In late May of 2016, DC began its new direction with the “DCU Rebirth” Special. It was a handbook to the stories of the next couple of years at DC Comics. There have been some great stories so far. While there has been minor resolution to some of what was foreshadowed there, other stories are just getting started. The recently concluded “The Button” is leading into a bigger story called “Doomsday Clock.” We know the central conflict in that story revolves around Superman and Dr. Manhattan. There are still a number of things that we do not have answers to yet.
Many of these involve the return of some very famous teams in the DCU. Others involve characters that we haven’t seen used in a long time. There are also multiple threads in the initial one-shot that are just screaming to be addressed any time now. And what about the timeline as a whole? There were roughly 10 years removed from characters’ lives. Some events seem to be returning through stories like “Superman Reborn” and “The Button, for example.” We’re going to take a look at some of what is still remaining for DC to address in the coming year. We will even speculate as to where it might happen.
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for various titles throughout the DC Rebirth line.
15. WHEN IN DC’S TIMELINE DID THE CHANGES OCCUR?
Much of the Rebirth line seems to focus on continuing what was started in the New 52. Some of the titles in the New 52 continued what was going on before Flashpoint. It seems that the biggest change occurred at the end of Flashpoint involving Pandora, but it doesn’t seem that Pandora was responsible following the revelations of someone tampering with the timeline.
All signs point to the tampering being done by Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen fame, but things are missing that are from well before the end of “Flashpoint.” For example, what happened to Conner Kent/ Superboy being one of the four Superman in “Reign of the Supermen” from the ’90s? Why was he removed and not everyone else? A new “History of the DC Universe” would be great, right?
14. WHAT STORIES STILL COUNT?
Some people love continuity. No matter how many times a “Crisis” occurs, there needs to be an idea of what is still canon and what is not. Origins tend to be one of the first things to examine. Action Comics has confirmed that Superman: Secret Origin is the main origin for Superman by showing us panels taken directly from the book. However, the Justice League’s origin is clearly in question after seeing the “Lost and Found” room in Flash 21.
We know the JLI existed as did the Grant Morrison-written JLA. That means the origin that started the New 52 is seemingly no longer their beginning. Batman & Flash even witnessed the Silver Age Justice League origin in that same issue. There are key storylines to keep or discard and relationships to rebuild. Rebirth’s goal was always to bring the history back.
13. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH MARTIAN MANHUNTER?
This one may have had a bit more to ponder before we were told clearly that it is Dr. Manhattan that is behind this. Despite the blatant Watchmen references, the Mars setting seemed to be leaving the door open for a swerve of some kind. Still, J’onn J’onzz has been nowhere to be found since the beginning of Rebirth.
Well, his outfit was seen in the aforementioned “Lost and Found” room, but that is it in terms of references. He does have the ability to shapeshift to look like anyone. Could he be playing the role of someone else (I’m looking at you, Justice League of America Batman)? A character with that much history and power cannot be forgotten or off the table for too long.
12. WHAT HAPPENED TO METRON AND THE MOBIUS CHAIR?
The last page of the New 52 (Justice League #50) was an amazing image to behold. It revealed that the Mobius chair was floating abandoned in open space, with blood spattered across it and smoke billowing away from a pile of ash in the middle of the seat. Prior to this, Metron was in the midst of training Earth Three’s Owlman until someone attacked.
It is clear that Owlman was killed, but what of Metron and the chair? The impact of the chair on many of the Rebirth mysteries is evident in the message it gave Batman when he sat in it during “Darkseid War.” Was this another way for Dr. Manhattan to maintain control? Anybody that could access that much knowledge would certainly be dangerous.
11. WHERE IS WONDER WOMAN’S BROTHER?
Justice League 50 planted some other seeds as well. Wonder Woman found out that Steve Trevor was not the first man on Paradise Island, it was actually a twin brother of Diana. At least, that is the story that Myrina Black has told her. It is hinted that he may be out in the world or already dead, but either way, Diana should be trying to figure this out.
Grail states later that he has great power. Diana has since found out that she has never been back to Themyscira since she left. She has been deceived on multiple levels. Could her brother be involved? With Greg Rucka departing from the book soon, it is unclear whether it is his story that will provide any answers.
10. WHAT IS UP WITH BABY DARKSEID?
The death of Darkseid in “Darkseid War” was shocking. Only the combination of the powers of the Anti-Monitor, Flash and the Black Racer could possibly pull off such a feat. That was not the end. Superwoman of the Crime Syndicate was having a baby with the power of its father, Mazahs. He would have the ability to take the powers of others. The baby was given multiple god-like abilities that had corrupted various Justice League members.
Darkseid’s daughter, Grail, is now his mother. She plans to raise him in a more positive manner. The question might be more about nature versus nurture here than anything else. We know that the classic expression, “Darkseid is,” is prominent in the upcoming Mr. Miracle. All we know for certain right now is that “Darkseid is” a little baby.
9. WHO IS MR. OZ?
Since before Rebirth there has been a man in a hooded cloak carrying a staff observing Superman. He has since abducted various characters, many with ties to Superman. With the Watchmen ties being cemented, it lends credence to believe that Mr. Oz must be Ozymandias, a survivor of the original story. He was a genius obsessed with the life of Alexander the Great and his obsession pushed him to extreme measures in the original Watchmen. Though he has worked with Dr. Manhattan before, could his true goals here be to hinder or stop what he knows has happened?
Superman seems to be the key. Mr. Oz seemingly has Prophecy, a collector of Supermen form the multiverse, and Mr. Mxyzptlk, to keep him from interfering as well. He didn’t think the reformed Superman and his love of family was capable of repairing time, but one of his other captives begs a different question.
