Vinny thinks that the most recent issue of Justice League, “Old Frontier”, is extremely important.

Here’s why.

Though I was quite fond of Priest’s bridging run on Justice League, Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and a fantastic team of artists have taken the Rebirth Era League to new heights. I’d even argue that No Justice may be the first story of a brand new era for DC Comics. Rebirth seems more and more to be the prelude to something much larger, as Doomsday Clock, Young Justice and Superman have all hinted at recent months.

The DC Universe isn’t just volatile, real change and advancements are taking place.

*Significant Spoilers Ahead*

Super, Both Hero and Villain

As I’ve outlined in some past comic picks, some of the strongest issues in this run of Justice League have focused on the Legion of Doom. Especially so on Lex Luthor. Justice League #17, titled “Old Frontier”, brings both sides of this narrative together. This isn’t the first time these characters have clashed since the run began, in fact, much of the story revolved around it. What this issue does is bring Luthor into another role in the DCU.

At the tail end of The New 52, Luthor found himself a member of the Justice League, stemming from the events of the underrated (and available on DC Universe) Forever Evil.  As Rebirth began, Luthor had donned blue and red armor, and attempted to take the place of a dead New 52 Superman. I know, that’s a bit confusing, there’s more on that here. That ended…poorly, and Luthor would soon be back to his villainous ways. Founding the Legion of Doom,  Luthor sought to crush the Justice League in the chaos of Metal‘s aftermath.

A Secret Past

One of the most debated aspects of Superman’s origin amongst Supernerd’s ( I say that lovingly, as one) is whether his relationship with Lex Luthor should start in Smallville. While present in many iterations of the Man of Steel’s early days, Luthor and Kent’s childhood friendship could easily seem a bit silly in a story requiring notable suspension of disbelief. Regardless, it was the premise that the long running Smallville was based around.

It can work.

Scott Snyder, Jim Cheung and Tomeu Morey believe that too. In Old Frontier, the team establishes a new connection between Luthor and one of the aliens he hates so much, The Maritan Manhunter. With the fate of the Multiverse on the line and without the knowledge of the League, J’onn Jonzz invites the Greatest Criminal Mind of Our Time to the holiest place on Mars. The intrigued Luthor at first resists a new truth, that his mistrust of aliens might come from a childhood relationship with the young Martian. Yes, a childhood relationship.

Old Frontier establishes that it was not an adult J’onn J’onnz who became sole survivor of Mars, but a child. This comes along with the excellent Martian Manhunter Mini-Series and bolsters the characters momentum even more. A controversial move away from his typical origin, and its new ties to Lex, establish something that will most likely play into the next Crisis:

Time is changing.

Lex and J'onn by Jim Cheung

You Can Change Time

Perhaps the biggest blow to continuity from the New 52 was the complete destruction of the timeline stemming from Zero Hour. While the initial implications were only that the relaunch would be adjusting the timeline, it wasn’t long before large chunks of it were thrown out, often leaving loose ends within the narratives that were continuing on. Rebirth was essentially and intrusion on this timeline, which pointed out to the characters that something was wrong but not yet fixing it. Old Frontier begins to play with this further, and leads me to a theory.

With Doomsday Clock, Young Justice and Justice League all playing heavily with potential timelines, not to mention the occasional appearance of a Legionnaire, I think we may be in store for a new Zero Hour.

But it’s not just that.

Zero Hour made adjustments to the Post-Crisis world, one that had disregarded some of the more outlandish aspects of superhero storytelling. With a story like Old Frontier, DC is proving that they’re willing to embrace the many styles of their history. Perhaps this new Crisis will truly bring all of the history of the DCU to the forefront.

And I think that’s a good thing.