Monitor (comics)

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The Monitor.jpg
The Monitor
Art by George Pérez
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearance(in shadows) The New Teen Titans Vol. 1 #21 (July 1982)
(fully seen) G.I. Combat #274 (February 1985)
Created byMarv Wolfman
George Pérez
In-story information
Alter egoMar Novu
Team affiliationsJustice League
Hero and Heroines of the Multiverse
PartnershipsMobius, the Anti-Monitor (Brother); Alpheus, the World Forger (Older brother); Perpetua, the Super Celestial Mother of DC Multiverse
AbilitiesInfinite cosmic powers
Nearly omniscient and omnipresent

The Monitor or Over-Monitor (Mar Novu[2]) is a fictional character created by writer Marv Wolfman[3] and artist George Pérez as one of the main characters of DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series.

The character began appearing, along with his assistant Lyla Michaels, in numerous DC Comics titles beginning in 1982, three years before the Crisis began in July 1985; these appearances made it seem that he was some sort of weapons dealer for supervillains. This was all part of the setup Wolfman and the staff of DC Comics planned for the Crisis, showing the Monitor currying favor with villains such as Maxie Zeus, prior to calling on the heroes.[4] The Monitor was depicted in the shadows for all of his appearances in DC's mainstream superhero titles, and his face was first revealed in one of their few remaining non-superhero titles, the war comic G.I. Combat issue #274.

LaMonica Garrett portrays the character on The CW's Arrowverse, debuting during the 2018 crossover Elseworlds. This marked the first live-action adaptation of the character. The character has made subsequent appearances on several shows set in the Arrowverse. The character also appeared in the 2019 crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Origin of the concept[edit]

Wolfman conceived the concept of the character long before plans for Crisis on Infinite Earths. He explained it in a 1983 interview in the Comics Journal:

"I had the character about 18 years ago. I called him the Librarian then because I didn’t have a good sense about names and thought that it would be a neat idea to do that. You know, one villain that the whole company could use. I didn’t have to sell it to Marvel, because they already had one universe, but when I came back to DC I indicated that I wanted to do it here. Everyone liked it but forgot to hand out the sheets I gave for their writers. So I have to redo it indicating how far you can take the character from month A to month B. Like for three months you can only show this much and after six months you can show that much, and at the end of a year we can reveal who that character is and start getting into interesting stories that all the writers can pick up on."[5]

Fictional character biography[edit]


Thirteen billion years ago, the Multiverse was born due to tampering with the creation of the universe by Krona, a scientist from the planet Maltus who was attempting to view the beginning of the universe. As a result of his actions, an infinite number of parallel universes were brought into existence side by side, separated only by minuscule vibrational differences, none of them as strong as the single universe that existed earlier would have been. Krona's experiment made it a multiverse instead of one single universe.[6]

Monitor was born on Oa's moon, apparently as the living embodiment of all positive matter universes. One of these universes was composed entirely of antimatter, and on the moon of Oa's counterpart, Qward, a hideous mockery of life was born from its very soil, a being that would come to be known as the Anti-Monitor.

The Long War[edit]

As the evil Anti-Monitor conquered his universe, the Monitor watched him, and, when the Anti-Monitor sensed his presence, they began battling across the dimensional barrier in a war that lasted one million years.

A simultaneous attack rendered them both unconscious, and they lay unmoving for more than nine billion years until the Monitor felt his evil counterpart awaken, as a result of another experiment on the creation of the universe by another scientist, which resulted in the destruction of that scientist's universe. He found this scientist, a man who would become known as Pariah, and used him to follow the Anti-Monitor's path of destruction in his newly created spaceship.

As the Anti-Monitor consumed worlds with his destructive antimatter, thus increasing his power as his antimatter universe expanded to fill the 'gap' that had been left by the loss of the universe, the Monitor grew weaker. He studied every universe for the means to fight the Anti-Monitor, but, even though countless universes were threatened, he took the time to save an orphaned girl, the only survivor of a shipwreck, and raised her on his ship.

That girl, Lyla Michaels, grew up to become Harbinger, having been granted great powers by the Monitor. The Monitor went so far as to provide supervillains with technology, supposedly for money but in reality as a way to test the heroes and villains of Earth and find out which ones might help his cause.


Death of the Monitor. Art by George Pérez.

