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Comic Book / The Dominus Effect

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The Dominus Effect is the unofficial name of a story arc in the Superman comic book titles that ran through 1998, the 60th anniversary for the title character, beginning with the one-shot Superman Forever which closed out the Millennium Giants story arc as well as the Nineties' version of Superman Red/Superman Blue. In this story arc, Superman finds himself in four different realities at the same time: the Golden Age period of 1938, the Silver Age period of 1968, the Bronze Age period of 1978 (also called "Polyesteryear"), and the future age of 2999. In all four realities, Superman meets a young white-haired girl who tries to tell him about what's going on, and soon he finds out that the little girl is actually Kismet, the cosmic entity who is being sought after by another cosmic entity known as Dominus.

The comic issues that were part of this story arc are:

  • Superman Forever #1 (the last eight pages are its intro)
  • Adventures of Superman #558-561 (#558-560 feature the Silver Age reality)
  • Action Comics vol. 1 #745-748 (#745-747 feature the Bronze Age reality)
  • Superman: The Man of Steel #80-83 (#80-82 feature the Golden Age reality)
  • Superman vol. 2 #136-139 (#136-138 feature the Future Age reality)

This story arc provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Superman of 2999 has one in Lex Luthor's descendant Lena, whom he reacts with slight disgust at being kissed by when he and the Justice Alliance save Earth from the reprogrammed robots.
  • The Ages Of Super Hero Comics: Three of four distinct ages of Superman comics — the Golden Age, the Silver Age, and the Bronze Age — are represented here in their own separate realities.
  • Alternate Reality Episode: Actually four alternate reality episodes happening at the same time.
  • Anachronism Stew: Purposely invoked in the Silver Age reality setting, where there are not only characters from the Post-Crisis era of Superman that make their appearance in the story, such as Professor Hamilton, John Henry Irons (Steel), and Maggie Sawyer, but also references to things that didn't yet exist in 1968 such as VCRs and downloading pictures and the phrase "yada yada yada" which Superman utters when he captures Lex Luthor.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: Not only is Lana Lang of the Bronze Age reality forced to marry the Prankster when he threatens her with a corsage lined with needles ready to inject a poison into her that would kill her instantly, he also forces Superman to serve as the minister of that wedding. Fortunately, with the help of Lois Lane stowing away on board a helicopter manned by the Prankster's henchmen, Superman safely removes the corsage from Lana's chest and saves her from the forced marriage.
  • Another Dimension: Jor-El and Lara show up near the end of the third Silver Age reality story to show Superman that they have survived the destruction of Krypton by traveling to another dimension that they called the Hyperdome (which, when they show Superman, suspiciously looks like modern age Metropolis). They invite Superman to join them in this alternate dimension, but Batman, who reveals himself as Kismet, gets Superman to see the truth about the reality he's in when Professor Hamilton intervenes and tries to persuade Superman to join his parents in the Hyperdome.
  • Bank Robbery: An attempt at one in the second Silver Age reality story was foiled when the citizens reveal themselves to have superpowers, causing the would-be robbers to run out of the building only to soon be captured by Maggie Sawyer, who also had superpowers.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: From the perspective of two passersby in Metropolis, Superman's single self thrashing around uttering what seemed to be total nonsense may be that those "four realities" he was experiencing were all in Superman's mind rather than him being actually split into four beings.
  • Big Bad: Dominus throughout the entire story arc, who seeks the power of Kismet for his own purposes.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Lois Lane (seemingly) from Superman's point-of-view in the final story of the Bronze Age reality, when Lois pulls out a bazooka and aims it straight at Superman before she inexplicably reverts back to normal and drops the weapon.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Dan Turpin, who in the second Silver Age reality story vocally states that he does not wish to have superpowers like Superman, turns out to be the man who saves the day when everybody but him is given superpowers and they are affected by the Kryptonite in Metallo's chest.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: In the first Silver Age reality story, during a staged worldwide baseball game that Superman plays with the cast, Superboy is so busy being distracted by the girls in Paris, France that he doesn't notice the satellite coming straight for him until it knocks the wind out of him.
