This reading guide is unique. Rather then compiling a strictly chronological list for major events, this list will take you through Superman’s ‘inter-Crisis” narrative, between 1985 and 2005. It is a deeply researched and curated reading list that takes full advantage of the serial publication format to enrich the experience.
The fictional world’s inhabited by characters of any comic book live in a fictional universe. These universes each have their own guiding rules, built over years of story-telling, but within those broad guidelines they are a playground for the imagination where nearly anything is possible.
Without question this quality is a comic book’s greatest strength, but as with so many other things that are oh so good, it has also proven to be a barrier that makes it hard for new readers to enter the hobby of collecting. It’s the nature of the beast. DC Comics has been publishing super-hero comic books for more then three quarters of a century, Marvel Comics, publishing for nearly as along. Over time the rules of the fictional universe began to wear down and the first sign that world’s are going to die at DC Comics is declining sales.
So it was in 1985 when DC Comic’s decided to respond to an aging and overly complicated fictional universe and declining sales in one full-swoop. They tore it all down and started over with Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Unlike Marvel Comics, DC’s fictional universe was built, in large part, by purchasing it’s competitors after most went bankrupt in 1950’s after a Congressional investigation into the link between comic books and juvenile delinquency. While the executives in suits were busy buying up these companies and their creative properties, it was up to the creative teams to figure out a way to make them fit into the fictional universe. These characters came with their own universes and rules that couldn’t just be wiped away. At least, that was the thinking in the 1960’s.
In addition to the new properties, comic books had entered what collectors refer to as the Silver Age as the Flash and Green Lantern were reintroduced for the space age, leaving behind the question of what to do with their Golden Age counterparts.
The answer came in the form of a multiverse; where each new property was assigned it’s own Earth. For example, when DC bought Fawcet Comics Captain Marvel and his rich world of ancient magic was assigned Earth-S. Similarly, the properties DC gained from its purchase of Charelton Comics, Blue Beetle, The Question, Captain Atom, and the others were assigned Earth-4.
The multiverse was a huge success, until it wasn’t, but that would take nearly a half century of publishing to come to pass. As stated above, the multiverse became too complicated and needed a revamp.
Having been losing to their competitor in the comic book shops DC kicked off it’s new, shared universe. It would last for twenty-years, it was the universe I knew growing up, and it fueled my imagination and soul as a young boy, a teenager, and into my mid-twenties. However, like the multiverse before it, by the end of it’s life this shared universe was beginning to collapse on itself. This time though, it came from the creators who were tired of being stifled by the rigid rules of continuity that had developed over two decades.
In 2005, the twentieth anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earth’s, DC brought back the multiverse.
This guide will take you through twenty-years of Superman mythology. It’s an ambitious project, and it will be updated as regularly as my hectic life permits. If you stick with me, I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Without further delay …