Armageddon 2001 #2: Monarch Revealed

  • Writer: Denny O’Neil
  • Penciller: Dan Jurgens
  • Inkers: Steve Mitchell, Art Thibert, Dick Giordano
  • Colorist: Adrienne Roy
  • Letterer: John Costanza
  • Cover Penciller: Dan Jurgens
  • Cover Inker: Jerry Ordway
  • Editor: Jonathan Peterson

Cover: Monarch stands over the heroes amidst bursts of lightning. Using him as a divider, on the left of the page working top to bottom are Waverider; Flash; Metamorpho; Starman; Captain Atom; Rocket Red; Hawkman; and Hawk. In line with Monarch are Blue Beetle and Booster Gold. To the right of the page are Martian Manhunter; Green Lantern (GL) Guy Gardner; Superman; Ice; Elongated Man; and Power Girl.

Page 1 – Panel 1: As the caption handily points out, this is Waverider.

Page 1 – Panel 2: And again, my identification of Captain Atom is almost pointless.

Page 1 – Panel 3: As shown in issue #1 and the various tie-ins, Waverider is able to look into a person’s likely future by touching them. At the end of the JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE ANNUAL, the last hero he had to inspect was the Captain.

Page 2 – Panel 1: Waverider touches Captain Atom and begins to sift through his futures, finding the one that is most probable.

Page 2 – Panel 3: Captain Atom facing off against Silver Banshee.

Page 3 – Panels 1 to 4: A timeline comes into focus and we see, in the year 2001, a family being gunned down in the street.

Page 3 – Panel 4: Here we have an aged Nathaniel Adam and his apparent girlfriend named Shirley.

Page 4 – Panel 4: Adam surveys the dead bodies of . . .

Page 4 – Panel 5: . . . his children and grandchildren.

Page 4 – Panel 6: The police officer’s attitude is somewhat callous.

Page 5 – Panel 1: Adam is still working for the government in 2001.

Page 5 – Panels 2 and 3: Neither of the police officers are impressed, however.

Page 5 – Panel 6: Six long years . . .

Page 5 – Panel 6: As Waverider observes, Adam begins to transform into Captain Atom for the first time in “six years.

Page 5 – Panel 7: Waverider senses a “rift occurring in the very fabric of existence” which is going to be important in a while.

Page 6 – Panel 1: Shirley manages to calm Adam down and stop his transformation.

Page 6 – Panels 6 and 7: Here we get an explanation of why Adam no longer becomes Captain Atom with “subatomic particle disobeying the laws of quantum physics.

Page 7 – Panel 2: I can’t find any reference to Goslin on the net; let me know if he/she was a supporting character in the CAPTAIN ATOM series.

Page 7 – Panel 5: Adam finds out the terrible news that his children and grandchildren were killed legally. Wow, glad we don’t live in 2001 anymore!

Page 7 – Panel 6: Though I’m fairly liberal about many things, even I don’t think it’s a good idea for the Chief of Police to be smoking a joint on duty!

Page 8 – Panel 6: Hmmm, the President of the USA in 2001 is “a bad joke.

Page 9 – Panel 3: Yet another indictment of this future – when the morgue is full, bodies are taken to the landfill.

Page 9 – Panel 5: And the morgue attendant is as concerned as the police chief was.

Page 10 – Panel 2: This is where the dead are delivered in 2001: the city landfill, along with all the waste and refuse the city produces.

Page 11 – Panel 1: Unable to take any more, Adam begins the transformation into Captain Atom.

Page 11 – Panels 3 to 5: Somewhere/when in the timestream, a silhouetted figure notices a rift caused by Adam’s transformation and heads towards it.

Page 12 – Panel 2: Fully transformed, Captain Atom destroys the landfill including, presumably, the bodies of his children and grandchildren.

Page 12 – Panel 4: Waverider thinks that everything that’s happened to Atom has tipped him over the edge. Could Captain Atom be about to become Monarch?

Page 13 – Panel 1: Captain Atom leaves Shirley and heads for . . .

Page 13 – Panel 3: . . . the city where he finds a police officer. This may be the first instance I’ve read of someone other than the Green Lantern Kilowog using the term “poozer.

Page 13 – Panel 6: Police and brutality

Page 13 – Panel 6: Captain Atom strikes down the police man when he doesn’t give him the information he needs. This is a serious step for a hero.

