Wednesday, June 20, 2007

DC Comics I'd Write for Free: War of the Gods

Although I'd call it Crisis of Faith. "War" is such a Marvel term. So, I never read the original "War of the Gods," but by all accounts it's one of the worst crossover events in DC history, if not comics history in general. I think the idea was that the Greek and Roman pantheons fought each other, and in the end were merged together. Sounds riveting, right?
I got to thinking awhile back about religion and deities in the DCU. One of the best things about the DCU is its mythology. Somewhere along the line, between Rao and Rama Kushna, DC managed to develop its own vast and nuanced mythological tapestry, beyond just co-opting the pantheons of dead religions. You've got the Elementals, the Endless, alien pantheons, but the big one is the Order/Chaos duality. Dr. Fate, Hawk and Dove, Phantom Stranger, Princess Amethyst, Arion, Mordru, all connected...apparently some big Order/Chaos crossover war was supposed to go down at some point. When it didn't, the conflict between Order and Chaos got absorbed into the greater fabric of the universe.
So, the only known remaining Lord of Order following the Infinite Crisis is Amethyst (not counting Billy Batson, who has yet to grow into his role as Shazam's replacement). Magic is wild and untamed, and it's up to her to hold the fort. Sure, there are a few remaining Agents of Order, but they lack the power and scope to effectively stand against the overwhelming chaos of this Tenth Age of Magic.
With chaotic wild magic running rampant, you'd think the Lords of Chaos would have declared victory. And indeed they would have, if there were any of them left. As it stands, only one remains. The Child, longtime nemesis of Amethyst, is an ageless Lord of Chaos in the body of a child, a dark mirror to teenage Amy Winston in the adult body of Amethyst. Though chaos reigns in the world of magic, neither he nor Amethyst really have a foothold in the Tenth Age, and he knows that she will be martialing her forces to restore order to the universe. The only course of action is clear: he has to beat her to it. The time is ripe for Chaos to take the control it has sought since before the dawn of time, and lo, the universe will be consumed with entropy. Life and death and time will be meaningless, and the Lords of Chaos will be made greater than gods, greater even than the Seven. To that end, he enlists the help of two of the most chaotic beings ever to walk in this plane of existence: Loki and Robin Goodfellow.

These two chaos-bringers craft a plan, a grand scheme in which even the mightiest of gods will be mere pawns. Loki traverses the worlds of Midgard, disguised as various mortals, sowing the seeds of doubt and certainty among the mortal population. He whispers into the ears of thousands, "you don't need faith; you know God exists. The Spectre, that angel from the Justice League, they prove it," "maybe Christianity isn't the right way. Ares and Wonder Woman fought in these streets, and what about those New Gods? When's the last time Jehovah showed his face on Earth?" or "Superman's not a god, and he's beaten so-called angels and demons before. Maybe all the religions are wrong, maybe these gods are just aliens or something, not deities to be worshipped."
Meanwhile, Robin Goodfellow takes a more immortal route. He visits first the gods of dead worlds, reminding them of their lost grandeur. "Mistress X'Hal, once you were the most feared goddess in this sector. You juggled worlds in the palms of your hands. Now, even the few survivors of Tamaran cannot find the time or effort to follow the old rituals, to engage in prayer and tribute to you," "Poor Rao the Forgotten, you have but two children left in this universe, and they barely see fit to use your name as an epithet. They say that you were duped by Despair, that she might feed off your eternal misery. They say you couldn't even get her advice right, and that only sweetens the taste," "Where is H'ronmeer? I came to this place seeking the glorious and terrible Lord of Fire, not these cold embers masquerading as a god."

And so it begins. The gods of forgotten worlds and lost cultures decide that they deserve better than dwindling into obscurity. They want power, and that means they need respect and fear and tribute. Naturally, given the species and religious diversity, many of these gods set their sights on Earth. Other gods oppose this interference; their ways are meant to be mysterious and invisible to mortals. The remaining members of the Quintessence are split on the issue--Highfather and Ganthet stand against those who wish to meddle in mortal affairs, Zeus recalls his long-lost glory days, and hopes to restore them. The Phantom Stranger, as he is wont to do, sides with neither group, instead deciding to stand with humanity and help the mortals who will inevitably be caught in the crossfire.

