Comics: The End of the DC Comics Universe as We Know It

By , Columnist

With the opening of the venerable Comic Con International—San Diego less than two weeks away, a virtual avalanche of announcements detailing creator appearances and panel schedules are hitting the web. Traditionally, one of the most anticipated of those releases centers on the DC Comics panels and signings, and, as might be expected, when their entire panel schedule was posted on their company blog, The Source, a few days ago, it set off a whole new round of commentary and speculation.

But there’s even more attention being paid to the DC panels and events at San Diego this year, all for one very simple reason: the advent of 52, an event that marks a major turning point in the evolution of the company, and which heralds the complete creative restructuring of their entire superhero line. No small task, given both the rich history and vital legacy of their characters, which include such cultural icons as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern.

For those who are unaware, over the past few years the DC Comics’ universe (or DCU) has been rocked and revitalized by a series of line-encompassing crossovers that have radically altered the status quo of nearly every title in their main stable of superheroes.

While these universe-altering tales might have varied in nature, the overall effect has been that the DCU’s status quo has been constantly shifting in subtle and obvious ways, leaving fans eager to discover the next unexpected twist or startling reveal that turns everything on its head. Simultaneously, both major and minor characters alike have been put through the mill, facing challenges that left them questioning their place and purpose - if they even survived those trials, which some have not.

The current event, Flashpoint, promises to be the penultimate and most radical reconstitution of them all, resulting in what is essentially a rebirth of the DCU—or DCnU as some online wags have dubbed it—and the relaunch of their superhero line in 52 distinct titles.

Still, not all fans are happy with this turn of events. In fact, there is a contingent of fans who plan to protest the debut of the DCnU during the San Diego con, all in the hope that the company will heed their concerns, halt their plans for the DCnU, and restore everything to the previously-accepted DCU continuity.

Regardless of how effective these protests might be, both the San Diego show and the debut of the new line of DC superhero titles promises to be one of the most watched—and vociferously debated—events of this summer.

Comic Con International—San Diego takes place between the 20th and 24th of July.

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A veteran journalist who has covered the comics medium since 1998, Bill Baker is also the author of Icons: The DC Comics and WildStorm Art of Jim Lee and seven previous books featuring his extended interviews with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and other notable creators. You can learn more about Bill’s work…

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