Although the DC Universe might be taking a break from its regularly scheduled programming during Convergence, this week saw the release of several issues that not only featured major plot points and conclusions, but set up stories that are launching in June.
With the concurrent release of Convergence #4, Batman #40, Justice League #40, The Multiversity #2 and Superman #40, DC has simultaneously ended the old — and kicked open several doors to the new.
From a threat to Superman's secret identity, to the set-up for "Darkseid War," this week's issues were filled with surprising developments.
For spoilers on Batman #40 (and why it's the "Endgame" for a couple major characters), readers can check out our interview with the Batman creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.
But for a summary of the rest of today's game-changing issues, read on...
Spoilers ahead for Convergence #4, Batman #40, Justice League #40, The Multiversity #2 and Superman #40.
Last issue, the Batman of Earth 2, Thomas Wayne, was killed and Dick Grayson was shot. As the heir apparent for Earth 2 Batman (there is supposed to be a new Earth 2 Batman come June), Dick Grayson survives.
Telos, the sentient planet created by Brainiac, insists to Dick Grayson that he can't help it that millions are dying in Convergence, in the battles he's forced them to fight — yet he does seem to be playing favorites as he helps Dick Grason. Despite the fact that Dick's spine was shattered by the bullet in Convergence #3, Telos gives him a "coating" of liquid-metal-type-stuff, and it not only allows him to continue moving, but it gives him super-strength.
Meanwhile, as we saw last issue, the rest of the Earth 2 heroes are underground in Skartaris, and they begin to realize that maybe Deimos — the guy who said he could help them stop Telos — isn't actually a good guy.
As the Earth 2 heroes are attacked, Deimos goes into the castle and begins trying to grab the power from a group of time travelers that have been imprisoned inside. (It's also worth noting that this same prison was featured in this week's Convergence: Booster Gold #1).
The Earth 2 heroes catch up to him, and Deimos tells them something that's pretty cool for long-time fans — he says the Earth 2 heroes are at the center of Convergence because they are "the original heroes reborn," referring to them being revamps of DC's Golden Age heroes. "The first, and now the last," he says.
Next, Telos shows up in Skartaris with Dick Grayson in tow — told you he's playing favorites — but he discovers that Deimos has used the power he stole from the time travelers to open some sort of portal to where Brainiac is imprisoned. (For those who didn't read The New 52: Futures End, Brainiac was shrunk by the Atom and trapped in a device that was sort of like Mr. Terrific's T-spheres.)
Brainiac says to Deimos, "What do you want? Free me and you shall have it." And the final page teases "The Return." So… next week, it looks like Brainiac's back.
Justice League #40
The issue is a precursor to the "Darkseid War" event that's been brewing ever since the end of last year's Forever Evil. (And if you don't remember what that means, you might want to check out our primer on what we know about "Darkseid War" so far.)
Narrated by Metron as he sits in his Mobius chair, this issue of Justice League weaves together several tales. First, Metron tells how Highfather exchanged his son Scot for Darkseid's son Orion, all in the name of keeping peace between their two worlds.
Then Metron tells about the Crisis on Infinite Earths that almost destroyed the universe, and some other events that all tore at the fabric of reality — the Zero Hour, Infinite Crisis and finally Flashpoint (with some gorgeous, guest-star-drawn artwork that makes this issue not only nostalgic, but beautiful).
Finally Metron gets to the present, and he's on Earth 3, which the Anti-Monitor has just destroyed (see Forever Evil).
But we find out the Anti-Monitor has a name: Mobius.
So… the Anti-Monitor once sat in the Mobius chair and, apparently, observed the universe as a "witness." But his role has changed, and he's now a "destroyer" — as some sort of penance and "damnation."
Metron warns Mobius to stop consuming worlds, saying that the current reality — the New 52 — cannot survive another Crisis. He claims that the current Multiverse is already cracking apart (and we see a panel of Convergence). But Mobius says he's not going to destroy reality this time. And he claims that Convergence won't end with Brainiac ruling the universe, because Brainiac isn't as bad-ass as Mobius. (Well, maybe he didn't use that exact language, but something like that.)
Mobius says his actual goal is to get out of his damnation, and the key to it is killing Darkseid. "The age of the New Gods is about to end, and the age of the Anti-God will begin," he says.
Then on the final page, we see a hooded figure that is none other than Darkseid's daughter. She stands over Metron, who's fallen out of his chair and looks bloodied. And Darkseid's daughter agrees with Mobius that her father must die.
The Multiversity #2
First, it's important to remember that The Multiversity is Grant Morrison's world-hopping masterpiece, and a list of mere plot points from its conclusion are going to be insignificant to capture the mind-trip on which the writer has been taking readers. (It also fails to capture the dozens of fun moments that come in a story about multiple versions of beloved DC heroes coming together.)
So now that we admit the insignificance of a summary, we'll nonetheless give it a try: Nix Uotan is fought by heroes from a slew of different Earths in the DC Multiverse, and the Flashes get their day — just like they do in every Crisis. Somehow, their heroism succeeds in breaking through to Uotan, but the Gentry aren't done being nasty.
After the heroes begin to handle the Gentry, we get to meet the big bad who's controlling the Gentry. This powerful villain says that the heroes are no threat to him, and although they will meet again. it will be at a time and place of his choosing. So he teleports the heroes away.
The heroes claim victory. And in a wonderful "see-how-I-brought-it-back-around" way, Morrison shows readers that Nix Uotan of Earth 0 is back where we saw him in the first issue, just a normal dude paying his rent.
So… there's two things we can take away from the way this fantastic romp around the DC Multiverse ended. Either the all-controlling villain we just met is returning someday with an Ultimate Crisis that will potentially destroy the universe. Or the open-ended nature of the issue is just meant to pay homage to the never-ending nature of comic books and superhero stories.
We suspect it's the latter…
… for now, anyway.
Compared to the other issues we're discussing here, Superman #40 is less about moving forward any huge plotline (at least until the end), and more about exploring Superman as a character.
Now that Superman has a "Super Flare" power, he also has this day-long recovery period where he's basically just like a human being. His powers come back slowly after he uses the Super Flare, and as he's recovering, he gets stronger and stronger, but he's not invulnerable.
In this issue, writer/artist John Romita Jr. has all kinds of fun with the idea of Superman being vulnerable — from having the Justice League see how hard they can hit him, to putting Clark into a bar where he gets drunk with his fellow superheroes.
The issue is all in good fun, but the truth is that Superman is discovering some of the problems that come from being vulnerable — not only can he get a hangover, but he's unable to save the world so easily. "I've felt pain before," he says in one caption box, as he fights a handful of bad guys, "but not like this. This is different."
The ending, although it's subtle, appears to be the key to the upcoming "Truth" crossover. At the end of Superman #40, Lois Lane is in the newsroom, looking at a television news report that has a close-up of a bloodied face of Superman. Then she notices Clark Kent walking by, wearing a bandage in the same spot on his head where Superman was cut.
"Clark?" she says, her face showing recognition.
Lois Lane seems to have figured out that Superman's secret identity is Clark Kent.
There have been indications (and straight-up spoilers) that Clark Kent's secret identity lies at the center of Superman' s June storyline by Romita and writer Gene Luan Yang — a story that crosses over into other Superman titles this summer. Solicitation text and cover art indicates that the public learns a "secret" about Superman.
Jimmy Olsen learned Superman's secret identity a couple months ago, and now Lois Lane appears to have figured it out as well. Will Superman's secret identity be exposed to the public?