Armageddon 2001 #1: Darktime

  • Writer: Archie Goodwin
  • Penciller: Dan Jurgens
  • Inker: Dick Giordano
  • Colorist: Tony Tollin
  • Letterer: Albert De Guzman
  • Cover Penciller: Dan Jurgens
  • Cover Inker: Terry Austin
  • Editor: Denny O’Neil

Cover: Looming over the assembled heroes is Monarch, the villain of the story, while directly in front of him is the new hero Waverider. On the ground before them, the heroes are split into two rows.

On the left, working front to back are: Superman; Flash; Green Lantern Hal Jordan; Cyborg; Captain Atom; Martian Manhunter; Booster Gold; Hawk; Metamorpho; then two indistinct characters, though the end one may be Dove.

On the right, again front to back are: Batman; Wonder Woman; Nightwing; Green Lantern Guy Gardner; Hawkman; Starfire; Mr. Miracle; Blue Beetle; probably Power Girl; possibly Dr. Fate.

Page 1: The narrator of the captions isn’t made known to us just yet and while this image may mean nothing to us now, it’ll be given significance later in the issue.

Page 2 – Panel 3: “Time has me.” In a story dealing with time travel, these words have some importance.

Page 2 – Panel 5: “I’m a little boy again…” so the narrator is remembering something that happened when he was a child.

Page 2 – Panel 7: That silhouette of the boy’s saviour is classic Jurgens Superman. Trouble is, the child has trouble remembering who has actually saved him.

Page 3 – Panel 1: Was it Superman?

Page 3 – Panel 2: Green Lantern?

Page 3 – Panel 3: Captain Atom?

Page 3 – Panel 4: Or was it Batman who lifted him from the rubble?

Page 3 – Panel 5: Or Firestorm who flew off, giving words of wisdom?

Page 4 – Panel 2: As the narrator says, whoever saved him was one of the heroes of the day whom he views as giants. Behind Superman can be seen the Lexcorp tower and the Daily Planet building.

Page 5 – Panel 3: There were giants in the Earth in those days

Page 5 – Panel 1: In his memories, the narrator uses “giants” literally as Superman stands towering over Metropolis. And who does that silhouette on the right belong to?

Page 5 – Panel 3: Batman in a very Dark Knight Returns-inspired costume!

Page 6 – Panel 4: Wonder Woman separates the two heroes, acting as peacemaker.

Page 7 – Panel 1: She indicates other heroes heading towards them. In the air, left to right, are Green Lantern (GL) Hal Jordan; Martian Manhunter; Dr. Fate; and Mr. Miracle. On the rooftops are Blue Beetle; Nuklon; Flash; and Blue Devil.

Page 7 – Panel 3: Left to right we have Hawk; Blue Beetle; Batman; Creeper; Superman; Flash; GL Guy Gardner; Wonder Woman; Metamorpho; Elongated Man; Robotman; and Starfire. These panels and the forthcoming pages aren’t really continuous as the various heroes change throughout. I guess they’re meant to be representative of the heroes at that time.

Page 7 – Panel 4: Again left to right are Rocket Red; Martian Manhunter; Power Girl; GL Guy Gardner; Fire; and Superman. Two heroes have been vaporised by beams from the eyes of . . .

Page 8 – Panel 1: Darkseid! Working clockwise from the top right of the page, starting from in front of Darkseid’s bicep are Elongated Man; Starfire; Fire; Orion; Superman; Rocket Red; GL Guy Gardner; Wonder Woman; Troia; Captain Atom; Geo-Force; Metamorpho; Booster Gold; Negative Man; Power Girl; Starman; and then Jade and GL Hal Jordan directly in front of Darkseid.

Page 9 – Panel 2: Mr. Miracle in the air pushing against Darkseid’s foot while on the ground, left to right, are Booster Gold; Big Bear; Firehawk; and Creeper.

Page 9 – Panel 3: The small figure in red and black may be Starman; then Superman; then possibly the Human Bomb (as I said, these heroes keep changing!) and then Dr. Fate near Darkseid’s head.

Page 9 – Panel 4: Left to right are Geo-Force; GL Hal Jordan; Nuklon; the bad guy; Hawk; Robotman; and Blue Devil. The bad guy is simply a representation: the narrator doesn’t know which hero betrayed his companions so for the sake of this story we see him as a featureless, black, spiky figure.

