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DC : Crisis and Flashpoint


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Here's a little something for newbies in comics, to help them navigate the Crises of DC. Hope you'll like it.


The Flash movie is about to change the whole DCEU cinematic universe. But the DC comics universe is actually a multiverse, made of several alternate earths, ever since the creation of the company. Let’s dive together into DC’s Disruptive Crises. 


DC origins


DC comics is one of the two biggest publishers in the US with Marvel Comics. Together, they’re known as the Big Two. But DC Comics wasn’t officially called that until 1977. It all began in 1934 with Major Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson creating the National Allied Publications company. They published the first original content for comics instead of comic strip reprints. These comedic booklets gave their name to comics. Wheeler-Nicholson quickly had revenue problems and had to take some partners in 1937 in order to publish his Detective Comics project (where Batman later appears in #27 in 1939). The partnership leads to a new company called Detective Comics Inc. which would be the unofficial name of DC until 1977.

In 1938 Detective Comics Inc. Published Action Comics and changed the face of the Earth: Superman makes a grand entrance and kickstarts the superhero era for all the publishers at the time. Max Gaines saw an opportunity and launched All-American Publications. His series would later deliver Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern and the Justice Society of America. The company was funded by Harry Donnenfeld, the CEO of National and Detective, and so All-American uses a DC logo on their covers for marketing reasons, despite being a different company altogether. What we know today as DC’s Golden Age is in fact an amalgam of two different universes merged together in 1946 when Gaines sold his shares of his company. Detective Comics Inc. and All-American Publication became National Periodical Publications, DC’s true name until 1977.

This process of company mergers happened again with Fawcet Comics (publisher of Shazam) in the 1970s and with Charlton Comics (Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, The Question…) in the1980s. Each sold series would then live their lives in their own universes, unaware of the other houses under the DC logo aegis.


A Crisis on two worlds


At the end of WWII the boys came home, spirits were high and America didn’t need supermen in trunks to get inspired anymore. Comics refocused from superheroes to horror, western and romance. Only Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman barely survived, the Justice Society of America was completely gone. But superheroes came back in the 1950s during the Cold War, starting their Silver Age. National/DC dusted up their caracters and launched new versions of Flash and Green Lantern, in a brand new world without any links to their forerunners. Right until a gamechanger issue: in Flash #123 (1961), Jay Garrick the first Flash meets Barry Allen in a story titled "Flash of two worlds" where we learn that the Golden Age heroes still live on another Earth, on a different vibration frequency. This marks the start of the DC Multiverse, and frequent crossing between these universes. In Justice League of America Annual #21 (1963), JLA and JSA meet and the first mention of a Crisis appears. That name would later be synonym of multiversal events, where Flash would never be very far away.



Crisis on Infinite Earths

Since the 1940s, the DC multiverse kept expanding though mergers and publishers buyouts. The whole situation slowly became a mess. The Silver Age heroes lived ont Earth-One, the Golden Age heroes on Earth-Two, where Batman and Catwoman had a daughter Helena Wayne who became Huntress. Earth-Four was home to the Charlton characters, and Earth-S to the Shazam family frop Fawcett. Keeing up with who lived where required a comics degree, so DC had more and more trouble attractig new readers. Meanwhile, things were good for Marvel, very good indeed. In 1984 their Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars event was a huge hit. DC had to react, so in 1985 they decided to clean the slate and rebuilt their universe on sound foundations. No more multiverse. In a cataclysmic 12 parts event called Crisis on Infinite Earths (later called Crisis for the sake of brevity), the awful Anti-Monitor destoys universe after universe until there is only one left for the DC characters. In this hard reboot, the pre-Crisis continuity is erased and the history of the characters starts anew. Superman, Shazam and Blue Beetle live in different cities but cross paths without any need for a comics threadmill or a magic portal. The Golden Age heroes went through WWII and gifted their legacy to the Silver Age generation, who in turn mentor their sidekicks.



From Crisis to Flashpoint


Crisis did its job: sales spiked, continuity was streamlined, eand the Multiverse was gone. Scenarists had a blank slate and rebuilt DC’s greatest heroes from scratch in a new History of the DC Universe: John Byrne restarted Superman in Man of Steel, George Perez told Wonder Woman’s new origins... Alas, the reader’s attention span is what it is, and after a while storytellers had to get their attention again, and lo and behold the alternate Earths came back. Throughout the years, DC did lots of events to boost sales. Many had no link to Crisis (Armageddon 2001, Final Night, Blackest Night…), but the mention of Crisis still was a big seller. Hey kids, a Crisis means big multiversal stuff! So we had Zero Hour: Crisis in Time (1994), Identity Crisis (2004), Infinite Crisis (2005), Final Crisis (2008), Heroes in Crisis (2018) and Dark Crisis (2022). These Crises didn’t have the original’s impact though, and DC’s multiverse kept growing since 1985: the Death of Superman, Coast City’s destruction, Hal Jordan breaking bad and his salvation...

