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Seeds of Crisis: The Future of DC Comics

All roads lead to Crisis.

Warning: Spoilers Below!

Across the DC Multiverse, change is eminent. As seen within the pages of Scott Snyder and James Tynion’s Justice League, the Multiverse hurls to its now-inevitable doom, as worlds are sucked away into the tear in the fabric of reality, vanishing away into the chaos of the Overvoid. The celestial mother of Multiverse-1’s creation is awake once more and her loyal Legion of Doom hunts across space-time to help her reshape the cosmos in her image. And as these waves of cosmic change strike, as worlds live and worlds die, only one world seems fitting, only word seems to be the final destination of all of existence: Crisis!

There’s a striking number of signs all pointing towards the iconic event title, as the foundations for it have been laid across multiple books. The seeds are all there, if you’re willing to look. Scott Snyder, James Tynion and Joshua Williamson have been collaborating, alongside a number of others, since 2017 to map out a big direction for the DC Universe at large. All these elements, all the pieces on the board, they’re all building to a shared narrative that pays off a lot of threads that have been worked up to since the beginning of Dark Nights: Metal, which really ushered in a whole new era for the company. Confirming that everything they’ve been building will reach a crescendo in a big event in 2020, which is yet to be announced, the team teased that it would be the “biggest DC event ever.” Snyder would even go onto compare the culmination to the MCU’s Avengers: Endgame.

So clearly, the goal is big, to do a massive event of payoff. And an event bigger than any other? It could only ever be a Crisis. But what might a Crisis, the first proper one after Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis (Heroes In Crisis is more akin to Identity Crisis), look like? What might it entail? To get into all of that, let’s dig into all seeded elements and the pieces setting up the board for this potential cosmic blockbuster.

The Cosmic Tuning Fork of Metal

Re-established all the way back in the Dark Days one-shots and last seen in Dark Nights: Metal, the tower is a key instrument. It’s not there for no reason and is vital Crisis iconography. A device capable of messing with the very fundamental nature of the DC Multiverse, which is built on vibrations, where each universe vibrates at a different frequency, it’s a deadly device. It famously played a key role in the original Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis. It may have vanished for a while, but it wouldn’t be the only one, as a lot of pieces remain unrevealed on purpose.

The Mystery of the Anti-Monitor

The Anti-Monitor is busy once more. And he’s not to be found. Hidden away in the vast expanses of the multiverse, he’s building something. And he warns our heroes in a message of blood, “Do not follow me.” Clearly he’s not just off for some regular vacation. He’s back to work and has a plan, one he’s committed to enough to leave a dire warning sign for any who might come looking for him. And whatever his plan, it’s certainly not going to be throwaway. He’s in hiding with something up his sleeve, as the multiverse lays dying. His return is likely going to be big and there’s no almost no way he isn’t a vital part of the big stuff coming next year.

The Darkseid Departure

Back in the original Crisis, Darkseid stayed out of most of the conflict. He chose to “cloak” his domain from the rest of the multiverse and the machinations outside, enjoying the safety of his base of power. Similarly, as the inevitable chaos comes for the DC multiverse, Darkseid detaches his new domain, The Ghost Sector, from the rest of reality. He remains safe and away from all the happenings of the heroes and villains, a curious observer who bears witness and profits, no matter which way things go.

The Timeline of the DC Universe

A Crisis is a big event that rattles the cosmos not just across space, but also time. All of existence is under threat. But in recent years, the very timeline and history of the DC Universe has been unclear. Now, that’s being worked on. With Scott Snyder diligently bringing back The Justice Society, the first big hero team in Justice League and teasing almost Year One-esque work with them in the ’40s (independent of their usage in JL), a foundation for the past is set, leading us from then to the present. From there on, Brian Michael Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes: Millennium picks up the pace, taking us from the present to, quite literally, 1000 years in the future, to the doorstep of the Legion. And in that journey, many of the futures of DC will be tied together into one single, epic narrative, weaving in OMAC, Kamandi, Batman Beyond, Tommy Tomorrow and more. All of this lays out one long history and gives the DCU its larger-than-life sensibility back in full glory, as we get a greater sense of it in its entirety. And when the battle across space-time inevitably wages, all of this will play in.

The Psycho Pirate

Working within the pages of Batman since the start, the Pirate is a key fixture of Crisis mythology, being The Anti-Monitor’s right hand a key weapon, as well being one of the few to really remember all that truly happened once the Crisis was over. He’s well known for the great fallout in Morrison’s classic Animal Man, but hasn’t had much of a role since, up until his semi-regular appearances in Tom King’s Batman. Aiding Bane as a key asset and even being in the current blockbuster Bat-event City of Bane, he’s a vital figure whose placement and role should not be discounted. Inevitably, when things get really dire, his purpose will be revealed, as it was before.

The Anti-Matter Conspiracy

There’s a whole Anti-Matter Conspiracy afoot in The Green Lantern at the moment, with a hole in space-time being ripped open to The Anti-Matter universe, with various threats coming through. The fact that there has yet to be a true second “Anti-Matter event” since the first Crisis is brought up as well, as is the Dark Multiverse and the multiverse’s impending death.

