Welcome, gentle readers, to the last article about DC’s crossovers. Previously, DC turned into some good and some bad crossovers, but going into 2009, things were going to get even more bumpy. Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin.
After Green Lantern: Rebirth (where Hal Jordan came back to life) and The Sinestro Corps War (where the larger emotional spectrum was introduced), the gigantic War of Light storyline was a big part of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. There was the yellow Sinestro Corps powered by fear, the purple Star Sapphires powered by love, the Blue Lanterns powered by hope, the Red Lanterns powered by rage, Agent Orange powered by avarice (he was the only member of his corps), and the Indigo Tribe powered by compassion.
And then came the Black Lanterns powered by death. When the black rings were unleashed, they attached themselves to the dead, called out “RISE!” and bam, instant zombie army.
And thus Blackest Night happened.
Geoff Johns, who was now a major architect of the DC Universe, took this as a chance to bring back as many dead characters as possible, mainly as zombies. The black rings had been created by Nekron who wanted everyone and everything to die by killing the Entity, the being responsible for all life. And at the end, well, Hal Jordan was able to merge with the Entity and become a White Lantern, powered by life — and the Entity brought back certain dead characters permanently, like Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Firestorm, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and the Reverse Flash (which would have major consequences for Barry Allen, who was brought back to life in the prior crossover, Final Crisis).
This led into the next crossover, Brightest Day, a year-long maxi-series which managed to connect to a number of other series.
The plot was as follows: one of those resurrected by the Entity was Boston Brand, Deadman, which was a problem because, well, he’s supposed to be dead. But the Entity had plans for him and for everyone else that was resurrected.
Brightest Day wasn’t quite as good as Blackest Night — it was often meandering, with storylines that didn’t seem to go anywhere and subplots that were simply dropped or forgotten.
At the end of the series, it was revealed that the Entity was dying because of the damage Nekron had inflicted and wanted Deadman to find a replacement for it. He finally found one with Swamp Thing, who (along with Constantine) had migrated back from Vertigo.
Meanwhile, Batman had “died” and the Batfamily went through a short crossover called “Battle for the Cowl,” where Dick Grayson finally stepped up and became the new Batman. And he was, for about a year, until this:
The Return of Bruce Wayne (2010) was a six-issue mini-series crossover, but one that mainly dealt with Batman’s trip through time.
It turned out that Darkseid hadn’t hit killed him, but rather hit him with the Omega Sanction, the “life that is death.” Batman was thus stuck moving forward in time, starting at the Stone Age, building up time energy until he would reache the present and explode. Thus Darkseid gets his revenge even in death.
This featured quite a bit of fun with the Batman concept — in the Stone Age, he was Man-of-Bats, in the pirate age, he was the Black Pirate, in the ‘30s, he was a private detective.
Finally, he reached the future and was able to get the Justice League to avert the explosion. And even though Dick said that he should take back the Batman name, he decided Dick should keep it...
...and instead he told the world that he funded Batman and would keep doing so, creating Batman, Incorporated.
And now we get to Flashpoint (2011). Oh boy.
So, the Reverse Flash was back and had done some truly horrendous: he had gone back in time and killed Barry Allen’s mother, framing his father. Once Barry realized this, he was determined to prevent it. And he did!
And created an entirely new reality, one where Captain Cold is now Citizen Cold, where Atlantis and Themyscira were at war, where there was no Flash or Justice League, and where Batman is Thomas Wayne...and the Joker is Martha Wayne, who went insane when her son was shot in front of her.
Needless to say, Barry was kind of shocked. So Barry had to go back and stop himself from changing things. At the very last moment, however, he heard a mysterious woman, who convinced him to somehow combine three universes together (DC, Vertigo, and Wildstorm) and when he came out, things are sort of the same, but changed.
Unbeknownst to anyone else, the universe was just rebooted again. Welcome to the New 52.
For the first few years of the New 52, there were actually no huge crossover events. There were smaller crossovers, certainly, but they stayed within their “family” of books: for the Batman books, “Night of the Owls” was about the the Court of Owls in Gotham, an ancient conspiracy, and “Death of the Family,” which dealt with a returned Joker; the Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps books had “Rise of the Third Army” and “Wrath of the First Lantern,” which finished off Geoff John’s epic run with a battle against Valthoom, the first Lantern; and Swamp Thing and Animal Man dealt with “Rotworld,” about the avatars of the Green and Red trying to stop the Rot.
The first big crossover of the New 52 was Trinity War (2013), which was spread across Justice League, Justice League of America, Justice League Dark, and many other titles.
The woman who convinced Barry Allen to merge the universes turned out to be Pandora, who had previously found and opened a box that contained evil (you all know the story) thousands of years ago. In the present day, Pandora goes to Superman with the box and this sets off a series of events, culminating in a war to stop the Seven Deadly Sins and the evils inside the box.
