[Contains spoilers for Flash #13]
Imagine this: it's a new era for DC Comics. A big event has just ended, DC continuity has been revamped, and in its wake, DC's launched a bevy of new series featuring new characters and takes on old franchises.
Except the year isn't 2007 ... it's 1994.
Yes, in the wake of the universe-shaking Zero Hour, DC Comics launched a brand new continuity, that involved among other things the killer of Bruce Wayne's parents going free and Hawkman becoming a Hawk-God-Avatar-thing. OK, it wasn't a drastically new continuity. But what it did involve was 1994's version of One Year Later, "Zero Month," which launched Fate, Manhunter, Primal Force, and Starman, joining other new series like Anima and Damage.
These titles largely failed, short of Starman. Fate and Manhunter in particular were supernatural series with edgy bents. Each was a "legacy" title, taking their names from former series, but with little ties to their predecessors. The protagonists were anti- or reluctant heroes. They never caught on possibly because of their sharp deviance from traditional DC Comics titles, and their lack of tie with the mainstream DC Universe. The initial shine bestowed on them by Zero Hour faded within a few years.
In comparison, the Infinite Crisis spin-off titles, including Blue Beetle, Aquaman, Firestorm, Flash, and All-New Atom seem to benefit from the shortfalls of these previous series. All are legacy titles, and all are tied very strongly to the heroes that came before. Each offers standard superhero fare, and all titles had elements featured in Infinite Crisis, to the extent that each title begins with a ready-made place in the DCU. It would seem the One Year Later titles would be set to succeed where the Zero Month titles failed.
Except, I do tend to wonder if the sins of the past aren't upon us again. Blue Beetle is very popular, but did we really need another Blue Beetle series, or could the DCU have survived without it? I can't stop raving about Aquaman, but didn't the era of Kyle Rayner and Connor Hawke teach us what the fans really want is the original heroes returned to greatness? Doesn't the death of Bart Allen smack of mid-1990s event-ery?
There's a lot I like about DC's New Earth--the returned comraderie between the Justice League is just one of them. But I also wonder about the stable foundation of the rest of the DCU--are these new series built to last, or just new series? By the time Final Crisis rolls around, I wonder which of the series sparked by Infinite Crisis will still be standing.
Collected Edition's One Year Later reviews continue this week. Thanks for reading!
PS If you haven't checked out the fantasic discussion that's evolved after the last Trade Perspective post on Dan Didio's tenure at DC and the role of violence in comics, you're missing some fantastic perspectives from our Collected Editions readers. Check it out!