Page 10 – Panel 1: Brainwave Jr on the left, then Cyborg and Blue Beetle with the bad guy about to pounce.

Page 10 – Panel 2: Cyborg and Blue Beetle fall to the bad guy!

Page 11 – Panel 3: The bad guy surveys the remains of the fallen heroes, tattered costumes blowing in the wind.

Page 12 – Panel 1: The narrator pinpoints when the heroes fell: 2001.

Page 12 – Panel 4: A glimpse of things to come

Page 12 – Panel 4: Superman’s tattered costume would be revisisted by Dan Jurgens a couple of years later in the Death of Superman storyline. Admittedly here it’s his chest symbol while Superman #75 uses his cape, but the image is basically the same.

Page 13: And here we are in the present. At least the present for Matthew Ryder, actually the DCU’s future. Heck, you know what I mean. Ryder is handily introduced by his friend and colleague in the white coat, Harris, as they walk beneath a gleaming statue of Monarch. It becomes clear that Ryder has been the narrator of the previous pages and was the young boy rescued by one hero or another.

Page 14 – Panel 4: Harris complains about Ryder working on his own projects.

Page 15 – Panels 1 and 2: Here we find out it’s 2030, 29 years after the rise of Monarch and the fall of the heroes. While crime still occurs, it’s apparently limited. Note the posters on the walls for the Econo Corps Project and the Peacemakers. We’ll find out a little more about them in due course.

Page 15 – Panel 4: Monarch – at least a sign – watches over Ryder as he enters a rare and used disc shop.

Page 16 – Panel 1: Despite it being 2030, it seems fitting a second-hand / antique store would use a cash register from the 1970’s!

Page 16 – Panel 3: Batman’s hand reaching for Ryder’s hand in the past.

Page 16 – Panel 4: Is it me or is the whole exchange about “kind’a forbidden” discs a little . . . seedy?

Page 17 – Panel 4: So when the sign said “discs” what they actually meant was 3½” diskettes! A quick word on these – it may seem baffling that we’re looking at 3½” discs now when CD’s are everywhere but let’s put it in context. Armageddon 2001 was published in 1991. Audio CDs were pretty much standard at that time but their use for data storage was a good few years off and it wasn’t until the end of the 90’s that CD-ROMs became commonplace. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that the DCU of 2030 is shown as looking at 3½” discs.

Page 18 – Panel 1: The Justice League take on the Royal Flush Gang. Left to right above the rocks are Dr. Fate; Ace; Martian Manhunter; Ten (miscoloured as Jade); Booster Gold; and Captain Atom. On the ground are Jack; GL Guy Gardner; Mr. Miracle; and King.

Page 18 – Panel 2: Titans attack!

Page 18 – Panel 2: The Teen Titans. Left to right are Nightwing; an unknown villain; Hawk; Dove; Cyborg; Starfire; Changeling; and Wonder Girl.

Page 18 – Panel 3: Ryder is shown viewing these images on an ancient computer by any standards!

Page 19 – Panel 1: Another flashback to the hand clutching Ryder’s; Drew identified this as Mr Miracle.

Page 19 – Panel 2: Wonder Woman’s hand.

Page 19 – Panel 3: Hawkman’s hand.

Page 19 – Panel 9: This is Janet Ryder, Matthew’s wife.

Page 20 – Panel 2: The picture shows Ryder with his family, obviously in happier times.

Page 20 – Panel 3: Joining Ryder and his wife at the table are their two children, Alex and Karen. Karen’s uniform will be explained in a moment.

Page 21 – Panel 1: Isn’t that what every parent wants for their child – the “best possible corporate management training“?

Page 21 – Panel 3: Another flashback to the hand, this time that of Dr. Fate.

Page 21 – Panel 4: Alex, it seems, is heading into the Econo Corps like his mother.

Page 21 – Panel 5: His sister Karen, however, is a member of the Peacemakers. These two organisations were those advertised on the posters back on Page 15 and are obviously big employers in 2030.

Page 21 – Panel 6: “Coming down hard on anti-social tendencies…” By any definition, the Peacemakers appear to be an organisation on the right-wing side of the fence.

Page 22 – Panel 1: And with that, family time comes to an end. It’s a brief scene but amply provides a sense that Ryder is not happy with his life, nor his family.

