Take a seat. This is going to take a while...
We're only two weeks away from Infinite Crisis #1, and DC Comics is really ramping up the storylines. Now, I don't read every comic they publish, although I'd really like to buy every single cross-over issue for the Infinite Crisis if I can afford to.
Anyway, this week I read four comic books that all seemed to lead into Infinite Crisis:
Adventures of Superman 644
OMAC Project 6
Even more to the point, JLA 119 had an Infinite Crisis banner along the top. Looks like it might be the first official tie-in/crossover book with Infinite Crisis (as opposed to crossing over with one of the four lead-in miniseries).
The stories are fascinating in light of my previous speculations that the Multiverse is returning.
In Superman/Batman, the two named heroes are trapped in an alternate universe, already something that shouldn't be possible in the current continuity. (That alternate universe, by the way, has heroes who are obvious riffs on some familiar Marvel characters. ) As the story ends, Bizarro Batman finds himself facing the Superman of the Superman: Red Son miniseries, and Bizarro himself ends up fighting with Terry McGinnis, the Batman Beyond of the future. And Lex Luthor talks with a holographic visitor, one of the heroes from the universe in which Superman and Batman have been trapped. Apparently, Luthor has made a deal with him to keep Superman and Batman out of his way. He says, "I have very important business that is reaching a critical point. I need to know that it will not be disturbed." And Luthor's in his battlesuit.
In OMAC Project, the OMACS are stopped and Brother Eye is apparently defeated, but it reveals to the world that Wonder Woman murdered Maxwell Lord to release his control over Superman.
Adventures of Superman shows Superman dealing with his having his mind controlled by Lord, but it ends with Luthor in his battlesuit recruiting the current Parasite.
And finally, JLA 119 shows the fallout of the battle with Despero. The League is once more disbanded, and in the last few pages, as the Martian Manhunter tries to rebuild it, he receives a strange visitor...who appears to kill him.
(Brief digression: One of the problems that takes place in a comic book universe is that the same characters seem to be dealing with major threats at the same time. It's clear that Adventures of Superman 644 follows JLA 119 -- but then where does Superman/Batman 22 fall in this whole picture? I recall one month when there were literally three different threats to the entire Earth, taking place in three different books, with three different heroes confronting the threats. That's a wee bit of overkill.)
Last time, I decided to call the villain behind the upcoming Infinite Crisis by the name The Adversary, for want of something better. Well, the big clue to his identity can be found on the last few pages of JLA 119, when the Martian Manhunter is sitting in the JLA base on the Moon. As I mentioned before, he's trying to figure out which heroes to recruit for a new League. The transporter is activated, and it registers the visitor as Superman. However, as I already noted, the visitor -- who we only see from behind, wearing a red cape -- does not appear to be Superman. Because when the Manhunter says to him, "I think there's a possibility that everything we're facing is connected," the visitor replies, "I know," and then blasts the Manhunter, causing the JLA base to explode.
It is my prediction that this strange visitor is the Adversary.
So who is it? Who could make the JLA transporter think he's Superman?
Well...cast your mind back, if you can, to the Kingdom Come miniseries, and its sequel, The Kingdom. The sequel opened with a figure from the past, trapped in the sky, forced to watch the world around him, but unable to participate anymore in the events unfolding around him. Although his identity was never stated explicitly, it looked a lot like the Golden Age Superman -- the one we last saw back at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, walking with his wife Lois into what all of us assumed to be heaven.
But what if he didn't? What if, instead, he found himself trapped in a dimension outside the one universe, forced to watch a world without him? A world that in fact never remembered him, because it had a Superman of its own?
Remember last year when Mr. Mxyzptlk told the current Superman and Lois that everything that was going to happen was because of them? What if the Golden Age Superman -- let's call him Superman-2, for the late, lamented Earth-2 -- has spent the past twenty years trapped in this other dimension, forced to watch some other Superman live the life that he knows should be his? Instead of living in paradise with his Lois, what if he was forced to watch a pretender Superman marry his own version of Lois? As he watched the universe unfold without him, might he not have been driven mad with rage and jealousy? Almost to the point of evil insanity? And when he saw the events of Zero Hour, and realized that it might be possible to recreate the Multiverse, and thus get his life back for himself -- would he not have taken whatever steps he could have to do this, even if it meant dealing with Lex Luthor?
When Batman was trying to solve the identity crisis, he kept asking the question, "Who benefits?" That's the same question I'm asking now. Who benefits if the current universe is destroyed, replaced by the late, lamented Multiverse?
The answer is: anyone who remembers the old Multiverse, and wants it back, so they can have their old lives back again. And given the clues that DC has planted in The Kingdom, in the Superman books, in Zero Hour, the answer becomes clear.
The Adversary, the villain who is attempting to destroy the universe and restore the Multiverse...is none other than the original Superman.
And if I have somehow managed to figure it out, and if I'm (heaven forbid) actually correct in my reasoning...then let the howls of outrage from the fans commence.