Warning: SPOILERS for Justice League #7
The latest issue of Justice League has seen the return of a long-lost hero, whose arrival could mean big things for the reality of the DC Comics Rebirth. This event marks only the latest in a series of incongruous oddities in the face of the cosmic upheaval that is threatening to tear apart the DC Comics' multiverse.
This upheaval began with DC Universe Rebirth #1 and the revelation that some unseen intelligence had been rewriting the history of the multiverse. This plot-thread continued into Doomsday Clock, which saw several characters from the reality of Watchmen journeying to the DC Universe. More recently, the Dark Nights: Metal event revealed a Dark Multiverse made up of all the worlds where the heroes failed to save the day. The resulting battle ended in the destruction of The Source Wall and several cosmic events which have played out in the pages of Justice League, Justice League Dark and The Flash, including the death of magic and the release of various strange energies.
Justice League #7 saw the mystery deepening further, with Hawkgirl manifesting new powers for the first time since a similar occurrence in Dark Nights: Metal. As the team discussed this and their latest battle with a villainous legion formed by Lex Luthor, a Boom Tube opened up within The Hall of Justice (something that is supposed to be impossible) and from it emerged a bedraggled figure carrying a glowing staff.
The figure introduced himself as Starman, claiming to be from the past before issuing a dire proclamation that three Justice League members must die to learn the information they need to save reality.
The name of Starman was tied to several DC Comics superheroes with no shared legacy, until writer James Robinson created a shared backstory for them all in the 1994 Starman series. Ten men in total used the Starman name in the pre-Flashpoint universe (not counting alternate timelines or futures) with no Starmen having appeared in either The New 52 or DC Rebirth realities until now. The final Starman, Thom Kallor, was notable for being a time-traveler who was a member of both the Justice Society of America and the Legion of Superheroes.
Given that, it's possible that the return of Starman to the modern DC Comics multiverse could be a prelude to the return of one or both of these classic superhero teams. Other comics have hinted at this, with the original Jay Garrick version of The Flash briefly appearing to save Barry Allen from being pulled into The Speed Force and the last issue of Justice League Dark featuring the Doctor Fate of The New 52 reality. The cast of Doomsday Clock includes both Legion of Superheroes founder Saturn Girl and JSA founder Johnny Thunder, who both remember the old realities. Hawkgirl's mysterious powers may even relate to all of this, given that she was originally a part of the JSA in the original timeline.
Still, there is some question as to which particular Starman it is who has returned. While Thom Kallor seems the most likely candidate given his temporal mobility, this Starman wears the uniform of Will Payton (the fifth Starman) and wields the cosmic staff of Jack Knight, who was the seventh Starman. Things become more complicated when one considers that Jack Knight gave his staff to Courtney Whitmore (aka Stargirl) when he retired and that a version of Courtney Whitmore's Stargirl whose origins were wholly unconnected to the Starman legacy existed in the New 52 reality. Hopefully an answer will arrive in the next issue of Justice League, because pondering all the possibilities might leave one seeing stars.
Justice League #7 is now available from DC Comics.