Evidently, enough time has passed since the launch of DC Comics’ New 52 company-wide reboot to warrant yet another high-profile reboot to garner interest and boost comic book sales. But DC Comics Rebirth isn’t so much a reboot as it is a re-integration of other characters and conditions from DC’s past. And while Rebirth #1 provides a great jumping off point if you’re thinking about following any of DC’s titles on a monthly basis, it’s still got enough plot twists and turns to puzzle new readers.
To help you make sense of it all, we’ve broken down all the major moments and provided some context to them so you can decide for yourself whether you think you’ll love or hate what they’ve done with characters.
Be warned: Some spoilers ahead.
12. Wally West Becomes One With The Speed Force
Longtime Flash readers will know that characters who are imbued with the Speed Force tend to suck at dying. It has something to do with them becoming one with the same energies that grant them their super speed powers. We know it happened to Barry Allen at one point when he was thought dead, and now, in Rebirth #1 we see it happen to Wally West, the original Kid Flash who disappeared when the advent of the New 52 following the Flashpoint storyline.
As part of the Speed Force, Wally attempts to warn his friends that something is terribly wrong. In a few instances he’s able to pull himself back into the real world and make contact with a few key heroes and loved ones, but sadly, none of the people he makes contact with have any recollection of who he is. That is, until he finally encounters his mentor Barry Allen.
As the Speed Force quickly begins to disintegrate Wally’s body, Barry remembers who he is and that memory seems to be powerful enough to not only hold Wally’s body together, but also dredge up other memories from the old pre-New 52 universe — most notably the events of Flashpoint — which causes Barry to blame himself for everything.
11. 10 Years Have Slipped Away
The reason why Wally West struggles so fiercely to reach his friends and get back to reality is to warn them about a mysterious entity that lashed out at the timeline during the inception for the New 52 universe. Somehow this entity stole 10 years worth of events and memories from existence in an effort to weaken the all of the world’s heroes. This provides the explanation as to why many characters (like Wally) were missing from the New 52 universe and also why all of the legendary heroes appeared as mere novices.
Wally also gives a prophetic message and states that this same entity is preparing to once again strike out at the DC universe in what he tells Barry Allen will be a “war between hope and despair, love and apathy, faith and disbelief.”
10. Ted Cord is Back as the Blue Beetle
Fans of the classic Blue Beetle should be happy to learn that Ted Kord will finally be back in action after being killed off in The OMAC Project over a decade ago. In DC Universe: Rebrith #1, we see current Blue Beetle Jamie Reyes go to Kord Industries to talk to Ted about getting his Scarab removed and the pair are visited by the new Doctor Fate who reveals to them that the Scarab is actually a magical artifact. This is pretty major development considering that the Scarab has always been assumed to be some sort of mysterious malfunctioning alien technology that was originally designed to assist a planetary champion in the decimation the entire population.
9. The Atom (Ray Palmer) is Trapped in the Microverse
The Blue Beetles aren’t the only generational superhero duo being reunited in DC Universe Rebirth. In the first issue we see Ryan Choi (the fourth person to take on The Atom mantle) stumble across a video message from his predecessor Ray Palmer. In the video Ray explains he’s trapped in the Microverse — a plane of reality that’s beyond-microscopic in scale (previously referred to as Nanoverse or Palmerverse) — and needs Ryan to go in after him. However, there seems to be something dangerous lurking down there with him and the message cuts out before Ryan can learn any more about the situation.
8. The Death of New 52 Superman
It’s been apparent for a while now that the New 52 Superman was going to be killed off in this more recent reshuffling of the DC universe. But Rebirth #1 doesn’t provide any explanation as to what happened to New 52 Superman and simply states that he’s “disappeared.” Fortunately, Superman #52 came out on the same day as Rebirth and gives us a much clearer idea of what happened to him.
It would seem as though, after suffering from kryptonite poisoning and the hardships of the Darkseid War, Superman emerges victorious but in a very weakened state. Then, surrounded by his fellow heroes, the New 52 Superman turns to dust and is scattered to the wind.
7. The Return of Old Superman
Incase you were wondering what happened to the old pre-New 52 Superman, well, it turns out that he’s been around the whole time. Only now he’s got a beard and shares a 10-year-old son with Lois Lane. Apparently, during the recent Convergence event, Brainiac nabbed Superman and Lois and placed them alongside other heroes from various timelines and alternate universes at the Vanishing Point — a location in the DC Universe that exists outside of time. So when the Flashpoint event rewrote the reality of their Earth, Superman and Lois weren’t effected and continued living normally. However, since the New 52 world had grown mistrusting of the new, younger Superman, the old Superman thought it would be best if he lay low, grow a beard, and go by the name Clark White.
Of course, now that the New 52 Superman who nobody liked is gone, the old Superman is free to once again don his cape and tights and battle the forces of evil in Rebirth.
