It was a seminal moment in comics history — the Crisis on Infinite Earths. DC Comics was cleaning up decades of bloated continuity issues, trimming the line of characters that had no market appeal, and basically wiping the slate clean so that new readers wouldn’t have to know fifty years of back-story to understand what was going on with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the DC Universe.
It took four years to plan the Crisis, with Marv Wolfman and George Perez at the helm, leading creative teams in a massive crossover event that was the first of its kind — a 12-month catastrophe that destroyed the multiverse and replaced it with just one universe in which to tell all future stories.
And on paper, it sounded pretty good. In actual execution, there were a few bumps. Enough that DC ended up publishing other Crisis titles from time to time to clean up the continuity issues of the previous Crisis.
Was the original Crisis a hit? You bet. Was it necessary? Some debate it even now, and there seems to be a love/hate relationship among fans regarding the subsequent Crisis books. And no matter what anyone thinks, it certainly helped pave the way for the “event” stories we get now.
A similar love/hate relationship exists now as it pertains to the New 52, now in its third year (not so new). The creation of a post-Flashpoint new universe, where our beloved characters are just slightly different than their pre-New52 counterparts, turned the industry on its ear and gave it “a shot in the arm” that retailers say was pretty well needed.
But then you have those people who really wish the New 52 would just go away. They want a restoration of the pre-Flashpoint continuity. And given how much we’ve heard about the conflicts behind the scenes over the past three years, along with the exodus of creative teams, rumors of editorial interference, and a general sense that DC doesn’t quite have a handle on what they’re doing over there (not to mention the problematic reception the movies are getting…), it feels like it might be time to hit the reset button. But does that mean the New 52 will go away? For that matter, should the New 52 go away?
With the 30th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths just around the corner, DC co-publisher Dan DiDio has been hinting at something in the works. On Sunday, September 7th, he posted on his Facebook page what, in essence, is another tease along with his original editorial comments about Infinite Crisis (he was Executive Editor at the time) and this note: “Definitely one of the highlights of my time at DC, but it gets me thinking, has it really been almost ten years since then, and maybe its time to do it one better.”
Which means what, exactly?
In February 2013, I posited that the Trinity War cross-over event would be a catalyst to restore the pre-New52 continuity and establish the New 52 as a sort of “Ultimate” line of titles, very much like Marvel did in the 90s. And I still hold to the thought that New 52 is New Coke, only now I’m re-evaluating a bit and speculating that DC may be playing a long game. And while I’m still not willing to give DiDio, Jim Lee, and Bob Harras any more credit for being clever, I remain cautiously open to the possibility that this whole New 52 thing has been a long con.
The one thing that keeps me from believing this was all planned from the get-go is the massive rotation of creative teams — with very vocal and public criticisms of DC’s editorial staff. If not for that, I’d have an easier time thinking this whole thing was a giant marketing gimmick to rival anything the comics industry has seen. But again, I don’t think the DC bosses are that clever. Given the rumored “no jokes” policy governing the movie adaptations, and the current direction for the not-for-kids-anymore animated pictures, I’m pretty sure this is all happening despite any efforts to make it go one way or the other.
So what are the possibilities that DiDio and Company could actually be planning a new Crisis that maybe restores previous continuity?
Well, without giving anything away (others already have…), the pilot for The Flash has a major Easter egg that hearkens back to pre-New52 days. DiDio’s own veiled hints and winks, plus the continued call from fandom for the old continuity, plus the long-awaited publication of Grant Morrison’s Multiversity (with Captain Carrot, for cryin’ out loud…), the re-introduction of the Anti-Monitor and a version of Harbinger, all might add up to the re-establishment of at least some kind of pre-New52 universe.
But that doesn’t mean the New 52 needs to go away. There have been some good titles and some good creative teams that have been well-received by new and past fandom alike, and given Bob Harras’ involvement in the establishment of Marvel’s Ultimate line, it makes sense to split off New 52 to its own continuity separate and apart from pre-New 52 (Prime?).
Some are speculating that the current Future’s End crossover might be tied into it somehow. And March 2015 sees the end of the weekly titles that just started not too long ago.
So, could Future’s End be the precursor to a major event that begins in April 2015 (the 30th anniversary of Crisis) that culminates in a major event in September 2015? And could this massive crossover establish two major lines for DC?
If we actually do get the Prime storyverse back, let’s at least hope DC just picks up the numbering where they left off. I still want my Action Comics #1000 and Detective Comics #900.