Sorting out the Crisis history/timeline and a followup about Pandora merging Earths in Flashpoint.

On September 1st, 2014, /u/DrManhattan16 asked the following on /r/DCcomics:

Can someone please explain to me how the infinite crisis books started in the 1985, but the entire plot up till the new 52 reboot happened in 2011, but comic books for each character still continued in the 90s and 00s? Shouldn’t the reboot have either occurred in the 80s or in 2011, but without all the time inbetween?

Infinite Crisis affected the Multiverse but it wasn’t what caused the New 52, that was the Flashpoint event in 2011. Also, infinite Crisis didn’t start in 1985, that was Crisis on Infinite Earths which while confusing is a different story.

DC has had a number of events that have rebooted or retconned their properties across the decade, and while they can be seen as following on from one another they’re not one big arc. The word crisis has also come to refer to these sort of big, epic stories that change the status quo. Some of the big ones, as detailed in my recent Multiversity reading list:

Where it all began: Flash of Two Worlds

    • Flash of Two Worlds (1961) – The first reference (albeit unnamed) reference to the Multiverse in DC. Barry meets Jay and they become Speed Bros.
    • Crisis on Multiple Earths (1960-87) – A loose catch all title for a bunch of the Justice League of America stories that relate to their adventures with the JSA and other earths. A reasonable list is here on Wikipedia and here on the DC Wiki.
    • Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985) – The classic crisis that really started it all! Also the year of my birth! Coincidence? Yes, completely. Also the multiverse is destroyed.
    • Zero Hour: Crisis In Time (1994) – It’s a crisis but instead of realities crossing over its a ‘Crisis in Time’. Based around “numerous possible futures and alternate timelines”, while it might not have been as far reaching as later crisis specials it did end in a reboot of lots of continuity, similar to the New 52. It was so 90s, Superman still had his mullet.
    • Identity Crisis (2004) – Polarising as all hell but it does really give the boulder which is Infinite Crisis its first nudge downhill, mainly by making Batman even more paranoid.
    • Infinite Crisis (2005-06) – It’s a crisis! It’s now infinite! No, not on infinite earths, that was 30 years ago. This one is just inherently infinite!

      • 52 (2006-07) – After Infinite Crisis DC jumped their books forward one year of in-story time with the One Year Later banner appearing on the cover. 52 was their first modern weekly series since the 80s which covered this missing year in real time – and has no correlation with the ‘New 52’ other than this was critically acclaimed and the number has been lucky for DC. The end (spoilers) sees the birth of a new multiverse with, no surprises here, 52 new earths (also unrelated from the current ‘New 52’, which refers to the number of books per month) that mostly look a lot like a bunch of the old destroyed earths. Because a caterpillar ate parts of them. I’m not even joking.
      • Final Crisis (2008-09) – This is the big one. Batman dies (well, seems to) and lots of other stuff goes down, lots involving Nix Uotan who of course is fairly central to Multiversity. Probably the most important reading to truly get Multiversity, although its reliant on lots before such as Infinite Crisis.
      • Flashpoint (2011) – A really great read, and one last farewell to the Old DC. Changes caused by The Flash moving through time and Pandora ‘combining three earths’ (a reference to DC merging the continuity of the main DC, Vertigo and Wildstorm universes) alters history into what we now see in the New 52.

Flash and Pandora merging worlds…

/u/new_eyes_open asked then asked this followup question:

Flashpoint was great but Pandora merging the 3 earths came out of nowhere for me and I’m still not really sure where that came from. Has it been expanded on since our did I miss something leading up to it?

This was my response:

“While traveling through time, Barry realizes he can see three different timelines — DC (New Earth), Vertigo (Earth-13), and WildStorm (Earth-50). A mysterious hooded figure (later reveals to be a cursed immortal Pandora) tells him that the world was split into three to weaken them for an impending threat, and must now be reunited to combat it. The DC, Vertigo, and Wildstorm universes are then merged, creating a brand new DC Universe.”

Stormwatch – now part of the main DC universe!

We haven’t really got much more on what that ‘impending threat’ was – was it the incursion during Forever Evil, was it the Darkseid attack which helped bring the Justice League together? I tend to lean towards the latter, although we didn’t really see any of the Vertigo or Wildstorm kids do much against Darkseid. Maybe it’s the current Futures End plot, maybe someone will eventually pick up the thread and make an even bigger crisis. We just don’t know.

Practically it means that characters like Grifter and Stormwatch now have ‘always’ existed in the same world as Batman and Superman, that never used to be the case. Vertigo titles were much more tenuous – many, like Swamp Thing, already were said to be set there, many others had crossed over before the Flashpoint merge and the lines were much more blurry but now they all definitely take place in the main DC continuity.

Has it been expanded on since our did I miss something leading up to it?

Tl;dr – no, not really other than speculation, and no, you didn’t :)

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