6. Aquaman Will Officially be Married to Mera Again
Though the original Aquaman was properly married to Mera way back in the 60s, after the New 52 reboot it seemed as though they were no longer married despite Mera referring to Aquaman as her “husband.” Thankfully, all that speculation can be put to rest as Aquaman gets down on one knee and sincerely proposes to Mera in DC Universe: Rebirth.
And that might not be the only romance that’s rekindled in Rebirth. Apparently Green Arrow and Black Canary might still have a thing for each other as their shown locking eyes at one point and day dreaming about what their lives might have been like, or could potentially become, if they become romantically involved.
5. The Legion of Superheroes Will Return
At this years WonderCon, DC’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns told audiences that the Legion of Super-Heroes would have a place in the post-Rebirth universe. Now it’s looking like that 31st century superhero team might get re-introduced earlier than a lot of people anticipated.
In Rebirth #1, as Wally West is traversing the Speed Force across space and time in an attempt to break through to the real world, he flashes through a series of vignettes that tease the return of some previously absent characters during the New 52. In one of them, an unidentified woman arrested by police, makes the claim that she’s from the future. She’s also carrying a Legion flight ring, the identifying jewelry worn by members of the Legion of Superheroes.
4. Aqualad is Back and He’s Gay
In Rebirth #1 we find a teen named Jackson who’s dealing with two major problems. The first is what to do about the unique abilities he displays while in the water, and the second is what to do about his mother who is adamantly opposed to relationship he has with his boyfriend.
Fans of the Young Justice cartoon will immediately recognize Jackson as Aqualad who was gifted with powers thanks to experiments conducted at an Atlantean penal colony. However, since Jackson hasn’t been seen since the New 52, it means that this is another reveal of a returning hero to the Rebirth storyline, although it’s pretty hard to tell at this point what the writers have in store for him.
3. Darkseid is a Baby and Wonder Woman Has a Twin Brother
In The New 52’s Darkseid War story arc, it was revealed that before Wonder Woman was born, the Amazon’s number one assassin was tasked with finding, seducing, and bearing the child of Darkseid. It was believed that the resulting offspring, who came to be known as Grail, could be brought up by the Amazons and trained to defeat her father. Of course, that little scheme didn’t quite go according to plan.
Once she reached adulthood, Grail set out to find forces powerful enough to kill Darkseid, but eventually became corrupted by her quest for power and betrayed her mother by transferring Darkseid’s life force into a newborn baby, whom she intended to exert her will over. This plan also ended in catastrophe, leaving Grail disseminated but still very much intent on raising Darkseid as her son.
Afterwards, Grail reveals to her infant father that Wonder Woman has a secret twin brother named Jason. Whether this Jason is the same Jason known by Greek legend as the leader of the Argonauts is unknown, but it will surely be explored further in Wonder Woman’s upcoming story, The Lies. Needless to say, if he turns out to be the son of Hippolyta and Zeus, he would more than likely have some pretty fantastic powers.
2. There Are Three Jokers
For anyone who didn’t read Justice League #50 — the concluding chapter of the Darkseid War — it saw the Justice League take up ranks as the New Gods. And since Batman was far and away the most strategic and tactical of the group, he decided it would be fitting if he replaced Metron as the all-knowing god who sits upon the Mobius Chair (a floating throne that possesses all the knowledge in the universe).
Knowing that the Mobius Chair could shed light on all of his unanswered questions, the first thing Batman inquires about is the real identity of the Joker. At the time, we only see his reaction to the response he gets, softly uttering the word “impossible”, but now in Rebirth we finally learn why he was in such disbelief: the Mobius Chair had revealed to him the the Joker was actually three separate people.
Amazingly, the three different Jokers extend from three prominent versions of the character seen throughout DC Comics history. The first is the original Joker created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson. The second is Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Killing Joke Joker, who many fans feel is the definitive version. And finally there’s Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Joker from The New 52. Although it has always been assumed they were the same person, according to the Mobius Chair they were all different people masquerading as the Clown Prince of Crime — and they all might still be at large.
1. The Watchmen Are Now Part of DC Universe Canon
Towards the end of Rebirth #1, we find Batman in his Batcave reading a letter that was left for him by an alternate version of his father, Thomas Wayne. As he’s examining the letter, he notices something glittering out of the corner of his eye and goes to inspect it. What he finds is shocking and has staggering implications. It’s the bloodied badge of the Comedian, an iconic image from Alan Moore’s critically acclaimed and highly influential superhero work, Watchmen. Though Watchmen has been praised as one of the finest things DC has ever published, its events have always remained contained in a completely separate universe from the rest of DC’s larger continuity. Until now. As Wally states in one of his warnings, there are foes “watching” them from beyond the veil, and now it’s become apparent that those foes are the Watchmen. Or at least Dr. Manhattan, who looks to be responsible for the death of Pandora — the cosmic entity who helped Barry Allen merge the timelines into the New 52 during Flashpoint.