Okay, so this we were not expecting. Were you? Doctor Endless. We understand this is the new DC Universe's first genderfluid character — and a familiar-looking one, too. Doctor Endless pulls their look and powers from the Sandman's Endless characters, as created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith, and Mike Dringenberg.
The character will appear in Suicide Squad: The Black Files #1 out in August — one of a number of new characters in a story written by Jai Nitz and drawn by Scot Eaton.
Sebastian Faust, the U.S. government's top arcane operative, has gone rogue! To track down America's most dangerous magician, Amanda Waller assembles a special ops team unlike any other: an expendable coven of dark arts experts including El Diablo, Enchantress and Gentleman Ghost. They are Suicide Squad Black, and they will take you to places where even the dead can die!
We're told that DC Comics intends this to be a strong book for retailers to sell to both Sandman fans and those with an interest in LGBTQ matters. And here is a sketch of the character.
The Endless are Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair, and Delirium, and appeared in Sandman written by Neil Gaiman, published by DC Comics. Immensely powerful beings or creatures who exist as a family, they reflect existence itself. Dream was the lead character in Sandman, but others figured prominently and Death has her own series of spinoff comic books. And while they took many forms, Desire specifically was agender, or jumped from one to the other depending on circumstance. An early example of a specifically genderfluid character in comic books, this may also address a call for greater diversity in the portrayal of comic book characters from mainstream publishers.
Recently, DC Comics published Sandman Overture by Gaiman and JH Williams, a prequel to the original series. While Geoff Johns, President of DC has also revisited Watchmen, making it part and parcel of the DC Universe with DC Rebirth. And there was this nod in Justice League: Rebirth as well. Doctor Endless seems to be more an "inspired by" character rather than a part of Sandman lore. But under pre-existing terms, it could not have been done without Neil Gaiman's permission. Has that changed?
Either way, I expect this to be big all over San Diego Comic-Con. Here's a description of The Endless, as written by Neil Gaiman as appeared in the Seasons Of Mists story for Sandman:
Desire smells almost subliminally of summer peaches, and casts two shadows: one black and sharp-edged, the other translucent and forever wavering, like heat haze … Desire smiles in brief flashes, like sunlight glinting from a knife-edge. And there is much else that is knife-like about Desire … never a possession, always the possessor, with skin as pale as smoke, and eyes tawny and sharp as yellow wine: Desire is everything you have ever wanted. Whoever you are. Whatever you are. Everything.Despair, Desire's sister and twin, is queen of her own bleak bourne. It is said that scattered through Despair's domain are a multitude of tiny windows, hanging in the void. Each window looks out onto a different scene, being, in our world, a mirror. Sometimes you will look into a mirror and feel the eyes of Despair upon you, feel her hook catch and snag on your heart. Destiny is the oldest of the Endless; in the beginning was the Word, and it was traced by hand on the first page of his book, before ever it was spoken aloud … Destiny smells of dust and the libraries of night. He leaves no footprints. He casts no shadow.Delirium was once Delight. And although that was long ago now, even today her eyes are badly matched; one eye is a vivid emerald green, spattered with silver flecks that move; her other eye is vein blue. Who knows what Delirium sees, through her mismatched eyes? Dream casts a human shadow, when it occurs to him to do so.
"The Endless? The Endless are merely patterns. The Endless are ideas. The Endless are wave functions. The Endless are repeating motifs. The Endless are echoes of darkness, and nothing more. We have no right to play with their lives, to order their dreams and their desires." – Destruction, Sandman #48
Here's a new repetition of that motif, then.
ERRATA: It has been pointed out that there have been genderfluid characters portrayed in the DC Universe, this article was specifically meant to point out that this was the first in the new DC Universe, since DC Rebirth, but it could have been clearer. We have highlighted like likes of Porcelain before. Apologies to anyone who felt hard done by or ignored.
UPDATE: And while we're at it, there have been developments. Doctor Endless No More! At least not by that name.