September 2011 will see a whole new DC Universe begin, a move which was originally scheduled to happen in 1986, and which didn’t take place then because so many titles were in the middle of great runs. Instead we got a few titles rebooting due to the Crisis on Infinite Earths (the TPB is available at All New Comics right now).
Crisis took decades of convoluted DC history, where multiple “Earths” existed, each with a specific purpose. Earth 1 was the Silver Age earth, home of “The Flash”, Barry Allen, “Green Lantern”, Hal Jordan, as well as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and so many others. Earth 2 was home of the Golden age characters such as Flash Jay Garrick, Green Lantern Alan Scott, an older Superman, a world where Batman was dead, but he and Catwoman had given birth to a daughter who became Huntress, and an entire legacy of heroes had become Infinity Inc.
Other earths housed creations that DC Comics had purchased but never integrated into their mainstream universe. The Charlton heroes of Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Peacemaker, The Question, Judomaster, and Nightshade (who had all been remade as The Watchmen by Allan Moore a year earlier) lived their own earth, as did the Captain Marvel Family, Crime Syndicate of Amerika, and tons of others.
At the end of the Crisis, all of the earths were merged into one. Wonder Woman was turned into clay, and the world started over with only a few heroes remembering what had happened.
It was a perfect time to reboot everything, and we got some wonderful stuff out of it.
George Perez’s run on Wonder Woman is one of the defining runs for the hero.
John Byrne’s Man of Steel was a defining moment for Superman, and turned him from super-human uubermench into someone who audiences could relate to.
Batman got a facelift and Frank Miller was able to tell the Year One stories.
However the changes weren’t line wide. Legion of Super-Heroes and Teen Titans stayed in current continuity which created massive problems for both titles. How do you have a Legion when they were inspired by Superboy…a character who in this new world had never even existed. Who was Donna Troy? She actually predated Wonder Woman in this new world. Even simple things like the Justice League now had significant problems as Superman hadn’t made his debut until years after many of the other heroes.
With a bunch of partial reboots, things quickly got murky and other events were created to clear up the anomalies. Along came a Superboy story in Legion, a whole event in Titans, and finally Zero Hour and eventually Crisis on Infinite Earths and the weekly series 52, which finally brought the whole thing full circle, and returned the concept of a “multiverse” back to the DC Universe, about 20 years after it was eliminated.
Flashpoint seems to be a chance to revisit this concept again, and maybe create a brand new world which can be started pretty much from scratch with some of the best writers in the industry learning the lessons of yesterday to create a better tomorrow.
Or at the very least…tell a bunch of cool stories for the next year.