Seven Dawn of the DCU questions and observations

·7 min read
 Dawn of the DCU
Dawn of the DCU

What stands out about DC's September 14 announcement of what appears to be its next editorial era - Dawn of the DCU - is how little the publisher actually revealed.

To be fair, the news was ostensibly the announcement of the final chapter of the current Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, but superhero comic book publishing at DC and Marvel Comic is one big, perpetual relay race. Every last leg of an editorial event also involves the passing of the baton to the next story event at the same time, and we've got a ton of thoughts and questions about what's next after the return of "infinite Earths" to the DC Universe beginning in January.

Some of the mostly brief copy and images do provide some launching points to talk about what's next, so here are seven of our thoughts on and questions about what's to come in Dawn of the DCU:

How will the 'Dawn of the DCU complement (or not) the New Golden Age that was announced last month?

Justice Society of America #2 cover
Justice Society of America #2 cover

Justice Society of America #2 cover (Image credit: DC)

If case you missed it (but if you're reading this you likely didn't), the New Golden Age is the Geoff Johns-driven, post-Flashpoint Beyond, now-seemingly sub-editorial initiative that features the long-awaited return of the Justice Society of America and Stargirl to prominence in the DCU.

What we know of the new Golden Age so far does involve the return of characters from DC's pre-Crisis past. The most recent issue of Flashpoint Beyond takes place post-Dark Crisis, so how the New Golden Age and Dawn of the DCU complement or conflict with one another will be something to watch.

Who will be the creative driving force of Dawn of the DCU?

Writer Scott Snyder, as the author of the two Dark Metal event series, was arguably the biggest creative driver of the 'Rebirth' era. Writer Joshua Williamson was inarguably the bus driver of the 'Infinite Frontier' era, as a writer of four of the major events of the period (Infinite Frontier, Justice League Incarnate, Shadow War, and Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths), along with a run on the flagship Batman series.

It does not seem coincidental Williamson just announced new creator-owned content to be published on Substack just days before DC announced the Dark Crisis finale.

Don't be surprised to see Williamson dial down what's been an uber-prolific DC profile the last two years. And if that happens, who (if anyone) will emerge as the voice of DC events remains to be seen.

Interestingly, only Williamson and his Dark Crisis art partner Daniel Sampere are heard from in the DC announcement for Dawn of the DCU. It doesn't even contain a quote by editor-in-chief Marie Javins or publisher Jim Lee.

For the time being, Dawn of the DCU is something of a creative blank slate, which will undoubtedly be rectified over the next month.

That said...

Who is present (and not) on the cover art probably says something about Dawn of the DCU

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 variant cover
Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 variant cover

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 variant cover (Image credit: DC)

Who isn't present? Conspicuously (at least if you ask us) any of the colloquially '5G' heroes. We're talking Jonathan Kent, Nubia, Yara Flor, Jace Fox, Jo Mullein, Jackson Hyde, etc...

Even current Justice League stalwarts John Stewart and Hawkgirl are absent.

Who is? The classic 'Big Six' of Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Diana of Themyscira, Arthur Curry, Hal Jordan, and (presumably) Barry Allen, along with Nightwing, Starfire, and Cyborg of the classic New Teen Titans era (Newsarama previously suggested the reemergence of that team made a ton of sense for Dark Crisis) and Shazam!

It seems Billy Batson will take on this role again and Mary Bromfield's time as the Champion of Shazam! will be short-lived, at least as a solo act.

That seems to signal DC will be relying on its most classic characters in the new era.

And then there are the two variant cover appearances of the Superman/Batman hybrid from writer Mark Waid's World's Finest: Batman/Superman series, which raises questions that deserve their own space.

And speaking of those Mora cover images...

The Brave and the Bold ... again?

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 variant cover
Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 variant cover

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 variant cover (Image credit: DC)

It was just a few weeks ago we took some DC signaling from the recent Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 to speculate that we might see a new The Brave and the Bold series starring Hal and Barry in the post-Dark Crisis era.

Their pairing on this Dan Mora cover image isn't definitive, but it doesn't exactly make us rethink that guess.

And on that note...

How big of a splash will The Dawn of the DCU make in January?

We took a closer look at the DC November 2022 solicits and it now appears the publisher has been lining things up to make a big splash in January with its core, present-day monthly titles ... the few core, present-day monthly titles that currently still exist, that is.

The finale to Chip Zdarsky and Jorge Jimenez's first Batman story arc 'Failsafe' was advanced solicited for December, clearing the runway for anything from a relaunch to just a Dawn of the DCU Batman tie-in in January.

Action Comics #1050 cover
Action Comics #1050 cover

Action Comics #1050 cover (Image credit: DC)

Similarly, December's 27's 48-page Action Comics #1050 serves as a launch point for what DC is calling the "new era of Superman comics" following the November return of Kal-El to Earth, making January ripe for the monthly Superman titles to start new story arcs at the very least and perhaps debut a totally revamped line-up.

None of DC's other ongoing series like Wonder Woman, Nightwing, Detective Comics, and The Flash starring characters seen on Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 covers are mid-story arc in December, which seems to clear the way for something new in January.

And there currently are no Aquaman (or men), Green Lantern, or of course ... Justice League ongoing series. A new Justice League series in January or soon after seems a near certainty.

That said, November does feature John Stewart: The Emerald Knight and Nubia and the Justice League one-shots specials that may or may not lead to new things for those characters.

And oh yeah, New Champion of Shazam! ends in November as well.

So the slate seems to be intentionally clear for a lot of newness and fresh starts in January as the Dawn of the DCU era begins.

What's up with Nightwing?

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 variant cover
Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 variant cover

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 variant cover (Image credit: DC)

Nightwing's prominent presence on the main over of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 and the variant overlay cover seen here, paired with the somewhat cosmic, 'Multiversal' context of the images really open the floodgates to questions as to what his role will be in the DCU in the new era.

Dick Grayson is one of DC's oldest, most iconic, and frankly best characters, but because of his origins as Batman's teen sidekick, he's been relegated to a sort-of second-generation, "legacy," tier-below-the-Justice-League status quo for most of his history.

Or to put it in other terms - nobody has ever made a Dick Grayson/Robin/Nightwing movie.

Ponder that dynamic for a moment.

The Dark Crisis finale and Dawn of the DCU may finally elevate him onto equal footing with Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman in DC's pantheon, where he arguably belongs (and we think you'd win that argument).

Whether or not that happens will be maybe the most important thing to keep an eye on in the coming months.

And finally...

Didn't the DCU already Dawn?

The DCU is a decades-old term. The title, Dawn of the DCU doesn't suggest a relaunch or rearranging, but something totally new ... a reinvention ... or dare we say the word, reboot.

Intentionally or not, DC is raising expectations as to how much a 'new era' this will really be. But the defining quality of the publisher's superhero universe has been constant change:


Retcons of retcons...

Rise, repeat.

Even Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths' core premise is the return of 'infinte Earths' in an Omniverse that already promised exponential expansion of the Multiverse concept at the end of Death Metal.

DC has been recently content to let efforts to revive its past just co-exist in somewhat undefined nuance with its present, but if you're going to suggest the beginning of not "a" DCU, but "the" DCU, you'd best be prepared to offer some definition.

Timelines within worlds within dimensions within universes within multiverses within an Omniverse is the current DC status quo, and if you can make sense of it, you're one up on us. So time will tell if this is really the dawn of the DCU or just the start of a loosely-defined18-24 month period.

There are still a few issues to decide whether Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths is one of the best DC stories of all time.