When DC Comics released its 2012 Free Comic Book Day "New 52 Special," the company took a different approach from the usual "general audience" fare by teasing a slew of mysterious future story threads to its most hardcore audience.
As Newsarama detailed when the issue came out, there were plenty of clues and hints about what DC was planning through 2012 and even into 2013, including the promise of a Justice League-centered event called Trinity War.At the time, attention was mostly focused on the four-page spread by Jim Lee that provided a peek at the future battle coming in Trinity War. We pointed out that "Wonder Woman is fighting Aquaman (with Mera in tow), Superman has smashed one of Cyborg's arms in the process of slamming a pillar into the chest of a Green Lantern (John Stewart with new headgear, right?). Black Adam duels with Deadman (can magic lightning hurt an intangible ghost?), The Flash... runs a lot, and gets socked apparently by Vibe (Geoff's next pet project?)....and then there's something about Atom. With the small waist, larger hips, defined posterior and a hint of slightly obscured breast – is this a new female Atom?" Well, those guesses weren't too bad, but there was a lot we didn't know a year ago...
And now we do.
As we head toward this year's Free Comic Book Day (on Saturday, May 4th at a comics shop near you!), we thought it would be fun to jump into the Wayback Machine and see what we've learned since last year.We'll follow the format of the Top 10 list we released last year, asking what we saw as the biggest questions and pointing out the biggest clues from last year's cryptic DC teaser issue.
10) Why Vibe?
Among all the characters and concepts teased in last year's FCBD issue, one character in the gatefold spread by Jim Lee had people scratching their heads: Vibe.Did we think he was important to the DCU? No, not really. Sure, we suspected Geoff Johns was going to try to revive the '80s hero for a new audience, and that's nothing to scoff at. It turns out we were right, with Johns himself co-writing the revamped hero's solo title and putting him into the latest DC team title.
But now, readers have gotten their hands on the first couple issues of the new solo title, Justice League of America's Vibe, and his team comic, Justice League of America, and they found out the character is much more important to the DCU than anyone knew.
With Vibe-related subplots involving everything from Darkseid's daughter to holes in the very fabric of existence, Vibe appears to be the key to the DCU's future.
9) Converging Stories
Before May 2012, the connectivity between various heroes and titles in the DCU was pretty loose. We'd seen a few crossovers here and there, but many readers still weren't sure about the characters' histories together, or how they might connect in the future.
The FCBD issue teased a connectivity between not only the various characters in the DCU, but even the different "earths". With James Robinson and Nicola Scott about to release their first issue of Earth 2, DC fans weren't sure how that title might tie into the main New 52 world.
Now we know that there are connections between the worlds, not only with two Earth-2 heroes crossing over to the New 52 earth (namely, Huntress and Power Girl in Worlds' Finest), but there also exists an ability to cross from New 52 over to Earth-2 (proven by Mister Terrific).
As we pointed out in our 2012 "year in review", many other DC books started adding converging stories as well. Super-books and Super-characters started interacting more, the Joker storyline touched multiple titles, and books like Team 7 fleshed out the past of the DCU.
There's apparently more to come, as Trinity War promises to involve multiple "Justice League" teams and the Superman team has insinuated more group events are on the way.
8) Confirmed: That Is Black Adam
The Curse of Shazam! storyline that started in 2012 has only been released as a short back-up story, but Geoff Johns and Gary Frank didn't waste anytime getting Black Adam introduced into the New 52.As we guessed last year, the new Black Adam is a different character, but there's already evidence that he's going to shape up to be the same sort of lovable, egotistical antihero that more recent fans of the pre-New 52 character have come to expect from Johns.
In May, Justice League #20 promises that the Curse of Shazam! back-up story will have "Billy Batson learning the shocking secret of Black Adam!" The issue is a "prologue" to Trinity War, and Black Adam appears to be playing a role in the event.
7) The Rooms
The FCBD issue introduced readers to several new rooms: The Red Room, the Black Room and the Circus.
The concept of the Red Room, where DC scientists do their top-secret, high-tech research, had actually shown up in early issues of Justice League. But the Black Room was something new, filled with a number of familiar DC artifacts, most of supernatural origin. And the Circus was just mentioned, but never explained.
We've since seen details of all three rooms, particularly the Black Room, which showed up in Justice League Dark and other titles — even getting broken into by Catwoman.
But The Circus didn't get explained until just a couple months ago, when Justice League of America's Vibe revealed a number of jailed metahumans being held within A.R.G.U.S.
The Circus containment facility included some revamped versions of familiar DC characters, like Pariah and Gypsy, who looks to be playing a role in the DCU.
6) JLA/Shazam Crossover
Johns had told Newsarama from the start that Shazam and Justice League would tie together, but the FCBD issue made it clear that the tie-in would be pretty significant.
Now we know that June's Justice League #21 will be an oversized issue starring Shazam, leading to a "greater role in the larger DC Universe." The issue promises to explain what the Justice League has to do with Shazam, and not surprisingly, it all ties into Trinity War.
5) Who is the Green Lantern?
The appearance of an unknown Green Lantern in the FCBD issue was one of its most perplexing mysteries. There were already three Green Lanterns from earth, plus a guy on Earth-2 with that title, so who was this masked guy that nobody had ever seen before?
In September's Green Lantern #0 and subsequent issues of the Green Lantern titles, readers found out the whole story of the new guy, Simon Baz. The new character debuted in Green Lantern #0, and he was the first Arab-American Green Lantern, taking over for Hal Jordan and Sinestro. As a member of Justice League of America, he's being set up as a central figure in Trinity War, evidenced by his presence in the FCBD issue teaser for the event.
4) Phantom Stranger
Right after the FCBD issue was released, Newsarama put into writing what many other readers were suspecting: Phantom Stranger certainly seemed to be the biblical character of Judas Iscariot.
DC confirmed his identity as the company launched a new Phantom Stranger title with a #0 issue. This is, indeed, Judas Iscariot of the DCU, and the necklace he wears is made up of the 30 silver pieces he received for betraying Jesus Christ.
In June, Phantom Stranger gets renamed Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger because of his ties to two other characters...
3) The Question, and 2) PandoraWe looped these two into one entry because we don't know a whole lot more about these two characters than we did in May 2012. But we do know DC will give readers a whole lot more details as the universe builds toward Trinity War.
Trinity of Sin: Pandora, a new series by Ray Fawkes that starts in June, will tell the story of Pandora's vengeance. She has been blamed for every bad thing that's ever happened in the world, and she's angry about it.
As we on Newsarama have said for awhile, the fact that there's both a Phantom Stranger and a Pandora title under the header, "Trinity of Sin," indicates we'll surely see a similar treatment for The Question.
1) Justice League Civil War
Geoff Johns has already been setting up the potential battle lines within Justice League and Justice League of America. In fact, Amanda Waller specifically recruited the team members of the JLA because they matched up as heroes who could take down member of the Justice League.
Waller is thinking she could use Baz against Hal, Martian Manhunter against Superman and Catwoman against Batman, which all make sense. Perhaps more a stretch are some of the other alleged match-ups, like Hawkman against Aquaman and Katana against Wonder Woman, but at least Waller's being creative.
Yet it's obvious in the Trinity War gatefold image from FCBD that some of these match-ups will come true, particularly the image of Vibe aiming his powers toward The Flash. And the new female Atom who's just started showing up in Justice League was even planned back in May 2012, because she's part of the battle. There's definitely going to be some ugly fighting between heroic characters. But there is just as likely to be some interesting team-ups adding even more cohesiveness to the New 52 universe.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!