Although there are always hero-villain fights and team-up skirmishes in superhero comics, the wars being teased by DC these days are more like universe-altering and world-ending catastrophes.
In recent months, DC has been dropping hints about so many wars and invasions that it's becoming difficult to remember who's invading where — and when.
Between stories set 35 years in the future, to the weekly set five years in the future, to the dozens of alternate timelines revealed during September's Futures End event, the cliche that "no one is safe" should be amended in DC's case to say "no one, no where and no 'when' is safe," at least not from the company's upcoming wars.
That said, to be fair, we saw a few wars teased in the September Futures End titles that don't seem to be making it past that point. For example, Charles Soule's issues of Wonder Woman: Futures End and Superman/Wonder Woman: Futures End, which were both set five years in the future, talked about a "Pantheon War," fought between the heroes of Earth and the gods of many pantheons, including the Avatars from Swamp Thing. But that war may just be a Soule-driven idea contained in two issues only, and the writer's moving on to a Marvel exclusive contract. So we'll probably never hear of that war again, unless another writer or the books' editors decide to pick up that little nugget.
However, there are four major and oft-referenced wars coming up in DC's future that appear to have major consequences, and to keep them straight, we examine where, when, who and what is at war:
Why it's big: Geoff Johns. Darkseid. Anti-Monitor. Universe-eating. Need we say more?
Expected Release Date: Johns said last month that the war will take place in his monthly Justice League title "next year." The writer (and DC chief creative officer) said the Darkseid War will be a "massive storyline."
Who's At War: The Anti-Monitor versus Darkseid with the Justice League caught in between.
Where: We presume this takes place on the main DCU Earth, but with the way characters are hopping around the Multiverse these days, it's possible it's elsewhere.
When: The appears to be taking place in the present-day of the DCU. Johns says Darkseid War will be "kind of the end cap to the first big chapter of the New 52 Justice League..." "...as we take it into the next era, and we'll see more of the Crime Syndicate and other returning members."
War of the Worlds
Why it's big: First off, we have to say that we don't even know right now if this war is actually going to take place. We've seen a "potential" future of the DCU, five years from now, when the war has already ended.
Will it still happen? How will it happen? Will heroes still die?
According to Futures End, if the war takes place the way it's been teased, then Earth 2 will be destroyed (which kind of sucks for fans of the Earth 2 monthly). Plus, we've been told that many heroes from the main DCU earth will die, and Darkseid scars the earth.
Expected Release Date: If the war happens, it will take place within the next five years — probably in 2015. Because it spins out of the destruction of Earth 2, the war's probability hinges on the outcome of the current Earth 2: World's End weekly, which centers on the battle to save Earth 2 from Darkseid.
Who's At War: Darkseid and heroes from two alternate earths. After Darkseid destroys Earth 2 (in the "potential" five years later story), the heroes of Earth 2 escape to the main DC Earth. There, the heroes from both worlds unite to fight against Darksed.
Where: On the main DCU Earth, although we assume this fight crosses into Apokolips and possibly into the remnants of Earth 2 - this could be a big one.
When: If and when it finally happens, this will apparently take place in the present-day of the DCU.
Why it's big: Although DC hasn't confirmed anything yet, early indications are that this Brainiac war is related to the "Blood Moon" teases we've been seeing for April and May 2014.
And from what we were shown in September, it's going to involve the pre-Flashpoint characters.
It might even — we're guessing, we admit — but it might even bring a few of those pre-Flashpoint characters back into the New 52 universe. Bonus!
Expected Release Date: The Brainiac invasion is happening currently in the weekly series, The New 52: Futures End, as a BIG, unidentified version of Brainiac is heading toward Earth. All indications are that the trouble will also spin into a story after the weekly concludes, when an expected "Blood Moon" event begins in April 2015.
Who's At War: The main protagonist is some humongous form of Brainiac that travels on a gigantic, planet-sized spaceship he calls Blood Moon. But the "Blood Moon" event could, if teases are to be believed, involve characters from all over the Multiverse, and from different timelines and eras of the DCU.
Where: Our guess? Everywhere. Recent teasers have shown the Big Brainiac specifically attacking the DCU Earth, walking among ruined skyscrapers five years from now. But other hints have shown him traveling to or accessing several other places, timelines, earths — including the pre-Flashpoint earth (Crisis on Infinite Earths era, to be specific) and other parts of the Multiverse.
When: OK, this is the tough one. In Booster Gold: Futures End, which takes place in a "potential" timeline five years from now, a voice associated with this giant Brainiac forced Booster Gold to give him the location of Vanishing Point.
Past DC references to Vanishing Point have described it as a location from which the entire timestream can be accessed. From that point, according to Booster, someone could create "chaos."
Dan Jurgens told Newsarama that his Booster Gold issue, where Brainiac learns the location of Vanishing Point, probably "takes place both before and after" the appearance of Big Brainiac in Futures End. That sounds like Big Brainiac is able to travel between timelines.
So… if we had to say when the Blood Moon war takes place, we'd have to guess, everywhen.
Brother Eye War
Why it's big: It's the central conflict in the Futures End weekly. Thirty-five years in the future, Brother Eye has taken over the world, turning all the DC superheroes into his evil, robotic minions. Now, he's setting his sights on the past — specifically the five-years-in-the-future time period, because he wants to follow Batman Beyond (who recently jumped back in time to that era).
Expected Release Date: As mentioned above, this takes place five years in the future and 35 years in the future. It seems to be housed only in the Futures End weekly, but could spill into others, and might even have something to do with the aforementioned "Blood Moon," since that event spills out of the weeklies.
Who's Attacking: The Brother Eye satellite, who was created by Batman and Mister Terrific. (However, Brother Eye has mentioned in the past that he had a "new programmer," so the big bad may be someone we haven't seen yet - or someone we have; could Brainiac be tied to this, too?)
Where: Although Brother Eye is surely aware of other earths in the Multiverse, it looks like he's focused on the main DCU Earth.
When: If the heroes from five years in the future can prevent Brother Eye from becoming so powerful, they might be able to stop the satellite from taking over the world.
However…even if they do that, there have been indications that Brother Eye in the present of the DCU is bad news as well, having already mentioned that he has a "new programmer."