Hello DC. I’m a lifelong fan, my first comic was The Flashback in the 70s and it started my love affair with comics. The Flash (Barry Allen) was my favorite hero as a kid because of it. The Crisis on Infinite Earths happened. It was absolutely amazing with great writing and art by the greatest to ever do it, George Perez. Big things happened all over the place. The biggest to me besides getting rid of the multiverse was the death of The Flash. He went out like the hero he was. The stunning thing to me was how understated it was. No fanfare, just a cover that didn’t tell you the result but teased it. When it was over and they found the costume….only Wally had to be the appropriate response. But he has crowned his successor and so started to me, one of the greatest hero journeys ever in comics. His start was indicative of what Crisis meant: a fresh start. New stories and possibilities.
DC made this clearest with not only Flash but more so Superman and Wonder Woman. They changed their origins and when they first appeared. In doing so they changed the entire DC Universe and it’s past. The fans were confused at first and there were many clunky holes in the new presentation of the universe but DC trudged through and made it all work and when it didn’t they did a soft reboot with Zero Hour. The thing was there seemed to be a loose plan on how to go forward but it was obvious that they took off more on an idea than a blueprint. The thing is however that the move still accomplished its goal: redefining the heroes and telling new and fun stories. The problem was that having so much actual history always catches up to any property. So every five years or so we would get a reboot or something that lines everything back up. Most every “Crisis” serves this purpose to varying degrees of success. Then DC decided to go all in on its whole line…
The New 52. Spinning out of The Flashpoint series DC canceled its entire line. No one saw it coming although DC claimed that Flashpoint would indeed change everything. Heck, comics say that all the time but nothing like this has happened since the original Crisis. This was something NEVER seen before. I mean, every book gone with its history. This was especially controversial when one considers that this mean Action Comics and Detective Comics were canceled and rebooted at #1 like every other book. These books were on a run to 1000 and just like that all gone. It was stunning to restart with all number ones with the promises of all new concepts of all the characters. Even with this endeavor, they left a door open for the return of the previous multiverse with the presence of a character named Pandora who seemed to have a hand in this total reboot while most of the responsibility fell on the recently returned Barry Allen Flash. (I’ll be writing a piece on this later because I have a thing about his return..) Beyond that little tidbit, we were met with 52 new books and reimaginings of most characters from before. Justice League came out first with a straight forward tale about the war with Darkseid. Great story and art that set up how different this universe would be with this being the first time any of these characters met. As you looked at the other books however you start to notice immediate continuity problems. After the first Crisis there were some issues early on but nothing as striking as what we saw at the beginning of the N52.
As Flashpoint hit both Batman and Green Lantern were in the midst of epic storylines and runs by Grant Morrison and Geoff Johns respectively. So while the majority of all the titles started fresh in a universe stated to be five years old, Batman and GL continued for the most part as if nothing had happened or at least it was of minimum impact. The thing was that it was now a continuity apocalypse. Damian is still Robin to Batman here and that’s a problem because we are expected to believe that Batman first appeared five years prior and is already on his fourth Robin. Look, people have always questioned the proclivity of teenage sidekicks but 4 in 5 years would probably have to be acted on by the superhero community and Gotham Children’s Services. This also wreaked havoc with the Teen Titans as having Red Robin and a new Kid Flash around also raised questions about the continuity. Green Lantern raised similar issues as we are supposed to believe that four different earthmen became a Green Lantern in five years with most of their backstories (especially Hal Jordan’s) intact. That would be impossible considering the continuity of the N52 Superman. Still, both Green Lantern and Batman’s storylines were great in scope and in quality and it would have been a tragedy and robbery to cut them short for the sake of the reboot. So DC trudged along with tinkering with the timeline and teasing a better-understood continuity as it went along. Still, key pieces were missing…like Wally West. The new Kid Flash is Wallace West. So the greatest hero journey in DC was lost…or so I thought,
One of the bigger teases and fixes happened in a series called Convergence which showed off the other 51 universes. The biggest reveal was that the pre-N52 Superman was indeed alive, married to Lois Lane, AND has a son! The son was indeed a new thing as that wasn’t the case before. It created a new dynamic that readers seemed to be responsive to. The event ended with Clark and his family planted in the N52 earth where they stayed out of the spotlight to live as a normal family. Of course, that wasn’t going to last as the N52 Superman died months after with the original Superman taking his place. With this, a signal was given that maybe the original universe was coming back but the real confirmation came with a book called Rebirth. It basically ended the N52 era while not actually rebooting everything. It brought back Wally West into the DC Universe with a warning that someone or someones had stolen time from their universe at Flashpoint. The main person was revealed to be Dr. Manhatten of The Watchmen. DC promoted The Doomsday Clock story to show what Dr. Manhatten did and what his plans are for the DCU. In the meantime all the books being published carried a “Rebirth” logo with softly rebooted origins and stories all seemingly moving towards a resolution to this latest crisis.
The problem is that other things….other events are happening that seem to be undercutting that story…or at least it seems that way. You see while Doomsday Clock is being published it’s been delayed numerous times by months It should have ended earlier this year. In the meantime, major events spinning out of Batman (Metal) have led to a new Justice League title that seems to be telling a universe changing story in of itself. The saving grace is that Doomsday Clock seems to be happening later than all these events but it’s not specific nor does DC seem to really feel the need to connect most of their titles to a particular timeline beyond the events. Now the multiverses are in chaos and on a more earthbound level a criminal network has taken out all of the other espionage and terrorist organizations in DC and finally, Lex Luthor seems to have a hand on all of it steering DC into The Year Of The Villian. Not to mention Wonder Comics imprint and the return of Young Justice complete with the return of Superboy Conner Kent while Jonathan Kent remains the primary Superboy apart from that. Exciting stuff but…..
There just seems to be a lot going on at the same time and nothing is stabilized because the DCU reality isn’t settled. Readers are vacillating between confusion and contentment because many good stories are being told at this time. My hope is that DC sticks the landing on all of this and sets the table for even more great stories to be told.
Until next time…