Robot 6

Grumpy Old Fan | Grandfathered continuity in the New 52

Hal Jordan as the Spectre (but not for long)

I’ve talked previously about the unwieldy nature of the New-52 timeline, but today I want to try and suss out some specifics.

There wouldn’t be as much of an issue — and perhaps none at all — if every character’s history had been allowed to reset. However, stating specifically that the Batman and Green Lantern families both came through the relaunch relatively unchanged, even as Superman, the Flash, the Teen Titans, and the Justice League generally each got new beginnings, was just asking for trouble. Still, the question then becomes how much of Batman and GL backstory has become crucial to the present understanding of those characters?

* * *

We begin with Batman. Pre-relaunch, Batman had built up a small army of proteges and associates over the course of a long career. In fact, said career spans at least ten years, because Damian Wayne was ten years old when he met Bruce Wayne, and his mom (Talia al Ghul) only sought out Bruce because her father had figured out he was Batman. Factoring in Dick Grayson’s age (between 18 and 20, depending on when you think 1987′s Batman: Son of the Demon falls in the timeline), and adding a few years for Dick’s early Robin career and Bruce’s solo debut (accounts vary) gives us a rough idea of how many years Batman’s been operating.

With all that in mind, here are some of the milestones of Batman’s pre-relaunch career.

“Year One”: Bruce returns to Gotham and Batman meets Jim Gordon. Around this time he also meets Superman, Wonder Woman, et al., and helps form the Justice League.

Dick’s parents are murdered (with the Drake family watching). Batman and Robin take down Boss Zucco.

– The 1950s, reimagined: in and around more mundane exploits, the Dynamic Duo have a series of weird adventures later set down in Bruce’s Black Casebook. Batman and Robin join the international Club of Heroes. Inspired by Batman, circus star Kathy Kane becomes Batwoman.

– Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad team up with Speedy and Wonder Girl to form the Teen Titans. Barbara Gordon becomes Batgirl.

– Dick goes to college. Bruce and Alfred move out of Wayne Manor, establishing a new Batcave downtown.

Ra’s al Ghul enlists Batman’s help in finding the kidnapped Robin and Talia, and reveals his ultimate plans for Batman and Talia.

– The original Teen Titans break up (as it happens, just before Bruce and Silver St. Cloud do).

– Batman discovers Zatanna has brainwashed Dr. Light, so Zatanna alters his memories.

– Frustrated with college and wanting independence, Dick leaves Hudson University. Not long afterwards, Raven recruits Robin into a new Teen Titans.

– Batman quits the Justice League and forms the Outsiders.

– Robin’s dealings with the grim Vigilante, and the Teen Titans’ teamup with the Outsiders, give Dick a new perspective on his relationship with Bruce.

– Bruce and Alfred move back to Wayne Manor.

– After Robin is shot during a fight with the Joker, Dick decides to quit as Batman’s sidekick. When the other Titans are captured by Deathstroke and Terra, Dick becomes Nightwing to rescue them.

Jason Todd becomes Robin II.

– Batman rejoins the Justice League. Dick and Bruce reconcile.

– Bruce and Talia conceive Damian Wayne.

– The Joker shoots Barbara, paralyzing her; and murders Robin II shortly thereafter. Barbara becomes the anonymous, omniscient Oracle.

– Debut of Huntress (Helena Bertinelli).

– Noticing the changes in Batman (and the lack of Robin), and having put together that Robin was once a Flying Grayson, Tim Drake sells Batman and Nightwing on the idea that he could be the third Robin.

– Batman meets Jean-Paul Valley/Azrael.

“Knightfall” /“Knightquest”: Bane breaks Batman’s back. Jean-Paul Valley takes over as Batman II. Robin goes solo while Bruce recuperates.

“KnightsEnd”: Robin and Nightwing help a recovered Bruce take back the Batman identity. Nightwing then poses as Batman briefly while Bruce finishes recuperating.

– Debut of Spoiler (Stephanie Brown).

– Nightwing leaves the Titans for Bludhaven.

– Oracle and Black Canary become the Birds Of Prey.

Big Bat-crossovers, 1997-2004, include “Contagion,” “Legacy,” “No Man’s Land,” “Bruce Wayne: Murderer?” and “War Games.”

– Cassandra Cain becomes Batgirl II.

– Batman learns about Zatanna’s mindwipe and creates Brother Eye.

– Stephanie Brown substitutes for Tim as Robin IV.

– Jason Todd returns from the dead as the Red Hood.

Infinite Crisis/52: Batman decides to be mellow, and takes a year off to find himself. Kate Kane becomes Batwoman II.

– Talia brings ten-year-old Damian to Gotham. Batman squares off against Dr. Hurt, and Darkseid hurls him back through time.

Musical chairs during Bruce’s absence: Dick becomes Batman III, Tim becomes Red Robin, Damian becomes Robin V, and Stephanie becomes Batgirl III.

– Upon Bruce’s return, he sets up Batman Incorporated, based loosely on the Club of Heroes.

While that seems like a lot of detail, I think it hits most of the high points. There’s not a lot to cut out, either, except for the Teen Titans’ role in Dick’s development. One could argue that Batman’s 52-related journey of discovery could be rendered largely moot by its very resolution: if the New-52 Batman was never that grim, he never would have needed to take the year off (and the New-52 timeline wouldn’t have given him the year anyway). The New-52 OMAC may also have erased Batman’s part in Brother Eye’s origin, and from there the whole “mindwipe” subplot may similarly fall away.

This sort of where-did-the-knot-go? streamlining is perhaps a bit unfair to those of us who followed those storylines as they unfolded, but for purposes of compressing decades of comics into “five years” of comic-book time, it may actually be close to DC’s intention. We’ll get into that a little more later.

