Getting into comics can seem difficult to the newcomer. What are the different universes and why are there so many? Lets look some more at The DC Universe…
The Silver Age – Mainline (Earth-One)
1956 – 1986
Comics sales dropped during the 50s and DC was left with only three ongoing Superheroes, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. This lead DC to revamp some of their older character creating an all-new version of The Flash in Showcase #4 in 1956, and heralding the beginning of the Silver Age. Eventually Barry Allen, the new Flash got his own comic and The Flash #123 (the number continued from the previous Flash’s numbering) Barry Allen travelled to a parallel universe and met Jay Garrick, the original Flash. Barry named Jay’s world “Earth-Two” and his own “Earth-One” and the DC Multiverse was born.
The Multiverse continued to expand, but DC felt the need to reduce everything back to a single universe and in 1985 released Crisis on Infinite Earths, a comic book series which did just that, naking Earth-One the only Earth and combining in some of the characters from other Earths (including Earth-Two).
Post-Crisis – Mainline
1986 – 1994
With no real forward planning, the new single Earth was similar to the old one, but with new characters added. Eventually, more and more titles were revamped created a new continuity, but the staggered nature of the revamp caused problems in itself. John Byrne’s revamp of Superman (in the mini-series The Man of Steel), for example, removed Superboy and Supergirl from continuity, leaving their time in the Legion of Superheroes an issue that needed to be addressed.
Post-Zero Hour – Mainline
1994 – 2006
The 1992 Zero Hour event was used to further tidy and revamp the universe and to once again remove alternate timelines. It created a “10 year timeline”, the stories being set 10 years after Superman first appeared and the birth of the age of Superheroes (but acknowledging that the Golden Age heroes had been around in the 40s and 50s). Later the idea of Hypertime was added to explain changes and different timelines, but it was quickly ignored.
Post-Infinite Crisis – Mainline (New Earth/Earth-0)
2006 – 2011
The series Infinite Crisis in 2006 left the main continuity pretty much alone (with minor changes) but re-added the multiverse – this time limited to 52 worlds.
The New 52 – Mainline
2011 – present
The 2011 storyline Flashpoint was again lead to a revamp of the DC universe, this time reverting to a 5 year timeline with some histories pretty much intact (especially Batman and Green Lantern), if somewhat compacted, and some rewritten to near starting points. This universe is still generally called The New 52.
This blog is meant to iron out issues and help understanding of comic book terms and ideas. However, it also uses many terms and ideas new readers may be unfamiliar with. For clarifications or corrects, comment below.