  • Domestic Abuse: In the Golden Age reality, Superman stops a wife abuser, only to find a little girl in the situation whom he assumes is the abuser's daughter, only to find her mysteriously disappearing soon afterward.
  • Enemy Mine: Lena Luthor, although originally working with Muto in the 2999 storyline, later turns against him when she joins Superman and the Justice Alliance in stopping him.
  • Fade to White: The final story of the Silver Age reality ends with Superman and Lois Lane holding each other while this happens.
  • Final Solution: Lois Lane of the Golden Age reality discovers that is what the Nazis have planned for the Jews and has this information passed along to Superman when she meets with him.
  • Floating Limbs: The character of Dominus appears as a humanoid wearing a cloak whose wrists and hands do not appear to have any arms attached to them. This also shows up with a few of the characters within the four realities themselves, clueing the reader into the fact that those characters are actually Dominus in disguise.
  • Forced Transformation: Played with in the first Silver Age reality story, where Jimmy Olsen accidentally drank a vial of Profession Hamilton's alien isotopes and was believed to have been transformed into a simple-minded alien that can turn anything he touches into gold. As it turns out, though, an actual alien swapped places with Jimmy and had him trapped in the Daily Planet storage room without his clothes.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Kismet appears in all four realities as a young white-haired girl who tries to tell Superman that everything in those realities are wrong. Later on, when Superman is back to being his singular self in modern day Metropolis, he sees a similar white-haired girl running out of a restaurant into a back alley and assumes that it was Kismet, only to find out that it was actually a runaway human girl named Kimberly whose father had kidnapped her from her mother in order to gain custody of her.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: In the Superman Forever intro to this story arc, Jimmy Olsen in the Silver Age reality was carrying Professor Hamilton's alien isotopes to S.T.A.R. Labs when he summons Superman with his signal watch, hoping to get a ride from him there. Superman berates him for such misuse of the signal watch and tells him that he should exercise. Jimmy agrees, and so feeling that the day is so warm, he decides to take a drink of something to cool himself down, only to realize that he accidentally drank the alien isotopes he had on hand.
  • Identity Impersonator: Batman disguises himself as Superman in the third Silver Age reality story when Superman is affected by Red Kryptonite, changing his appearance. Batman had to wear a bulletproof vest underneath his suit in order to emulate Superman's power of invulnerability.
  • Internal Homage:
    • The first issue of the Superman of 2999's story line has on the cover Superman smashing a hovercar against the side of a building in homage to the cover of Action Comics volume 1 number 1.
    • The Superman of 2999 storyline itself is based on a Silver Age imaginary storyline featuring a Superman descendant.
    • Batman-as-Superman using a giant penny to pin down the thieves at a museum is one for the Dick Sprang era of Batman comics.
    • The storyline of Superman and Batman being both adopted sons of the Kents is a homage to that of World's Finest vol. 1 #172.
  • Living Statue: Superman is referred to by the Jews in Europe as "the golem", a statue from Jewish legend that was given life by the Word of God.
  • Love Triangle: Between Superman, Lois Lane, and Batman, who shows up in the third Silver Age reality story as a bit of competition between himself and Superman.
  • Magic Kiss: Superman and Lois Lane's kiss in the Golden Age reality storyline causes them to temporarily appear in modern age Metropolis during a fire rescue. The little girl present in the story gets them to see what they're doing to reveal the truth behind the Golden Age reality when they kiss a second time for much longer.
  • The Magic Touch: The alien being that Jimmy Olsen supposedly turned into in the first Silver Age reality story could turn anything he touches into gold. Lex Luthor tries to take advantage of this and kidnaps the alien in order to get him to turn bars of lead in a lead factory into bars of gold for his criminal schemes.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: In the second Silver Age reality story, it was believed that a passing comet that Superman destroyed gave everybody on Earth Kryptonian-like superpowers — all except for Dan Turpin, who continues on as the only normal person among them. As it turns out, though, the superpowers were all given by Mxyzptlk, who upon his disappearance back into the Fifth Dimension restores everybody to normal.
