Comic books and their characters have certain immutable truths. One of those truths is change. The DC Universe has indeed been through a lot of changes thanks to its biggest writers. Marv Wolfman ended the Multiverse. Mark Waid introduced Hypertime. Geoff Johns brought the Multiverse back, but with only 52 Earths. Grant Morrison split the Monitor and created new mythos with MULTIVERSITY. After Johns introduced REBIRTH and reset the status quo, writer Scott Snyder introduced his own elements into the DC Universe. So what does the Multiverse look like now, and how does it affect THE YEAR OF THE VILLAIN? Here’s a guide to what Snyder has introduced so far.

The Batman Who Laughs from DARK KNIGHTS: METAL
The Batman Who Laughs. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Dark Multiverse

Snyder established himself with his run on the NEW 52 version of BATMAN. After the better part of a decade, Snyder left the series when DC’s REBIRTH initiative started. Snyder moved on to DC’s major event of 2017, DARK KNIGHTS: METAL.

DARK KNIGHTS: METAL introduces the Dark Multiverse, and reintroduces Barbatos. Barbatos first appeared in an obscure 90s story, BATMAN #452: DARK KNIGHT, DARK CITY. While Grant Morrison restored him in BATMAN RIP and RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE, Snyder’s version of Barbatos differs from previous incarnations. Barbatos operates the Dark Multiverse — the failed realities that don’t survive the Multiverse. In these worlds, things fall apart and heroes fail. Barbatos hand picks his army to attack the Prime Earth and bring it down to the dark, where he will end it.

Luckily, our heroes prevail with the help of Tenth metal procured in the World Forge. However, the shockwave of their efforts is so powerful that it cracks the Source Wall, which contains immense, mysterious power. That crack in the Source and the mystery behind it would lead to Snyder taking over DC’s premier team book.

NO JUSTICE Promo Image
The four teams of NO JUSTICE. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

NO JUSTICE and the Omega Titans

Snyder starts his JUSTICE LEAGUE run with a miniseries, NO JUSTICE. He uses a slew of heroes (and villains), focusing on the seven characters people know from the DCAU: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern (John Stewart), Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders). The League has to deal with the consequences of their actions; namely, the Omega Titans.

The Omega Titans represent four of the fundamental energies of the universe – Mystery, Entropy, Wisdom, and Wonder. The League and their teams manage to stop these Titans, tricking three of the them into devouring the Entropy Titan. But the Source Wall still needs fixing, and the secrets of the Source Wall remain obscure.

JUSTICE LEAGUE
Scott Snyder’s JUSTICE LEAGUE. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Perpetua: The Totality, Justice, and Doom

Snyder’s JUSTICE LEAGUE series begins in earnest with the arrival of The Totality to Earth, and the return of Will Payton, the Starman of the ’80s. The Totality comes straight from the Source. Indeed, it contains the primal creation energy that made the Multiverse and the secrets of the past. Payton, who has long been missing, is connected to the Totality somehow. Worse still, he’s catatonic. Additionally, Lex Luthor returns to the scene. Convinced his philosophy of life — to take, seize and make your own destiny — is what will save the Multiverse, Lex forms a new Legion of Doom.

The mystery of the Totality takes the League to Hawkworld, where they learn from a Martian elder the secret origin of the Multiverse. Specifically, a Sixth Dimension being, Perpetua, created the Multiverse. In order to prevent total destruction, Perpetua and the Multiverse were to be judged by a force beyond her. However, Perpetua created an army to combat these cosmic judges. When this fact came to light, she was imprisoned. Forgotten until Lex got his hands on the Totality and devised a plan to free Perpetua.

The Source Wall. Priming THE YEAR OF THE VILLAIN.
The Source Wall. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The Source Wall

While the League learns the secrets of Perpetua and the Source Wall, Lex has his own plans. Indeed, Lex also revives Brainiac, who was thought dead after the events of NO JUSTICE. Previously, Lex used Brainiac’s help to find the missing three hidden forces. Brainiac had already discovered the four forces that Lex controlled: the Strength, Still, Sage and an unnamed fourth force. Locked behind the Source Wall with Perpetua, these energies were the key to freeing her.

While Lex plots the destruction of the Source Wall, the Justice League comes up with a plan to fix it. They would use the remaining Omega Titans from NO JUSTICE to fill in the gaps in the Source Wall. The League formulates this plan with the help of Starman, recently recovered from his coma with the ability to control the Totality. Just as the heroes are on the cusp of victory, Lex strikes.

Lex and Brainiac intercede, manipulating Starman. As a result, they free Perpetua. And with that, the war between Justice, the positive energies of the Multiverse and Doom, embodied by Perpetua and Lex’s Legion, begins.

Perpetua and the Origin of the Multiverse
Perpetua creating her children: (L to R) The Anti-Monitor, World Forger and Monitor. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Perpetua and the Sixth Dimension

Perpetua is the key to Snyder’s cosmology and to YEAR OF THE VILLAIN. She creates Multiverses with the help of her children: the Monitor, the Anti-Monitor and the World Forger. Each child is responsible for different duties: Monitor keeps an eye out for Multiversal Crises, Anti-Monitor keeps outside forces at bay, and World Forger creates the various Earths that occupy the Multiverse. World Forger created Barbatos to ferry the failed worlds back to the Forge to be annihilated.

But every family has its challenges. World Forger discovers his mother’s attempts to create an aggressive, violent army. Indeed, Perpetua deviously creates her army by combining human and Martian DNA. Forger convinced his brothers to help him stop her. The three succeeded, and her cosmic judges imprison Perpetua behind the Source Wall. Consequently, they also isolate the Multiverse from the rest of reality. Without a purpose in life, Anti-Monitor grew bitter. Anti-Monitor vowed he’d get his vengeance.

YEAR OF THE VILLAIN
The Justice League preparing for war, from YEAR OF THE VILLAIN #1. Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

YEAR OF THE VILLAIN

However, with Perpetua free and the Source Wall broken, World Forger needs to fix things. He creates an ideal reality, overwriting the current one. Members of the League find themselves in the Sixth Dimension, fighting to stop Forger’s plan. While the League is in the Sixth Dimension, Lex is busy in the Third (where the Multiverse resides). He and the Legion of Doom fight off World Forger’s weapon, Mxyzptlk. Victorious, Lex wins the hearts and minds of the people of Earth. Lex implores people to not just hope for the best, but also to embrace the anger and rage they feel. As a result, the world turns on the League. Lex gives away his empire, and seemingly dies, only to regenerate in a new body.

YEAR OF THE VILLAIN is the most ambitious story DC has told in recent history. Most major stories in the DCU since the NEW 52 were isolated to related titles. DARK KNIGHTS: METAL was a little more far-reaching. However, with YEAR OF THE VILLAIN, DC is widening the scope; using the banner to tell major stories across multiple books. In a world where the heroes are no longer credible and the villains are empowered to embrace their natures, can the villains succeed where the heroes couldn’t? Is Lex Luthor right that we must trust our base instincts? YEAR OF THE VILLAIN might give us the answers, but it might bring more changes than we’d like.

The Stage Is Set

Scott Snyder’s ambitious story has been a few years in the making now.  YEAR OF THE VILLAIN will likely shake up the DCU significantly. Hopefully, this guide gives you an idea of what’s been going on, and how Scott Snyder’s additions to the history of the Multiverse have affected the rest of the DC canon. YEAR OF THE VILLAIN is going to be one of DC’s most defining events. Indeed, the YEAR OF THE VILLAIN should be a very interesting year for DC.

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