When DC Comics announced it would celebrate the one-year anniversary of the New 52 relaunch with #0 origin issues this year, likely no one following superhero comics thought those stories would stand entirely alone. Now that the issues have all been in the hands of readers for a month, DC has decided to draw some extra attention to the seeds of future events sewn in the #0 books with a two-page spread of significant moments published in the back of every New 52 title shipping this week.
CBR News got a clean version of the "What's Next?" spread and breaks down the revelations held therein for readers not caught up with every title referenced in the expansive image. Below, dig into upcoming stories including Catwoman's double life, Superman's return to Krypton, the growing conspiracy between "Team 7," "Birds of Prey" and "Suicide Squad" and the latest sign post for the "Trinity War" event amongst others!
In the page's of the clone of steel's #0 issue, readers got a look inside the psychology of Superboy. In a manner of speaking. Writer Tom DeFalco's story revealed that the basis for the Superboy grown by Lord Harvest was a rebellious clone on Krypton called Kon. The first image of this week's spread reveal the army Kon led to attempt Krypton's destruction at all costs. Could a similar fate await Superboy in the present day? Seeing as the issue ended with a tease of the upcoming "H'El On Earth" mini event, the answer seems to be coming soon.
Catwoman's Double Life
Ann Nocenti's story for "Catwoman" #0 centered on a loss of identity for the feline thief, and amongst the loss of Selina Kyle, a new mystery opened. With a swoosh through the files of Gotham City's foster system, it was teased that Selina was registered as a young girl with another name...a Russian sounding name. But while she was unable to get direct confirmation on this before the computer holding her file crashed, Storytelling 101 tells us that the plot point probably won't languish for long.
Joker's Old Gang
The Red Hood is now a name that can mean many things in the DCU, but in the world of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's "Batman," the connection between the current, faceless Joker and his original alter ego is strong. While the #0 issue for the best-selling series seemed like a simple early face-off between the Joker and the Batman before they became who they are, Snyder has been promising that hidden details of the #0 issue will play out across the "Death of the Family" event currently serializing.
Kal-El of Krypton
"Superman" #0 by new monthly creative team of Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort achieved that rare task of a Superman origin story that isn't entirely a retread of old comics. But while some new color was added to the Man of Steel's parents in the tale, the real twist involved the splash page shown in this week's spread: one of a black clad Kal-El back on Krypton before its explosion. Of course, this isn't necessarily a brand new story idea either, but between the tease appearing in "Superman" and the black costume showing up in early promo images for Andy Diggle and Tony Daniel's run on "Action Comics," readers can expect the latest "Return To Krypton" riff to be a bigger story than some in the past at the very least.
While Paul Levitz and Scott Kolins "Legion of Super-Heroes" origin story concerned itself primarily with the battle for Colu that led to Brainiac 5's recruitment to the team, within that big fight there was a hint of more sinister forces at play. Some mutated brain-like creatures took control of a thief named Tharok – who Legion fans will know as the traditionally half-man, half-machine villain – to suit their own ends. How these creatures are connected to Brainiac's more villainous history in the present or how they'll lead to a new version of Tharok is yet to be seen, but with Levitz's reputation for pinpoint plotting, it won't be forgotten for long.
Damian Wayne: The Bat of the Beast
Here's an easy one. In "Batman & Robin" #0, Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason showed a look at Damian Wayne's early obsession with his father the Dark Knight. While this may play out eventually in "Batman & Robin," our best guess for why the image was included here is because of Grant Morrison's upcoming return to the future world he built in "Batman" #666 in the pages of "Batman Incorporated" #6. That potential outcome for Gotham sees Damian as a very different kind of Batman than either his mother or father would have expected or even wanted for him.
Firestorm: The Nuclear MAN
Again, no surprise here. The end of the #0 issue for "Firestorm" presaged the new run by writer/artist Dan Jurgens where Ronnie Raymond and Jason Rusch will combine to make one hero where once they were two. Read about Jurgens' plans for the book here.
A Hex On The Union
"All-Star Western" #0 allowed co-writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti to return to the birth of the man called Jonah Hex, and while the story is a familiar one to longtime readers of the Western anti-hero, the setup involving his taunting by Union army officers seen in this week's spread may be a clue to the return of some of those very same faces as the serial adventure winds its way forward. Stay tuned to CBR in the coming days for a feature with the writers on their next step with the series.
Flash Fact: You Mom Is Dead
One of the more unexpected changes in the story of Flash Barry Allen when he was brought back to the DCU by Geoff Johns a few years back was the revelation that his drive to be a policeman came from the death of his mother. In Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato's issue #0, that story came under sharp focus, though the particulars of the crime were still unsolved at the end. With the fastest man alive's resolve dead set on clearing his father of the crime, readers can likely expect an explanation in no time.
Extinguishing The Lanterns
Geoff Johns and Dough Mahnke's "Green Lantern" #0 was one of the few issues in the September promotion not to take place in the past, and while most of the story involved the origin of earth's latest GL, the issue ended with Hal Jordan and Sinestro in a dark, dark place -- literally. Odds are good that these mysteries won't last long as the "Rise of the Third Army" event pulls in all GLs available as well as the Black Hand and his zombie army of Black Lanterns.
A Teacher From Hell
Some fans have been waiting years for an explanation of how the sardonic John Constantine went from UK punker to fully fledged mage, and they got an answer in Jeff Lemire's "Justice League Dark" #0. The introduction of Constantine's early mentor Nick Necro offered up a few critical character moments, but for the forward-looking purposes of this week's spread, the most crucial one was Necro's getting sucked straight to Hell when his double-cross backfired on him. Odds that this friend turned foe will resurface in the series? 100%
A Gem To Another World
Speaking of Constantine, his appearance at the tail end of "Sword of Sorcery" #0's Amethyst feature has already started to pay off in the pages of "Justice League Dark" Annual #0 where the mage pulls the newly installed princess into the fight over the Books of Magic.
Suicides, Superboys And Other Conspiracies
The trio of images on the bottom right of the spread all tie in to a growing set of circumstantial nods that are likely building some more connectivity into the New 52. Readers of Superboy's series already know his clone past. But the reveal of Amanda Waller overseeing a tank with the body of Black Canary's husband Kurt Lance (who's been featured in the past in "Team 7" and showed up mysteriously after being thought dead in the present) at the end of "Birds of Prey" #0 may expand the picture of cloning beyond the teen of steel's origins. Meanwhile, "Suicide Squad" #0 wrapped with Waller looking over candidates we haven't seen on Task Force X yet, including Birds of Prey double agent Starling and Sportsmaster. How this pair play into the larger conspiracy is yet to be seen.
The Trinity of Sin
The final tease of the spread comes as no real surprise, though the secrets held there may be some of the most sought after of the New 52. In "Phantom Stranger" #0, Dan DiDio and Brent Anderson returned to the trio of faces introduced in the Free Comic Book Day story written by Geoff Johns. We know one is the mysterious Pandora and that one is the Stranger himself, but the defiant redhead of the crew holds many unanswered questions still. Meanwhile, this group was named the "Trinity of Sin" in this issue, perhaps calling forward to the much hyped "Trinity War" crossover that's also expected to involved Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman as well as the whole Justice League.