COMIC BOOKS: THE DC UNIVERSE-THEN AND NOW!
Recently I wrote an article for introducing new readers to the world of Batman. The purpose of the article was to help new and casual readers find strong starting points in the characters 75+ years of publication to begin reading. It was suggested that perhaps to coincide with these types of articles; it would be helpful to have a sort of reference point for major content-altering events in the DC Comics Universe, along with perhaps a quick glossary of some key words used in the Comic Book Vernacular. My goal here will be to hopefully give a brief but well-presented breakdown of the DC Universe from inception to the current state. Keep in mind this will only be covering the major continuity/time altering events, and will not each and every company event thatâ€™s been published.
The Beginnings- AKA Pre Crisis Universe
While many comic fans will argue the cornerstone of the DC Universe was built around a little ole known comic book known as Action Comics #1 (and to a degree, they would be absolutely right) the actual idea of a connected DC Universe didnâ€™t come about for quite a few years after that issue’s publication.
For many years, all the characters of the DC Universe existed within their own mini universes, independent of each other. That all changed with the release of All-Star Comics #3! This would be the first time characters were shown existing in the same world, and the first time a team was created. This would serve as the foundation for many â€œgroup/team upsâ€ later on. A fun little side note is that at the time of publication, not only was this grouping a major deal because of the characters crossing over into each other, but technically, it was publisherâ€™s crossing over as well!
What does that mean?
Well when All-Star Comics #3 was published, characters like The Flash, The Atom, Hawkman and Green Lantern were under the company All-American Comics, and other characters such as Sandman, Spectre, Dr. Fate and Hourman were under National Comics! Even crazier, both of these companies were using the logo from Detective Comics (Ya know, the series that focused on Batman!)! These companies would eventually merge and become National Periodical Publications in 1946, and it wouldnâ€™t be for another 31 years before the company would officially be known as DC Comics.
So just to help bring it together in a timeline sort of way:
Â· Action Comics #1 is published in 1938 — Introducing Superman and the early start of â€œDC Comics.â€
Â· All-Star Comics #3 is published in 1940, and is the first time various characters are shown interacting and teaming up (Much later on this team would be known as the Justice Society, the precursor to The Justice League). This series and many characters are under different publishers.
Â· 1946 National Allied Publications merges with Detective Comics Inc. and All-American Publications to form National Comics Publications, and eventually named National Periodical Publications (NPP).
Â· 1977 NPP officially changes its name to DC Comics (although it was referred to as DC Comics as early as 1940)
Keep in mind these are the very early days of superhero comics, and many of the characters have undergone drastic changes to within their fictional history after the publication of these issues. The purpose of giving this brief background is simply to know when the concept of a cohesive universe first began within the company.
The Silver Age and DC Comics First Retcon!
Retcon! The word many comic book readers have come to dread or get excited for! What is it exactly? Essentially it is a re-envisioned telling of historical events, altering moments in time (fictional time that is) to support events taking place currently in a characterâ€™s life. It can take many forms, such as simply adding in a new event or bit of information to a character’s history that didnâ€™t exist previously. Sometimes it can be more jarring, and entire new plot points are added in to drastically change the landscape of a character (or in this case an entire shared fictional universe) to serve the companyâ€™s needs.
The first main example would be the birth of the â€œSilver Ageâ€ of comics, with the introduction of a new FLASH! In Showcase #4 a new person was introduced using the mantle of â€œThe Flash.â€ His name was Barry Allen (you might have heard of him!). What was so significant of his introduction was that not only did DC Comics introduce a new person as an established hero, but directly stated that all the â€œGolden Ageâ€ heroes (those who came previously) were actually fictional characters in a comic book! So In the new â€œSilver Age,â€ DC Comics established that all those Golden Age characters were nothing more than comic books that current characters could read about (So all those previous stories never really happened in Universe — yeah, wrap your head around that for a moment).
Regardless how confusing it sounded, the plan by DC Comics was a hit, the new Flash was soon followed by new versions of most of their iconic characters, and the Silver Age was underway! So to recap:
Â· All-Star Comics #3 gives us the first start of a team of multiple heroes, existing together.
Â· This time period with all these characters is known as the â€œGolden Ageâ€ of comics.