Page 15 – Panel 1: Atom, clearly deranged by grief and anger, threatens the gang members who killed his family.

Page 16: All the gangs’ guns, however, are no match for Captain Atom.

Page 17 – Panel 2: Atom vaporises the entire church, killing the gang members.

Page 17 – Panel 3: There’s that silhouetted figure again, heading through the rift.

Page 17 – Panel 4: Waverider realises that Atom will not stop with just one gang, that he’ll have to continue.

Page 18: But, after a spree of destruction, he does stop.

Page 19: Realising what he has done, he collapses and returns to being Nathaniel Adam.

Page 20 – Panel 1: And again, the silhouetted figure breaches the rift in reality.

Page 20 – Panel 2: Back in the present (at least in 1991) we re-join Waverider and the Justice League. In the glowing pink/purple cloud stand Captain Atom and Waverider with the faint image of Monarch above them. Then working clockwise from the right we have Crimson Fox; Silver Sorceress; Power Girl’s cat; Catherine Cobert; Rocket Red; Blue Jay; Metamorpho; Superman; Flash; Power Girl; and Elongated Man.

Page 21 – Panel 1: Waverider becomes aware of . . .

Page 21 – Panel 2: . . . Monarch!

Page 21 – Panel 3: Monarch’s reasoning of not wanting to “risk a loyal citizen” in his time travel experiments contradicts what we saw in issue #1 where it was only loyal citizens who were being used. Waverider sensed Monarch back on Pages 5 and 11.

Page 21 – Panel 4: Monarch’s progress through the timestream was inadvertently aided by the 2001 version of Captain Atom. The present version, it appears, remembers the vision of the future he experienced.

Page 21 – Panel 5: Left to right are Monarch; Waverider; Silver Sorceress; Captain Atom Rocket Red; Superman; Flash; and Metamorpho.

Page 22 – Panel 1: Monarch materialises from the timestream into 1991.

Page 22 – Panel 2: Monarch reveals he was aware of Waverider’s plans to destroy his future.

Page 22 – Panel 4: Flash saves Waverider from Monarch’s blast.

Page 23 – Panel 1: Captain Atom attacks Monarch but is easily repelled.

Page 23 – Panels 2 and 3: Superman takes a shot but is also pushed back.

Page 23 – Panel 5: Monarch gets schooled

Page 23 – Panel 5: This being Superman, though, it takes more than that to phase him.

Page 24 – Panel 1: So instead, Monarch brings the roof down as Elongated Man and Power Girl look on.

Page 24 – Panels 4 and 5: Superman and Metamorpho take hold of Monarch.

Page 25 – Panels 1 to 4: Unfazed, Monarch simply teleports away.

Page 25 – Panel 5: A quick clockwise round the room starting from the top left corner gives us Captain Atom; Waverider; Rocket Red; Superman; Elongated Man; Silver Sorceress; Metamorpho; Flash; and Power Girl.

Page 26 – Panel 1: Enjoying a spot of camping are Dawn Granger – the hero Dove – on the left and her boyfriend, police Captain Brian ‘Sal’ Arsala on the right.

Page 26 – Panel 2: Monarch appears behind them.

Page 26 – Panel 5: As Sal attempts to defend Dawn, Monarch simply kills him.

Page 27 – Panel 3: Dawn changes into Dove . . .

Page 27 – Panel 4: . . . and attacks Monarch.

Page 27 – Panels 5 to 7: Monarch paralyses Dove and kidnaps her. Dove’s importance to him will soon become apparent.

Page 28 – Panel 2: Left to right we’ve got Superman; Power Girl; Flash; Captain Atom; Rocket Red; and Waverider. Here we have it explicitly stated that Captain Atom is not going to be Monarch.

Page 28 – Panels 4 to 7: Despite the Flash’s lack of understanding, the premise outlined by Waverider here should have satisfied critics of the series who complained about Captain Atom’s not becoming Monarch (see the note at the bottom of this page.) Waverider’s appearance and interaction with the heroes could have altered all their timelines, effectively making it impossible to determine which of them would become Monarch. Despite his noble intentions, Waverider’s mission was pretty much doomed from the start.

Page 29 – Panel 1: Would anyone like a time paradox?

Page 29 – Panel 3: Modesty is obviously not one of Waverider’s superpowers!

Page 29 – Panel 5: Captain Atom clearly blames himself for Monarch’s appearance in 1991.

