We're starting to see a pattern here. Every year or so, the stars seem to align at DC comics for a big event — usually in September — or rather, the hints about (and solicitations for) the publisher's comics often point toward something major happening at a fixed point in the future.
Next up? March and April 2015.
This weekend, when DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio was asked on Facebook about the publishing schedule for the three DC weeklies — the current Batman Eternal, the May-launching The New 52: Futures End, and the newly announced Earth 2: World's End — he surprised fans by announcing that they'd all be ending the same month.
In fact, the two End weeklies appear to be finishing on the same day — the final week in March, according to DiDio. The separate Bat-title, Batman Eternal, will take a hiatus after its current story wraps up in March.
So that inevitably leads to the question: What's happening at DC in April 2015, after all of DC's weeklies end in March?
Let's look at the clues we have so far:
We already know that Futures End is set in the aftermath of a battle with another Earth, five years in the future. According to DC publicity, the DCU is "reeling" from that battle between worlds, and Earth's heroes are "unprepared" for "another evil that threatens to destroy the future."
DiDio explained it to Newsarama this way: "At the start of Futures End, the story actually starts 35 years in the future, and then moves to five years in the future. And you'll see the potential of where the world is heading and what needs to be changed, or what needs to be acted upon."
According to solicitations for Futures End, the event that takes place 35 years in the future will involve Brother Eye conquering all of humanity. From what we can tell, the weekly will show how Batman Beyond, who lives 35 years in the future, travels back in time to prevent Brother Eye.
And Batman Beyond's travel brings him "back" to the five-years-in-the-future DCU.
Sound confusing? Just wait — there's more. DiDio said that both the 35-years-in-the-future DCU and the five-years-in-the-future DCU are only possible futures — they depict what might happen. (And in September's "Five Years Later" event, all the DCU books will depict what might happen to their characters.)
Despite readers suffering from future continuity confusion, DiDio seems confident that all these "peeks" into "possible" futures will be great fun for readers.
According to solicitations and a recent teaser image, co-writers Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens, Jeff Lemire and Brian Azzarello are packing Futures End with some pretty wild and potentially exciting situations. For example, Green Arrow is allegedly killed by Firestorm, a new, masked Superman is being investigated by Lois Lane, WildStorm characters play a huge role, and Booster Gold is back — as is the red sky that is so often shows up in major DC events.
But the question about April is most certainly related to what happens in DC's other "End" weekly, Earth 2: World's End.
According to our interview with DiDio, Earth 2: World's End "will be set in the current DCU timeline" and "will have direct implications on what's happening with the five years later storyline."
So how does World's End tie into Futures End?
Let's take a guess by looking at clues.
First, it's worth paying attention to the names in the list of writers — World's End is being co-written by Tom Taylor, Paul Levitz, Daniel H. Wilson, Marguerite Bennet and Mike Johnson.
While fans of Wilson's novels are excited about what he brings to the world of comics, the biggest clue about what's happening in World's End is the involvement of Taylor, who writes Earth 2, and Levitz, the scribe on Worlds' Finest — both comics not only deal with characters from Earth 2, but some characters that have crossed back and forth between Earth 2 and the main DCU earth.
Because of Futures End, we already know that, sometime in the next five years, there's going to be a world-ravaging war between two Earths — or at least a possible war. And DiDio's post on Facebook said that, "while World's End is only six months long, the ramifications from the story will affect the universe for years to come."
So, the fact that World's End is set in the present day makes us think its story is either the lead-up to the battle with another Earth, or it contains the battle itself.
And with the title saying "Earth 2," and the involvement of Levitz and Taylor, we have to also assume that the battle will at least involve the main DC Earth and Earth 2.
After the announcement by DiDio on Facebook, some fans have speculated that Grant Morrison's new limited series Multiversity, which starts in August, might be involved in setting up whatever happens in April.