At the end of the crossover, it turned out that this was just the beginning: one of the Justice League was a traitor and Alfred, who was actually the Outsider from a parallel Earth, stole Pandora’s box and opened it...
...and the Crime Syndicate emerged.
Which then led to Forever Evil, a 2013-2014 crossover, where the Crime Syndicate, fleeing from a destroyed Earth-3, immediately took over the world and imprisoned the Justice League (sans Batman).
This didn’t sit well with Lex Luthor and other supervillains at all. So Luthor, the Rogues, and Batman all teamed up in order to take down the Crime Syndicate, who are busy messing up the world (and having their own soap opera, where Superwoman is involved with Ultraman and Owlman and pregnant).
In the end, Batman, Luthor, and his team manage to stop the Crime Syndicate and restore the Justice League...and Lex and Captain Cold get invited to join the Justice League. What nobody knew is what exactly destroyed Earth-3, until at the very last page, where it’s revealed that it’s the Anti-Monitor.
In 2014, there were a number of other small crossovers: in the Batman books, there was
“Zero Year,” where the first year for each character was explored, and “Gothtopia,” where Gotham appears to be transformed into a paradise, but it’s only Scarecrow’s new gas making everyone hallucinate; the Green Lantern books had “Lights Out,” a crossover that saw Oa destroyed and Mogo made the new headquarters; the Superman books had “Doomed,” about Doomsday appearing and then infecting Superman; “Godhead,” a crossover between the Green Lantern books and the New Gods, where Highfather tried to use the different rings to pierce the Source Wall (did he learn nothing from Darkseid?); and the Teen Titans books went through “The Culling,” of which the less said is better.
In 2013-2014, there were also three weekly series that tried to replicate the success of 52 with various degrees of success:
Batman Eternal was the most successful. It was about a conspiracy to frame Commissioner Gordon and destroy Batman and everyone associated with him. It reintroduced Stephanie Brown, the Spoiler, to the DC Universe, as well as a number of other characters, including the Spectre.
New 52: Futures End was moderately successful. It took place five years into the future where some war between New Earth and Earth 2 had happened — and into the mix comes Batman Beyond from a future where Brother Eye killed everyone, seeking to stop the creation of Brother Eye in the first place.
Earth 2: World’s End (the least successful) details the war on Earth 2, which was actually between Earth 2 and Darkseid. It ended with Earth-2 being destroyed, which led us to:
Convergence (2015). At this point, DC had realized that rebooting the universe perhaps hadn’t been such a good idea. So they either had two choices: just keep going like nothing was wrong or embrace the fact that the DC universe has gone through a lot of reboots.
They went with the latter and this crossover (made to replace the current titles during the months when DC would be moving from New York City to Burbank) was the result. Brainiac was revealed to exist outside of space and was able to view each reboot as it happened and snatched up cities of each Earth before they were changed.
So we got to see old characters again from the pre-Flashpoint universe, as well as characters from pre-Zero Hour and pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths. All of these characters were stuck on domed cities on one big planet controlled by a being named Telos. And being Brainiac vanished (trapped during Futures End), Telos took the domes down and said, basically, “Let’s see some fights.” You can read about what happened at the end of the crossover here, but the gist of it is this: the infinite Multiverse was restored in full.
Which brings us to the current crossover. You might have noticed a recurring villain, one who keeps showing up again and again. So it was just a matter of time before we this: The Darkseid War.
At the end of Forever Evil, it was revealed that the Anti-Monitor existed and was out there destroying worlds. And Darkseid was also out there and destroying worlds. And, basically, the Justice League is going to get trapped in a war between the two that could rip reality in half.
And this is a problem because the universe can’t take another reboot. (This is an actual plot point.) And meanwhile, Darkseid’s daughter Grail is causing trouble for Wonder Woman, and Mister Miracle is caught up with a rebellion to kill Darkseid and everything is horrible oh god help.
WE CAN HELP.
Wait, who was that? What’s going on?
WE HAVE HEARD OF YOUR COMPLAINTS, ALLITERATOR. WE HAVE HEARD OF THIS “HISTORY OF CROSSOVERS.” WE ARE THE BEINGS BEYOND THE SCREEN, BEYOND THE PAGE. WE EXIST BETWEEN THE CLIENT AND THE SERVER. WE ARE THE FOREVER TRANSFER PROTOCOL. WE ARE HERE TO EASE YOUR COMPLAINTS.
Wait, really? Can you prevent these endless crossovers?
WE CAN DO BETTER. WE CAN RESTORE, RELOAD, REBOOT.
what wait no
TOO LATE, LITTLE ONE. PREPARE TO GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING.
Hey, I should do an article about crossovers! Hmm, I should probably make it a series of articles, one for each Age of Comics. Yeah, that should be good.