This week DC is heralding a new era for its comics, both creatively and in terms of its story, with the release of DC Rebirth #1. But they’ve just revealed some of the craziest ramifications to come out of the new issue, including one that changes the DC universe-at-large in some pretty dramatic ways.

If you want to avoid any details about DC Rebirth #1 before it drops Wednesday, you’ll want to turn back now.

In an attempt to pre-empt details of the issue leaking out over the weekend, Geoff Johns spoke to USA Today about the new comic, which offers a window into the future for all sorts of heroes in the DC Universe, from Ray Palmer being trapped in the Microverse, to the now-confirmed death of the New 52-era Superman, to the true nature of the Blue Beetle powers being used by Jaime Reyes, and to the surprise return of the original Wally West:

Wally has been absent from DC’s ‘New 52’—replaced instead by another version of him that was younger and bi-racial—and has been Kid Flash ever since the reboot. But now there’s going to be two Kid Flashes running around: the new 52 Wally will be part of Damien Wayne’s Teen Titans group, while the older Wally acts as a herald that something has gone cosmically cah-ray-zay with the DC timeline. Turns out the creation of the New 52 in the wake of the timey-wimey Flashpoint event was usurped by an evil force, which has caused the heroes of the world to forget 10 years of their lives. The culprit?

Doctor Manhattan. Yes, the omnipotent naked blue hero of Alan Moore’s seminal graphic novel Watchmen has been mucking around with the fabric of DC’s reality for nefarious means. This also canonizes Watchmen as a whole within the DC universe for the first time since the original series was released in 1986. While you pick your jaw up off the floor, somewhere out there Alan Moore is probably screaming rather loudly—the creator has long opposed DC’s ownership of the series.

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According to Johns, Rebirth is an injection of hope and optimism into DC’s current storytelling ethos, something he believes has been lost in the New 52. Apparently the true counter to that optimism will be the nihilistic pessimism of Doctor Manhattan:

It felt like there were things that had gone missing — not the characters but an overall feeling of hope and optimism. There’s a sense of warmth and emotion to this universe beyond the big epic threats and continuity stuff.

If you’re going to have a conflict between optimism and pessimism, you need to have someone who represents a cynical view of life and also has the ability to affect this. I know it’s crazy but [Dr. Manhattan] felt like the right character to use.

The canonization of Watchmen—and apparently the introduction of other elements from the series, beyond Doctor Manhattan and his cosmic dickery—will be revealed over the course of the next few years, according to Johns. But either way, it looks like Rebirth has way more going on than anyone expected. Head to the link below to see more art from Rebirth #1.

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[USA Today]