Earth-Zero: The Post Crisis DC Universe

A World in Flux

The single universe that resulted from the amalgamation of the Multiverse into a single unified dimension was a process that would take may years to settle down. The powers that be at DC Comics decided to use the event to relaunch several of their major characters in an updated, most often with totally rebooted histories. The classic example of this revamp was the acclaimed MAN OF STEEL six issue mini-series by John Bryne that sought to redefine Superman as the solo survivor of the doomed planet Krypton, his arch-enemy was no longer the supervillian Lex Luthor but was now the billionaire and businessman Lex Luthor.

This revamping brought new fresh talent and directions to many of DC's major heroes, but as the saying goes "you can't make an omelette with out first breaking some eggs". This was most clearly demonstrated with the example of Wonder Woman. Her new place in the DC Universe had her debuting publically in LEGENDS (DC's first big crossover since Crisis) however in the old continuity she was always a founding member of the Justice League of America, plus her "side kick" Wonder Girl predated her by several years. It was clear that these chronological problems would take time to resolve.

Also out of the LEGENDS mini-series was born the Bronze Age Justice League International. The League had always been the showcase for DC's brightest superheroes and this new League served to denote the new unified nature of the DCU. It contained previous members of the League in the form of Black Canary II and Batman but it also included heroes from the other now defunct Earths and traditions of the pre-crisis universe including Doctor Fate (Earth-Two), Mister Miracle II (New Gods), Captain Marvel (Earth-S) and Blue Beetle II (Earth-Four). As well as these old hands the League embraced the new talent at DC with the appearance of Booster Gold and GL Guy Gardner.

As time went by the DCU become more and more settled into it's new form. However some would say that the over zealous revamping and rebooting created as many problems as it solved. The Silver Age JLA was in the middle of the mess, or to be more precise it's history was in the mess. With Wonder Woman removed as a founding member it required that Black Canary II be installed in her place, the format of the team was further ripped to pieces by the disappearance of the Silver Age Hawkman from any continuity, instead he was replaced by the Golden Age Hawkman. Numerous stories that had gone before were rendered invalid due to their now being only one version of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. But the biggest problems were still building.

Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes

The Legion of Superheroes had always been set one thousand years in the future and to a certain extent relied on the history of the DC Universe to give itself a foundation and for a fair amount of time travelling. Another fact of their stories was that they borrowed heavily on the Superman mythos with the Silver Age Superboy and Supergirl being principal characters in many of their most important stories. However with the Bryne revamp of Superman there were no other Kryptonians such as Supergirl and Superman never became Superboy.

To fix this hole in the story caused by the amalgamation of the Multiverse they decided to step back and create their own Pocket Universe where a version of the silver age Superboy existed who travelled across dimensions rather than through time to visit the LSH. This pocket universe was only the first step as the thirtieth century continuity drifted even further from the twentieth century. This was mainly due to the constant revamping of the twentieth century continuity as many previously established events were pulled out from underneath the foundation of the LSH.

Zero-Hour and Temporal Anomalies

DC realised that the nature of these chronological problems were still effecting them ten years after the culmination of the Crisis. It was decided to somehow restart the universe and say for certain which things happened when. They would do all the revamping and tweaking that they needed in one massive event. It fell mainly to writer Dan Jurgens to bring together the story that would eventually lead to the Zero Hour.

Writers took the chance to deliberately throw in temporal anomalies so that they could then ret-con them out of existence, we saw:

The conclusion of the Zero-Hour saw the former Green Lantern ">Parallax trying to remake the Multiverse so that all possibilities could be played out and that he could resurrect Coast City that was destroyed by the Cyborg II during the Death of Superman storyline. In the end a group of heroes in true Crisis style travelled back to the start of time and "jump started" the big bag. They let the universe unfold naturally and without the "guidance" that Parallax alias Hal Jordan would have provided it.

The new remade universe was superficially the same as the old except that in this new universe the anomalies that were generated by the revamping from Crisis never existed. Subtle changes were also made in a number of characters continuity. For example the character of Triumph was "reintroduced" into the JLA mythos while the killer of Bruce Wayne's parents was now never captured.

Zero hour had a definite effect on the Justice League as it saw the dissolution of the Justice League International franchise with the Judgement Day Crossover. It also saw the rebooting of the Legion of Superheroes line of books right back to their origins.

Other Companies, Other Worlds

The final reconstruction of the DC Universe as a single entity after the Crisis and with a defined timeline after Zero Hour still leaves the issue of inter-company crossovers. The most famous of the recent crossovers has been the DC Vs. Marvel crossover and the follow up the All Access mini-series. These follow the exploits of the character Access who has the ability to leap between the two different Comic Companies universes and to take characters with him. The central plot is about the central heroes trying to keep their respective universe from merging into the strange Amalgam Universe.

The Amalgam universe is perhaps one of the most novel ideas to be used in modern comics. It is most whole heartily a commercial venture that merges well known heroes from both universes into single entities. For example Doctor Strange (Marvel) and Doctor Fate (DC) were merged into Doctor Strangefate (Amalgam).

The new treatment of this crossover is that effects of the story are just not ignored but are hinted at in normal DC continuity (i.e. Access showing up in a recent issue of Green Lantern).