Throughout its plentiful years of history, DC Comics has consistently found ways of keeping their universe interesting. Time after time, DC’s big events have shaped their comic book world. While some incidents ends up getting retconned or don’t retain substantial lasting power, they remain memorable to readers. Fans enjoy a sense of continuity and many of these larger-than-life events are responsible in keeping up with everything that’s come before and expanding on the history, adding to the universe. Of course these events don’t have to be months-long titles, but can be focused to smaller comics, concentrating on one hero and still involving a plethora of the DC Universe.
Much of what we have now, how the DC Universe looks, is owed to what came before. It’s easy to forget that. It’s easy to overlook the events and battles that paved the way for everything that followed. And while many changes were noticeable, occasionally the battles that made up the incidents are seen only as distractions and aren’t recognized for their significance. Here at CBR we’re going to look over some of the biggest, baddest battles that, while their impact may have been lost to time, helped shape the DC Universe as we now know it.
15. DCU VS. THE SINESTRO CORPS
Sinestro was one of Hal Jordan’s and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps’ biggest headaches. However, for all his general horribleness, Sinestro had never done anything quite as dastardly like when he started the Sinestro Corps War. Imbuing monsters like the Anti-Monitor, Superboy-Prime, and Cyborg Superman with Yellow Power Rings, and accompanied by his own Corps, Sinestro attacked Earth.
Outmatched by the Yellow Lantern’s ferocity, the Green Lanterns were given permission to kill for the first time ever. From there, things got more chaotic. Superboy-Prime nearly kills everyone (again), the Anti-Monitor included, but is in turn “killed”, only to reappear as one of the main antagonists in Countdown to Final Crisis. Yet perhaps most importantly was the introduction to a broader range of ring colors, aside from just green, yellow and pink. Nowadays, it’s impossible to imagine the Green Lantern universe without the entire spectrum of colors.
14. EVERY TEEN TITAN VS. DOCTOR LIGHT
In the DC mini-event known as Identity Crisis, it comes to the attention of the superhero and supervillain communities that the Justice League has been wiping the minds of heroes and villains alike. This amuses nobody, least of all, the bad guy Doctor Light, who was mindwiped years earlier and made into a joke. Seeking revenge, he captures Green Arrow in Teen Titans #21 and threatens to kill him if the Teen Titans don’t show up.
The heroes go and are ambushed by Light. Unable to take him by themselves, Nightwing, the former Teen Titan leader when he was Robin, appears with every other Titan from the team’s history. Together, the massive group of superheroes battles Doctor Light. Despite the victory, it proved to the teen heroes what they’d feared most was true: their mentors weren’t the people they thought they were. The seeds of distrust had been sown.
13. DCU VS. PARALLAX
Parallax is the living embodiment of fear and the source of the Green Lanterns’ weakness to yellow and Sinestro’s power. The fear entity has remained a long-lasting foe of the Green Lanterns, even to this day. Yet Parallax first appeared in Zero Hour, having possessed Hal, the greatest Green Lantern of them all, after the hero succumbed to fear and murder following the destruction of his home city.
Zero Hour threatened the entire universe, as even the timestream itself was put in jeopardy, when Hal Jordan tried to remake creation. After the battle with Parallax was won, The Legion of Superheroes comic was rebooted and all the various Hawkman iterations were folded into one. Numerous series spawned from Zero Hour, but perhaps the greatest one, was JSA, which paved the way for the return of Golden Age heroes — cornerstone characters of the DC Universe.
12. DCU VS. NEKRON
Green Lantern villains have a way of turning everything into a big event. Blackest Night showcased Nekron, the evil embodiment of Death, coming to raise hell on earth. Resurrecting a plethora of dead heroes and villains and turning them into superpowered zombies, Green Lantern had to enlist the help of all of Earth’s heroes, and some interstellar ones, to face the menace.
In the end, it took the combined might of Lanterns from every spectrum and Hal Jordan simply being awesome to kill the death god. When the dust cleared, Blackest Night paved the way for Brightest Day and brought back 12 deceased, and important, fan-favorite heroes and villains that had been missing from comics for a while. Blackest Night’s aftershocks remain present, what with the characters that came back and the further expanding of DC’s comic lore.
11. DCU VS. MONARCH
Armageddon 2001 introduced the villain Monarch. Heralding from a dystopian world 50 years in the future, it was discovered that in 2001 a hero would kill one of his comrades and assume the identity of Monarch. It takes the totality of the Justice league and Captain Atom to beat him, but even then, he’s just sent through time.
