Friday, August 5, 2011

Comic Book Nerdery: DCnU and the Multiverse

On August 31st, DC Comics will relaunch (pardon me, "Reboot") their entire line of superhero comics starting with 52 brand new issues. Word in the comic book reading community, i.e., nerds like me, have called this move "Daring...," "Unprecidented...," "Groundbreaking...," "Incredibly Stupid...," among many other choose word that I would type out using while holding the shift key and repeatedly hitting random numbers.

But what is this really all about? I have my guesses and I think I should share them with you. So I will. So there.

As some, maybe a few,  of you may know, I have been a obsessive reader of DC's comics treatment of the multiverse. To explain this concept would take quite a bit of time and bore the average reader to death, but to summarize it works like this. Over 75 years of printing stories, different iterations of the same characters were created--until in the 60s we ended up with two distinctly different versions of the same characters seeing print. This represented a divide in the era of comics, a golden to a silver age. Golden Age Superman was the first, classic representation of the character; The Silver Age Superman was the newer modern version. Essentially they looked the same, had similar histories, but there were slight differences. Other characters where more distinct between their classic contemporaries; the Flash and Green Lantern looked and few parallels between the characters whom they had taken their names.

So a solution was created...The Multiverse. All of the old, original characters were moved to a separate earth where all of there stories took place; the modern contemporary characters had their own earth. Every once in a while Flash 1 and Flash 2 would meet up kick ass and then move back to their respective worlds. This continued on and on and on. And the multiverse grew, Earth 3 came filled with the opposites of everything, bad was good, good was bad; Earth X had Nazi's win the war, Earth 90210 was filled with whiny privileged youth.

It became quite cluttered, something I truly love. But for most people this was a confusing stew of repeated character names and convoluted plot lines that made little sense.

So they created the crisis. THE CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS.

As a side, I believe this is one of the most important comic books ever created, but it is dense. And without this backstory, it kind of makes no sense. Cutting to the end of the story, all of those multiple earths I spoke of earlier...gone. Poof. Condensed into one universe. 

But because comic book readers love continuity in stories, and certain characters remained, we had to have follow-up fix-it stories. Zero Hour: Crisis in Time which was a story line that remade time and history started over from the big bang, nothing was ever the same again, sort of, kind of, well, actually, nothing really changed all that much.  I thought it was cool. Other readers hated it. 

Then came Infinite Crisis, which was kind of like Crisis of Infinite Earths, but instead of imploding the multiverse, the un-imploded the multiverse. And yes, I mean un-imploded because exploding this would have been disastrous...think of the DC Universe the was it was after the "First Crisis" as one of those bread in a tube containers you see in the cold sections of your grocery store. If the bread tube explodes, it is a bad thing, but if you unseal it properly, you have happy universes...I mean crescent rolls. Infinite crisis, the bread in a tube crisis, is often called the "Middle Crisis" by some. Now we could officially have multiverse stories again. But rarely did they occur. However, instead of a vast infinite list of worlds, we were left with only 52 known universes. 

A few years ago, the Third Crisis came, the Final Crisis. This is the most meta-textual book out of all, and while I love it as well. It confused a lot of people so I won't dive into the details. All you need to know is that it was the Third Crisis, the aftermath involved time time travel. And now we have Flashpoint and subsequently the New 52.

Long lead up to a little bit of speculation. But here is what I think is going to happen in the world of DC comics. While there is a great deal of conversation about the DC universe being rebooted a handful of titles will not change their story lines and will continue on the same trajection for the foreseeable future. However book to book contradictions present a continuity glitch that might only be reasoned by all of these stories happening on unique worlds. 

Here are some pieces of information gleaned over the past few months:
  • In an interview about Flashpoint: Project Superman, Gene Ha let slip that the story took place on Earth M an unknown Earth of the multiverse.
  • All solicits for the new Justice League book feature Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern. However, for those following current Green Lantern stories, it is known that he is no longer the GL of Earth.
    • Green Lantern books are not being "rebooted" in the same sense of the other stories as writers have stated. The aftermath of recent stories will be followed through that collection of titles.
    • Following this logic we have two versions of Hal Jordan, one who is a Green Lantern, one who is not, potentially roaming at the same time.
  • Batman Stories are continuing in the same story arc, most importantly the Leviathan story that Grant Morrison has been writing in Batman, Inc. will be continued on next year as a twelve part miniseries. 
    • Batgirl is rebooted. She is younger and can walk. Oracle probably doesn't exist.
    • Batwing is a new title and character from Batman, Inc. who will tie more directly into the Morrison story line and will probably play through to its logical conclusion.
    • Two problems, Oracle has played a part in the Batman, Inc. stories, as well as the current Batgirl, who will now seemingly lose her title. 
    • Red Robin is now back to being a Teen Titan, in some strange incarnation, where he previously had worked with Batman. But he seems very removed from his current past.
  • Superman is the first superhero of earth.
  • If Superman is the first super hero, what happened to all of the previous heroes?
    • The JSA is absent from current history.
    • The All-Star Squadron is Absent.
    • What happened to the Crimson Avenger who is purported to be the very first superhero?
  • Contradicting the idea that Superman was the first superhero of earth, we have Etrigan the Demon, and the Seven Demon Knights. These characters stories take place in the middle ages. 
  • Hints to a title-wide conspiracy have been made by the editors of DC. This seems to allude to a new "Crisis" type event coming in the future. 
  • Grant Morrison will eventually publish "Multiversity," his exploration of the DC Multiverse.
  • We also have the ever so confusing Legion titles.
    • One takes place in current continuity not entirely certain though which version of the Legion it is out of the 3 we have been left with as of late.
    • Legion Lost takes place "in their past" which is our present (told you, confusing). Which could mean the past of the new universe or the past of the current continuity.
Okay, so there is a lot of information. But here is how I think it all resolves itself. Green Lantern and Batman stories take place on "New Earth," the world spawned from Infinite, dough in a can, Crisis. Superman and Batgirl, and potentially Justice League take place on a new Earth 1, which will be a fallout from Flashpoint. New Earth-1 will be a shinier, less gritty place.  Given the lack of WWII heroes, who played a defining role in DC Comics continuity, I believe that they must exist somewhere. The only logical place would be Earth-2. 

And that is about all of the nerdery that I can type out for the night.

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