Because DC comics is turning the month of September into "Zero Month," most DC titles finished up storylines this month.
But this week, since August is a five-Wednesday month, DC released a few extra issues. And wow, did Geoff Johns take advantage it.
Newsarama had predicted a few months ago that some of this week's annuals would be important. But in usual Johns fashion, we saw some very enticing teases about what's coming during the second year of The New 52.
While Superman Annual #1 set up some pretty interesting Daemonite-related themes for possible storylines in Hawkman, Red Hood and the Superman universe, and Flash Annual #1 gave some great insight into why the Flash might team up with the Rogues, a few of the Johns-written issues had some particular teases that were worth examining in detail.
So without further ado, let's look at what was revealed and teased today in the Justice League International Annual #1 he co-wrote with Dan DiDio, and the tease-filled issues of Justice League #12 and Green Lantern Annual #1.
Naturally, there are SPOILERS ahead. If you read on, considered yourself warned.
1) Wonder Woman/Superman importance
We already knew DC wanted to make a big deal out of Wonder Woman kissing Superman. But today's Justice League International Annual #1, written by DC executives Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio, made it clear that this relationship holds a potential for more than just headlines.
At the end of the issue, a older Booster from the future (wearing, notably, an A.R.G.U.S. patch) travels back in time to warn the current-day Booster that Superman and Wonder Woman have to be stopped. But young Booster and old Booster won't be able to stop it, because they faded as Wonder Woman and Superman kissed, implying their future has somehow been erased thanks to the romance.
The whole thing has all of us at Newsarama asking, "what could happen if they became a couple?" And the guesses run the gamut from their corruption to their eventual marriage. And it's hard to avoid guessing that a baby is implied.
While we loved seeing Booster from the future (particularly since his mention of Rip Hunter implies the pre-New 52 time-traveling still exists), we hate to see the guy go. Let's hope whatever has been "messed up" in the timestream by Superman and Wonder Woman gets fixed enough so that Booster returns.
Our prediction for Booster? The fact that Blue Beetle was sent "somewhere" and Booster is also "somewhere" sure does point toward a team-up of some kind, since they're a fan-favorite duo. The characters are two of Geoff Johns' favorite team-ups, having been featured together in more than one of his television and comic book stories, including Blue Beetle's first appearance Infinite Crisis.
2) Brother Eye Baddie
Justice League #12 and JLI Annual #1 both emphasized some mysterious — and boisterous — threat that has taken over programming of Brother Eye. He's obviously being set up as a major threat for the future of the Justice League.
In the JLI Annual, we get confirmation that Brother Eye was originally programmed by Batman, which may be further explained in the September O.M.A.C. story in DC Universe Presents #0.
But Brother Eye's new programmer is clearly targeting Batman and the Justice League. By voicing himself through O.M.A.C., this new "programmer" calls himself the "future," and he implies the Justice League is fighting with each other.
Who is the "programmer?" Max Lord, who was a villain in the O.M.A.C. story? A.R.G.U.S.? Or something else?
We know some type of Justice League battle is coming in Trinity War in 2013, but this new Brother Eye-connected threat may now be part of the whole scenario. It echoes some of the concepts explored in Johns' Infinite Crisis mini-series, but it sounds like this time, the threat might be a whole lot bigger than Brother Eye.
3) Justice League Expansion
A few teaser images at the end of Justice League indicate that team is doing some expanding. Shazam is definitely joining the ranks, something Geoff Johns had already confirmed in the past. But Cyborg says in Justice League #12 teaser: "When the Justice League opened up the ranks, we brought in a traitor." Since they've opened up the ranks, that means the team is bigger beyond just Shazam.
Could these new "ranks" be connected to some of the characters teased over a year ago in Jim Lee's teaser image: Atom, Mera, Element Woman, Firestorm and more?
There's also the question of how they expand, and whether the Justice League will be associated with A.R.G.U.S. After all, they don't work with Steve Trevor anymore.
4) Justice League Traitor & Battles
One of the Justice League visions of the future featuring Batman and Cyborg had mention of a traitor, and there was a whole lot of fighting going in other teaser panels. It's not surprising that there might be a fight between Shazam and others, since he is, as Johns has been establishing, a troubled teen. But it's shocking to see Superman strangling Batman, with Clark's eyes glowing red and blood spurting from Batman's mouth. "I have to do this, Bruce," Clark says in the image.
There are tons of other clues about turmoil in the future. Amanda Waller asks Graves, the villain from this past arc, to write about how to take down the Justice League. There are other battles teased, with mentions of Atlantis and someone working with Cheetah.