  • My Brain Is Big:
    • Muto, the villain of the 2999 storyline, who is behind the reprogramming of the world's robots.
    • Superman himself gets this look when he is accidentally exposed to Red Kryptonite in the third story of the Silver Age storyline. He hides this look in his Clark Kent identity by wearing a big secret society-type hat in the Daily Planet office.
  • Mythology Gag: Supergirl of 2999's costume is based on one of the designs used for the pre-Crisis Earth-One Supergirl during the Bronze Age.
  • No Place for Me There: Superman of 2999 struggles to find his place in a world that seemingly no longer needs a Superman to save them... until the world's robots turn against their masters and he finds himself aligned with other superheroes of that period to deal with that threat.
  • Punk in the Trunk: Lois Lane stows away in the trunk of the Prankster's henchmen's getaway car in the Bronze Age reality setting in order to follow them to their boss.
  • Reality Warper: Dominus, as he was able to trap Superman in four different realities at once. Kismet, however, helps Superman see the truth and thus merges back into one being in one reality.
  • Retcon: Waverider and Matthew Ryder of the Linear Men appear in this story arc as separate characters again, since in Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! Waverider became fused with Monarch to become Extant and Matthew Ryder became the new Waverider to take up the mantle.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: The alien that was assumed to be Jimmy Olsen who after drinking the alien isotopes was transformed into that form was still wearing Jimmy's clothes. In reality, Jimmy was transported out of his clothes and put into a storage room naked while a real alien wore Jimmy's clothes.
  • Smash the Symbol: In the Golden Age reality, Superman, after saving the people from being crushed by a giant Nazi swastika symbol that almost fell on them during an Atomic Skull Nazi rally, soon afterward destroys the swastika in disgust to the idea that he would ever support Naziism in his home country.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: The little girl who appears in all four realites pulls this when she appears all of a sudden to inform Superman that everything is wrong, then he looks to see that a local clock has chimed at 2:22, then he looks back and sees that the girl has disappeared.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Superman of 2999 cannot survive in water, as he nearly drowns to death when a torrent of water washes through Metropolis to put out the fire caused by the incendiary bomb used to take down the robots.
  • Technopath: Muto in the 2999 reality, who reprograms all the Earth's robots to do his bidding to give Superman's descendant and his new allies, the Justice Alliance, something to fight.
  • Threatening Shark: In the final story of the Bronze Age reality, Superman deals with the threat of a menacing shark in Metropolis' waters, only to find out that it was a mechanical shark and it was being controlled by the Prankster.
  • Time Stands Still: Waverider causes time to stand still in modern day Metropolis so that he could talk privately to Superman about the goings-on regarding Dominus altering reality. This time Superman takes advantage of this and positions himself before time resumes its course so that he could rescue some construction men who were falling from a building that was collapsing.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Jimmy Olsen in the third Silver Age reality story hurts his teeth when he accidentally bites into a small chunk of Red Kryptonite that he found inside a Cracker-Jack box.
  • Trainstopping: Superman of the Golden Age reality stops a train in Germany from delivering a group of Jews to a concentration camp to be exterminated.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The robots that populate the Earth and serve the human race in the 2999 reality have all turned against their masters, wreaking havoc everywhere and forcing Superman to team up with a bunch of heroes from that time period to stop them.
  • What If?: Mentioned by Superman in the third Silver Age reality story when he comments on Batman's revelation that they were both adopted brothers raised by the Kents and had previously worked together as the teen superheroes Robin and Superboy, saying that the whole thing sounded like a "what if" scenario.
  • Wife-Basher Basher: Superman in the Golden Age reality dealing with an abusive husband, eventually cowing him until he collapses from fear in Superman's arms.