One of the most powerful DC Comics characters in the company’s entire history of publication is set to make their debut in the Arrowverse’s Elseworlds crossover in 2018: the Monitor. Those fans wondering “Where did DC’s Monitor come from?” may be distressed to learn that the character’s backstory is significantly more complicated than that of the average comic book hero, and comic book heroes are already well-known for their overly complicated backstories.
In short, the Monitor is a veritable DC deity with nearly unlimited powers and an eternal mission to protect the Multiverse from destruction, as seen in the all-time classic crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths. However, whenever the Monitor appears, his dark counterpart the Anti-Monitor is never far behind, so his debut in the Arrowverse probably doesn’t bode well for the Flash, Green Arrow, Supergirl, or any of the other heroes of the CW.
Some have referred to the Monitor as DC’s answer to Uatu the Watcher - a character at Marvel Comics, their rival publisher - and it’s hard to argue when it comes to the surface details. The Monitor made his debut in 1982’s New Teen Titans #21, nearly two decades after Uatu’s first appearance. Aside from their obviously similar monikers, the Monitor and the Watcher each share a predilection for silently observing the multiverse to learn its secrets, and they both carry immense, god-like powers.
It is the finer details, however, of the Monitor’s backstory that distinguish him as a unique and original character more than worthy of his inclusion in the Arrowverse’s Elseworlds crossover - and as one of the most powerful individuals in the DC Universe.
From the moment he debuts in New Teen Titans #21, there’s a distinctly ancient air about the Monitor, but it soon becomes apparent just how old he truly is. His origin lies billions of years in the past of DC continuity, when a mad cosmic scientist named Krona transforms the singular universe into a full-fledged multiverse.
The creation of the DC Multiverse results in the birth of the Monitor, a cosmic entity who draws power from each of the “positive-matter” universes in the multiverse, and who dedicates himself to observing them and learning their secrets, hence his title. His existence and powers have remained tied to the prevalence and survival of these alternate worlds.
There are few characters in all of DC Comics whose power levels can rival those of the Monitor. His abilities are truly god-like, and they include things like total cosmic awareness and the power to create with a thought, along with the usual array of vague “energy powers.”
His one potential weakness is that his powers are dependent on the number of positive-matter universes in existence, but they’re in abundance throughout most of DC continuity. The fact that the Monitor is occasionally able to go toe-to-toe with the Anti-Monitor, his eternal rival, is perhaps the truest testament of his almighty strength.
The character history of the Monitor is frequently overshadowed by that of his “other half," the Anti-Monitor. The villainous Anti-Monitor is the inverse of the Monitor and was created when the Multiverse and the Monitor were, though he only had one anti-matter universe to occupy and draw power from at the time.
As the eons passed, the Anti-Monitor developed an insatiable desire to destroy positive-matter universes so his own anti-matter empire could expand, along with his power, and this genocidal quest finally drew the cosmic twins into direct conflict.