DC fans were given a slew of answers today — to unresolved story threads that can be traced all the way back to 2012 — and now readers can finally guess what's happening in the presumed April 2015 Crisis-related event that DC's been teasing.
According to this week's release of Superman Doomed #2 and Booster Gold: Futures End #1, which both had huge revelations about what happened in the past and future of the DCU, just about every DC story that's ever been told — no matter what universe it was in — has the potential to be part of DC's upcoming event.
Here are a few concepts made clear by DC's many references to this story, both in this week's issue and in former stories and interviews:
We've seen before that scene in this week's Booster Gold: Futures End #1 where older, A.R.G.U.S. patch-wearing Booster Gold (designated "Patch-Booster" from now on in this article) visits the younger, New 52 Booster.
The first time DC readers were shown the scene was in 2012, during Justice League International Annual #1, written by DC executives Geoff Johns and Dan DiDio. In that issue, an older Booster (wearing that same A.R.G.U.S. patch) seemingly traveled back in time to warn the current-day Booster about something.
At the time, it appeared Patch-Booster was upset about the relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman, because he said something about stopping them.
However, Patch-Booster began to fade away, saying, "No! I thought I had enough time. I made sure. This isn't my fault! It's not my fault this time! I shouldn't have trusted him. I shouldn't have trusted--"
Patch-Booster disappeared. And soon after that, New 52 Booster disappeared as well.
Now, in this week's issue, we see that exact same scene and a similar conversation, only it's… different.
We should note that, during the 2012 version of the scene, Patch-Booster said "Rip's going to follow the chronal disturbance and try to erase this conversation." Apparently, he succeeded… and this scene is a do-over.
What makes us think it's a repeat of the scene? Because at the beginning of the new scene (in the Futures End issue), Patch-Booster says, "I'm back where I left?," implying he's been there before.
He also says during the scene, "I've… seen this. Lived this before! How--?"
Whatever the cause of the scene repeat, the outcome has some differences — for example, Patch-Booster notices he's not from the future after all, but is from a different universe.
However, it's similar too, because both Booster Golds appear to be ripped away from the scene.
Later, when the two of them meet again in the Futures End issue, it looks like New 52 Booster remembers Patch-Booster from this repeated scene, as he says, "You! You were the last person before I--"
Whatever the meaning of this Booster scene repeat, there's something that should excite fans of Booster Gold — the Patch-Booster ends up meeting his sister, who's wearing her classic costume. This, paired with Patch-Booster's reference to Rip Hunter, means we might have just read an issue this week that starred the pre-New 52 Booster Gold.
Everything Old is New
Of course, he's not the only thing that comes from before the New 52 reboot.
In both Superman Doomed #2 and Booster Gold: Futures End #1, it's obvious that the universes that existed before the New 52 reboot are still around somewhere. Not only does Booster Gold visit some of them, but the Superman issue shows a bunch of them apparently being "collected" in shards of some kind.
Universes that were assume destroyed or undone are back, from the Flashpoint universe to the New Teen Titans to the Crisis-era Legion of Super-Heroes and so many more (see our earlier spoiler-filled story for more).
Readers are already getting plenty of world-hopping stories in Grant Morrison's current limited series The Multiversity, which is supposed to be defining the current DC multiverse. Patch-Booster specifically calls out an Earth designated as "Earth 4" in the Booster Gold issue, which contains the former Charlton Comics heroes (designated as Earth-Four during Crisis on Infinite Earths). But Morrison has already confirmed that he's using the Charlton Earth in Multiversity as well, and he's using some of the other Earths teased in this week's issues, like the Nazi-dominated superhero Earth and the one with Vampire Batman.
But there are more Earths seen in this week's issues than Morrison has even implied — most exciting for DC fans, there are more pre-New 52 Earths (they still exist out there!).
And the images in Superman Doomed #2 and Booster included characters that are not only from pre-New 52 worlds, but seem to even include characters from pre-Crisis worlds and alternate timelines, like Flashpoint. So it's looking like there are a lot of other worlds out there, beyond the ones Morrison is mapping and fleshing out.
So the question we're left asking is, are all these worlds part of DC's 52 Multiverse worlds, perhaps occupying a few of the unnamed and empty worlds that Morrison left marked with only a "?" in his Multiverse map?
Or is DC creating some type of new "infinite" number of Earths again?
The other key thing to notice in this week's issues is that Brainiac is surely behind all of this.
However, it's not Vril Dox, the Brainiac of the New 52.
First off, in Superman Doomed #2, Vril Dox is "acquired" and "collected" by a mechanical-voiced entity — one that has the exact same font as the entity that attacked Stormwatch in Futures End #1.
We already know, from Futures End, that the Stormwatch attack is linked to Brainiac. So the collection of Vril Dox is almost certainly the same Brainiac who's making trouble in Futures End.
But which Brainiac? The language of "collecting" sounds a lot like classic Brainiac.
Second reference to Brainiac happened this week when Booster's sister talks about not being able to leave the city of Metropolis, which sounds a lot like his habit of collecting bottled cities.
And then there's that obvious Brainiac-related voice that is torturing New 52 Booster Gold, and his Brainiac-looking robots, at the end of this week's Booster Gold issue. Obviously, Brainiac's looking for Vanishing Point, and it looks like he's going to get there — which means he could wreak havoc on the entire Multiverse.
Ever since the weekly The New 52: Futures End began in May, readers have been given hints that the event involved not only Brother Eye — who takes over the future in 35 years — but also Brainiac.
Could the classic Brainiac, or a similar Brainiac from another Earth, be the one who causes the Crisis that's expected in April? Could the revelation at the end of Booster Gold, when New 52 Booster promises to take him to Vanishing Point, be the key to the upcoming Crisis?
In the aforementioned Justice League International Annual #1 from 2012, Brother Eye mentions that he has a "new programmer," and it's not Batman. DC fans have been guessing about who the new programmer could be ever since then. Might classic Brainiac also be the one behind Brother Eye's domination of Earth in the 35-years-in-the-future storyline in Futures End?
Those aren't the only questions that come to mind after connecting all these clues. For example, in the 2012 JLI Annual, Patch-Booster says he shouldn't have trusted "him." So…. who shouldn't he have trusted? Could it be Vril Dox?
How does this related to the story being told in Morrison's Multiversity, or the bomb that got dropped here on Newsarama about Justice League 3000 being on an alternate Earth that's similar to the pre-New 52 one?
And what does any of this have to do with Superman and Wonder Woman, whose kiss seemed to be the key to the whole thing when that JLI Annual was published?
The answers to those questions may have to wait until April 2015. We've already been analyzing all the clues DC has been giving in interviews lately about April 2015 being a possible kick-off date for a new Crisis to mark the 30th anniversary of 1985's Crisis on Infinite Earths.
But this week's revelation that all the pre-New 52 universes and timelines and Elseworlds stories could possibly still exist out there — and that a classic version of Brainiac is "collecting" and probably able to jump across the Multiverse — means DC has opened the door for a new Crisis involving an infinite number of story possibilities.