.' And that word can be gimmicky or silly. The opening scene [in Stargirl: The Lost Children #1] is narrated by one of these sidekicks, an obscure character named Dynamite who explains that back in their day, to be a young person taken on the wing by one of these heroes was really a big deal to them," Johns says.

"They were all outcasts and orphans and delinquents and people who had no path to a future. These heroes individually were giving back to the generation that was coming up, and that's what being a sidekick really was. It meant something. It meant a hero was helping a kid."

In addition to the mysterious Legionnaire, The New Golden Age #1 also features a character referred to by both Doctor Fate and Helena Wayne as the Stranger - a thin, pale-skinned, red-headed man who appears throughout time and always seems to wipe out the JSA. At the first JSA meeting in 1940, Doctor Fate sees a vision of the Stranger surrounded by the very 'Lost Children' Stargirl and Red Arrow are trying to find.

But there's seemingly no mention of him in Stargirl: The Lost Children #1 - just the Childminder, a menacing creature first mentioned in the 2021 Stargirl Spring Break Special and then mentioned again as part of Thomas Wayne's investigations in Flashpoint Beyond

According to Johns, the Stranger is Degaton - DC's version of Marvel's Kang the Conquerer - and he'll reappear in JSA #1. As far as we know, he and the Childminder are different characters altogether. In fact, the Childminder may actually be a woman.

(Image credit: DC)

In Stargirl: The Lost Children #1, Emiko discovers a bunch of obscure sidekicks who all have one thing in common: disappearing under mysterious circumstances. She shows her research to Courtney, who's surprised to learn so much about a superhero era with which she's obsessed. One of the sidekicks Emiko talks about, Tick-Tock, apparently disappeared in 1942 while investigating a highjacked shipment of Miraclo. He tracked the shipment to some docks, and both he and the Miraclo disappeared.

Now, Daniel Dunbar - AKA Dan the Dynamite, sidekick to TNT - is on the trail, and Red Arrow and Stargirl are getting sucked into the search. As the girls look at a map where Emiko has tried to chart Tick-Tock and Dan's apparent course, a voice comes through the radio: "Don't stop looking, Danny. We're all here." The speech is broken, but when Emiko tries to tune the radio, it explodes - and seemingly the same voice declares, "She's coming."

The issue ends with Dan landing on a stormy island after a shipwreck - where he puts on his magic ring and the one belonging to his mentor TNT - and suddenly becomes young again. A voice from off-panel says he's "cursed" and adds, "You shouldn't have come here, Mr. Dunbar." Then Dynamite screams, implying his death or at the very least a grave injury.

(Image credit: DC)

Whatever unfolds on this island and with the Childminder, Johns and artist Todd Nauck tell us we can expect to see the sidekicks who have been lost in time struggling to find their place in the present day.

Nauck says his character designs were based on researching each sidekick's mentor, as well as the fashion of their original era. "How can I tap into that and give them that Golden Age flavor for kids who have been pulled out of time? They're not up to speed with any sort of fashion or media from the time they left, which was probably sometime in the early-to-mid-'40s at the latest. That really played into [the character designs]," Nauck explains.

"These kids don't know they've been gone for so long," Johns adds. "When we finally meet them in the story and we find out what happened to them and where they are now and what their future is, it's going to be really interesting to explore. 

"It's all about giving them an emotional backstory that is relatable and tying them into these heroes. ... You have to understand who they are and why they do what they do and what their core pain is. We all have core pain. So what's their core pain and what's the thing they always have to fight to overcome or heal from?"

Stargirl: The Lost Children #1 is on sale now.

If they hadn't been lost to time, some of these sidekicks could have become the best legacy superheroes in comic books.

Samantha Puc
Editor, Newsarama

Samantha Puc (she/they) is an editor at Newsarama and an avid comics fan. Their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., The Beat, The Mary Sue, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School.