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Wednesday, 19 January 2011

DC's Crisis of Continuity

Recently, a follower on Twitter asked me if I could do a guide to DC's various Crisis events, as he couldn't quite get his head around everything. I'm not surprised, it's a minefield and confusing even to a regular reader of DC's comics. If you go into a comic or book shop you will see lots of books with the work 'Crisis' in the title. If you visit any comic blogs that cover DC's books you will probably see a Crisis mentioned.  Crisis is a very impressive word and it certainly sounds dramatic, but how do all these books fit in together? Where do they link and what do they mean?  And how do they fit in with DC's new 52 comics?

Keep reading for I shall try and break it down for you.

NOTE: This post was edited on 21/01/2011 in line with commentors' information and clarifications.  Thanks for the help, all. 
NOTE : This post was edited again on 09/06/2013 to include information about the next stage in DC's attempt to streamline continuity, Flashpoint, leading to the New 52.


Before anyone had heard of a Crisis
It all started long ago when DC began publishing their superhero comics.
You would find that there were multiple variations of the same character. For example, there were two Flashes, one being Barry Allen, one being Jay Garrick; a baby, teenage and adult Wonder Woman and many Supermen. If you picked up a single issue (this is long before the single issues were collected into trade formats) you might see reference to an Earth-1, Earth-2 or Earth-Prime. These Earths are parallel universes, similar to our own, but where the heroes and villains are slightly different - either in age, outlook or group affiliation.

These came about for a number of reasons, firstly, the worlds that were made up of heroes from small companies that DC had bought, like Charleton (the Question) and Fawcett (Shazam!). Secondly, there is the issue of demographic and popularity of comics.

The 1950s saw a slump in superhero comics, causing a number of 1940s era titles to get cancelled, for example the Jay Garrick Flash character and Alan Scott Green Lantern. Towards the end of the 1950s DC tried once more to get new readers interested and introduced replacement characters - the Barry Allen Flash and Hal Jordan Green Lantern. These are the identities that most people associate with the superhero names today.

Back then, comic readers were mostly younger and there tended to be a new generation of readers every seven to eight years. The original characters were not so much de-canonised as forgotten. The Justice Society of America was resurrected with the new versions of the characters as the Justice League of America because "Society" sounded old and stuffy and "League" sounded reminiscent of the sports kids liked.

Further down the line, those people who read comics as children began to read them as adults (or never stopped). They began wanting to read about the original characters they grew up with. So, the old nineteen forties characters were resurrected as a parallel universe. By the seventies there are a whole host of Earth-2 titles and a whole divergent continuity of its own (Bruce Wayne was dead, Clark Kent as an editor rather than a reporter, Huntress and Power Girl were introduced). This is about the time DC acquired the properties of Fawcett, Charleton and several other companies continuing each universe as a Earth-whatever of its own. 

Crisis on Multiple Earths
Books with these titles are reprints of old stories from before Crisis on Infinite Earths (see below) and feature team ups between heroes from the parallel earths.  They were all originally published more than twenty years before Crisis on Infinite Earths and as such, they probably won't hold a lot of interest for new readers to comics.  Stories from the 50s and 60s do not age well (unless you are a hardcore comics fan).  The stories are no longer in continuity and despite what the DC website says, they aren't really connected to Crisis on Infinite Earths.

If you do decide to read it, you could start with volume 1, here. 

Crisis on Infinite Earths

In the 1980s DC's editorial decided that these multiple earths and parallel universes were confusing, not helpful to new readers and generally needed cleaning up. Rather than just scrapping everything and starting from scratch with no in universe explanation, they turned this into a big crossover event called Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Told over 12 single issues, this featured a big bad villain called the Anti-Monitor and resulted in the destruction of the multiverse. The history of the DC Universe was changed to accommodate all the different super teams and at the end of this event only one universe remained and only one version of each character survived.  But, (there's always a but), one character was out of place.

This is Power Girl - originally conceived as an alternate, grown up Supergirl, she was the only one of the duplicated characters to have survived this first Crisis. Presumably, DC's editors decided she was distinct enough to survive. This is all great, but it meant that for the next 20 years or so Power Girl's writers tried to give her a new origin story and on the whole, failed. Her in-universe history was until recently a muddle, so if you pick up an older book with Power Girl in, don't be surprised if she's described as the granddaughter of an Atlantean Sorcerer from a millennia ago, or if there's some discussion about whether she's Kryptonian or not.

