Ever since DC rebooted its universe in September 2011, the publisher has established an annual tradition of scheduling major events in September.
Last year, it was a whole month of #0 issues during the month of September, as the regular series took a break to look at the past of its lead characters.
This year, fans got early indication of another event for September 2013, tentatively titled "Villain Month." According to DC's promotional copy for an upcoming collected edition, "every title in the DC Universe" will publish "special new #1's, featuring the villains of the DC Universe," during the month of September 2013.
Despite that collection's description, DC hasn't confirmed that Villain Month is happening. But the event would fit with the recent pattern of DC doing something big in September. And August comics do seem to be wrapping up things in several titles (as well as canceling a few titles), which would clear way for an event in September.
Plus, DC has set up a system where they almost need an event in September. Not only does it make good promotional sense to mark the anniversary of the New 52 launch, but it also gives the publishing company the ability to achieve growth in year-to-year comparisons — to make this year's September sales numbers match (or beat) the high numbers from September last year.
Within the story of the DCU, there's also indication that the Villain Month will spin nicely with the ending of Trinity War, the crossover taking place in all the Justice League titles this summer. As DC exec and writer Geoff Johns told USA Today about Trinity War, "It's not going to end wrapped up in a bow. Something really, really major happens that kicks off some pretty crazy stuff at the end of August."
Does that mean the Secret Society of Super-Villains end up winning the Trinity War? Or will Pandora's box get opened to spill even more evil onto the universe? Or does Pandora meddle with the make-up of the universe again, giving evil the chance to rule?
Those ideas are fun to entertain, but it's much more likely that September 2013 is simply a month when all the currently important villains get the chance to shine for awhile. That means each of the villain-centered #1 issues will most likely tie directly to a current ongoing series, or maybe even one that is launching anew.
So what villains might get the spotlight in September?
Looking at August solicitations, recent interviews and other information that DC has released, we took a stab at picking a few of the villains who will take over DC for the month. If DC is sticking close to their "52" number in September, then our guesses are coming up a little short, so feel free to comment with your own guesses.
Secret Society of Super-Villains #1?
If Justice League, Justice League Dark and Justice League of America are being replaced by villains, their September issues will have to also serve as an epilogue to the much touted summer crossover Trinity War. Keeping this in mind, there are several possibilities of Trinity War villains that can be featured in these three Justice League series in September.
First, there's a slew of characters in the Secret Society of Super-Villains, which play a central role in Trinity War.
And then there's a mysterious murderer running loose somewhere, because early press for the Trinity War event has focused on the murder of a League team member. According to August's solicit copy, the murder is solved in Justice League Dark #23. So could the character(s) behind the murder be the villain who gets the spotlight in September in one of the Justice titles?
Darkseid — and other villains from Apokolips — are a strong possibility for an appearance in September. Characters associated with Apokolips are showing up in many DC titles this spring and summer, and Darkseid's own daughter is on the main DCU Earth.
Teases for Trinity War indicate that "an impending darkness approaches the DC Universe." Could this darkness be related to Darkseid, whose return has been implied for months?
Whatever this "darkness" is, we can only assume it will take center stage during Villain Month, with solicitation copy for Trinity War stating, "The truth behind it all will lead to an evil that threatens every hero on the planet."
Another clue about an Apokolip-tic appearance is found in the solicitation for August's Justice League of America's Vibe #23. The promo copy says, "A new villains with ties to [Vibe's] past threatens to turn his future upside down!" So... what villain has ties to his past? His brother was killed during Darkseid's invasion, so we're betting it's something connected to the villain.
Crime Syndicate of America #1?
At the end of April, when someone at C2E2 asked about the Crime Syndicate of America, DC's Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham said the question had been asked "about a month" too soon. It's almost a month later, and it's time to start announcing what's happening in September. So chances are, Crime Syndicate of America will be in a DC book in September.
Where might this team show up? We're thinking this is either linked to the Trinity War crossover, or they're going to show up in Batman/Superman.