Generally, the Batman timeline comes together in terms of characters and relationships, not events. The intertitle crossovers of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s each involved catastrophic situations which were eventually reset, from the killer virus of “Contagion” and “Legacy” to the devastating “No Man’s Land” and the more personal “Bruce Wayne: Murderer?” Even Stephanie Brown’s death (as one of “War Games’” big consequences) was explained away (after much fan outcry, but still). The event-based debuts of new characters, like Cassandra Cain in “NML” and Batwoman II in 52, don’t necessarily depend on the substance of those events. Therefore, if you can get around compressing all the Robins’ collective histories into a little less than five years’ time, the rest can blur together somewhat.

To be sure, there are good reasons for allowing each Robin to have a longer, more significant tenure; and most of them have to do with the special relationship — not like that! — between Batman and his number-one protege. While “Robin” can be an internship, it should center more around the unique bond forged by each sidekick’s particular circumstances. But hey, if that’s what you want, internship can work. Thus, under the New-52 Batman timeline, maybe Dick became Robin sometime in Year One, followed by Jason in Year Three, Tim in Year Four, and Damian in Year Five. We also know Barbara was shot in Year Three, and only recently healed. (Since everything started “five years ago,” I’m guessing we’re currently in Year Six.) We can tweak that a little — Jason at the beginning of Year Three and Tim at year’s end, maybe — to reflect the proportions of their pre-relaunch careers, but there’s not a lot of wiggle room.

* * *

We can analyze the Green Lantern timeline similarly, since the GL setup encourages the introduction of new characters. Moreover — and just to be blunt — not a lot of substance happens to Hal Jordan for much of the 1960s. Oh sure, he leaves Ferris Aircraft for a series of mundane jobs (toy salesman, insurance agent, truck driver), but none of those have much bearing on his GL duties. Even Guy Gardner’s debut happens in the context of a what-if story, where Guy never actually gets the ring.

Here, then, are my GL bullet points:

– Hal is recruited by Abin Sur. He soon meets the Guardians and various other Lanterns; and joins the Justice League.

– A Guardian “introduces” Hal to Guy Gardner.

– Hal, Green Arrow, and the Guardian called the “Old-Timer” begin their cross-country soul-searching. This may be where Hal’s susceptibility to Parallax starts.

– When Guy is injured, John Stewart becomes Hal’s deputy.

– Guy comes back briefly, but Sinestro puts him in a coma.

– After Hal spends too much time protecting Ferris Air, the Guardians exile Hal from Earth for a year.

– Shortly after Hal comes back, he quits the Corps in favor of Carol Ferris. John becomes Sector 2814′s main GL.

Crisis On Infinite Earths: Guy comes out of his coma, the Anti-Monitor attacks Oa and kills several Guardians, and one faction of Guardians reactivates Guy and Hal.

– The Guardians and Zamarons leave this dimension to spawn. A group of Lanterns relocates (with Hal and John) to Earth.

– The Manhunters (the Guardians’ old agents) strike at Earth’s super-folk, trying to destroy the superpowered “New Guardians.”

– The GL Corps is reduced to four (Hal, John, Guy, and Ch’p) after the Central Power Battery is destroyed.

– Hal sports grey temples. Hal, John, and Guy stop the Old-Timer from kidnapping the Earth cities he visited. The Guardians return and restore the GL Corps. John stays on Oa to oversee the “Mosaic” communities.

– Mongul destroys Coast City. Hal helps Superman stop Mongul. Hal then goes nuts, killing the Guardians and several GLs before giving in to Parallax.

Kyle Rayner becomes the last GL. Guy becomes Warrior. John becomes a Darkstar.

Zero Hour: Parallax tries to restart time. During a later battle between Hal and Kyle, Oa is destroyed.

The Final Night: Parallax sacrifices himself to restart the Sun.

– A younger, time-lost Hal teams up with Kyle for a short while, but of course Parallax puts a stop to that. Kyle is left with a power ring which can make other power rings.

Day of Judgment: Hal (still dead) becomes the Spectre’s new host.

Green Lantern Legacy: The Last Will And Testament Of Hal Jordan: Using a unique power ring, Tom Kalmaku rebuilds Oa. Soon afterwards (GL vol. 3 #150), Kyle expends his recently-acquired Ion power to refuel the Central Power Battery and bring back the Guardians.

Green Lantern: Rebirth: Hal is revived, Parallax is defeated, and Hal, Guy, and John become GLs again.

At this point we are into Geoff Johns’ run as GL writer, so I’m assuming everything from Rebirth forwards is still generally valid. This includes the Rainbow Lanterns, Blackest Night, and “War of the Green Lanterns.”

Looking at the timeline, it’s clear that the stage had been set for a new Green Lantern Corps, most likely with Kyle as headliner. From 1994 through 2002 (when Legacy and GL #150 were published), the proverbial earth had been pretty well salted against the returns of either Hal Jordan or the Corps. Hal spent five years as Parallax and the next five as the Spectre, and Kyle’s attempts to bring back the intergalactic Corps never really went anywhere. (However, he did make Jade a GL briefly, and he brought John Stewart back to active duty.) Therefore, when Johns took over Green Lantern, his real task was in sorting out Hal’s complicated journey from deranged ex-GL to omnipotent agent of God, and literally bringing him down to Earth.

However, in the interests of compressing and streamlining Hal’s history, it may make a certain amount of sense simply to eliminate Hal’s Spectre career. The Spectre does figure significantly in Hal’s restoration (helping separate Hal’s soul from Parallax’s influence), but depending on the Spectre’s status in the New-52 cosmology, some other means (a last burst of Ion-power?) might also do the trick.

Likewise, Johns used a few longstanding DC characters in his GL epics, including the Cyborg Superman (as the Manhunters’ new leader), the Anti-Monitor (as the Sinestro Corps’ “Guardian”), and Superboy-Prime (as a super-powerful Sinestro Corpsman). Each of these characters comes from other Big DC Events — “Reign of the Supermen,” Crisis, and Infinite Crisis — so their continued presence in the New-52 timeline suggests that those events (or versions thereof) remain valid. By the same token, though, none of them appears essential to Johns’ overall narrative, so it may be relatively easy for the New-52 to forget about them. Personally, I suspect a New-52 retelling of Crisis On Infinite Earths would be particularly strange and artificial, but that’s speculation for another day.

