The DC Universe is currently going into the sophomore year of it’s “Rebirth.” So much has changed over the years, including several history reworks, character reworks, and complete alteration of the in universe timeline. 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 not each and every company event that’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 didn’t come about for quite a few years after that issues 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 creating a team that would serve as the foundation for many “group/team ups” 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 publisher’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 wouldn’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 time line sort of way:
- ACTION COMICS #1 is published in 1938- Introducing Superman and the early start of “DC Comics”
- All-Star Comics #3 is published in 1940 and is the first time various characters are shown interacting and forming a team (Much later on this team would be known as the Justice Society, precursor to The Justice League). This series and many characters are under different Publishers.
- 1946 National Allied Publications merges with Detective Comics and All-American Publications to form National Comics Publications, and eventually named National Periodical Publications (NPP).
- 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 character’s life. It can take many forms, such as simply adding in a new event or bit of information to a characters history that didn’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 company’s needs. The first main example would be the birth of the “Silver Age” of comics, with the introduction of a new FLASH! In SHOWCASE #4 a new person was introduced using the mantle of “The Flash”, 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 “Golden Age” heroes (those who came previously) were actually fictional characters in a comic book! So In the new “Silver Age” DC COMICS 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:
- All-Star Comics #3 gives us the first start of a team of multiple heroes, existing together
- This time period with all these characters is known as the “Golden Age” of comics
- 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. doesn’t seem too farfetched. Marvel has multiple “earths”, 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 “Flash of Two Worlds” 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 “multiple earths” to introduce various characters they had acquired from absorbing other publishers. These “Earths” were given various names or number designations but essentially this was the start of DC’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 used this concept in their second season introducing their own version of an “Earth 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 “core” 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 continuously merging and rearranging and in some cases retconning, created a massive amount of confusion for readers and staff writers alike. What was DC’s Solution? Well read on! But first let’s recap!
- Showcase #4 introduced Barry Allen as Flash, and made it that any Golden Age heroes were actually fictional characters in this newly established continuity.
- 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)
- Using this concept, DC COMICS begins to create various “Earths” to tell different stories for their characters without harming the continuity of their main universe (Earth-1).
- Years of stories merging or crossing over “Earths” creates confusion and clutter to the main DC COMICS continuity (Earth-1).
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTH! – The End of The Multiverse! (Kind of)
The concept of various “Earths” 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 “Worlds will live, worlds will die and nothing will ever be the same”, the event lived up to its name! When the dust settled and the event was over a new continuity had been established for DC COMICS, various “Earths” were no longer in existence with various characters from the respective earths being merged and re-worked into the core “Earth’s” 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 “timeline”. New origins were created for characters such as Batman in Frank Miller’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 isn’t just recently comic companies relaunched with 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 successful 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 Superboy 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 “pocket universe” aka one alternate Earth was allowed to survive the major crisis. Thus all stories that took place prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths have come to be known as the PRE-CRISIS ERA! So once more to recap!!
- Flash #123 sets up the idea that there are multiple Earths with various incarnations of established characters living in each earth.
- This idea starts to get out of hand, and soon by 1980s there seems to be an “infinite” number of Earths, mixing and merging with the “core” Earth-1. This creates confusion amongst readers and DC COMICS Editorial Staff.
- To fix the problem, DC COMICS creates an event/storyline known as CRISIS ON INFINTE EARTHS. With the plan to erase all alternate Earths, and re-work the “core” Earths timeline (continuity) create one linear, streamlined history that old and new readers could enjoy.
- This new Earth has a re-worked history, and assimilated various characters from new acquired publishers.
- 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.
- Thus the Golden Age and Silver Age of DC COMICS is 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.
- 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 wasn’t done yet. The infinite earths problem was taken care of, but what about the actual time line 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 writer’s 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 “Zero Hour”! The event allowed DC COMICS to De-Age the Justice Society, re-invent the Legion of Super-Heroes and still have a confusing Hawkman!
- Crisis on Infinite Earths wipes out the “multiverse” idea, streamlining all characters and stories into one universe for DC COMICS.
- A pocket universe for Legion of Super-Heroes, terrible storytelling and confusing character histories within the universe begin to mount up.
- 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.
