Wednesday 3 March 2021

Infinite Frontier Is Here Part 01: The Omniverse Explained

This week, DC officially started their Infinite Frontier era with the one-shot Infinite Frontier #0, which gave readers a glimpse of the new status quo. During their two month event, Future State, DC also released the Generations: Shattered and Generations: Forged one-shots, which introduced readers to the Linearverse.

Just what exactly is the Linearverse, and how does this tie into the current Omniverse Dark Nights Death Metal established? Is the Metaverse from Doomsday Clock still relevant? How does it all come together in a cohesive DC timeline that actually makes sense? More importantly, how do characters like Power Girl and the original Helena Wayne Huntress tie into the main DC canon moving forward, especially as characters tied to DC's Earth-2 universe?

Before we answer that last question (which I'll save for Part 02 of this post) let's try and make sense of the current timeline, beginning with the story that planted the first seed to the new status quo: Doomsday Clock.

In Doomsday Clock, Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan hypothesised that the main DC timeline is a Metaverse: a world that serves as the base template from which the DC Multiverse is born. Any changes to the main DC timeline results in the creation of a new Earth. Per Doctor Manhattan’s rationalisation, this means the DC Universe as we know it started with Superman’s arrival in 1938, leading to the Golden Age of superheroes. Most of these heroes eventually came together and formed the first superhero team in existence: the Justice Society of America. Others formed other teams like the Seven Soldiers of Victory.

The introductions of Barry Allen and Hal Jordan as the new Flash and Green Lantern respectively in 1955 marked the first major change to the DC timeline, resulting in the creations of Earths 1 and 2. Earth-1 was established as the world containing the (then new) Silver Age continuity with Earth-2 containing the previous Golden Age continuity. The first crossover between Earth-1 and Earth-2 in The Flash #123 story 'The Flash of Two Worlds' facilitated the later existence of Earth-3 (the world of the Crime Syndicate), which caused the DC Multiverse to grow. 

The establishment of the DC Multiverse led to the creations of additional Earths such as Earth-4 (Charlton Comics), Earth-S (Fawcett Comics), and Earth-X (Quality Comics) when DC acquired the IPs of defunct comic book publishers. The growth of DC's infinite multiverse eventually led to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths that merged the infinite multiverse into a single, but unstable new Earth. This then led to the events of Zero Hour and the creation of Hypertime in an attempt to contain the deviant details of DC's lengthy history that didn’t fit into the main DC canon. 

The new Earth, however, was still unstable which led to the events of Infinite Crisis and 52 that resulted in the creation of a new multiverse containing only 52 Earths with the new Earth serving as the base template. The new Earth thus became known as Earth-0 in this new multiverse. Not long after this, however, Barry Allen made a significant change to the Earth-0 timeline in Flashpoint that rippled across the entire 52 multiverse resulting in the New 52. Watchmen’s Doctor Manhattan then made the New 52 multiverse his personal playground, resulting in the changes we saw to the DC characters. This was the beginning of would later become the DC Omniverse.

In both Dark Nights Metal and Justice League as written by Scott Snyder, the DC Multiverse got an explicit origin story. Snyder did this by establishing the existence of the Dark Multiverse underneath the normal DC Multiverse, as well as the existence of the Source Wall and World Forger. The concept is simple: Earths created by the World Forger that are stable make it into the normal DC Multiverse. Earths that prove unstable are doomed to perish into the Dark Multiverse. 

Scott Snyder’s Justice League further elaborated on this concept by establishing Perpetua as the creator of the DC Multiverse dating all the way back to the original pre-Crisis multiverse. Her sons are the aforementioned World Forger, the Monitor, and Anti-Monitor, all of whom were tasked with looking after the multiverse. The World Forger populated the multiverse with new Earths, the Monitor oversaw the multiverse, and the Anti-Monitor protected it from outside threats. A disagreement between the three brothers resulted in the events that became known as Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The heroes and villains discovering the origin of the DC multiverse started the chain of events that led to Dark Nights Death Metal. This resulted in the destruction of the New 52 multiverse by an ultra powerful Batman Who Laughs (an evil entity from the Dark Multiverse), and it took Wonder Woman’s defeat of him to trigger its rebirth as an omniverse. The catch, however, is that the ‘main Earth’ is no longer at the epicentre. 

The epicentre of the new DC Omniverse is occupied by two worlds that now serve as its sources of energy: the Elseworld that is implied to be the base template for the DC Multiverse, and Earth-Omega, which serves as the prison for Omniverse's most dangerous entity: Darkseid. This seemingly merges the idea of the Metaverse as originally posited in Doomsday Clock by Geoff Johns with Scott Snyder’s own origin for the DC Multiverse.

With the DC Omniverse in place, the Generations: Shattered and Forged one-shots further elaborated on this concept by establishing the existence of the Linearverse, which is implied to be DC continuity itself. The Linearverse contains all of DC’s 83-year history and all the different evolutions and incarnations of DC characters throughout the decades. The Linearverse is most likely the foundation of Hypertime and the source of both DC’s current and divergent timelines. The current main DC Earth is said to be a product of the Linearverse.

So now that we (more or less) have an idea of what the DC Omniverse is about, the bigger question now is where the heck does Helena Wayne fit into this wibbly-wobbly-timey-whimey mess? Is she now Batman and Catwoman's lost daughter from Earth-2? Is her death in Crisis on Infinite Earths now undone and she's stranded on the main DC Earth? Is she back on Earth-2 in a new, revitalised form? Is she now lost to Hypertime?

Stay tuned for Part 02.

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