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Edited by Robert Beach
At this point, CW’s domination of the super TV genre is almost comical. The Network is currently sporting 4 original superhero shows and an online animated series with a universe so massive and broad, it’s frankly astounding it works at all. It’s not like all their shows are diet superhero fair like Smallville; they dove head first into Multiverse, time travel, magic, talking apes, and strange visitors from beyond the stars. The crown jewel in that treasure trove of superhero fiction would have to be Legends of Tomorrow, the first live-action superhero team show to be produced with all original footage.
The series boasts a strong central cast, amazing action, high-concept adventures through time, and an expanding roster of superheroes that’s honestly become the equal of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. To illustrate this fact, CW is now bringing the Justice Society of America to Legends of Tomorrow season 2 and has revealed 4 new major heroes who will appear in the upcoming season.
VIXEN – MAISIE RICHARDSON-SELLERS
Though not technically a member of the Justice Society, Vixen is still a pretty major addition to the Legends of Tomorrow’s roster. She’s the second woman of color to join the team after Hawkgirl and is yet another hero to migrate over to the superhero team series after premiering first on one of CW’s other series (kind of). See, the Vixen we have on hand for Legends of Tomorrow isn’t the same Vixen we met in the Arrow season 4 episode ‘Taken.’
That Vixen was the main comics character Mari and was played by Megalyn Echikunwoke, who also voiced the character in a 6-part animated web series. This new Vixen, named Amaya and played by Maisie Richardson-Sellers, is a previous incarnation of the hero. Specifically, she’s Mari’s grandmother (Editor's Note: Comics, everyone!)
This ties into the time travel aspect of Legends of Tomorrow. More specifically, it relates to the nature of Vixen as a superhero. Vixen’s power is that she can channel the ability of any animal, which she does through the use of a mystic African totem she wears as a necklace. It’s established, however, that the totem has always existed, and Mari isn’t the first woman to use the totem for superhero purposes. The DC Universe history is replete with crazy meta activity like that.
Shifting the focus to Mari’s grandmother was a sly move for CW after Echikunwoke was unavailable due to a scheduling conflict. Given that we’re dealing with a Vixen 2 generations removed from the modern day, I wonder very much how this new hero will fit into the setting of the ‘40s and ‘50s (presumably) as a black woman superhero.
OBSIDIAN – LANCE HENDRIKSEN
Now we’re getting more into Justice Society territory, though it’s a little dubious whether or not Hendriksen’s Obsidian will end up a hero on the team. Obsidian in the comics is the son of the first Green Lantern Alan Scott. Together. With his super sister Jade, he fought crime as part of Infinity Inc., a team that formed out of the JSA’s decline with new heroes taking up old names and the children of the original heroes creating new identities. Unfortunately, the Infinity Inc. years were a brief time for Obsidian before he returned to the 1996 Justice Society of America comic as a powerful villain.
Upon returning to continuity, Obsidian was retconned into a tortured madman, driven mad by his abusive childhood and the fact that his father, a superhero, never came to rescue him. His powers got a serious upgrade here, going from “shadow energy” to the ability to engulf a city in darkness and possess people with the shadow of their worst deeds. He menaced the JSA a bunch of times before reforming and taking over as their head of security.
I’m not sure which version of Obsidian we’ll see in Legends of Tomorrow or if he’ll maintain his position as one of DC’s only gay characters. Hendriksen’s casting would certainly favor the villain angle. At the very least, it seems like we’ll be getting a very different take on Obsidian than the version we knew from Infinity Inc. just based on how much older Hendriksen is than the other heroes in the series. Maybe he’ll be filling the Green Lantern role as the old pro, or he’ll be a creepy old villain, either seems possible.
STAR GIRL - SARAH GREY
Of all these heroes, Star Girl is probably the most well known. Even then, she’s hardly on the level of Supergirl or Black Widow. Courtney Whitmore is the teenage stepdaughter of one Pat Dugan, the adult sidekick of World War 2 era superhero the Star Spangled Kid. Courtney took up the Star Spangled Kid mantel herself when she discovered the kid’s cosmic star belt in Pat’s possessions, fighting crime by night and attending high school by day.
Eventually, her stepdad figured out what she was up to and built a giant mechanical suit called S.T.R.I.P.E. to keep an eye on her. She joined the JSA when it reformed in 1996 and was a consistent member till the DC New 52 reboot in 2011. During that time, she eventually adopted the name Star Girl when she took up the legacy and power weapon of another World War 2 hero: Star Man. Armed with a revamped version of Star Man’s gravity rod, she eventually took her place as one of the senior members of the JSA. Most recently, she joined the US government sponsored superteam "The Justice League of America."
If you know about Star Girl at all, it’s probably because of her role in the JSA’s two-part special episode of Smallville where she appeared alongside Hawkman and Sandman. See, Star Girl tends to get a heavier push towards adaptation and the front lines of the DCU because Geoff Johns, the guy now President of DC Entertainment, created her. Not only that, Geoff modeled Star Girl off his late sister, who died tragically in a plane crash, so she’s got extra significance to him.
While Star Girl makes a ton of sense as an addition to Legends of Tomorrow, I’m not totally sure how she’ll fit into the JSA arc. The Justice Society of the upcoming season is going to be set in the 1940s. Part of what makes Courtney so great is that she’s such a defiantly modern hero and that her identity is crafted from multiple legacies.
Ditching that to slot her into the role of a 1940s young woman would be a real shame. And yet, it established there are at least two legacy heroes in the new season: Rex Tyler, the son of the original Hourman who appeared in the season 1 finale, and Nate Heywood, the grandson of Commander Steel. So maybe Legends of Tomorrow Season 2 is building up to the reformation of the Justice Society.
So far, Dr. Mid-Nite is the only confirmed new hero that we don’t have any casting information on, which leaves the character’s ethnicity and gender somewhat in doubt. The original Dr. Mid-Nite was a surgeon named Charles McNiter who went blind, but he developed special goggles to let him see in the dark. He’s the doctor version of Daredevil, complete with “blackout bombs” to blind his enemies and a pet owl who would help him in crime fighting.
Later, Peter Cross took up the name and costume after being blinded in a car accident and refining McNiter’s goggles to let him see the infrared spectrum, allowing him to perform surgery and medical work without needing MRI or X-Ray machines. Cross joined the ’96 JSA and also fought crime in Portland, setting up a free clinic there and using his surgical superpowers to provide free medical care to the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.
Those two different Dr. Mid-Nites are the most likely to show up in Legends of Tomorrow, especially this season’s emphasis on heroic legacy and generational identities. McNiter is an easy fit for the 1940s Justice Society, and their costume holds up super well, so it’d be an easy adaptation. What’s more, Peter Cross’ ties to McNiter and legacy could fit well with the other follow-up heroes and any possible plans for a modern day iteration of the JSA made up of new heroes taking the names of older inspirations.
There is one other possibility, and her name is Beth Chapel. Beth is the only Dr. Mid-Nite who wasn’t a surgeon. Rather, she was a medical doctor. She first entered the superhero arena in that capacity, providing medical aid to the JSA revival team Infinity Inc. that I mentioned in Obsidian's segment. How she became the next Dr. Mid-Nite was fairly obvious. While in the midst of helping one of her patients, she was blinded in an oxygen explosion.
The JSA gave her the tools to treat her blindness, and so she adopted the identity of Dr. Mid-Nite along with a new costume. Beth’s career was tragically short, for she got killed along with a bunch of other second string heroes fighting the gem demon Eclispo. She’s still a pretty engaging and unique hero and could do with a revival.
Legends of Tomorrow season 2 will premiere October 13, 2016
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