In addition to the problems with Power Girl, Wonder Woman was removed from the DC Universe and relaunched from scratch post Crisis.  This meant that the original Wonder Girl, Donna Troy, (Not Cassandra Sandsmark), also needed a new history.  This became even more complicated than Power Girl's, and I would advise new readers to stay well away from it until you've got more familiar with the DCU.

Other duplicate characters that survived are Alexander Luthor (the son of Earth 3's heroic version of Lex Luthor), Superman and Lois Lane from Earth-2 (older versions of familiar characters) and a Superboy from Earth Prime (from our, the reader's Earth, he's the only one from our Earth with superpowers). These guys are trapped in a sort of pocket universe, a bubble placed outside reality, and spend their days watching events on the new, combined earth.

No one in story remembers the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, except for the Psycho Pirate. This became an integral part of the Animal Man trades reviewed here.

Is this book readable for new readers? Well, it's very dense, very detailed and certainly gives you an overview of how the DC Universe used to be, but at the same time it's quite heavy going. It's not the most enjoyable book I've ever read but you can follow it without knowing all the characters. I read it pretty early on when I was rediscovering comics, and it certainly caught my interest. On the other hand, it's nearly 400 pages long and it's big. At about an inch thick and ten inches high it's a hefty tome.

Zero Hour
This is a mini series first published in the mid 1990s, and was DC's attempt to clean up some continuity errors that were left over from Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Possibly interesting if you are a Green Lantern/Hal Jordan fan, but overall, the issues I have read are forgettable and probably very confusing for anyone new to all this.  It's also currently out of print, but if interested, you can see some information on the DC website here. 

Identity Crisis

This mini series (of 6 issues) has nothing to do with the multiverse, although events that take place within it do affect how the characters relate to each other in the next Crisis event.In Infinite Crisis a hero's wife is killed. While the search for the murderer is on the superhero community discovers some unpleasant facts about itself, and begins to tear itself apart.

This series took a lot of criticism from online comic fans for it's rape and murder of a popular female character. It wasn't necessary to include the rape scene, as the same point could have been made without including sexual violence. The rape scene (which occurs fairly early on) is likely to be triggering for some readers. Some people think the book glorifies the violence, and it's certainly true that it is an upsetting and affecting read.

Regarding it's friendliness to new readers, I believe it is accessible and would provide an easy jumping on point for those unfamiliar with DC's stories.

Infinite Crisis

Now we move back to the idea of the multiverse and enter the Infinite Crisis, which has been published with 2 covers.

Infinite Crisis saw the return of Earth-3 Alexander Luthor, Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane and Earth Prime Superboy, last seen in Crisis on Multiple Earths.These four break out of their pocket universe and decide to rebuild earth into the perfect world. Other earths are temporarily restored as Alexander Luthor seeks to create the perfect world. Unfortunately for everyone else, this means that billions upon billions of people will die as they are replaced with alternate versions of themselves.

During the heroes' efforts to stop the alternate Luthor, Superboy and Superman's plans key characters get killed and the history of the DC Universe is changed yet again. At the end of Infinite Crisis the multiple earths collapse back into one new earth.

Infinite Crisis relies on a knowledge of Crisis on Infinite Earths, so will probably only make sense to those that are at least passingly familiar with the DC Universe.There were various tie ins to Infinite Crisis, such as, The OMAC Project, Rann-Thanagar War, Day of Vengance and Villains United. It is not necessary to read these to understand Infinite Crisis, although the background given in these books would probably help.

52

After Infinite Crisis all of DC's regular comic books jumped forward one year. At the same time a weekly series called 52 was launched which documented this missing year.

52 focused on lesser known characters and gave them a new place in the DC Universe. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are not active during this year. At the end of the year 52 earths are recreated and the multiverse is born again. The series featured characters we have already featured on New Readers..., such as Batwoman and Animal Man, and allows them a chance to shine.

Other highlights are Natasha Irons' and Black Adam's story. Both are characters of colour who don't get much screen time elsewhere.52 is a good way to dive into the DC Universe to find out about the more interesting characters and the multi textured nature of the world. You don't need to have read Infinite Crisis to follow it.


Countdown to Final Crisis
This is not to be confused with Countdown to Infinite Crisis, which is a one off 80 page single issue comic, produced in lead up to Infinite Crisis.You'd think that DC are trying to complicate matters wouldn't you?

Anyway, Countdown to Final Crisis is the prelude to the last, ahem, Final Crisis of the DC Universe. It leads on from 52 and follows up the events from Identity Crisis onwards.

