Now that DC’s "Rebirth" initiative is a little over two years old, how many of the mysteries introduced in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 have been answered over the promised two-year, line-encompassing story?
With Doomsday Clock about halfway done and several updates announced and clarified over the last few months, Newsarama explores the answers we've gotten so far for the questions raised by theRebirth special — and what mysteries still remain.
What was hinted: During the 2016 "Darkseid War" storyline in Justice League, Batman sat in the Mobius Chair and asked the all-knowing chair what the secret identity of the Joker was. Readers never heard a name, but Batman was surprised 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: writer Geoff Johns is working with artist Jason Fabok on a Three Jokers series for DC Black Label that will explain the mystery.
At Comic Con International: San Diego, Johns described the book as being about the scars the Joker has inflicted on Bruce Wayne (Batman), Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), and Jason Todd (Red Hood). The writer said the story “will explore a new facet of who Bruce Wayne is that's never been seen in comics” and will change forever the relationship between the Joker and Batman.
"It's not about other dimensions, or other Earths,” Johns said, shooting down the most obvious guesses about how there could be three Jokers. “It's a very grounded, emotional story.”
In-story, there hasn't been much indication that there are three Jokers, although the character is now appearing in Johns’ set-in-the-future mini-series Doomsday Clock while also appearing in Justice League as part of the Legion of Doom.
What's Next?: Since the entire DCU appears to be waiting for Johns’ series to answer this question, it looks like we’ll have to wait for this promised book to be solicited (and released) before we will understand this mystery.
Justice Society of America
What was hinted: The May 2016 DC Universe: Rebirth #1 featured an appearance by JSA member Johnny Thunder, hinting that the team could return (after having been eliminated from continuity when DC rebooted its universe in 2011).
In the Rebirth issue, the elderly Johnny was trying to summon his powerful genie, Thunderbolt. As Wally West tried to communicate with Johnny, he implied that the Justice Society could return if Johnny could just somehow reach them. Wally also described the JSA as a covert team of Mystery Men that helped end World War II - a continuity that hasn't been in place for since before the 2011 reboot.
What we've learned since: In May’s Doomsday Clock #5, Johnny Thunder saw a news report on TV that made him think Alan Scott’s Green Lantern might be somewhere on Earth. (Alan Scott was the Golden Age version of the Green Lantern from DC’s previous continuity, and he was a founding member of the JSA.)
Johnny left his nursing home, and through a turn of events, he ended up in the same place as Rorschach (of Watchmen fame, but a new version) and Saturn Girl (of the Legion of Super-Heroes — more on her later).
And Johnny was right. Alan Scott’s Green Lantern is on the DCU Earth, and at the end of Doomsday Clock #5, Rorschach was holding it.
Previously in the DCU, another JSA founder, The Golden Age Flash 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 Rebirth #1). However, Jay was unable to return and is, presumably, still trying.
In more recent issues of The Flash, Wally West has started to remember his life from before the reboot, and another long-missing Flash, Bart Allen, has returned to the DCU.
What’s Next?:Doomsday Clock #6 concentrated on a couple other characters, leaving readers hanging on what will happen next with the Lantern.
Saturn Girl (who’s from the future) seems to know about the location of Alan’s lantern, so there’s a good chance she’ll know how to help Johnny summon the Justice League in future issues of Doomsday Clock. Perhaps Alan’s lantern is the tether the team needs?
Legion of Super-Heroes
What was hinted: In the Rebirth one-shot, Saturn Girl was in the present. After an encounter with the police, she ended up being committed to Arkham Asylum as a "Jane Doe." Her appearance hinted that the Legion would return. (The end of the team’s last series during the "New 52" left the door open for a different version of the team to emerge in the “Rebirth” DCU.)
What we've learned since: Saturn Girl spent a long time in Arkham Asylum before breaking out with the new Rorschach in Doomsday Clock #4. She knows his true identity and that he's not from the DCU but from the Watchmen universe.
She told Rorshach that she "won't be around for much longer,” so they need to escape “before it's too late.” She then took him to the aforementioned spot where Johnny Thunder discovered Alan Scott’s Green Lantern.
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 it looks like her mission is connected to the JSA, and because she has Rorschach with her, it’s probably also connected to Dr. Manhattan.
Although the story is building toward a return of the JSA, there’s no indication that the Legion will return. But at the very least, one Legion member is making a difference in the present-day DCU and possibly saving it from the destructive manipulation of Dr. Manhattan.
What was hinted: The Rebirth issue showed Ray Palmer sending a message to his assistant Ryan Choi, asking him to save him from the Microverse.
What we've learned since: This mystery has been resolved.
Choi and the JLA found Ray in the Microverse, and they reversed some of the negative micro-effects of Dr. Manhattan's manipulation (although characters still don’t know what the giant blue hand is that’s doing all this).
What's Next?: After being firmly established as part of the “Rebirth” DCU, Ray Palmer’s going to be featured next in upcoming issues of Hawkman.
Superman and Mr. Oz
What was hinted: In Rebirth, 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: This mystery has been mostly resolved.
Superman had been split 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 combined, as well as their continuities.
Mr. Oz is actually Jor-El, transported away from the planet Krypton a split second before it was destroyed. He was presumably grabbed by Dr. Manhattan, who tortured Jor-El and convinced that Earth was a bad place.
Jor-El recently took Jonathan and Lois Lane on a trip around the universe (although the recent return of Lois has added some new mysteries to that trip).
What’s Next: There is still the question of why Superman was split in two and why Manhattan had Jor-El overseeing a prison that held Tim Drake and others. These answers will presumably come in Doomsday Clock, with upcoming solicitations indicating Superman will meet Dr. Manhattan.
What was hinted: In DC Universe: Rebirth #1, Wally said that someone had "infected" the DCU for a "long time” and “stole 10 years from us.” The book indicated it was Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen.
What we've learned since: In Doomsday Clock, characters from Watchmen followed Dr. Manhattan’s energy signature to the DCU, confirming that Wally was right. Dr. Manhattan messed with the timeline and is probably the one who since killed characters like Pandora, Metron and Reverse Flash.
The story is ongoing, but at the end of Doomsday Clock #6, The Comedian was with The Joker, Rorscach was with Saturn Girl and Johnny Thunder, and Ozymandias was somewhere in Gotham City. And they’re all on a path toward finding Dr. Manhattan.
What's Next?: The solicitations for upcoming issues of Doomsday Clock indicate that Dr. Manhattan will appear soon, and readers will also learn what brought him to the DCU.
Jason and Darkseid
What was hinted: The end of "Darkseid War" in Justice League indicated that Wonder Woman has a twin brother named Jason. The Rebirth issue also showed that Darkseid, who previously died, had returned as a baby and was being cared for by his daughter Grail.
What we've learned since: This mystery has been resolved and now has spawned some upcoming spin-off stories.
First, Grail helped Darkseid become an adult again, although their nefarious schemes were eventually stopped.
And what happened when Jason showed up? After first fighting against his sister, he eventually fought beside Wonder Woman, particularly after he got some kick-ass powers from new armor he received from the gods.
Jason recently sacrificed himself to save the Earth (but he did so in a way that keeps him available for future stories).
What's Next?: Darkseid is set to star in the upcoming new series Justice League Odyssey, with the villain playing a very different role thanks to additional developments in his character. Grail will show up again in G. Willow Wilson’s new run on Wonder Woman. And James Robinson, who introduced and developed Diana’s brother Jason in Wonder Woman, said he has ideas for another story about Diana’s brother (although another writer might pick him up sometime first).