Ironically, Green Lantern’s continuity has become a victim of Geoff Johns’ own vaunted plotting skills. With Rebirth, Johns very cleverly reworked Hal Jordan’s convoluted fate(s) into pieces of a slowly-emerging puzzle which would eventually unlock the secrets of DC’s universe. It remains a masterful performance of continuity gymnastics. Nevertheless, at the time it depended heavily on those existing story elements. If the New-52 relaunch has erased some of those, the larger narrative integrity of Johns’ run starts to break down. I don’t think it’s broken irreparably, but it’ll be instructive to learn who’s still around and who’s never mentioned again.

Actually, the Anti-Monitor could continue to sponsor the Sinestro Corps, since he (and the Monitor) were originally associated with the moons of Qward and Oa. It could even be the case that the Crisis On Infinite (52?) Earths hasn’t yet happened to the New-52 — and wouldn’t that be a nice crossover…?

I digress slightly, but the point remains: the Green Lantern timeline has become more dependent on Big Events (Crisis, Zero Hour, Final Night, Infinite Crisis, and the various GL-centric arcs) than the Batman timeline. As such, it raises more questions about the validity of those events in the New-52 chronology. I don’t anticipate these sorts of questions being answered with any kind of specificity, so we may have to see what remains by implication.

* * *

When I started thinking about this post, I was reminded of all the characters DC revised in the late ‘80s, following Crisis On Infinite Earths. Hawkman may be the most infamous of these, since a whole new character had to be invented (shades of the Doombots!) to explain a big chunk of “his” appearances. Still, I keep coming back to Jason Todd, conceived originally as a rather obvious update of Dick Grayson, right down to the murdered-aerialist parents. Jason spent the better part of three years as a fixture of Batman and Detective, which in those days were interconnected in “biweekly storytelling” fashion. Readers got to know Jason — who wasn’t as obnoxious as his revamped version, but who was comparatively more bland — and got to see him develop relationships with Bruce, Alfred, and Dick. (Jason showed up in a few issues of New Teen Titans as well.) Regardless, when the combination of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight and “Batman: Year One” set the stage for a grittier Batman, the more benign Jason went away. While Batman and Robin’s pre-COIE adventures probably still held together in terms of plot, Jason’s changes altered those relationships to various degrees.

Allowing the Batman and Green Lantern books to “keep their histories,” while the rest of the New-52 has its collective slate wiped, strikes me as the inverse of Jason’s situation. Just as re-reading the early Jason Todd stories in light of his personal revamp forces one to reconsider them, re-reading something like “The Sinestro Corps War” invites a similar, additional layer of analysis. However, reading current issues of Green Lantern or Batman offers some distance from the pre-relaunch stories, because they are presented as “of the moment.” They will probably also hold up in isolation (i.e., if you only re-read Johns’ GL), because as far as those titles are concerned, the New-52 relaunch had little, if any, effect.

Where this really hurts DC is in its attempts to cultivate a seamless superhero universe across multiple unrelated titles, and (I suspect) particularly when those titles are collected. You can’t go from Infinite Crisis to “Sinestro Corps,” Blackest Night, and the current Indigo Tribe storyline without adjusting your expectations at least slightly about the players. I’m even wondering about the status of a certain villain from the pre-relaunch Detective Comics suddenly showing up in one of the New-52 Bat-books.

I do believe that the New-52 titles are still well-suited to telling accessible stories which use continuity effectively.  Even the compressed timeline may turn out to be elegantly simple.  Still, watching it unfold has not been altogether smooth.  All the highlights of Batman and GL history may now fit into five years, but losing the details is giving me a bit of a headache.

 

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66 Comments

Yeah, I don’t think Reign of the Supermen happened in the New 52; a lot of important plot points hinge on Superboy and as we all know, the New 52 Superboy couldn’t have taken part in those events.  At the very least a heavily altered version of Death and Return of Superman took place, but I think DC will just ignore these inconsistencies.

Excellent analysis and summary.  I haven’t the slightest idea of how much of the previous GL history is still valid, other than what is required for the current story lines.  What about John Stewart and Xanshi, for example?  Fatality is now a Star Sapphire, having found redemption in the power of love, apparently…so she had to have been bad before.  But why exactly?   And so on….

Pre-NuDC and NuDC Time-lines got complicated and pretty much became obsoleted/irrelevant.

The story lines throughout NuDC supposed to look and act swift to shortened Batman’s and Green Lantern’s long and storied histories, for the sake of NuDC’s so-called 5-Years.

It’s like the post-CoIE continuity mess, only 10x worse. They should have just rebooted the DCU entirely. At the very least, if they were going to keep the “cool stuff” for the Bat-family and GL, they should have sat down and drafted a timeline for each character family. At this point, I’m kind of doubting they did.  When I can look at Spider-Man’s continuity, post magical disappearing marriage, and think that’s far less of a mess…wow. 

the guy still living in 1985

April 19, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I understand your pain about the compressed 5-year timeline issue, but the fatal flaw in your analysis is that you presuppose that the events in the timeline for Batman and Green Lantern happened the same way as they did pre-new 52. And the beauty is they don’t have to be. I know I’m gonna sound like the guy who toting ‘the party line’, but instead of pontificating, its much easier to let the new continuity unfold and then we’ll get to see which events remain unaltered, tweaked, or changed completely. Its comics! You have to set your ‘suspense-of-disbelief’ glasses on extreme if there’s going to be any true enjoyment of this genre. Let it go. Or if you can’t, rummage through your back issues so you can maintain your understanding of the ‘real’ continuity. Last time I checked, Warner Bros. and DC execs weren’t sending covert spies to barge into comic book fans’ homes taking away those back issues. Just saying…

First off, thank you very much for giving us this timeline. ESPECIALLY the Batman one. I’ve always wanted one to view in this quick manner. OK down to business.

