THE NEW 52: Yes, We Have No Crisis
Dan DiDio tweeted over the weekend that there have been no Crisis events in the New DC Universe. Of course, that spawned a crisis. Which spawned this follow-up message from DiDio:
"For those in crisis over Crisis, let me clarify. The topic of Crisis was much discussed among the editors and talent working on The New 52. With so many characters and histories restarting, major events like Crisis are harder to place when they work for some and not for others. (that was one of the problems coming out of the original Crisis). While we are starting aprx five years into our heroes' lives, we are focused on the characters present and future, and past histories will be revealed as the stories dictate. Yes, there have been "crisis" in our characters lives, but they aren't exactly the Crisis you read before, they can't be. Now, what this means for characters seen and unseen…… well, that's the fun of The New 52, infinite stories, infinite possibilities, with the best yet to come. [...] P.S. that's the last time I try and answer a Facebook question before rushing out for dinner."
Sure it is.
Let me begin my analysis by clarifying that Dan DiDio is right; the Crisis events cannot be the Crisis events we read, nor have they been, gang, for over twenty-five years. Each Crisis essentially wiped itself out. That's always been a "hey, look! Shiny object over here!" thing in DC stories, with characters referring to various events that they themselves can't remember.
Perhaps DiDio was a bit too glib in the first place. Let's take a look at the events that had to have survived in some form of another.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
The granddaddy of all the Crises, it left a huge mess of continuity confusion even though it was meant to clear it all up. And DiDio's follow-up statement hits the nail on the head. And yet we know something happened.
Why? The original Dove is still dead. When did he die? In Crisis on Infinite Earths, saving a small child from a falling building. Not only was it a true hero's death, it was completely apropos for Don Hall, and in the terribly underwritten Hawk and Dove series so far, it's the best explanation we have for why Hank Hall is a raging jerk. UPDATE: Lon Lopez points out in this week's Fanboy Planet Podcast that Hank says that Don died in "...the greatest Crisis this world has ever known." Ahem.
So far, nobody has talked about the Anti-Monitor, and Supergirl has restarted her origin yet again. From The Flash #1, we can surmise that Barry Allen has never been dead. So as long as nobody heaves a deep sigh and mourns Harbinger (who had been on Paradise Island for a while) or Pariah, we might be safe assuming that the falling building thing could have been as simple (yet devastating for Hank) as the result of an earthquake.
Honestly, the loss of Crisis on Infinite Earths, still a great story from days gone by, is NO BIG DEAL.
The Death of Superman
Technically not a Crisis, it still crossed over all of DC's continuity, stands as a major event . Though done cagily, Swamp Thing #1 alludes to this event by having Superman commiserate with Alec Holland that he knows "…how hard it can be coming back." The new poutier Superman (see Superman #1 and get that man a laxative) died somehow. We don't know, however, if Doomsday did it or if they're saving that monster for later.
Why not, though? With Action Comics still set further back in continuity, maybe Grant Morrison or his successor can retell that event in a now 100% Lois Lane free manner.
This does domino, though, because without the Death of Superman we don't get Superboy. (It's a little unclear in Superboy #1 and Teen Titans #1 if Connor is being reprogrammed by Cadmus or created from scratch by Cadmus.) Without the Death of Superman we don't get the Cyborg Superman, which leads to an alliance with Mongul, which leads to the destruction of Coast City, which leads to Hal Jordan getting taken over by the Fear Entity Parallax.
And yet in Green Lantern – New Guardians #1, something wiped out the Oans forcing the survivor Ganthet to travel to Earth and bestow a ring upon Kyle Rayner. Soooo… Parallax had to have taken over Hal, and Hal had to have taken out the Green Lantern Corps.
Ergo, that one happened pretty much the way we remember it, except Lois Lane wasn't married to Clark Kent at the time. Thanks, Mephisto.
Another one that requires Parallax, but since it also involved Hank Hall being Monarch then becoming Extant when we all know it was supposed to be Captain Atom, um, Mr. DiDio, I'm really, really okay with this one never having happened.
Only two memorable things came out of Zero Hour. Batman had a heart-breaking moment when he got caught in a time line in which his parents were still alive but realized it too late to do anything about it. Geoff Johns recaptured the moment with a better cathartic note at the end of Flashpoint, and that's more an emotional beat than a plot point anyway.
The other great thing was the launch of Jack Knight as Starman, but honestly, the only reason that one's tied to Zero Hour is because it launched as a "Zero Issue," not because any continuity demands it.
Ergo, Zero Hour does not exist. Everybody cool with that?
Tomorrow, I'll get into the events that actually bore the name "Crisis," and things may fall apart.