Â· Showcase #4 introduces Barry Allen as the new Flash. It also establishes that anything that took place in the Golden Age of comics were actually fictional events set within the Silver Age.
In modern day comic books, the concept of alternate dimensions, worlds, earths, etc. doesnâ€™t seem too farfetched.
Marvel has multiple â€œEarths,â€ and DC has their own as well. Even smaller publishers acknowledge in their stories the idea that there are many earths with subtle differences in each one, and various characters will interact with their counterparts in these alternate earths.
For DC Comics, the very first introduction of this concept once again came about because of a character known as The Flash! It would be in a famous story â€œFlash of Two Worlds,â€ where Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, would make his triumphant return!
The comic book Flash #123 established that all those Golden Age heroes did indeed exist (not just as fictional characters in comics), but on an alternate Earth. Thus, you can say there was Earth-1 (Silver Age Heroes) and Earth-2 (Golden Age Heroes). From this point, DC Comics would use the idea of â€œmultiple earthsâ€ to introduce various characters they had acquired from absorbing other publishers. These â€œEarthsâ€ were given various names or number designations, but essentially this was the start of DCâ€™s Multiverse — The concept that there were various dimensions with slightly alternate versions of characters that could interact with each other and remain independent. (Little FYI fun: The Flash TV series use this concept in their second season introducing their own version of an â€œEarth 2).
So while this concept opened up a slew of storytelling options (Writers could essentially tell whatever story they wanted and simply set in an alternate earth so as not to mess with the â€œcoreâ€ continuity within the primary DC Comics books), it also started to create a ton of convoluted messes as some writers/editors began attempting to merge characters and histories from different earths together (such as bringing in Red Tornado and Black Canary from Earth-2 to Eart-1, and so forth). This continuous merging and rearranging, and in some cases retconning, created a massive amount of confusion for readers and staff writers alike.
What was DCâ€™s Solution? Well read on! But first letâ€™s recap!
Â· Showcase #4 introduced Barry Allen as Flash, and made it that any Golden Age heroes were actually fictional characters in this newly established continuity.
Â· Flash #123 introduces a story line where it is revealed all those Golden Age Heroes do exist, But on an alternate version of Earth (deemed Earth-2)!
Â· Using this concept, DC Comics begins to create various â€œEarthsâ€ to tell different stories for their characters without harming the continuity of their main universe (Earth-1).
Â· Years of stories merging or crossing over â€œEarthsâ€ creates confusion and clutter to the main DC COMICS continuity (Earth-1).
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS! â€“ The End of the Multiverse! (Kind of)
The concept of various â€œEarthsâ€ had been a hit, and allowed a ton of creative freedom for writers and DC Comics. The problem was it started to get out of hand, and soon was a convoluted mess of reworked history and characters that created a barrier for new and old readers a like.
What was DC Comics to do to try and remedy this issue? The answer-a major companywide crossover event known as “Crisis on Infinite Earths!” With a tag line of â€œWorlds will live, worlds will die, and nothing will ever be the same,â€ the event lived up to his name!
When the dust settled, and the event was over, a new continuity had been established for DC Comics. Various â€œEarthsâ€ were no longer in existence, with various characters from the respective Earths being merged and re-worked into the core â€œEarthsâ€ continuity (such as the Justice Society now being a precursor for Justice League of America). Many characters were affected by the event and the new â€œtimeline.â€ New origins were created for characters such as Batman in Frank Millerâ€™s Year One storyline. The biggest change happened to DC Comics most iconic hero — Superman!
Crisis pretty much ended the Superman readers had known and loved for the past fifty years. His series was relaunched with a new Superman #1 (see it isnâ€™t just recent that comic companies relaunched with new No. 1s!) What were some of the changes? Well it removed Supergirl, reworked his origin and his powers, and removed his time as Superboy. The character was completely streamlined and simplified for new audiences. So everything from the Silver Age and Golden age had been re-worked or destroyed! Oh yeah, except for a little title known as Legion of Super-Heroes!
At the time, Legion of Super-Heroes was a hugely succesful comic book series for DC Comics. It told the tale of young heroes in the far future of the DC Universe, and involved both Supergirl and Superbly heavily — oh wait, this new Crisis just stated those characters no longer exist! Oh no!!! So how did DC fix this major time continuity issue? Well, they said this series actually exists in its own little â€œpocket universe,â€ a.k.a. one alternate Earth was allowed to survive the major crisis.
