SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for DC's Year of the Villain #1 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Alex Maleev, Jim Cheung and Francis Manapul, on sale now.
In Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez' Justice League, the threat of Perpetua and Lex Luthor's Legion of Doom poses an ever-increasing danger to the multiverse. In Brian Michael Bendis and Steve Epting's Action Comics, the rising of Leviathan is upending the secret underworld of the DC Universe. Over in Tom King's Batman, Bane has recruited many of the Dark Knight's rogues' gallery to help break The Bat permanently.
While all those various threats seem unrelated, DC's Year of the Villain #1 posits otherwise. The one-shot by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Alex Maleev, Jim Cheung and Francis Manapul not only kicks off DC's latest event, but brings together the events of the above mentioned titles into a more cohesive whole. The key moments of the introduction stem directly from recent events in Justice League.
Perpetua in Motion
In the final chapter of the issue's three parts, the Justice League saves a world's inhabitants from destruction, even as the world itself is destroyed. The planet is the latest to be consumed by the void lying beyond the now-destroyed Source Wall. The world's destruction only continues to strengthen Perpetua, responsible for the creation of the multiverse, who had long been imprisoned in the Source Wall. Come the death of that planet, though, Perpetua is already free, as seen in Justice League #22.
Perpetua's original mission was to construct the multiverse as a sort of cosmic weapon. As shown in Justice League, the lackey helping her restore the current multiverse to her intended purpose is none other than Lex Luthor. Luthor assembled the Legion of Doom for this very reason, and that group plays a key role in the issue's first chapter.
Lex Luthor's Master Stroke
In that chapter, Luthor has initiated a surprising move by assembling the Legion of Doom and launching an assault on the White House, cementing the world's perception of him as a villain. But why would the ever-cunning schemer employ such a brazen tactic in front of a world that largely sees him as a successful and brilliant businessman?
Amanda Waller stumbles in on the attack when she visits the White House to meet with the president. As revealed by Brainiac, she had also stumbled upon Luthor's overall plan to facilitate an all-out war on superheroes.
Luthor's intentions, according to Perpetua, are to induce a far-reaching, reality-destroying conflict between heroes and villains that would allow her to reconstruct the multiverse as she had intended long ago. In order to accomplish this, Luthor has divested his fortune and inventions and distributed them to the world's supervillains, equipping them with the means to finally win against their adversaries.
With nothing left to his name, Luthor's drastic final move is to blow up Lexcorp's upper tower -- with himself still inside. Seemingly dead to the world, who now essentially sees him as a terrorist, Luthor appears to become a martyr to Perpetua's cause.
Dead to the world, perhaps, but not dead in reality. As the issue concludes, Luthor is seen still alive, unconscious and in Perpetua's presence, evolving into a still unknown new form. Luthor won't be Perpetua's martyr at all in DC's Year of the Villain, but instead her minion.
Who Else is Involved?
The Justice League's battles with the Legion of Doom have featured all the League's principle heroes, including Batman. The Dark Knight, though, has also been plenty busy fighting several of his own foes in King's Batman. That's not necessarily a coincidence. While many of Batman's villains have sworn allegiance to Bane, their mission also aligns with Luthor's overall ambitions. After all, Bane's out to destroy Batman, while Luthor seeks to destroy all the heroes. The Bat-villains might not even need Luthor's money or weapons, although they would undoubtedly welcome them.
The second chapter of DC's Year of the Villain features another adversary, or at least one who appears to be: Leviathan, as featured in Bendis and Epting's current arc in Action Comics. This worldwide threat so far has largely been contained within Superman's sphere, but this issue finds two other heroes encountering the mysterious villain.
Green Arrow and Batgirl are in Seattle confronting a very frightened Merlyn, but it's not the two heroes Merlyn fears. No, Merlyn wants to strike a momentary alliance against none other than Leviathan. It's too late, though. Leviathan strikes, but doesn't do any harm to Green Arrow or Batgirl. Instead, Leviathan makes Batgirl an offer -- to rethink the way she has done her part in saving the world.
Leviathan - Friend, Foe or Foe of a Foe?
Leviathan, for all the shadowy appearances and destructive methods, doesn't appear to be villainous in the traditional sense. The actions taken by the character thus far have been morally ambiguous at worst. The numerous secret organizations Leviathan has taken out -- Task Force X, the D.E.O. and the League of Assassins, among others -- aren't always necessarily aligned with the good guys.
And the offer to Batgirl is a vague offer of assistance, telling her, "We're on the same side." Leviathan made this same claim to Superman in Action Comics #1009. The character doesn't seem to be outright evil, and the appearance here hints at a possible ally for the heroes against Luthor, the Legion of Doom and any other villains recruited against the heroes of the DC Universe.
Damian Wayne, though, seems to think that Leviathan is none other than the Red Hood, Jason Todd, another character whose morals are sometimes questionable. Whoever Leviathan is, though, he or she stands to add some complexity to DC's Year of the Villain, as do the machinations of Bane within the pages of Batman, and potentially storylines in other titles, as well.
The next chapter of DC's Year of the Villain event happens in Justice League #25, on sale June 5.