Why Batman/Superman? The two title characters will be in the past, and they'll be on Earth-2, when Villain Month hits. Readers will get to see Superman and Batman from the main DCU Earth traveling to Earth 2 to meet the Superman and Batman from that alternate Earth. However, the tense meeting between the four characters is short lived, because they all have to deal with a bigger threat. Series writer Greg Pak told Newsarama, "There's going to be another threat — a sort of a big, worlds-threatening threat that all four of these characters are going to have to figure out what their response is going to be."
There have been no indications what that threat might be, but whatever it is occurred in the past of Earth 2. Pak said this story takes place before the Apokolips War, so the threat could be just about anyone. And Crime Syndicate of America is as good a guess as any, since it's definitely "worlds-threatening."
Black Adam #1?
August solicitations imply that the Seven Deadly Sins are playing an important role in DC's Trinity of Sin: Pandora title. And we've already been told that Shazam is part of Trinity War. So something associated with those magical characters would be possible villainous stars in September. And since there are titles that were canceled in August, could October see the launch of a Shazam! series as a tie-in to this villain issue?
After all the attention being paid to this Green Lantern villain by DC's publicity machine, they almost have to give the big baddie his own book for a month.
Of course, there are several Green Lantern titles, so there's probably going to be several Green Lantern villains featured in September. We're guessing that Green Lantern: New Guardians #23 will be important to September's "villain" focus, since it's the last Green Lantern title to ship in August, and its solicitation copy says, "Do not miss this issue!"
Cyborg Superman #1?
A new Cyborg Superman! DC has already teased this villain on its blog, and August's #23 solicitation says the villain is targeting Supergirl for a reason that will "blow your mind — and set the stage for a massive story this fall!"
The new storyline in The Flash is all about the Reverse-Flash, so we're betting money on this villain taking center stage in September.
First Born #1?
Wonder Woman's big problem this summer is the child of Zeus called the "First Born." He's the main player in August, when he's apparently "taken over all of London," so we're guessing he'll be a villain featured in September. "You can tell something big's going to happen between [First Born] and [Wonder Woman], right?" Azzarello told Newsarama in March. "He is going to have a major, major impact on her family."
The Steppenwolf storyline appears to be continuing in Earth 2 during August, and the solicitation indicates the heroes "fall victim to the Hunger Dogs of Apokolips," so chances are that the forces of Steppenwolf are going to take over the series for a month.
August's issue of World's Finest teases that someone from Apokolips is stuck on earth like they are. We've already seen Desaad attacking the pair in the most recent issue, so it's probable that he's the villain who's "stuck on Earth," and he'll take over the series in September.
Brother Blood #1?
Animal Man writer Jeff Lemire is revamping Brother Blood into a villain for the title character, so we're thinking that although the villain is already featured on the front of issue #23, he might get even more spotlight in September.
Superman Unchained "Army Secret" #1?
Since Superman Unchained is tentatively a limited series, it's possible that there will be no villain in charge in September. But if Scott Snyder and Jim Lee do participate in the promotion, there are a few clues about what might happen. Information indicates there's something being hidden from Superman — a "secret the U.S. Army tried desperately to keep from him." The solicitation for issue #3 in August says that the "secret" has "found" Superman. We're thinking this secret might be one of the key villains to take over a comic in September.
Action Comics "Alien Threat"?
Temporary Action Comics writer Scott Lobdell told Newsarama that he's on the book until issue #25, so what villain might he feature in September? Chances are, it's an alien, or a threat from space. "I want to get [Superman] off-world and have him interact with a whole new group of people with a whole new perspective on him," Scott Lobdell told Newsarama of his plans for the series.
Lobdell has said that Superman comes into contact with a group of warriors in space during this summer's Action story, but he also implied to Newsarama that the warriors would actually find themselves to be allies of Superman against a much bigger threat. And that's the threat that will get a comic in September.
Psycho Pirate #1?
In Superman and Superboy, H.I.V.E. is behind the "Psi-War" that spins through both titles. But the Superman title specifically has a mention of a "new Psycho Pirate" in its August solicitation, so that's a possible candidate for September...
But so is...
Hector Hammond #1?
... since he's been featured in months previous in Superman.
