When DC launched it's "Rebirth" initiative in 2016, creators indicated that the mysteries introduced in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 would be answered over a two-year, line-encompassing story.
Two years later, several of those mysteries have indeed been addressed. But there are still a lot of questions.
With Dark Nights: Metal finished and Doomsday Clock a few issues in, Newsarama explores the answers we've gotten so far for the questions raised by DC Universe: Rebirth #1, and what mysteries still remain.
What was hinted: During the 2016 "Darkseid War" storyline in Justice League, Batman sat in the Mobius Chair and learned the secret identity of the Joker. Readers never learned a name, but Batman revealed that he was shocked to find out there are three Jokers.
Later images investigated by Batman showed Jokers from three different eras of DC continuity.
What we've learned since: This weekend's C2E2 was the first whisper of a hint. Fans were told that artist Jason Fabok is drawing pages for it, and DC executive and superstar writer Geoff Johns is drawing it.
So it's not going to be in Doomsday Clock (unless DC are going back on plans for Gary Frank to be the sole artist for that book), and Johns is writing something already that will tie up this loose end.
But in-story? There hasn't been any indication since "Rebirth" began that there are indeed three Jokers. In fact, the appearances by the Joker since "Rebirth" are:
- Joker was part of a flashback story in Batman titled "The War of Jokes and Riddles." But since it took place some time ago, it doesn't seem to be relevant.
- A prequel to Dark Nights: Metal revealed that Joker was locked in a secret part of the Batcave. He was full of knowledge about the properties of metal and the story of the beast Barbatos. Why was Joker locked in the Batcave? We're still not sure, so that might have something to do with his search for the three Jokers. It was never really explained how the amnesiac Joker (from the aftermath of "Endgame") got his memories back and became locked in the Batcave.
- In the final issue of Dark Nights: Metal, the Joker helped Batman defeat one of Barbatos' servants, the Batman Who Laughs. This surprise appearance also didn't have a lot of lead-up to it, but there was still no indication of there being three Jokers.
What's Next?: The Joker is part of the next storyline in Batman, and he's going to break up the party for the wedding between Batman and Catwoman.
However, the C2E2 announcement was the best hint so far about what comes next. Johns is obviously writing something that will specifically address this mystery.
Justice Society of America
What was hinted: An appearance by JSA member Johnny Thunder in the May 2016 DC Universe: Rebirth #1 hinted that the team could return. The JSA had previously been eliminated from continuity when DC rebooted its universe as the "New 52" in 2011.
In the Rebirth issue, Johnny was trying to summon Thunderbolt, his super-powerful genie. As Wally West tried to communicate with Johnny, he implied that the Justice Society could return if Johnny could reach them. And Wally described the JSA as a covert team of mystery ,en that helped end World War II -a continuity that hasn't been in place for years.
What we've learned since: So far, the team is still missing in action.
Johnny showed up again briefly (in April 2017's The Flash #21) during DC's "The Button" crossover, still stuck in a retirement home and unable to summon Thunderbolt.
Readers got another hint a couple weeks later, when JSA founder Jay Garrick appeared in The Flash #22. He was searching for some type of tether so he could return to the DCU (much like Wally West used Barry as a tether to return in DC Universe: Rebirth #1). But Barry was apparently not Jay Garrick's tether, and the elder Flash disappeared.
What's Next?: Doomsday Clock writer Geoff Johns wrote the JSA for years, so it's expected that his mini-series will bring the team back. Plus, Jay's presence in "The Button" implied a link to Dr. Manhattan.
There's also a chance that the mention of Johnny Thunder's great-grandson in these stories will lead to the introduction of the JSA legacy character and teenager Jakeem Thunder.
Legion of Super-Heroes
What was hinted: In DC Universe: Rebirth #1, Saturn Girl from the Legion of Super-Heroes (the team from the future of the DCU) was in the present. After an encounter with the police, she ended up being committed to Arkham Asylum as a "Jane Doe."
The Legion hasn't been seen in years, so this hinted a possibly significant return.
What we've learned since: Saturn Girl spent a long time since in Arkham Asylum (as confirmed in 2017 stories in Batman and "The Button").
But that changed at the end of March's Doomsday Clock #4, which Saturn Girl was shown contacting the new Rorshach. She knows his true identity and that he's not from the DCU but from the Watchmen universe.
She told Rorshach that they "need to get out of here before it's too late" because she "won't be around for much longer." And the end of the issue indicated that the two escaped from Arkham together.
