DC Universe

From Academic Kids

The DC Universe (DCU) is the fictional shared setting where most of the comic stories published by DC Comics take place. Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman are well-known fictional superheroes from this universe.

The concept of a shared universe in comics involves writers and editors, together with artists, who together create a series of titles where events in one book would have repercussions in another title and serialized stories would show characters grow and change. Headline characters in one title would make cameo or guest appearances in other books. This idea was strongly developed in the Marvel Universe in the early 1960s, and seen also in other publishers in recent years, but it was pioneered by the DC Universe.

The leading heroes of the DC Universe were originally (in the 1940s) published in a team book known as the Justice Society of America. In the 1960s, this concept was revamped in the book named the Justice League of America. The DC Universe typically has its comic books set in fictional cities, such as the twin cities of Gotham City (based upon New York City) and Metropolis (based in part upon Toronto, though like Gotham, it also serves as a New York City analog in the comics). These cities were effectively fictional archetypes of cities, with Gotham City embodying the negative aspects of life in a large city, and Metropolis reflecting more of the positive aspects. The presence of superhumans affected the cities, but the general history of the fictional United States was similar to the real one.

Over the years as the number of titles published increased and the volume of past stories accumulated it became increasingly difficult to maintain internal consistency. In order to continue publishing stories of its most popular characters, maintaining the status quo became necessary. Retcons were used as a way to explain apparent inconsistencies in stories written. Change and growth for characters was replaced with the illusion of change.

Contents

Multiple versions of the same characters

Over the course of its publishing history, DC has introduced different versions of characters, sometimes presenting them as if the earlier version had never existed. For example, they introduced new versions of the Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman in the late 1950s, with similar powers but different names and personal histories. Similarly, they had characters such as Batman whose early adventures set in the 1940s could not easily be reconciled with stories featuring a still-youthful man in the 1970s. To explain this, they introduced the idea of the Multiverse. In addition to allowing the conflicting stories to "co-exist", it allowed the differing versions of characters to meet, and even team up to combat cross-universe threats. The writers gave designations such as "Earth-One", "Earth-Two", and so forth, to certain universes, designations which at times were even used by the characters themselves.

Editors at DC came to consider the varied continuity of multiple Earths too difficult to keep track of, and feared that it was an obstacle to accessibility for new readers. To address this, they published the cross-universe miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, which merged universes and characters, reducing the Multiverse to a single DC Universe with a single history. However, this arrangement removed the mechanism DC had been using to deal with the passage of time in the real world without having the characters age in the comics. Crisis also had failed to establish a coherent future history for the DC Universe, with conflicting versions of the future. Zero Hour in 1994 gave them an opportunity to revise timelines and rewrite the DC Universe history.

Meanwhile, DC had published occasional stories called "Elseworlds", which often presented alternate versions of their characters. For example, one told the story of Bruce Wayne as a Green Lantern, another presented Kal-El as if he'd lived in the time of the American Civil War. In 1998, The Kingdom, reintroduced a variant of the old Multiverse concept called Hypertime which essentially allows for alternate versions of characters and worlds again. The entire process was parodied in Alan Moore's meta-comic, Supreme: Story of the Year.

DCU crossovers and major events

In chronological publication order:

DCU objects and places

Cities

Planets

Realms

Objects and elements

Other locations

Further reading


External Links

See also list of DC Comics characters and Multiverse (DC Comics).

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