DC Comics, much like their Marvel competition, have made events a focal point of their sales strategy, expanding stories into huge, line-wide sagas. Virtually every major hero in the DCU has had their story blown up into a sprawling event, prompting readers to buy one-shots, miniseries and new titles. These have had mixed impact on DC’s overall continuity, with some being forgotten relatively quickly, and others significantly shaking up the status quo.
The DCU has had a hit or miss track record with events, but fans typically enjoy the more consequential stories to the easily forgettable ones. Everything from massive, line-wide events to mini-events that only cover a couple of titles can make a splash on continuity, and some definitely last longer than others. Very little is permanent in comics, but events stand the best chance of changing continuity, sometimes for good.
10 Joker War
“Joker War” was the first major event in James Tynion IV’s Batman run. The story began after a secret plot to bring down Batman and enrich some of his villains was exposed. Once the plan was set in motion years later, Joker was revealed to have orchestrated the entire thing.
Not only did the story further drive a wedge between Batman and Catwoman after their canceled wedding, it also introduced new characters like Clownhunter and elevated the Joker’s girlfriend, Punchline. The story also saw Joker reveal that he knew Batman was Bruce Wayne and he left the hero without his immense wealth, creating a much more frugal Caped Crusader.
9 Lazarus Planet
Mark Waid’s DC miniseries, Lazarus Planet, seemed at a glance to be just another action-packed event, but it actually created a new wave of characters. The story saw Red Hood join a new team, Billy Batson absorb the Rock of Eternity into himself and Mercy Graves transformed into a power house.
Lazarus Planet followed the eruption of Ra’s al Ghul’s Lazarus volcano, with the resin spreading around the world and changing the powers of heroes, while empowering others. Characters like City Boy and Deadeye made their debuts, while others received upgrades.
Doomsday Clock was perhaps the longest-teased DC story in the company’s history. Throughout the New 52, the existence of Doctor Manhattan in the DC universe was teased, right up to the god-like being murdering Earth-3’s Owlman after he acquired the Mobius Chair.
Doomsday Clock brought every corner of the DCU together in a showdown between Superman and Doctor Manhattan. The outcome of the story was the complete restoration of the pre-Flashpoint universe, as well as Manhattan reverting to good and saving his home Earth.
Dark Nights Metal (by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo) was the first major event after DC launched its Rebirth era, and it didn’t disappoint. The story followed the emergence of the Batman Who Laughs, a nightmare variant of Batman from the Dark Multiverse intent on destroying the core multiverse.
Along with his team of nightmare Batmen, the BWL waged war on the DCU. Not only did Batman Who Laughs become a recurring villain for a few years within the DCU, the event also spun out into the New Age of Heroes, a line of comics devoted to new characters and teams. The story also established the Dark Multiverse as a force to be reckoned with.
The sequel to Snyder and Capullo’s original Metal series, Death Metal upped the ante to the brink of the destruction of the entire multiverse. The DC universe was reformed into an apocalyptic hellscape, with Batman leading his armies against the god-powered Batman Who Laughs.
Dark Nights Death Metal concluded with the death of Wonder Woman, with her mother, Hippolyta, stepping in to fill her daughter’s shoes. This carried over into the main universe, and Hippolyta joined the Justice League. The story also finally brought about the end of the Batman Who Laughs.
Of all the Batman events in the hero’s history, Knightfall was the longest-lasting and most shocking to readers. After Bane plotted his assault on Gotham, Batman was left exhausted trying to round up all the escaped inmates of Arkham Asylum. In his exhaustion, Bane seized his moment and infamously broke the Dark Knight’s back.
Knightfall left Batman disabled, and Jean-Paul Valley (better known as Azrael) stepped in as a new, unstable and violent Dark Knight. The story established Bane as one of Batman’s greatest foes, left the Dark Knight out of commission, and saw Gotham plagued by Azrael, which in turn led to Bruce Wayne’s return.
4 The Death Of Superman
“The Death of Superman” was arguably the single biggest event of ’90s DC Comics, as it killed off the universe’s flagship hero. After the arrival of the Kryptonian monster, Doomsday, Superman was slain on the streets of Metropolis, taking his enemy with him as he departed this mortal coil.
“The Death of Superman” is best appreciated in its full context, ending with “Return of Superman.” This era introduced several new characters to the DCU, such as Steel, Conner Kent and Cyborg Superman.
3 DC Rebirth
Although many now think of Rebirth more as an era, it was initially an event, with a slew of one-shots reintroducing some of the company’s greatest heroes. The line-wide event rebooted every DC title either to #1 or original legacy numbering, and explained the aftermath of the “Darkseid War.”
Rebirth was for many readers more than just a welcome return to the tone of the classic DCU, as it also restored characters like the Justice Society of America. Notably, the edgy New 52 Superman was done away with and replaced by his older counterpart, and this has endured as the Man of Steel’s status quo ever since.
2 Crisis On Infinite Earths
The impact Crisis On Infinite Earths (by Marv Wolfman & George Perez) had not just on DC but the comic book industry in general is hard to overstate. The story followed the appearance of the Anti-Monitor, a being intent on destroying every universe within the multiverse, prompting a response from the Justice League.
Crisis On Infinite Earths was created to serve one purpose: simplify the DCU. This meant heroes previously lost to the universe were restored to continuity, various characters’ origins were changed, and worlds were assigned simpler numbering.
The Flashpoint event was the biggest shift to DC continuity in the company’s history, even moreso than Crisis On Infinite Earths. Where Crisis had only simplified the DCU (and even restored a few things), Flashpoint reset everything, meaning origins were retold and some characters were completely erased.
Flashpoint began with Barry Allen accidentally creating a new timeline when he traveled back in time to try and save his mother. This resulted in Clark Kent never becoming Superman, Bruce Wayne dying as a child, and the Amazons warring with Atlantis. The aftermath was an entirely new timeline, and its effects are still felt today, despite the New 52 having been firmly ended.
DC Comics have made events a focal point of their universe since the 1980s. While some were forgettable, others entirely shifted the status quo. Read More