This article contains spoilers for a number of recent DC Comics.
The DC Universe hasn’t exactly been the most stable since it was rebooted in the wake of 2011’s Flashpoint. Despite the New 52’s stated intention to be more new reader friendly and less beholden to the intricacies of continuity, well…that went right out the window amidst a host of internal contradictions and lukewarm receptions to relaunched versions of a number of the characters.
So, what’s a comic book company to do when it suddenly finds itself in a bit of a pickle? If that comic book company is DC, there’s always one way out: Have a Crisis! There’s nothing like some good, clean, reality-altering parallel universe genocide to pave over some bumps in the road.
Now, if you’re a comic fan who has spent the last three years bemoaning the loss of the original post-Crisis DCU, don’t get your hopes up. There’s little chance of DC reverting to a pre-Flashpoint status quo. After all the noise that surrounded the New 52 relaunch, the odds of seeing anything beyond the occasional course correction are extraordinarily small.
What’s more, as DC continues to introduce new concepts and titles in the coming months (notably Gotham Academy), and allowing fresh creative teams to breathe new life into ongoing titles, effectively “rebooting” them without actually having to start fresh (see Geoff Johns and John Romita’s excellent current run on Superman and the hotly anticipated Cameron Stewart/Brenden Fletcher/Babs Tarr take on Batgirl for perfect examples of this), it’s safe to say that there’s change in the air…just nothing particularly drastic.
Despite the New 52 DCU’s fresh interpretations of “Earth 1” and “Earth 2” concepts, it’s hard to believe there has ever been serious doubt in any reader’s mind that the easiest way to mollify fans is to introduce the idea that somewhere in the DC Multiverse, the familiar, “classic” versions of the characters and their attendant continuity still exist. While the “official” position may be the catchy motif of 52 parallel universes that make up the DCU, there’s nothing preventing more from being discovered, thereby opening the door for the old reliable “Infinite Earths” concept to sneak back in.
With that in mind, the final page of Superman: Doomed #2, the conclusion to a seemingly endless and strangely incomprehensible story, certainly appears to reveal once and for all that yes, the pre-Flashpoint DCU is still out there somewhere. See for yourself:
There are some more clues scattered in The New 52 Future’s End: Booster Gold #1 one-shot, which also hit shops this week. At the very least there is a pre-Flashpoint Booster running around for a bunch of it. Newsarama have a much more detailed guide to all the recent Future’s End connections right here.
All of this points to a DC Comics line-wide event in April of 2015 called Blood Moon. Crisis fanatics will immediately associate that name with the imagery of the infamous red skies that appear during Crisis-like events. The folks at Bleeding Cool have been keeping a careful eye on this one, referring to it as the DC Comics “Band-Aid” event, as it’s meant to fill some time while the final relocation of the DC offices from New York City to Burbank, California are completed. They were the first to name Brainiac as a potential catalyst for whatever the hell Blood Moon actually is (from the sound of things, a series of relatively self-contained comics pitting various alternate versions of DC characters against each other), and since it’s Brainiac who spots the old DCU in Superman: Doomed #2, well, it sounds like they’re on to something juicy.
This April 2015 event happens to come just in time for the 30th anniversary of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. This is a nice coincidence, and while Blood Moon may lead in to a more significant, line-altering event, it probably won’t be the event itself. Or perhaps whatever it is that’s going to shake things up will take place before Blood Moon, possibly in the conclusion of weekly titles The New 52: Future’s End and Earth 2: World’s End, and this will simply be the aftermath while things reset a little. However, the Crisis label is just too good to waste on something taking place in other titles, so expect it to kick off some time later, probably during DC’s now traditional September shake-up.
Even though it isn’t going anywhere, the New 52 could use a bit of housecleaning, and that’s what Crisis events are generally intended to do. Need your overall continuity simplified? Crisis on Infinite Earths is here to wipe out all those pesky alternate worlds in a white wall of anti-matter. Need to address the lingering anomalies left over from that? Here’s Zero Hour: A Crisis in Time to iron them out. Have you had a change of heart after twenty years and realized that actually, things are much cooler when there are endless realities to visit and classic characters to revive? Here’s Superboy punching the walls of reality in Infinite Crisis to…ummmm…comics are awesome!
Last month, DC co-publisher Dan Didio posted on his Facebook page that Infinite Crisis was “definitely one of the highlights of my time at DC…maybe it’s time to do it one better.” A 2015 Crisis event not only ticks the 30th anniversary of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths box, but also the 10th anniversary of Infinite Crisis. In other words, it’s happening. But what exactly is it intended to do?
That flashy finale to Superman: Doomed #2 not only offers a pretty clear look at the “classic” DCU (complete with the actual Justice Society), there are also glimpses of several other prominent alternate DC timelines. That’s probably no accident. We’re going to get to see these classic characters again, but they won’t be sticking around, any more than the Elseworlds Vampire Batman visible there is suddenly going to replace the well-received Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo New 52 vision of the Caped Crusader.
It’s unlikely that Grant Morrison’s Multiversity book, which is a spiritual and thematic sequel to the last DC book to bear the Crisis moniker, Final Crisis, has much (if any) bearing on the new event. But it’s another indicator of DC’s commitment to reestablishing their hold on what has historically (a decade or so aside when they tried to simply pretend it never happened) been a staple concept for the company, and one that sets them apart from their main competition. And I can’t help but feel that this increased focus on the infinite possibilities of a fictional universe based on string theory won’t have implications outside of comics, as well…but that’s another story. It’s worth noting, however, that the recent refresh of the Infinite Crisis video game features none other than Nix Uotan, the heroic Monitor of Final Crisis and Multiversity.
The magic word that starts with an S isn’t Shazam, folks. It’s synergy. Remember that.
This is why, regardless of what this new Crisis may actually end up being, the broad strokes of the New 52 aren’t going anywhere. As DC Entertainment continues to build these properties out into television and movies, they’re going to turn to the versions of the characters portrayed over the last few years for inspiration, many of whom were revamped specifically with other media in mind. The producers of The Flash TV series have already pointed out how it’s no coincidence that the West family on their show is African-American, just as the comics have introduced an African-American version of Wally West. No comic in the character’s history has worked quite as hard to establish Aquaman as a cinema-ready badass as the Geoff Johns penned New 52 Aquaman series. And it’s all but a certainty that the lineup for the Justice League movie is the very same one seen in the comic that kicked off the whole line, 2011’s Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee.
For now, the most likely scenario (and this could change at a moment’s notice) remains a whole lotta noise, with some minor, but lasting changes. We’ll probably see a new wave of first issues and soft reboots. After all, the constant slew of new first issues, even for creatively and commercially successful titles, certainly isn’t doing Marvel any harm. But if you’re hoping to get a DCU where Superman once again wears his underwear on the outside, well, you’re only going to be disappointed.
But there may be another Earth out there for you to revisit from time to time.