Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Cosmic Cataloguing

Let's see if I understand the development of DC’s cosmology.

* * *

A. THE UNIVERSE

1. In the Original Beginning, right after the Big Bang at the Dawn of Time, a Giant Cosmic Hand spins the first building blocks of the Universe into their starting places, as if casting bread crumbs on a lake. There’s also a single antimatter universe.

2. Millions of years later, the Oan scientist Krona attempts to observe this event, but ends up unleashing Evil on the universe. Krona’s interference also reaches back to the Dawn of Time and retroactively creates a Multiverse of infinite worlds.

* * *

B. THE MULTIVERSE

1. In the Multiversal Beginning, right after the Big Bang at the Dawn of Time, a Giant Cosmic Hand spins the first building blocks of the Multiiverse into their starting places, as if casting bread crumbs on a lake. Each parallel universe occupies the same space, but vibrates at its own unique frequency. There’s also a single antimatter universe. The planet Oa is unique to the universe of Earth-1.

2. Millions of years later, the Oan scientist Krona attempts to observe this event, but ends up unleashing Evil on the universe.

3. Millions of years after that, the Earth-Omega scientist who will become Pariah conducts his own disastrous experiment. It wakes up the Anti-Monitor and results in the first universal casualty of the antimatter wave. Pariah survives, immortal and alone.

4. Eventually, the antimatter wave gets to the last dozen or so worlds that people have actually heard of. This causes the Monitor to get off his duff and start recruiting heroes from these worlds to fight the Anti-Monitor. Of course, these events are depicted in Crisis On Infinite Earths.

5. Harbinger kills the Monitor just before the universes of Earth-1 and Earth-2 are wiped clean. Psyche! The Monitor’s death has turned his energies into a backup disk for these two universes. Soon afterwards, the universes of Earth-4, Earth-S, and Earth-X are cut and pasted onto the backup disk. Problem is, it’s only a temporary solution. The whole thing must be restarted.

6. Two teams -- one of heroes, one of villains -- travel back in time to set events aright. The villains can’t stop Krona from completing his experiment. However, the Spectre and the assembled heroes confront the Anti-Monitor at the Dawn of Time. A big white explosion takes us to...

* * *

C. THE POST-CRISIS UNIVERSE

1. In the Post-Crisis Beginning, right after the Big Bang at the Dawn of Time, a Giant Cosmic Hand spins the first building blocks of the Universe into their starting places, as if casting bread crumbs on a lake. There’s also a single antimatter universe.

2. Millions of years later, the Oan scientist Krona attempts to observe this event, but ends up unleashing Evil on the universe.

Here’s where it starts to get tricky. If Pariah was originally from another Earth, where’s he from now? If an antimatter wave wasn’t destroying parallel universes, what was it destroying? In other words, how was the post-Crisis Crisis different?

There are a couple of answers, but they’re not entirely compatible with the “one universe, no exceptions” rule which post-Crisis DC sought to enforce. First, Pariah and the other Multiversal survivors might actually be from other dimensions, like the Avengers-analogues who show up in (the post-Crisis) Justice League #3. Second, Hypertime offers a catch-all solution for many of these problems. Third, Crisis #11 indicates that there’s still *something* where Earth-2 was, it’s just a yawning void. Basically, in the years following COIE, DC had at least a few in-continuity parallel-Earth stories which contradicted the spirit, if not the letter, of COIE; and for the most part, pros and fans shrugged and moved on. Thus:

3. The post-Crisis Crisis happens. Lots of people die. Things Are Never The Same.

4. After the Crisis, “waves of time” cause random changes in order to facilitate the rebooting of several superhero titles.

5. The events of Zero Hour, too complicated to summarize here, bring all these time-anomalies to a head. A small group of heroes tries to prevent the unbalanced Hal Jordan from restarting the universe in his own image. They succeed, but guess what?

* * *

D. THE POST-ZERO HOUR* UNIVERSE

1. In the Post-Zero Hour Beginning, right after the Big Bang at the Dawn of Time, a Giant Cosmic Hand spins the first building blocks of the Universe into their starting places, as if casting bread crumbs on a lake. There’s also a single antimatter universe.

2. Millions of years later, the Oan scientist Krona attempts to observe this event, but ends up unleashing Evil on the universe.

