What a time to be alive. We have supercomputers that we carry in our pockets, almost have self-driving cars, and now the Monitor showed up on a TV show with Batwoman, Flash, Green Arrow, Supergirl, and Superman. Elseworlds is shaping up to be a doozy of an Arrowverse crossover, and we couldn’t be happier.
But who is the Monitor? That’s what we’re here to help you with. It’s not easy, as there have been several characters who had the name, and all of their stories are so heavily tired up in the tiny details of the DC Universe that it’s a little tough to swallow. Think of this as a brief intro to the Monitor if you found him interesting on Elseworlds, with some reading recommendations to follow down below.
WHO IS THE MONITOR?
Wait, we should probably start at the beginning.
The dawn of time was a giant hand closing and opening on the universe. It was observed by Krona, a Malthusian scientist. His observation caused a paradox which broke the universe into different parallel worlds. Two beings were created with the multiverse: the Monitor, who was the physical embodiment and overseer of the positive matter worlds, and the Anti-Monitor, his opposite number for antimatter universes. The two of them warred for millions of years, then landed a double KO and stayed passed out for billions of years.
When another scientist tried to duplicate Krona’s experiment, he woke the two and reset the war, which was eventually won by the forces of good, but at enormous cost – the entire multiverse was merged into one; Barry Allen was killed; and both the Monitor and Anti-Monitor died in the battle. This was chronicled in the incredible Crisis on Infinite Earths, which the Arrowverse has been hinting at since the very first episode of The Flash.
FINAL CRISIS, MULTIVERSITY, and THE RETURN OF THE MONITOR
Then, 30 years later, the multiverse was reborn, and the Monitor came back. Actually, 52 of them came back. One for each universe created in the rebirth of the multiverse, with an absurdly complicated backstory. To summarize: the Overmonitor sent a probe into the white space that existed before the birth of a multiverse. The probe encountered “story,” which it considered a corruption. It chained up the “Story” in what became the Orrery of Worlds, and left chunks of itself behind to continue…monitoring.
See? We told you things were going to get weird.
One of those chunks was corrupted, and almost all of them were kind of shitty to the universes they monitored, so they were eventually wiped out by Nix Uotan, SUPERJUDGE, who was left behind as the only one monitoring the multiverse. We get into some of this in this look at Grant Morrison’s assorted Superman stories.
MONITORS THROUGHOUT DC HISTORY
The Monitor – The original. He was mostly defined by his conflict with…
The Anti-Monitor – The antimatter universe’s equivalent. Neither of these guys had a ton of personality beyond their conflict. He’s the main villain of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Bob – There’s a dispute between monitors about what to do with multiversal anomalies just after the rebirth of the multiverse. Some argued to eliminate them, while one – Bob – works with the anomalies to save them.
Mandrakk the Dark Monitor – Originally Dax Novu, the first and brightest monitor who became corrupted and began bleeding the various worlds of the multiverse dry. He was eventually defeated by all the Supermen in Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis.
Zillo Valla – The monitor of Earth 43, she travels the multiverse gathering heroes to take on Mandrakk.
Nix Uotan – SUPERJUDGE! The Judge of All Evil! He’s the one who marshalls all the resources of the DC Universe to finally defeat Mandrakk, protect the multiverse and banish all his colleagues. He started out as the monitor of Earth 51, but that was killed in the Great Disaster, and he was banished for incompetence.
Weeja Dell – Monitor of Earth 6, Nix’s partner, and his strongest defender within the council of Monitors.
Mar Novu – This is the Monitor in the Elseworlds DC TV crossover this year. We know little about him so far, but that should be filled in soon.
Crisis on Infinite Earths – The original mega-crossover and the book where the multiverse was eliminated. This has the battle between the Monitor, the Anti-Monitor and the assembled heroes of the DCU.
Infinite Crisis – this series contained the return of a limited multiverse and gave us our monitors back! It’s also the one where Superboy Prime punching the walls of reality caused all the continuity errors. It’s better than it sounds.