Monday, September 28, 2015

All-Star Comics - History Assignment!

According to Marv Wolfman the two-part History of the DC Universe was originally slated to be the final two issues of the twelve-part Crisis on Infinite Earths, but was shuttled out when the story of the Crisis grew to absorb all twelve installments. What these two beautiful books do is lay out in sumptuous detail the DC Universe (emphasis on the "Uni") that had evolved from the machinations of the Monitors in the epic which whittled down the sprawling reality.

We get a somewhat sober reflection from the point of view of Harbinger of this new reality from the very beginnings of the universe right up through the creation of the Earth and beyond. We follow the development of human history from the Neanderthal beginnings of Vandal Savage and the Cro-Magnon Anthro. We see the early gods of the Greco-Roman canon effect the planet and we see the rise of Camelot with its heroes such as the Shining Knight and the Demon.

The Old West comes into focus as does the American revolution right up to the advent of World War II when heroes assembled in large numbers to battle the Axis. With the assembly of the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron the curtain drops on this first part of the history.

The story continues in the then modern day of 1986 as the rocket containing Kal-el of Krypton arrives on Earth, Bruce Wayne loses his parents in Crime Alley, and Diana of the Amazons comes to be. The new DCU is ripe with glorious heroes who assemble as a Justice League with members such as Aquaman, Flash (Wally West), Green Lantern, Atom, and more. Other teams such as the Suicide Squad, the Doom Patrol, and the Teen Titans arise to defend the planet from a host of threats. Heroes such as Manhunter, Black Lightning, and even a new if not necessarily improved Captain Marvel show up to save the sundry days. We even get glimpses of the future with Tommy Tomorrow and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

All in all these two tomes showcase the then nascent landscape the Crisis had yielded, a landscape ripe with possibilities and rich with potential. Most agree that potential was somewhat squandered as the focus and energy to complete the Crisis itself seem to deplete that required to follow it up, but it did make DC relevant again to a readership which more and more in those days was comprised of dedicated fans and less and less casual readers. Only fanboys would buy a two-part history lesson like this, but then that was exactly the market which the Crisis had to no small extent succeeded in bringing to fruition.

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