My take: the Batman of the DCU (or Pre-DCnU) is a completely different Batman altogether and his story ended in Batman: Incorporated Leviathan Strikes at the age of about 36. The Batman of the New 52 DCU (or DCnU) is a younger, less experienced, Bruce Wayne that has some of the previous Batman’s history but obviously not all. Just like Batman: The Animated Series version of Batman is not the same Batman as the one that starred in Batman: Brave and the Bold. Each of those characters has the luxury of utilizing the vast 75 or so years of history for the benefit of their respective stories. I reiterate, this luxury does not mean that every character that calls themselves Batman is the same Batman as the next. This line of thinking saves me the headache and makes it fun to collect all those stories that led to the end of the greatest crime fighting career of the greatest version of Batman so far… the Pre-DCnU Batman.

They’ll probably never explain it, but the Batman RIP/Bruce “dying”/Dick taking over situation is interesting as the current Night of the Owls storyline has some genesis in The Black Mirror/Gates of Gotham plot threads, all of which have Dick as Batman which has been acknowledged to have happened via the new 52 Nightwing, so the question is, why did Bruce leave? When did Kate Kane debut as Batwoman (all of Elegy basically still happened)…at this point barring a few tweaks I’d argue that most of Morrison’s Batman and Robin still occurred, and at least the Batwoman storyline in 52 had to have happened, as its important to Elegy…but where the heck did Bruce go at that point or was Kate’s debut as Batwoman triggered by Bruce’s absence during RIP? Did Dr. Hurt still happen? Did Bruce simply vanish after the helicopter exploded instead of Final Crisis?
It’s fun to think about :-)

Have you forgotten the Legion of Super Heroes?  This group have been rebooted so many times in the old DCU only to come to a resolution in “Legion of Three Worlds”, where the first and it seems the oldest group of Legionnaires -[ When will Levitz drop the "Boy"/"Lad" or "Girl" /"Lass"suffix on most of them? They are sexing each other up and a Lightning Lad and Saturn girl are PARENTS of young children for God's sake!] are the TRUE Legion.  Now Action #6 and #7 shows the LSH in Superman’s time and I wonder if Grant Morrison is keeping the Geoff Johns’ revamp of Supes’s past to a certain point?  Will poor Mon-El get another reboot and origin now that his “finalized” past got ereased in the New 52 reboot< or will it be tweaked? This inquiring comic reader of 40+ years want to know?

Though I’d like to believe the new continuity could allow for all of the Batman stories you’ve mentioned, I don’t think this works. 

For Damien to begin his career as Robin, “trained from birth” though he might be, he has to be at least ten years old. For him to be the son of Bruce and Talia even from their first meeting (which is NOT the established origin of his birth) Dick would have to be in college during his conception. Even if Dick started as Robin at the age of sixteen this would mean at least three years before Damien was conceived giving Bruce at least 13 years under the cowl. Five can no way work.

You can’t have this both ways. The Batman stories you want to protect cast him as legend with a long career that five years can not accomodate.

DC realized this to a degree, though, and stated that Batman was operating for five years in the shadows, an urban legend, before entering the public eye with the Justice League, which is when the five year history “begins”.  So while most of the characters have been active for five years, Batman has been active for ten.

Also, in GL continuity, there is NO WAY that Hal and Ollie road tripped across America in the new continuity.  Ollie is too young, at too early a stage in his GA career, and they haven’t even met.  So DC has trashed one of their best, most acclaimed “classic” storylines for the sake of sales.

Yeah, I think a lot of this stuff just didn’t happen (and, frankly, you don’t need it to have happened for current stories to work).  I also think, for Damian to work, you go to the Nolan Batman movie and say Bruce trained with Ra’s al Ghul and hooked up with Talia then.

Another thing to note is the Dido said that all of the Crises did not happen

My easy solution:

DCnU becomes Earth-1

Post COEI DCU is Earth-2

Silver/Bronze Age DCU (formally Earth-1) becomes Earth-3

Golden Age DCU (formally Earth-2) becomes Earth-4

Many favorite storylines are shifted to Earth-2 and Earth-3.

Holy mess, Batman!
 
There are plenty of glaring errors with the relaunch… The continuity is in shambles.
To me, DC dropped the ball sometime around 2004 or 2005, with the all the “Crisises”
 
Thank you DiDio, Johns, Harras and Lee

Its a decent article but the continuity is FUBAR.

I’m pretty sure that Damian was artificially aged and is chronologically only a couple of years old.

Ugh, screw DC for making such a gigantic mess while wiping away some of my favourite storylines. You either keep it all or you toss it all.

Great timeline. I don’t think too much about the pre-new52 timeline for Batman (makes my head hurt…even just watching Grant Morrison’s mega storyline cross over from old to new earth is tough) but looking at your list I suspect most of the events following Knightfall\quest\end get hugely compressed with plot specifics being treated as fuzzy in detail. I’d also guess that all the big bat crossovers following it are done away with completely and will not be referenced again…at least for a long time. Unless Snyder tries to get cute and work the Court of Owls into the rebuilding of Gotham following No Man’s Land…but that just seems unnecessary, non-new reader friendly, and not worth the effort.

For GL, I only started reading at Rebirth and I suspect that much of what happened before, only exists in generalities to hit key character points. Post new52 Green Arrow for example doesn’t seem like the kinda guy to have been a hard travelin’ hero with Hal, though based on the animosity they have for each other in Justice League #8, who knows? Maybe it got compressed into a week long winnebago tour and the two fought bitterly over whether to use Hal’s ring or Q-tech GPS for directions. I find with GL, Geoff John’s seems to be crafting new history bits as he goes along (mostly pre-Abin Sur’s death), and using existing continuity as shorthand so he doesn’t have to spend time reintroducing characters like Guy, John & Kyle.

Fun article!

I don’t think the New 52 fits in any continuity, and is a new earth based off the flash point event. If that’s the case its a world that share similarities with D.C. continuity but is its own reality. I like to call it DC AFP. AFter Flash point. Or Earth AFP. In a year or two, The original DC universe will return.

