In the final pages of today’s Generations Forged #1 from DC, the audience — and the 1939 Batman — learn that there’s a “linearverse,” the timeline overseen by the Linear Men, in which the heroes and villains of the DC Universe age slowly, allowing for everything in the company’s long publishing history to have all happened on one Earth. This may (or may not) be the main DC timeline, but one thing is for sure: along the way, there’s a heavy implication that none of the various reality-destroying events of the last 35 year or so have actually destroyed reality at all.
The issue — and specifically the Golden Age Batman — suggests that, in Crisis-level events past, it’s possible that the worlds wiped from existence weren’t really wiped out, but “hidden.” The comic itself does not go so far as to say that, but it certainly is what happened to the worlds apparently destroyed in Generations Shattered #1, which read like a sequel to Zero Hour, a 1994 miniseries written and drawn by (Generations Forged co-writer/artist) Dan Jurgens which marked DC’s first official follow-up to Crisis on Infinite Earths.
“What if those eras weren’t destroyed…but moved?” Batman asks at a key moment in the story. “Is it any more farfetched to believe those eras are out there somewhere, hidden, than to think we’ll eventually rebuild hundreds of millions of years’ worth of time?”
That he eventually turns out to be right raises the same question for every other universe that’s died — especially those that have come back years or decades later, seemingly unchanged — in DC’s publishing history.
What’s especially interesting is that the idea of the multiverse being “hidden” and not destroyed actually syncs up nicely with what the Arrowverse did at the end of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” last year. In the comics, the Anti-Monitor destroyed (as far as we know) the original, infinite multiverse, and it didn’t come back until there had been a number of changes the universal fabric to put it in motion.
On TV, it appeared as though the multiverse had been destroyed only for the duration of the event; at the end of the Crisis, the heroes of Earth-Prime still believed the multiverse to be gone, but a quick montage of shots from other Earths revealed that, in fact, it was simply beyond the reach of our heroes.
At least for now — in an upcoming episode of The Flash, John Wesley Shipp will appear, so it seems likely there will be at least some interplay between worlds. Of course, the “hiding” didn’t work, long-term, for the comics, either…!
Generations: Forged #1 is on sale today at comic shops and online.
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