NEW 52: Whatever happened to…? (Part Two)

4. Carrie Kelley

Beating Stephanie Brown to the punch by 18 years, Carrie Kelley became the first female Robin in the pages of Frank Miller’s landmark 1986 series The Dark Knight Returns. She was a 13-year-old girl who used a slingshot as a weapon and wore glasses in lieu of the traditional green mask. Lacking a tragic backstory – her parents were alive and well, if somewhat oblivious to their daughter’s existence – she was portrayed as an everyday Gothamite who simply wanted to help.

Aside from Miller’s two Dark Knight books, Kelley has yet to show up in another DC comic as anything other than an inside joke. Artist Mike McKone drew a headstone engraved with Kelley’s name into an alternate-future story in Teen Titans:

And Mark Waid and Alex Ross put this wink-wink moment into the epilogue of their popular 1996 series Kingdom Come:

I’m not sure if Kelley qualifies as a creator-owned character or what, but it seems strange that she’s never been introduced to mainstream continuity. She’s a fan favorite, and if DC’s willing to “expand” the Watchmen universe with a series of prequels, certainly Miller’s Dark Knight universe can be expanded as well.

5. The Wrath

The Wrath’s sole appearance was in 1984’s Batman Special #1. He was sort of an inverse-Batman in appearance and attitude. As a child, the Wrath watched as his parents were gunned down in a Gotham alleyway, but instead of being the targets of a wayward criminal like Joe Chill, the Wrath’s parents were killed by a cop. This prompted the Wrath to spend his life hunting down law enforcement, eventually pursuing the man responsible for his parents’ deaths: Commissioner Gordon.

The Wrath was intended to be a one-shot villain, and his death at the end of Batman Special #1 effectively shut the door on any possible future for the character. Strangely enough, 10 years after his introduction, he (or someone dressed remarkably like him) showed up on the cover of Formerly Known as the Justice League #4:

In 2008, the Wrath returned in a four-issue arc in Batman Confidential:

This new Wrath was actually a protege of the old Wrath, which is theoretically possible since Batman Special #1 didn’t show us much of what happened between the Wrath’s childhood and his crusade to kill Commissioner Gordon. The original Wrath’s origin was also reworked so that instead of his parents being innocent victims of an incompetent police officer, they were now armed robbers who attempted to shoot Gordon and died when he fired on them in self-defense.

The retcon makes sense. Readers don’t want “orphan maker” on the resume of a beloved character like Gordon, but having that unfortunate incident in his past was interesting because it acted as a catalyst for his present-day commitment and resolve. Having an evil-twin version of Batman is a compelling idea on its own, giving Gordon his very own rogue is even more intriguing. The New 52 could be the perfect place to bring back Gordon’s biggest regret in the form of the Wrath (and maybe he could stick around this time).

6. Superwoman

Introduced in writer Elliot S. Maggin’s novel Superman: Miracle Monday, Kristin Wells was a college student who, through the wacky hijinks of time travel, messed with Superman’s life in the past and unwittingly contributed to the creation of a ridiculous holiday that would never be celebrated again outside of a Superman tie-in novel.

Like Barbara Gordon on the 1960s Batman TV show or Harley Quinn on the cartoon Batman: The Animated Series, Wells eventually made her way from an external medium into the mainstream DCU, appearing in two DC Comics Presents annuals (both scripted by Maggin) and Alan Moore’s highly-regarded Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

In her first DC Comics Presents story, Wells, once again abusing time travel like it was hard drugs, journeyed to the 20th century to learn the identity of Superwoman, a mysterious hero whose alter ego had never been revealed (spoiler: it’s her!) Readers also learned that Wells was a descendent of Superman’s pal Jimmy Olsen, implying that one day a woman would find Olsen tolerable enough to take to bed.

She also appears in 2008’s Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, as part of the display at the Superman Museum:

And then there’s the other Superwoman: Lois Lane’s sister Lucy, whose father manipulated her into villainy in an abysmal New Krypton-era storyline that lasted an unbearable two years.

New Krypton was a One Year Later story arc that introducted Flamebird and Nightwing and another new (old) character: Kristin Wells, the mysterious “third Kryptonian” that had, in addition to Superman and Supergirl, made a new life for herself on Earth.

However, because there was already a (terrible) Superwoman flying around, this Kristin Wells couldn’t be anything other than herself: a former member of Zod’s army named Karsta Wor-Ul. To the dismay of nostalgic fans, Karsta had no connection to the previous Kristin aside from using her name as a civilian identity. This Kristin Wells was an old, muscular AWOL soldier with no relation to Jimmy Olsen and no crazy time machine. As evidenced in the following panel, even Superman is like, “Oh, her.

New Krypton wasn’t the best. It was so not-the-best that it brought back Supergirl’s parents just to kill them again, right in front of her.

A time-traveling descendent of Jimmy Olsen who inexplicably winds up as Superwoman is a pretty neat idea. Updating it for modern audiences might be a good way to bridge the Superman books and the Legion of Super-Heroes books. Since most of the New 52 appears to have been made up on the fly, there’s no reason Kristin Wells couldn’t be brought back.

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9 Responses to NEW 52: Whatever happened to…? (Part Two)

  1. Sean McGrath says:

    i wish that new krypton hadn’t been a short-lived gimmick. the idea of a planet in binary orbit with us and full to the gills with kryptonians was a game-changer i wanted to see played out over several years, if not forever. but, instead, it lasted just over a year and was a shameful waste of potential stories.

  2. The problem with Carrie Kelley is that she’s 13 when Batman is 56 (ish?) and now with the “New 52” Batman won’t be that old for another (I have no idea, but I’m guessing:) 25 years?
    But yeah, always thought she was awesome.

    • kingofawkward says:

      They wouldn’t have to introduce her as she was in TDKR. She could be Tim Drake’s age or Nightwing’s age, and she could be the new Robin since Damian’s taken up the Red Bird title.

  3. Very interesting! Most list I seen (including my own personal list of who I’d like to see in the New 52) are very generic, but yours actually have variety!

    You probably already heard about it or read it, but Carrie Kelley and Wrath did comeback in the Batman comics this past year.

    • Carrie Kelley and Wrath did indeed come back – very interesting! I sincerely doubt anyone at DC reads this blog, but it’s nice to see those things happen (including Supergirl becoming a Red Lantern, though not Linda Danvers as I wished) even if it had nothing to do with me.

  4. NewVegasNinja says:

    They actually do have Wrath in current lore. They took the backstory and gave it to a Arkham Asylum character were all familiar with. Prometheus. The cop killer.

  5. I loved this post, thanks for writing it. The Wrath is a character who seems completed ridiculous, but I ended up liking him.

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