Something is obviously brewing at DC as the company plans for its post-Forever Evil universe, but nobody is revealing quite yet what's coming after the series concludes in March.
But all evidence points toward changes come April — with the best clue being the statement by Forever Evil's writer, DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, who told Newsarama in November: "In [Forever Evil], we have a lot of big surprises, big changes, and come April the DC Universe will be a very different place leading into and throughout 2014.
"The first phase of the New 52 is drawing to a close," he said, "and as Forever Evil wraps up a new phase begins — one that will see the introduction, and re-introduction, of a lot of characters, concepts and a decidedly new center to the DC universe."
It's quite a statement from Johns, who usually keeps things pretty close-to-the-vest (for example, about the end of Flashpoint he would only tease that it "will have repercussions" — a colossal understatement). Plus, his words are supported by the release of DC's comic book solicitations for March. Some of DC's titles are hitting their final issues that month, and many of the superhero story lines are finishing up in a hurry so the timing is right for new stories to launch in April, after the end of Forever Evil.
April will also see the rest of the DCU titles "catch up" with Forever Evil. Currently, a few titles are not concurrent with the event mini-series — most notably, Nightwing, which is set before Forever Evil #1. In April, that all changes, when the events of the mini-series will be reflected throughout the DCU.
One of the most expected change coming in April is the addition of new titles. DC has already announced that the Tiny Titans series is returning in April, and we've been told about the transformation of the Justice League of America comic into Justice League Canada. Writer Jeff Lemire has already revealed that the team will include a young, female Cree superhero inspired in part by Hannen Koostachin, a teen activist who lobbied the federal government for a new school in Attawapiskat First Nation. (The girl died at the age of 15 in 2010 in a car accident.) The series will also include Adam Strange (who will be a Canadian in the New 52) and Animal Man (more on him in a sec), along with current members Hawkman and Green Arrow.
A new weekly series, Batman: Eternal, is also expected to launch in April, with at least a year's worth of stories by a team of writers under the direction of Batman writer Scott Snyder. It's expected that the cancellation of Batman: The Dark Knight and Talon will not be replaced by two other Batman titles, with DC instead driving those readers to the weekly series (although there's probably always room for a new Bat-title).
But with the cancelation of Animal Man, the end of Forever Evil (and all its tie-in comics), and the fact that the New 52 line-up already had fewer than 52 titles, it's not a stretch of the imagination to expect other titles to launch in April.
One of those titles will be written by Geoff Johns, according to his statements at the Brazilian comic convention FIQ. The series will spin out of Forever Evil, and Johns said it will focus on a solo character.
So who could be that new solo character? And what other characters might get a shot in the New 52 come April?
When Johns spoke to Newsarama about the end of Forever Evil and the ramifications of the event, he added, "Keep your eyes on Lex. He’s the one to watch." It's no secret that Johns enjoys writing Lex Luthor, as evidenced by his feature role in several of the writer's comics, whether he's wearing an orange power ring, his green-and-purple armor, or a LexCorp business suit.
There's also the possibility that another Luthor might show up in Forever Evil, since there's a strong possibility that an Earth 3 version of him is the mysterious hooded prisoner. As we reported a few months ago, some former Crime Syndicate of America stories included "Alexander" Luthor — the Earth 3 version of Lex Luthor. The inclusion of him (or his son) in Forever Evil would pay homage to past DC stories, and it's always possible the visitor-from-another-earth could stick around in April.
Forever Evil Stars
Lex Luthor isn't the only solo star from Forever Evil that might get some Geoff Johns love in April. There's also a good chance we'll see a Cyborg series, since he is the only star from the original Justice League launch who hasn't had a solo title yet (and a character that Johns has always claimed as a favorite).
Even if Johns isn't the writer, Cyborg's appearance in Forever Evil is almost custom-made for a series launch — next month will see the introduction of "Cyborg 2.0," which is possibly an even more powerful version of the character. He's also got an arch-nemesis now, as Johns created the robotic villain "Grid" from Cyborg's spare parts.
Cyborg is also going to be teaming up with the Metal Men during the coming months of Forever Evil, and those characters could possibly get a series of their own (or they might team up with Victor again in a solo series). And we've also seen the Doom Patrol show up in Forever Evil — a fan-favorite DC team concept that could be introduced into a series in April.
There's also some buzz surrounding Martian Manhunter, who is getting a spotlight during Forever Evil as he teams up with Stargirl. DC already gave him a solo story as a back-up in Justice League of America in early 2013, so he could get even more focus come April.
And last, but certainly not least, the inclusion of Black Adam in the Forever Evil story points toward the possibility of the concepts from Shazam getting a solo series after the event ends. DC has been dancing around the possibility of a Shazam series for awhile, but the closest they've come is a back-up in Justice League. April might be the time to make this happen.
