An Analysis of Promethea's Appearance In Justice League Of America #23 – and a Possible Way Out(SPOILERS)

Okay, so Justice League Of America #23 hasn't published yet, not until Wednesday. Let alone #24. But it has already been making waves, and I understand there is a big media exclusive arranged spoiler article as well. Because the comic in question will feature Promethea of America's Best Comics appearing in the DC Universe for the first time. The first time not written by Alan Moore and DC Comics didn't even bother to let the character's co-creator JH Williams III know, despite it being a creator-participant character and never actually created for DC Comics at all.

And while there were similar complaints when DC announced that DC characters from Tom Strong would be joining The Terrifics series, there has been an outpouring of upset regarding Promethea. With Tom Strong, it's mostly regarding DC Comics lack of respect for the creators, not even letting co-creator Chris Sprouse know, as well as leaving a well respected comic book character and run alone.

An Analysis of Promethea's Appearance In Justice League Of America #23 – and a Possible Way Out(SPOILERS)

But with Promethea, it's something else. Promethea seems to have touched its audience far more deeply than even the most entertaining of Tom Strong stories. Promethea, to many people, matters to people's self-identity, their journey as a human being, their life. Unlike Tom Strong or Top Ten, Promethea didn't have spin-off books, it was the full thirty-two issue narrative and that was that. The Complete Immateria. And this upcoming appearance seems like spoiling that.

It was written as a grimoire, a book of magic, a spell disguised as a superhero comic, it was meant to be alive. And it certainly lived within the hearts of many readers.

An Analysis of Promethea's Appearance In Justice League Of America #23 – and a Possible Way Out(SPOILERS)

But is there some hope? Well, possibly. Now, this is just a theory based on what I am told. But there will be spoilers. Hell, there already have been. Firstly, Steve Orlando is an Alan Moore fan. And a Grant Morrison fan. He littered his Midnighter comics with Grant Morrison characters and concepts but also ended an issue with this panel.

An Analysis of Promethea's Appearance In Justice League Of America #23 – and a Possible Way Out(SPOILERS)

Which fans of Alan Moore and Curt Swan's Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow may recognise.

An Analysis of Promethea's Appearance In Justice League Of America #23 – and a Possible Way Out(SPOILERS)

So he is certainly not ignorant and likes to reincorporate such things. In Justice League Of America, we see Queen Of Fables, a character created by Gail Simone, Mark Waid and Bryan Hitch, trying to enter the world of Immateria, familiar to Promethea readers, and manipulating the people of the DC Universe to make a bridge to that world of the imagination in a very nasty fashion. Also, we see the death of Vixen, a character who, like Animal Man, can possess and channel the powers and abilities of other living creatures. And had already lost a hand in this fight.

An Analysis of Promethea's Appearance In Justice League Of America #23 – and a Possible Way Out(SPOILERS)

And she meets a sticky end.

An Analysis of Promethea's Appearance In Justice League Of America #23 – and a Possible Way Out(SPOILERS)

But what was she saying before she died? "Planari…"

Planarian flatworms. Creatures that have extraordinary recuperative abilities. For example, a planarian split lengthwise or crosswise will regenerate into two separate individuals. But as regrowing limbs and coming back from very little, they have another ability, well known by Alan Moore fans, from his barnstorming The Anatomy Lesson from Swamp Thing #21 back in 1983. And the comic that put Alan Moore in the American comics map.

An Analysis of Promethea's Appearance In Justice League Of America #23 – and a Possible Way Out(SPOILERS)

Planarian flatworms, when fed one another, can ingest the memories of each other.An Analysis of Promethea's Appearance In Justice League Of America #23 – and a Possible Way Out(SPOILERS)

And it's used as an analogy for the "everything you knew about Swamp Thing was wrong" moment when it is revealed that rather than Swamp Thing being a mutated Alec Holland, that Alec Holland died.An Analysis of Promethea's Appearance In Justice League Of America #23 – and a Possible Way Out(SPOILERS)

And it was his memories, mixed with chemicals, and unknown lifeforms that were taken, and the Swamp Thing created from them.

And so in Justice League #24, I am told that Vixen returns, rebuilding her body, though we do not see her face, just as Swamp Thing's body was built. That Planarian worms are seen and referenced but in a way that could also be Mick and Mack, the two snakes of Promethea. And that Vixen is now rebuilt as Promethea, who attacks the Queen Of Fables.

What does that mean? Well, it might mean that this is not Promethea. This is the memory of Promethea, somehow tapped into. And the power of the Planarian worms has rebuilt Vixen in this form. Which will also be temporary and reversible.

It could mean that this is not Promethea. But the memory of Promethea. Which, meta-narrative-wise, she literally is.

Would that be enough of a sop to buy off the understandable outrage? The character in Justice League Of America is a memory of her, just as you have the memory of her, no more.

However, as for the justifiable upset JH Williams III, maybe DC Comics could make amends by finally getting round to publish the promised-nut-then-reneged-on Complete Immateria, a landscape volume printing each issue of Promethea with each double page spread taking one page. Scott Dunbier left the layouts and pagination for such a project, it was promised to JH Williams III as part of his agreement to draw Sandman Overture but then,.. dropped. Could this be the perfect opportunity to buy back good feeling again by publishing the damn thing and taking my money?

Just a thought.

That would be the issue that is all one twenty-twoubled splash page.

But that was a long time ago.

Hank, DC Comics, this might be the perfect time.

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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