Page 23 – Panels 1 to 3: Ryder stands before one of the many statues of Monarch, contemplating the rumours about the mysterious leader.

Page 23 – Panel 4: A satellite high above the Earth where, it’s said, Monarch sits watching over everything. It’s easy to draw a comparison to the Monitor from CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS which was published a mere six years before this series.

Page 23 – Panel 5: Monarch the Monitor

Page 23 – Panel 5: And here’s the man himself. Despite being an illustration of a rumour, this is the first time we see Monarch in the flesh so to speak.

Page 24 – Panels 1 to 4: Ryder reveals that over the years, Monarch’s appearances on Earth have dwindled except, so rumour says, to sometimes appear and unleash huge amounts of power . . .

Page 25: . . . “to vent a terrible rage.

Page 26 – Panel 2: Ryder’s friend Harris jolts him from his deep thoughts.

Page 26 – Panels 4 and 5: Harris’s inference is clear: Monarch is pushing for success in the field of time travel.

Page 27 – Panel 2: Harris and Ryder are pushed aside as a man bolts from . . .

Page 27 – Panel 3: . . . the Peacemakers who are on the hunt for an “escaped terrorist!” Despite their name, there seems to be no connection to the DC Peacemaker characters.

Page 28 – Panel 1: Ah, the traditional, random lost little child in the line of fire. Where would heroes in waiting be without them?

Page 28 – Panel 3: Another flashback to the hand, this time it’s Cyborg’s.

Page 28 – Panel 5: Intent on doing the right thing, Ryder barges past the Peacemakers . . .

Page 29 – Panel 1: . . . and saves the little girl . . .

Page 29 – Panel 2: . . . just as the Peacemakers shoot the “escaped terrorist.

Page 29 – Panels 4 and 5: It probably comes as no surprise to find the Peacemaker officer arresting Ryder is his own daughter, Karen.

Page 30 – Panels 1 and 2: Despite the charges, Karen’s rank and her mother’s work with the Econo Corps, Ryder is let off with a warning.

Page 30 – Panel 3: Karen refutes Ryder’s argument about saving the girl, saying “there’d be chaos” if everyone acted the same way as Ryder. Of course, the opposite of chaos, at least in the DCU, is order. So Monarch, through the Peacemakers, has instilled order by any means necessary. That’s kind of ironic in light of Monarch’s identity.

Page 31 – Panel 1: That “escaped terrorist” Karen and her Peacemakers gunned down? The same man who’s been selling used discs to Ryder.

Page 31 – Panel 6: And the seeds are sown for Ryder to attempt to change the world.

Page 32 – Panels 1 to 3: Monarch shown as being undefeatable while Ryder muses about how to beat him.

Page 33 – Panels 1 to 3: With the idea of time travel already having been mentioned, Ryder considers going back in time to before Monarch came into being.

Page 33 – Panel 4: Potential candidates

Page 33 – Panel 4: His screen shows a grid with images of the heroes that Monarch may have been. Left to right we have:

  • Top Row: A miscoloured Starman (missing the red stripes on his shoulders); Hawkman; Cyborg; Nightwing; and Booster Gold.
  • 2nd Row: Superman; Aquaman (covered by Ryder’s finger); Batman; Hawk; and Starfire (interestingly the only woman on the list).
  • 3rd Row: Probably Robin; Blue Beetle; Captain Atom; GL Hal Jordan; and Flash.
  • 4th Row: The only one that can be positively identified from their hair cut is GL Guy Gardner who’s directly below Hal Jordan.

Page 33 – Panel 5: Here’s that image from Page 1 again.

Page 34 – Panel 1: And here it is again, hanging on the wall of the Quantum Division.

Page 34 – Panels 2 and 3: Ryder has volunteered for the program but, as the doctor says, has been turned down because of his impulsive nature.

Page 35: There’s little point in separating these panels out as they deal with a test subject being sent into the timestream.

Page 36 – Panel 3: The narrator calls them “riders in the timestream.” highlighting the forthcoming pun on Ryder’s name.

Page 36 – Panels 4 and 5: Monarch’s appearance here is abrupt to say the least, and he expresses his displeasure in the failure of the time travel experiment.

Page 37 – Panel 1: Ryder’s friend Harris explains why it’s a good thing Quantum Division rejected Ryder’s application to volunteer for the program.

