Deciphering DC: From Crisis to Zero hour

18 Jan

Through this column we plan to review and analyze every major event within DCU since COIE, in the hopes that this becomes a  road map of sorts to the continuity laden streets of DCU. 
If you are an old fan, come enjoy reminiscing with us through the good and the bad DC had to offer.
If you are an old fan getting back into comics , let us help you get upto date sequentially
If you are a new fan you will get our help in unraveling the mysteries of current DCU
If you are not reading DC comics, let us tell you why you should be.



– Article by Aalok joshi
-Edited by Manks


Well, now that the Crisis is done, and we have also had a look at the origin of DC’s premier super hero, what next?

Now we have a look at what the DC Universe went through in the years from 1986-1994, when the actual ‘second’ crisis, ZERO HOUR-CRISIS IN TIME took place.

Superman was looming strong with all work primarily done by John Byrne for the next few years. He was joined by top talent like Roger Stern, Jerry Ordway, Dan Jurgens and later Louise Simonson bringing the “triangle era”-where the story continued weekly, through all of Superman’s Magazines rather than monthly, through the same title.


Notable events in this period include:
-The reworking of Superboy into the Superman mythos, also substantiating the appearance of Superboy in the Legion of Super Heroes.
-The reworking of Supergirl into the Superman mythos, working on the same concept as Superboy. The story ends with Superman taking a guilt trip over breaking his oath never to take a human life.
-Clark reveals to Lois that he is Superman, shortly after his engagement to her.
-The introduction of Metallo, Parasite, Brainiac, Mongul, Eradicator, Waverider, Emil Hamilton, Bibbo &  Sleez.
-Bringing back the Guardian & the Newsboy Legion
-Luthor losing his hand to Kryptonite poisoning, dying and returning as Lex Luthor II
-Doomsday & the Death and Return of Superman
SUPERGIRL, SUPERBOY and STEEL all got their own series.

Before the Death of Superman, most of the material save for the 1st year of Superman was not collected, or the collections are out of print today.


BATMAN was featured in DETECTIVE COMICS & BATMAN. In addition to Frank Miller & David Mazuchelli, other creators who worked on Batman at this time were Mike Barr, Alan Davis, Max Alan Collins, Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, Peter Milligan, Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan, Doug Moench, Alan Grant & Norm Breyfogle. 



Two new titles were introduced. ROBIN was featured in three miniseries until he got his own title. CATWOMAN was also given a title. After the success of the animated series a new series began called THE BATMAN ADVENTURES. 


Notable events include:
-Introduction of the New Robin: Jason Todd, followed soon by his death at the hands of the Joker.
-The Joker cripples Barbara Gordon.
-Introduction of the Barbathos/Bat demon myth.
-Introduction of King Snake, Bane, Ventriloquist & Scarface, Zsasz, Anarky, Azrael & Spoiler amongst others
-Bane breaks the Batman’s back after which the mantle of Batman gets passed on to Azrael (Jean Paul Valley). 

Collections, again were very sporadic with most except the few notable ones being out of print.

Wonder Woman was featured in only one title with relatively less events than the other titles, leading to relatively less collected editions. To date only 4 volumes of the Early George Perez work  have been printed in collected form and he is the Guy who helmed the restart of Wonder Woman series.

Other mainstream DC characters were introduced shortly, a few in their own ongoing series, a few in mini series similar to MAN OF STEEL:
– GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD DAWN
– GREEN ARROW: THE LONGBOW HUNTERS
– AQUAMAN
– THE FLASH


Almost all of them got their own ongoings shortly. A few second tier characters like ELONGATED MAN & METAMORPHO were given their own mini series.


The DC universe crossovers were on a high, with all the Annuals in a particular year based on a theme or some significant continuity:
1991- ARMAGEDDON 2001
1992- ECLIPSO THE DARKNESS WITHIN
1993- BLOODLINES
1994- ELSEWORLDS


In addition to these there were other crossovers but no time bending or reality warping events till 1994.


The crossovers are the ones which do feature more than one title character across a number of books but do not establish new continuity. 


The reality warping events are crossovers which establish new continuity or correct old continuity. The recent BLACKEST NIGHT is a fine example of the former, while all CRISES are examples of the latter. 



The crossovers in this period include:
– LEGENDS
– MILLENNIUM
– INVASION
– WAR OF THE GODS

New titles and series were on a creative high, as were new looks and revamps of lesser known characters, quite a lot of which were collected for the first time just very recently. New titles and new directions include:
– DOC SAVAGE
– THE QUESTION
– BLACKHAWK
– THE SHADOW
– TIME MASTERS
– DEATHSTROKE THE TERMINATOR
– ECLIPSO
– SHAZAM!
– JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL, JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE, JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE
– SUICIDE SQUAD
– LORDS OF THE ULTRA REALM
– ELECTRIC WARRIOR
– THE WANDERERS
– THE SPECTRE



What would later go on to be the powerhouse known as Vertigo had its humble beginnings in the DCU proper, as early as the Early 80s SWAMP THING by ALAN MOORE. There were a lot of Suggested for Mature Readers titles then, which were later brought under Vertigo or their collections are reprinted recently under the Vertigo banner. Notable titles include:
– ANIMAL MAN
– DOOM PATROL
– SHADE THE CHANGING MAN
– SANDMAN
– JOHN CONSTANTINE, HELLBLAZER
– BLACK ORCHID
– SANDMAN MYSTERY THEATRE
– THE BOOKS OF MAGIC
– WASTELAND
– SLASH MARAUD
– SONIC DISRUPTORS
– V FOR VENDETTA
– SKREEMER

Well, I’ve provided a rough picture of what the DC universe was like in those days. Reviews of must read and notable stuff, with details on what to read which was never collected in trades, and total summaries will soon follow.

Coming up next:
BATMAN YEAR ONE
SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL VOLS 2-6
BATMAN: YEAR TWO-FEAR THE REAPER
GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD DAWN
GREEN ARROW: THE LONGBOW HUNTERS
THE QUESTION VOL 1: ZEN AND VIOLENCE
ANIMAL MAN VOL 1

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