My take on it has been that Batman was, in fact, active before the onset of the age of superheroes with the formation of the Justice League. I don’t believe that Hal’s reaction to discovering Batman is real would be quite so enthusiastic if legends of the Batman had not been circulating for years. This allows me to believe that Batman has been somehow functioning in the shadows for at least the ten years required for Damien Wayne to make sense, and possibly longer. It’s hard to grasp how he’d pull that off, though, and fitting Robins into the timeline is still tricky.

A thought that kept occurring to me while i read your excellent post was that some things that you weren’t certain about have been mentioned in passing throughout the line. Xanshi certainly fell because of John’s hubris, as he brings that up in GLC while they’re exploring the dead planet in the first arc. While the Reign of the Supermen is in question, Superman’s death is not, as he made a point about it to Alec Holland in Swamp Thing.

So they’re somehow managing to hold onto some of the most iconic stories for the characters while reshaping the world around it. It’s not necessarily easy, and I’m very curious if they’ll manage to really pull it off. Batman seemed to work with the reboot, but the GL titles remained steeped in recent history. In fact, I’d say Green Lantern #1 was the least approachable title for a new reader of the entire line.

MariedeGournay

April 21, 2012 at 9:03 am

More and more I miss the old DCU. Especially when they tease me with Leviathan Strikes.

I feel like Kyle Rayner has taken the biggest hit in GL continuity. There just isn’t enough time for him to have developed into a great Green Lantern, in part because his JLA membership may have never happened.

This doesn’t bother me as much as the complete erasure of Connor Hawke, but it’s still problematic.

I strongly believe that the lack of a reboot for GL and Bats means the New 52 is simply an experiment in which changes to characters are tested on a focus group—one in which purchases and not comment cards define what changes will stay and which will go when it all reverts to “Normal”—or as I’m thinking of it, the real New, refined DCU–the one in which Bats and GL still remain unchanged since they “aint broke”!

I suppose it’s the byproduct of Batman (and these days, Green Lantern) being their best-sellers, and thus sales dictated that Bats remain “untouchable” by a reboot, no matter how illogical the results continuity-wise may be. Judging from a fourth (!) of DC’s “New 52″ books being Batman-related, it just seems to draw even more attention to how much of a cash cow Batman is for DC. Thus, far as they’re concerned, Batman didn’t need fixing (or is too “precious” to mess with), just literally every *other* character they own (even Superman :-/ ).

(In GL’s case, DC/Time-Warner wants GL to become a new franchise, thus the heavy push of GL lately—the movie, animated series, etc… which combined with GL’s comic sales might also lead to Hal being almost as untouchable as Batman is, again continuity-be-darned.)

There’s also that Batman (for whatever reason) rarely or is never touched by reboots the way his pal Superman has—judging from Batman stories going back to the 50s or 60s still “counting” (in some capacity), while the same can’t be said of Superman or Wonder Woman…

If I spent this much time worrying about this continuity stuff, I’d drive myself crazy, especially with DC books.

DC has had to reinvent themselves too many times over the years to remain somewhat relevant to whatever audience is still reading comics, and the ongoing problem that DC continued here with The New 52 concept is that it’s not a full-on reboot as you mention.

What’s transparent here is that Batman, since Frank Miller, and Green Lantern, since Geoff Johns, have been successful franchises over the past few years, and everything else didn’t produce enough sales to continue as is. If Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, so forth and so on would have produced Batman or GL-sized numbers, we wouldn’t have seen such wholesale revisionism.

And the reboot has so far helped the overall DC line, but it’ll eventually return to similar numbers if the same mistakes are repeated. Hopefully, that won’t happen, but it all depends on how good the books are. Fans support with their dollars. With any luck, we won’t be subjected to another convoluted Crisis situation for least another 20 years or so.

The things that does get me is that the women of the Bat-family are much worse off than pre-relaunch.

Cass and Steph are both missing in action – I mean, Steph’s life as Spoiler and her past history with Tim Drake are even murky, while all four male Robins are in place. Not to mention that Babs went from the unique Oracle to the rather blandly updated Batgirl.

Sure, Batwoman is alright, but that title has also implied that Renee Montoya is either missing or dead (which means no female Question) and put Flamebird into a coma. Black Canary’s implied in Birds of Prey to have killed someone, Harley’s missing what made her great, and Ivy’s new heroic overtures are kind of unexplained and not really that interesting (to me, at least).

Even worse? Helena Bertinelli has been wiped off the face of the planet and there’s a fewer than slim chance of ever, ever seeing her again. I mean, I don’t know Helena Wayne – she’s not my generation’s Huntress – and while I’m excited to see World’s Finest, she’s still not Bertinelli.

More thoughts on the blog: http://www.pfspublishing.com/bookclub

Btw, is Batman, Inc. still in continuity ?

Googam son of Goom

April 21, 2012 at 10:23 am

I think Marvel has struck a better path so far as dealing with continuity by not worrying about it making absolute sense, because it never can and never will. In Marvel the cherry pick what serves to tell a story and ignore things that don’t. Sure it’s full of inconsistencies like in DC, but they allow me as a reader to gloss over that and focus on reading a story rather than tangling me all up in a ball of ultra-orthodox comicbook lore.

…and here I thought this reboot was supposed to make things easier. Seems like it made things worse, lol

Forget past continuity – DC still can’t get it’s New 52 continuity right. How can Hal Jordan be GL in Justice League, while Sinestro has taken over in the GL books? Has this been clarified?

Batman’s continuity had its gaffs even before the reboot, as he accumulated 4+ Robins while remaining generally the same age. In general I thought Dick Grayson was Robin the longest by a wide margin of 6-7 years, Jason Todd was murdered after less than a year, Tim was robin for 2-3 years and Damian will forever only be “a couple months in” until big event stories dictate he’s been in the position a bit longer. Negating the mediocre even stories from the 90s/early 2000s is actually a smart choice, though I will miss No Man’s Land.

