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DC Universe #0

It's the day after Free Comic Book Day, when comic book stores all across the nation looked as busy on a Saturday as they do for two to three hours on a Wednesday. Several publishers, large and small, offered titles most likely to lure an unsuspecting reader into buying more.

A few days earlier, however, DC released a book designed to do the same thing, at the low low price of only fifty cents. For our podcast, we rushed through DC Universe #0, in order to have something cogent to say about it, and none of us were too pleased. After grabbing a little free swag on Saturday, though, I gave the book a better reading.

Saturday, DC offered Tiny Titans #1 and All-Star Superman #1. Interestingly enough, neither of those books tie in to the main DC Universe at all, though both have great charms. They're out of continuity, playing with either an impossibly kid-friendly set of heroes or the greatest imaginary story of them all. And if you don't know what I mean by that latter phrase, you still need to pick up All-Star Superman #1 for free, or buy the trade paperback. Again, when I read Tiny Titans #1, I wasn't as impressed as I wanted to be, but in the past day I've been cute-faced into reading it to my four-year-old three times, so obviously, it works for kids.

DC Universe #0 ties directly into DC's larger universe - well, the title tells us so. And the company claimed this would be a good jumping on point for readers, a resting place to understand what's going on.

Well, no. After reading it a second time, it still doesn't work if you're not keyed in to the goings on of the past two or three years.

However, it does better than it came off while we were surrounded by people trying to have conversations with us at the comics shop. Really, there should be some sort of signal to give fans that says "It's not you, it's just that I'm reading a book written by both Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns. Please be on standby in case I need medical attention afterward."

Not so much a jumping on point as a big ad for a bunch of mini-series coming out in the process of Final Crisis, the book ties everything together with a narrator clearly coming back from the dead. This causes a little confusion, as a few panels seem to borrow from the last time the character was "alive," mixing in imagery from Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The only truly awkward moment is in showing the Spectre. In a two page spread, he's fighting the Anti-Monitor, and then the next page he's the modern incarnation, the goateed version he has become, killing friend of Fanboy Planet and Eisner-award winner Carr D'angelo.

The narrator's caption boxes slowly shift from black to red, and the last page of the book looks suspiciously like the title credits to the live-action Flash series. By now, it shouldn't be a spoiler to say that Barry Allen will be returning from the dead to face down the "Day Evil Won." I'd like to believe that's all in Final Crisis, but I'm more certain that will be yet another mini-series.

At any rate, the vignette that reads the most sensibly is Batman facing down the Joker, a creepy prologue to Grant Morrison's next Batman storyline, "Batman R.I.P." It works because it's not the middle of some other huge storyline. We see Superman and the Legion of Superheroes fighting shadow creatures, but for over a year, we've still been wondering how he can remember them in the first place. Then there's that thing with the Manazons, which just seems silly, even though Gail Simone will be writing the event.

Then there's that Flash revelation. So let's hazard some guesses based on what we know about the next year for DC. Clearly, Darkseid either survives the "Death of the New Gods" or gets resurrected; either way, ultimate evil lives on in the DC Universe. However, the Source now has this empty planet just waiting to be populated by a new pantheon.

For the past twenty-three years, ultimate good has been represented by Barry Allen, the guy in the Flash suit who sacrificed himself to save the multiverse. He has appeared twice since his death, technically borrowing moments from just before he dies. The last time, he told his nephew Wally West, the current Flash, that he would appear once more when things were at their darkest for Wally.

An impending second destruction of the multiverse would count, wouldn't it?

Let me go back to that empty planet, though. If Darkseid represents ultimate evil, he's got to have a counterbalance, and that has to be Barry Allen. Yes, one of the strongest things about the character has been how his sacrifice has been let to stand. Every hero has remembered it. And in his wake, we have a strong character called the Flash. (Most people forget that until his sacrifice, Barry had grown so unpopular with fans that his book had been cancelled months before.)

That new empty planet, these new New Gods, need a Highfather. Who better than Barry Allen? He's wise, he's super-intelligent, he's super-powerful and let's face it - he makes a more loving face of good than the driven Bruce Wayne, rumored for almost a year to be ascending to godhood.

Instead, I'd rather that Grant Morrison get to complete the journey of Bruce Wayne he started during 52. That man, that Batman, has lost his demons. He's coming full circle and coming back to a sense of sanity, a realization that maybe as Bruce Wayne, he deserves a life. I'm hoping that despite the title "R.I.P.", it's not an afterlife.

Barry Allen, however, figured all that out and gave it up for everyone. That's a Highfather. Maybe we can get Bart Allen as the new Lightray. He deserves it, too.

Derek McCaw


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