Fugitive of the Future

The Speed Force is currently facing its death, in contest with the various other forces, as the multiverse breaks down. But before any of that, we were met with this little tease in Flash War a good, long while ago. We see “Inmate: Crisis” inscribed here and while it may have been a tad unclear then, it’s relatively more clear now. “Crisis” is likely referring to the event for which the inmate is locked up and the title conveys the danger of that. But more curiously and fascinatingly, we see a logo here of worlds together, clearly indicating a Crisis, but behind that, we see a clear roman numeral II. Crisis II. With that reveal, the balloons in the panel read the iconic lines of Crisis, “Worlds will live. Worlds will die.” with an added twist on the last, saying “And the multiverse will never be the same…”

The implications are obvious. Crisis II is the promise and it makes sense.

The Infected

Meanwhile over in the upcoming Batman/Superman title and through it, amongst various books, The Batman Who Laughs’ plan is set to play out. We have the six Infected — Shazam, Hawkman, Supergirl, Blue Beetle, Donna Troy and Jim Gordon. And as the universe tilts towards the power of Doom, giving in to its worst aspects, the fall of heroes only strengthens that descent. TBWL is clearly a big player and piece in the macro story here, obviously set to be pit against Apex Lex (Lex Luthor, who amusingly looks almost like Emperor Palpatine now) and his Legion of Doom, in a world of predatory powers.

Wally West and the Dark Multiverse

Flash Forward dabbles with Dark Matter, The Dark Multiverse and The Multiverse, all with Wally West at the center. Promised to leave Wally West in a prominent place, leading him into the big 2020 event, it serves as a bridge to get Wally from Point A (Heroes In Crisis fallout) to Point B (where the new Crisis needs him to be). One of the things mentioned recently by publisher Dan Didio as per their goals is to get at the Generational Aspect of the DCU, which is visible through the return of the team of elder statesmen in The Justice Society, the revamp of the youth in Young Justice and Wonder Comics and the arrival of Legion a millennium into the future, while we get to see a thousand years of DC in between, digging into the numerous ages and generations of DC. So it should be interesting to see how Wally and his generation factor in and play in, given there isn’t a Titans title at the moment starring them at the moment, but with the TV show’s return, a revamp is inevitable and eminent, likely through said Crisis.

But all these pieces aside, what will the creative team behind the event be? Well, all this began with two people in Dark Nights: Metal, which was incredibly successful. It’s only fitting that it end with them. “Metal 2” isn’t an unheard of notion and given Metal was initially considered for a Crisis title, the likelihood of a Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo Crisis saga is fairly high. The artist recently just signed a new contract with DC to tackle the duo’s “biggest adventure” yet. And what’s bigger than Metal but a proper Crisis?

It also definitely works with the structure and layout of the general run that Snyder has done.

Act 1: Dark Nights: Metal, No Justice and Justice League (A New Hope)

A New Hope, if you will. Things look a bit rough, it’s the call to adventure, we’re afraid to venture out, but we must answer the call and explore. And thus Bruce and the League do, finding the cosmos is larger, more wondrous and horrifying than they ever imagined. They manage powerful, celebratory victories, but at a price. Things are looking up, hope burns bright as all new possibilities suddenly seem open. The Totality quest starts, new concepts are uncovered and all seems possible, despite any and all losses.

Act 2: Year of the Villain and Justice/Doom War (The Empire Strikes Back)

The lowest point. The big turn, as the heroes face their greatest peril, as the antagonists rise higher than ever, with the heroes struggling more than ever before. Loss feels like the only future, even as they desperately make moves to prevent that and confront all dangers that strike at them and their world. Doom rises, as Justice is weakened. Apex Lex. The Batman Who Laughs. The Legion of Doom. The Infected. Perpetua. The Justice/Doom War occurs. The Totality Quest comes to a close. The Multiverse reaches its cosmic shores of judgement. Things are dire now.

Act 3: CRISIS! (Return of the Jedi)

The rebirth. The rise from the ashes. The heroes ascend from their past cocoons of failure, braver, bolder and wiser. The big, wide, celebratory epic that sees all our heroes stand in the face of the impossible odds and somehow do the impossible. The Cosmic Tuning Fork, the Anti-Monitor, the Heroes and Villains across all of space-time. Ultimate Judgement. Justice or Doom. The Light or the Dark Side. Crisis II makes perfect sense here. Even beyond that, it’s worth nothing that 2020 is DC’s 85th Anniversary and Crisis on Infinite Earths’ 35th Anniversary. It’s a very special occasion for both DC and comics in general. That’s precisely when you do a Crisis event.

Then there’s also the fact that there’s a very big TV event taking place at the end of the year…

Even speaking in terms of synergy, it makes sense and tracks. Crisis is the name of the game as 2020 rolls around. But it’s also worth discussing the timings of these things. The TV Crisis begins in December, while “Act 2” of this big Justice/Doom Saga also comes to a close, more or less, in December. Justice Doom/War is a nine issue arc, with a one issue prelude, running from August to December (#29-39). Year of the Villain also finishes by December. Past December, in 2020, a whole new year and a whole new act and chapter of storytelling await. Crisis II by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (with likely Jonathan Glapion, FCO Plascencia and Tom Napolitano) would likely start in early 2020 and then run through the year. If it’s merely seven issues like Metal and begins in January or February, it should wrap by August/September, finishing up the Snyder era of Justice League and perhaps leading to a big new relaunch with new teams.

The DC Multiverse is a wild and busy place lately, and as its macro-story progresses over the next year, things should get much more intriguing.

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