WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Justice League #35 by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Francis Manapul, Hi-Fi and Tom Napolitano, on sale now.
The Justice League is at war with the Legion of Doom for the future of the cosmos, but their greatest enemy may have just become too powerful to defeat. Perpetua, the evil goddess who created the DC Multiverse, has remained in the background for much of the conflict. She has spent much of the last few months regaining her true power and plotting in the shadows. That all changes in Justice League #35.
After the defeat of Starman, nothing stood in Perpetua's way of regaining her true strength, but there was no way of knowing exactly what that meant for the heroes and the Multiverse, as it stands now. However, she didn't waste any time showing everyone exactly what she could do, and it's hard to see how anyone can compete with her now.
DOOM COMES FOR US ALL
Her first act with her power restored is to serve as the destroyer of worlds by eliminating an entire universe from the Multiverse. Her target? Earth-19, the world of Gotham By Gaslight. Perpetua descends upon the world and judges it as a reality that has been, "Held back to a more primitive age."
First seen in Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola's 1989 one-shot, Earth-19 is a steampunk universe where Gotham is in throes of the Industrial Revolution and Batman battles Jack the Ripper. The story is considered to be the first Elseworlds title, which serve as the basis for many of universes in the current DC Multiverse. But now it is gone.
Despite its status as a stunted universe, the true reason she attacks it is because this Earth remains sided with Justice. Earth-19 ultimately rejects the Doom formation seen in the sky above its world, while the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 embraces it. Perpetua plans to destroy all the universes in the Multiverse that side with Justice so she can recreate everything to side with Doom.
CRISIS OF A FAMILIAR SCENE
In his final moments, the Batman of Earth-19 makes one final attempt to help someone in need. He finds a frightened child and holds him close as the universe comes to an end. It's one last heroic act before they both cease to exist and reality comes crashing down and also one that should be familiar to those who know their DC Comics history.
The destruction of a world; the unstoppable wall of nothingness -- we have seen this all before. In 1986's Watchmen, two characters embrace in the midst of Ozymandias' attack on Manhattan. It's one last act of human kindness before the very end. Crisis on Infinite Earths also shows many notable characters meet their demise in a similar way. It's this inescapable sense of death that Justice League emulates.
The storyline taking place in this book right now is clearly building to something much bigger than this single arc. For months, it feels like the book has been hinting at an even greater story to come -- one where the stakes are higher than ever. Could it be another Crisis? With Doomsday Clock and "Justice/Doom War" set to end around the same time, could this all be dovetailing into one unified story?
WHICH WORLD WILL BE NEXT?
Perpetua triumphantly announces that there are now 51 Earths in the DC Multiverse, but which one will be next? Earth-19 was based on an Elseworlds story --the first one, in fact. If this is a sign of things to come, it's certainly possible she could go after more of the same.
The destruction of alternate worlds can often represent DC editorial's attempts to clean house in order to make room for more original ideas. If this is the case, Earth-18 of Justice Riders, Earth-22 of Kingdom Come, Earth-30 of Red Son, and Earth-43 of Red Rain could all be next on the chopping block.
The scariest part about the whole ordeal is just how effortless she makes the whole thing look. Now that Perpetua has her full power back, all she has to do is point and zap. It's that easy for her. Luckily, there may be an added complication that could help the heroes in the end.
After she destroys Earth-19, she does not go about destroying other worlds. Instead, she must take a moment to rest and recharge before she can take out another universe. It's the slimmest of hopes, but the Justice League may be able to act before she has the chance to take out more life in the Multiverse.