1991 – Armageddon 2001
Monarch was an oppressive tyrant from a bleak, dystopian Earth fifty years in the future (2030). The people were unhappy with his rule, particularly a scientist named Matthew Ryder, an expert on temporal studies, who was convinced he could use his technology to travel back in time and prevent the maniacal ruler from ever coming to power. He learned that in the late 20th century one of Earth’s superheroes had become evil. In the year 2001 this hero had killed all of his comrades, assumed the identity of Monarch, and began his rise to global domination. Because Monarch always appeared in a suit of full body armor his prior identity was unknown.
Chosen by Monarch to take part in a time-travel experiment, Ryder traveled back to 1991, the year in which the series was published, and ten years before Monarch’s massacre of Earth’s heroes. Ryder was determined to find out who the Monarch really was and, if possible, kill him before he could rise to power. As he travelled through the rift, his body mutated into a form of living temporal energy, and upon arriving at his destination, he took the name Waverider.
Waverider used the superhuman abilities he gained during his transformation to peer into several possible futures of different members of various superheroes in the DC Universe, seeing where they would be in the year 2001, when Monarch’s rise to power began, but he was unable to pinpoint exactly who would become Monarch. After several attempts, he began to rethink his approach.
When Waverider finally made contact with Captain Atom in Armageddon 2001 #2, he flashed forward ten years to what had to have been the worst day of Nathaniel Adam’s life.
A grisled, caned, bearded Nathaniel Adam – accompanied by a younger woman – hears gunshots near the city block they are walking. They hurry to the scene, only to discover Nate’s children and grandchildren have been gunned down.
When Nate tries to take control of the scene, identifying himself as “Commander Nathaniel Adam, Investigations Division, President’s Cadre,” the two beat cops there mock his credentials and his crippled leg. Nate begins to transform into Captain Atom, something he hasn’t done for six years.
His companion – Shirley (who calls him “darling,” so she must be his wife or girlfriend – tells him to stop. They leave the cops and his dead family behind. In a bit of forced exposition, we learn that becoming Captain Atom was creating dangerous “anomalies” and he vowed on July 16, 1995, never to transform again.
Adam further reveals that he hurt his leg in a plane crash in which his best friend Jeffrey Goslin was killed. Arriving at the local police precinct, Nate and Shirley are met with a stoned detective that says there’s nothing they can do about the deaths of his family members. In 1998, street gangs were given semi-legal status when they began to be allowed to arm themselves to protect their turf. As his family was caught in the crossfire of a gangland shoot-out, no law was broken.
When Nate and Shirley go down to claim the bodies from the morgue, they find that the deceased were sent to the local landfill to save space. Waverider – who believes Captain Atom to be Monarch – begins to understand what pushed the former hero over the edge. Arriving at the landfill, Nathaniel Adam reaches his breaking point.
It was at the moment of Nate transformation into Captain Atom that Waverider accidentally came in physical contact with Captain Atom, unleashing a storm of temporal energy that opened a gate to the future through which Monarch emerged.
Waverider watches as Captain Atom takes on the street gangs that killed his family, dispensing street justice on a nuclear scale. But, in the end, Nate does not become Monarch, much to Waverider’s surprise.
Instead of becoming an evil despot, Nathaniel Adam is left a guilt-ridden, sad and broken old man.
Monarch, it seems, had been monitoring Waverider’s every move in the past ever since he left the future, and merely waited for the perfect time to travel back and stop him from erasing his existence.
In Hawk and Dove Annual #2 Waverider looked into Hank Hall’s future to see him fight and die at the hands of Monarch in 2001. Dove’s power interacts with Waverider’s allowing him to see a multitude of futures to the point Waverider comments “No matter the future they fought him but never became him.” Waverider finally touches both Hawk and Dove to see their daughter Unity alter Monarch’s mind.
In a subsequent battle with the Justice League, the Monarch retreated, taking Dawn Granger, the current Dove, with him. Hank Hall (Hawk), who was also a captive, watched as Monarch killed Dove in front of his own eyes. Being created as two beings whose natures were supposed to be in balance, Hank became enraged when his partner’s pacifist nature could no longer contain his warlike spirit. He beat the Monarch to death, only to learn the horrible truth: he was the one who would be the Monarch of the future. Upon seeing Monarch’s dead body and the device he was building to enslave humanity, he mused that the Earth would need someone to keep the balance, so he put on Monarch’s armor and continued building his machine.
Eventually, the Justice League found him, and Captain Atom, feeling guilty he let Monarch slip through the timestream in the first place, decided to fight him one-on-one.
The battle caused Atom’s energy and Monarch’s suit to clash, creating a portal that sent both of them back in time to the age of the dinosaurs.
At some point during the crossover the future-culprit’s identity had been leaked. Captain Atom would be the one who became Monarch. The conclusion of the Annual for Justice League Europe, the final crossover issue before the conclusion of the story, seemed to confirm this leak. Waverider had seen the futures of various Justice League Europe members but had not scanned Captain Atom, who was away at the time. The final panel of the issue showed Waverider about to touch Captain Atom, who had just returned, and a text box stated that the story would be concluded in the second issue of Armageddon 2001.
In response to the leak, the surprise ending was changed at the last minute: Monarch was revealed to be, not Captain Atom, but rather Hawk. The problem with this reveal as many fans pointed is that Waverider had seen Hank Hall fight and die against Monarch and that Dove had allowed him to see so many futures as to conclude “No matter the future they fought him but never became him,” making Hank Hall and Dawn Granger the two heroes Monarch could not be. 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.
This revelation was extremely unpopular among both fans and professionals, in part because of the logical flaw mentioned above and the disregard for the clues placed in previous issues. Additionally, it required Hawk to behave in ways that many felt to be out of character. This also made it impossible to continue using either Hawk or Dove as they had in the past and necessitated the cancellation of the Hawk & Dove series. Karl Kesel, the writer of Hawk & Dove, commented that “Hawk and Dove was always a love story. Then one day, Hawk went insane and murdered Dove”
Many years later, the DC Comics editorial staff acknowledged that the ending as published was poorly executed and in the Battle for Blüdhaven (a spinoff miniseries from the larger Infinite Crisis event), retconned Monarch’s origin and depicted Captain Atom’s transformation into the villain.
A storyline in JSA would later reveal that the ending of Armageddon 2001 had been faked by Mordru. He had created an illusion of Dove being murdered by a future Hawk/Monarch in order to drive the current Hawk insane. He then took control of Hawk and used him to impregnate Dove so she would give birth to a child that would inherit all the powers of the Lords of Chaos and Order. Mordru cast a spell on Dove that kept her in a comatose state for years. She did give birth to a child but before Mordru could possess the child’s body it was instead inhabited by a reincarnated Hector Hall who aged the body to adulthood and became the new Doctor Fate. Much later while searching for his wife Lyta, Hector would discover Dove and bring her out of Mordru’s spell revealing the truth of these events. She would then discover that her sister had inherited the Hawk powers after the death of Hank Hall.
This synopsis was cut-and-pasted from Wikipedia on 9/23/2013. I apologize for any errors and invite you to point them out to me for correction.
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