8. WHY DOES MR. OZ WANT DOOMSDAY?
Mr. Oz’s first known captive was Doomdsay, known for being the villain that killed Superman. Could it be that in some way, Mr. Oz wants to protect Superman from those who endanger him the most? We know Superman has a pretty big bout with the most powerful being he has ever faced coming.
Is Doomsday a trump card to attack or a way to protect Superman from any more potential trouble? If he is going to be a weapon of sorts, who will it be against? Ozymandias was a planner and Mr. Oz has mentioned his “long game” multiple times throughout Rebirth. There has to be a plan. Speaking of plans, there is one more captive of Mr. Oz to discuss.
7. HOW AND WHEN IS TIM DRAKE RETURNING?
Mr. Oz took Tim Drake away right before he was facing certain death at the hands of the Colony’s drones. Mr. Oz stated to Tim that he was putting too many pieces together and that he was too connected to other important people. Tim also mentioned to Bruce before “dying” that he saw Batman preparing for a coming war. That war seems to be involved in Dark Nights: Metal. Who knows what is coming next?
Tim Drake is a character that seems to be returned to his incarnation that existed prior to the New 52 in terms of things like his relationship with Spoiler and his return to his classic look. As the timeline is reforming, what could Tim do pose a threat? Perhaps it is more about his relationships than his detective skills. Love saved Superman, could it save the Bat-family as well?
6. HOW WILL BATMAN DEAL WITH HIS FATHER’S WORDS?
Rebirth has forced Bruce Wayne to come to grips with his parents and their feelings for him. In the pages, Batman, he found himself in a delirious state after being beaten down by Bane. While in this state, he finds himself hearing from his mother, who ultimately assures him that he does not have to die a spectacular death.
When traveling to the Flashpoint reality in “The Button,” he gets to come face to face with an alternate timeline version of his father. The message his dad gives him is crystal clear: Worry more about being a father than being Batman. We see some doubt creep in when the Bat-signal shines in Flash #22, but we know Batman has threads leading him to believe there is a bigger mystery to solve.
5. WHAT INFLUENCE WILL DARK NIGHTS: METAL HAVE?
The Dark Nights: Metal story begins with some one-shots in June and July, but there is not a lot of concrete information on the series yet. We know there is something called a “dark multiverse,” so some or most of the story may take place on a different Earth or reality than that of Rebirth’s. We also know it involves Nth Metal, which is linked to Hawkman, and its links to the DC Universe throughout time are the critical element of this story.
There are multiple spin-off titles coming under a whole new banner of “Dark Matter.” How much does this story have to do with the larger Rebirth narrative? Snyder has stated that he has gone over story details with Geoff Johns. Will Hawkman and others return to their membership of legendary teams?
4. WHERE ARE THE JSA?
The Justice Society of America were the golden age’s first superhero team. The original versions of characters like the Alan Scott Green Lantern and Jay Garrick Flash were part of this team. They are the true legacy team of the DCU. The elderly Johnny Thunder is telling everyone who will listen that he is on some level responsible for the JSA’s disappearance, but he wants to help bring them back. In Flash 22, we find out Jay Garrick was removed in a way that seemed to resemble what happened to Wally West. However, it seemed that his connection to Barry was not as strong and, after returning Batman and Flash to their home, he is lost again.
The JSA and their inspiration are another necessary element of hope that is missing. Their return can bring back the optimism of heroes. Understanding the perspective of history allows for a new level of perseverance.
3. WHAT IS GOING ON WITH SATURN GIRL?
The other team that has been conspicuously absent is the Legion of Super-Heroes. Somehow, we have one of their members in the present, and seemingly quite confused. Her original message to the arresting officer is that she has seen the future and that everything is going to be okay. But her tune changes dramatically in “The Button” when she is reminded by a hockey game and the death of one of its players as being the beginning of events that will lead “her friends and the Legion to die.”
It is possible to imply that she is not actually talking about the hockey player dying in the game, but rather the Reverse-Flash dying at the hands of Dr. Manhattan. Either way, her optimism seemed to slip away rather quickly.
2. WHAT IS THE STORY OF THE THREE JOKERS?
When Batman sat in the aforementioned Mobius chair, he took the opportunity to ask about the identity of the Joker. The answer was shocking. There wasn’t just one Joker, but rather three throughout their history. However, there has been almost nothing regarding this important detail throughout Rebirth thus far. Could more be coming in the upcoming “War of Jokes and Riddles?”
We know this story takes place in the past, which could be tricky given some of the changes to the timeline that DC titles have referenced recently. It is more likely that this story is one that is going to be part of a finale to this whole two-year period, under the pen of Geoff Johns. The Watchmen character Comedian’s name seems to be too convenient in this case to, doesn’t it?
1. HOW CAN SUPERMAN DEAL WITH DR. MANHATTAN?
The final panel in Flash #22 gave readers some symbolism to ponder, showing the Watchmen button hurtling through time (or space) and becoming a Superman “S” shield. Clearly, Superman and Dr. Manhattan are symbolizing two different philosophies. Superman symbolizes hope and optimism, while Dr. Manhattan is a symbol of cynicism and pessimism.
What if Superman cannot overcome a god who sees no real value in the Man of Steel’s abilities to help humanity? What does Superman even use to fight a battle like this? Could there be another puppet master? The quotes from Watchmen in Flash #22 seem to consider that a possibility. There are so many questions involved with what “Doomsday Clock” will present. Dr. Manhattan’s motivation is still unclear, as is his connection to Mr. Oz. Either way, it should be a fun year of reading. The DC Universe will be changed no matter what.
What are some questions you have about Rebirth year two? Let us know in the comments!