"This is my intention: I will make him watch his oldest friends die here, in a world beyond their comprehension. I will tear down the sun and take his place in the sky. And end the Superman dynasty forever." ~ Solaris, The Living Sun
DC One Million was a line-wide crossover and fifth week event which DC Comics held in November 1998. Masterminded and primarily written by Grant Morrison, it involved a time-travelling visit from the Justice Legion of the space year 85,271 (exactly 1,000,000 months after Action Comics #1 was released in 1938, see?).
The "core" comics of DC One Million were DC One Million #1, DC One Million #2, JLA #1,000,000, DC One Million #3 and DC One Million #4, but every other current DC title ran a one-millionth issue at the same time, just over half of which were directly or indirectly connected with the main DC1M storyline. The rest were one-off specials, showing what the 853rd-century versions of the current set of heroes would be up to in that amazing era, and otherwise unrelated to the main storyline.
I could list these in the order that DC suggested you read them in, but I think this order makes more logical sense. Read on:
Some time "before" the events of DC One Million, time-travelling hero Chronos steals the time-travel gauntlets of John Fox, the distant future Flash. This comic was released in week five of DC1M but I put it first as it sets up the first few events.
DC One Million #1
The 1998 Justice League of America - Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash (Wally West), Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), Martian Manhunter, Steel, Huntress, Plastic Man, Zauriel and Barda are astounded when a group of superheroes from the year 85,271 teleport into the Watchtower. The future Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash (John Fox), Aquaman, Hourman and Starman (Farris Knight) form Justice Legion A. Unimaginably powerful people, they protect the Solar System in their home era.
Superman, it seems, is still alive in the distant future, but, after founding a dynasty of Supermen and experiencing an unimaginable amount of adventures, he has spent the last fifteen thousand years living in solitude inside the Sun. But now, in 85,271, he is returning - so Justice Legion A wants to send the League to the distant future to perform some "feats" and meet their friend again, while they stay home and defend Earth for the subjective instant for which they are gone.
Of course, it all goes horribly wrong.
Vandal Savage, an immortal human being, has just purchased four decomissioned nuclear-capable Rocket Red suits and single-handedly defeated Arsenal, Tempest, Supergirl and Jesse Quick in the process. He loads Tempest into the first suit and launches it at Washington, D.C.!
Meanwhile, in the 853rd Century, Vandal Savage's future self and Solaris, gigantic living solar computer and nemesis of the Superman dynasty for tens of thousands of years, have put into action their own diabolical plot to kill Superman Prime forever, by sabotaging the Legion's trip to the past.
At the very instant after Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash and Green Lantern have departed for the future, Hourman suddenly releases a nanotechnological 24-hour-death virus. The virus contaminates the contaminates the Justice Legion, everybody else in the whole world and, cunningly, their computers too. This includes the Rocket Red suit, which goes off-course and instead nukes Montevideo, Uruguay, killing over a million people.
Discovering what has happened, the remaining League members (Zauriel, Barda, Steel, Plastic Man and Huntress) quarantine themselves in the lunar JLA Watchtower, leaving everybody on Earth with 24 hours to live and the A-list members stranded in the future!
DC One Million #2
In the wreckage of Montevideo, the Justice Legion rapidly realise:
- Solaris is responsible for the virus
- The virus is making everybody paranoid, angry and aggressive - including the Legion members
- Future Superman's powers, which come from the Super-Sun of 85,271, are rapidly waning here in the past
- Future Hourman's been damaged and John Fox's time gauntlets are missing, so they can't return to the future.
Present-day Vandal Savage comes on worldwide transmissions to claim responsibility for Montevideo. He puts Arsenal, Supergirl and Jesse Quick in the next three suits and launches them - no demands, he just wants to rule the world. Both present and future superheroes set out to stop him. Will they succeed? Can you guess?
Meanwhile, the remaining League members, quarantined and uncontaminated in the lunar Watchtower, decide to build a time machine to go to the future and rescue the rest of their team.
Man Of Steel #1,000,000, Superman #1,000,000, (Superboy #1,000,000)
His powers diminishing, future Superman nevertheless manages to rescue Arsenal from the Rocket Red suit targeted on Metropolis and destroy the suit safely.
Superman decides that the only way to find an cure for the Hourman virus is to build a sentient solar computer - like Solaris, and I'm sure you see where this is going! Along with Lois Lane and Lex Luthor, he heads to the modern Superman's Fortress of Solitude to find some advanced technology, but the security systems don't recognise him and he's too weak to break in. He has to settle for a piece of equipment scavenged from Cadmus labs and - freakily - a sample of human blood, which is volunteered by Lois Lane. For the rest, he decides to head to the Moon, and the quarantined League Watchtower.
