In 2009, the big crossovers are coming strong for comics fans. But what if you’re new to the storyline? Have no fear — Newsarama has prepared a crib sheet for the biggest stories of 2009!
UPDATE: In case it isn’t clear, by “crib sheet” we mean SPOILERS AHEAD…
Final Crisis: Technically a story from 2008, the last two issues of the three-years-in-the-making series hits stores in 2009. To recap: the evil New God Darkseid falls to Earth, cracking the foundations of the Multiverse while throwing our heroes into darkness. Meanwhile, Darkseid’s pawn, Libra, has rebuilt the Secret Society of Supervillains — with his opening bid being the murder of the Martian Manhunter and orchestrating the bombing of the Daily Planet, workplace of Clark Kent. As the Crisis unfolds, Green Lantern Hal Jordan is brought before the Green Lantern Corps, suspected of killing the New God Orion and incapacitating his fellow officers. Superman, meanwhile, is sent on a journey through time to help three parallel universes’ incarnations of the Legion of Superheroes. Batman, however, suspects Jordan’s incarceration to be a sham, and is quickly proven correct when he is captured by Darkseid’s lackey Granny Goodness, who is posing as a Green Lantern. Darkseid, meanwhile, returns to power, having “burrowed out” the mortal shell of Officer Dan Turpin. This kicks off Darkseid’s master plan: disemminating the Anti-Life Equation through the Internet, turning millions into zombies, as the remains of the Justice League struggle to contain the damage. What no one knows, however, is that there’s an ace in the hole: Barry Allen, thought dead since the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, returns with a possible cure, the Green Lantern Corps is on the way, and escape artist Mister Miracle leads the spy group Checkmate to war.
Dark Reign: Marvel’s next big thing. During Civil War, Iron Man became the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and established the Initiative, the registration and drafting of superheroes in the 50 states. However, Secret Invasion brought Stark low as shapeshifting Skrulls crippled his technology and infiltrated the Initiative from within. The new hero of the Marvel Universe — responsible for getting the kill shot for the Skrull Queen — was none other than Norman Osborn, the former Green Goblin and director of the former supervillain squad known as the Thunderbolts. With Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D. thrown out of power, Norman now holds the reins of power, having transformed the Thunderbolts into his personal hit squad and creating a cabal of the world’s most powerful villains and anti-heroes: Dr. Doom, Namor, Emma Frost, Loki, and the Hood. Yet all is not lost — before leaving, Tony Stark erased the Superhero Registry, leaving the only intact copy inside his head. As the former director of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on the run, there’s no telling how this will affect the Avengers in the future.
Image United: Image has always been known as a creator’s brand, having been founded by a high-profile exodus of artists from Marvel. With this series, the art is taking center stage, with Image founders Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Marc Silvestri, Rob Liefeld, Jim Valentino, and Whilce Portacio collaborating on a six-issue team-up of Savage Dragon, Spawn, Witchblade, Cyberforce, and Youngblood. But this has a twist: each artist will draw their own characters for each issue — in other words, you will see Erik Larsen’s renditions of Savage Dragon next to Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. While writer Robert Kirkman is playing the story close to the chest, it certainly will be a watershed moment for the publisher.
The Blackest Night: The long-standing prophecy at the heart of the Green Lantern mythos finally unfolds in the crescendo of DC’s premier space opera. In the seminal Alan Moore story Green Lantern Corps Annual #2, Hal Jordan’s predecessor, Abin Sur, is told by a band of precognitive criminals that not only will his ring cut out when he needs it most, but the Green Lantern Corps will suffer major losses in the War of Light, which will then be snuffed out by the Blackest Night. With Sur perishing on Earth because of the prophecy, the Guardians of the Universe had previously ignored his report. But with new Corps rising — Red Lanterns of Rage, Orange Lanterns of Avarice, the yellow Sinestro Corps of Fear, Blue Lanterns of Hope, Indigo Lanterns of Compassion, and the violet Star Sapphires of Love — it looks like the seven corps will duke it out. However, in the shadows comes Hal Jordan’s old enemy, Black Hand, who has become tied to a power larger than his own — the Black Lantern. As solicits have shown, the Black Lantern Corps is comprised of the dead… meaning even old friends like Aquaman or Martian Manhunter could come back from the grave as bitter, all-powerful enemies.
Ultimatum: Taking place in Marvel’s “Ultimate” lineup, this is a no-holds-barred assault on Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. In the Jeph Loeb-penned series Ultimates 3, the Scarlet Witch is murdered by the lovesick robot Ultron, and Quicksilver is killed by Hawkeye while trying to protect his father Magneto. This sends the Master of Magnetism over the edge, as he triggers a tsunami that decimates Manhattan. No character is safe: the Wasp is brutally eaten by the Blob, while Nightcrawler and Dazzler perish in the flood. Thor’s lover Valkyrie is also dead, and as evidenced by Thor’s journey to the underworld, Captain America seems to have joined her in the afterlife. But perhaps the scariest moment is the current cliffhanger — Magneto finally ending his conflict with Charles Xavier. While details have remained murky, Jeph Loeb has promised that this will close the first chapter of the Ultimates universe, ending some titles while altering the status quo of others.
Battle for the Cowl: Whatever happened to the Caped Crusader? In this year’s highly anticipated storyline Batman: RIP, Batman was being hunted by the Black Glove, a mysterious and powerful crime organization with the resources to trap even the World’s Greatest Detective. The root of the attack: a hallucinatory isolation chamber experiment Batman utilized to try to understand the Joker. With the Black Glove having analyzed his psyche to not only install their own subconscious ”kill-switch,” but to create three psychotic Batmen of their own, all seemed lost. But Batman always thinks of everything: when the kill-switch was activated, a back-up personality — the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh — was unleashed, as he decimated the Black Glove before seemingly perishing in a firey helicopter crash. Final Crisis, however, will prove to be the “end” of the Caped Crusader, as he has been kidnapped by Darkseid to imprint his focus and rage into an army of soldiers. This new series, meanwhile, will examine Batman’s closest associates as they struggle to find his next successor. Among the candidates are: Nightwing, Batman’s first partner; Robin, now having adopted the identity of Red Robin following serious burn injuries; Damien, Batman’s biological son with queen of assassins Talia al’Ghul; Hush, a former childhood friend of Bruce Wayne who has surgically altered his face to match his hated foe; and Jason Todd, the second Robin, who was killed by the Joker but brought back from the dead in his anger at Batman’s refusal to avenge him.
War of Kings: The trigger of the Skrull Invasion was due in part to the meddling of Marvel’s Illuminati — Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Dr. Strange, Namor, Black Bolt, and Professor X — instigating a fight with the Skrull empire. The band was quickly captured and experimented upon, with that knowledge helping the Skrulls infiltrate Earth’s heroes. But while the Illuminati escape, they did not realize that there was an infiltrator in their midst: Black Bolt remained a prisoner of the Skrulls, with an alien shape-shifter in their midst. Suffice it to say that after the Skrulls were defeated, the real Black Bolt is getting his revenge. However, the new shift in power will eventually come into conflict with the Shiar empire, which had recently been taken over by Vulcan, the long-lost, power-mad brother of Cyclops. Stuck in the middle, of course, are the unlikeliest of heroes: Vulcan’s brother Havok languishes in captivity with the space pirates known as the Starjammers, while the Guardians of the Galaxy are struggling with their leader’s telepathic coercion as well as the increasing violence of Darkhawk.