Reviews on this series are mixed, and not having read it myself I cannot comment on it's quality.






Final Crisis
And so we come to the (nearly) last. This one isn't so much about the multiverse, although that does come into it.

The world of DC comics has creatures in it called the New Gods. These are divided into the good Gods of New Genesis and the bad Gods of Apokolips, led by Darkseid. In Final Crisis Darkseid tries to enslave humanity and unleashes his anti life equation on the world.This series references everything in DC lore. Some characters killed off in the previous years are resurrected.

The writer, Grant Morrison, has this to say:
"I wanted to do the biggest crossover there’s ever been... it’s got nods to everything, going back to 'Flash of Two Worlds' and the first 'Crisis on Earth 1', 'Earth-2', all that stuff. So there’s little elements of all that, but... everything I’m doing right now is about people dying, or the apocalypse, so it’s kind of dark, and the 'Final Crisis' thing is just pushing that as far as it can possibly go. And it’s taking a lot of trends that I see in comics and pushing them to the max to see, 'do we really want it to be like this'?"

It is not new reader friendly. It's barely even current reader friendly, as evidenced by some fans belief that you need annotations to understand each panel. It is however an epic and for long time fans it's thrilling to see the characters change and play off against each other.

There were a lot of tie ins to Final Crisis, some of which stand up well on their own, some don't. The better ones will be reviewed and featured here.

What does all this mean?
After Final Crisis all characters knew about the multiverse.
Power Girl no longer had identity and origin issues.
Characters can journey into parallel universes leading to a lot more storytelling opportunities.

An easy way to find out about the different universes is to read The Search for Ray Palmer. This has some second tier (but still good) characters visiting many different worlds - including my personal favourite where everyone has switched genders - searching for the former Atom.

On a nearly final note, the various crises can be summarised in two ways. Firstly, in terms of the multiverse:
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths - the death of the multiverse
  • Infinite Crisis - the rebuilding of the universe
  • Final Crisis - the final saga of the multiverse
Secondly, in terms of the heroes personal journeys:
  • Identity Crisis - facing personal threat
  • Infinite Crisis - pitting the heroes against the greatest odds
  • Final Crisis - the day that evil won
Flashpoint
And then in the summer of 2011 DC changed it all again.  An event called Flashpoint took place in which Barry Allen, the second and most loved Flash, woke up in an alternate timeline where the villains were heroes and the Justice League of America and Superman does not exist.  Bruce Wayne dies as a young child and his father Thomas Wayne, became Batman instead.  The underwater state of Atlantis and the Amazon island of Themyscira are at war.  There are several other changes as well, but if you want the full detail I advise you to read the Wikipedia entry on it.

All this happened because one of Barry's enemies, the Reverse-Flash, has gone back in time and changed history so the Justice League does not exist.  The main story covers Barry's attempted to reset the timeline so he can get back to the world he remembers.  The tie-ins focus on specific characters and the changes to their lives: Superman, Batman, various villains, Green Lantern, creatures of magic, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Lois Lane.

The event ends with the DC, Vertigo and Wildstorm universes being merged to create a whole new timeline, which gave us the 'new 52'.

From a story telling point of view I found Flashpoint a terribly written, badly executed mess.  I did not enjoy any of the comics - the main story or the tie-ins.  It felt like an editorially mandated event that the writers and artists were not invested in.

From an understanding the DC universe point of view, you don't need to read it.  You just need to know that it rebooted DC's universe and gave us the new 52.

The New 52
So we came to this New 52, which is still current.  DC has given itself a mandate to publish 52 titles a month about their new universe.  If one series gets cancelled because of poor sales another will take it's place.  The titles are divided into 7 groups - Justice League, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Young Justice, The Edge, The Dark.  You can see a list of all published, discontinued and upcoming series on Wikipedia.

Most characters had their origin and history rebooted in some way, but a few remain largely untouched.  These few are the Green Lanterns and the Green Lantern Corps, Batman, the male Robins, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Legion of Superheroes and Aquaman.  These series continued right on from where we left before Flashpoint.  Nearly all series take place 5 years after the Justice League formed.  The exceptions are the first 6 issues of Justice League which tell of the group's formation, and Action Comics, which tells of Superman's rebooted history.

