Or should I say MULTI-verse?
The multiverse was, er... is a quite brilliant concept. Initially it was an invention to explain away continuity errors. There were two different Flashes, two different Green Lanterns, multiple origins and explanations for Batman, Superman and everyone in between. The answer the Silver Age DC offices came up with was that all of these versions exist simultaneously in parallel dimensions..on infinite earths.
Ultimately these explanations caused more convolution than correction so the idea was hatched for the grandest of all crossovers to reinterpret the DCU into one coherent New Earth. The grand scheme of COIE was to combine all the multiple character versions into one cohesive mutually functioning world. Characters were reborn with limitless story-telling possibilities, but the brilliance was that the continuity change was in story.
The plot of COIE was that the alternate realities were destroyed and combined into one another to create a single earth. The 1985 reboot of the DCU wasn’t just another release of a new volume of stories asking us simply to forget everything we read previously. The new beginning was the same exact characters from the main “earth-1” continuity, the same characters that experienced those old earth-1 adventures that we knew and loved; only they were all essentially mind wiped due to the collapse of the multi-verse folding into one New Earth.
After about 10 years after COIE, in 1994, corrections somewhat began to become convolutions in continuity. Further explanations were needed to explain things like Hawkman or the Legion of Super-Heroes origins. Thus, DC gave us another reboot (albeit a softer one this time around) called Zero Hour. Once again the continuity changes were in story. This time it was a crazed Hal Jordan manipulating the time stream which ultimately caused the changes in New Earth’s history.
Once again, less than 10 years later (in 2005), yet another continuity shaking mega-crossover was released. The world was shocked that 20 years after 1985 DC released a proper sequel to the now classic COIE, the aptly titled Infinite Crisis. In this story some of the main characters from COIE, characters who were supposed to be gone and erased from history, returned for one last adventure. How? - Because the history-altering was always part of the plot, it was in story. In other words, the continuity changes were in continuity.
From there, post-Infinite Crisis the heroes and villains began remembering their original pre-COIE history. The mind wipe was wearing off. History began to unravel and what was once erased became canon again.
This was followed up by a yearlong weekly story by DC’s hottest creators called 52. An epic sort-of “real time” story with multiple character plots revolving around the mystery of “the 52.” The big reveal being a re-introduction of the multiverse concept, only this time a bit more refined and defined with only 52 parallel dimensions as opposed to the infinite worlds pre-COIE.
What does it all mean? It means that for the continuity fiend like me there is nothing to get up in arms about. This is who DC is. And dare I say, the reboots make continuity better. The reboots make the contradictions make sense. It’s out in there in the open. The universe has reset, minds have been wiped. It’s not that the writers haven’t read the old stories, it’s that the universe is no respecter of persons.
So what’s the big deal about Flashpoint rebooting the DCU? Well, it is a big deal. It’s a really huge deal. But don’t hate DC cause your collection is essentially worthless in the grand scheme of continuity... it’s really not. The stories still happened, the characters just don’t remember they happened.
Only 6 years after Infinite Crisis a new hard reboot has taken place. Time was changed due to the exploits of Barry Allen Flash and even though no one remembers what the world used to be like, doesn’t mean it didn’t use to be like that.
So if you’re upset, stop complaining and enjoy this while it lasts because history always repeats itself. And in about 10 years or so the pre-Flashpoint history is certain to creep back into the DCU in some form or fashion. But until then I for one will relax and enjoy this improved Superman courtesy of Grant Morrison, be on the edge of my seat for the long awaited return of Nightwing and go crazy commenting on the forums when every surprise twist is unveiled in the new 52.
Tags: dc "justice league #1" "infinite crisis" "crisis on infinite earths" 52
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