Dan DiDio has a unique lack of ability to leave well enough alone. Not only do he and his chosen writers enjoy darkening everything up to where Batman isn’t dark enough for them but the concept of a status quo doesn’t really exist. Soft and hard reboots abound and the lack of a strong continuity makes it hard to get invested in the shared universe or even some of the titles. When the New 52 was launched there wasn’t even a set timeline and books in periodical form have things removed when the trade collection is put together. Why should we be invested in the DC Universe when the creators aren’t?
I’d like to think DiDio is understanding that but he tossed Rebirth under the bus as soon as he possibly could so I highly doubt it. Instead he and his staff have put together the “5G” timeline, five generations that form a definite DC timeline. The DC timeline is now separated into five periods that form the absolutely positively definite timeline of the main DC Universe for the next five minutes. The article I’m using for a guide comes a site called The Joker’s Wild, plus some additional research, but I’m mostly interested in the timeline itself, the images for which were on a Bleeding Fool repost of the article. In this first part I’ll look at the charted first four generations and highlight my thoughts on it. With that, let’s see how the DC Universe began this week.
The first generation is being referred to as the “Heroic Age”, a term that definitely doesn’t apply these days. Interestingly there are black boxes on some spaces and “XXX” on some entries we can see. Either Thomas and Martha Wayne created a sex tape during World War II or they’re trying to leave a few surprises…and honestly that worries me. What does their XXX in year six have to do with the “XXX” debuts in year seven? Meanwhile in year 20 Arthur “not yet Aquaman” Curry has his own XXX with “the others” and I’m pretty sure there’s already a porn parody for that. Not that I’m checking mind you because ignorance is bliss and it’s bad enough I know there’s a porn parody of 60s Batman.
Also of note is that Diana seems to debut as Wonder Woman before World War II rather than in response to it. I guess they wanted her to be part of the founding of the Justice Society Of America, which she was in those early days but now she’s the world’s first superhero to keep Superman from being too old. Yeah, there might be other reasons both political and the fact that it was their first DC Expanded Universe success but let us not get bogged down with such nonsense. She ends up going back to Themyscira after Hiroshima and Nagasaki so I have a feeling whomever is behind this is making a statement there. She’ll be gone until the next age.
Then you have Clark debuting as Superboy but in secret so nobody knows. I’m not sure what the point of that is. Plus he only does it for about five years before stopping for some reason. I heard one suggestion that they’re trying to somehow draw in all of DC’s history into the timeline, which makes me thing Grant Morrison is one of the spearheads of this approach. He hates the idea of something in the main series not being canon. In the same year Clark stops doing the Superboy thing Dan Garret, the first Blue Beetle, goes underground, the JSA disbands, and both Alan Scott (the first Green Lantern) and Jay Garrick (the first Flash) retire while J’onn J’onzz first arrives on Earth a year later. I wonder what happened and I’m afraid to find out. But those are the highlights of the 24 year span called the Heroic Age. What does year two bring us?
For some reason the other timelines are given an “XX” year time window despite there being a set number of years. Not that anything is set anymore, which is why people care so little. You can’t shake up a status quo that never existed. Generation Two is the “Space Age”, which I guess is tied to the space race or maybe more aliens started showing up after Kal-El, Martian Manhunter, and Alan Scott’s ring showed up in Generation One. There are more X’s and black boxes so either they aren’t telling us everything for a reason or this is only slightly more figured out than the New 52 timeline and they’re covering their own rears. My money’s on the latter but benefit of the doubt and all.
The first year of this period sees Superman and Batman debut while half of Batman’s rogues gallery shows up in year two and Dick Grayson as Robin in year three. That’s one heck of a year. The JLA forms in year four, with Wonder Woman returning for reasons and Donna Troy triple-exing her the following year and that might not be as dirty as it sounds. I think. There’s not a lot of breathing room in these early years as everybody else shows up in year two, almost all of them gains a sidekick in year three (some have to wait a bit longer), and joins the Justice League in year four. I’m surprise it takes another year for the Teen Titans to form. It all ends with a lot of dead heroes in year fifteen as the Crisis on Infinite Earths now happens here. I hope you’re following all this because one of us should be and it apparently isn’t me. Did we really need to keep the period where they turned Wonder Woman into Mrs. Peel from the other Avengers?
Generation Three, the “Age Of Crisis”, formerly known as the post-Crisis DC Universe. This is when Eventitis afflicts the DCU. A couple of black boxes and enough XXX to form an action movie franchise. (I was getting as bored of the porn jokes as you were.) It could also be looked at as the “age of death” because look at how many heroes die in this period, they kept in the Green Arrow/Black Canary divorce (because that was sooooooo important) and also Ollie dies and yet still married Black Canary without a period for his not being dead…is that why they divorced? Is Dinah prejudiced against zombies? Also, Blackest Night happened at the end of this period, making “age of death” even more appropriate.
Especially since Generation Four is apparently ALSO the “Age Of Crisis”, because DiDio is obsessed with crises and the number 52. It’s basically the New 52, DC You, Rebirth, and the Re-52ed DC periods. That’s why it’s the shortest and the biggest waste of them all. No Xs, no black boxes, and nothing worth talking about. It’s DiDio’s DC and he’s ruined it for the rest of us. So the DC timeline, which still includes World War II, is now about 60 years long, and that all leads up to Generation Five. Not that it matters because this won’t last. DiDio can’t leave well enough alone and we’ve seen writers who don’t care about continuity (remember, Bendis is still screwing over Superman and the Legion Of Super Heroes) so this will change in a heartbeat.
Someone may be asking “but weren’t there FIVE generations”? That involves their future plans and tomorrow we’ll go over what’s planned for the fifth generation, which is what I was planning to discuss to begin with before seeing a full timeline mapped out…only a few years after the last one DC put out…and I’ll get into that tomorrow.