But perhaps most telling is the final image in the Justice League teaser, which has a torn picture of the League. On one side are Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Superman, and on the other side are Batman, Flash, Cyborg and Hal Jordan. Is this "ripped" photo the way the team will split? Maybe Although the Free Comic Book Day teaser page clearly showed Wonder Woman battling Aquaman, it was an early release and plans often change.
(It's also interesting that Hal is in the photo, since he quit the League in this issue, probably clearing the way for his absence, since he just sorta/kinda died in Green Lantern Annual #1 and apparently is absent from Earth during the Third Army event in the Green Lantern books.)
In Booster's JLI Annual appearance from the future, he also insinuates there's someone who shouldn't have been trusted. And that all seems to tie to the talk of traitors, as well as the final line in Justice League #12: "The Justice League cannot be trusted. A new League must rise to stop the greatest war of our era, and it will take more than the world's greatest super heroes to save us!"
Which of course hints to the formation of the new Justice League of America, which DC just announced this past weekend. And the story in Justice League #12 also makes it clear that Steve Trevor will no longer be working with the original Justice League, so that clears the way for him and A.R.G.U.S. to form the new team.
So it appears there's quite a bit of battling and treachery among all these Justice League team members, which no doubt helps drive them toward next year's Trinity War event.
5) Pandora's Box
OK, OK, OK... we get it, DC.
Pandora is not only important enough to show up in every since #1 issue of the New 52, but she's worth highlighting again here.
In one of the finals Justice League #12 teasers, Pandora is offering her "box" to a pair of apparently gloved hands, saying, "Open It."
From the teasers in DC's May Free Comic Book Day issue, we already knew that box would be part of Trinity War, since Batman's carrying it on his back during the battle scene that was revealed. But this teaser makes it clear.
There's something up with that box. And Pandora is central to the Justice League's future.
6) Global Guardians
There wasn't much of a tease for this one, but readers were given a message from the future Booster Gold that Godiva, Olympian and August-in-General are forming the Global Guardians.
Will this be something that will happen in the background of Justice League? (After all, Johns himself used the concept back around the "One Year Later" time of pre-New 52 continuity.) Should we be predicting a back-up story here?
Or could DC be setting up its next "wave" of new titles, and this is going to be a future series?
Either way, DC fans should like the idea of the Global Guardians returning.
7) The Guardians vs. the Green Lantern Corps
Wow. Green Lantern Annual #1 was so full of teases for what's coming in the future of the Green Lantern Universe that it's tough to know where to begin.
Central to all of them, though, is this idea of the Guardians turning on the Green Lantern Corps. Yes, we've known for awhile this was coming, as the four "Lantern" titles teased it. But it was still shocking to see how nasty the Guardians could become, as they manipulated and imprisoned Black Hand and this mysterious "First Lantern," then proceeded to create truly horrific creatures they call the "Third Army."
Most notable, perhaps, is that the Annual revealed there are other Guardians who have been hidden away for eons. We're hoping they become they take over soon, because the current Guardians were revealed to be downright evil in this Annual. And we don't see how they could ever be redeemed.
So if the Green Lantern Corps has to eliminate the nasty little blue jerks who are now Guardians (and man, we can't believe this, but we're actually hoping they do...), there's always a chance the "old" Guardians could keep the concept alive.
8) Even More Green Lantern Concepts
Johns has already added so much to the Green Lantern universe since he revamped the title back in 2005. But it doesn't look like he's slowing down on the new concepts and characters.
Not only does the Green Lantern universe now face the assimilating powers of the Third Army (which will play out during the "Rise of the Third Army" crossover this fall), but there are several other potential threats and conflicts teased in the Green Lantern Annual.
As mentioned above, the Corps will have to deal with the Guardians themselves. But we have a feeling this First Lantern will also play an important role in upcoming stories. Who is he? Why was he imprisoned? What danger does he pose to the universe that would convince the Guardians to lock him away so extensively, even guarding his prison themselves?
We also have these "old" Guardians, who appear to be better than their newer counterparts, but who's to say? Will the escape?
And of course, we still have the threat of Black Hand, and the whole problem of Hal and Sinestro being locked away in Black Hand's ring. They don't have Green Lantern rings anymore. Could they team up with this First Lantern? Or the new Guardians? Or can any of these new guys be trusted?
Johns told Newsarama back in July that there would be more big stuff coming in the Green Lantern universe after "Third Army."
"Rise of the Third Army is not actually, not quite an event, it's the prologue to the next story that immediately follows it," Johns said. "I don't know how to explain it much better than that so hopefully that makes sense!"
And this Annual certainly paved the way for that to prove true.
Whether all these teases of future storylines excite you or not, you've got to admit, Johns gave readers a lot of stuff to ponder as DC entire the "Zero Month" in September.