MUTIPLE 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 “fix” more of the continuity issues and bring back some plot elements from Pre-Crisis days. The event was called Infinite Crisis. How did this happen? Well the Superboy that no longer existed (remember from Crisis on Infinite Earths?) actually still did exist on an earth where everyone is normal and superheroes are comic book characters (It’s supposed to be like OUR actual real earth). Did you get all that? Yeah, well this Superboy literally punches continuity (don’t ask me) and through a series of ridiculous and poorly plotted stories created a “New Earth”. So between Zero Hour which attempted to “fix” everything, DC COMICS Launching a retcon of Superman, still running Legion of Super-Heroes and creating “alternate” futures (such as that of critically acclaimed Kingdom Come) through the explanation of “Hypertime” (I’d go into explaining what Hypertime is, but it’s pointless as shortly after the creation of this concept by writer Mark Waid, DC editor Dan Didio denounced it along with just “ignoring” these new alternate futures existence. Oh yeah, like that wouldn’t come back to bite them in the butt) DC COMICS attempt to honor an older major story line, and continue to fix up their continuity, had in fact did the opposite. DC created another mess of storytelling and confusing continuity.
- Zero Hour fixes up some of the “time” issues within DC COMICS continuity so various character’s histories make more sense, and gel better. Hawkman still doesn’t make sense.
- Apparently bored with this streamlined “fixed” continuity, writers begin creating new earths again in the form of alternate futures (Kingdom Come). The term “Hypertime” is coined and quickly dropped.
- In what is likely due to the lawsuit at the time between DC COMICS and Jerry Siegel’s heirs (Superman’s creator) DC Comics creates Infinite Crisis and kills off the “Golden Age” Superman for good, Superboy (a introduced version) dies, and Golden Age Superboy “shatters” continuity allowing some writers to bring back Golden Age elements of characters that had been tossed out during Crisis on Infinite Earths.
- The beginnings of a new Multiverse are established.
52, “When one earth just isn’t enough and two isn’t cutting it either!”
How many weeks are there in a year? 52 you say? Well guess what? that’s how DC COMICS came about with their number for the amount of “Earths” which would be allowed to exist within their new Multiverse. The idea of multiple earths wasn’t terrible, and DC COMICS had it all figured out and couldn’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 “core” 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 wait…other earths started to use those names too! Fun!) So you had 52 “Earths” created by the end of the event, and each one of these earths also had various “timelines” and “alternate futures/pasts” so really it was infinite earths all over again.
- 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 Siegel’s Heirs.
- 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!
- 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)
- In 2010 DC COMICS introduces a new line called EARTH ONE! No it isn’t like Earth-1, this is EARTH ONE! What’s the difference? Well it’s yet another retelling of Superman’s origin, except this one exists in its own unique universe and not connected at all to any of the Earths created thus far! Because that’s not confusing to uninitiated readers!
FLASHPOINT! AKA “Aaah screw it, let’s just start over!” (kind of)
Before it was a cartoon and the plot line for a new season of The Flash TV series (season 3), FLASH POINT 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, who’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 which would eventually lead to Barry becoming The Flash). Somehow, Barry not becoming The Flash unleashes a crazy butterfly effect (look it up!) which results in a darker, twisted “present day” for the DC COMICS Universe. Everything is changed from Thomas Wayne being Batman, to Superman as a depowered government prisoner and Aquaman leading an Atlantean army against Wonder Woman’s Amazon warriors that threatens to rip the world apart! Barry with the help of this timeline’s version of heroes is able to go back and “fix” everything, but not all is as it seems. Time had been damaged so when it “re-stitched” itself together, well some things went wrong, thus the birth of the event and setting of the NEW 52!
- DC Comics seems to be on point again after the multiple retcons and companywide events dating back to Crisis on Infinite Earths.
- Sales are bad for DC COMICS, something needs to happen, a change of course more drastic then anything they’ve done before-Flash Point!
- Flash Point 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!
- Hawkman still doesn’t make sense.
The New 52 (It’s a BRAND thing not an Earth thing, DUH!)
Don’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 Flash Point. 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 wasn’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 Flash Point as a way to reboot their entire universe/comic book line up. For those unaware, Reboot essentially means a restart to core fundaments of a property (it’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 companies 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 Flash Point and selected series were re-launched post Flash Point 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 “rebooted”! Many of the newly relaunched stories referenced events that took place prior to Flash Point! But, how could that be if everything is restarting? Well the answer was 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-envision—err—a slight change? A return to basics? A….what would the word be? Oh yeah, a REBIRTH!