Many minor and duplicate characters have been removed from continuity - for example now there is only one Batgirl, no female Robin, Wally West (the third Flash) and his family, the Helena Bertinelli version of the Huntress

The multiverse still exists and a lot of characters who used to be part of the JSA now exist on Earth 2.  Alan Scott, the first character to be named Green Lantern, and Jay Garrick, the first Flash, have been de-aged and Alan is now gay.  The new Huntress - daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle (Catwoman) - and Power Girl now come from Earth 2 and move across to Earth Prime.

Superboy and Supergirl and are essentially new characters and their series tell of their creation and arrival in the DCU.

Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Teen Titans members, Harley Quinn, the Captain Marvel family and Amanda Waller all had their origins, histories and personalities revised.  Captain Marvel has now been renamed Shazam.

There are some new teams that have been created - Demon Knights, Justice League Dark and Justice League America.

Views on the new 52 are mixed.  It has drawn in new readers and it does create a really good jumping on point for new readers.  Some of the titles are really very good, some are pretty dire - but that will always be the case.  Personally, I feel that DC has thrown out years of rich character history and lore and is now telling the same stories as before, which seems a shame and a wasted opportunity.

Other information
Crisis on Infinite Earths
Price: $29.99 (American), probably about £16 (Sterling).
ISBN: 1563897504
Look inside and see the artwork here.

Crisis on Multiple Earths
Amazon lists the volumes available for sale here. At the time of writing prices vary from £5 (for secondhand books) to nearly £15 (for brand new books).

Identity Crisis
Price: $14.99 (American) or £12 (Sterling)
ISBN: 1845762185
Amazon has a 'look inside' feature here for you to view the artwork.

Infinite Crisis
Price: $14.99 (American) or about £12 (Sterling)
ISBN: 1401210600
View the artwork on Amazon's look inside service here.

52
Volume 1 - ISBN: 1845765524. Look inside the book here.
Volume 2 - ISBN: 140121486X. Look inside the book here.
Volume 3 - ISBN: 1845766040. Look inside the book here.
Volume 4 - ISBN:1845766245. Look inside the book here.
All priced at about $19.99 (American) or £15 (Sterling).

Countdown to Final Crisis
Volume 1 - ISBN: 1845768493
Volume 2 - ISBN: 1845768507
Volume 3 - ISBN: 1845769732
Volume 4 - ISBN: 1845769740
All priced at about $19.99 (American) or £15 (Sterling).

Final Crisis
Price: $19.99 (American) or about £15 (Sterling)
ISBN: 140122282X

Flashpoint
Flashpoint - ISBN 1401233384
World of Flashpoint: Batman - ISBN 9781401234058
World of Flashpoint: Flash - ISBN 1401234089
World of Flashpoint: Wonder Woman  - ISBN 1401234100
World of Flahsboint: Superman - ISBN 1401234348
World of Flashpoint: Green Lantern - ISBN 1401234062
The Flash: Road to Flashpoint - ISBN 1401234488. This is a prelude to Flashpoint.  View the artwork on Amazon's look inside service here.
Time Masters: Vanishing Point - ISBN 1401230474. This is also a prelude to Flashpoint.
Prices go up about $19.99 (American) and £15(Sterling), some are less.

New 52
All the new 52 books are being collected into trades, with I believe 6 issues to a trade, so it's easy to catch up on stories, but too extensive to list them here.

Note: Parallel earths are usually (but not always) different to the Elseworlds collections. The distinction being whether the universe or world described in the comic book is officially recognised in canon. The world of Superman: Red Son was recognised after Final Crisis, but the world of Superman: Secret Identity wasn't.

40 comments:

  1. That's a really good explaination of all the DC continuity shenanigans! well done :)

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  2. Nice article; it's certainly a good summary of the DC Crisis phenomenon :)

    You're missing Zero Hour (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_Hour:_Crisis_in_Time) which was a mid-90's attempt to patch over some of the problems caused by Crisis on Infinite Earths. I don't know if it needs much more than a mention of how this shows that there were problems with the fallout from "Crisis" that DC had to keep fiddling with.

    Wonder Girl/Donna Troy was another casualty of Crisis, because Wonder Woman got rebooted, meaning Diana was a new hero, thus couldn't have rescued an infant Donna Troy all those years ago. Like Power Girl, she drifted without an origin for a long time; unlike Power Girl she lost her superhero name, and by the time someone came up with an origin that stuck someone else was "Wonder Girl" and Donna's never been able to claim another "Super" name as her own.

    There were also Legion of Superheroes shenanigans (Superman was never Superboy so the teenagers of the 30th century couldn't be inspired by tales of Superboy) which led to pocket universes and a shape-shifting artificial life-form Supergirl who probably helped delay Kara's return.

