I've got a theory
O.k. so I know it's been forever since I posted and I can't promise there will be another post any time soon (although I do have plans for a OYL One Year Later retrospective) but I have something I wanted to share with you people out in Internet land.
Over the last few years DC has proven themselves to be very clever planners and shapers of their universe. Remember how they took something like two or three years to plant the seeds for Infinite Crisis? There was the ending to the first arc of Superman/Batman, Adam Strange and his mini-series, not to mention Identity Crisis and so on. Looking back you can see the threads and how they wove together over time; a little hint here, a nudge there. It was like some giant puzzle that could only be seen after the fact. Now, also remember that Didio once said that they had three acts planned? Identity Crisis was Act One, Infinite Crisis Act Two and now with 52 and Countdown we are entering Act Three. Of course with the knowledge that there are clues everywhere we DC fans have become amateur sleuths hunting for clues. Here is me playing Harriette
Let’s start off with what we know: In the upcoming year, and I can assume Countdown, the Fourth World is going to come back in a major way. If we travel back a few years we see the establishment of this in the pages of Superman/Batman just like Infinite Crisis with Darkseid being taken out of the DCU for a while when he was plunged into the Source Wall. Freed in Loeb’s last arc the ruler of Apokolips is back and I would assume very unpleased. A guy like Darkseid cannot be happy about imprisonment and must be out looking for vengeance.
Now Darkseid’s big goal has always been getting his hands on the Anti-Life Equation (ALE): a mathematical equation that if learned would give him the power to subject anyone to his maniacal will. Apparently, Earth holds to the clue to gaining the ALE and hence he has spent years trying to conquer our little planet to acquire it. His chief agents on Earth have been Intergang: namely Bruno “Ugly” Mannheim and Chang Tzu (Egg Fu). Currently, these two can be seen running around in the pages of 52: worshipping the crime bible, plotting the destruction of Khandaq and creating the Four Horsemen although we will come back to them later.
It’s time to take a quick break from Darkseid and view the others who have had interaction with the ALE. First we have Olivia Reynolds, former girlfriend of Hal Jordan. She had a latent ability called the U-Mind which granted her powers similar to the ALE. Kidnapped by the Weaponers of Qward (who are now in the employee of the Sinestro Corps) she surrendered to this power and became a villain for a time. Jordan eventually freed Reynolds and had her mind wiped but not before a blast of her power led to his first moment of fear and realization of mortality. It has been theorized by others that this was the first step towards his conversion to Parrallax. Well, Jordan is alive again (brought back during Act One) and DC has proven how well mind wipes stick so maybe a U-mind powered Reynolds will be back shortly.
Now, I’ve left one other person who was also kidnapped for her ability to control the U-mind: Aleea Strange. Her father, Adam Strange, mini-series led directly into the Rann-Thanagar War which of course led into Inifinite Crisis and now he has been one of the major players in 52. Perhaps his role in Act Three is the protecting and or rescuing his daughter from some evil clutches. Maybe so.
The other hero who has had control of the ALE is Anita Fite, Empress. A former Young Justice member, Fite’s power came from a piece of the ALE imbedded in her brain. Since the team broke apart there hasn’t been a lot of Empress in the DCU. However, she did get cameos in both Infinite Crisis #6 and the Day of Vengeance one-shot follow up. We know how much current comic writers like bringing back D-list characters maybe Empress will be back sometime soon. Heck, maybe Darkseid will bring back Slo-Bo from the future he sent the young Lobo clone to.
When John Ostrander was writing his Martian Manhunter ongoing back in 2001 he revealed a little note about the ALE. Apparently Darkseid got the idea of the ALE from the Martians. See, J’onn J’onzz people quantified their idea of free will into a “Life Equation” leading Darkseid to believe in the existence of a antithetical equation. Well, Martin Manhunter has had his own mini-series recently and DC has shown that rarely a mini-series is without some larger consequence, especially one that spins out of Brave New World.