When the Anti-Monitor's antimatter wave began approaching the main Earths of the Multiverse, the Monitor directed Harbinger to track down an initial force of fifteen specific heroes and villains the Monitor needed to fight his foe (this initial group featured Superman, Doctor Polaris, Dawnstar, Firebrand, Geo-Force, Obsidian, Cyborg, Killer Frost (With her mind temporarily altered to make her more accommodating), Firestorm, Psycho-Pirate, Solovar, Blue Beetle, Psimon, Green Lantern, and Arion). He explained to them what was going on and sent them to protect giant tower-like devices that he had created on several places across space and time; his plan was to merge the surviving Earths into a single one that could resist the Anti-Monitor's attack. He also sent Harbinger to recover the infant Alexander Luthor, Jr., the sole survivor of Earth-Three, who he believed would be of invaluable assistance.

When Harbinger returned, one of her incarnations had been attacked by one of the Anti-Monitor's shadow demons, and that corruption caused her combined self to attack and kill the Monitor. However, he had foreseen the attack and used his death to power the machines that would pull Earth-One and Earth-Two into a netherverse created from the energies liberated by his own death, saving them from the Anti-Monitor's unstoppable antimatter wall. He left Lyla a recorded message explaining this, trusting that she and the Multiverse's heroes would complete the job and preserve the worlds before their vibration slowed down to an extent where they would destroy each other as they existed in the same place simultaneously.

Harbinger followed the Monitor's legacy, using up her powers to draw the last three Earths (Earth-Four, Earth-S, and Earth-X) into the Netherverse. With help from Pariah, Alexander and all the surviving heroes and villains from the various Earths, she eventually defeated the Anti-Monitor at the dawn of time, and then in his own antimatter universe, saving the reborn universe from his predations. These actions resulted in a "reboot" of the multiverse as a single universe, creating an amalgam of the five surviving Earths which possessed the strength to resist the Anti-Monitor's attack.

The existence of the scheming but benevolent Monitor has apparently been forgotten by everyone except his closest associates as a result of the change in history.

The Monitors[edit]

During the events of Infinite Crisis, Alexander Luthor, Jr. revives the multiverse by splitting the merged Earths in an effort to find a "perfect earth" because he believed the surviving Earth to be corrupted. His plan is thwarted by Conner Kent, who destroys the tower he created to splinter the Earth. The re-collapse of the Earths resulted in excess energy that created a wholly new multiverse consisting of 52 identical Earths. Luthor's use of the Anti-Monitor's armor to recreate the Multiverse acted as a "seed program" to proliferate all cloned universes with their own Monitor.[7] The histories of the 52 Earths were changed as a result of Mister Mind's multi-dimensional rampage. As a result of there being worlds with different histories, the Monitors now work as a collective to prevent interaction between the universes that could lead to a new Crisis.

Final Crisis[edit]

A new metafictional origin for the Monitors, including the first one featured in Crisis on Infinite Earths, is later given during the Final Crisis.

It is revealed that the Monitor himself was nothing but a probe sent by an unseen, yet powerful being, an Overmonitor, the Original Monitor, an incorporeal and unfathomable being of limitless imagination who became aware of the concept of stories by stumbling upon the original Multiverse, which existed as a minute lesion within itself. Willing to understand it fully, he fashioned a probe allowing him to interact with the budding universes. Corrupted by the sheer complexity of Multiverse, the probe was split into two symmetrical and complementary beings: the Monitor and the Anti-Monitor, a being of pure good and a being of pure evil battling one against the other as told in the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The attempt to know and map the universe was deemed a partial success, as after the death and the rebirth of the Universe from Dax Novu, the Firstborn of the Monitors (it's still uncertain if Dax Novu was meant to be the Monitor himself, or a later creation of the Overmonitor), a new race of Monitors was spawned in the World of Nil, the netherworld surrounding the universe. These Monitors, made each one different by accepting the concept of time and mortality, became a race of cosmic vampires, feasting and needing stories to stay alive. On their world they grew in time a fascination with the Superman mythology, the very first story they came to know, employing a thought robot with the appearance of the original Superman (the Earth-1 version) to guard them against menaces.[8] The same concept of time and mortality, and the repressed loathing the original Monitor had for the germs, the beings living in the Multiverse, turned Dax Novu into Mandrakk, the Dark Monitor, the negation of life itself.[9] Superman, inhabiting the Thought Robot, defeats Mandrakk/Dax Novu. Later, a different incarnation of Mandrakk (Rox Ogama), battles his son, Nix Uotan, and is killed during the Final Crisis by the Green Lanterns.