Thus all stories that took place prior to Crisis on Ifinite Earths have come to be known as the PRE-CRISIS ERA!
So, once more, to recap:
Â· Flash #123 sets up the idea that there are multiple Earths with various incarnations of established characters living in each Earth.
Â· This idea starts to get out of hand, and soon by 1980s there seems to be an â€œinfiniteâ€ number of Earths, mixing and merging with the â€œcoreâ€ Earth-1. This creates confusion amongst readers and DC Comics Editorial Staff.
Â· To fix the problem, DC COMICS creates an event/storyline known as “Crisis on Infinite Earths” with the plan to erase all alternate Earths, re-work the â€œcoreâ€ Earths timeline (continuity), and create one linear, streamlined history that old and new readers could enjoy.
Â· This new Earth has a re-worked history, and assimilated various characters from new acquired publishers.
Â· One little alternate earth/future still exists in the comic book series Legion of Super-Heroes. In this world characters Superboy and Supergirl still exist.
Â· Thus the Golden Age and Silver Age of DC Comics are both known as Pre-Crsis era, and most modern settings (1980s onward) has come to be known as the Post-Crisis era, all relating back to this major company event.
Â· Oh yeah, Barry Allen (The Silver Age Flash) Dies! People are sad. Wally West becomes the Flash.
ZERO HOUR! The New NEW Fixer-Upper!
So, “Crisis on Infinite Earths“ fixed everything, right? NOPE! While it definitely started to treat the bleeding wound, which was DC Comics’ ever-troubled continuity, the job wasnâ€™t done yet. The infinite Earths problem was taken care of, but what about the actual timeline for DC Comics fictional universe?
If the Justice Society existed in WWII (which is where they were planted in DC Comics Timeline post-Crisis), how could they possibly still look young and kick-butt in their own series, which was set in modern times for DC Comics? DC Comics also had characters with extremely convoluted histories such as Donna Troy and Hawkman — oh yeah, and somehow writers managed to really screw up the Legion of Super-Heroes pocket universe as well.
With ten years having passed since “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” DC was again in a jam, and needed some way to have everything make some sort of sense in their continuity. The answer was another major company crossover event known as â€œZero Hourâ€! The event allowed DC Comics to de-age the Justice Society, re-invent the Legion of Superheroes, and still have a confusing Hawkman!
Â· “Crisis on Infinite Earths” wipes out the â€œmultiverseâ€ idea, streamlining all characters and stories into one universe for DC Comics.
Â· A pocket universe for Legion of Super-Heroes, terrible storytelling, and confusing character histories within the universe begin to mount up.
Â· Roughly ten years after “Crisis,” DC Comics creates a new event known as “Zero Hour” to fix more of their story issues. The results work for the most part.
Multiple Retcons and INFINITE CRISIS — The Return of a Multiverse (Sort of)
In what was meant to be a sort of 20th anniversary to “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” DC Comics created new company-wide event to â€œfixâ€ more of the continuity issues, and bring back some plot elements from Pre-Crisis days.
How did this happen?
Well the Superboy that no longer exists (remember from “Crisis on Infinite Earths”?) actually still did exist on an Earth where everyone is normal and superheroes are comic book characters (Itâ€™s supposed to be like OUR actual real Earth). Did you get all that? Yeah, well this Superboy literally punches continuity (donâ€™t ask me), and through a series of ridiculous and poorly-plotted stories, created a â€œNew Earthâ€ in the “Infinite Crisis” storyline.
So between “Zero Hour,” which attempted to â€œfixâ€ everything, DC Comics launched a retcon of Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, as well as created â€œalternateâ€ futures (such as that of critically-acclaimed Kingdom Come) through the explanation of â€œHypertime.â€ Iâ€™d go into explaining what Hypertime is, but itâ€™s pointless, as shortly after the creation of this concept by writer Mark Waid, DC editor Dan Didio denounced it along with just â€œignoringâ€ these new alternate futures’ existence (Oh yeah, like that wouldnâ€™t come back to bite them in the butt).