Shadow Of The Bat #1,000,000, Nightwing #1,000,000, Detective Comics #1,000,000
Future Batman recounts his origin story as he heads across Gotham City, and meets Nightwing, who takes him to the Batcave. Batman uses the Batcave's "limited" computer systems to come to the same conclusion as future Superman: that the only way to stop the Hourman virus is to build a sentient solar computer, namely Solaris himself, to find a cure.
Future Flash (John Fox) teams up with Impulse to rescue Jesse Quick from the Rocket Red suit targeted on Singapore.
Future Starman (Farris Knight) meets current Starman (Ted Knight) and tells him of the future of the Starman dynasty. It appears that from time to time there have also been Starman villains... and Farris is one of them! Forced to take up the hereditary mantle against his will, he likes the power/fame/wealth/women, but just doesn't want to be a hero, so he awakened Solaris (who had actually been reprogrammed into a good guy for about 35,000 years) on purpose. He's part of the plan!
No, it doesn't make a huge amount of sense - possibly not even to Farris himself, who seems somewhat conflicted about the whole thing. Farris stops short of killing Ted but does take something from him - a glowing green rock which fell to Earth during one of Ted's old adventures, called the Knight Fragment. As part of the diabolical plan, he intends to bury it on Mars.
Justice Legion A meets back up again on Earth just as future Superman and future Batman finish building Solaris' core from the blood sample, Cadmus tech and a few Batcave components. Future Superman, no longer able to fly, leaps across the Earth-Moon gap to the League Watchtower, where Barda, Plastic Man, Huntress and Zauriel are watching Steel put the finishing touches to what he hopes is a time machine.
The Watchtower has been maintaining radio silence to avoid contamination and the Hourman virus has been driving people crazy, so when future Superman arrives unannounced, the League assume the worst. Superman remotely activates the League teleporters to bring his counterparts to Aquaman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Flash to the Watchtower, and there's one hell of a fight.
Steel is confident that his team could have won, but stops short of outright annihilating the Legion and succeeds in pacifying everybody instead. Future Superman explains what must be done, and with four hours on the clock before bodies start dropping, the heroes begin construction of Solaris.
Then future Starman arrives, apologising for his lateness, with the Knight Fragment under his arm. At which point future Batman, who allegedly has a 1045 IQ and appears to have figured everything out, instantly accuses Starman of betraying his solar system...
DC One Million #3
Supergirl, Arsenal and Jesse Quick have all now been rescued. And it turns out Tempest escaped death too. Thus, present-day Vandal Savage is both out of nuclear ammo and severely annoyed. He rolls out an ancient pair of Nazi Blitz-engines - Martian Manhunter and others take them out, but Savage naturally escapes to fight another day. His part in the story is neatly wrapped up.
Meanwhile, future Batman interrogates future Starman, and discovers the truth about the Knight Fragment - it's Kryptonite, and Starman is to bury it secretly on Mars where it will not be found for thousands of years, so that Solaris can use it to kill Superman Prime as he emerges from the Sun in AD 85,271.
Justice Legion A and the Justice League's secondary players successfully activate Solaris, and the technoviral strands in every person and computer around the world detect this and leave their hosts en masse - the virus, it seems, is actually Solaris's mind, and was searching all along for its body. (Future Solaris, therefore, has created himself in the past.) Starman partially redeems himself, preventing Solaris from going red giant and annihilating the entire 20th century Solar System by collapsing it into a black hole with his gravity rod. He dies in the process - and Solaris is banished from the Solar System, one day to return and plague future humanity for tens of thousands of years.
That leaves one last question: how can the good guys get to AD 85,271 and stop the assassination of Superman Prime?
Meanwhile, in the distant future:
Batman #1,000,000, Catwoman #1,000,000, Robin #1,000,000
Batman arrives on Pluto - the Arkham Asylum of the year 85,271, with future Batman as warden and a robotic "Robin, the Toy Wonder" as his sidekick. Future Robin introduces Batman to the "feat" he is to perform: he has to complete an obstacle course of sorts, crossing a huge chasm. Batman reluctantly launches into it, but something goes wrong. The prison planet's systems go amok, releasing futuristic incarnations of Batman's rogues gallery, who attack Batman and Robin. They take the most recent version of the Batmobile and head for the Batcave, and get in, thanks to the help of future Catwoman.