Page 30 – Panels 1 to 6: Monarch drops Dove off on a mountain in Asia, paralysing her so she’ll be there when he returns.

Page 30 – Panel 9: He then travels to Washington, DC where he finds Dove’s crime-fighting partner, Hank “Hawk” Hall who, it seems, would rather watch the latest Steven Seagal movie (probably Out for Justice as that was released in April 1991) than study the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Don’t you just love the internet?

Page 31 – Panel 2: Monarch attempts to have Hawk come peacefully or risk “imminent destruction” which doesn’t make any sense. If Hawk resists, the destruction will always be “imminent” and thus never arrive. M’eh, that’s just me being picky.

Page 31 – Panel 3: Hawk was put under a court order not to become Hawk again in the final issue of the HAWK AND DOVE series.

Page 31 – Panel 4: Obviously he throws caution to the wind and transforms in Hawk.

Page 31 – Panel 5: Not so tough are you?

Page 31 – Panel 5: With one blow, Hawk sends Monarch flying but the tyrant isn’t bothered by this.

Page 32 – Panel 2: Quickly recovering, Monarch strikes back at Hawk.

Page 32 – Panels 3 and 4: He then teleports from Washington, DC to the mountainside where he left Dove.

Page 33 – Panels 1 and 2: Hawk asks who Monarch really is and only receives a cryptic “One you know well.” in return.

Page 34 – Panel 1: Monarch sets off on a robbing spree, taking radium isotopes from a nuclear power plant.

Page 34 – Panels 4 to 9: There seems little point in listing everything he steals over these panels as the news reports handily do that for me.

Page 35 – Panel 1: Strangest of all the thefts is that of a portrait of Millard Fillmore, 13th President of the United States.

Page 35 – Panel 2: Left to right are Flash; Captain Atom; Power Girl; Superman; and Waverider. At this point in Flash’s history he had a super-fast metabolism and had to eat a great deal of food to allow him to run, hence the burger, fries and a large drink. Waverider’s idea that there’s something in the pigments of the Millard Fillmore painting that Monarch needs is as good as any.

Page 35 – Panel 5: Monarch returns to the mountainside where Hawk and Dove still lay paralysed.

Page 36 – Panel 1: Even for Dove that seems like a naive proposition!

Page 36 – Panel 2: Monarch appears to know what Hawk would do. I wonder how he knows that . . . ?

Page 36 – Panel 3: Even if we weren’t reading this twenty or so years after it was first published, this panel really gives the clearest indication yet of Monarch’s true identity.

Page 36 – Panels 5 and 6: Monarch goads Hawk further, highlighting his fear that one day he would lose control.

Page 37 – Panel 2: Monarch’s constructed a neutron bomb. Why?

Page 37 – Panel 4: To take out all the superheroes, of course.

Page 37 – Panel 7: As Monarch lifts Dove, he claims to have two tasks to perform.

Page 38 – Panel 1: The first is to kill Dove.

Page 38 – Panels 3 to 8: And poor old Dove dies.

Page 40 – Panel 1: And while he doesn’t state it, this has to be the second of his two tasks: releasing an enraged Hawk.

Page 40 – Panel 2: Dove has obviously reverted back to her Dawn Granger persona which doesn’t appear to have any of the wounds Dove had on Page 39.

Page 40 – Panel 5: Hawk tears Monarch’s face plate off . . .

Page 40 – Panel 6: . . . and swears to kill him.

Page 41 – Panel 5: Hawk is Monarch!

Page 41 – Panels 1 to 3: Despite us seeing Monarch’s face for the first time, it’s not clear who he is as Hawk batters him to death.

Page 41 – Panel 4: And here’s the big reveal – Monarch is Hawk!

Page 41 – Panel 5: Hawk pauses, realising he’s just killed his older self.

Page 42 – Panel 1: Transformed back into Hank Hall, Hawk sets about justifying his own actions.

Page 42 – Panel 3: As Dove was an agent of the Lords of Order, so Hawk was an agent of the Lords of Chaos. To have Hank Hall now proclaim that he will bring order to the world is a complete switch in personality . . . which I suppose makes a degree of sense given that Hall has now gone completely mad.

Page 42 – Panel 5: The “they” that Hall speaks of are, of course, the heroes.

Page 42 – Panel 6: And of course it makes total sense to use the handy, nearby neutron bomb, doesn’t it? I mean, it would only go to waste if he didn’t use it.

