With Batman Eternal bringing Stephanie Brown into DC Comics's rebooted continuity and The Flash Annual doing the same for Wally West, the number of fan-favorite heroes who simply never existed in the New 52 is getting smaller every day. And now, it seems, smaller still. In a new interview with Newsarama, DC Entertainment's Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns confirmed that Ted Kord, the second and longest-running Blue Beetle, will come to the New 52 in the final issue of the currently-ongoing Forever Evil crossover event miniseries. "Ted Kord returns to the DCU in Forever Evil #7, and plays a role in Justice League post-Forever Evil,"Johns said simply and directly, when asked whether he could provide a one-sentence teaser for the future of the book. Unfortunately for fans who might like a little more of a hint, that was the last question asked.
Kord was part of the critically-acclaimed and fan-favorite Justice League and Justice League International series by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis that ran in the '80s and early '90s before getting a reduced profile for about ten years after those titles ended. He turned back up in a big way, starring as the lead in Countdown to Infinite Crisis, an oversized one-shot by Johns that fed into 2005's Crisis on Infinite Earths sequel. In the one-shot, Kord discovered that money was being embezzled not just from his own company, but from the companies of other wealthy people with connections to the superhero community such as Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen. He traced the funds to an organization in Europe that kept extensive files on he and all of his friends--and turned out to be led by Kord's old friend and Justice League ally Maxwell Lord. Before he could reveal what was going on to the world, Lord shot him in the head and killed him. The character stayed dead for the duration of that iteration of the DC Universe, although he did appear briefly in a Giffen/DeMatteis miniseries, a pair of time-travel stories in Booster Gold and as an undead drone in Blackest Night, so he was rarely off the page completely for more than a year at a time. Notably, Booster Gold had attempted to prevent Ted's death using time-travel but was seemingly prevented from doing so when Ted realized how much damage such an alteration could cause to the timestream. The story ended with Ted hopping in Booster's time machine, reportedly to go put himself in front of the gun, at peace and proud of what his old friend was doing without him, but since he vanished on his own, with a smile on his face, and later evidence suggested he may still be alive, many fans continued to hold out hope that the character would turn up again.
He didn't before the New 52 relaunch, and hasn't been mentioned in that time, except a passing reference to Kord Omniversal, his family's company, at the start of Forever Evil. At 2012's New York Comic Con, though, a HeroClix set including a number of Justice League International members in their New 52 costumes included Kord's distinctive airship "The Bug," seemingly suggesting he might be on his way back. His return (on an alternate Earth) was confirmed to be happening in Grant Morrison's Multiversity, but a year later we still haven't seen a completed page of that project. Booster Gold went missing shortly after the relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman began, with a version of himself from the future (and wearing an A.R.G.U.S. patch on his costume) showed up to briefly warn him about impending danger--and then vanished. The younger Booster seemingly blinked out of time when Superman and Wonder Woman kissed for the first time, and he's been back only since since then briefly, appearing in a story arc in All-Star Western with only a fraction of his powers and no memory of any recent events. There have been persistent rumors that he would return, either as a member of the Justice League or in a solo title, but nothing has come of it yet. Most fans expect to see Booster in the time-spanning The New 52: Futures End, a miniseries partially written and drawn by Booster creator Dan Jurgens.
So...what's the significance of that? There's a hair-brained idea out there that any return of Blue Beetle II and Booster Gold could actually represent a return of the "original" duo, since Booster Gold and Barry Allen are the only two characters in the New 52 who seem to be actually, physically, the same person they were before the relaunch. When the timestream reset and whatever wave of change rolled through the universe that happened to create The New 52, both of those characters were outside of time. Their memories were affected, but in at least Booster's case, we know that his physical being was not (Booster Gold volume 2, #47, showed him arriving at Vanishing Point in the tattered remains of his pre-relaunch costume, not at all surprised by it, and declaring that he needed a new one, setting the stage for the outfit he would wear in Justice League International). Jurgens also later confirmed that he was writing that title in such a way as to imply that much of Booster's past as a Time Master, including a memorable encounter with Batman that took place shortly after Ted Kord apparently sacrificed himself, was retained in the New 52--suggesting that Booster has far greater knowledge of time and the nature of the multiverse than anyone in-story has any reason to believe. If Beetle did indeeed somehow "fake" his death, fool the timestream into fixing itself and still survive, could that character and the time-tossed Booster Gold not end up together sooner than later? Hmm...