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The New DC Universe explained

New DC Universe
(Image credit: DC)

It's been half a year since DC promised big changes to the DC Universe in the pages of January's finale to the Dark Nights: Death Metal event.

DC is calling this new editorial era Infinite Frontier, chosen to denote the newly even more vast breadth of its superhero universe. 

Infinite Frontier is also the name of a March special Infinite Frontier #0 which was the prelude to the current six-issue Infinite Frontier limited series. 

As we've detailed in our recaps of all the released issues so far, Infinite Frontier by design has raised far more questions about the current nature of the DC Universe and the status of the heroes that inhabit it than provided answers. 

But there are still a few data points about the new status quo of DC Universe we can pass along.  

Remember how the DC was a huge multiverse, filled with 52 alternate Earths?

That's old news, bub.

How does an omniverse - basically a multi-multiverse - strike you?

For you DC curious who haven't absorbed it all yourselves, we recommend you do. Hell, in addition to being a significant tipping point for the history of the DCU and how stories will be told (and read) moving forward, Death Metal #7 is a fine read in its own right and happened entirely in whatever is left of the concept we used to refer to as DC continuity.

But for those who maybe haven't read it, Infinite Frontier #0, or the first two issues of the current Infinite Frontier limited series, we've created a recap of what's different about the DC Universe in 2021, until at least that gets all rewritten in a new DC Crisis in 2022 (see the ominous image above). 

But that's getting ahead of ourselves. 

art from Infinite Frontier #0 (Image credit: DC)

1. The DC Multiverse is now a DC Omniverse

As we were saying...

Briefly recapping Death Metal, the events of the series more or less destroyed the bulk of what was the known Multiverse - essentially 52 universes that each contained an Earth somewhat different than the main Earth (Earth-0 or Earth-Prime) most DC titles like Batman and Action Comics takes place on. 

Most of the 52 Earths contained twists on familiar DC touchstones. Earth-3 for example was sort of a mirror Earth in which Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman are supervillains rather than superheroes.

Earth-22 is the home of the events of the landmark 1996 series Kingdom Come

Not only has all of the 52 Earths of the previously-known Multiverse destroyed during Death Metal been restored...  but in some cases, they're new versions (including Earth-3 that features in a new iteration of The Crime Syndicate) and new Earths are being created expanding upon the 52 that's been more or less canon since Grant Morrison's Multiversity.

image from Dark Nights: Death Metal #7 (Image credit: DC)

And not only that, there are now multiple multiverses in what's now an omniverse. A wall that used to section off the 52 known universes from the greater Omniverse of countless universes no longer exists and there are no longer any boundaries.

In other words, where there was once one Earth-0 in the Multiverse, there is now theoretically multiple Earth-0s in the Omniverse, which may require new terminology (Multiverse-0? Earth-0a?)

As of mid-summer 2021, DC readers haven't seen much of a practical application of a larger omniverse versus a mere multiverse, but hey, it's still early. 

And oh yeah ... the people who live in the DC Universe - even some of the ordinary citizens - now know they live in a multiverse, although some of them are either unaware or are in denial. 

Again, where that goes exactly remains to be seen. 

2. Earth-0 is no longer the center of the Multiverse

Meaning 'Multiverse-Prime' (our term, not DC's). That designation now belongs to two mysterious sources of energy, one of which is referred to as a likely Earth - an "Alpha world" - given the name Elseworld, a familiar term to DC readers, of course, that refers to alternate DC realities and futures like Kingdom Come and Justice League: The Nail.

Elseworld will seemingly be at the center of a new title DC will publish sometime in 2021 (although with only two more solicitations months left on the 2021 calendar, it's starting to get late early on that front).

Little else has been revealed about Elseworld, other than it has an opposite world, Earth Omega.

Earth Omega is meant to be sort of a prison world where the Universe's greatest threats are contained and held in check - "a place of endings."

art from Infinite Frontier #1 (Image credit: DC)

And yes, Earth Omega, as the term implies, is meant to be a prison for DC's preeminent cosmic threat Darkseid. 

Despite only being featured in three pages of Infinite Frontier #0, there seems to already be a flaw in the Omega Earth plan. And we get into that in more detail through the link. 

3. The new super-SUPER team

The new DC Universe has a new superteam called the Totality - a sort of DCU all-star roster of superheroes and supervillains that is described as "a shield protecting our world from future threats, manned by its greatest minds." 

The team is housed in a headquarters on the dark side of the Moon and is "the next stage of the Halls of Justice and Doom."

image from Dark Nights: Death Metal #7 - the Totality headquarters (Image credit: DC)

Its members include Hawkgirl, Mr. Terrific, Martian Manhunter, Talia al Ghul, Vandal Savage, and Lex Luthor.

And Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern with a new lease on life, will serve as a "Sentinel" - a sort of head of security - for the new team. 

The Totality has been featured - albeit not prominently at least yet - in the six-issue Infinite Frontier limited series that launched in June

And if you're read Infinite Frontier #2, there already seems to be some internal strife. 

4. The map is back

In explaining the new structure of 'Multiverse Prime' (again, our term) the map of the Multiverse circa 2014 and Grant Morrison's Multiversity made a cameo appearance in Death Metal #7 and again in Infinite Frontier #2, along with The Multiversity: Guidebook, which is a comic book guide to the Multiverse that actually exists in the Multiverse as a guide to the heroes that inhabit it.

Got that? 

The House of Heroes is the home base of Justice Incarnate, a sort of Justice League all-star team made up of heroes from around the Multiverse, including Calvin Ellis, otherwise known as President Superman, the Man of Steel of Earth-23. 

And he is joined by Barry Allen, the Flash, who in Infinite Frontier #0 accepts Justice Incarnate's offer to be Earth-0's representative on the team whose task it is to explore and map the new Omniverse. 