In the end, Superman heals the damaged Multiverse with a replica of the Miracle Machine. Nix Uotan, now with the appearance of a human being living in Metropolis, retains his role as the sole link between the Overmonitor and the Multiverse.[10]

DC Rebirth[edit]

In the DC Rebirth relaunch, Monitor is found alive inside the central cave of the newly-discovered Dark Multiverse.[11]

Monitor's history is revealed where he and his brothers Anti-Monitor and World Forger were created by a Super Celestial named Perpetua in the Sixth Dimension where she tasked them to monitor their assigned realms. Monitor was tasked to monitor the Multiverse. If Monitor, his brothers, or Perpetua would be destroyed, they would regenerate in the Sixth Dimension.[12]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Monitor's powers were never well defined, but he was able to sense his counterpart's existence in the anti-matter universe and fight with him to a stalemate in Oa's moon using energy powers (though the feedback of the attack placed him in suspended animation for eons).

He was able to save Pariah (and possibly empower him to never die and be always drawn to where the Anti-Monitor was about to strike next) and create an entire satellite headquarters out of nothingness.

As a Monitor, he can, as told by Metron, "Create with a thought".

Other versions[edit]

  • A Monitor appears in Tiny Titans issues 12, 18 and 35.
  • The Monitors play prominent roles in the comic book continuation of the television series Smallville. However, in the mini-series Smallville: Alien it is revealed that the Monitors are not benevolent, but are actively pursuing the destruction of the Multiverse.

In other media[edit]

Promotional image of LaMonica Garrett as Mar Novu / The Monitor for the Arrowverse's 2018 "Elseworlds" crossover event


Mar Novu / Monitor makes his live-action debut in the 2018 Arrowverse crossover Elseworlds, portrayed by LaMonica Garrett. This version is an extraterrestrial being of infinite power.[13] He tests different worlds in the multiverse to see if they are strong enough to face an impending crisis. After decimating Earth-90, he targets Earth-1, where he grants a reality-altering weapon called the "Book of Destiny" to the villainous Dr. John Deegan. After Oliver Queen / Green Arrow confronts the Monitor about how his test is going to kill Barry Allen / The Flash and Kara Zor-El / Supergirl, their best chance at stopping the crisis, Novu agrees to help him stop Deegan in exchange for his help with the crisis.

In Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Monitor tasks Harbinger with bringing several heroes from Earth-1 to Earth-38 before it's destroyed by an anti-matter wave. Raising a quantum tower to impede its progress, Novu watches as the heroes evacuate the planet just as the Anti-Monitor's forces attack. Deeming the battle to be lost, he breaches the heroes back to Earth-1, but Oliver prevents him from doing the same to him; choosing to stay behind and sacrifice himself to make sure Earth-38's evacuated. Once it's done, Novu brings a dying Oliver back to Earth-1; saying this wasn't supposed to be how Oliver died. Novu explains the only way to defeat the Anti-Monitor is to find the seven Paragons. After the Paragons are assembled, the Anti-Monitor possesses Harbinger then kills the Monitor. A flashback reveals Novu, before becoming the Monitor, was a scientist from the planet Maltus who experimented with time travel 10,000 years before the Crisis in an attempt to witness the birth of the universe. However, he accidentally entered the anti-matter universe and alerted the Anti-Monitor to the positive matter universe's existence. The Paragons successfully dissuade one version of the young Novu from time traveling, but when they confront the Anti-Monitor, he reveals he'll always learn of the multiverse because they only stopped one of infinite Novus who could potentially stumble upon him.


In the season seven finale of Arrow, Novu returns to collect Queen, revealing he will not survive the crisis. In a 2040 flash-forward, the Monitor takes Felicity Smoak to reunite with Queen at a place from which "there is no return".[14] Novu appears throughout the final season as a main character beginning in the episode "Starling City," in which he sends Oliver to Earth-2 to obtain Dwarf Star particles (which are unique to that universe), which Oliver ultimately manages to gather with help from Earth-1's John Diggle and Earth-2's Laurel Lance. However, his interference with Earth-2's events causes the Earth to be destroyed by anti-matter; with Oliver, Laurel, and John barely escaping.[15] In "Welcome to Hong Kong", Novu brings Oliver, John, and Laurel to Hong Kong and tasks them with retrieving Dr. Robert Wong for unknown reasons. Oliver successfully does so, but instead of handing him over to the Monitor, Wong is placed in A.R.G.U.S. custody. Novu responds by contacting A.R.G.U.S. director Lyla Michaels, who gives him Wong.[16] In "Leap of Faith", Novu brings William Clayton, Mia Smoak, and Connor Hawke to the present from the year 2040 so they can assist Oliver and also to gift Oliver with the ability to be with his children until his death. In "Present Tense", Novu approaches Laurel; promising to restore Earth-2 in exchange for betraying Oliver.[17] In reality, he was testing whether she would do so for the sake of her world. When she chooses not to, Lyla knocks out Laurel and Oliver so Novu can place them in a shared time loop wherein Quentin Lance will always die so Laurel can say goodbye and allow Oliver to come to terms with his inevitable fate. Once they pass this test, they reunite with the rest of Team Arrow on Lian Yu for their final mission. After they succeeded, Novu opens a portal for Lyla to return to him and once the crisis begins, he sends Lyla, now Harbinger, to bring in Oliver.


