When you open up The Man of Steel #1 tomorrow, pay close attention to this opening seqence, in which villain Rogol Zaar finds his motivation during a conversation with a group of powerful beings known as The Circle.
The image, according to series writer Brian Michael Bendis, is the start of a year-long story that will shift the focus of DC's cosmic adventures, pulling focus to Superman and connecting him with various corners of the DC Universe.
"That is a very important image for the DC Universe going forward," Bendis told ComicBook.com. "It's called The Circle, and what they've done over the years, and what Rogol's history with them is and how it connects to the uber history of the DC Universe, will play out going forward in Superman #1. It's this massive Superman epic that takes us our whole first year."
The group looks like a Bendis-ian reinvention of The Quintessence, a group of five powerful immortals who would observe and occasionally influence the fate of Earth in Alex Ross and Mark Waid's fan-favorite Elseworlds series Kingdom Come. The Quintessence would be brought into the DC Universe proper with The Kingdom, the first of a number of Kingdom Come sequels, in which Waid tried to quietly reintroduce DC's multiverse.
"Literally, by the end of the first year of Superman, the entire galactic mass of the DC universe is going to be shifted from what happened, and Superman is going to be right in the center of it," Bendis teased. "It's a very big story, and it touches the Green Lantern story, it touches Hawkworld, it touches every single corner of the DC universe, including parts we'll just be introducing."
If this sounds familiar, it should; in the wake of Dark Nights: Metal, series like Justice League and Hawkman are probing the edges of DC's universe and revealing new corners, new realities, and new cosmic forces that new stories will say have always been at work behind the scenes.
"The first arc really focuses on [John Stewart], and Barry as well," incoming Justice League writer Scott Snyder recently told us. "With the discovery that once the Source Wall is broken, all these new clues about why, and all these new clues about the nature of our multiverse and what made it begin to appear, and one of those things is a portal, or a permeable membrane, to a whole new area of the emotional spectrum that we haven't visited before: the invisible tangents of the emotional spectrum, the ultraviolets, and the infrareds, and all that stuff, that contains some of the worst and most sublimated hidden emotions that we don't like to admit are there. Barry Allen discovers there's a Still Force within the Speed Force, and more like that."
The Man of Steel #1 is on sale tomorrow.