In DC Comics’ attempt to honor an older major story line, and continue to fix up their continuity, they, in fact, did the opposite — creating another mess of storytelling.
Here’s another recap:
Â· “Zero Hour” fixes up some of the â€œtimeâ€ issues within DC Comics’ continuity, so various characterâ€™s histories make more sense and gel better. Hawkman still doesnâ€™t make sense.
Â· Apparently bored with this streamlined â€œfixedâ€ continuity, writers begin creating new Earths again in the form of alternate futures (Kingdom Come). The term â€œHypertimeâ€ is coined and quickly dropped.
Â· In what is likely due to the lawsuit at the time between DC Comics and Jerry Siegelâ€™s heirs (Supermanâ€™s creator), DC Comics creates “Infinite Crisis” and kills off the â€œGolden Ageâ€ Superman for good, Superboy (an introduced version) dies, and Golden Age Superboy â€œshattersâ€ continuity, allowing some writers to bring back Golden Age elements of characters that had been tossed out during “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
Â· The beginnings of a new Multiverse are established.
52, When One Earth Just Isnâ€™t Enough, and Two Isnâ€™t Cutting It Either!
How many weeks are there in a year? 52 you say? Well guess what thatâ€™s how DC Comics came about with their number for the amount of â€œEarths,â€ which would be allowed to exist within their new Multiverse.
The idea of multiple earths wasnâ€™t terrible, and DC Comics had it all figured out, and couldnâ€™t possibly get this all convoluted either, right? NOPE! Not learning from history, DC Comics established what essentially was to be an inter-dimensional pyramid of worlds, with the â€œcoreâ€ Earth being the bottom point (referred to as Earth-Prime, New Earth, Earth 1, or Earth 0 because why bother with a uniformed naming? Except waitâ€¦other Earths started to use those names too! Fun!) So you had 52 â€œEarthsâ€ created by the end of the event, and each one of these Earths also had various â€œtimelinesâ€ and â€œalternate futures/pasts,â€ so really it was infinite Earths all over again.
Â· “Infinite Crisis” attempts to establish a new Multiverse, bring back some plot elements from Golden Age comics, and remove parts of the Superman world as a preemptive maneuver to deal with the lawsuit coming from Jerry Siegelâ€™s Heirs.
Â· Bored with a singular universe, DC Comics creates a new event that would run weekly (52 weeks) establishing 52 new multiple Earths, each with their own unique history, future and alternate versions-thus the Multiverse is reborn!
Â· In 2009, shortly after “Infinite Crisis,” DC COMICS once again retcons Superman, bringing back all the silver age elements they removed in the past several events. So Superman was again whole, and this origin story would be the BEST (sarcasm)!
Â· In 2010, DC Comics introduces a new line called “EARTH ONE!” No it isnâ€™t like Earth-1, this is “EARTH ONE.” Whatâ€™s the difference? Well itâ€™s yet another retelling of Supermanâ€™s origin, except this one exists in its own unique universe, and is not connected at all to any of the Earths created thus far! Because thatâ€™s not confusing to uninitiated readers!
FLASHPOINT! AKA â€œaaah screw it, letâ€™s just start over!â€ (kind of)
Before it was a cartoon and the plot line for a new season of The Flash TV series (season 3), “FLASHPOINT” was actually a DC COMICS companywide event. Maybe the most significant event in recent DC Comics publication history.
The story involved a recently returned-to-life Barry Allen, whoâ€™s taken back his mantle as The Flash. In a moment of despair, Flash actually runs BACK IN TIME and saves his mother from being murdered (an event that eventually led Barry to becoming The Flash). Somehow, Barry not becoming The Flash unleashes a crazy butterfly effect (look it up!) which results in a darker, twisted â€œpresent dayâ€ for the DC Comics Universe.
Everything is changed, from Thomas Wayne being Batman, to Superman being a depowered government prisoner, and Aquaman leading an Atlantean army against Wonder Womanâ€™s Amazon warriors in a war that threatens to rip the world apart!
Barry, with the help of this timeline’s version of heroes, is able to go back and â€œfixâ€ everything, but not all is as it seems. Time had been so damaged that when it â€œre-stitchedâ€ itself together, well, some things went wrong, thus the birth of the event and setting of the “NEW 52”!
