Wednesday, July 23, 2008


So today I'm going to talk about DC universe 0. I mean DC universe zero. This zero looks more like an o than an 0. So I'm going to change all the 0 to the word " zero " so you know what I'm talking about. I was searching with a new picture search engine ( usually I just use google ) but it seems that it's not so good for comic relevant stuff. Which is not so bad since I did manage to find something on this front yesterday.

I DID find three new pics of Uma Turman in her Oscar outfit and lots of new pics of Janet Jackson - screencaps from JD's " gonna getcha " video as well as in her white dress in good quality that are almost impossible to find - which I'm going to post on my other blog. It seems the post on Luciana Salazar has to wait for now. So, it's time for some crisis management.

I don't think that I can talk about universe zero without talking about the first two CRISIS series. It may be old news to most readers but there might be the occasional Marvel zombie or DC newbie out there who don't know what all this CRISIS stuff is all about. I wrote something about CRISIS a few years ago but I think that was in the ELFENBEINTURM forum which has been closed since then. So here's the quick recap.

Too many Supermen

Back in the day the DC writers tried to get the most readers possible and they did whatever was necessary. I already wrote a bit about the crazy stories of Yesteryear in my COVERSTORY series but in the beginning when they had an idea for a Superman story they just went for it. Often that meant that at the end of the story it turned out to be a bad dream or they just undid everything with magic. Or it was because of red kryptonite. That was pretty popular once red kryptonite was invented. But over the years they went further and further away from that idea. The readers didn't like it that much if at the end everything turned out to be fake. Just ask Marvel about the CLONE SAGA - or BRAND NEW DAY in a few years.

Nevertheless the imaginary stories were quite popular with the readers so one day somebody at DC said : Why not create a second universe where everything can happen ? There was already the story THE FLASHES OF TWO WORLDS in which the concept of a second, parallel universe had been introduced. And there were the stories in which the Justice League ( from earth 1 ) and the Justice Society ( from earth 2 ) would meet and fight villains. So it was only logical to take it a step further. On earth 2 the writers had carte blanche to do whatever they wanted and since on earth 2 the heroes had been around longer and were older they decided to have Superman married with Lois Lane and Batman with Catwoman ....and so on.

At first that was a good idea but the longer the stories on earth 2 accumulated the more it's history differentiated from the history of earth 1. And for new readers it was very difficult to find their way.....even more as new earths were added. There was earth 3 which was a reverse earth with the crime syndicate as main characters, earth prime which at the beginning was our world but later on had Superboy as it's only hero, the earth were the old Charlton characters such as Blue Beetle, Phantom Lady or the Human Bomb were situated and the world that was the home of Captain Marvel and all the other Marvels. It didn't get less complicated by the fact that people went from one universe to the other and back. Black Canary from the Justice League was originally from earth 2 for instance. So one day there was a crisis.

Worlds will live. Worlds will die. And the DC universe will never be the same again.

In 1985 DC planned a series to celebrate the 5oth anniversary of DC comics but writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez put their own spin on it when they decided to get rid of DC's complicated history. The 12 issue maxiseries that got rid of the multiverse and gave the readers ONE earth was so successful that many readers think of it as the first big crossover series - even if it came after CONTEST OF THE CHAMPIONS and SECRET WARS....both from Marvel.

In CRISIS Marv Wolfman and George Perez gave the old multiverse a big farewell and it's still remembered not only for the fact that the Silve Age Flash Barry Allen and Supergirl died in the series ( still considered as two of the best deaths in comics ) but as one of the best comics EVER.

There will come a second crisis

With the crisis series DC had gotten rid of all the convoluted backstory but the problem was that not every writer was using this possibility. Titles like Superman, Wonder Woman or Flash were relauched and invented a brand new history but others were not and over the years DC tried to streamline the glitches in series like ZERO HOUR. One of the things that got more complicated because of crisis was Power Girl ( see how I always find a way to mention her ? ). Before the event she was the earth 2 version of Supergirl - bigger ( oh yeah ), better, stronger and more an independent person outside of the Superman franchise. But she was so popular that DC integrated her in the new recombined earth even if that lead to the problem that there were now two versions of the same character on one earth.