    It would have been simpler to stick with multiple Earths, I bet!

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  3. The "Crisis On Multiple Earth" trades are actually reprints of older DC stories, mainly the annual JLA/JSA team-ups when they were still on different earths. A mixed bag of mostly fun Silver and Bronze Age stories, but not really having anything to do with Crisis on Infinite Earths, and most of the stories aren't "in continuity" any more.

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  4. I just read Final Crisis, and while somewhat confusing as I'm freshly back into comics, it was a pretty awesome story w/GREAT artwork. After having read it twice, I'm still a little confused about the last chapter or so, due in part to my unfamiliarity of a couple characters as well as the jumping back & forth between events... and then Batman is scrwling on a cave wall at the end ?? WTF? Was he "ressurected" due to the outcome of Darkseid's run-in with death? Was I witnessing TWO or more parallel outcomes in the multiverse (...with Superman & that "miracle machine" thingy?)

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  5. @korvar: Thank you for the input, I will edit the post soon to include Zero Hour and a bit about Donna Troy.

    @snell: The blurb on the DC site seems to think Crisis on Multiple Earths vol 1 is a spin off of Crisis on Infintie Earths. Or am I reading it wrong?

    @superduper toybox: Without wishing to spoil anything, that is the real Batman you see at the end. It's not a different multiverse version. You might want to try and pick up 'Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne' as that follows on his story.
    I'm not surprsied you;re confused - an integral part of the Final Crisis story was covered in a tie in called Superman Beyond (which I only bought because parts of it were in 3D. I am a nerd and I am proud).

    The 2 Superman Beyond stories should really have been collected with the Final Crisis inidividual issues, to make the whole thing make sense to those picking up the trade.

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  6. I can't believe I did a Google search for DC Crisis Continuity and found this article that was just written today! I just recently resumed my comic collecting after about 15 years away. I read the original Crisis on Infinite Earths when it came out and while I enjoyed it, I felt that it took away one of my favorite storylines, the JLA/JSA crossovers (that are reprinted in the 'Crisis on Multiple Earths' that predates Crisis on Infinite Earths). I've read the Identity Crisis TPB and just recently collected all 7 back issues of Infinite Crisis and was looking for it's place in continuity before digging in and reading. Thanks for the comprehensive overview!

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  7. Phenomenal job! As someone who has been reading comics since before the first Crisis, I think you have NAILED it for anyone wishing to try and keep it straight. Bravo!

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  8. Saranga--the DC blurb is a teeny bit misleading. They call Crisis on Multiple Earths a "companion piece" to Crisis on Infinite Earths. Well, it is, in a prequel sense...these were the original DC stories about teams from different universes teaming up. Volume 1 reprints stories ranging from JLA #21 to JLA #47, all originally published more than 20 years before Crisis on Infinite Earths...

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  9. @troy: You're very welcome!
    @Mock: I'm glad you agree with the summary!
    @snell: Ah. When we were putting this together we wondered about the Multiple Earths books - Amazon was also no help. I shall change the post tonight. Thanks for clarifying.

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  10. Hey, thanks for the link to my Final Crisis Annotations site - if anyone heads there, check the Link pages as I've annotated Crisis on Infinite Earths, Infinite Crisis, Zero Hour and others.

    I really should get out more.

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  11. Hi Gary, thanks for dropping by and letting us know about the annotations. It's useful stuff!

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  12. This was a pretty great article!
    Thanks for putting so much effort in it^^
    I use to think of myself as a DC reader with enough knowledge of things (since I jumped into the DCU in the 90s with No Man's Land) but even though, there's a lot of things I didn't knew her, specially since I usually tend to avoid big crossover events.

    Very nice read^^

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  13. Can you please clarify what you meant regarding wonder woman? That particular paragraph had me scratching my head thinking, "How so? Why? Stay away from WW until I'm well versed in the DCU? Elaborate...."

    I've been wanting to read WW, but I'm concerned as to where I should start. I will make this easy and pose a simple question to avoid a drawn-out analysis: Once I read through all the necessary (essential) crisis events, what would be a good jumping on point for me (issue #, series, TPB, etc.)?

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  14. Hi Kipp. Sorry for the confusion. That sentence was about Wonder Girl, not Wonder Woman.

    As for a jumping on point for Wonder Woman, may I recommend Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia as a good introduction to the character.