During Armageddon 2001, the hero Waverider was introduced and it was revealed that Monarch was Hawk, from Hawk and Dove, who after witnessing Monarch kill Dove, killed Monarch and then became Monarch in an endless loop. Yet somehow he would also become Extant and team up with Parallax. Though sometimes in other continuity, Monarch was Captain Atom… it gets confusing. Regardless, Monarch appeared as the titular villain in Countdown To Final Crisis, to destroy the Monitors. His end came at Superman-Prime’s hands, the resulting explosion sending Superboy-Prime catapulting into the future to…
10. SUPERMAN AND 3 LEGION TEAMS VS. SUPERBOY-PRIME
The Legion of Superheroes is one of DC Comics’ definitive superhero teams. From their introduction in Adventure Comics #247 by Otto Binder and Al Plastino, the Legion became a fan-favorite group. During Final Crisis, Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds was also taking place. In it, Time Trapper sent Superboy-Prime to the 31st Century. After he arrives, he strikes at the Legion, Superman’s friends, hoping to cement himself as Superman’s greatest foe.
Accompanied by every villain the Legion has faced, the Legion summons Superman from the past, along with Kid Flash and Superboy, to combat the threat. During the fight, the Time Trapper, one of the Legion’s oldest foes is revealed to be a future version of Superboy-Prime. The fights were incredible, the story and art by Geoff Johns and George Perez more so. Since then, we haven’t seen Superboy-Prime, but readers are wondering if he’s the enigmatic Mr. Oz.
9. WONDER WOMAN AND EVERY FEMALE SUPERHERO VS. CIRCE
While not an event per se, when the evil witch Circe, longtime nemesis to Wonder Woman starts wrecking havoc, it’s all hands on deck. Unfortunately, Circe turns all the male superheroes into animal/human hybrids and begins generating all sorts of chaos. Wonder Woman steps up to the plate, but even she can’t handle all of Circes’ machinations alone. It’s up to not only her, but every female superhero, to band together in epic fashion, separating into teams and taking down Circe’s allies until eventually only the witch is left.
Following the battle in Wonder Woman #175, Superman, who’s been nearly emotionally crippled, is finally able to come to terms with the losses he experienced during “Our Worlds At War”. Additionally, Wonder Woman incarcerates Circe on Reformation Island, an act that keeps up until Greg Rucka’s run when Hera destroys Themyscira.
8. DCU VS. GLORIOUS GODFREY
In the six-issue crossover event known as Legends, Darkseid makes a deal with the Phantom Stranger, claiming he can turn humanity against superheroes. In order to win the bet, Darkseid sends his henchman Glorious Godfrey to Earth, who uses his voice to mentally control people into turning against the world’s champions. As the crisis starts getting out of control, Doctor Fate intervenes and organizes a team made of Blue Beetle, The Flash, Guy Gardner, Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel, and Changeling (Beast Boy). Other heroes join the fight and Godfrey is defeated.
As for Legends itself, a new Justice League team was formed, with Superman, the Flash, and Wonder Woman declining membership. Yet it was the introduction of the Suicide Squad that would have the most lasting impact. One of the most popular DC teams out there currently; it’s all thanks to a series from 30 years ago!
7. DCU VS. IMPERIEX
Earth is being threatened by the cosmic being known as Imperiex. He’s set his sights on the planet as a means to destroy the rest of the universe. The battle itself pitted the entire universe against the insanely powerful Imperiex. While Our Worlds At War revolved primarily around Superman, the Justice League, Sgt. Rock, but even beings like Darkseid and Doomsday were thrust into the fight.
Throughout the series, DC’s heroes faced tremendous losses; Wonder Woman’s mother was killed, Aquaman was thought obliterated but had instead been sent back in time, and Ma and Pa Kent were presumably killed too after Imperiex destroyed Kansas. It was a dark time in DC Comics and Superman would carry the emotional scars of the battles and the losses for a while yet; it wasn’t until the fracas with Circe that the Man of Steel was able to come to terms with his grief.
6. SUPERBOY-PRIME VS. EVERYBODY
Superboy-Prime is unquestionably one of the strongest beings in the entire DC Universe. The only superhero from his universe, Superboy-Prime was originally a good guy, helping out the multiverse during Crisis On Infinite Earths. Yet during Infinite Crisis, he went quite mad, obsessed with the idea of finding the perfect Earth.