The numbers seem to line up — Multiversity has been advertised as a story that will take somewhere between eight and 10 issues to tell (promotional copy says "8 issues," but Morrison indicated it's seven issues, plus two framing stories, plus an accompanying "guidebook" — and DC won't confirm the number). If it comes out monthly, and if it's eight issues, then the story would finish in March 2015.
That said, DC hasn't committed to Multiversity coming out every month. And the story for the mini-series was written years ago, if statements from Morrison are to be believed. Although the writer may have changed parts of his story to line up with the newest developments of the New 52, every time Morrison talks about the mini-series, he indicates it functions a little bit removed from the New 52. So we can't imagine it connecting in a big way to these weeklies.
However, the Earths involved in the alleged "battle" would utilize the same basic idea of a multiverse as the Morrison mini-series. So there's probably some connection between Multiversity and the potential "battle with another Earth," even if it's just conceptual.
Come to the Darkseid
It's also important to notice that the teaser image for World's End, drawn by Ben Oliver, shows Apokolips in the background.
There have been a lot of hints about Darkseid and Apokolips being important to the future of both the main DCU Earth and Earth 2.
The Apokolipsian events can be traced all the way back to the first month of DC's New 52 reboot, September 2011, when the new Justice League title by DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns launched with an attack by Darkseid at its center. Although the Justice League thwarted the immediate threat, Johns has been hinting at a Darkseid return ever since — even revealing that there's a daughter of Darkseid on the DCU Earth somewhere.
Characters from the New Gods pantheon (associated with the concept of Apokolips) have also been showing up elsewhere in DC comics over the last three years — particularly on Earth 2, where Darkseid has unleashed an evil, brainwashed/rebuilt version of Superman called Brutal to enslave the population.
As for the future, we already know that Darkseid plays a role in the Robin Rising: Omega one-shot in July, and its follow-up story in Batman and Robin. According to the writer of those comics, Peter Tomasi, the Robin-centric story will tie-in to Apokolips in a way that "will most definitely reverberate within the DCU."
From all these clues, we find ourselves speculating that the inclusion of Apokolips on the teaser image for World's End means Apokolips — and most likely, Darkseid himself — will be involved in the "battle with another Earth" that looms in DC's "possible" future.
All of that brings us back to the question about April 2015. With all these threads ending in March, how do all these weeklies fit together with something happening in April?
Here's our best guess, with all the clues we've mentioned so far:
First come the events of Earth 2: World's End in the present day (in October), involving Apokolips and either leading up to the "battle with another Earth" or perhaps depicting its conclusion…
Then comes something that starts in April — and we're guessing it will involve the aforementioned battle between Earths (or perhaps the aftermath of the war), with Earth 2 and Darkseid playing key roles.
Then five years later comes Futures End, which we know is the aftermath of the war between Earths (although, keep in mind, it's just a "possible" future)…
Then 35 years in the future "might" come the Brother Eye nastiness that makes Batman Beyond time travel… although this future will probably be prevented.
Is There Anything Significant About April, 2015?
It just so happens to be the 30th anniversary (to the month) of the publication of Crisis of Infinite Earths #1.
Too Much Conjecture?
There's one other element that can't be overlooked: the move of DC's editorial offices from New York to Burbank, although announced last year, is actually taking place in April 2015.
So it's possible that the three weeklies ending and taking a "hiatus" at the same time in March 2015 are less about upcoming stories and more about editorial shuffles. Weeklies take massive coordination, and combining that with a move could be too much. By the time April 2015 rolls around, the battle between Earths might be prevented or finished, or it might not start for awhile, or it could take place in just one title.
Of course, no matter what line of conjecture we believe, we're only guessing… and our conjecture is based on untrustworthy solicitations, cryptic interviews and subtle teaser images. The connection between all these events ending in March may be something completely different — some bloggers are predicting another DC "Crisis" or reboot — but there also might be no connection between the three weeklies ending at all. What do you think?