history of the dc universe
I read with great interest Brian Cronin’s list of 75 Most Memorable Moments In DC Comics History, in part because I wondered how close I could come with my own list without totally ripping his off. (Said with a smile and a great deal of respect, of course.)
First I thought about listing 75 key DC moments, drawn probably from both real and fictional history; but that list would be rather predictable as well — Action Comics #1 juxtaposed with Siegel and Shuster’s legal battles, etc. (Tom Spurgeon et al.’s list of “emblematic” ‘70s comics is close in spirit if not subject matter to the list I’d want to assemble.) The other type of “75 moments” list I considered would be a highlight-filled timeline including events exclusively from DC’s fictional history — things like “first meeting of the Justice Society,” “debut of Superman,” and “Darkseid enslaves Earth.” I didn’t quite like that because it too would be predictable, filled with first appearances and Big Events.
Ironically, though, DC has always seemed rather short on shared-universe-style events which define it as a superhero publisher. Marvel has the coming of Galactus, the Kree-Skrull War, the Secret Empire, and the deaths of Gwen Stacy and Phoenix. DC has comparable milestones, but they don’t come as readily to mind. Off the top of my head I might list “Flash of Two Worlds,” the Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories, and “The Judas Contract,” before getting into various Crises, disasters, and alien invasions. I think you have to dig a bit deeper into the DC titles to pull out things like a second Moon wreaking havoc (JLA #155, June 1978) or Trigon taking over the world (New Teen Titans vol. 2 #s 1-5, August 1984-February 1985). Therefore, while projects like the original History of the DC Universe and the current DC Universe: Legacies have their hearts in the right place, they must deal with DC’s scattershot approach to world-building.
Recently Dan DiDio told Newsarama that “a [new] History of the DC Universe [is] in the works … [and] will deal with the more generational aspects of the DC Universe.”
I’m eager to learn more about this project, with regard to both creative team and plot (if any), because DC could use something like Marvels to give its history a little structure. No matter how hard it tries to become unified, there is always something unfinished about DC’s shared superhero universe. It’s not the notion that ongoing serials can never really end, although that’s part of it. Instead, it’s the idea that DC’s beginnings have been lost in a fog of revisions, restarts, and outright obfuscation.