DC has been counting down for a year with their weekly comic Countdown To Final Crisis. Issue #1 (actually the fifty-second issue) released last week, and this week is the calm before the storm with the release of DC Universe Zero. Primarily a preview of all the Final Crisis tie-in stories, Zero does pack a sizeable punch in its ending that is big enough news that mass media news even picked it up.
Warning: Big spoilers after the jump!
The Zero issue is narrated by some anonymous and seemingly omniscient narrator who appears to have a close connection or relation to the DC universe and to the characters being featured. We first see a conflict between Superman and Tyr that ties into the work Superman has been doing with the Legion of Superheroes in the 31st Century. This is the preview for Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds by Geoff Johns and George Perez. The teaser page at the end of this section shows a very p.o.’ed Superboy Prime snarling above the tagline “Prime Evil.”
The second story is my favorite of the book. We see Batman paying a visit to the Joker in prison. The Joker is playing with a deck of cards and imparts some cryptic knowledge to Batman. He says that something big is coming after Batman. “Some very, very bad people have decided to hurt you. Hurt you so bad you’ll never recover.” Batman, being typically fearless, responds, “Tell them to bring it on.” The preview shot for this one is Batman: R.I.P. by Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel. Of all the ancillary Final Crisis stories, this is the one I’m most looking forward to reading.
Third on the roster is Wonder Woman, wrangling a minotaur. As she fights the beast, we see Professor Ivo digging in the dirt of Auschwitz, Doctor Poison digging in Croatia, and unknown hands digging in Darfur. They are being directed to return the soil samples to some person or group that is directing them, with the aim of “death to the Amazons.” Eventually we also see a very 300-esque group of warriors, presumably led by Zeus and Apollo, preparing to overthrow Wonder Woman. This preview is for Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti’s new Wonder Woman arc and has the tagline, “Whom the Gods Forsake.”
Next we see Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart at the scene of an explosion that apparently was a convoy transporting incarcerated supervillains. Black Hand was supposed to be in the destroyed trucks, but Hal and his ring can find no trace of him. This is the preview for Green Lantern: Blackest Night Prelude by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis.
The fourth story features Crispus Allen as the Spectre as he goes about dispatching a murderer in a particularly nasty way involving rapid decomposition and maggots. Our narrator observes the act of vengeance and prays that Allen finds good in his new incarnation instead of the eternally oppressive evil inherent in the Spectre. This introduces Greg Rucka and Philip Tan’s Final Crisis: Revelations with the tagline, “Show No Mercy.”
The fifth and final mini-story has a rogue’s gallery gathering and meeting with a new villain who calls himself Libra. Libra promises to “balance the books” and to give power to any of the villains who will join and follow him. His offer is one of evangelical evil, and this leads into the main event, Final Crisis by Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones, sporting the warning, “The Day Evil Won.”
Throughout the final story we can see a lightning-shaped logo gradually fading into the narration boxes’ corners as the narrator slowly becomes self aware. The final page comes with a crash of lightning across the moon as our narrator presumably returns to Earth and remembers exactly who he is: Barry Allen, the long-dead Flash.