What's Next?: Saturn Girl obviously knows something about the future. Her statement that she won't be there much longer indicates she's either: A) Going back to the future where the Legion exists, or B) Is fading away because the future is changing. Either way, she appears to be on a mission to stop something bad from happening. And now that she's made a move with Rorscach, her mission is connected to Dr. Manhattan.
Will Legion fans get a return of the team's stories to regular publication? That's not apparent yet. But at the very least, one Legion member is making a difference in the present-day DCU and possibly saving it from disaster under the zapping hand of Dr. Manhattan.
What was hinted: DC Universe: Rebirth #1 showed Ray Palmer sending a message to his assistant Ryan Choi, asking him to save him from the Microverse.
What we've learned since: Choi and the JLA found Ray in the Microverse, where he succeeded in reversing some of the negative effects of a giant blue hand (presumedly Dr. Manhattan's) "punching a hole" into the universe. At the end of the story, Ray decided to stay in the Microverse and Batman gave him a secret mission.
What's Next?: Ray just showed up again in Justice League of America. Now that he's back in the DCU, he'll probably play a part in not only Justice League: No Justice, but Doomsday Clock as well.
Superman and Mr. Oz
What was hinted: In DC Universe: Rebirth #1, a mysterious and powerful man who called himself "Mr. Oz" told the post-Crisis Superman that he and his family were not what they believed they were.
What we've learned since: In 2017, it was revealed that someone (probably Dr. Manhattan) effectively split Superman in two at some point (around the start of the "New 52"), causing him to live two distinct lives - one as the "New 52" Superman and the other as the post-Crisis version. Lois Lane was similarly split.
In "Superman Reborn," the characters' two lives were put back together, creating one new version of Superman and one new Lois Lane, as well as a new continuity (and son) to go with them.
Mr. Oz revealed that he was Jor-El, transported away from the planet Krypton a split second before it was destroyed. Whoever transported him (presumably Dr. Manhattan) tortured him and made him believe Earth was a terrible place. He tried to convince Superman and family to leave Earth, but that failed.
The character imprisoned and killed Superman villains like Doomsday, Mxyzptlk and Metallo to help his son. But Oz claimed he didn't make the decision to imprison other characters (such as Tim Drake), saying that someone else called the shots on those kidnappings. (Apparently, Tim's imprisonment was ordered by Dr. Manhattan, although it's still not clear why).
The last we saw Oz, he was transported away through a portal, presumably (again) by Dr. Manhattan.
Superman recently traveled through time (with Booster Gold) and found out that Oz was telling the truth. He was, indeed, Jor-El.
What's Next?: There are still a lot of questions about the motivation behind these actions. Why was Superman split into two? What was Dr. Manhattan doing with Tim Drake? And for that matter, what was he doing with Jor-El, and what could he be doing with him now? It's possible that Doomsday Clock or its aftermath will address these questions.
What was hinted: In DC Universe: Rebirth #1, Wally said that someone had "infected" the DCU for a "long time." He said "someone outside of time watched [Flashpoint] happen. And when history was coming back together, they attacked … [and] stole ten years from us." The book indicated that Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen was behind the "New 52."
What we've learned since: Several Watchmen characters have followed the energy signature of Dr. Manhattan to the DCU, and there have been further indications in several DC series that he messed with the timeline and killed even more DC characters.
And somehow, The Comedian (who died at the beginning of Watchmen) is not only alive, but he's been in the DCU for some time as well.
What's Next?: Doomsday Clock will tell the story of Dr. Manhattan's trip to the DCU, the extent of his manipulation of things, and what happens next - including a promised battle between Superman and Dr. Manhattan.
Jason and Darkseid
What was hinted: The end of "Darkseid War" in Justice League indicated that Wonder Woman has a twin brother, and his name is Jason. DC Universe: Rebirth #1 also emphasized that Darkseid, who died, returned as a baby and was being cared for by Darkseid's half-Amazon daughter Grail.
What we've learned since: Grail started killing the offspring of Zeus (which includes Wonder Woman and Jason) to give their power to baby Darkseid so he could grow up. Eventually, Grail and Darkseid took down Zeus himself, and Darkseid gained enough power to be his usual, adult, B.A. self.
During those battles and some since, Wonder Woman not only met Jason, but she fought against him, then beside him. The two are now allies, but there are still some mysteries behind his powers and his new armor.
What's Next?: We'll learn more about Jason's powers and the armor (which he mysteriously obtained recently) in upcoming issues of Wonder Woman, which will also continue the story of Grail and Darkseid's schemes.