- Flash Point ends and as Barry Allen fixes the time stream, things don’t exactly come back together properly.
- The newly established timeline/DC Comics branding is “New 52”. This has nothing to do with the amount of “Earths” but rather 52 new books are re-launched with brand new issue 1s.
- 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 can new histories for Superman, and the formation of the Justice League (amongst other restarts).
- Hawkman still doesn’t make sense.
REBIRTH! Aka Back to Basics aka Geoff Johns saves the DC UNIVERSE!
So New 52 was a success for the most part. The entire company’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 didn’t “feel” like Superman anymore. Batman had lost his way towards the end, with a pretty ridiculous Joker storyline, and 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 “The Man!” for the company. For those that don’t know, Geoff Johns is a writer for DC COMICS that’s made a name for himself by “bringing characters back to basics”. 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 hate, events were set in motion that allowed Geoff Johns to incredibly raise his stock and rank within the company. He spear headed DC’s current attempt to “rebrand” itself under the banner of “DC Rebirth.”
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 companywide cross over event, instead they initiated a series wide soft reboot. What does that mean? Well while under the branding of “Rebirth” 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 the publishing world. Essentially what DC COMICS did was add on the renumbered New 52 issues to where they left off prior to Flash Point. Just to help you on the math, prior to Flash Point 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’s a marketing ploy and bragging rights so 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 “Gaps” 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 isn’t (a similar issue DC Comics faced in the early days of New 52 branding, dealing with pre-Flash Point 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.
- Flash Point altered time due to the actions of Barry Allen as The Flash.
- New 52 is rebooted DC Comics continuity due to the actions of The Flash in Flash Point. All series are re-started as No 1 offering new takes on many characters to bring in new readers.
- 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.
- Books are once again re-launched under No 1s, except ACTION COMICS and DETECTIVE COMICS. Those two series re-new their numbering from prior to Flash Point to ensure they hit issue 1000.
- DC Rebirth sees a “return to basics” for many characters, and the re-introduction of Wally West (Barry Allen’s successor to The Flash Mantle back from Crisis of Infinite Earths). The character was missing from New 52 (although a “variation” was introduced in the form of an African American version, who also co-exists in Rebirth with the same name and powers).
- It is heavily implied that New 52 timeline was all screwed up due to the actions of Watchmen character Manhattan. To what extent, has to be fully revealed.
- Hawkman hasn’t returned, but when he does he still won’t make any sense. *Update* He did return (see future article on current DC: Rebirth stories) and yeah, he still doesn’t make sense.
IN CONCLUSION! (For now…)
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! That’s the fun of comics. I will continue to write up “where to begin” articles to help those who want know certain “base points” to start reading from, but over all 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 long time readers that elements of the stories they love have been re-worked or dropped all together, 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!
- ACTION COMICS #1 is published, Superman is introduced and the beginning of DC COMICS starts here.
- All-Star Comics #3 is published giving us interacting characters from various series. The foundations of an interconnected universe!
- 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.
- The Flash #123 happens, and the concept of alternate Earths is introduced, as there is a “world” where the Golden Age heroes still exist and fight crime. Crossing over between worlds begins to happen.
- 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
- 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)
- Further tweaking to the time line is needed, as well as fixes to terrible story telling from the late 80s (Batman Year two, I’m looking at you!) and thus Zero Hour happens to once more fix continuity.
- 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 law suit with Superman creator Jerry Siegel’s heirs.
- Infinite Crisis Part homage to Crisis on Infinite Earths, part Superman-retcon, part pointless company crossover. Early start to new multiverse begins.
- 52! New multiverse is created, establishing the concept all realities work in a upside down pyramid concept, with the bottom point being the main “core” earth of the DC UNIVERSE and all other 52 earths branching alternate realities.
- Flash Point happens! Barry Allen alters all of time and needs to fix it!
- New 52! Again not to be confused with the event 52. This is “branding” of the DC UNIVERSE. It comes with brand new no 1 rebooted series, with new continuity established upon the conclusion of Flash Point. Somethings remain the same prior to Flash Points, somethings change drastically.
- 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.
- 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 “back to basics” to explain the subtle (and some not so subtle) changes taking place.
- No matter what happens, Hawkman remains confusing throughout!