In the season four finale of Supergirl, Novu releases Malefic J'onzz from the Phantom Zone to Earth-38, before retrieving the corpse of Lex Luthor.[18] In season five, the Monitor reveals himself to Malefic's brother J'onn J'onzz; letting him know he's passed his test by reconciling his brother and that he's ready for the coming crisis. He is also revealed to have revived Lex so he can also prepare him for said crisis. In exchange for becoming the hero he's always wanted to be, Lex agrees to help so long as the Monitor helps him with a favor regarding his sister Lena.

Legends of Tomorrow[edit]

In the season four finale of Legends of Tomorrow, the Monitor observes the titular team as they put on a show at Heyworld to increase support for magical creatures, but does not interact with them.[19]

The Flash[edit]

In the sixth season premiere of The Flash, Novu is revealed to have destroyed the plinth containing the newspaper of the future crisis and along with Nora's message as well as Gideon in order to prevent Team Flash from trying anything to prevent it from happening when he appears before Barry Allen and Iris West-Allen stating that Flash will make the "ultimate sacrifice" in the upcoming "crisis", adding that in order for billions to survive, the Flash must die. Barry ultimately comes to terms with this after he sees billions of futures where the multiverse is destroyed and the one where he dies saving it. In response, Barry begins preparing his loved ones to live without him. Later in the season, multiversal explorer Harrison “Nash” Wells tells Team Flash that the Monitor is hiding underground in Central City and that he has come to expose him as a fraud and fear-monger.[20] After uncovering a wall protecting a portal that leads to his quarry, a voice offers Nash a new life as well as unlimited knowledge in exchange for bowing down before it. Nash initially refuses, but when he believes the voice saves him, he relents before being pulled in by a blinding light.


  1. ^ Justice League volume 4 #22 may-jun 2019
  2. ^ Justice League vol 4. #22 (May-June 2019). DC Comics.
  3. ^ In Batman and the Outsiders #14 (Oct. 1984), he is listed as having been "created by Marv Wolfman, age 38, of Flushing, New York". (p. 12)
  4. ^ Batman and the Outsiders #14 (Oct. 1984)
  5. ^ Comics Journal #80, March 1983
  6. ^ Perez, George (1985). Crisis on Infinite Earths. DC Comics.
  7. ^ Countdown #40. DC Comics.
  8. ^ Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #2. DC Comics.
  9. ^ Final Crisis: Secret Files and Origins. DC Comics.
  10. ^ Final Crisis #7. DC Comics.
  11. ^ Dark Knights: Metal #6. DC Comics.
  12. ^ Justice League Vol. 4 #19-22. DC Comics.
  13. ^ Mitovich, Matt (September 26, 2018). "Arrowverse Crossover Theme Is 'Elseworlds,' Casts Multiverse Observer". TVLine. Retrieved September 26, 2018.
  14. ^ Kile, Meredith B. (May 13, 2019). "'Arrow' Says Goodbye to Felicity and Reveals Oliver's Crossover Bargain in Season 7 Finale". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
  15. ^ "Arrow premiere recap: The end in the beginning". EntertainmentWeekly. October 15, 2019. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  16. ^ "Arrow Recap: A Harbinger of Things to Come — Who Else Knows the Monitor?". TVline. October 22, 2019. Retrieved October 27, 2019.
  17. ^ "Present Tense". Arrow. Season 8. Episode 4. November 6, 2019. The CW.
  18. ^ Morrison, Matt (May 26, 2019). "Who Is The Monitor? Arrowverse's Crisis On Infinite Earths Villain Explained". Screen Rant. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
  19. ^ Morrison, Matt (May 23, 2019). "Legends Of Tomorrow's Monitor Cameo Proves It's The Strongest Arrowverse Show". Screen Rant. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
  20. ^ "The Flash premiere recap: The countdown to Barry's disappearance in 'Crisis' begins". EntertainmentWeekly. October 2, 2019. Retrieved October 27, 2019.

External links[edit]

  • Alan Kistler's DC Crisis Files – Comic book historian Alan Kistler's detailed articles on the Crisis and related events, such as Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis.