Moving into 2020, DC has plans to ensure that fans and creators alike will have a better handle on the history of its comic book universe, with publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee telling audiences at New York Comic Con about something called the DC Timeline.
“For the first time, we’re going to introduce the DC Timeline,” DiDio told the crowd during Friday afternoon’s “DC Nation” panel. “The whole idea here right now is, from our standpoint, we’re trying to organize a sense of when the DC stories took place and how they all fit together.”
DiDio talked about the need for DC to have a consistent timeline in DC’s comic book output, noting that it’s something that DC’s television and movies have used to build cohesive universes. In terms of DC’s comics, DiDio said that in the wake of the 2011 reboot of DC’s superhero comic book line, “what might have slipped up was we didn’t spend enough time to figure out what works in continuity.”
In the wake of current DC series — including Doomsday Clock, Justice League and Superman — bringing back concepts that touch upon the past and future of DC’s mythology, DiDio said that the company was “reintroducing aspects of our history back into [our central universe], from the Justice Society all the way into the future of the Legion of Superheroes.”
The audience was then briefly shown a detailed timeline — too detailed to be legible onscreen — of the entire DC continuity, split into four distinct eras: “Dawn of the Heroic Age,” which DiDio explained begins with the arrival of Wonder Woman in Man’s World, before the Second World War; “The Space Age,” which begins with Superman’s debut; “The Age of Crisis,” which spans the period between the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths comic book series and 2011’s Flashpoint; and “The Flashpoint,” which was characterized as the current era of DC’s output.
“We’re starting to figure out how continuity works,” DiDio said about the process, noting that reboots and complicated retcons are what happens when “things stop making sense.”
Lee pointed out that the new official timeline doesn’t just formalize DC’s mythology as it currently exists, it also creates new story potential for creators. “There’s a lot of interesting implications that this timeline sets up,” he teased. “If this character came around back then, then what does that mean?” This might be an oblique reference to the placement of Wonder Woman as the first superhero in DC’s comic book mythology, the first time that has been the case. (In DC’s movie universe, she’s been the original superhero since 2017’s Wonder Woman.)
It’s unknown when fans will find out more about the new timeline, but worth noting that Doomsday Clock is expected to end in December 2019, with a conclusion that just might formalize a new continuity for the company’s comic book universe.