Art by George Pérez
|First appearance||(in shadows) The New Teen Titans Vol. 2 #21 (July 1982)
(fully seen) G.I. Combat #274 (February 1985)
|Created by||Marv Wolfman
|Abilities||Vast cosmic powers|
The character began appearing, along with his assistant Lyla, 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. 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.
Origin of the concept
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."
Fictional character biography
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 see 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.
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
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, 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.
When the Anti-Monitor's anti-matter 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 Kal-L, 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.
Ironically, 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.
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. 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.
A new metafictional origin for the Monitors, including the first one featured in Crisis on Infinite Earths, is later given during the Final Crisis.
There 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. 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. 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.
Powers and abilities
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 from 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".
- 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)
- Batman and the Outsiders #14 (Oct. 1984)
- Comics Journal #80, March 1983
- Countdown #40
- Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #2
- Final Crisis: Secret Files and Origins
- Final Crisis #7
- 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.