Â· DC Comics seems to be on point again after the multiple retcons and company-wide events dating back to “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”
Â· Sales are bad for DC Comics, something needs to happen, a change of course more drastic then anything theyâ€™ve done before — Flashpoint!
Â· Flashpoint sees Barry Allen (The Flash) alter the future by changing the past. Not for the better! He manages to fix it, but the cost is a drastically different DC Comics Universe — The birth of “New 52”!
Â· Hawkman still doesnâ€™t make sense.
The New 52 (Itâ€™s a BRAND thing not an Earth thing, DUH!)
Donâ€™t let the name fool you, “New 52” has nothing to do with the concept of multiverse, but rather the amount of new books re-launched by DC Comics post-Flashpoint.
See, DC Comics’ sales were hurting, and they were falling behind Marvel Comics in a big way. Sure, they had some success with Green Lantern (thanks to Geoff Johns) and core titles like Batman, and Superman, but overall the company was not doing well. Something needed to change, and it wasnâ€™t going to come in the form of just an alternate reality, or quick revamped continuity. The fix had to be big, it needed to be huge! So DC Comics decided to use Flashpoint as a way to reboot their entire universe/comic book lineup.
For those unaware, “reboot” essentially means a restart to core fundamentals of property (itâ€™s a term used in film, fiction, etc). There are hard reboots (complete and utter change to a property) and soft reboots (minor tweaks that are still big, but only affect aspects of a property). “New 52” was the branding used by DC COMICS to explain their company’s reboot of all their characters (although in some cases, such as Green Lantern and Batman, it was more of a soft reboot). All their titles were cancelled before Flashpoint, and selected series were re-launched post-Flashpoint with new Number 1 issues, showcasing reworked origins for characters, in a timeline updated to better represent the modern era.
The problem was, editor and Chief Dan Didio never really established what aspects were getting â€œrebootedâ€! Many of the newly relaunched stories referenced events that took place prior to Flashpoint! But, how could that be if everything is restarting? Well the answer was that all the events that took place over the years in DC Comics still happened, just condensed within a five year span (WHAT? Yeah no one got it, but it became a moot point, and people just had to accept the nonsense). So we got re-launched series, but new top talent creative teams, and while story-wise it was a lot to accept (hard to swallow), sales-wise it did exactly what it needed too.
The hype paid off, and DC Comics was back on top! The new series were excellent places for new readers to start up, and while older readers were torn on the continuity issues, they too began to enjoy this newly branded DC Comics Universe. That was until, once more, DC Comics began mucking with their own continuity (only a few years in! come on guys!) and once more began dipping in sales. How could DC Comics yet again fix their dire situation? Why another reboo—wait I mean a re-envisionâ€”errâ€”a slight change? A return to basics? Aâ€¦.what would the word be? Oh yeah, a “REBIRTH!”
Â· Flashpoint ends and as Barry Allen fixes the time stream, things donâ€™t exactly come back together properly.
Â· The newly established timeline/DC Comics branding is â€œNew 52â€. This has nothing to do with the amount of â€œEarthsâ€ but rather 52 new books are re-launched with brand new issue 1s.
Â· The new continuity takes many of the aspects from the previous timeline but tweaks them and condenses them to fit apparently within a five-year time span. We get new histories for Superman, and the formation of the Justice League (among other restarts).
Â· Hawkman still doesnâ€™t make sense.
REBIRTH! A.K.A. Back to Basics, A.K.A. Geoff Johns Saves the DC UNIVERSE!
So “New 52” was a success for the most part. The entire companyâ€™s product line had been streamlined and condensed to allow new readers to easily jump on board, while still giving a nod to previously established storylines for older fans. Sure, there were a ton of hiccups along the way, some series bombed right out of the gate, others found troubles with creative teams, but overall DC Comics was flourishing (Thanks a lot to creators Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo on Batman, the Green Lantern books and anything Geoff Johns touched — I mean he made Aquaman a top selling book!).
Then like in most cases of big change, the pendulum swung a bit too far, and readers began feeling like the core essence of these characters was beginning to fade. Superman, despite coming pretty close just didnâ€™t â€œfeelâ€ like Superman anymore. Batman had lost his way towards the end, with a pretty ridiculous Joker storyline, as happens sales began to fall. Combine that with political maneuvering and restructuring within Warner Brothers (the parent/owner of DC Comics) and rumblings of a new change were underway.
