Countdown to Crisis Chronology (Part 3 of 3)

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Concluding this three-part series investigating the chronology of the DC Universe from the Countdown 80-page special to Infinite Crisis (read Part 1 here and Part 2 here), today some of the trickiest parts of the chronology are explored and explained.

(Beware: the rest of this column will be, inescapably, SPOILER-HEAVY.)

“Owww. It’s … it’s too big, J’onn – I can’t hold this in my head … It’s not a single big idea – it’s incredibly complex! I can’t hold the entire shape of the thing in my brain with any focus …”: Kyle Rayner, JLA:Classified #15 by Warren Ellis

Sunday, Bloody Monday?: There are a host of conflicting data regarding the three primary cataclysmic events that kick off the Crisis itself. Deciding on a sequence among the three will be saved for the next version of this chronology project, and for now, the relevant issues have simply been grouped loosely together in an overlapping Sunday/Monday timeframe.

The three primary events that must be situated in relation to one another are (1) the release of the Wonder Woman footage by Brother Eye, (2) the explosion of the Rock of Eternity, and (3) the destruction of the JLA Watchtower on the Moon. I have not considered the initial opening of the space rift seen in Rann/Thanagar War #6, since it is largely separate from the order of events on Earth.

In addition to the three primary cataclysms, a connecting thread throughout the Sunday/Monday timeframe is Donna Troy’s recruitment of her space team.

The most explicit record of the Sunday/Monday timeframe is found in Teen Titans #29 by Infinite Crisis author Geoff Johns, who must certainly know whereof he speaks. In that issue, Jason Todd invades Titans Tower and assaults Robin on a Sunday night. But most importantly for the chronology, the issue makes specific reference to one of the three events, and implies the occurrence of a second.

On that Sunday evening, a clear reference is made to the shocking footage of Wonder Woman having been released “20 minutes ago.” (There is contradictory evidence across several titles as to whether this occurred in the afternoon or later after sunset.) And about the same time, Robin speaks on the phone with Batman, who tells him that J’onn J’onzz is missing. While not explicit, it is safe to assume Johns is placing the destruction of the Watchtower sometime on Sunday also, though a Saturday placement would not be out of the question from this reference alone.

On the other hand, Adventures of Superman #645 places the destruction of the Watchtower – or at least Superman receiving a distress signal from the wreckage – after the release of the Wonder Woman footage. Plus, an “energy storm” is said to be over Gotham. Things all seem to be happening Sunday night.

A clue as to the placement of the Rock of Eternity’s destruction is in the story title of Gotham Central #37, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” which depicts the carnage in Gotham and includes dialogue repeated from the same scene in Infinite Crisis #1.

Donna Troy’s hopscotch travels to collect her team of heroes from across America also supports a Sunday placement of the Gotham disaster. She calls Cyborg Sunday night in Teen Titans #29, just before Red Hood attacks the Titans, and says she is on her way to recruit Starfire. Both women arrive at Titans Tower minutes after Jason Todd’s attack that night. Starfire’s actual recruitment is shown in Outsiders #30-31, which is on the same day Sabbac gains the power of the seven deadly sins, released after the Rock of Eternity’s destruction. Again, a Sunday placement seems inescapable.

Unfortunately, JLA #120 and following, “World Without a Justice League,” doesn’t correlate well with these references. It takes place over at least two days, contains visual inconsistency from one issue to the next regarding whether or not Metropolis is suffering the ominous red-sky storms seen elsewhere, and seems to place the Rock of Eternity’s explosion at least a day after the Watchtower is destroyed.

And perhaps most troubling of all, Infinite Crisis #1 – the issue that ideally should be the inviolable primary text for establishing the sequence of these events – mixes everything up.

Using Teen Titans again as a primary date reference, the epilogue of issue #29 and issues #30-31 all explicitly take place Monday, as Brother Blood returns and unleashes a hellish invasion of Southern California. Teen Titans #30 even reproduces the dialogue of a scene from Infinite Crisis #1 in which Superboy is watching news reports of his teammates battling the demons in Los Angeles.

Yet Infinite Crisis #1 seems to place the Rock of Eternity’s destruction, the destruction of the Watchtower, and a startling array of other events all on the same day Superboy is brooding in front of the television – Monday.

While I am reluctant to distort the integrity of the core book itself, and while I recognize that my research on this Sunday/Monday timeframe is not complete, I am nearing the conclusion that Infinite Crisis #1 is deliberately told in a jumbled sequence that suits Johns’ preferred dramatic pacing, and cannot be read as a literal chronological sequence.

Happily, such a conclusion is really not all that inconsistent with the format of issue #1, told as it is from the omniscient narrator’s perspective of Earth-2’s Superman, who remains outside ordinary time and space throughout the issue.

And to be blunt, Infinite Crisis #1 would still knock my socks off if I cut out all the pages and rearranged them randomly.

Still, it is my intent to propose a conclusive event order for this crucial Sunday/Monday timeframe and incorporate all relevant tie-in issues in the next version of this chronology project.

Wars and Rumors of Wars: By far the most vexing problem in building a chronology of the Countdown period is making sense of the war in space. The Rann/Thanagar War mini-series is conspicuously absent from the present chronology, as are both the Green Lantern relaunch and Green Lantern Corps: Recharge. The central paradox is when, exactly, did the war on Rann begin?

Hawkman is really the lynchpin of the whole conundrum, though the Hawkman title itself doesn’t seriously interrupt the flow of events during the Countdown period. Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti’s year-long arc, up through Hawkman #45, proceeded throughout the year of Crisis buildup in a corner of the universe all its own.

(In the final issue of that self-contained storyline, wrapping up around the time of the Countdown 80-page special, a peripheral problem emerges. Dr. Fate – Hawkman’s son, Hector Hall – explains his role in the year-long arc, and the death of Blue Beetle is mentioned. But given this chronology’s rough placement of Day of Vengeance and the associated story in JSA #73-75, Dr. Fate was almost certainly lost by the time of Blue Beetle’s death.)

Adam Strange’s frantic battlefield distress call to the JLA Watchtower in Chapter 4 of Countdown suggested, from the beginning, that the war on Rann was in full swing at the outset of the Countdown period. But this scene was almost immediately seen to be exaggeration two months later when R/TW #1 hit the stands. Then, Adam Strange’s entire rationale for coming to Earth to solicit the insubstantial help of two mere, mace-wielding humans, was that he hoped Hawkman would be a pacifying presence, and could stave off the war before it began. Hawkman #46 (the late-published lead-in to the R/TW mini-series) supports the conclusion that war had not yet broken out on Rann.

Hawkman #46 concludes with a sequence that leads, just minutes later, into the opening moments of Rann/Thanagar War #1. But when, precisely, does this issue begin?

Obviously, Hawkman’s involvement in JLA business as late as “Crisis of Conscience” places R/TW #1 quite late in the four-week-long Countdown period, somewhere near the end of the third week. Disregarding Hawkman’s involvement in the JLA events is not a realistic option. But unless the Countdown Chapter 4 teaser of the war is written off as apocryphal, it is difficult to explain why Hawkman would wait so long to get involved in the space war, and still more difficult to explain why Adam Strange would wait so long to beam over to Earth and seek help. The pace of activity in the R/TW mini-series makes it impossible to believe Hawkman took a break somewhere between panels in that series to come back to Earth and spend a few days arguing with his former JLA teammates about the virtues of mind-wiping.

We are left with the difficult choice of deciding between two unsatisfactory options: either that there was no war on Rann until very late in the Countdown period, when Hawkman was free to join Adam Strange (thus discarding part of Countdown Chapter 4 and a number of off-hand references to the war elsewhere in the publishing line), or that the war somehow unfolded in two phases, which is not really supported by the central mini-series itself.

This second option, while problematic, is probably the better one. It provides an opportunity for Green Lantern and GLC: Recharge to unfold at a leisurely pace, not crammed into the last week before Infinite Crisis. An additional consideration is that GLC: Recharge features Fatality, who is seen in action at several points in Villains United. As more data becomes available from the two Green Lantern titles, it is hoped that their location in the timeline will be made clear.

In all likelihood, the Green Lantern titles will prove almost impossible to reconcile with other events. In GLC: Recharge, Kyle mentions his R/TW team-up with Captain Comet, placing this mini-series after R/TW. Yet Kyle leaves Earth to join the newly re-forming Corps after a scene on the JLA Watchtower, and the friendliness of that scene seems clearly set sometime before “Sacrifice.” These references cannot be made to fit well with the chronology as currently established, though it’s possible the as-yet uncompleted Recharge series will reveal more helpful clues by series' end.

The Return of Donna Troy mini-series also argues for an earlier placement of the outbreak of war on Rann. The series is probably less than a week after “Insiders,” and demands Nightwing’s involvement. There is also a loose reference to one of the Green Lanterns in an incident with some Khund. But beyond that, it’s difficult to establish either how long the series keeps its heroes off-world or precisely when it occurs. The end of the series includes the reuinion of Wonder Woman and Donna Troy, and suggests it is after “Sacrifice.”

One additional point of note is that in Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files 2005, it seems that Donna has not yet returned to Earth two weeks after “Insiders.” There, she is on New Cronus and the Titans/Outsiders team that rescued her is back home.

Metropolis Interruptus and Apocrypha: The nine-month-long run of Superman titles between “Lightning Strikes Twice” and the forthcoming “One Year Later” jump has been described as a sort of temporary holding pattern on the Superman line, involving a couple of new creative teams that apparently learned only after they had been signed that they were not going to be writing the books long term. Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the run presents some chronological difficulties.

Serving in this interregnum were Gail Simone and John Byrne on Action Comics, and Mark Verheiden as writer on Superman. Greg Rucka continued his run on Adventures of Superman from the previous year, finishing out the "Ruin" storyline. All three titles, more often than not, seemingly involved plot lines that were editorially mandated for the purposes of furthering the Crisis buildup.

But before this interregnum began, the Countdown period for the Superman titles started with the June ’05 cover-dated “Lightning Strikes Twice” trilogy, a lead-in to Day of Vengeance. This trilogy is out of sequence with the events of Rucka’s Adventures of Superman, since it briefly features Jimmy Olsen. He was actually in the hospital in AoS #638, the issue before “Lightning,” and was not released until AoS #640, published the month after. These two issues were even labeled as the third and fourth parts of “The Road to Ruin,” and issue #640 is easily located just four days before “Sacrifice” begins. Clearly, “Lightning” is set well before the issues that straddle it.

Verheiden’s run in Superman kicks off the month after “Lightning” with an issue that, impossibly, tries to juggle both forward-looking Crisis buildup and the apocryphal material that had come before. The apocrypha referred to here is, of course, the highly promoted year-long run “For Tomorrow” by Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee, in Superman #204-215. That story involved the mysterious disappearance of millions of people – including Lois Lane – for a solid year. Obviously, such an event never occurred in the DCU proper.

“For Tomorrow” cannot be dismissed completely, however. The story presents both the destruction of Superman’s arctic Fortress of Solitude and his decision to build a new fortress in South America. Mr. Orr appears in Azzarello’s other (possibly apocryphal) Superman title, Lex Luthor: Man of Steel, and is connected to some version of the OMAC Project in the run’s final issues. The cybernetic villain Equus is even mentioned in Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files 2005. In historical terms, “For Tomorrow” must basically be regarded as a mythologized distortion of a handful of “actual” events within the DCU. (And on a personal note, I thoroughly enjoyed the controversial run.)

Verheiden’s first issue after “For Tomorrow,” Superman #217, attempts to resume the narrative of Azzarello’s run by stating that Superman has been absent from the world stage for three weeks, until his South American fortress is spotted by the American military. Not only does this appear to ignore “Lightning Strikes Twice,” it also bears no resemblance to the tight pace of activity on Adventures, which is the primary title for tracing a timeline from Identity Crisis to Infinite Crisis. The impossible three week absence is no throw-away reference either, but is central to the structure of Verheiden’s first two issues. But no matter how ill-fitting Verheiden’s debut is with the rest of the DCU during this time, Superman #217 is actually the first recorded meeting of one of the heroes with an OMAC unit, and thus is a fairly important event. It’s even mentioned in OMAC Project #3.

Verheiden’s attempt to accommodate the previous run on the title is no doubt well-intentioned, but introduces utterly apocryphal references into the timeline.

Greg Rucka has admitted that the four-part “Sacrifice” interlude between issues #3 and #4 of The OMAC Project was a late addition to the publishing schedule, and not originally intended as a part of the OMAC storyline. “Sacrifice” ran in Superman #219, Action Comics #829, Adventures #642, and Wonder Woman #219. The final two parts were written by Rucka. The crucial events of “Sacrifice” – involving Superman’s subversion to Maxwell Lord’s control, his brutal beating of Batman and Wonder Woman, and Wonder Woman’s final decision to kill Maxwell Lord – clearly needed more elaboration than was possible within the confines of The OMAC Project. But the hasty enlistment of the two new creative teams on the Superman titles to participate in Rucka’s plot resulted in some inconsistencies.

Part 1 of “Sacrifice,” Verheiden’s contribution, established that the storyline covered two days, though it’s not clear the other three parts of the story were written under that assumption. Superman #219 is written with a framing sequence on the morning of the second day, and establishes that Superman’s erratic behavior – under Lord’s control – began early on the first day when he believed he saw Lois being threatened by Brainiac. But when considering the flow of events in the rest of the crossover, it is found that Superman inexplicably disappears until almost 24 hours later, when he attacks Batman on the Watchtower, thinking he is the threat. Martian Manhunter’s appearances during the first two parts of “Sacrifice” are contradictory as well, and his placement with other Justice Leaguers on the last page of Superman #219 is impossible – he is already in Metropolis with Lois at that time.

Also, Part 2 of the story in Action Comics throws in cameo appearances by Captain Marvel and Green Lantern Alan Scott. The Captain Marvel appearance, at least, is difficult to believe, given his priority of dealing with the Spectre’s rampage.

Most of the Simone/Byrne Action Comics issues have not been definitively placed in this timeline, primarily due to a lack of clear indications as to when they occur. Issues #827-828 form a two-parter that presents Dr. Polaris brought into the society of villains, but contain no clear time references. There is the solitary footnote that issue #827 takes place after Superman #217, an apparent accomodation to the claim that Superman had gone into seclusion in his new fortress for three weeks. But as already noted, this three week absence must be considered apocryphal.

The two-parter in Action Comics #830-831 can be located in relation to Superman #221 since the Bizarro/Zoom race features in both titles. But issue #832 takes place on Halloween and can be viewed essentially as a fill-in issue, since it was by guest writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. The remaining issues of the Simone/Byrne run after this were published after Infinite Crisis #1, and thus do not necessarily fall within the period under consideration in this initial version of the chronology. (In any case, this researcher does not own them.)

A Fistful of Nightwings: Dick Grayson’s personal chronology from Identity Crisis/”War Games” forward is a horrifically daunting mess. It is not even a simple matter to reconcile his activity in the various Batman titles together, much less plausibly account for his numerous appearances in Outsiders, Teen Titans, Green Arrow, The Return of Donna Troy, Supergirl and Flash.

The beginning of all the difficulty is the serious leg wound he suffered in the final act of “War Games.” The difficulty is made orders of magnitude greater by the central conceit of writer Devin Grayson’s Nightwing solo title during the countdown period – that a temporarily crippled Dick Grayson (no relation to the writer, obviously) chose to throw away his costume and the hero life and become a mob enforcer under his own, real name.

Let’s begin with the leg wound. The bullet through his thigh was no mere flesh wound to be forgotten by the next issue. It was, in fact, serious enough to require Alfred to rescue him from a pool of his own blood on the streets at the end of “War Games” and keep him confined to bed for some days as the consequences of “War Games” spun out. Dick even allowed himself to be known as “Crutches” to the mob, and used his walking aids as weapons in his duties as tough guy.

But the grievous injury was an on-again, off-again phantom. The closing issues of Identity Crisis do not reconcile with his wound or his recovery time. It is never mentioned in the slightest in Outsiders. But he does show up in Nightwing garb wearing a leg brace when he joins Batman on the night Red Hood appeared.

While the health of his extremities presents nothing but contradictions in the first few publishing months after “War Games,” what of his turn with the mob and his brief alliance with Deathstroke? This project is not the venue for assessing the sensibility or credibility of these events, though it is certainly tempting to write off the whole of Nightwing #107-115 as apocrypha, just for sanity’s sake. But close research may ultimately allow for some generous gaps to placed within the story, which could conceivably provide openings for all of Nightwing’s other activity elsewhere. Such an attempt was simply not a priority in generating this chronology.

What can be said is that the “Crutches” storyline was not ignored by other writers during the period in question. Birds of Prey by Gail Simone provides tie-ins to the story in issues #76, #83 and #86. And Judd Winick tried to oblige the needs of the Nightwing title by having Dick leave the Outsiders team after “Insiders,” although even this gesture occurs far too late to help the “Crutches” phase fit in the chronology.

The Nightwing #107-115 run was very poorly received by some vocal fans who found the whole idea implausible, but that is not sufficient reason to ignore it in the chronology. Unfortunately, the glaring contradictions born out of Nightwing’s widespread use in numerous other titles may force the solo title out of serious consideration. If nothing else, the good news is that the problems result more from the character’s immense popularity than from any carelessness on the part of the writers.

What Time of the Year?: While not crucial to the flow of events, it may be of some interest to speculate on what time of the year the Countdown period involves. “War Games” is clearly during the summer in Gotham, and thus Identity Crisis can be placed in the summer as well. By my reckoning, Infinite Crisis begins eight weeks later, so an early fall placement of the main event is possible.

Are there any other clues that add more specificity?

“War Games” involves children still in school, so an early summer reference may be warranted, if the end of the traditional academic year is involved. (This would pull Infinite Crisis into late summer.) There are certainly plenty of real-world cities in America that use a year-round school calendar, however, so this is not definitive.

Two references to Father’s Day (June 19, 2005, in the real world) do argue for an early summer placement of “War Games,” if “summer” is allowed to include the month of May as the traditional “summer” break between academic years. Batgirl #65 takes place on Father’s Day, but this is several issues after she has relocated to Bludhaven in the immediate aftermath, and does not fit well with a “summer” placement of “War Games,” no matter how colloquially the “summer” references are taken. Also, the fill-in issues Teen Titans #27-28 (by Gail Simone and Rob Liefeld) occur on Father’s Day weekend, the first since Robin’s father was killed. Even allowing the Simone/Liefeld two-parter to float back to somewhere much earlier in the timeline (which would be difficult given the involvement of the new Hawk and Dove), these tenuous references are difficult enough on their own to avoid using them as serious indicators for the rest of the timeline.

Two references to Halloween argue for a fall placement of Infinite Crisis, but again, these are extremely tenuous. Action Comics #832, as noted earlier, takes place on Halloween night, but it’s certainly possible to ignore this fill-in issue. Green Arrow #56 features the art cues of falling leaves and a small glimpse of “Halloween” posters on the walls of Speedy’s school, but these are minor clues, indeed.

Additions Planned for Future Updates: Obviously, the present chronology, with its definitive placement of a little over 100 titles, has left out almost as much material as it has included. However, almost all of the outstanding issues I have researched but not included involve judgment calls as to their placement.

In another month or so, I hope to return to this space with an updated Crisis chronology that includes a good deal more material. Future work will attempt to resolve difficulties and place as definitively as possible the following (in no particular order):

* Manhunter, from at least issue #5 – an Identity Crisis tie-in – through “One Year Later”;
* JSA:Classified #1-4, featuring Power Girl’s harassment by Psycho Pirate;
* Supergirl, which shares dependencies with JSA:Classified;
* Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps: Recharge, which are dependent on the placement of events on Rann;
* The Rann/Thanagar War, along with suitable conjectures for getting beyond the serious contradictions surrounding the entire war in space;
* Robin, at least those issues that have not yet been placed due to their excessive passage of time internally;
* Batgirl, from her relocation in Bludhaven to the end of the title, although the time difficulties in Robin bleed over into this title as well;
* Catwoman, from the new direction begun in issue #44 onward;
* Batman #639 forward, at least approximately, since most of the issues do not clearly reference any other activities in the Countdown period;
* Flash’s final arc, issues #227-230, at least approximately.

In addition, I hope to resolve the Sunday/Monday difficulties around the beginning of Infinite Crisis #1 as cleanly as possible, and extend the placement of all considered titles until the “One Year Later” break.

The Flash title deserves a special mention, since it has not been included in this chronology yet. Flash #226 has been completely ignored as a fill-in issue (though it does contain a reference to the birth of the West twins). “Rogue War,” the epic six-issue run from Flash #220-225, follows quite closely on the heels of Identity Crisis. It covers just a single day, and seems to follow issue #219 no more than a day or two later. Flash #219, however, crosses over with Wonder Woman #214 in the midst of her blindness, so on first glance “Rogue War” seems to be set outside the period under investigation, well before Countdown (even though issue #225 was published just two months before Infinite Crisis #1). But the finale to “Rogue War” portrays Captain Cold’s rogues deciding to join alternate-Luthor’s society of villains, with whom Weather Wizard is said to have been working for some time (as shown in Villains United and Superman #222). The Countdown 80-page special indicates that Cold has not yet joined the society, arguing for a placement of “Rogue War” sometime after Countdown, not before. This difficulty may only be completely resolved by working out a chronology all the way back to Identity Crisis, something I may tackle in a few months.

Titles not Considered: A number of titles have not been researched for this chronology. I should note that all but two are in my personal collection, and most of them I have greatly enjoyed. They have not been omitted from this work of continuity out of any personal prejudice against their quality or enjoyability.

The omitted titles are the following:

Aquaman: Admittedly, this is the only ongoing title in the primary DCU that I do not buy and read, so it could be considered an exception to my prejudice claim. (If someone were to provide me with copies of the title’s most recent run, I would happily add it to my future research.)

Blood of the Demon: The book did have one tie-in to Day of Vengeance, but on the whole, seems to be unconcerned with contributing to the Crisis buildup.

Breach: A delightful 11-issue series that has relevance to Infinite Crisis, but would probably be difficult to fit into the chronology with any specificity.

Captain Atom: Armageddon: A series about a DCU character thrown into the Wildstorm Universe; it may yet prove to be related in some way to Infinite Crisis.

Gotham Central: This series was consistently stellar, and has points of reference to “War Games,” “Rogue War,” and Infinite Crisis. But its internal chronology is highly specific, including specific dates noted in most of the arcs of its 40-issue run, and it would be almost impossible to satisfactorily blend its internal passage of time with the Countdown period.

Gotham Knights: The series served largely as the continuing adventures of Hush during the Countdown period. There are almost no clear references to other events in the DCU, and placing the run in the chronology would be highly arbitrary.

Hawkman: Functioning almost entirely on its own during the Countdown publishing period and unrecognized elsewhere, it is essentially a pre-Countdown title and thus not under consideration.

Justice League Elite: The 12-issue maxi-series concluded after Countdown was published, but likely occurred well before, possibly even before Identity Crisis.

Nightwing: Featuring a host of chronological contradictions with both the Batman line of titles and the wider DCU, I have chosen to avoid it in the first version of this project.

Superman/Batman: In the post-Countdown period, the majory of this title’s action takes place in alternate timelines and realities.

Vigilante: A mini-series this researcher has not purchased or read.

A handful of fill-in issues published during the Countdown period have been left out of the chronology. Flash #226 mentions the events of “Rogue War,” but has no other relevance to the period. Outsiders #26-27 involves members of the original team, and its placement in the chronology would be arbitrary, as long as it did not pose conflicts with Arsenal or Black Lightning’s activities elsewhere. Teen Titans #27-28 has not been considered, though it is placed on Father’s Day and includes the new Hawk and Dove some time after their appearance in issues #21-23. Green Arrow #51 and #53 each had guest writers, and issue #51 is clearly out of sequence with the surrounding issues. As mentioned earlier, I have not considered Action Comics #832, the Halloween issue.

And obviously, JLA:Classified, Detective Comics (noted as a pre-”War Games” tale during this publishing period) and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight are outside of the contemporary timeframe.

Final Thoughts: Despite the fact that this three-part exploration of the Countdown chronology may seem like a 15,000-word nitpick, I can truly say the past year’s worth of Crisis buildup has been one of the most purely satisfying fictional reading experiences of my life. Following it all has been an investment of my personal time and money that I feel has been absolutely worth it.

Every Wednesday, I sit at a great little coffee shop called Arsaga’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with my fresh stash from Alan and the gang at Rock Bottom Comics, and trade fanboy exclamations with the regulars. I’ve told them on more than one occasion that, after building up for the past year, Infinite Crisis has been as rapturously exciting as having J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis rise from the dead and write a combined sequel that brings together the Lord of the Rings and Narnia universes into one mind-blowing whole, and having it translated to the big screen by a young, creatively fresh George Lucas (circa 1980). Or something like that.

I can’t say enough about the magnificent work of all the creative minds at DC Comics these days. I grew up on Marvel and had never bought an issue of any DC comic until “Hush” started up in Batman #608. It’s been an incredible three years to be a fan.

Yes, I own all these comics. I’ve had 30 to 40 DC titles on my pull list for most of the past year. My total collection is well over 10,000 issues, bagged, boarded and crammed into more than 50 short-boxes in my back bedroom, where I used to have a rent-paying roommate.

Please consider the preceding chronology work an act of love.

Paul T. Semones is currently a college professor of engineering, technology and society, and has three degrees that have nothing to do with the creative arts. He’s been an employee of the U.S. Department of Defense, a political campaign hack, a newspaper reporter and an online reviewer of Star Trek fiction and comic books. In 1998, he was one of the founding members of the Star Trek Pocket Books “Timeline Gang,” a group of fans that was commissioned to produce the official chronology of all Star Trek fiction. The Star Trek Novels Timeline has been published in two Pocket Books anthologies, and will see print this year in its third iteration. He recommends that you listen to Holst’s The Planets while reading the original Crisis on Infinite Earths. Comments may be sent to [email protected]

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