All this, and one deity appears to be missing. Zauriel returns to the Silver City for answers. What he finds shocks him. The Presence is silent, and there's a rift in the angelic host the likes of which hasn't been seen since the Rebellion. The angels are totally without guidance, and are torn on the issue of interfering in the world of men, and further torn on whether they should oppose the other gods in general, or become yet another faction seeking praise and faith from their dwindling followers.

The gods begin their assault, so to speak. X'Hal threatens the Tamaranean survivors to worship her or be killed. Starfire rebels, but finds that her sister has become X'Hal's newest high warrior-priestess.

Rao pleads with Kal-El and Kara, but his Last Son rebukes him to stand with humanity. Kara, though, looks into the red sun and sees the warm glow of home and the promise of power and glory to eclipse her brother. She accepts the offer, with the promise of a New Krypton bestowed upon her in return for obedience. Her first orders: to reunite the Cult of Kon-El, and to turn their beliefs toward a greater emblem. What happens when dozens of lost, emotionally unstable human teenagers find themselves gaining abilities far beyond those of mortal men?

H'Ronmeer finds audience with J'onn J'onzz, but the god of art and fire and death cannot triumph with only one adherent, particularly one with loyalties as divided as J'onn's. So he frees the White Martians from Stasis...

And this is to say nothing of the multitudes of Earth gods. Olympus is torn apart by civil war, with the Wonders caught in the middle. Thor is rampaging through Scandinavia, battling Frost Giants as he tries to reignite the long-dormant viking spirits in the modern Norwegians. He is unaware of his mischievous brother's presence in this world. The gods of India have staked their claim, while Pele rises to seek new sacrifices.

And gods spurned or forgotten begin revoking their gifts and bestowing them upon others. Lobo tries to kill the 99 gods of Czarnia, but slightly less than midway through the massacre, the remaining 48 get angry and revoke his amazing abilities. The now-powerless Lobo must chase down the human biker gang who ride with the Main Man's enhanced strength and regenerative abilities, and then must contend with the gods of his dead culture. Long-forgotten gods of inquiry and innovation find no home on logical Colu, so they bestow their gifts on scientists across the universe, for good or ill. The Green Lantern Corps finds itself divided when thousands of its members are forced to choose between the Guardians and the promises of their worlds' deities. Will the Guardians declare themselves gods? Will they join the fracas?

Earth's Elementals feel the danger to the planet, and rise up to quash it. Animal Man, Red Tornado, and Swamp Thing, among others, find themselves drawn into the struggle to preserve Earth, even at the cost of humanity.

And in the middle of this pandemonium, Neron seeks the throne of Hell, and will usurp as many souls as possible in order to attain it.

Compared to mortals, the Justice League and their allies are like demigods. But what can they do against omnipotent forces? Will they discover the truth behind this chaos before the universe falls into entropy? Will they find a way to pacify the countless gods of thousands of worlds before Earth is torn apart? How will the DC Universe overcome its...Crisis of Faith?

Naturally, this would be a massive crossover, requiring all sorts of long-term planning. Ideally, it'd spawn a number of spin-offs, like a Lobo miniseries, a Zauriel book, an Amethyst series, and maybe even a new Aztek. It'd require a major suspension of the wall between DC and Vertigo and various blessings from Neil Gaiman to reference and potentially use various members of the Endless. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing the matter bleed over into books like Hellblazer for a tie-in or two, just to remind the Vertigo-ites that they're still intimately tied to the DCU. With a detailed plan and the right creative teams, I think it would make for an interesting look into the grand mythology and theology of the DCU, with potentially wide-reaching repercussions. Of course, it'd never see the light of day.

...But I'd write it for free.


Anonymous said...

That's quite the pitch, and something I'd definitely be interested in reading. I think about the closest we've come to anything like that would have to be The Reigning storyline in Thor, where Asgard literally takes control of the Earth under the God of Thunder's rule. Except your proposal throws in all the various gods of the entire DCU!

I believe the word for that sir, is 'gutsy'.


naladahc said...

Ya know... I think I'd actually read it.

I never like my typical Vertigo fare mixed with my typical DC uperheroes fare but it sounds a hundred million billion times better than Countdown is currently reading.

And while you're at it, since there's a multiverse again you gotta consider the fact that there may be 51 other versions of the gods from those other worlds that want their own 8 issue miniseries too.

Anonymous said...

And would Darkseid be behind the whole thing?

I'd read it either way.