In 2014, the DCU saw plenty of turmoil, from the potential demise of Earth 2 to the new threat to Superman from a morphed version of Doomsday.
There were plenty of other twists and turns in the DCU — like the long list of New Gods who battled earthly heroes, and the powerful new nemeses who tussled with Wonder Woman.
In DC's weeklies, Hush manipulated Gotham City (just like in the good old days), and Catwoman became the leader of a crime family, while Brother Eye destroyed the future and a war turned earths against each other in five years.
The list goes on and on, and will probably grow exponentially in 2015, as the DCU prepares for some expected seismic shifts in the middle of the year.
But looking back at 2014, a few events emerge as the most important, particularly knowing what we now know about what's coming next. So without further ado, we bring you the Five Most Important 2014 Events in the New 52.
5.) Anti-Monitor Revealed
DC readers are getting plenty of alternate earth stories these days, but in 2014, fans learned in Forever Evil that one of the Multiverse's alternate earths had been destroyed. And after the Crime Syndicate escaped the destruction of their Earth 3 home, they wreaked havoc on the main DC earth.
But what destroyed Earth 3?
In May, Forever Evil #7 finally revealed who was behind the alternate earth's demise — a power-hungry, New 52 version of the Anti-Monitor.
In pre-New 52 continuity, the Anti-Monitor was the world-consuming villain behind the legendary 1985 mini-series Crisis on Infinite Earths, which reset continuity and eliminated the multiverse.
Now that the Anti-Monitor has consumed Earth 3, the villain is shown with someone off-panel who says, "You have consumed all the power you can from this universe. But I will find you another universe to consume, Anti-Monitor."
With the Anti-Monitor now confirmed as part of the New 52 universe — and with him hungry for more universes to consume and battle — the villain's appearance sets the stage for a major showdown with the main DCU earth.
That clash will also involve a battle between the Anti-Monitor and Darkseid, as the final words uttered in Forever Evil #7 had the Anti-Monitor saying, "Darkseid will be mine!"
Soon after the Anti-Monitor's appearance, Forever Evil and Justice League scribe Geoff Johns revealed that the story thread will be picked up in an event titled "Darkseid War," which is coming in 2015.
So the return of the Anti-Monitor not only set up the next big story in Justice League, but the revelation that his confrontation with the main DCU Earth isn't coming until after DC's Convergence event is one of the first indications that the New 52 universe isn't heading toward a reboot.
4.) Wally West Returns
In a storyline that started in April and continued all the way into the fall, readers got to know a new character in the New 52 universe — Wally West.
But this version of Wally was different from his pre-Flashpoint incarnation, as he not only disliked the Flash, but was revealed to be marked for death in only a few years.
Yet the new Wally's story arc did echo the character's former importance in the Flash universe. By the time the story finished up, a future version of Wally West ends up not only becoming a speedster, but sacrificing himself to save Barry Allen, the Speed Force and the universe.
The story's finale also revealed that the current Wally isn't necessarily going to die in a few years — a concept that issue #35 solidified with the line: "Good thing the future isn't a forgone conclusion!"
While there were a few other pre-New 52 characters introduced in new ways in 2014 (including a recent addition named Donna Troy), with Wally's future destined to be connected to the Flash universe, and with Barry Allen already learning life-lessons from the youth, Wally West's introduction not only gave the Flash universe some needed depth, but gave new life to an oft-requested, fan-favorite character with a lot of potential.
3.) Lex Luthor Turns Hero
After villains took over the entire earth, it wasn't Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman who saved humanity. It was Lex Luthor.
Uniting with a few anti-heroes and bad-guys-turned-good, Lex Luthor saved the world from the ravages of the Crime Syndicate and their evil followers. He devised a way to kill Alexander Luthor, his evil doppleganger from Earth 3. He squashed the shrunken Atomica like a bug. And Lex also defeated the seemingly indestructible Ultraman.
The stint as doing good sticks with Lex, and after he figures out that Batman is Bruce Wayne — and now that the whole world looks up to him as a hero — he strikes a deal with the Caped Crusader to get into the League's confidence.
While the spotlight on Lex has added another dimension to the well-known character, particularly as we've gotten to know his relationship with his sister Lena, Lex's decision to turn over a new leaf also ended up changing the highest-profile team of the DCU.
2.) Damian and Joker Re-enter Batman's Life
Bruce Wayne got more than one huge surprise at the end of 2014.
In October's Batman #35, Bruce Wayne was attacked by most of the Justice League, but it was revealed that the battle was the result of a twisted return appearance by Batman's arch-nemesis, the Joker. A month later, Batman learned that the villain had been right under his Bat-nose for quite awhile.
Eric Border, the Arkham Asylum orderly who first appeared in 2013's Batman Annual, had been an ally to Batman and had a regular gig in Arkham Manor and appearances in Batman: Joker's Daughter and Batman Eternal. But it turns out that Eric is actually the Joker.
The Joker has a new face (after having his old face cut away in a former New 52 storyline, and creepily wearing it loosely across his face). He's also got a brutal thirst for revenge this time around, and, as he's reappeared to Batman in 2014, he's wearing black and knows Bruce by name.
But that dark return in Batman's life has been counteracted in December's Batman and Robin #37 and Robin Rises: Alpha #1, as Bruce Wayne's son, Damian Wayne, was resurrected.
The story of Damian's return kicked off in July, with Bruce Wayne determined to bring his son back to life after he was killed in February 2013. For years now, the Caped Crusader has been without a Robin, and devastated by the loss of his son.
After a story that saw most of the Bat-family traveling all the way to Apokolips to rescue Damian, the child came back to life, giving his Bat-dad a huge hug, as characters watched with tears in their eyes.
The science/magic that brought Damian back was linked to the Chaos Shard and Omega Beam energy from Apokolips. And as a result, Damian Wayne now has superpowers. As the story concluded, the Boy Wonder demonstrated his powers by attacked an invader in the Batcave — throwing everything at him from the giant Penny to the Batmobile.
As Batman and Robin creator Peter Tomasi has said more than once, Batman needs a Robin. And the return of Damian marks not only the restoration of Robin as Batman's sidekick, but also the return of Bruce Wayne's beloved son.
1.) Booster Finds the Pre-Flashpoint DCU
In Booster Gold: Futures End #1, it was revealed that the universes from before the New 52 reboot were still around somewhere. Not only does Booster Gold visit some of them, but the Futures End issues reveals that Booster will be forced into helping a villain collect them by utilizing DC's timestream.
The images in the Booster Gold issue (and this last page from Superman: Doomed #2) included characters that are not only from pre-New 52 worlds, but seem to even include characters from alternate timelines and the future. While readers were led to believe that timeline no longer existed, because of Flashpoint, it turns out that, somewhere out there, the pre-New 52 folks are still living their lives.
It's since been revealed that the Booster Gold issue was leading up to the 2015 event Convergence, which takes place in April and May, but looking back at 2014, that moment in DC history — when Booster discovered the pre-Flashpoint characters and concepts — opened the door for an infinite number of story possibilities that are still on the horizon for DC fans.