Page 43 – Panel 1: In Metropolis, near the Daily Planet building, someone is looking for their nephew amidst a “full scale evacuation.” We’ll find out why the city’s being evacuated in just a moment.

Page 43 – Panel 2: Marge’s nephew Matt has gone missing.

Page 43 – Panel 3: Oh, here he is – in the subway! Odd that a throwaway character gets named . . .

Page 44 – Panel 1: These are the Team Titans. Left to right are Mirage; Red Wing; Killowat; and Terra.

Page 44 – Panel 2: Terra, at least presumably, mentions why the city’s being evacuated – so that Monarch can face off against the heroes. Mirage mentions their own mission which continues the theme of time travel. They’re from the future and have been sent into their past, to 1991, to prevent the birth of Lord Chaos, a despotic ruler in their time. (Sound familiar?) To accomplish this, the Team had to kill Chaos’s mother before he was born: Donna Troy.

Page 44 – Panel 3: Gold of the Metal Men.

Page 44 – Panel 4: And the rest of the team. Top to bottom are Platinum; Mercury; Gold; Iron; Tin; and Lead.

Page 45 – Panel 1: Superman and Flash keeping a look out for Monarch. The building behind Superman is one of the Scientific and Technological Advanced Research Laboratories or (S.T.A.R. Labs) buildings.

Page 45 – Panel 3: Waverider and Power Girl join them, Waverider once more pointing out that he hadn’t eliminated anybody during his travels.

Page 45 – Panel 4: We now have Captain Atom joining the team.

Page 46 – Panel 1: Captain Atom volunteers to face Monarch alone

Page 46 – Panel 2: Cap is to blame

Page 46 – Panel 2: Rocket Red joins the group as Atom explains he still feels guilty for apparently allowing him to escape from the timestream.

Page 46 – Panel 3: Waverider and Superman, with Metamorpho behind them, explain that Atom has nothing to feel guilty for and that he cannot become Monarch now.

Page 46 – Panel 4: Elongated Man shows up as Captain Atom puts forward another reason for facing Monarch – his proven experience in facing nuclear weapons.

Page 46 – Panel 5: Left to right are Blue Beetle; Booster Gold; Starman; Captain Atom; Power Girl; Flash; Orion; Waverider; Superman; Green Lantern (GL) Hal Jordan; Geo-Force; Batman; and Aquaman. Flash states that Monarch is expecting to see all the heroes; to be honest, just over a dozen or so is nowhere near all the heroes in the DCU.

Page 47 – Panel 1: Captain Atom decides to leave the arena.

Page 47 – Panel 2: Martian Manhunter has joined the gang, standing behind Waverider who mentions that Captain Atom remembers everything he saw in his vision.

Page 47 – Panel 4: The Huntress stands in front of Flash.

Page 47 – Panel 5: Monarch teleports into place.

Page 48 – Panel 1: Monarch claims someone is missing from the assembled heroes but, as mentioned above, so many are missing!

Page 48 – Panel 4: The S.T.A.R. Labs building that was seen earlier now has the enormous neutron bomb materialise on top of it as Monarch explains that he needs to get rid of the other heroes.

Page 48 – Panel 5: GL Guy Gardner as impulsive as ever.

Page 48 – Panel 6: Rather than die with the heroes, Monarch intends to teleport out of the explosion.

Page 49 – Panel 1: More heroes have joined in. Left to right are Flash; Gangbuster; and the Guardian.

Page 49 – Panel 2: Monarch lets slip that he is not the same Monarch that faced them, not that the heroes are paying much attention right now.

Page 49 – Panel 3: Left to right we have Monarch; Speedy; Flash; Martian Manhunter; Blue Devil; Wonder Woman; Nuklon; Batman; Robin; Rocket Red; and Fire.

Page 49 – Panel 4: Superman’s blow destroys Monarch’s face plate.

Page 49 – Panel 5: Flash and Speedy look on in shock as Hank Hall’s face is revealed; as Speedy says, Hall was a Titan alongside them.

Page 49 – Panel 6: Surprise!

Page 49 – Panel 6: “Bet you’re surprised by this turn of events, huh?” I wonder if that’s DC talking to the readers following the unexpected change to the story’s resolution that DC put in place? (See the note at the bottom of this page.)

