Last week's Justice League Dark#14 features Orchid, Frankenstein and Amethyst wandering lost through the House of Mystery when they find themselves in an office.
Booster Gold, former leader of the JLI, pictured alongside some of the DC Universe's most influential and important characters. Booster is the only member of the JLI pictured--but more than that, he's part of a Justice League collage that includes nothing but members of the main Justice League team and Green Arrow, who will lead the Justice League of America.
And, oh yeah, the whole tableau--which was apparently being put together in secret by John Constantine (see all those cigarette butts in the ashtrays on the desk?), recalls a similar scene in 52, when Booster Gold himself broke into Rip Hunter's "Time Lab" and found a pair of blackboards scrawled with a series of notes about heroes, teasers for the rest of the story and indications that something was really wrong in the DC Universe.
Hunter, as it later turned out, isn't really named Hunter. In fact, that's a false name he's given himself to prevent time-traveling bad guys from killing him in his crib, or worse, killing his defenseless parents before he's ever born. Those parents? Well, we don't know who the mother is--but his father is Booster Gold himself.
All of this makes a kind of sense, actually, since it was Johns who invented (or at least most often and effectively used) Rip Hunter's chalkboard, Johns who is writing Justice League and Justice League of America...and Johns with whom Justice League Dark writer Jeff Lemire confessed to working closely back in May.
But the presence of such a board, and the absence of Justice League Dark member Tim Hunter, begs the question: is Rip Hunter secretly working with Justice League Dark? Or, at least, is Tim Hunter also not really called Hunter? Could he be employing a similar ruse?
What does John Constantine have to say about the heroes of the DC Universe? Well let's see:
- Vulnerable to magic?
- Science freak?
- How many of his kind are there?
- Look into Daily Planet connection?
Gothamite. Has wealthy backer. Who?
Does Trevor know who they are?
- Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor. Possibility to exploit this.
- Green Lantern clearly has a military background. Is the ring a government weapon?
- Flash is a bigger threat than anyone realizes. Magic connection?
- Cyborg: RED ROOM!
- Aquaman: Who cares?
- Who/What is PANDORA?
- New GL: Terrorist...or worse?
- WHO is organizing all the super villains? Why??
- Need to find Booster Gold
- he has to know something
Is he the Big M?
- Is the balance in danger?
- THE ROT is RISING.
- Maxine is not ready. Baker can't handle it.
- WHAT IS PROJECT ASCENSION??
- Keeps trying to wipe his existence from my memory.
- WHAT IS HE HIDING?
- Connection to THE ROT?
- Possible "cure" for it?
- Ask BELROY for all his notes on VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN'S work.
- (Same person/regenerates)
- Different people?
- Is S.H.A.D.E. as insane as it seems?
- Who the hell is in charge there?
- Is Shazam returning?
- Who will be chosen?
- How much does Sivana know?
- The Circle of Wizards: Shazam, The Apache, Who else?
- Need to check out Cold Dog Apache Reservation: Arizona. Find the new kid.
Booster is an obvious place to start because very few people would think he "has to know" anything. At this point in his character biography, very few people know that he's not incompetent or at least greedy. We saw this over and over again in Justice League International, so unless Batman has had an uncharacteristic heart-to-heart with Constantine on the topic, that's a curious observation to make.
Could Constantine know that Booster Gold and Rip Hunter are Time Masters? Could what Booster "knows" be something to do with the Flashpoint cataclysm? Because if you'll remember, Barry Allen and Booster Gold are the only two people who came through that physically as the actual, literal same people who used to exist in the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe.
Some of these observations also seem dated. Do people really still think that Hal Jordan's ring is a government weapon when they think that his successor is "a terrorist or worse"? It seems as though this office may even have been put together back before Justice League Dark ever convened.