    In a week or so we will also have a review up for Wonder Woman: Gods and Monsters which is the post crisis reboot for Wonder Woman. This is definitely a good starting point. The post will have a list of further reading included.

    A bit of explanation about Wonder Girl:
    Originally, Wonder Girl was a young Diana (Wonder Woman). Then a writer made a mistake and included an adult and teenage Wonder Woman in the same story, as seperate people. Wonder Girl was named Donna Troy and became a sister of Wonder Woman.

    After the first Crisis, Wonder Woman's story was rebooted, so Donna Troy as Wonder Woman's sister never existed. However, the editors at DC wanted to keep the Donna Troy character so they created a new origin for her, which wasn't linked to Wonder Woman at all.

    Then my knowledge gets a bit sparse, I'm afraid.

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  15. Oh, and lastly, I don't think it is neccessary to read through the Crisis events to enjoy Wonder Woman (or any other DC comics). It may be helpful to be aware of them, but it's certainly not necessary.

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  16. That really clears it up for me, thanks. Highly appreciated.

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  17. You're very welcome. Apologies for not making the post clear enought ot start with.

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  18. Goodness, I love this post! I've always wanted to get into the JLA, Green Lantern Corps, and several others but I don't know where to start. Is it sensible to try and read everything pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths?

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  19. Hi Mairen. Thanks for your kind words.
    I was sure I'd already replied to this but it doesn't seem to have gone through.
    I don't think you can read everything pre crisis on infinite earths because that means about 50 years of monthly comics, with lord knows how mnay titled coming out per month.

    Most of these old comics aren't available now anyway, however some have been collected into trades titled 'Showcase..(character name). So you could pick up one of those.
    But mainly, I don't think it's neccesary to read all pre crisis stuff.

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  20. So they should be read in that order? I am a total newbie

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  21. Hi Seg Star. You don't have to read the books in the order given. I wouldn't really recommend that you read all of them anyway, because some, like Crisis on Infinite Earths, are pretty heavy going and also I think it would make for quite a dull time if you read every one. Each story mentioned above does stand on it's own, partly because they are such big events.

    I think it's more important that when you read other DC comics, or these ones, that you know a little bit about the Crisis..es, if only that they happened. It's also useful to know about the distinction between the era before Crisis for Infinite Earths, and from that story to the New 52.

    In terms of quality of storytelling, I think that Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis and 52 are the best ones. I have never read Zero Hour, Final Crisis I just don't understand and Countdown and Flashpoint are dire (others may disagree).

    If you want to read DC's books check out the 'Publisher: DC' tag on the right and sift through reviews till you find one you like the look of. Welcome to comics, you're in for a treat. :)

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  22. Hey,

    Thanks for the awesome post! I have been looking all over the internet for a great list that summarized the entire crisis. Right now, I am reading New 52 comics, but I would also like to read the crisis issues.

    So here is the order I am planning to read (complied through various sources on net):


    1) Zero Hr >> Prelude to IC (Batman Hush, Identity Crisis and Several Others) >> Count Down to IC
    2) Infinite Crisis
    3) IC Aftermath
    4) 52
    5) One Year Later
    6) Count Down to FC
    7) Batman RIP Through Battle for Cowl (Batman RIP >> Final Crisis #1-#3 >> Batman #682-83 >> FC #4-7 >> Batman #684-86 >> Detective 853 >> Battle for Cowl)
    8) FC Aftermath
    9) JL Cry for Justice

    Is this alright? Or do I have to make any changes?

    I do have a question though, where does Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne fit in? Is is after FC and before FC aftermath?

    I also have JLA (planning to read all of it; I know it comes before IC, but do we have to read JLA before IC or can I skip ahead and read JLA later?)

    Thank you for your help!

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  23. Hi there Jeevan!
    Your reading order looks fine to me. When you are reading remember that when the individual issues were published a lot were running concurrently. So, 52 ran at the same time as the One Year Later branded issues. Stuff you read in the One Year Later branded issues will have 'mysterious events' in that reference 52, but perhaps hadn't been published in 52 at the time the One Year Later issue was out.

    Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne does take place after Final Crisis. It is a time travel story so doesn't affect FC: Aftermath. However given how Final Crisis proper links into it, I'd say read the Return of Bruce Wayne before Aftermath.

    As for JLA - which issues do you mean? JLA is an long running ongoing series that started in the 1960s ish). It was published alongside all the above events and had hundreds of it's own stories as well.

