During the two month period when DC Comics relocates from its current home in New York to Burbank in California, the publisher will bridge the gap with one of the largest crossover events they’ve attempted, taking in characters from across 80 years of comic history.
After Superman ushered in the era in 1938, superheroes had a golden age for the next decade. When their popularity declined after World War II, publishers moved to other genres such as westerns for a number of years. In the mid 1950s, publishers gave super heroes another try; but rather than bring back the golden age characters, DC elected to re-imagine the characters for the new age, with little except the name and basic powers remaining from the original versions. Thus was the silver age born.
However, in 1961, “Flash of Two Worlds” was published, showing us that the golden age characters still existed (on Earth 2), and consequently introduced the concept of a multiverse, establishing that it was possible to travel between the two.
Before long, crossovers between the two worlds became an annual event, with other worlds introduced over the years; where each had some aspect where the world had diverged from the main Earth (eg Earth 2 had developed more slowly and was involved in their WW2 more recently than other earths; Earth 3 was a mirror image earth where the ‘heroes’ were evil and the ‘bad guys’ were good; Earth X had the Nazis win the war; Earth C was populated by talking animals, etc). This technique was used for many years, though without overall control, and had proliferated to the extent that there were even worlds solely defined as a place where stories that broke continuity took place.
With such a rich and lengthy history as DC, it was inevitable that continuity and back story would become increasingly difficult to reconcile (eg Superman originally was a lone survivor of Krypton, didn’t fly, and had the ability to mould his face to look like other people). Batman fought in WW2, but was still young in the present day; and Robin spent three decades in high school.
To deal with the problem, first 1985’s year-long Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover merged all the infinite universes into one, and made an attempt to reconcile it all into a single coherent history from Anthro, the first boy to Kamandi, the last.
Secondly, DC introduced the idea of contemporary events taking place in a rolling window of time, where past events took place relative to the present day for the character. Initially this was a five-year window, but stretched to ten, with 11 and 12 years for selected characters.
Thirdly, they rebooted Wonder Woman and Superman (clearing out a lot of the 1960s elements that had built up over the years such as Superboy). However, removing his career as Superboy meant that the Legion of Super-Heroes no longer had the crutch on which they had been founded, so there was first a patch put in where Superboy was revealed as being from a pocket universe, and later unhitching the LSH from him completely and creating a myth around another character. They also allowed some characters to age, with the boys and girls of the Legion growing into adults, and Oliver Queen and Hal Jordon heading into their 40s.
In 1994, there was an attempt to do some housecleaning with elements at the two extremes of the problem – LSH in the future, and the JSA’s issues by being tied to the past. Over the next few years, there followed various attempts to ‘fix’ the issues, to various degrees of success, before biting the bullet in 2005 and using the 20th anniversary of CoIE to reintroduce the multiverse, albeit a more controlled version with a fixed 52 Earths.
This remained the situation until the 2011 “Flashpoint” event where it was revealed that a dystopian Earth had been formed because the Flash had gone back in time to save his mother. The event ended with the DC, Vertigo and Wildstorm earths being merged together in a similar way to the end of CoIE, leading to the creation of DC’s “New 52”. Unlike CoIE, almost every character was rebooted to some extent, with many going through significant changes, and every title restarting at #1. Although a significant commercial success, critical acclaim varied, with the removal of many fan favourite characters completely, or changed significantly from their original premise.
The multiverse is part of the New 52, and has been a key part of the Earth 2 and Worlds’ Finest comics, the Forever Evil event, and has a connection to the Futures End event currently running. However, unlike previous depictions, the multiverse has been given a stronger initial definition for the Multiversity event by Grant Morrison (owing many of the concepts to his Final Crisis event from a couple of years ago).
“Convergence” takes us back to those worlds previously chronicled in the comics. It starts on April 1st with #0 of a 9 part weekly miniseries. Spinning out from this will be 40 two-part titles looking at the past worlds of the DCU, picking up events as they unfurled after the comics moved away to tell the stories of a post-Flashpoint world.
The premise of the event is that Brainiac has captured cities from various planets and timelines that have ended and brought them together to see what happens when they get to interact.
Elements announced so far include:
- Superman married to Lois with a child on the way
- Ray Palmer discovers his successor as the Atom is still alive
- Stephanie Brown (Batgirl)
- Cassandra Cain (Black Bat)
- Barbara Gordon (Oracle)
- Dini-style Harley Quinn
- Green Arrow (Connor Hawke)
- 1990s Superboy
- one-armed Roy Harper
- Donna Troy
- Captain Carrot
- Renee Montoya (Question)
- Wally West and his children
- Batman and the Outsiders
- Sensei era of Wonder Woman
- Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes
- Len Wein’s Swamp Thing
- Detroit Justice League
- and the Supergirl/Zatanna/Jade era of the JLA.
With such a wide remit, hopefully there will be something for everyone.
The overall event is being written by Jeff King with support from Dan Jurgens and Scott Lobdell and has been described by some as “a love letter to DC Comics fans”. With 2015 being the 30th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the event has a lot to live up to.