Lois Lane/Women of DC
With one-shots already announced during the next few months for female characters like Lois Lane, Amanda Waller and Joker's Daughter, DC is giving some much-needed attention to the women of the DCU.
Those one-shots could lead to ongoing series, according to Newsarama's interview with Lois writer Marguerite Bennett. "If there is fan enthusiasm for the concept, and if the sales turnout is strong, [DC Co-Publisher] Dan DiDio has told fans that a Lois series would be there for them. It’s entirely within the hands of the readers, though," she said.
With all these one-shots, it's possible that DC is testing the waters on several female characters over the next few months, so there's a possibility one of them — or a group? — might get a title soon.
The best bet, as Bennett said, is Lois Lane, because of DiDio's statements to fans. “[Superman and Wonder Woman's relationship is] not at the expense of Lois Lane,” DiDio told fans at New York Comic Con during a panel celebrating Superman's 75th anniversary. “We love Lois. It’s her 75th Anniversary, too. We have big plans for Lois Lane in 2014, and who knows, her name can look just as good on the title of a comic as Superman’s, can’t it?”
DC has already indicated that young heroes are going to get some extra attention soon — possibly including the characters featured in the Young Justice TV show. As Newsarama reported from New York Comic Con, a question about some characters from the Young Justice TV show (Khaldur, Miss Martian, and Artemis were named by the fan) possibly coming into the New 52, and about a re-expansion of the teen hero comic lineup at DC Comics, was responded to with a simple "Yes," which drew applause from the crowd.
A recent video from DC also blatantly teased that readers will see former Teen Titans characters like Wally West and Donna Troy — who have, so far, been absent from the New 52. Some fans have been guessing that Wally is the mysterious hooded figure in Forever Evil, but even if he's not, a tumultuous ending to the event would possibly make room for his return. Add young characters that have already been seen in the New 52 (like Beast Boy and Wildcats characters), then throw in the Bat-kids being featured in Batman: Eternal (like Stephanie Brown and Tim Drake), and DC has the makings for a new group of young heroes that would attract a lot of attention in April.
Nobody's quite sure who is the father of Superwoman's baby. Is it Ultraman, as she told him? Is it Owlman, as she claimed to him? Is it the hooded prisoner's baby, and was Superwoman the one who said "soon," indicating her plans to free her lover?
Whoever fathered the child, it's a good bet that the kid will live after the ending of Forever Evil (since DC doesn't usually kill infants). And it's always possible the character will play a part in the future of the DCU — if not in April, then perhaps in Geoff Johns' long-term machinations.
There's also a chance that other members of the Crime Syndicate will stick around in the main DCU Earth. Would DC give Atomica her own title? Or the Outsider?
And don't forget that there's still a hooded prisoner that we haven't met. Although we have no clue who's under that hood, it's possible he's someone that would work for a new title in April. Readers' guesses about the character's identity range from Booster Gold to Earth 2 Batman — and we like the sound of those titles already.
The popularity of DC's Earth 2 comic has made it one of the biggest successes of the "waves" that followed the initial New 52 reboot. And recent DC storylines have reminded readers that Earth 2 is not the only earth out there in the DC multiverse.
Besides the promised (but so far, not announced) Grant Morrison mini-series Multiversity, DC has also focused much of the Batman/Superman comic on the travel between worlds, launching the comic earlier this year with a storyline that literally teamed main earth Superman and Batman with Earth 2 Superman and Batman.
Beginning in February, Worlds' Finest and Batman/Superman, will cross over for two months (leading right up to April), as Batman and Superman find out all kinds of details about these alternate earths — including the fact that, on Earth 2, Batman had a daughter. Besides all the uncomfortable moments we expect from this revelation, the discovery — along with the introduction of Earth 3 villains in Forever Evil — opens the door widely for more Earths to get some DC love.
As evidenced by the critical and sales success of the Earth 2 ongoing, the ability to play in an alternate earth with DC characters is enticing not only for writers who want to make major changes to icons, but also to readers who eat those types of stories up.
As previously announced, DC has another weekly in the works, the Futures End story that launches in May during Free Comic Book Day and takes place five years in the future. If the pattern set by the major comic companies holds true, then readers can expect some tie-ins — possibly including a rumored September event that thrusts all the DC books five years into the future.
We also know that the Justice League will be dealing with a major Aquaman story in the near future, teased at the end of Johns' final issue of Aquaman. Titled "Rise Of The Seven Seas," it promises to feature seven kings from Aquaman lore who try to rule the planet, and Johns said they'll be confronted by seven members of the Justice League.
It's also likely that the Nightwing title will go through an upheaval, since the title character's hidden identity has been outed during the events of Forever Evil. Whether Dick Grayson dies at the end of Forever Evil, is replaced by another character, or just dyes his hair blond, we can expect the title to go through a significant change in April.