    Let me know and I'll try to help some more!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks :)

      I meant the JLA series that ran from 1997-2006. There are the 125 issues (but when I look up on the internet, there seems to be more comics that ran at the same time - like JLA Secret files, JLA Year One, and JLA Classified - are these among those 125 issues, or are they different tie-in comics?)

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    2. Ah! Right. JLA Secret Files and JLA Classified are separate to the main JLA comics. They back up the main series but aren't really necessary to read.

      Secret Files gives origin stories (see wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secret_Files_and_Origins)
      JLA Classified is a bit different. Some stories are in continuity, some aren't, see here: http://www.comicvine.com/jla-classified/4050-11105/
      I haven't read either of these series (although I would like to read the Classified one).

      JLA Year One is a retelling of the very first incarnation of the Justice League, back when they were formed in the 1960s. It is excellent, but no longer in continuity (even before the New 52 started)

      As for reading order, I'd say start with JLA Year One (because it's just so damn good)
      Then read Zero Hour through to FC Aftermath. Then read the JLA, then JLA Secret Files, then JLA Classified, then Justice League: Cry for Justice.

      Definitely leave Cry for Justice for last.

      You could also do JLA: Year One, then the full JLA series (and Classified and Secret Files), then the rest, but bear in mind that all events from Identity Crisis through to just after Infinite Crisis crossover with the main JLA title.

      Also, there is no such thing as a One Year Later book. All of DC's series were jumped forward One Year and so the relevant issues have one Year Later branded on them, but there isn't one trade titled One Year Later. For all series that this affected, see here: http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/One_Year_Later

      I'd suggest read things in the order you suggested, and if you get bored of certain issues start the JLA series.

      You might also like this website which is a fantastic resource for working out DC's chronology: http://www.tradereadingorder.com/

      You've got quite a project on to read all of those series, it sounds like great fun! What a way to dive into DC's history, I almost envy you! :)

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    3. Alright!

      Thanks :D I do have a lot of free time now ;)

      Delete
  24. Replies
    1. Hey Saranga,

      Sorry I didn't ask this earlier. I am still reading IC, but I want to know when to read Brightest Day and Blackest Night.

      I am planning to read it after Battle for Cowl and before the Return of Bruce Wayne. Is that correct?

      Thanks again :)

      Delete
    2. And what about Sinestro corps war? I know it comes after Rebirth and before blackest knight.

      Delete
  25. Hey Saranga,

    In case you hadn't noticed my previous comment. Here is the reading order I got so far:

    Main events:

    Countdown to Final Crisis
    Amazons attack
    Sinestro corps war
    Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul
    New Krypton
    RIP
    Final Crisis

    Where do the following titles (GL focused) fit in the main events?

    GL:Sinestro Corps Wars
    GL: Secret Origin
    GL: Rage of the Red Lanterns
    GL: Agent Orange
    GL:Blackest Night
    Blackest Night
    GL:Brightest Day
    GL:War of the Green Lanterns

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi there Jeevan. I'm so sorry about the late reply. Life has been really hectic lately.

    You've got the right reading order for the GL events, and to be honest you don't have to read them alongside the other books you've listed. You could read each set of events separately and still have a good experience. But if you want to read them in chronological order I would advise, starting from New Krypton,
    Sinestro Corps War
    RIP
    Final Crisis
    GL: Rage of the Red Lanterns
    GL: Agent Orange
    GL:Blackest Night
    Blackest Night
    GL:Brightest Day
    GL: War of the Green Lanterns

    If you want to read them in thematic groups, which I think might be better, go for:
    Countdown to Final Crisis
    Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul
    RIP
    Final Crisis
    Rage of the Red Lanterns

    The GL stuff would go:
    Sinestro Corps War
    GL: Rage of the Red Lanterns
    GL: Agent Orange
    GL:Blackest Night
    Blackest Night
    GL:Brightest Day
    GL:War of the Green Lanterns

    Amazons Attack and New Krypton are completely separate from the other events and don't need to be read in order. Countdown to Final Crisis ended up being out of continuity so there's no need to read that alongside anything else. Also, it's pretty awful.
    GL: Secret Origin can be read whenever you like as it's a retelling of Hal Jordan's origin story. In-universe, it's comes first in the chronology. Publishing wise it was done between Sinestro Corps War and Final Crisis.