I always felt Johns already did a below-the-radar Flashpoint-esque wipe of Green Lantern history when he started his run, as Hal essentially went back to basics and all history including Kyle’s tenure became vague unless specifically called back upon. At this point the specifics of how Parallax corrupted Hal don’t matter, only that it happened and Kyle served briefly before Hal came back.

@Skott -

On the one hand, the reboot does in fact make it easier for new readers who don’t know or care about old continuity anyway.

On the other hand, the Batman and Green Lantern books aren’t quite as rebooted, so they are in fact set up to be more of what the current readers might want. But even they have to live in the same world as the rest.

@Simon – I believe the answer to your first question is that all of the books aren’t exactly happening at the same time. Even stuff that’s happening “now” may not be happening simultaneously. The JL stories with Hal probably happen at some point after Hal as gotten his ring back. Or they happen before he lost it, and there will be a logical spot for his non-ring time to fit.

I have said this many times before and am still completely certain of it. What “Flashpoint” did was create a new alternate earth that we are following. There are plenty of clues to suggest this, such as it being Flash whom the events pivot around, the character who introduced the whole concept of the Multiverse in the first place. The old continuity exists, just on another earth. I am guessing that eventually we will see the two continuities interact.

This whole thing just smacks of idiocy.

Stephanie Brown as Batgirl. Stronger/more fun concept than Barbara Gordon as Batgirl? Yes. Keep it. Don’t look back.

Barbara Gordon more popular as Oracle than she ever was as Batgirl? Yes. Keep it. Don’t look back.

Hal Jordan more popular than the other Lanterns? Yes. Keep him until he’s not.

Barry Allen more popular than Wally West? No. Bring back Wally, stop trying to shamelessly repeat yourself.

Damian Wayne. A HUGE problem given than he has a set age? Yes. Make him the new Jason Todd and kill him off so he doesn’t get any older.

This shouldn’t have been as hard or as muddled as it’s turned out. Good luck staying in business, DC.

Oh, my sweet Jebus, who cares? What’s it matter what storyline was going on twenty years ago? Just give me a good comic right now.

Hmph. It’s true that warners execs aren’t messing with our collections as the guy points out, but knowing what has and hasn’t happened is still important. These characters have a long tradition of using their histories to make interesting mysteries for the reader to solve. Unless they intend some bizarre metafictional fix in the vein of zero hour some way down the road, they should drop the references to old continuity and move on. FFS! It is fun to think about though.

I was equally a fan of both DC and Marvel before the New 52 (although Marvel’s output was far surpassing DC’s the last few years). I think DC is suffering from “trying to make everyone happy all the time” syndrome which we all know can never happen. I currently read a hand full of DC books a month, but pretty much can’t stand the rest of their New 52 line. I think it ran out of steam pretty fast on many fronts. I think the single worst thing you can do to a reader (new or old) is confuse them before they even turn to the first page. Saying some storylines existed and some didn’t just doesn’t cut it. They really should have launched with a full reboot.

The real question is “who cares”, they didn’t set a time line after IfC and in a few years they’ll just reboot this DCU. Why should I care for a character who is rebooted/reset every few years?

Is jean-Paul Valley still dead?

Since the DCnU reset, I gave up caring about the Continuity.
In a Good Way.
I felt I grew up a little bit. Letting go. It was relieving. I so did not to bandy about what age Superman is or the such. I got a DC CRISIS Longbox I now hear is moot.
Yet I’m not completely giving up on the DCnU. I’m only getting three currently. I am dropping BATWOMAN but I am keeping ACTION COMICS. I am a huge fan of RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS. I love the writing & the art. It’s fun. Killer fun but iDigress…
Red Hood has little nuggets of the new Bat-Story smuggled into it. Little flashbacks to Todd when he was Robin. Great scene with Tim Drake in this month’s #8. And lots of narrative boxes mentioning his own murder at Joker’s hands and coming back to life.
And I will be picking up BATMAN INC & EARTH-2 in the Second Wave.
So all in all, I’ll be getting 4 DC titles a month.

But do I care where it’s going? What it’s building up to in an overstory?
No.
Am I going to fall for any more FIFTY-TWOs or COUNTDOWN or FINAL CRISIS or BLACKEST NIGHT…
No.

But hey. We all gotta grow up sometime, huh? I’ll still tune in but now in a bemused fashion, not a zealous one.

Kriya Shakti,
Rev Sully
Boston, MA USA

I’ve decided not to try to make this make sense, because there’s simply no way it can honestly. I’m just going to enjoy the stories as they unfold and enjoy nods/direct references to past stories as they come. I’m less concerned with when old stories happened and actively invested in how new stories unfold.

Harras, Lee, DiDio and Johns are f*cking DC! :/

I think the DC reset is not bad in concept, but flawed in it’s execution. As you add stories over years it’s impossible to keep characters at particular ages, so a reset was necessary.

More thought should have gone into the overall revised continuity. Not every detail, but a general guideline of the overall DCU history.

I started reading Batman way before Damian, and while many don’t like him, he’s a character I really enjoy. I like how Batman as a father is playing out in “Batman and Robin”, because someone like Batman couldn’t be a typical father. The only thing I’m not sure of is how Batman could not have been a teen father at this point since he’s supposed to be younger in the New 52. Old U Batman was in his mid 30s. Even if this Batman is 30, Damian had to be conceived when he was 19. Meaning he could have been Batman at an earlier age, or hooked up with Talia during his training years. Damian has not been artificially aged, or Batman would have considered that upon meeting him. The way it’s constantly repeated Damian has been trained and indoctrinated since birth indicates a time factor ot accomplished through quick aging and brainwashing.

Nice article. I would like to see DC publish the new timeline for events that they are said to have in articles prior to the New 52 launching. I think it was a dubious claim to begin with and just feel that timeline is very very fluid.

