In 1998, as many long running DC Comics such as Action Comics and Detective Comics were approaching their 750th issues, the writers at DC speculated what the universe would look like when issue one million was published. This gave birth to the four issue DC 1,000,000 miniseries, as well as 35 tie-in issues, all taking place in the year 85,271 – one million months from the first published comic book in 1938. In the Edward J. Kane Collection of comics, Burns Library has all four issues of DC 1,000,000, 14 of the tie-in issues, as well as a DC One Million 80 page giant released in 1999.
The main plot of the miniseries involves a 853rd century version of the Justice League (Justice Legion A) traveling back to 1998 to bring the current Justice League forward in time. Superman Prime (the original Superman from the 20th century) is emerging from his Fortress of Solitude after a 15,000 year, self-imposed exile. To celebrate this momentous occasion, there are special events planned for the Justice Leaguers to show off their skills to the multitudes of fans throughout the universe. Justice Legion A remains in 1998 to ensure the safety of the Earth while the Justice League is off in the future, reminiscing with Superman Prime.
Of course, things go terribly wrong from the moment the Justice League travels through time. On 20th century Earth, Hourman, a Justice Legion A member, unwittingly releases a horrible techno-virus, infecting people and machines at a rapid rate. The Hourman Virus makes people suspicious, paranoid and violent to the point where there is worldwide rioting. Because the virus was created in the 853rd century, there is no comparable technology around to cure it. On top of this, supervillain Vandall Savage has stolen four thermonuclear robots and crashes one into Montevideo, Uruguay, causing untold destruction and death. It is up to Justice Legion A, along with some help from 20th century superheroes like Steel, Big Barda and Huntress, to defeat Vandall Savage and the Hourman Virus. I won’t go into too much detail, but it does involve Superman literally punching a hole through the space-time continuum.
What I found most interesting about the DC One Million story arc was the glimpse into the lives of “regular” people in the year 85,271. Everyone in the 85th century has the “Headnet” installed in their brains. Think of it as a 24 hour broadcast, directly into everyone’s minds. They get news and information instantly, and can access vast stores of data: essentially, the internet is in their heads. Headnet reports easily manipulate crowds of people about the past Justice League members. After the challenges that were designed to show off the JLA skills are sabotaged, the Headnet immediately brands them as “Bizarro imposters” and a threat. In the 853rd century, regular people also own totemic icons that give them superpowers for a limited time. The symbols are based on “ancient” superheroes, such as Batman, Flash, Superman, etc. When the 20th century Justice League is branded as imposters by the Headnet, they are attacked by these wannabe superheroes, but in most cases are able to fend them off by outwitting them. Having been published in 1998, before cell phones were ubiquitous in every day life, and even before reliable, high speed internet access was available to most people, the writers at DC were surprisingly accurate in the portrayal of what an instant, continuous news cycle could do to rile up every day citizens. One can’t help but see similarities to today’s 24 hour news cycle and social media addiction and the blind faith in the Headnet and it’s ability to sway crowds into action.
Another fascinating aspect of DC One Million is how the Justice League is no longer a force protecting just Earth. As humanity has spread throughout the universe, so has the Justice League. Mercury has become the communications hub of the system, with superconducting info engines working to keep information flowing to the Headnet. The Flash serves as Mercury’s protector. The Amazons, along with Wonder Woman, have claimed Venus as their new home world. No men are allowed on planet, but women from across the galaxy are invited to study the Amazon arts. Earth has been transformed into a verdant paradise, patrolled by the Green Arrows. Cities such as Metropolis, have been constructed inside space-folding tesseracts that allow for unlimited population growth without destroying the natural resources of the Earth. Mars has also been populated, and become a destination popular with newlyweds and romantics. It is revealed in the series that Martian Manhunter has become one with the sands of his ancient home world, and watches over the planet. Jupiter remains unchanged from present day due to a ban on terraforming. The toxic atmosphere is the perfect location for the Justice Legion A round table, surrounded in a force-field. Saturn and Uranus are not mentioned, except that Starman’s Star Citadel is where Uranus used to orbit. The citadel is in this position to keep tabs on Solaris, an evil, sentient, artificial sun, and one of the greatest enemies of the Superman dynasty. He was reprogrammed millennia ago, and now provides heat to the outer planets as well as acts as a data relay station.
Neptune and it’s vast oceans are home to Aquaman and sprawling underwater civilizations. Cities of living coral ride ocean currents. Finally, there is Pluto. It has been transformed into a prison colony, where the most dangerous criminals and machines are kept. Batman is the warden of this prison, employing advanced technology to keep the inmates in check. His partner is Robin: The Toy Wonder, an android that has been imbued with Batman’s younger consciousness, remaining forever innocent and unmarred by the tragic events that led to the 853rd century’s Batman to take up the mantle of the Caped Crusader.
If you are looking for an interesting read, please come to the Burns Library Reading Room to view these, or any of our over 11,000 comic books. They can be searched and requested in our library catalog. If you have further questions, please contact the Burns Library Reading Room at 617-552-4861 or https://libguides.bc.edu/burns/contact
-Andrew Isidoro, Public Services Specialist