    I really would recommend the Trade Trading Order website for helping you establish what comes where, although it is mostly useful for working it out by character, not for the whole universe:
    http://www.tradereadingorder.com/

    Honestly you should just dive right in. If you miss one book it won't affect your reading experience. Have fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jeevan: If you haven't made it to Fina Crisis yet I have a few tips for you:
      1) Like Saranga said Countdown to Final Crisis is not really necessary. If anything it can make understanding Final Crisis harder. The only things I think it establishes that I don't think gets explained elsewhere is the Morticoccus virus. Ultimately the virus doesn't end up being all that important in FC and it's portrayal there is inconsistent with what appears in Countdown. All you really need to know is that it exists.
      2) To properly understand Final Crisis you should have have a fair grasp on Jack Kirby's Fourth World/New Gods. Reading Jack's original meta series should be more than enough. They take place before Crisis on Infinite Earths.
      3) You should consider reading Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers meta-series as an replacement for Countdown to Final Crisis. It (the Miracle Man issues in particular) ties much better into Final Crisis than Countdown did and some of the characters carries over.
      4) You should know about Jack Kirby's Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth. You don't have to have read it, but you should know what he looks like and that he lives on a post-apocalyptic possible-future/alternate-universe (depends on the current state of the multiverse) earth inhabited by cat-people.

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    2. Oh and I almost forgot:
      5) I didn't see it on you list but the two Final Crisis: Superman Beyond issues should definitively be read sometime after Final Crisis #3 and before issue #7. Morrison's timeline and the new collected editions of FC places it right after #3, but I think reading it when it as when it was published, right before #7, may be more narratively satisfying. The timeline and new collections also place Final Crisis: Submit before Final Crisis #4.

      Delete
    3. Hey Saranga,

      Firstly, Really Amazing Blog! Absolutely Love IT!

      I went through this Discussion and i Still have some doubts over the Crisis leading upto a Multiverse Theory. Since I have been a Major fan of DC for Quite a while an having read quite a few major character comics.. I feel i can start reading the DC Crisis though its confusing.. i want to know how DC tried to fix the Continuity and concept of Parallel Earths.. so here's my list of all Crisis Titles in order (i think), but could help me add, remove or rearrange the order if i am wrong.. Thanks

      So the list goes like:

      1.Crisis on Earth-One!
      2.Crisis on Earth-Two!
      3.Crisis on Earth-Three!
      4.Crisis on Multiple Earths
      5.Crisis on Infinite Earths
      6.History of the DC Universe
      7.Zero Hour: Crises In Time
      8.Legion of Super-Heroes
      9.Identity Crisis
      10.Countdown to Infinite Crisis
      11.The OMAC Project, Day of Vengeance, Rann-Thanagar War, Villains United
      12.Infinite Crisis
      13. 52
      14.Infinite Crisis Aftermath
      15.One Year Later
      16. 52 Aftermath
      17.Countdown to Final Crisis
      18.Final Crisis
      19.Final Crisis Aftermath
      20.The Flash: Rebirth
      21.Flashpoint
      22.Multiversity

      Delete
    4. Hi there. Thanks for commenting.
      That looks about right. I'm not sure what you mean by number 8. Legion of Super-Heroes. Which LoSH book are you referring to?
      Apologies for the late reply, we've had a baby and he has taken up all my time lately :)

      Delete
    5. And I'll add that Multiversity, while an interesting story and definitely brings in a multiverse, is more about Grant Morrison (the writer) being encouraged to do his own thing and create a work of genius or madness (dependend on where you are standing) and is not so much about being in official continuity. I view it as sitting alongside everything else and you can pick and choose what you want to take from it.

      Delete
  27. I have never read a comic, the only knowledge I have is from tv shows and movies, but i am looking to start. I was thinking the new 52 would be a good place to start going from this article.
    Questions:
    1) can I just jump into the characters I like?
    2) what is the best way of buying them?
    3) anything worth a read before hand?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nischith Shetty21 April 2016 at 11:26

      The New 52 is better way to start.. If you know the origin story of any character to want to read then you won't have a problem..
      1.You can jump right in (though there will be a little bit of origin stories along the the new 52 issues)..
      2.Comic Book Store or Online whichever you find it easy.
      3.Only if you don't know a origin story of a particular character you want to read.. you can either read in wikipedia or you can read a comic of the said character.. but that is totally up to you since reading it can actually be informative on their powers and stuff though it isnt an absolute necessity.

      Hope it cleared the doubts

      Delete
  28. Oh my. :*(
    After reading all the above 'variations' and so on, I think I don't want to read ANY of them! It just sounds like a huge mess.
    Guess I'll just go with reading the old comics up to before all this stuff starts. Bummer.

    ReplyDelete