Basically the way I’m reading the DCnU books is not to assume anything has happened unless it’s specificall mentioned in the new comics and only what’s mentioned is canon.

I know Johns was quoted as saying something to the fact that ” it all happened” as recently as C2E2, but that’s really not possible, particularly the Crisis story lines. All the Teen Titans adventures, Reign of Supermen and so on either didn’t happen or have to be altered significantly. Iris and Barry Allen haven’t been married much less Lois and Clark and so on and so on.

I really don’t mind if the Reign of the Supermen story is wiped out or Hal as Spectre and particularly him killing the Corps, but all the Robins do not work whatsoever in a 5-year period.

But as long as DC avoids writing stories directly tying to that continuity, it can just kind of ignore it and let fans either not worry about it, fume over it or just work it out however they like in their own minds.

The later kind of seems like what DC is doing to me. I’m good with that. I have the old continuity and the new continuity and I don’t mind fitting them together the way I like in my own personal view of DC continuity.

to be fair, ive been a fan since before crisis on infinite earths. …and the only things that bother me about this new 52 are: 1.) no robin can train accurately, or efficiently for vigilantism, in five, or ten years. ive trained for seventeen. i know how long it takes to master one style, and that different people learn at different speeds. jason todd for example is a much different person than richard grayson. as is tim. DC should come out with they were “all” urban legends for thirteen years minimum, before the J.L.A. was formed. -this would at least give them some credibility. –some amount of leeway. realism sells comics. ten years does not lend realism when training in even one style of martial arts. let alone the four or five styles grayson seems to know.

2.) wally west, Donna troy, and raven saved nightwing several times. wally also saved Barry. if this hasn’t happened, then there’s no way these heroes would be alive, unless someone else was there. roy harper/speedy even remembers them and says so in the first issue of red hood and the outlaws. this means several writers aren’t reading what one writer wrote in the new continuity of a shared universe. which is bad on the editors parts. you cant have a shared universe where one thing happened in one books past, but it is not reflected in all the books of the company. if you do, fans leave. DC needs to just have another crisis, and either re-boot again, or have certain stories change the timeline from five years, to around 15. i do like the feel of the new 52. there are ten books im regularly quite pleased with….but that timeline…that horrid five year constraint is making it a bit less enjoyable.

While DC is screwing around with continuity, I’ve been buying more non-superhero titles…I sure am enjoying Saga, Saucer Country, Hellblazer, Hack/Slash, The Unwritten, American Vampire, and am sparing myself the headache of such “continuity gymnastics”.

Thanks alot this helps explain a lot.
Wish theyd published a similiar time line so we werent guessing.

Interestingly, it appears that Legion of Superheroes is aware of Flashpoint, as there’s been a few references to it in the title, including the fact that that time in the past is closed to them at the moment (hence why they can’t use the time bubble to find their “Lost” friends or contact Superman).

I can’t help but think the decision not to reboot Batman took into consideration the fact they had just wound up the 54 issue Batman Confidential which was pretty much a reboot. They had just covered that ground.

A proper reboot would also mean no batfamily books as they would spawn off later down the line.

As such, rebooting Batman would have dropped their best selling books down to 1 (or 2) titles and cover ground they had recently already covered.

All that said, I would love to see a bat book during set during the urban legend days. Batman with maybe just a Robin and no extended support network trying to stay hidden but get the job done would be a fun book. I like the idea of a young Bruce still learning to be Batman.

This is a good guideline to go by when reading the New 52.

@Defiance-Defiant.

1. Only a very small percentage of the reading audience knows how long it takes to master a martial arts form. The notion that someone can train (sometimes at home, alone!) and become a master martial artist in a short amount of time is just a convention of the genre.

2. The events that led to someone like Donna Troy saving Nightwing’s life must not have happened or at least not in the same way, if there’s no Donna Troy. All of history is malleable for these characters. The fact that Nighwing is alive is not a reason for there to be a Donna Troy.

Is it wrong of me to say that I couldn’t give a fig about continuity ‘errors’, pre or post New 52?

And is it wrong of me to say that I feel like I’m on a different planet to everyone who wastes their time worrying about whether Part A fits into Hole B instead of just enjoying their comics (and proclaiming that DC are’ f***king everything up’ at the same time as publishing stellar books like Batman, Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Frankenstein, Action Comics, etc etc ?

I dunno, the older I get the more I find that, like in the old days, I just want to read my comics and enjoy them without worrying about whether or not something that happened four years ago (in a universe that no longer exists, by the way) has a bearing them.

Here’s an idea: wait and see. If you’re truly arsed, it seems fairly plain that DC know where the Big Events fall in the New 52 timeline, and are spoon-feeding them into the new universe as and when we need to know. Spending valuable time out of our oh-so-brief lives researching articles like this seems like a colossal waste of time to me.

If it’s any consolation to the continuity androids, DC seem to be incredibly consistent as far as the new universe goes – events such as the fall of the Stormwatch sattelite being referenced across several titles gave it a nice consistency. But would I worry about it if it didn’t? Nah.

The whole Green Lantern/Batman in the new 52 is messed up. They can’t “reboot” the timeline and then say “well..we are leaving the Green Lantern and Batman stories in place. It messes everything up.
For Batman though. Lets assume he conceived Damien before he was Batman…that Ras al Ghul had his eye on Bruce Wayne, not Batman and thats how they hooked up.
Its the Robins that really messes up things. I mean…if Superman was the first and even if Batman was operating in secret… the first Robin would have only been 6 years ago… that means Dick was Robin for? 3 years? then Jason for 1…then Tim for 2.. I mean…just one right after the others. Plus Batgirl. Where does she fit in. Batgirl started 4 years ago? for 1 year? Then is shot and in a wheelchair for 3?
DC should have gone in with both feet with this re-boot. Not hand pick which ones were going to be “rebooted” and not.

And as for the GL timeline… actually John became the first human Guardian. Read Mosaic.