The idea of Flash as a bigger threat may point back to Flashpoint as well; if Constantine was somehow aware that something cataclysmic had happened (and it certainly affects him now that we're losing Vertigo-Constantine and all those years of character development and such), he might be able to pinpoint it back to Flashpoint, which is an event that's known of at least by a few characters--most notably Batman, Flash and the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Cyborg's exact connection to the Red Room is unclear, but since it's one of the color-coded ARGUS rooms, and ARGUS plays a role not only in this issue but in a number of Constantine's "clues," perhaps there's something to that. Also, ARGUS is set to play a major role in both Justice League of America and the upcoming Trinity War, which ties into some of the other events on the board.
It's probably worth noting that both ARGUS and SHADE are clearly being surveilled here. Is Constantine working on his own...or perhaps with Checkmate?
The Aquaman is likely a throwaway joke, since so much of the character's personality in the New 52 is relating back to the old jokes everybody has made at one time or another about him being useless outside of the water. The question of Pandora is not only more germane to upcoming events, but also to the end of Justice League Dark #14, in which The Phantom Stranger and Pandora arrive, presumably to set up the big Trinity War event.
You know, it really never occurred to me that the Trinity in question might not be the Trinity of Sin OR the DC "trinity" of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman but rather a war that divides the three Justice Leagues. Hm.
The Superman stuff seems pretty basic; it's "who is he and how do we stop him?" stuff. Probably everyone in the DC Universe has this, although most of them don't write it on little slips of paper and tack it to the wall. An argument could be made that the "how many are there?" question is pointed at the currently-ongoing H'El on Earth story, but even if so, nothing really notable for we fans.
The Batman question is interesting because at one point not long ago, people knew that Bruce Wayne funded Batman. Has that gone away in the New 52? More likely than not, it's just awkwardly phrased and spaced, and it's really that Batman is a Gothamite with a wealthy backer. Who, then, is Batman? Again, not a lot to see here. It almost seems as though Superman and Batman's roles are being downplayed here.
The last and arguably most significant piece of information not yet tied to a specific event is the question of who is organizing the supervillains, and why. Could this be the rumored villain-swapping event that Bleeding Cool has been shouting about from the rooftops for a week now?
The premise seems to be that, even in the New 52 with a lot of the old stories not "counting," DC is concerned that seeing the same villains and the same heroes face off will inevitably result in a kind of greatest hits tour, making each fight a slightly different version of one of the previous ones. By putting Superman villains in Batman books and Batman villains in Wonder Woman, the logic goes, you can see about creating some new rivalries and allow writers to stretch some new muscles without worrying about whether borrowing someone else's villain is somehow stepping on their toes. And, of course, there's the underlying implication, seen most directly here on the board and surprisingly not in any of the rumor stories, that it may be organized by an unseen hand endeavoring to build a Secret Society of Super-Villains, or something like. Possibly with the Crime Bible at its heart?
Is Adam One "The Big M?" Well, unless I'm missing something by trade-waiting on Stormwatch, it appears as though Constantine is speculating that Adam One is actually Martian Manhunter, which seems unlikely given that they're teammates. Then again, I can't recall a specific instance when I've seen the pair together.
It could jive with the idea that J'Onn is trying to hide something from Constantine, and with comments made by creators at New York Comic Con that J'Onn would become even more powerful in the near future...then again, it's a story that's already been done, and it's not exactly a fan-favorite. J'Onn already hid in plain sight as the Justice Leaguer Bloodwynd for quite a while.
All the stuff about the Red and the Green and the Rot is pretty self-explanatory, really, and just reflects Lemire tying his work on Animal Man and Frankenstein all together in this story. The comment that Constantine wants to talk to Belroy is interesting; for a guy who works with Frankenstein and has off-the-record conversations with Science Agent Belroy, it's curious that he would know so little about SHADE. It's also interesting that he would think Belroy might give him information about Victor Frankenstein; what does he have on Belroy, or why would a SHADE agent want to play ball with someone who's clearly investigating SHADE?
The stuff about Shazam and the Circle of Wizards seems, like the Pandora question, to point toward the Trinity War, although it's entirely possible that there could be broader implications, either for Justice League Dark or for the supernatural line at DC in general or both. Once Trinity War is over, I fully expect Pandora, Phantom Stranger and maybe some others to either join JLD or have their own team book.
Any stone left unturned?