Page 50 – Panel 1: As Monarch is about to detonate the bomb . . .

Page 50 – Panel 2: Captain Atom erupts from beneath him.

Page 51 – Panel 1: From top to bottom are Martian Manhunter; GL Kilowog; Elongated Man; Superman; Jade; Lightray; Geo-Force; Waverider; Valor; Fire; GL Guy Gardner; Rocket Red; Aquaman; Batman; Flash; the Guardian; and Blue Beetle.

Page 51 – Panel 2: Monarch hits Captain Atom into the neutron bomb.

Page 52 – Panel 2: Surrounded by Monarch’s blast are Valor; GL Guy Gardner; Waverider; Martian Manhunter; and Booster Gold.

Page 52 – Panel 3: Whether deliberately detonated or simply exploding after taking damage, the neutron bomb begins its reaction.

Page 52 – Panel 5: Captain Atom, however, begins to absorb the blast.

Page 52 – Panel 7: Monarch attempts to stop him.

Page 53 – Panels 1 and 2: As Captain Atom and Monarch battle each other, the explosion shrinks, absorbed by Atom’s powers.

Page 53 – Panels 3 to 5: While the blast has been contained, S.T.A.R. Labs crumbles to the ground.

Page 54 – Panel 1: Booster Gold; Superman; and Valor.

Page 54 – Panel 2: The three heroes are joined by Flash and Martian Manhunter in a rescue attempt.

Page 54 – Panel 3: Holding survivors, top to bottom, are Superman; Batman; and the Guardian. It seems odd to say it as the character is so huge nowadays – and was pretty big back in 1991 – but this is the first time Batman has a speaking part in the ARMAGEDDON 2001 titles!

Page 54 – Panel 4: Power Girl; Rocket Red; and Ice help search for survivors and Captain Atom.

Page 55 – Panel 1: Power Girl proclaims (on little evidence, it must be said) that both Captain Atom and Monarch are gone.

Page 55 – Panel 2: Top to bottom are GL Kilowog; Batman; Waverider; Elongated Man; and Rocket Red. Reaching out his hand from the subway tunnel is little Matt, the missing nephew from Page 43.

Page 55 – Panel 3: And as Waverider reaches out his hand to take hold of the boy’s . . .

Page 55 – Panel 4: . . . we finally find out who rescued the eight year old Matthew Ryder that was a recurring motif in issue #1. It was his older self as Waverider all along.

Page 55 – Panel 6: Of course, with the future changed and the heroes still standing, there’s no guarantee that Monarch’s rule will come to pass which means Waverider may not be tormented “for the next forty years” at all.

Page 56 – Panel 1: Captain Atom stands elsewhen, but at least he has survived.

Page 56 – Panel 4: And so, judging by the glove, has Monarch.

Page 56 – Panel 5: And judging by the appearance of that Triceratops, we can guess he’s been hurled roughly 65 million years or so into the past.

Who Was Monarch Supposed To Be?

It’s no secret now, twenty years and more after it was first published, that Monarch’s true identity was supposed to be that of Captain Atom. Monarch’s identity was the MacGuffin of the series and even the ending of the JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE tie-in annual, the last before the climax in issue #2, seemed to point towards Captain Atom.

Before the second issue came out, though, the secret was leaked. Presumably fearing sales would drop if everyone knew the ending already, DC changed the big reveal at the last minute so that Hawk would become the villain of the piece.

The Wikipedia article on ARMAGEDDON 2001 states:

Oddly enough, this seemed to contradict the Hawk and Dove tie-in in which Hawk and Dove fought against Monarch’s dictatorship in multiple future timelines.

As I mentioned in the notes on Page 28 – Panels 4 to 7 above, though, this doesn’t really hold up to scrutiny. While Hawk and Dove may have fought against Monarch in some future timelines, in another (ie this one) Hawk becomes Monarch. The article, however, goes on to say:

Ironically, they were the only characters shown in this situation, and thus any of the other major characters could have been Monarch without creating a continuity issue.

which is fair enough, I guess.

As is the way with comics, though, time moves on and things change. At the time of writing (summer 2010) both Hawk and Dove are back among the living thanks to various agencies (the White Lantern and Mordru respectively) and Captain Atom eventually became Monarch after INFINITE CRISIS, then destroyed an entire universe in COUNTDOWN (issue #13 if you’re interested) before going back to being Captain Atom and forgetting all about it.