Barry then tells Wally West (now seemingly fully recovered from the events of Heroes in Crisis and his time as a new omnipotent being up until the conclusion of Death Metal) that Wally should once again take over the mantle of Central City's the Flash, which he's done as the star of The Flash monthly series.

But things aren't really going very well for Barry which you can read about in our recap of Infinite Frontier #1

The Map of the Multiverse (Image credit: DC)

The rest of Justice Incarnate is playing a pretty big role in Infinite Frontier as well and has teamed up with Flashpoint Batman - a Thomas Wayne from the Flashpoint reality who became Batman after Martha and Bruce were murdered in Crime Alley - in its first issues. 

And while we haven't seen it since the conclusion of Death Metal, the Dark Multiverse is also still present in the Omniverse. The Dark Multiverse is somewhat akin to Earth-3. It features dark, twisted versions of familiar DC heroes and concepts.

The Dark Universe remaining a presence is no surprise given how it is commercially ripe for versions of DC heroes and classic stories with a sort of perverse Elseworlds twist, although DC has yet to revisit that concept in 2021.

But don't be surprised to someday see DC heroes team up with their Dark Multiverse counterparts against an even greater threat. 

That's kind of how comic books go. 

And the Dark Multiverse is now joined by another new wrinkle to the Omniverse - the Linearverse. Introduced in the January and February Generations: Shattered and Forged two-issue series, the Linearverse is more or less an alternative answer to the editorial necessity of a Multiverse. 

It features a nearly identical Earth to Earth-Prime but on this Earth DC characters age very slowly, so the Superman and the Batman who debuted in 1938 and '39, respectively, are the same Superman and Batman of 2021 who are physically still young men in the prime of their careers. Those singular heroes experienced almost all of the adventures depicted in DC comics since their original appearances, without any multiple Earths/alternative timelines/Crises shenanigans. 

We get into the mechanics of the Linearverse in greater detail here

For you newer DC readers, we'd recommend checking out DC's own interactive Map of the Multiverse or the aforementioned The Multiversity: Guidebook.

5. Bring out your dead

As mentioned previously, not only are "some" of the characters that lost their lives during Death Metal alive (does that include the Batman Who Laughs before Wonder Woman killed him? Hmmm?), but DC has left the door open to just about any character who was dead now being alive.

"Not just those who fell in battle, but people who died before recent events…"

We dive into more detail about that revelation here.

But the first such character returning from the dead (who died before Death Metal) is Roy Harper, who was killed by Wally West in Heroes in Crisis. 

But there's been a wrinkle. 

art from Infinite Frontier #2 (Image credit: DC)

Roy has returned, but he's also a Black Lantern, one of a sort of zombie-centric offshoot of the Green Lantern Corps whose usual members are dead people recruited from the grave. 

So Roy's status as Black Lantern opens up the question of just how 'alive' is he?

And Roy's deceased daughter Lian is also alive again, but seemingly much older than the Lian who died as a child.

Another character killed in Dark Metal - Captain Atom - seemingly returned for the dead recently, but he's been revealed as an imposter. He's not the resurrected Captain Atom of Earth-0, but a Captain Atom from another Earth who tried to take his place. 

So the whole 'the dead have returned' thing may not be as simple as it sounds. 

Stay tuned on that front. 

6. It all matters ... but how? 

Finally, the mechanics of DC continuity/canon are either still to be defined or left open-ended on purpose.

As DC has already detailed, the result of Death Metal is that everything is now continuity in some respects.

The clear implication of Death Metal and Infinite Frontier is that hard reboots like the original Crisis On Infinite Earths and Flashpoint/'The New 52' are irrelevant and DC is no longer going to attempt to cram continuity into a cohesive timeline resembling the real world passage of time.

Barry explains to Wally in Death Metal #7 that as the result of Wonder Woman's battle with the Darkest Knight, "the timeline was unknotted once and for all and all our memories returned."

Hawkgirl then explains to Wally that Hypertime is healing and that characters will likely experience flashes of events that happened in Hypertime and alternate pasts "in pretty epic fashion." 

Infinite Frontier #0 also contains exposition suggesting DC characters are now more whole, that legacy taken away during the 'New 52' along with their belief in themselves has been restored.

For the moment, this is all very meta-textual and hasn't been defined in a specific way. 

Unlike the Linearverse, which is its own specific thing and does not represent the core timelines, how the lives of the 'current' Superman and Batman and Flash, etc. are distinguished between the lives of previous versions - meaning how or if a narrative canon that does not rely on the Linearverse conceit of heroes that age slowly is established - remains to be seen. Will every major DC character essentially become Hawkman - a complex conglomeration of past lives? 

For the moment, after 35 years of being preoccupied with making its continuity make sense, DC seems to want readers to decide for themselves how the puzzle pieces fit together, or if it matters to you if they do at all. 

If its official stance on continuity changes, we'll be sure to let you know. But all these questions may be taken care of when the leveled-up Darkseid emerges from the Omega Earth and plunges the DCU into their next major Crisis event, which all signs point to being the big DC thing in 2022.

Death Metal was what Scott Snyder calls an anti-Crisis. Check out all of DC’s Crises from best to worst.

I'm not just the Newsarama founder and editor-in-chief, I'm also a reader. And that reference is just a little bit older than the beginning of my Newsarama journey. I founded what would become the comic book news site in 1996, and except for a brief sojourn at Marvel Comics as its marketing and communications manager in 2003, I've been writing about new comic book titles, creative changes, and occasionally offering my perspective on important industry events and developments for the 25 years since. Despite many changes to Newsarama, my passion for the medium of comic books and the characters makes the last quarter-century (it's crazy to see that in writing) time spent doing what I love most.