While writing an article on Earth-Prime yesterday, I had an interesting thought linking Superboy Prime’s “continuity punches” from Infinite Crisis with the early appearances of Earth Prime.

DC Comics established Earth-Prime as the reader’s world. It was basically the same as the real world, with no super-heroes, and allowed DC characters to interact with a world in which they were fictional characters. It also allowed the comics’ writers and editors to write themselves into stories. In 1985, as DC was dismantling the multiverse concept with Crisis on Infinite Earths, they established the existence of a Superboy on Earth-Prime, just before they destroyed the universe. This Superboy returned after a 20-year absence as one of the main villains in Infinite Crisis.

Flash #228 (1974), “How I Saved the Flash,” featured writer Cary Bates traveling to Earth-1 and meeting the Flash. Up until this point, the conceit had been that on Earth-Prime, comic writers would dream about super-heroes’ adventures on Earth-1, just as Earth-1’s writers would dream about heroes on Earth-2. In this story, the connection went the other way, too: Earth-Prime’s Cary Bates was able to influence events on Earth-1 by sheer force of will, which he called “plotting power.” Continue reading

With the Top‘s history featuring prominently in the current Flash tie-in to Identity Crisis, I realized it’s possible to narrow down just when the flashbacks in IC take place. I’m not very familiar with the satellite-era Justice League, but I have tracked down, read and, yes, catalogued the entire Barry Allen run of The Flash.

In Identity Crisis #2, Green Arrow states that it was a few months after Iris died. Iris died in Flash vol.1 #275, and the storyline wasn’t really resolved until #284, when Barry trapped her killer on the wrong side of a time machine. In Flash vol.2 #215, Barry writes about an event that took place a week after the Top’s ghost was excorcised from Barry’s father. That storyline ran from #297 (the car crash in which Henry Allen’s heart stopped) to #303 (getting rid of the Top). Since this was clearly after the *ahem* incident, we can narrow it down to taking place between Flash #284 and Flash #297.

(This has got to have been the most fanboyish post I’ve made here…)

Time in comics is a strange, fluid thing. When you keep adventure characters in print over the course of decades, you don’t want them to get old. And so characters like Superman, who debuted as twenty- or thirty-somethings 60+ years ago, are roughly the same age today.

This is hardly unique to superhero comic books. The same is true of James Bond movies, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books, and even newspaper comic strips. (How long has Dennis the Menace been five years old?)

Still, it makes for interesting contradictions. If Superman debuted 14 years ago, he can hardly have met JFK, so clearly any stories dealing with him are no longer “canon.” On the other hand, if the story doesn’t depend on JFK having been the President at the time, the nefarious super-villain plot may still be part of Superman’s history. But sixty years of chronicled adventures crammed into fourteen years makes for a pretty busy life! (And how frequently does the US hold Presidential elections in the DC and Marvel universes?)

The time-squishing effect is easiest to see with flashbacks. Continue reading

The title comes from a series of articles on The Quarter Bin. The subject is a pair of very literal casualties from the recent mini-series, Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day. I am speaking of Lilith and Donna Troy.

I was rereading the story yesterday, and I realized the two characters killed were those whose origins had been rewritten so many times that people didn’t know how to write them anymore. In fact, Donna has her own article at the Quarter Bin.

And both of them can be traced back to the post-Crisis decision to move Wonder Woman’s origin forward in time.

The immediate result of this was that Wonder Girl had appeared on the scene several years before Wonder Woman. So (1) she was no longer a teenaged sidekick, just a teenaged hero, and (2) she needed a new explanation for her powers. This was left an open question for a couple of years, then handled in Marv Wolfman and George Perez’ excellent “Who Is Wonder Girl.”

The only problem with that story is that it contradicted Lilith’s origin. Lilith had been an orphan, who could see glimpses of the future, but knew nothing of her own past. Her search for her parents (or at least her mother) served as a series of backup stories in the original Teen Titans series, and was finally concluded when she learned (just months before the Crisis) that she was the daughter of Thia, the sun goddess of the Titans of Greek myth. Unfortunately, Donna’s new origin also involved the Titans of Myth, but Thia had never left — leaving Lilith an orphan again.

The real messing up I lay squarely at the feet of Dan Jurgens and John Byrne (although a healthy amount can be blamed on the editorial policy of killing off any concept whose series has been cancelled — like the Darkstars, whose ranks Donna joined after she lost her own powers). Continue reading