Most of the time, when a new hero appears in a superhero comic, the idea is that the reader and the comic book universe being depicted are both seeing this new character for the first time. It’s a rookie hero who is learning the ropes as the reader gets to know a new character.
But what if the new character was only new to the reader and not the universe the character called home? That was the basic concept behind Skyrocket.
Skyrocket was one Celia Forrestal. She was a former Navy pilot who saw her career was going nowhere as a trainer despite being one of the best pilots the Navy had due to her gender and race. Leaving the Navy, she hooked up with her parents who had invented a suit of armor called the Argo Harness. The armor allowed Celia to fly and also absorbed and redirected any kind of energy she could be hit with. As it is, terrorists from a bunch called Scorpio came looking for the Harness and Celia’s parents were (predictably) killed, but Celia, with a confidence boost from fellow pilot Green Lantern Hal Jordan, took to the skies and brought the bad guys in as the heroic Skyrocket.
Readers met her when she joined a team called the Power Company. That was a superhero team that operated like a law firm. I’m not sure how exactly that works either, so ask creator Kurt Busiek if you ever see him. Or don’t. Possibly better if you don’t. At the time she was recruited by the mysterious Josiah Power, Celia was working at a fast food restaurant, which seems odd for a former Navy pilot who would have been an officer and therefore have a college degree. At any rate, Celia was working the counter to pay for parts and repairs to her Argo Harness when she wasn’t out being the hero-protector of her hometown of St. Louis.
Now, here’s the thing: most of the Power Company were new characters. The only recognizable characters were a new version of the old Manhunter character, and, well, this guy from a single issue of The Brave and the Bold:
So, what made Skyrocket, the new team leader stand out?
That’s simple. Her backstory said she’d been a superhero for years. Every time there was a big superhero gathering, a Crisis where there were large group shots of lots of heroes, the idea was Skyrocket was always in the mix in there somewhere. Both Superman and the aforementioned Green Lantern at the least knew who she was and had worked with her before, so when they met up, they didn’t ask who she was. They knew Skyrocket was a dependable hero from past adventures together.
It’s just the reader never saw her before.
That’s…actually kinda cool in a very meta sort of way. The implications are astounding. There could be all kinds of superheroes and villains in a comic book universe that we’ve just never seen before because they’re just off-panel or something. Skyrocket just got to make the transition to the main universe.
But then the New 52 happened and we haven’t seen her since.
Or have we…?