While it might not be much, Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day will bring our first real glimpse at the world of Flashpoint. I’ve been looking at the looming alternate-universe epic as little more than a fun way to spend the summer — which would be fine, by the way — but apparently that is just crazy talk. Everything will change, as it always does; as it did with Brightest Day and Blackest Night and Final Crisis, etc., etc.
Naturally, there are different degrees of “change,” from wholesale reorganization to continuity tweaks. 1985′s Crisis On Infinite Earths gave DC carte blanche to rework characters from the ground up. 1994′s Zero Hour, 2005-06′s Infinite Crisis and 52, and 2008-09′s Final Crisis also allowed DC to tinker with the timeline, mostly on a small scale. More esoteric devices like Hypertime, Super-punches, and plot-specific time travel have produced and/or explained certain changes.
However, in practical terms, the post-COIE changes haven’t upset too many apple carts. Oh, Zero Hour tried to clean up Hawkman’s history, and it also facilitated a new Legion of Super-Heroes timeline, both of which were big deals. More recently, though, Infinite Crisis gave Clark Kent a “secret Superboy” career and restored certain aspects of Batman’s and Wonder Woman’s histories, but those developments stayed in the background. Accordingly, a change that doesn’t affect a title’s regular storytelling practice doesn’t seem like much of a change.
And therein lies the real puzzle of Flashpoint: what room is there, across DC’s superhero line, for the kind of change which excites more than it frustrates? Of the 55 DCU/superhero-line titles DC will publish in July (as the big event reaches its midpoint), 17 are part of Flashpoint, and many of the rest are dealing with their own ongoing arcs. Today we’ll look at who might be flexible, and speculate a little on what might happen.
[Last week I started a look back at DC’s ongoing series in a post-Crisis environment of annual line-wide events. Thanks as always to Mike’s Amazing World Of DC Comics for its invaluable data.]
The second half of the 1980s was, to put it mildly, a transitional period for DC. Beginning with the watershed Crisis On Infinite Earths, most high-profile titles were relaunched, book by book — not just to take characters like Superman and Batman “back to basics,” but to open them up to new creative possibilities. Building on Crisis’ success, the publisher also tried to launch new titles from line-wide events. By the early ‘90s, however, the speculator market was imposing its own will on the superhero books. …
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