The DC films were coming out, and a shared movie universe was going to happen (akin but different to the Marvel Cinematic Universe), and with a rocky start, suddenly Geoff Johns emerged as â€œThe Man!â€ for the company.
For those that donâ€™t know, Geoff Johns is a writer for DC Comics who’s made a name for himself by â€œbringing characters back to basics.â€ He wrote for a critically-acclaimed Hawkman series (prior to “New 52”) that many believe to be the best interpretation of the character in the modern era. From there he took on the task of making Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) relevant again, and jump-started what soon became one of the top-selling books for DC. The man had the golden touch, or in this case, the golden pen. When “New 52” began, Johns managed to even get long laughed-at character Aquaman to gain popularity.
Thus, with DC Comics bleeding out, editor Dan Didio getting hit with various criticisms, DC movie director/producer Zack Snyder getting hit with all sorts of criticism, events were set in motion that allowed Geoff Johns to incredibly raise his stock and rank within the company. He spearheaded DCs current attempt to â€œrebrandâ€ itself under the banner of â€œDC Rebirth.â€
The naming convention comes from the big success Johns had prior to “New 52 with” both Green Lantern: Rebirth, and Flash: Rebirth. Geoff Johns wanted to bring his thought/creative process to the DC Comics as a whole (as oppose to one or two characters), and that was to recapture the main character points which made them popular to begin with. To accomplish this task, DC Comics did not want to hold yet another major company-wide crossover event. Instead, they initiated a series-wide soft reboot.
What does that mean?
Well, while under the branding of â€œRebirth,â€ the continuity of “New 52” would stick around, except minor tweaks would take place to better help new creative teams tell stories. A bunch of series would once more get a brand new No. 1 issue, while some of the classic titles would return to their old numbers. The two classics were Action Comics and Detective Comics, both issue-wise were coming extremely close to hitting issue 1000 — A huge feat in publishing world!
Essentially what DC Comics did was add on the renumbered “New 52” issues to where they left off prior to Flashpoint. Just to help you on the math, prior to Flashpoint, Action Comics was at issue #904 , the rebooted Action Comics under “New 52” branding ran for 53 issues, so those combined brings us to Action Comics return with issue #957! In truth it was a marketing ploy used to for bragging rights, so that DC Comics can say they have two series hitting 1000 issues (Take that, Marvel!).
So there it is, the current state of affairs in the DC Universe. Several series re-launched to offer as new starting point for readers and ideally a clearer path for current readers to follow. How far the changes “Rebirth” will have on the DC Universe still remains to be seen. It had been hinted at that perhaps â€œgapsâ€ of time were missing from the newly established universe (starting at the dawning of “New 52”) due to the interference by a character named Dr. Manhattan (from the Alan Moore series Watchmen. Basically a godlike character).
Nothing has really followed up on this plot element yet, and there seems to be a bit of disconnect on what from the “New 52” timeline is still relevant and what isnâ€™t (a similar issue DC Comics faced in the early days of “New 52” branding, dealing with pre-Flashpoint timeline). One thing is definitely for certain, the “Rebirth” has worked, as DC is again on top with sales, and producing some extremely strong content.
Â· Flashpoint altered time due to the actions of Barry Allen as the Flash.
Â· “New 52″ is rebooted DC Comics continuity due to the actions of The Flash in Flashpoint. All series are re-started as No. 1 offering new takes on many characters to bring in new readers.
Â· When sales begin to drop again, and political maneuvers happening behind the scenes, DC Comics announces a new branding for their company — “Rebirth!” Loosely based on the concepts established by writer Geoff Johns.
Â· Books are once again re-launched under No. 1s, except Action Comics and Detective Comics. Those two series renew their numbering from prior to Flashpoint to ensure they hit issue 1000.
Â· DC “Rebirth” sees a â€œreturn to basicsâ€ for many characters, and the re-introduction of Wally West (Barry Allenâ€™s successor to the Flash Mantle back from “Crisis on Infinite Earths”). The character was missing from “New 52” (although a â€œvariationâ€ was introduced in the form of a African American version, who also co-exists in “Rebirth” with the same name and powers).
