Over the years, the Source Wall has been one of the most revered constructs in DC Comics lore. Seen as a membrane that separates the DC Multiverse from mysterious elements beyond, it's undergone a few different retcons over the years, but one constant is that the wall needs to remain intact to protect the integrity of reality as we know it.
However, as of last week's Justice League Annual #1, it's been totally shattered, which, as expected, has put the multiverse at risk. With that in mind, let's look at the wall's evolution over the years, how it crumbled into nothingness and what this means for the future.
The History of the Great Source Wall
While the idea of a protective barrier for the DCU was conceptualized by Jack Kirby, it's really Walt Simonson and Chris Claremont who conceived of the Source Wall for a crossover between the New Teen Titans and Marvel's Uncanny X-Men. Visually, as we'd see in several subsequent cosmic stories (as well as modern cartoons like Justice League Unlimited), the wall would be represented as a rocky structure (think of China's Great Wall but with a mountain-esque aesthetic) with various galactic entities embedded in it.
This would include the Old Gods; New Gods like Yuga Khan, his son Darkseid and Highfather; heroes such as Superman; villains like Gog, Superboy Prime and Black Hand; and a variety of other DC deities. Jim Corrigan (the Spectre) even met what he perceived to be God there. The wall's concept was tweaked in the 2007 build-up to Final Crisis, where each of DC's 52 universes were protected by a wall, and in between them there existed a "bleed," forming a web-like structure where folks could traverse each bleed and cross into different realities.
A further update came in Death of the New Gods, where the wall housed the souls of slain New Gods and served to prevent the Anti-Life entity from corrupting the multiverse. In the New 52, it was said that the other side of the cosmic structure contained the very essence of life (which is what powered Kyle Rayner as a White Lantern in Brightest Day). In essence, while we can see how different writers held different perspectives on the wall, what's clear is that it is essential for survival.
Cracks Lead To Chaos
However, in DC Rebirth, everything changes once more, and, sadly, not for the better. By the end of Dark Nights: Metal, readers discovered the wall separates the multiverse from a Dark Multiverse, which Batman accidentally unleashes. With evil versions of himself -- disciples of Barbatos -- making their incursion into the DCU, the Justice League uses the mysterious 10th metal (the element of life) to push them back to the darkness, but in the process they crack the Source Wall.