10:19am PT by Graeme McMillan
2014 in Review: The DC Comics Universe
It would have been a difficult year to have lived on the fictional Earth guarded by Superman, Batman and the rest of the Justice League. It started off with those heroes' evil duplicates from a parallel world having taken over, and ended with a major metropolitan city closed down because of an airborne plague that scientists could barely understand — not to mention the alien invasion this summer that stole everyone's brain (literally). Just imagine the holiday letter from someone on this world.
The biggest events to hit the DC Earth in 2014 were undoubtedly the final half of the Forever Evil miniseries event — in which villains from the parallel world called Earth-3 arrived and quickly took over the world, plunging it into darkness via an artificially created eclipse and causing chaos before the collective heroes (and antiheroes) of the planet restored order — and this summer’s Doomed event, which ran through the Superman-related series and saw the planet invaded by an alien armada led by Brainiac, who went on to absorb the minds of everyone on the planet until Superman (who had, at the time, transformed into a giant mindless monster; don’t ask) and friends set things right.
The current Justice League storyline, “The Amazo Virus,” sends the year off in terrifying topical style as it takes Ebola panic to a whole new level with an artificially created (by Lex Luthor, of course) viral agent let loose in Metropolis, infecting the population and bringing down the Justice League in one fell swoop. Happy…New Year…?
On a smaller scale, the most noteworthy events likely happened in the Batman: Eternal series, which redefined the mythos slightly by arresting Commissioner Gordon and placing a new, corrupt cop in charge of the Gotham City Police Department, closing Arkham Asylum and having the inmates move to a temporary facility that was once Wayne Manor, and turning Catwoman into the head of a crime family. So, you know, nothing major.
Meanwhile, out in space, things got weird: The Green Lantern Corps not only discovered a scheme to destabilize the existing political order and create chaos in the Uprising crossover, but it was then drawn into more cosmic events when the New Gods came out of hiding, convinced that the energy that powers the Green Lantern rings could, in fact, be the best weapon to use against existential despot Darkseid, leading to the (currently ongoing) Godhead event. Suffice to say, while this year wasn’t a Blackest Night for the Corps — that happened in 2010, after all — it wasn’t exactly a Brightest Day, either.
The Revolving Door at the Pearly Gates
The biggest “death” of the year wasn’t actually a real death at all — Nightwing, the original Robin, was assumed dead at the end of the Forever Evil storyline, but had in fact survived; his “death” was faked in an attempt to allow him to infiltrate a spy organization named Spyral in the (enjoyable) Grayson series. It was actually a big year for Robins — after months of foreshadowing, questing and finally traveling to an alien planet, Batman succeeded in bringing the most recent Robin, his son Damien Wayne, back to life in this month’s Robin Rises: Alpha. The catch? Now he has super powers…!
Meanwhile, in the Real World…
Unusually, the lack of worldwide calamity for the DC Earth was the result of the fact that three of DC’s biggest 2014 launches — New 52: Futures End, Earth 2: World’s End and The Multiversity — took place outside of the “regular” continuity, happening either in different time frames (Futures End happens, as the title suggests, in the future) or on different parallel Earths. Even the company’s regular “stunt month” in September was set in the future of the regular titles, making this year a relatively safe one for those stuck on the everyday Earth.
Overall, 2014 was a mostly calm year for DC, ahead of the storm that will be 2015 (see below). The biggest news for the comic book side of the business was arguably the success surrounding a course correction of the Batman franchise, which broadened its appeal with the launch of the revamped Batgirl series and new Gotham Academy, both books designed for readers who weren’t already following the brand. The success of those launches — and continued success of Harley Quinn, the surprise-hit comedy that debuted last year — are said to be behind a new push for diversity in DC’s comic book line in 2015. With the just-announced cancellation of 13 titles, including the LGBT-friendly Batwoman, diversity is something that the publisher needs to push in future.
What to Expect in 2015
We already know that the entire DC line will go on vacation for two months in May and June, to be replaced by Convergence, an event featuring even more parallel worlds. That’s happening because DC publishing is moving from New York to Burbank, Calif., during that time — something that may end up being the biggest story of comics in 2015, considering the way it’ll change one of the two biggest publishers in the business. Where DC will go after that move, and post-Convergence, remains to be seen. To be continued, as the best stories promise….