And although it might be a bit far-reaching to predict with dead-on accuracy right now, the timing and hints so far indicate the DCU might be gearing up for some type of "Crisis" in 2015 — and maybe even another game-changing relaunch.
Let's examine what we know so far:
The main reason for the speculation about an event at DC launching in April 2015 is that the three DC weeklies that will be publishing concurrently by later this year are all ending in the same month. DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio announced on his Facebook page that the three DC weeklies — the current Batman Eternal and The New 52: Futures End, and the October-launching Earth 2: World's End — will 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, DiDio said. The separate Bat-title, Batman Eternal, will take a hiatus after its current story wraps up in March.
According to Newsarama interviews with the architects of the weeklies, the coordinated ending date for all the weeklies isn't a coincidence — with DiDio himself even confirming to Newsarama that the timing is most likely significant.
So with DC making it apparent that they're launching some type of event in April 2015, there are two things about that month that fans should notice: 1.) DC is moving offices from long-time home New York to Burbank around that time, and 2.) The date is the 30th anniversary of the launching of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the 1985 mini-series that reset continuity and eliminated the DC Multiverse.
And you can bet DC knows about the anniversary. When Newsarama point blank asked DiDio about it, he nervously laughed, then said, "I… I… you know, um… you're kidding!!"
Keeping the anniversary in mind, it's important to note that DC has set a precedent with the word "Crisis" meaning something major for its universe — with multiverse-reinforcing stories like Crisis on Earth-Two.
But it also served as one of the first and best-known "universe-encompassing event" stories that rebooted a major comic universe's entire continuity.
Since then, DC has published several other greatly touted and highly anticipated "Crisis" series — including 1994's Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, 2004's Identity Crisis, 2005's Infinite Crisis and 2008's Final Crisis.
Out of all of those, the one that stands out as an anniversary event is Infinite Crisis, written by DC Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns as a follow-up to the 1985 Crisis's 20th anniversary. Its story not only focused on one of the threads from the original Crisis, but Infinite Crisis similarly shook up the DCU when it ended.
While Infinite Crisis didn't immediately change the multiverse or reboot anything in particular, it did lead directly into "One Year Later," an event that was meant to shake up the DCU — and also the weekly 52, which took the DC Universe from only one "earth" to having 52 diverse new worlds in its multiverse.
With the 20th anniversary Crisis setting a precedent, it's tough not to expect a similar "shaking up" of the DCU if the publisher similarly celebrates the 30th anniversary in 2015.
Forever Evil Finale
But the upcoming anniversary isn't the only link to the 1985 Crisis that we've seen at DC lately.
Forever Evil, the recent seven-issue event series also written by Johns, introduced a power-hungry, New 52 version of the Anti-Monitor.
As long-time DC fans know, the Anti-Monitor was (in pre-New 52 continuity) the world-consuming villain behind Crisis on Infinite Earths.
With the Anti-Monitor now confirmed as part of the New 52 universe — and with him hungry for more universes to consume — it certainly adds fuel to the speculation fire for an April 2015 "Crisis."
But it's also noteworthy that someone is helping the Anti-Monitor. In the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Anti-Monitor recruits Psycho-Pirate to his cause. In the Forever Evil finale, an unknown character is similarly helping the New 52 version of the Anti-Monitor with his cause. "You have consumed all the power you can from this universe," said an off-panel figure. "But I will find you another universe to consume, Anti-Monitor."
But Forever Evil's hints about characters in the original Crisis didn't even stop there.
In Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Anti-Monitor's threat to the DC Multiverse eventually caused all of the other worlds to disappear, although a few characters were left behind from other worlds — including Alexander Luthor Jr., the Earth-Three son of Alexander Luthor and Lois Lane-Luthor.
Alexander Luthor Jr. became important in the 20th anniversary story Infinite Crisis. While he fought on the side of good in the 1985 Crisis, by the time Infinite Crisis happened, he'd turned evil and served as the 2005 story's main villain.
In the finale of Forever Evil, it's insinuated that there's a New 52 version of Alexander Luthor on the way. The Earth 3 version of Lois Lane — the superpowered evil version who arrived on DC's Prime Earth as part of the Crime Syndicate — is now pregnant with Alexander Luthor's child. It's not too much of a stretch to believe this will be the New 52 version of Alexander Luthor Jr.
So the dominoes have been set up in such a way that, leading into 2015, the New 52 universe has 1) An Anti-Monitor, 2) a character who's assisting him similar to the original Psycho Pirate, and 3) an anticipated birth of Alexander Luthor Jr. — all three being characters important to the 1985 Crisis.
So if we admit that DC will probably launch a Crisis-associated event starting around April 2015, could we speculate about how long the event might last? It's impossible to say with certainty, but we'd be willing to bet that it would last through the summer. From a purely speculative standpoint - a bi-monthly series running April through August would be 10 issues. A weekly series could publish 21 issues from April through August.
