January 5 marked the release of Dark Nights: Death Metal #7, and with the conclusion of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's sprawling event comes the birth of a somewhat new DC concept: the Omniverse.
Comprised of multiple multiverses (like the versions of the Multiverse we've seen in previous eras of DC continuity as well as the Dark Multiverse), it incorporates a version of DC continuity in which all stories told in the past may be considered canon. The now main Multiverses of Omniverse orbit a place called 'The Elseworld,' which invokes the name of DC's currently dormant alt-universe imprint.
(More on how it all works right here - it's a lot to take in.)
But that's not all that may have seen a kind of rebirth (that DC word we all know and love) – at the issue's conclusion. Wally West and Hawkwoman, two people who have themselves died and come back to life, discover that many dead people from around the Multiverse have returned thanks to the heroes' victory.
The scene doesn't get specific about who's back, but it does say that not only those who died in the course of Dark Nights: Death Metal have been revived, but "people who died before recent events."
That seems like a pretty strong clue that we'll see the return of some dearly departed DC characters readers likely know and love.
But who will return?
Though there are too many dozens (if not hundreds) of characters who could qualify for the honor of resurrection to list them all, Newsarama is prepared to channel our knowledge of current DC continuity and the publisher's legacy to make some educated speculation about who might come back from the dead after Death Metal.
Batman's longtime ally and confidant Alfred Pennyworth died all the way back in Batman #77 (opens in new tab) during writer Tom King's 'City of Bane' arc, his neck snapped by the eponymous villain. Naturally, Alfred's death has had massive ramifications on James Tynion IV's subsequent Batman run as well as other adjacent titles such as Teen Titans, which showed Damian Wayne's mourning process following the death of this father figure - a death he actually witnessed himself, in person.
Technically, Alfred has already returned as of Death Metal #7 – sort of. Using the power of the Black Lantern ring, Bruce Wayne summons a 'Bat' army of fallen allies, including the rotten, reanimated corpse of Alfred Pennyworth. But Alfred's corpse-ness doesn't stop him from teaming up with Batman to take on the vicious Robin King.
If the Black Lantern ring can bring Alfred back for Death Metal, could Alfred's return get more permanent over in Tynion's Batman run? In the aftermath of 2009's Blackest Night (opens in new tab) event, in which all of the dead people in the DC Universe returned as bloodthirsty corpses through the power of the Black Lantern, several long-dead heroes including Hawkman, Hawkwoman, and Deadman, and more were fully ressurected, so there's some precedent for such a story twist.
Oracle and Lucius Fox have taken up the role as the voices in Batman's ear, but how might that dynamic shift if Alfred was added as another ally? Would Alfred's return help Damian find his way back to the Bat-Family?
With a massive Omniverse now in play, pretty much anything is possible – especially if it ties into DC's massive, now supposedly all-inclusive history.
Speaking of the Black Lantern, Alfred wasn't the only character to return through its unsavory power in the course of Death Metal.
In Dark Nights: Death Metal - The Last Stories of the DC Universe, Roy Harper (the former Speedy, Arsenal, and Red Arrow) made his return using the Black Lantern, following his death two years ago in Heroes in Crisis.
In that event, Harper checked into the Sanctuary to receive help for his mental health, but the hidden clinic was targeted by none other than Roy's best friend, Wally West when he lost control of his Speed Force powers.
Since Heroes in Crisis, Wally has been reeling from his guilt over the people he murdered, albeit accidentally. Roy's return in the one-shot was marked with a seeming moment of forgiveness between Roy and Wally (who has since gone through massive changes of his own).
Could Roy stick around, and perhaps set Wally on the path to true redemption –something the troubled Roy Harper could use himself? A reunion between Roy and Wally could even start the process of Wally permanently reuniting with his long-lost wife and kids.
More on that last bit right now…
Wally West's family
As mentioned in the previous entry, Roy Harper is hardly the only person Wally West has lost.
Starting with the death of his mentor Barry Allen in Crisis on Infinite Earths (the story that ended the original version of DC's Multiverse way back in the '80s), Wally's life has been marked by tragedy and loss, right up to the loss of his wife Linda Park and their twin children Jae and Iris.
Unlike most of the characters on this list, Wally's family weren't technically killed – like Wally (for a time), their existence was seemingly erased by Flashpoint, the story that kicked off the reality-redefining 'New 52' years. When Wally returned in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, his wife and kids didn't make the home trip with him.
Iris and Jae West, who have their own unique Speed Force-based superpowers, made an appearance in the post-Heroes in Crisis series Flash Forward, which gave Wally West multiversal powers beyond his original super speed. The twins briefly teamed up with their dad before Wally had to return home, at least confident in the knowledge that somewhere in the Multiverse, a version of him and his family are still together.
Now that Death Metal has built an Omniverse that incorporates most aspects of the publisher's storied past, it seems like the perfect time to restore Wally West and his family to the fan-favorite characters they were prior to their erasure from continuity.
Floyd Lawton/Deadshot is one of DC's most recent deaths. He died some time before Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo's Suicide Squad run, with his death confirmed in #9 of their volume, which wrapped with #11. A version of Suicide Squad will appear as part of 'Future State,' with the core title scheduled for relaunch in March with writer Robbie Thompson and artist Eduardo Pansica.
Taylor's run set up a legacy for Deadshot, teasing his daughter taking over his mantle in some capacity. Given the upcoming high-profile Suicide Squad film and subsequent Peacemaker HBO Max streaming series (neither of which are known to feature Deadshot), the Squad is poised to make a big pop culture push.
Could a return of one of the team's most prominent characters also be in the works, alongside the ascent of a new legacy version in Floyd Lawton's daughter? Moreover, could she perhaps be the one to lead the charge to bring back her dad?
Three Jokers' Clown Joker
With the potential return of the concept of 'Elseworlds' in Dark Nights: Death Metal, it's hard not to ponder the role of writer Geoff Johns and artist Jason Fabok's Three Jokers limited series in the larger DC Universe.
As part of DC Black Label, the publisher's current adult-oriented line that has currently taken the place once occupied by imprints such as Vertigo and the aforementioned Elseworlds, Three Jokers hasn't been connected to any main continuity events – yet.
However, Three Jokers artist Jason Fabok previously told Newsarama "We set out with the story to tell it within continuity, but it also kind of exists in its own thing."
And indeed, the initial set-up for Three Jokers happened way back in Johns's 'New 52' Justice League swan-song 'Darkseid War,' which was (at least at the time) definitely considered in-continuity. And given that the aforementioned 'Elseworld' is described as an 'Alpha world,' the implication of its opposite realm as an 'Omega world' may also imply a further connection to Darkseid in the new Omniverse.
If Death Metal's new Omniverse puts any and all stories from DC's past on the table to swing into mainstream continuity, could Three Jokers reclaim its position as part of the bigger Batman meta-story and revive the so-called 'Clown Joker' who died in the limited series in the process
There are some potential complications to this idea. Batman writer James Tynion IV just put the Joker in a new, even deadlier position in Batman's Rogues gallery as part of 'Joker War,' which will spin-off into a new Joker title that makes the Clown Prince of Crime the most wanted criminal on Earth.
That title launches in March, right after 'Future State' gives us a glimpse of the Multiverse that could be – so if DC is really committed to Death Metal's 'everything counts' philosophy, it might be a perfect platform for bringing back the Clown Joker, tying together multiple, years-long Batman threads, and putting DC's money where their mouth is.
Or at the very least, re-establishing where and how Three Jokers exists in continuity could be the Rosetta Stone for which DC stories make up the actual 'canon' of the mainstream characters, and which will simply be drawn on when the narrative demands.