Superboy's New "Ultimate" Nemesis #1
As stated above, H.I.V.E. is behind the Psi-War in this title, but the August solicitation says "Superboy's ultimate nemesis is revealed." Justin Jordan told Newsarama that next, Superboy will meet "a newish villain based on an old one from DC," and then "some new ones." We're not sure who Superboy's ultimate nemesis is in the New 52, but we're betting it's not Harvest, since the writer said he'd be giving the series "less Harvest" and more focus on Superboy as a character. Plus, whoever shows up in #23 is new to the New 52, because the solicitation says it's a "major threat to the DC Universe" who "debuts" in the issue.
The best-selling Batman series will be set in the past of the DCU, telling the Zero Year storyline that defines the continuity of Bruce Wayne in the New 52. The safe guess for featured villain from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo would be the Red Hood Gang, since the creators are already talking about them.
But it's also plausible that the Riddler might show up for September's issue. Snyder has hinted in the past that the Riddler might be a big player in his next storyline, so we're thinking we might see a pretty cool portrayal of the character's Gotham origins in September.
The Talon storyline has been focused on Bane, so we're thinking he gets the spotlight during Villain Month.
The Wrath #1?
The "Anti-Batman" known as the Wrath is featured on the cover of August's issue of Detective Comics. So he could be a villain featured in September, but there's also the possibility the Penguin w
ill take over, since he's been featured heavily in John Layman's run.
The August issue of Batman: The Dark Knight features Clayface, whose powers were shown to be more impressive in the most recent Batman storyline. But there's also mention in the August solicitation of the Mad Hatter, who's been a main player in TDK so far.
We just saw Two-Face's coin show up on the last page of the May issue of Batman and Robin. Plus, Batman scribe Scott Snyder just told Newsarama that Tomasi has "really big plans, and cool plans, for revealing more about Two-Face's background." So it's possible that the iconic Batman villain shows up for September's Villain Month.
It looks like August's issue of Birds of Prey features a battle with Basilisk, so it's a strong possibility the villain takes over in September.
James Gordon Jr. #1?
We've already seen Batgirl wallowing in grief and guilt after she killed her brother, James Gordon Jr., and he's featured on the cover of August's issue. But Barbara needn't feel bad... her brother ain't exactly dead these days (as anyone who reads Suicide Squad knows). So our bet is that September sees James Jr. return to Barbara's life in his own book.
The cover of August's Batwoman #23 has several characters featured, but one of them is the most likely candidate for a villain issue in September: Beth, the kooky twin sister who haunted Kate in the past as the villain, "Alice." We just found out in recent issues of Batwoman that Beth is alive, and returning her to her "Alice" form would make for a pretty cool villains issue.
Joker's Daughter #1?
It looks like the Joker's Daughter who was recently teased by DC will be featured in Catwoman in August — meaning she's probably one of the villains that takes over in September. We had previously believed Harper Row could be the Joker's Daughter, but that's still up in the air. Harper is being featured in Detective Comics #21, so she could turn in that story or later. But her lack of attention from her creator, Scott Snyder, makes us back away from that guess a tad. This Joker's Daughter could be someone we haven't met. Still, she's probably getting her own issue in September.
Lady Vic #1?
Lady Vic makes her first appearance in the New 52 in Batwing #23 in August, so she's probably sticking around for September. Now that we've got a new Batwing with Luke Fox, we're assuming Lady Vic is going to serve as a New 52 nemesis for the new hero.
The Prankster #1?
The probable villain for Nightwing in September is The Prankster, who has been wreaking havoc on the city and Nightwing. But could it also be possible that Nightwing's true nemesis during this story arc, Tony Zucco, might take over for a month? Somehow, his name doesn't have the same sort of ring for a cover issue.
The Spectre #1?
The Spectre might not always fit the description "villain," but DC has certainly used the character that way before. We've seen this guy show up in several titles, so the ability to use him is wide open. But we think one of the key reasons he might show up is because of what's happening in Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger in August. Solicitations indicate that Phantom Stranger is taking a few other characters to the afterlife, and he allegedly gets in trouble with the "Hosts of Heaven" for doing so. We're thinking his punishment for this infraction might be handed down by The Spectre in a special September issue.