When Newsarama talked to DiDio about 2014's September event, "Futures End," he talked about how the annual September events give DC a chance to "reset."
"What it does is it gives you a chance to reset the line a little bit and see where your strengths and weaknesses are," DiDio said. "And if you look at what we did, we launched the New 52, which re-established the heroes in a new direction, voice and continuity. That's where we started.
"So what we've done is, we've looked in the past, we've looked at the heroes [in September 2012, with the 'Zero Issue' event], we've looked at the villains [in September 2013, with the 'Villains Month' event], and now we're looking toward the future [in September 2014, with the 'Futures End' event]."
The question to ask now is… where is DC going in September 2015?
And if it has something to do with a "Crisis," could the September event be a relaunch of some kind?
Opening Pandora's Box
Let's not forget that in 2011, many readers speculated that DC gave themselves a "back door" (where they could exit the New 52 universe and return things to pre-2011 status) because of the presence of a character named Pandora.
The then-mysterious Pandora allegedly created the New 52 universe, telling Barry Allen during the preceding Flashpoint event that she was combining three timelines to create a new one because "the history of heroes was shattered into three long ago."
The fact that Pandora stuck around in the newly created DC Universe seemed to indicate, to many fans, that the company could use the character to turn things back to the way they were before she created the New 52 universe.
To be fair, DC executives have often stated that there's no going back, and the writer of the current Trinity of Sin: Pandora comic, Ray Fawkes has questioned whether Pandora even knows she had a hand in creating the New 52 universe.
But there have been signs that the Flashpoint event may not have eliminated every memory of the old universe. Justice League #9 (by Johns) hinted that Batman is aware that things might have been changed with Flashpoint, because he's hanging onto a letter from his alternate universe Dad (from Flashpoint).
And timeline hopping character Booster Gold, who has been apparently "missing from time" since 2012 (aside from a brief stay in Jonah Hex's Old West), is coming back. And it's been hinted in the past that he might realize DC's past doesn't quite align with its current time trajectory.
Now don't read this wrongly — a complete in-earnest return to the former ‘post-Crisis’ universe is very unlikely — after all, some new characters and concepts in the New 52 have caught on and sold well. And DC likely doesn't want to re-age Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman after they worked so hard to make them fresher and younger. And more than one creator has hinted about things coming one, two, three years down the line with their current New 52 characters.
However, we can't help wondering if a 2015 Crisis couldn't possibly bring about a situation where the New 52 still exists, but the missing, beloved concepts of the past do too.
Is that a reach? Perhaps.
Pure speculation at this point? Certainly.
But could DC, through a Crisis, have its cake and eat it too? The original Crisis merged then existing Earths. Perhaps a new Crisis could merge 'post-Crisis' and New 52 continuity? The freshness of the New 52 along with beloved concepts like the Superman-Lois relationship, the Justice Society of America and other staples of DC’s past.
The final — and maybe most convincing — argument for a shake-up of the New 52 in 2015 is the fact that the comics industry could us another "shot in the arm" (the language used in 2011 when DC rebooted its universe last time).
DiDio already admitted in a lengthy discussion with Newsarama earlier this year that he believes the comic industry needs some momentum.
According to DiDio, he and other industry leaders feel like the "excitement" that readers felt in September 2011 (when DC rebooted its universe) has died down.
"When we came out of the gate with the launch of the [New] 52 [in September 2011], we had people buy it, and we held onto them really tight and there was a level of excitement that we hadn't felt in comics for quite awhile," he said. "Quite honestly, we felt, even between ourselves and other companies, it seems like the excitement is quieting down again, across the industry.
"So we feel like it's time to crank it back up again and start to remind people about the big, bold and just craziness that we can bring to comics, that makes our storytelling so unique and exciting," he said. "And from my standpoint, the three weeklies that we're doing — with Batman Eternal, with Futures End and [Earth 2: World's End] — these are all world-building and show really, just the depth and breadth of the DC Universe and all of our characters from all different perspectives. And I think that's what makes it fun."
The current environment in the comics industry — and really, the entire entertainment industry — is filled with relaunches, revamps and reboots. These days, readers encounter restarted numbering and redesigned characters several times a year, not just at major publishing companies like DC and Marvel, but even with other publishers and licensed properties.
In September 2015, four years after the reboot, the "New 52" concept won’t be “new” anymore, and it’s hasn’t been 52 in some time. The term itself inherently had a limited shelf life of relevancy, and maybe … just maybe, that was by design?
Of course, we couldn’t string together so many thoughts like these without running the premise by DC themselves.
We recently asked the published this question directly - "Will the New 52 as a brand and as DC storytelling continuity continue after May-September 2015 and for the indefinite future?"
The publisher declined to respond to the question.
So we can't helping thinking that, in September 2015, the company will probably be in the midst of not only honoring the 30th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths, but launching something big to gain some additional market momentum. And that opens the door for a possible reboot, relaunch, and/or revamping — which in turn leads to the type of speculation that we can't resist.