Help Us Name DC's Post-CRISIS/ Pre-NEW 52 Era

 

A DC Comics publishing era is coming to an end this week with the launch of the company’s rebooted New 52 universe. While one could maybe make the argument that DC has “punched” continuity enough recently to perhaps breakdown the “post-Crisis" era into smaller sub-eras – like the “post-Infinite Crisis era” – and some terminlogy recognizing those markers has been used, most comic book readers and observers largely still consider the years from the conclusion of Crisis of Infinite Earths in 1986 until today to be a unified era ending this week, despite the various tweaks and retcons that might in fact actually define it (more on that later).

And this presents something of an issue that needs to be resolved – particularly those who often write about DC and their history – because “post-Crisis” is by definition an open-ended term, which in less than 48 hours when the New 52 era begins will no longer be specific enough to accurately describe a now finite time period.

“Post-Crisis/pre-New 52" or "post-Crisis/pre-Flashppoint" are probably too clunky of terms to become a Wiki-ready common new shorthand, and the “Modern Age," while commonly used and accepted, is more of a generic term that describes a larger comic book industry era, rather than a specific story-based one for a singular publisher.

So Newsarama thought we’d get out in front of the situation, give the question some deep thought, and offer a few suggestions for a new DC-specific term to describe the publisher’s “post-Crisis/pre-New 52” years.

 

The following are three suggested terms, each offered and argued for by a member of the Newsarama staff, after which you, all the Newsarama readers, can vote on the one you think is most fitting.

Will any of the below terms stick long term? That’s up to you and your fellow readers. But we’ve given some thought to what defines or serves as logical markers for the era and think we’ve come up with three pretty good options, and just in time, to boot! If nothing else maybe we can help start the dialogue.

So read on, vote on which term you like best if you indeed find an option you like, and head on over to our Facebook page to discuss the term or offer another one of your own…

The Allen Era

The only way the universe in Crisis on Infinite Earths could be saved was for Barry Allen, The Flash, to die. In the beginning of the end of the DC Universe as we know it, Infinite Crisis, Barry Allen returned to help the heroes at their time of need, but disappeared back into the Speed Force. Then in Final Crisis, Barry Allen returned for good. The Flash had a central role to play in Blackest Night, and of course, it's his event, Flashpoint, that ends this era of the DC Universe.

 

At first, I considered quite simply "The Flash Era." It started and ended with The Flash, after all, and while he was gone for a long chunk of time in the middle, Barry Allen sure seems to have been the major impact of this version of the world's existence. But that's just it, isn't it? No matter which is your favorite Flash (#TeamWally!), this isn't "The Flash Era," it's the "Barry Allen Era," or "Allen Era" to keep it simple.

It is truly an interesting dichotomy. With Barry Allen's fall, a new universe was born. With Barry Allen's return, that universe dies to be born again. The "Allen Era" then is one that begs the question whether Barry Allen is in fact good for these heroes and worlds' lives or not. In the new world of the DC Universe, Barry's presence is apparently precluding the presence of his protégé, Wally West. In the new world, Barry and his true love Iris West (Wally's Aunt), are no longer married. In the new world, Jay Garrick, Wally's sometimes-mentor, appears to only exist on an alternate Earth.

The "Flashpoint" of change never was the saving of a life or a moment of time travel. The Flashpoint is Barry himself. He is the instigator of change for not just those around him, but an entire universe. More than once. Despite being gone for the majority of this era, it simply could not have existed, or ceased to exist, without him. And that's why this time span of the DC Universe is the "Allen Era." - Lucas Siegel

The Meta Era

At the conclusion of Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds, the now-villainous Superboy-Prime - whose Earth (“Prime”) is aware that DC superheroes are just comic book characters and read their exploits in the same titles and limited series we all do - is seen living in his parent’s basement, collecting comics, trolling the DC message boards, and pledging his return to the main fictional “DCU”.

While this issue published in September 2009 and Superboy-Prime would in fact reappear in the subsequent Blackest Night and Teen Titans, his creation in the middle of Crisis on Infinite Earths and his return to prominence in the latter years of the expiring DC Universe serve as perfect bookends to a publishing era that is perhaps best defined by very much being about DC Comics.

 

From the conclusion of the original Crisis to Zero Hour to “Hypertime” to the more recent Crisis events, the DC years 1986 to 2011 are most prominently marked by major storylines that are essentially about their own publishing history, and efforts to constantly reconcile a real-world publication timeline that isn’t conducive to a linear fictional one and/or to erase or alter the work of previous editors and creators, who of course made changes to characters in the course of DC’s never-ending clean-up efforts.

I began writing this entry with the intent of promoting the term the “Prime Era.” I’ve since concluded that 1986 to 2011 was a time in which a whole generation of executives, editors, creators and fans who came of age as fans around Crisis, became hyper-aware of DC “continuity”, which manifested itself in a period when even DC characters themselves began to become self-aware of the absurdity of the laws of time and reality in their own universe.

For this reason we should call 1986 to 2011 the DC “Meta Era.” - Michael Doran 

The Crisis Era

 

Even if Crisis on Infinite Earths had been the only event of its kind, a credible argument could have been made to dub the period from 1986 to today "The Crisis Era." It was an unprecedented event that wiped the slate of DC continuity (mostly) clean, and still a prominent example of a comic book story that's more noteworthy for the impact it had on the industry as a whole than what happened in the actual issues.

Of course, several more crises followed. 2005's Infinite Crisis came 20 years after the original Crisis started and served as a bookend to that event, restoring the Multiverse, giving a final rest to Earth-2 Superman and revealing that Power Girl was a refugee from that world. It was also in many ways the beginning of the end of the DC Universe as its existed before the new Justice League #1, leading to the sequence of events that brought about Flashpoint.

Two more significant events also contained the "Crisis" name: 2004's Identity Crisis and 2008's Final Crisis. Though far less cosmic in scope, Identity Crisis remains one of the most controversial events in comic book history, revealing that the supervillain Dr. Light was actually an unrepentant rapist, making the Atom's wife Jean Loring a murderer and assassinating Tim Drake's father. For better or worse, it's the definitive instance of the "darker" DC Universe that defined the publisher for much of the last 25 years.

Final Crisis was, as the name implies, the last DC event to date with "Crisis" in the title and took Bruce Wayne — at least temporarily — off the playing field (and off the timeline, hurtling him into the prehistoric era thanks to Darkseid's Omega Sanction). Like in Infinite Crisis, there's definite symmetry here, as the event brought back Silver Age Flash Barry Allen, who famously died in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8.

The most meaningful events in DC's history for the last quarter-century have all been hallmarked by a "Crisis" of some kind, making it a natural title for the era — and possibly a sign that Final Crisis will indeed stand as the last of these events. - Albert Ching

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