If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good teaser image. A good teaser image for a project — whether it’s a comic book, a movie, a TV show, or whatever — has one very difficult job to do in a manner that has to feel very simple: it has to, basically, tell you just enough about something that you absolutely, desperately want to know more… while not telling you so much that you feel as if you know enough already, thanks very much. It’s a skill; when done well, it’s almost an art, to risk the “image = art” pun.
If there’s one thing I love more than a good teaser image, it’s a teaser campaign that takes a while before you’re even aware that you’re looking at a teaser image at all.
So: the 'Dawn of DC' timeline graphics.
Time, time, time...
When 'Dawn of DC' was initially announced back in November 2022, it was accompanied by the first timeline graphic, which looked a little something like this:
When 'Dawn of DC' rolled out its second wave of announcements in January 2023, that was accompanied by a second timeline graphic, which looked like this:
(Ignore the fact that some of the logos have moved around between the two; things slip and move on schedules all the time. Such is life. It’s really not what’s important here.)
With today’s third round of announcements, there’s a new timeline graphic, because of course there is:
...See what's become of me
The second timeline graphic captured a lot of people’s attentions, including our own; we noticed a hidden logo in the image, but as it turns out, we weren’t looking hard enough: as ComicBook.com noticed, there was an additional logo hidden all the way on the right of the image if you played around with the levels of the image in Photoshop: something called “The Return of the Justice League.” Huh. Huh.
The third timeline graphic has something noticeably hidden on the right of the picture again, which felt like another clue.
As you should expect, we messed around in an image editor and revealed… that someone at DC is well aware of what they’re up to.
I see you, Detective Chimp.
Hidden in plain sight (almost)
Here’s the thing, though; I think there’s still a hidden secret in the third timeline. In fact, I think it’s been right there in plain sight since the first timeline, it’s just that no-one’s ever stopped to actually think about it — namely… what is that design along the bottom of the image? The cords, or wires, or whatever, with all the circles of light shining out. They kind of look like… tendrils… or…. tentacles...
…It’s Brainiac, isn’t it?
The design is consistent with both Brainiac’s Skull Ship, as originally designed by Gil Kane for a sequence of Action Comics stories in the '80s, and the redesign of Brainiac as a character since the early '00s, as drawn by Gary Frank, Francis Manapul, and others. Visually, whatever it happening on this timeline graphic echoes Brainiac for… some reason. Is it merely a design choice intended as an easter egg for fans? Possibly… but given the other secrets that have been hidden on the graphics so far, it’s arguably more likely that it’s a tease that Brainiac is going to turn out to play a big role in something Dawn of DC-related down the road.
Wait, who’s Brainiac?
One of Superman’s major villains, Brainiac debuted in 1958’s Action Comics #242; throughout the decades, he has been variously portrayed as an alien, or a robot — or, more commonly, a mix of the two — who likes to collect cites from planets and store them in miniaturized states as part of a curious, creepy collection. He’s been a mainstay of DC’s comics — and especially Superman’s — pretty much since he was created, but he’s been mostly absent from events in the past few years after his near destruction in 2017’s Justice League: No Justice series, where he was almost destroyed thanks to the machinations of Amanda Waller and a group of telepaths.
Is it time for a Brainiac revival? I mean, obviously, but I don’t get to be the one who makes those kinds of decisions. I will just say one thing, though: given that his last big appearance was in a Justice League story launching a whole new era for that franchise, it would be almost fitting if he were to show up again in another Justice League story launching a whole new era for that franchise, wouldn’t it…?
There’s more to Dawn of DC than paranoid ramblings; keep up with the real news right here.