In Dark Days: The Forge, readers found out that Michael Holt, the hero known as Mister Terrific, has been gathering data from another world for Batman's investigation in the powers of "dark energy."
The issue, written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, is a prequel to DC's summer event series Dark Nights: Metal, which reunites Snyder with his Batman co-creator Greg Capullo. Launching in August, Metal will introduce readers to the "Dark Universe."
The story of The Forge teased concepts that will be more fully explored in Metal, including Batman's ongoing investigation into the immortality offered by the strange "dark" energy he's found in various compounds on Earth.
But the Caped Crusader is also looking into vibrational frequencies across worlds, trying to track the exact dimensional frequency of the dark energy.
And that's where Mister Terrific came into the story.
But how did Michael Holt gather data from another world? And what did he mean about being afraid to cross "back and forth?"
To theorize about this clue from The Forge, It's beneficial to review the New 52 history of Mister Terrific.
Michael Holt was introduced in the New 52 as a genius, billionaire scientist who became a hero after having been widowed.
Early in the New 52 history, Holt was able to use one of his inventions to cross from Prime Earth to the alternate earth known as Earth 2 — using what he called a "quantum tunneler."
He then became involved in the events of Earth 2 — so much so that he wasn't seen on Earth Prime for years. Instead, in the Earth 2 series, Michael Holt became an instrumental part of the storyline that involved the destruction of Earth 2 by the forces of Apokolips.
Just before Earth 2 was destroyed, many of its heroes — and a portion of its citizens — were able to escape on spaceships. That included Mister Terrific.
In fact, as they drifted off into space, Mister Terrific was the hero who held the key to rebuilding the lives of the Earth 2 residents — a "codex" with encoded DNA of every plant, animal and organism on their planet, plus history, culture, language and engineering.
While Terrific and the survivors of Earth 2 were floating in space, the events of Convergence caused a new planet to be created. (It's a long story, but just trust us.) The brand new planet was landed upon by the Earth 2 survivors and became their new home.
However, Mister Terrific's role on this new Earth 2 seemed to end at some point in the transition. Although he was mentioned as being the person who built Earth 2 Dick Grayson's new Batman harness, he wasn't seen again on Earth 2, even as that series continued as Earth 2: Society.
Back and Forth
So in Dark Days: The Forge, when Holt says something about going "back and forth" between universes, it's likely that he's talking about Earth 2 and Earth Prime.
At some point during the recreation of Earth 2, Michael Holt must have utilized another quantum tunneler to travel back to Earth Prime. And now he has the ability to go "back and forth."
Of course, "Earth 2" is not specifically named in The Forge, but all evidence from Michael's history would point in that direction.
In The Forge, Michael also says that Batman's "mystery" has made him "a little queasy about crossing back and forth."
The mystery to which he's referring is the frequency that Holt's been tracking for Batman. He specifically reports to Batman that "the frequency that's being generated across the worlds is growing stronger, but it's not steady at all."
Later in the issue, Batman says that he's trying to find the vibrational frequency of the "dark," and he uses a dangerous tuning-fork to do so. But it's the data Batman received from Mister Terrific — gathered, it seems, during the latter's travels to Earth 2 — that have alerted Batman to this phenomenon (or at least confirmed his suspicions).
And although it's established that Mister Terrific can somehow travel back and forth to Earth 2, the hero specifically says that he "came home for good" this time.
So, until DC has need for Earth 2 again (since, right now, there is no Earth 2 title), it looks like he'll be sticking around on DC's Prime Earth.
And what's his next role on Prime Earth?
Helping Batman release Plastic Man. In Dark Days: The Forge, readers were shown what appeared to be Plastic Man, stuck in an oval shape, seemingly held there by a huge contraption that Batman can control.
"I've already extracted the molecules from his body," Batman said. "We all agreed he was too unstable … that there was no end to what he could do if we weren't careful. But I'm going to need him for what comes next. It's time to let him out of the box."
It's not surprising that Batman is trusting Mister Terrific to help him with both the handling of Plastic Man and his multi-dimensional investigation. It's been established that, as smart as Bruce Wayne is, Michael Holt is the "third smartest man on Earth."
That's a title he held even before his science-focused relaunch in the New 52. The character, who debuted at DC in 1997, has always utilized a genius-level intellect to fight crime, including his signature T-spheres that function as both computers and weapons. He's also pretty strong physically and can use martial arts in a fight, plus it's been established that he's undetectable to modern technology.
He makes an ideal teammate for Batman, whose own intellect and fancy toys help him fight crime. In Dark Days: The Forge, Holt humbly mentions that he has an "IQ of 179." Not too shabby for a superhero, and it's one that will probably make him a central part of Dark Nights: Metal as Batman continues to utilize science (and just maybe a little bit of spooky mysticism) to unleash the Dark Multiverse on the DCU.
What's more, we already know that after Dark Nights: Metal, Mister Terrific will have a team of his own called "The Terrifics," comprised of himself, Phantom Girl, Metamorpho, and Plastic Man, drawing on themes from Marvel's Fantastic Four. The series, announced at SDCC, does not yet have a release date, but will be written by Jeff Lemire with art from Evan "Doc" Shaner.