Meanwhile back at DC headquarters, the company also went through cosmics events. The publisher belongs to Warner for a while, but in 2010 Diane Nelson, CEO of DC Entertainment, challenged Jim Lee and Dan Didio to boost fading sales. Since the previous attempts didn’t work, both co-editors bring out the big guns and use the Crisis playbook. And so here we go again in 2011 with the Flashpoint event. Barry Allen (the Flash) wakes in a world where his deceased mother is alive. In a timewave akin to Back to the Future, or present is changed: Atlantis and Themyscira are at war, Superman never was raised by the Kents, and Bruce Wayne died in Crime Alley instead of his parents. This alternate earth could have been just another Elseworld before the status quo returned, but Lee and Didio Ce monde alternatif aurait pu rester une parenthèse avant un retour à la normale, mais Lee et Didio use it to reboot the DC Universe again. Flash is once again in the middle of a DC Crisis! When Barry restores the timeline, the DC multiverse is merge as the New 52, a brand new universe launched with 52 new series.





Crisis was a hard reboot, the New 52 is a soft one. Instead of retelling the same origin stories again, some characters keep their background, and others start fresh. Batman keeps No Man’s Land, Green Lantern lived his Blackest Night, but Green Arrow is young again and a single Superman arrives in Metropolis from Kansas. Like during Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, some characters from other imprints enter de DC universe, from Jim Lee’s Wildstorm to the Vertigo line. The New 52 is a success and the sales go through the roof. Alas the nature of the soft reboot leads to a lack of editorial cohesion between rewritten characters and those who keep their pre-Flashpoint continuity. And after the #1 effect, sales tend to go back to their usual level… Some fans don’t connect with the new timeline and ask for the beloved characters back. DC tested the market in 2014 and acted in 2016 the end of the New 52 with DC: Rebirth where most of the heroes got their pre-Flashpoint memories back.



Flashpoint is a Crisis type comics, whose purpose is to wipe away the DC series in order to start fresh after shaking things up. The original 5-part series was published between may and september 2011. It was introduced in issues #8 to #12 of The Flash (2010) and had an army of tie-ins.


Characters from BGCC : none.


MadCollector : Flashpoint is supposed to be THE big DC movie this year. Let’s have a look at the book that lead to the New 52, the universe behind the Batman Gotham City Chronicles.


Aerth : Right, no New 52 without Flashpoint, so no Court of Owls, no Talons, no Batwing, no Bluebird, no Duke/Signal...


MC : This is also an opportunity to look into this book full of alternate heroes, even if we won’t see them roaming the streets of Gotham.


A : Let’s start with the art.


MC : Pencils are from Andy Kubert, well known from Jim Lee’s fan because he followed Jim on X-Men. Colors are signed by Alex Sinclair, and inks are from Sandra Hope and Jesse Delperdang.


A : Kubert knows his Bat-verse ?


MC : for sure, from his inks on his brother Adam’s Batman versus Predator to Frank Miller’s Dark Knight III, the birth of Damian Wayne or the last issue of the Caped Crusader ever by Neil Gaiman.


A : And what about the story ?


MC : Geoff John is DC’s continuity man. After he gave a youth cure to the Justice Society of America in 2000, Johns restored Green Lantern. His success made him DC’ Chief Creative Officer in 2010, right in time for Flashpoint and the New 52. He’s also a consultant for most of DC’s TV shows.


A : What’s the pitch? Is there gore and spit?


MC : The story starts with a bang: with Barry Allen falling down the stairs instead zooming in a flash. His mother comes to his rescue, with is weird because she died when he was 9 years old.


A : Seems like the kind of things one would remember.


MC : You bet. And this change is a positive one, to him at least, but some details are all wrong. Atlanteans raised half of Europe in a war against Amazons, who invaded the UK.


A : That’s not exactly how I remember my History classes.


MC : So Barry goes to Batman in his Batcave. He compares his memories with the facts that Thomas Wayne gives him...


A : You mean Bruce Wayne?


MC : Nope, Thomas Wayne a.k.a the Batman.


A : Holy Duck! What sorcery is this?


MC : One of the myriad of changes throughout the story. Here, Batman doesn’t have the same moral code as his son.


A : Riiiiiiight!


MC : To be brief and avoid spoiling more than necessary, these adventures will lead to a brand new universe which includes the WildC.A.T.S and the Authority. The main series is short with 5 issues only, but the plethora of tie-ins allow the reader to dwelve into Barry’s mad world. Flashpoint : Batman Knight of Vengeance by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso is a masterpiece of the Dark Knight storytelling.



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