Alas, his quest lead him into direct conflict with virtually every superhero on the planet, but Superboy-Prime was more than capable of taking them all on, his power dwarfing even Superman’s. Prime would remain in comics for a while, causing havoc. His impact on the DC Universe was great, as he caused the Rann-Thanagar War, killed Superman from Earth 2, murdered multiple Green Lanterns, and punched a hole in reality, bringing Jason Todd back to life. The aftereffects of Superboy–Prime’s rampages are still being felt.
5. DCU VS. BRAINIAC
In the Superman-centric event known as “Panic In The Sky”, the diabolical alien Brainiac has seized control of the planet Warworld. Originally belonging to the tyrant Mongul, Brainiac attacks Earth, but is met by heavy resistance from Superman, the entirely of the Justice League, and folks like Captain Marvel, Mister Miracle and even Deathstroke, to fight off the invasion.
While one group of heroes would fight on the ground, another group would take to the air. Superman is also left dealing with a swarm of deadly alien scavengers who are looking to take advantage of the chaos and strip Earth bare of its resources. The story gave readers, and Superman, a chance to see how the Man of Steel fared in a leadership role, as it was something we’d see and expect more of with Superman in the years to come.
4. DCU VS. THE GODS
In the epic War of the Gods series, a title that spanned far across the DC Universe and its titles, the gods are literally at war with one another, thanks to Circe and her scheming. Nearly every superhero is forced to do battle and as they do their utmost to save the world, leaving Wonder Woman to try and stop the evil witch.
Prior to the war, the Amazons finally chose to open up their shores, visiting Man’s World. Yet after the war is over, the Amazons go back to their island of Themyscira. They seal themselves off and wouldn’t return to the comic scene in a big way until the Wonder Woman-centric event “Amazons Attack!” decades later. Additionally, Wonder Woman ‘s ambassadorship was removed; it was a great blow to the Amazonian princess, as that had been Wonder Woman’s entire purpose for nearly her entire career.
3. DCU VS. THE DOMINATORS
The Dominators were an alien race that kicked off the “Invasion!” event. The Dominators successfully banned together with other aliens and together they attacked Earth. Bombing Australia nearly off the map, their ultimate plan was to wipe out all superhumans, as Earth’s metahumans became an incalculable threat to the rest of the universe.
Again, nearly all of Earth’s heroes get dragged into the mess, the Spectre included. Superman led the main resistance team, but they were not able to stop the Dominators from releasing a gene-bomb on the planet. It’s difficult to covey the importance of the gene-bomb, as it molded events for years to come in DC Comics. Its long-lasting impact, that still haunts many heroes and readers to this day, was giving Maxwell Lord his powers of mind-control. The rest, as they say, is history.
2. DCU VS. DARKSEID AND THE ANTI-LIFE EQUATION
In Final Crisis, it looks like Darkseid, the evil New God, has finally achieved victory over Earth and the rest of the universe. His entire character revolving around someday acquiring the Anti-Life Equation, Darkseid succeeds and is quick in his domination. Earth’s forces rally together to face the wave of darkness, but one by one, and oftentimes in large numbers, heroes and villains fall to Anti-Life.
Eventually, thanks to Batman, the Flash, and the shenanigans the make up comic book, Darkseid is defeated, along with the Anti-Life Equation. Yet Batman is “killed” at the battle’s zenith, or rather, sent hurtling through time. The loss of the Dark Knight would carry on as his presence was sorely missed, leaving the void of Batman and Robin to be filled by Dick Grayson and Damien Wayne, creating a pairing and history still memorable today.
1. DCU VS. THE ANTI-MONITOR
Arguably DC Comics’ greatest event, Crisis on Infinite Earths took a bold approach to storytelling and the world of comics. For years, more and more comic book characters were popping up with little to no explanation about who lived where and how they actually fit in to mainstream DC continuity. Crisis on Infinite Earths set to fix all that with the introduction of the Anti-Monitor.
The cosmic villain was capable of wiping out entire universes, doing so on multiple occasions. Nearly every hero from every remaining universe, and some supervillains too, united against the god-like being. The event was titanic, bigger than anything DC delivered before; written by Marv Wolfman and with artwork by George Perez, the Anti-Monitor and the Crisis, laid the foundation for every event that’s followed. To this day, the effects are felt far and wide and you’d hardly ever notice.
Are there any other grand battles that shaped the DCU that we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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