Finally, the ALE played a huge role in the four-part Cosmic Odyssey, in which Jim Starlin personified it into a being. Now most people, DC included, ignore Cosmic Odyssey. I’ve never read it so I can’t say that it was good or bad. But looking over it’s Wikipedia entry I’m struck by two things. One, the ALE divided itself into four beings each of which attacked a different planet. On Raan, it turned the populace on each other resulting in an enormous war. On Xanshi, the ALE created a air-borne virus to kill the planet’s inhabitants. Four worlds, war, pestilence; well that sounds very similar to the Four Horsemen and what Intergang is doing on Earth. Two, the ALE was ultimately defeated by the powers of one man, Kent Nelson as Dr. Fate. Who is coming back next month? Who will have a year to get his act together? Kent Nelson as Dr. Fate. I’m not saying that we will be seeing a return of Cosmic Odyssey but with Starlin quoted as saying, “I have a rather large project I’m about to start for DC involving some space-oriented characters,” can some of its themes be completely absent in the upcoming year?
Now in Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle Darkseid the ALE, Morrison turning into the following, “loneliness + alienation + fear + despair + self-worth ÷ mockery ÷ condemnation ÷ misunderstanding x guilt x shame x failure x judgment n=y where y=hope and n=folly love=lies life=death self=dark side.” Of course, we could see this as only part of Shilo Norman’s event horizon dream if it were not for last week’s Firestorm. Now the new Firestorm, Jason Rausch, is tied to the Three Acts. He appeared in the fallout from Act One, he fought in space in Act Two (where he reunited with Martin Stein who had ascended into pure elemental state) and Didio has said that he will be big in this year. Since he is on Earth people also seem to have forgotten that he was at the creation event, the same event that has led Adam Strange, Starfire and Animal to have bounties on their heads.
Not to give too many spoilers away about issue #33 but Orion shows up trying to literally beat Martin Stein out of Firestorm. The New Genesisian says, “Four pieces of the equation, each embedded in the source of an Earth Elementals power.” Apparently, the good professor Stein work goes towards solving this equation. When Shilo says that Darkseid already has the ALE, Orion responds with, “Mother Box does not agree.” So either the equation above is not the ALE or there is something worse than the ALE.
Now who put the Mister Miracle and the New Gods back on the map? Grant Morrison. While Morrison has been tied up with 52 Palmiotti and Gray have taken his notes and turned them into Unlce Sam and the Freedom Fighters. Gonzo the Mechanical Bastard, the villain of the mini-series, was created by the Mathemagicians of the, you guessed it, Anti-Life Equation. I won’t tell you how the series ends but there is an “Orphan Box”, an omen of impending danger and the word “shadow demons.” Now, I don’t know about you but the last time I heard shadow demons it was to describe the Anti-Monitor’s lackeys.
Tying this thread back to Darkseid I bring up his other goal, to pierce the Source Wall, on the other side is the energy from which everything exists. Now there are a few members of the DCU have crossed the Source Wall and returned. During his time as the Spectre, Hal Jordan managed to make it across and saw the other side as a giant Battery. Metron made it across with the help of Swamp Thing and although the Earth Elemental is gone into the Vertigo realm we do have a being of elemental powers currently in the DCU. You got it: Firestorm and Martin Stein. Finally, Barry Allen once made it across the Source Wall and although Didio said he was mistaken in saying Allen would return is it completely out of a question that a different Scarlet Speedster will make it across the wall?
So there it is: everything that has been rolling around in my brain. There is a lot of speculation and supposition. I know I am way off on my mark on somethings. It does not touch on any of the characters that have been featured in the promo drawing. It does not deal with any of the "Jimmy Olsen Must Die" or "The Search for Ray Palmer" tags. It does not explain Mannheim’s transformation in Superman #654 (which takes place after 52) or what he means when he says, “It’s not Darkseid. Not even close. You don’t know what they put me through. What they did to me.” But I feel like somewhere in the minds of Morrison, Johns, Rucka, Dini, Waid, and everyone else there is a connection.
I will close the post with this. In the recently republished Emperor Joker storyline, Darkseid says that Joker has learned the ALE. Could Mister Mxyzptlk’s power be from the ALE? Maybe. But let us go back to the final panel of Superman/Batman #25, the comic where so much of the Three Acts have their foundations.
Here it is:
Pretty ominous right? All I’m saying is if Countdown turns out to be a heroclix game between Darkseid and Mister Mxyzptlk I’m done. Also, I say I'm keeping an eye out for Billion Dollar Bates and Sonny Sumo.