Because of the popularity of crisis there was a big companywide crossover every year ( Marvel mimicked this of course in their titles )and ZERO HOUR was one of them. Back in the crisis series somebody had uttered the words " There will come a second crisis. " and over the years there were a lot of rumors about it and readers were waiting for it. In his ANIMAL MAN series Grant Morrison ( who is by the way involved in FINAL CRISIS )used this to write a story in which characters that had existed before the crisis began to bleed over to our world. As the only DC character who remembered the crisis because he had worked with the Antimonitor ( the main villain ) Psycho Pirate was one of the main characters. The story is really excellent and I can recommend it to everybody who hasn't read it but the readers had to wait 20 years for the REAL second crisis.

Infinite Crisis

What I liked so much about this second crisis is that the seeds for it were sown five years before it actually happened. So the DC universe began to move slowly in that direction without the readers noticing it. And series like IDENTITY CRISIS ( which would have been an awesome story within itself ) just were incorporated. The gears began to turn really slow but when the COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS began there wasn't a corner of the DC universe that wasn't facing it's hardest test.

Some readers didn't like it but I just loved it that DC was making tabula rasa and throwing over the chess board. The story was hard hitting but it also reminded people of how the comics used to be - and it reintroduced the multiverse with 52 new universes.

Before the second crisis there had beeen a lot of ELSEWORLD stories which were basically the DC version of Marvel's WHAT IF series - imaginary stories. Although some didn't start out as imaginary stories like KINGDOM COME. Be that as it may ever since the first crisis the writers at DC had kept on writing stories that took place in some imaginary realm and they even introduced the concept of HYPERTIME to explain how they could happen. So now they could pick the fanfavorite stories and give them their own universe. One for the communist Superman, one for the vampire Batman and so on, and so on. To top it all of DC created additional excitement by making a jump in history so that all titles after INFINITE CRISIS took place one whole year.

Most of the ONE YEAR LATER runs did not live up to it's expectations ( with one exception being the GREEN ARROW run by Judd Winnick as you can read in my THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN posts ) and the story of what happened was told in 52 DC's first, best and most successful weekly series so far. Everything was different and exciting in the DC universe so nobody expected the third crisis to happen so soon.

Do we really need a third crisis ?

To paraphrase Monty Python : Nobody expects the third crisis.

I have to say I was shocked when I heard of DC's plans for FINAL CRISIS. The first one came after 50 years, the second one after 20 years so it seemed like very rushed for me. On the other side I still remember the comics from the 70s in which the writers threw in everything they had without much of a buildup to tell their best stories. And also I like to read a comic before passing judgement. So far I have enjoyed all the stuff leading into INFINITE CRISIS, the whole COUNTDOWN TO INFINITE CRISIS and a whole lot of stuff that happened afterwards. Stories like the SINIESTRO CORPS were just incredible or the new Booster Gold series which totally exceeded my expectations. Hell, I thought I would hate the new Blue Beetle series and now it's one of my favorites. So I'm giving DC a lot of rope here since they haven't steered me wrong so far. That said let's finally comment on DC UNIVERSE zero.

The beginnig of the ending

DC universe zero is meant as a lead - in to FINAL CRISIS and all the connected series so instead of having one continuing story it has parts of upcoming stories or storyarcs. Contrary to other 50 cent or 1 dollar issues that came before and that had new content this is like a sampler for the new crisis. Basically it's advertising and normally I prefer to get my advertising for free. I don't like to have to pay for it on top. Nonetheless this 50 cent issue may be the best comic you buy this month ( or whenever you get it ).

The cover by George Perez alone is worth the cover price but there are more great pages inside by the master himself or Ivan Reis. I still haven't spotted the pages by Carlos Pacheco but aside from that the issue works very good as a primer for upcoming events like LEGION OF THREE WORLDS, BATMAN R.I.P., BLACKEST NIGHT PRELUDE or of course FINAL CRISIS. Without spoiling too much the issue gives you just enough to wet your appetite and leave you craving for more. So to say it in another way :

DC universe zero. I allow it.

While making this post I realized that my mental capabilities have diminished. Right now I'm simultaniously writing this post, looking for pictures, uploading them, downloading stuff for my post on Luciana Salazar and a possible post on Alyssa Milano, checking the downloaded files and killing flies - which are really annoying. There used to be a time when I was listening to new episodes of ComicGeekSpeak on top of all that. But I noticed that when I do that I can't pay any attention to what they say. I guess it's true that women are better at multitasking.

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    1 comment:

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