Batman discovers that his feat was sabotaged by the murderous Solaris, and decides to meet the rest of his Justice League at the Justice Legion A headquarters on Jupiter.
Wonder Woman #1,000,000
Wonder Woman's feat is a few rounds of war games against the Amazons, who now populate Venus. After being rather badly injured, they take her to the Purple Healing Room (wow, what a step up from the Ray, huh?) which fixes her up nicely, along with the other Amazons injured during the somewhat violent "games". But then something goes wrong - the room has been programmed with Diana's bio-pattern, and as soon as it "reads" her, it steals her superhuman power and turns into a Green Killing Room!
Escaping the wrath of the Amazons, who think she sabotaged the room, Wonder Woman cunningly solves the problem by getting herself killed on purpose. Her mother puts her in the Room to recover, Magala the Mystic reprograms it, and it brings her back to life and restores her power. I hope this makes more sense to you than it does to me.
Wonder Woman also discovers that her feat was sabotaged by the murderous Solaris, and decides to meet the rest of her Justice League at the Legion headquarters on Jupiter.
Power Of Shazam #1,000,000, Flash #1,000,000
A random youth discovers the Rock Of Eternity in a tesseract zone on Mercury, which is the home of the future Flash and the Solar System's information network core. He finds a massively aged Captain Marvel inside and becomes his new champion...
Meanwhile, futuristic versions of Flash's rogues, spurred on by Solaris, start Mercury spinning while he's doing his feat: running (and, in fact, winning) a race against himself. Mercury, of course, always has one face to the Sun and one face away from it (this is actually apocryphal, but hey, it's comic books). The structures on the planet aren't designed to have the heat situation suddenly reversed. Luckily, Flash, Captain Marvel and the new Marvel kid are able to stop the spin before calamity occurs. Flash heads to Jupiter and meets the rest of the Justice League there.
Aquaman arrives in the gigantic single ocean that is Neptune. His feat is to demonstrate his telepathic control of Neptune's sea creatures, an ability future Aquaman (trapped in the past) does not possess. Obviously something goes wrong - spotting the pattern here? A black evil thing attacks, but Aquaman and his hordes of sea creatures subdue it. Aquaman also heads off to Jupiter.
Green Lantern #1,000,000, Martian Manhunter #1,000,000
Green Lantern's feat is a race against some random light construct through the interior of future Starman's gigantic space station in the orbit of Uranus. Things go wrong when the power in Starman's space station goes out. GL reactivates the power and in the process discovers Solaris' evil plan... and that the future Starman is also complicit! He's on his way to warn everybody when Solaris discovers him, and blasts him almost to pieces. He get hurled across the Solar System, and is caught on Mars by a giant sandy pair of hands...
By the year 85,271, it is revealed, J'onn J'onzz has had adventures spanning galaxies, defeated Darkseid for the very, very last time, and finally merged with the earth/rock of the planet Mars itself. Catching Kyle Rayner as he falls, J'onn revives him and explains his story, and that there is a centuries-old Plan afoot to defeat Solaris - and it involves the Knight Fragment.
Action Comics #1,000,000, Adventures Of Superman #1,000,000, Man Of Tomorrow #1,000,000
Superman's feat - taking on some random robots - is sabotaged when they start laying into the enormous watching crowds. After defeating them, Superman locates his future counterpart's Fortress of Solitude and its caretaker, Mitch "Resurrection Man" Shelley, and learns the future of the Superman dynasty.
Superman heads to Jupiter. Shelley, meanwhile, uses his teleportation gauntlets to head to Mars, specifically Syrtis Major, where an artificial dust storm is hiding Vandal Savage's excavation of the long-buried Knight Fragment.
Resurrection Man #1,000,000
On Mars, Mitch Shelley confronts Vandal Savage, his nemesis of a struggle encompassing tens of thousands of years. Vandal has successfully unearthed the Knight Fragment and exposes Shelley to a bio-mech virus which will kill him over and over again, forever, leaving him as close to death as it's possible for Resurrection Man to get. Vandal escapes, taking Shelley's teleportation gauntlets with him.
DC One Million #4
It's the end of the world! Solaris has finally gone insane and is ravaging the Solar System - except Syrtis Major, Mars, where Vandal Savage uses Resurrection Man's teleportation gauntlets first to teleport the Knight Fragment into Solaris' possession and then to go to Earth to watch Superman Prime's assassination.
Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Green Lantern meet at the Justice Legion's headquarters on Jupiter. Discovering that Solaris has never, ever fought a Green Lantern before, they send GL to trigger a supernova in Solaris' core and contain it with his Power Ring to protect the entire star system from being devastated. Acting on instructions delivered telepathically by J'onn J'onzz, Lantern extracts the human DNA sample from Solaris' core before instigating the core collapse.
"Meanwhile", in the distant past, future Superman uses the very last of his energy on Steel's half-built chronal engine to literally punch a hole in the timestream and get back to AD 85,271. He arrives just in time to use his powers to help Green Lantern hold down Solaris as it goes supernova - but not in time to stop Solaris firing the Knight Fragment into the Sun just at the instant Superman Prime is due to return.
"My force-vision barrier will serve to cement your plasma bottle, Green Lantern. It's up to your era's Superman to race the Kryptonite bullet and stop the assassination of his own future self!" ~ future Superman (this is my favourite comic book quote of all time)
Present-day Superman is too slow to stop the Kryptonite bullet - but! It's not Kryptonite! It's an eighty-three-thousand-year-old set-up! It's actually a Green Lantern Corps Power Ring - which Superman Prime, emerging from the Sun in pure golden glory, uses to snuff out Solaris once and for all.
The rest of the Justice Legion returns to the future. Hourman "turns time inside-out" and uses the DNA sample from Solaris to create a new Lois Lane for Superman Prime, as well as a new Krypton, complete with all its inhabitants, including Superman's parents. The Justice League of 1998 goes back to the past, heads spinning. And last of all, Vandal finds out the hard way that Resurrection Man's teleportation gauntlets are actually John Fox's time gauntlets, stolen and reprogrammed by Chronos, when he materialises at ground zero, Montevideo, November 1998...
- Young Justice #1,000,000
- Green Arrow #1,000,000
- Legionnaires #1,000,000
- Azrael #1,000,000
- Chase #1,000,000
- Creeper #1,000,000
- Supergirl #1,000,000
- Young Heroes In Love #1,000,000
- Lobo #1,000,000
- Hitman #1,000,000
- Legion Of Super-Heroes #1,000,000
I hate to be so absolute about this, but Grant Morrison is the keystone of this whole thing. The central five titles he wrote are hugely entertaining, imaginative, gratuitously futuristic works - I always enjoy Morrison's dialogue and the artwork of Val Semeiks and Prentis Rollins is up to a similar standard. It's nothing Earth-shattering or epoch-defining as stories go, but it's solid, fast-paced, plausible for the fictional universe in question and enjoyable - and isn't that all you really need to get your money's worth from a comic book story?
Perhaps not. Those are just the five core titles. A whole lot of the story takes place off-camera: that is, in other comics. You have to read, as a bare minimum, three or four additional comics before many of the events referred to in comics after DC1M #1 begin to make sense. And those extra comics are patchy at best. While, in the core five, Morrison seems to be venting raw inspiration at full burn to make the DC Universe of 85,271 shiny and colourful as possible, the rest of the gaggle seem to be picking at his half-mentioned ideas (off-the-shelf superpowers, information as currency) and turning them into half-inspiring comics (Action Comics #1,000,000, Power Of Shazam #1,000,000 respectively). Maybe the secondary writers didn't have the creative freedom they needed to keep the whole thing interesting, but the extra comics diluted the DC1M universe for me, rather than expanding on it.
As for the unrelated titles - most of these were even further below par. If you like Lobo, I guess you might like Lobo #1,000,000; Hitman #1,000,000 is moderately entertaining; but the less said about Supergirl #1,000,000, the better.
JLA One Million
"JLA One Million" is the name of the trade paperback which collects this crossover. It contains nothing like the complete range of comics listed here: which is a good thing, as I said. Instead it limits itself to DC1M #1-4, JLA #1M, Starman #1M, Resurrection Man #1M and Man of Tomorrow #1M, with a few pages selected from each of Green Lantern #1M and Detective Comics #1M too.
Overall I would say you do have a very good impression of the whole storyline in this TPB: all the salient details are present. It FEELS like there is a lot going on in the sidelines which you're missing, but you'll have to trust me when I say that this is just a product of Morrison's high-paced writing, and what you're missing is either inconsequential or missing from the crossover entirely (future Wonder Woman rescuing Supergirl, for example, doesn't actually appear anywhere in the crossover).
However, reading the TPB is a disjointed experience. Artists switch intermittently as you go from comic to comic but there are no title pages so it gets confusing unless you are concentrating and/or have this guide to keep you up to speed.