3. The post-Zero Hour Crisis happens, probably not too differently from how the post-Crisis Crisis did. Lots of people die. Things Are Never The Same.

4. Things go on fine for a while, until a) in DC One Million, the Justice League takes a trip into the 853rd Century to meet up with Superman, who’s still alive and (it turns out) immortal, and b) in The Kingdom, a villain from the future shows up in our present to kill Superman, having already killed boatloads of Supermen on his way back in time. This leads to the discovery of Hypertime, which basically says all the old stories still exist, just like they originally happened, in their own cubbyholes of space, time, and dimension. The thing is, they’re just really really hard to access. There’s a suggestion that the Earth-2 Superman, relegated to “not dead, but still gone” limbo at the end of COIE, is still alive and punching on some Hypertime dimensional wall.

5. Nobody much likes Hypertime.

6. Instead, ZOMG!!1!! the four COIE survivors -- Superman (Kal-L) of Earth-2, his wife Lois Lane Kent, Alex Luthor of Earth-3, and Superboy (Kal-El) of Earth-Prime -- have been biding their time in the years since COIE, waiting to spring into action and fix all the bad stuff which has befallen their beloved Universe. Alex Luthor hopes that by recreating the Multiverse, the infinite monkeys on their infinite typewriters will come up with the perfect Earth that won’t need changing or revision, ever.

* * *

E. THE POST-INFINITE CRISIS MULTIVERSE

1. In the Post-Infinite Crisis Beginning, right after the Big Bang at the Dawn of Time, a Giant Cosmic Hand spins the first building blocks of the Universe into their starting places, as if casting bread crumbs on a lake. There’s also a single antimatter universe. Additionally, all the excess energy from the aftermath of Alex Luthor’s experiment creates 52 additional parallel universes, each occupying the same space as New Earth’s but inhabiting its own vibratory frequency. The histories of these 52 are altered radically by the intervention of Mr. Mind.

2. Millions of years later, the Oan scientist Krona attempts to observe the creation of (as far as he knows) the Universe, but ends up unleashing Evil.

3. The post-Infinite Crisis Crisis happens, probably not too different from the Post-Crisis Crisis. Lots of people die. Things Are Never The Same.

4. Hypertime is discovered, as before.

5. Nobody much likes Hypertime.

6. Apparently there are now 52 Monitors. They are dedicated to cleaning up all the anomalies.

* * *

And here we are. I know it doesn’t quite account for Animal Man. Still, does it all sound right?


[P.S. Yes, "Post-Zero-Hour" does sound like a '50s variety show sponsored by a cereal company.]

3 comments:

RAB said...

About 15 years ago, John "does not play well with others" Byrne did a Green Lantern one-shot (based on an outline by Larry Niven) called Ganthet's Tale, in which a Guardian explains to Hal that the whole anthropomorphic Giant Cosmic Hand thing was an illusion constructed to throw off anyone investigating the origin of the universe (or universes) and this business about Krona creating "Evil" was a fairy-tale -- what Krona actually did was accelerate the natural entropy of spacetime.

Much as it goes against the grain to swallow any continuity-mangling from John "everything you were told before was a lie unless I say otherwise" Byrne, in this one case he's the lesser of two or more evils and I think we'd have to resort to something very like that explanation to truly make sense of this mess. This stuff about uncreating universes and then recreating them with different origins and now there are only 52 of them and suggesting that completely different starting points can all converge to produce the same end result (and your past can change without you noticing it to produce the same present!) is just ridiculous.

Better to say "all these Crises and Monitors and whatnots are all just something made up to fool humans, because you can't handle the truth..."

Diamondrock said...

Unless I'm mistaken, wasn't that big hand the ANTI-MONITOR's hand?

Tom Bondurant said...

RAB: I own Ganthet's Tale, but forgot about it. I do remember the bits about Krona not really unleashing Evil, but for simplicity's sake included it here. According to GT, Krona really unleashed Entropy, or something similar, right?

Diamondrock: The way I understood COIE, if the hand Krona saw turned out to be the Anti-Monitor's, then the positive-matter universe would never have existed. Since that didn't happen, I always thought Krona saw the Spectre's hand at the end of Crisis #10.

I never realized how much that sounds like Groundhog's Day (if the A-M sees his shadow, six more issues of Crisis!) until this very moment.

The rest of the times, I don't know whose hand it was -- Julie Schwartz's?