When The CW announced that its five-part event kicking off this season of The Flash was to be called "Armageddon," most comics fans assumed that it would be connected to Armageddon 2001, a 1991 comics crossover, and its sequels. Once the story synopses started to be revealed, though, that seemed less likely. Armageddon 2001 centered on a world where a superhero had gone bad and taken over the world, ruling as the masked villain Monarch and doling out brutal justice to his detractors. The other pitted a number of DC heroes against Despero, a classic Justice League villain who is an alien despot.
And then came tonight's episode of The Flash, "Armageddon Part One." Suddenly the similarities are a lot more obvious.
The episode begins with a flash forward ten years to 2031 (as opposed to from 1991 to 2001). Enter Despero, who says he has left one betrayal only to find another among the stars. The world is in chaos, and he says only he has the ability to do what must be done.
Later, when he arrives in Central City 2021, he tells The Flash that he is the existential threat faced by humanity in 2031, and that he is there to kill the hero. That seemingly casts The Flash as Monarch, and Despero as the time-traveling hero Waverider. Now, whether or not you can believe anything Despero says is anybody's guess...but it certainly does look from what we see in the cold open that he's being honest.
In Armageddon 2001, Waverider is the powered-up version of a kid named Matthew Ryder, who witnesses Monarch's rise and loses people he loves as a result. Of course, in the Arrowverse, the character of Waverider has never popped up, but that's the name of the Legends' timeship.
What may happen is that there is a misdirect at play. In the originaly concept for Armageddon 2001, the villain was supposed to be Captain Atom, who snapped and became Monarch. Given his immense power (he was, after all, the inspiration for Doctor Manhattan), it makes some kind of sense. When that story was leaked, DC covered their tracks by changing the plot, revealing the true villain to be Hawk, who cracked after the death of his brother. With the Reverse Flash playing a role in this crossover, it certainly isn't beyond the scope of probability that Barry is being framed, and there will be a last-minute revelation that changes everything we know about the story.
The Flash airs on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW. "Armageddon" continues next week.