Page 37 – Panels 4 and 5: Ryder muses that his own recklessness, his “crazy streak” as Harris calls it, may be what the time travel program is missing.

Page 38: How to gain the attention of a despot that no-one knows how to contact? Find one of his many statues and burn it!

Page 39 – Panel 2: The statue actually explodes, giving the impression that it was more than just a simple statue.

Page 39 – Panel 4: With an impressive response time, the Peacemakers arrive . . .

Page 40 – Panel 2: . . . and so does Monarch in his first in-story (as opposed to flashback) appearance!

Page 41 – Panel 1: Aboard Monarch’s satellite, the tyrant admits to Ryder that he is haunted by the past.

Page 41 – Panels 3 to 6: Ryder challenges the outcome of Monarch’s rule, highlighting the fact that his subjects, while safe, have no drive or will to succeed. He does which is why he claims he will be able to complete the time travel program when so many others have failed.

Page 42 – Panel 4: Monarch’s scientists, hidden till this point, admit that Ryder may have a point.

Page 43 – Panel 3: The old “We’re not that different” line said by countless movie villains to their heroic counterparts!

Page 43 – Panels 5 and 6: Monarch shows he’s no fool; he understands that Ryder has potential to betray him and wishes some form of assurance that Ryder will do as he’s told.

Page 45 – Panel 3: Monarch vs Ryder

Page 44 – Panel 1: Having planned ahead, Ryder has planted links to his loving family in his memory, somewhere that he would expect Monarch to challenge.

Page 45 – Panel 3: An imaginary battle takes place in Ryder’s mind, paralleling the battle between Superman and Batman at the start of the issue. Monarch claims he was a giant, again mirroring the earlier scene. Ryder is here shown as a hero in a costume which, to my mind, resembles that of Marvelman/Miracleman.

Page 45 – Panel 4: Monarch states what was hinted at earlier back on Page 30, that he has brought order to the world.

Page 46 – Panels 4 to 6: Ryder uses the possibility of another world, one where his family would actually love each other, as strength against Monarch’s mental assault.

Page 47 – Panel 3: Despite Monarch’s words, it is hope that he can change things that allowed Ryder to pass the test, not love for his family.

Page 48: Ryder is launched into the timestream.

Page 49 – Panels 3 to 6: Ryder’s consciousness succeeds where previous test subjects had failed and the image from the start of the issue is repeated once more.

Page 50 – Panel 1: Another flashback to the hand reaching for young Ryder’s; this time it’s Changeling’s.

Page 50 – Panel 2: Or is it Starfire’s?

Page 50 – Panel 3: Or the Flash’s?

Page 50 – Panels 4 to 9: Ryder realises he has become one with the timestream and can use the energies to become . . .

Page 56 – Panel 1: Who watches the heroes?

Page 51: Waverider!

Page 52: This new being, not really Matthew Ryder but driven by his will, slips through time.

Page 53 – Panels 1 to 3: Waverider materialises and transforms into a police officer.

Page 53 – Panel 5: The police officer stands on a copy of the Gotham Gazette dated either September or November 8th, 1991.

Page 53 – Panel 7: A random cop-killer appears.

Page 54 – Panels 2 to 4: Waverider touches the attacker, allowing him to pluck through both his memories and to determine his future. It’s this method that he will use to explore the more likely timelines of the heroes to determine which of them becomes Monarch.

Page 54 – Panel 5: And in this guy’s future, there’s the Batman!

Page 55 – Panel 2: Note the date of the paper – August 1996, the future from the point of view of Waverider in 1991.

Page 55 – Panel 4: Out on appeal, the Cop Stalker goes back to his old habits.

Page 55 – Panel 6: Waverider learns how to avoid leaving any memory of the future timeline in the subject’s mind.

Page 56 – Panel 1: This panel was used as house-ads for the series and is classic Dan Jurgens! Over the heroes is, of course, Monarch.

On the top row, left to right, are Martian Manhunter; Blue Beetle; Booster Gold; Mr. Miracle; Dove; Hawk; Cyborg; Captain Atom; Power Girl; Rocket Red; Metamorpho; and Starman.

On the bottom row, again left to right, are Hawkman; Flash; GL Hal Jordan; Batman; Superman; Wonder Woman; GL Guy Gardner; Nightwing; and Starfire.

Page 56 – Panel 2: And Waverider’s off into the summer annuals to try and find which hero will become Monarch!