Crisis In Continuity: Punching Through

It’s been all about throwing punches.

It’s the simplest of explanations, of course, but sometimes simplicity is best. And simplicity is what was needed to explain away twenty years of convoluted continuity.

I’m talking about DC’s convoluted continuity, of course.

Hawkman. Doom Patrol. Legion of Super-Heroes. Superman. Robin. Catwoman. Green Lantern. Donna Troy. These are some of the characters and super-teams who have had their histories muddled over the past twenty years. There have been reasonable explanations for the convolutions, there have been ludicrous explanations, and sometimes there have been no explanations at all.

There has not been much in the way of a reasonable explanation. Until now.

A bunch of thrown punches.

Works for me.

Y’see, I’ve been a DC reader for a long time, years and years and years. I’ve lived my way forward through thirty-five years of DC continuity and I’ve worked my way backward through some thirty-five years of DC continuity. I know the parallel Earths, I know the character histories, I know the various timelines, and I know all the convoluted continuity. I’ve seen epic streamlining and dreadful mistakes. I’ve tolerated a lot, I’ve enjoyed a lot immensely, and I’ve cringed and moaned at a lot. But I love DC superheroes, I love DC Comics; I’ve been reading their exploits and titles since I was ten, and I’ll be reading them up until the day I die.

I know a lot of people who did not like Crisis On Infinite Earths. I’ve corresponded with them. They did not like the idea of Earth-2 no longer existing, they did not like the idea of non-existence for several long-standing iconic characters, and they no longer read DC comics because of it. And that’s perfectly understandable. I also thought DC went too far. But I supported their attempt to streamline their superhero history and universe and in many respects start over.

But five years down the one universe pike, DC started screwing up. It started with Hawkman in Hawkworld #1, and it snowballed from there. DC attempted to explain all the continuity gaffes with the introduction of Hypertime in 1998 but that concept just sort of faded away. And while all the continuity glitches kept springing up their superhero universe just got grimmer and grittier. What happened to the fun? What happened to the heroic ideals?

I’ve always believed and maintained that all that is needed to explain away the continuity glitches is a good story. A good story, well thought out, with some kind of beginning, middle, and end, would do wonders. I honestly believe DC has presented that good story over the past year. It has not been an easy ride, it’s had its bumps and bruises, and it requires a lot of reading and following many titles, but it’s there. It exists. DC pulled it off.

Right now, all of us following Infinite Crisis and its related tie-ins are in the thick of some mighty overhauling. DC is throwing all the past, present, and future continuity out there, settling it, reworking what didn’t work, re-establishing what does. And I have the feeling that DC not only gave it a lot of thought, but they are thoroughly enjoying doing it. For us long-time fans DC is giving us the opportunity to look one last time at the big picture on every level, historically and chronologically, while at the same time setting the stage for the future. It’s not going to make everybody happy. It’s not going to bring everybody who couldn’t stand Crisis On Infinite Earths back. But it has been a successful effort. There is much to look forward to, and there is much to look back on and appreciate.

And happy as I am I’m still a little wary of it all. I’ve been down this road before. And almost five years down that road –1986 to 1990 — was fine until the day came when Hawkworld #1 threw the first of many monkey wrenches into the established continuity road. If DC screws up again you’ll be hearing some of the loudest rage from me. But not today. Not for the foreseeable future. For now, for the time being, I can honestly say that with a bunch of thrown punches I’m very proud to be a DC fanboy.

About The Author

Jim Kingman

Jim Kingman is a writer for Comics Bulletin