@Stegron, tabernacle…preach, folk.

re: Kyle Rayner

In addition to Kyle never having been a member of the JLA, he apparently never dated after Alex’s tragic death. There has been no confirmation of the existence of Donna Troy in the DCnU. Jade hasn’t even been conceived yet. And where is Soranik anyway?

re: Crises

COIE apparently happened in some form. Hawk referenced it in the first issue of Hawk and Dove as being when his brother Don died.

re: JLA

Geoff recognized that one of the biggest mistakes of the Post Crisis DCU was the absence of Wonder Woman from the origin of the JLA. To be sure, the writers made very effective use of Black Canary, but the foundation of any incarnation of the League, as proven by Grant Morrison, is the Magnificent Seven. Geoff rightly corrected that mistake, but then turns around and makes the same big mistake by taking J’onn out instead.

If they’re gonna bring back the pre-Flashpoint 52, let’s leave those ‘verses sitting alongside the “new 52″. Because you know they’ve already built up their own fanbase.

CONTINUITY MATTERS

April 22, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Does continuity matter if you have 6 issues?

Does it matter if you have 12 issues?
20?

At what point is continuity NOT important? 50 issues in? 2 yrs? 5 yrs?

When you read an omnibus of walking dead ( roughly 50 issues) wouldnt it be really messed up if what happend in the first 3 issues totaly contradicted what happend in the 40th issue?
Imagine if one day they just retconned SHANE back into the Walking dead for no reason whatsoever.

You are leaving out the Action Comics weekly storyline in which Hal fights Malvolio a mad lantern who aquired his ring by theft/murder. At the end of the storyline Hals ring is destroyed and he takes Malvolio’s, this would have been a great set up for the crazy streak Hal went through. But was dismissed. It occurs between the final issue of GL Corps and the first issue of GL v.3

A small correction: Hal Jordan was Parallax for less than 2 years. He was Parallax from March 1994 through November 1996, when he died in Final Night. Less than 2 years. Wow! As someone who got back into DC in that era, it seemed like a LOT longer than that, at the time.

Anyway…I don’t get the fascination with needing all the stories to line up and flow together over DECADES. It’s completely unrealistic.

Instead, just accept that some of those old stories still happened, but perhaps in an altered state.

It’s really that simple.

Sorry, haven’t had my morning caffeine – Hal was Parallax a little **over** 2 years.

I’ve been reading some DC back issues from around the time of the original Crisis. I was a kid at the time and not invested in the company or its characters. But it strikes me how similar my position as a fan is now to those fans then.
For example, the Superman changes. I just read Action Comics 600 which presents the first “date” between Wonder Woman and Superman by John Byrne. In it Superman references their first meeting – which was the Legends mini. How jarring it must have been for readers at the time and how similar to what DC’s doing now with the “everything old is new again” approach.
My initial enthusiasm for the New 52 has waned tremendously since September. Now, I understand the need for DC to attract new readers and am glad they have generated so much interest. I want the company to be around. If there’s no DC, there’s no more collections of great older material, and no more ANY DC books on the shelves.
But I am sad about how the company pitched the relaunch as kind of a “soft” reboot when really it is a MAJOR reset of the entire line.
The Justice League is a perfect example. After the first arc wrapped up “five years ago” I held out hope that issue 7 would begin pretty much with the League we all know and love and its history intact. Sure there would be changes, just like when for a few years post-Crisis Black Canary was substituted for Wonder Woman whenever any writer referenced the team’s Silver Age adventures.
But that isn’t the case. As of issue 8 we learn not only was Green Arrow never a member, but the League has never expanded to include other members. And just like that, poof? A vast majority of the old stories never happened. No Atom, no Hawkman, no Hawkwoman, no Zatanna, no Elongated Man, no Black Canary. Heck, at this point no Morrison League, either, even though it was the book that really put the concept back on the map just over a decade ago.
It’s disappointing. I don’t hate change. But it would be nice to have some acknowledgement of the past.

Yeah, it is worth noting that the Legion has retained their (restored) continuity like Batman and Green Lantern, although a real good argument can be made that it simply would have hurt the title far worse to reboot the retroboot yet again. Legion: Secret Origin effectively does half the reboot task.

What doesn’t make sense is that all of Robinson’s Starman apparnetly happened, despite there being no Justice Society.

Late to the game… but I enjoyed finding this article, having googled “DC messed up New 52″.

I’m new to DC – never picked up DC pre-New 52, because I found the previous continuity impenetrable.

I thought the New 52 was a good idea – reboot the line, start again.

Except, DC haven’t done that. We’re to accept 5 years have already passed by the time we meet these characters.

None of these books start from the beginning. There’s no explanation as to why Hal Jordan is Green Lantern. In fact, in his book, it’s obvious it’s continuing a story that already started somewhere else. How is Green Lantern a reboot??

Same with Batman. In the New 52, he’s already established. Okay, mainstream people already know Batman’s origin (from the movies). But how comes Robin is his kid? Who’s Robin’s mom? Why are there 4 Robins?

Same with Batgirl. Actually, I like the Batgirl comics. I’ve always liked the Barbara-Gordon-as-Batgirl character.

But in her book, there’s no explanation as to why this daughter of the police commissioner, this ordinary girl, has decided to don a cape and go out and fight crime. We’re to assume she’s been doing it for five years, then was paralyzed but now is okay three years later. Really? Backstory is fine – but without knowing a character’s motivations for doing things, well, there’s no emotional investment.

The only books I have liked – that are like proper reboots – are Resurrection Man, Supergirl, Blue Beetle and Frankenstein. Everything else is DC assuming you already know who the characters are and have read their original stories, even though they said the New 52 was a restart, a relaunch.

I know they also said it was a “soft reboot”. But a soft reboot causes confusion – not only for previous longtime fans (as in this well-written article) but for newcomers.

DC really missed the boat on catering to new readers. They missed the boat on trying a new way to create comics, a new way to make them accessible. With news of Trinity War and more crossover, I feel cheated by DC with their “new” “beginnings”. I’m dropping everything DC, except for those 4 books above.

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