Â· It is heavily implied that “New 52” timeline was all screwed up due to the actions of Watchmen character Dr. Manhattan. To what extent, has to be fully revealed.
Â· Hawkman hasnâ€™t returned, but when he does he still wonâ€™t make any sense.
IN CONCLUSION! (for nowâ€¦)
PHEW! There ya have it! The best way to condense the long, tangled, warped history of DC Comics and all of their big retcons and reboots to the fictional timeline for these characters.
Seem like a lot? Well, imagine living through it as a reader!
Hopefully this article can be used a sort of reference point to know why the current state of the DC Universe is the way it is. For new readers, or casual readers, DC Comics has created a few different ways to pick up a series and just start reading. While anyone can pick up a book or series at any point in time, sometimes it helps to sort of know what came before or after.
So, should you start reading at “New 52”? “Rebirth”? What about going back to the ’80s or further?! Well, read anywhere you want! Thatâ€™s the fun of comics. I will continue to write up â€œwhere to beginâ€ articles to help those who want know certain â€œbase pointsâ€ to start reading from, but overall there are so many great stories that creators have told, it would be a shame to pass them all up.
For now, just know DC Comics continuity has been in a state of flux since its inception. Changes happen all the time, and will continue to happen. While it might burn some longtime readers that elements of the stories they love have been re-worked or dropped altogether, just remember you can always go back and re-read those stories! There are years of great content to enjoy and reader, and maybe give the re-vamped stuff a chance and enjoy it for what they are. So, to wrap all this up here is the big final recap!
Â· Action Comics #1 is published, Superman is introduced and the beginning of DC Comics starts here.
Â· All-Star Comics #3 is published giving us interacting characters from various series. The foundations of an interconnected universe!
Â· Showcase #4 is published, the Golden Age heroes timeline is disregarded, a new Silver Age of heroes is introduced starting with Barry Allen as the Flash.
Â· The Flash #123 happens, and the concept of alternate Earths is introduced, as there is a â€œworldâ€ where the Golden Age heroes still exist and fight crime. Crossing over between worlds begins to happen.
Â· The Idea for multiple realities (Earths) takes off and tons of creators start to use this practice for storytelling. This gets out of hand, and continuity is skewed. Readers begin to get frustrated and confused, as does DC editorial.
Â· To fix the multiple earths and timeline debacle, DC Comics presents its first major cross over — “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” Multiple earths are destroyed, character histories are merged into one set timeline (except Legion of Super-Heroes).
Â· Further tweaking to the timeline is needed, as well as fixes to terrible storytelling from the late 80s (Batman: Year Two, Iâ€™m looking at you!) and thus “Zero Hour” happens to once more fix continuity.
Â· Things seem to be fine with the occasional random reboot (Superman Birthright, for example) to keep characters relevant. An introduction to a new Legion series makes things sloppy again for some characters. DC gets into a lawsuit with Superman creator Jerry Siegelâ€™s heirs.
Â· “Infinite Crisis” happens. Part homage to “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” part Superman-retcon, part pointless company crossover. Early start to new multiverse begins.
Â· 52! New multiverse is created, establishing the concept all realities work in a upside down pyramid concept, with the bottom point being the main â€œcoreâ€ Earth of the DC Universe and all other 52 Earths branching alternate realities.
Â· “Flashpoint” happens! Barry Allen alters all of time and needs to fix it!
Â· “New 52!” Again not to be confused with the event 52. This is â€œbrandingâ€ of the DC Universe. It comes with brand new No. 1 rebooted series, with new continuity established upon the conclusion of Flashpoint. Somethings remain the same prior to Flashpoint, some things change drastically.
Â· “New 52″ does well for a while, delivering some new interesting stories and re-telling some classic ones, but alas, sales do drop. Warner Brothers starts making DC movies in a connected cinematic universe, Geoff Johns rises in rank and influence.
Â· REBIRTH begins! Influenced by Geoff Johns, DC Comics once more restarts multiple series with no 1 issues, returns Action Comics and Detective Comics to old number (to hit issue 1000), the company uses the tag line of going â€œback to basicsâ€ to explain the subtle (and some not-so-subtle) changes taking place.
Â· No matter what happens, Hawkman remains confusing throughout!
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