DC’s all-encompassing new universe they call the Omniverse debuted in Dark Nights: Death Metal # 7 January and readers will get a much closer look at Infinite Frontier # 0 on March 2. But a week earlier, on Tuesday February 23rd, it is already in expansion mode with a new corner of the DCU within the Omniverse called the Linearverse.
What is the Linearverse? We explain the background here and get some feedback from Dan Jurgens, one of the co-authors of the story in which he debuts, Generations: Forged # 1.
But for a simpler explanation of the Linearverse, you have come to the right place.
DC readers may want to sneak out now if they are planning to read Generations: Forged # 1 and want to wait.[That’s a spoiler warning, FYI.]
So what is the DC Linearverse? First, you need to understand what DC Omniverse is.
Because the history of DC comics began in 1938 with Superman’s debut in Action Comics # 1, the official canon history of the DC Universe, what comic book readers refer to as continuity, has been officially rewritten time and again to explain how superheroes like Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman who have posted adventures dated to real-world events like WWII can still be active in new adventures taking place in the here and now.
That has resulted in a series of retcons (retroactive continuity) and reboots (introducing a new version from scratch) that attempt to explain how a character like Batman can still be between 30 and 40 years old in 2021, even though chronologically he is no less than over 100 if you assume he was 20 years old during his debut in 1939.
This led to the creation of the Multiverse concept in the 1960s, specifically in 1961’s ‘The Flash of Two Worlds’, which explains how two versions of the speedy Flash character: one created in 1940 (Jay Garrick) and one created in 1956 ( Barry Allen) can coexist.
The popularity of superhero comics declined in the years after World War II and characters like Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman disappeared while Superman and Batman endured.
A superhero resurgence in the 1960s saw DC bring back Flash, Green Lantern, and Hawkman, and others, but in new and updated versions unrelated to the old ones.
But ‘The Flash of Two Worlds’ established the premise that previous versions of the characters existed on a second Earth, Earth-Two.
Earth-Two eventually became home to other versions of aging classic characters whose lives were moved more than their main counterparts, such as a Gray Temple Superman who was married to Lois Lane decades before marrying on the main line of DC. , and a much more adult Robin, who in the 1960s was still in his mid-teens 40 years after his debut in the main Batman titles.
Years of storytelling taking place in different eras and the expansion of the Multiverse to include more Earths, including worlds that DC acquired from other comic book publishers like Fawcett’s Captain Marvel (who you know as Shazam) resulted in DC’s first attempt. of trying to juxtapose all of your stories into a single, coherent timeline.
The iconic and highly meta 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths (recently loosely adapted to a CW crossover of DC superheroes) attempted to wipe out the Multiverse, but the gravity of trying to turn what were then 50 years of stories into a line of The 10-year time resulted in DC having to post recurring maintenance stories (most with the word ‘Crisis’ in the title) to try to correct the logical inconsistencies that Crisis presented, but to no avail.
In 2011, DC tried again more definitely with the full reboot ‘The New 52’, which again attempted to simplify the entire DC story into a manageable timeline. But again, the weight of its entire story and the fact that many of its editors and writers revered much of the story that was removed resulted in the Multiverse concept slowly making a comeback throughout the 10 years.
Seemingly acknowledging the insanity of trying to defeat the passage of time, DC’s new approach is to stop trying to make sense of everything and just acknowledge that EVERYTHING happened. All timelines and multiverses and alternate realities and futures exist in an Omniverse.
While current iterations of classic DC heroes like Batman and Superman exist in a real / current time approximation, they are also meta-aware of the existence of the Omniverse and somewhat aware that their own lives, memories, and history are part of an intricate tapestry and a mosaic of time and reality.
And because it’s still so new, we still don’t know how much DC will try to explain how it fits narratively, or if they will try at all.
This brings us to the newest wrinkle (and thanks for putting up with us), the Linearverse.
A separate reality within the new Omniverse, this way of looking at DC’s history takes a much simpler approach that DC has never seriously tried … until now.
In the Linearverse, the characters simply live longer lives than people who do not live in the Linearverse, and this is true for aliens from other worlds like Superman, mythological characters like Wonder Woman, and normal human beings like Batman.
So the same Bruce Wayne whose parents were murdered in Crime Alley in the late 1920s or early 1930s and first took to the streets of Gotham City as a vigilante in 1939 is the same guy who still fights crime in 2021.
Technology advanced, fashion changed, world events such as wars and presidential terms happened normally in real time, but the characters only aged a few years and lived it, experienced it and remembered it all.
Like DC’s past attempts to linearize its history, it’s not a perfect solution. The aforementioned 1956 Barry Allen (who is the current Flash) first took the name as an homage to Jay Garrick of the 1940s, who in Allen’s world was a comic book character and not a real person.
In the Linearverse, Barry Allen would have to be aware that Jay Garrick really existed when he took the name Flash because of course Jay Garrick had affairs with the same Superman as Barry.
And events like the original Crisis on Infinite Earths would make no sense at all in a reality where there is no Multiverse.
As Jurgens explains to Newsarama, the Linearverse is its own unique playground for now. DC’s ongoing series regular starring Superman, Batman, the Justice League, Green Lantern and more will continue to exist in the greater Omniverse, where time theoretically passes normally for the characters even though nothing actually happens for the characters. readers.
The Linearverse seems to exist as a storytelling option, to tell specific stories that require or benefit from the premise (for example) that the very serious current Batman actually had and remembers his craziest and most kid-friendly sci-fi-inspired adventures. from the 1950s or that Superman and Batman have been friends for almost 80 years.
As of now, DC hasn’t announced any plans for more stories set in the Linearverse, but it’s a new club in the bag for writers with a story to tell.
Some of the stories we mentioned are on Newsarama’s list of the best dc stories of all time.