Hello. I’m Alex Jaffe, better known in our Community as HubCityQuestion. My personal mission: to take on any question you have about the DC Universe -- no matter how granular, obscure, or strange -- and present you with an answer. As a faithful steward of the truth, I offer my time in this weekly column to address these inquiries. If you’d like to submit one of your own, you can stop by my office at any time in our lively Community to state your case, which I will address in turn to the best of my ability.
All YOU need to do is ask… The Question.
THERE'S GOT TO BE A MORNING AFTER
“What are the titles that take place immediately after Crisis on Infinite Earths?”
For all of its grandeur, the main purpose of Crisis on Infinite Earths was to clear the decks of 50 years of storyline cruft, giving new readers a fresh, updated and unfettered jumping in point to the DC Universe as a whole. Many of DC’s longest running titles came to an end, while others continued through a gray area, adjusting gradually to the new status quo. Here, then, is a brief guide on where to start in the “Post-Crisis” DC Universe.
After CRISIS reshaped the universe’s history, this two-part record narrated by Harbinger provides all the background a reader could need before diving into DC’s latest stories in 1986 and ‘87.
Monthly issues of Secret Origins provided even deeper insight into the characters and concepts of the reformatted DC Universe, spotlighting new heroes and villains in each issue for the new continuity.
John Byrne’s Man of Steel miniseries provides an updated origin for Superman. It continues into a renumbered Superman series, as well as its companion title which had inherited the legacy numbering, The Adventures of Superman.
As John Byrne was reinventing Superman, George Pérez was doing the same for Wonder Woman -- in an epic run that many fans still consider the character’s definitive take to this day.
More than a reboot, the Post-Crisis story of The Flash is one of loss and legacy. With the death of Barry Allen in “Crisis,” The Flash’s former sidekick Wally West takes on his mentor’s mission while redefining it on his own terms.
Featuring the first appearance of Kilowog, the new Post-Crisis direction for the Green Lantern titles reformatted the Lantern line as an ensemble cast series.
This landmark series by Mike Grell regrounds the Emerald Archer for a Post-Crisis world, continuing into his first ongoing series.
After a complicated Pre-Crisis history involving time travel and publication rights, The New Beginning provides Billy Batson with… well, a new beginning. It was followed some years later by The Power of Shazam!, which keeps a few elements from this initial stab at it but changes around some others.
This 4 issue series by J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen did a lot to establish the Post-Crisis status quo for the magical side of the DC Universe, and provides a starting point for the complex journey the Helm of Fate would take thereafter.
This series featuring the world’s strangest heroes begins in the Post-Crisis universe, but drifts further away into its own corner as the team’s internal dynamics develop and writers change.
Legends was the first major event comic to occur in the aftermath of “Crisis,” establishing the societal role of Super Heroes in this new Earth - and paving the way for both Suicide Squad and a new Justice League title.
THE DARK KNIGHT DILEMMA
Right. So, the major fuzzy area when it comes to Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis delineation is the Batman titles. No renumbering, no special limited series, and plot lines seem to continue through the darn comics as if completely unaffected by its consequences. When it comes to Post-Crisis Batman stories, the tone and content is more of a gradual shift, as later titles like Legends of the Dark Knight filled in Batman’s reimagined earlier years. Keeping in mind that a hard break between Pre-Crisis and Post-Crisis Batman doesn’t truly exist, the best place to start would be with Frank Miller and Dave Mazzuchelli’s “Batman: Year One,” as published in 1987’s Batman #404-407. Following that story is a new updated origin for Jason Todd, who was serving as Batman’s Robin up through, during, and immediately after the Crisis. In the meantime, Detective Comics #575 immediately began publishing “Batman: Year Two,” a perfectly acceptable Post-Crisis starting point for that title as well.
THE NEW CLASS
One significant change to arise from “Crisis” was the arrival of several new heroes to the DC Universe, debuting in their own series. These included Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Captain Atom, Peacemaker, umm… Wild Dog... and, uh. Shoot. I know there was someone else.
U.P. WITH PEOPLE
“So we know that by the 31st (30th?) century, the United Planets is the supreme governmental power in the galaxy. How did it get to be this way? Do we know what the history of the UP is, or has it been left vague? Finally, are there any links to this future government that can be found in the modern day DCU? As always, I give you a Legion of Super-Thanks.”
A lot can happen over a thousand years, Soup. The universe as it’s presented in the Legion of Super-Heroes stories is so different from the DC Universe as we know it today, it feels like it might as well be in a separate continuity. And at times, DC has attempted to do just that, sequestering them from the “main” universe -- such as in the so-called “Threeboot” from around 2004 through Final Crisis.
In the past, the history of the United Planets and how it came to be has been kept vague, as you suspected. But thanks to Brian Michael Bendis’ ongoing run on the Superman and Legion of Super-Heroes titles, marrying the worlds of Superman and the Legion with a cohesion which they’ve rarely enjoyed in the past.
In Bendis’ Superman, Clark and Kara discover a clandestine predecessor to the United Planets known as “The Circle” -- where some of the universe’s most brilliant and powerful heads of state met in secret to guide the course of intergalactic history. Members of The Circle included Appa Ali Apsa, a Guardian of the Universe; Sardath, top scientist of Rann (and father-in-law of Adam Strange); M’yandr, king of Tamaran; and many others, including Jor-El himself. When Superman revealed to the universe the behind-the-scenes manipulations of The Circle, it was his son Jon Kent who suggested a new alternative for a rudderless universe in their absence: a new public shared government, where representatives of each civilized planet could meet, form mutually beneficial alliances, and work out their differences. Inspired by Earth’s own United Nations, Jon dubbed them the United Planets.
Since then, we’ve had a few peeks into what happens during the interim. In Bendis’ Millennium, we see a middle-aged Supergirl having assumed the office of President of the United Planets. Over time, the organization naturally grows in power from a loose but friendly confederation to the central governing body of the universe. In each issue of Bendis’ Legion of Super-Heroes, we learn a little more about the large scale future of the DC Universe from the perspective of a time-displaced Jon Kent himself. So if you’re searching for answers, that’s the series to check out!
“Given that we know Bruce Wayne was orphaned by the murder of his parents, he was not without extended family. We know this through Batwoman, and other sources. So, I ask, given the Wayne fortune (at stake at the time), how is it that a small child (and heir to that fortune) wound up in the care of the family butler, Alfred? Even if they knew they were going to die (did they?), why on earth would they leave the conservatorship of their child’s well being to their man-servant? Are you going to tell us there was no “will” regarding young Bruce’s future? Given all the money at stake, nobody ever challenged any of this? And where does the Court of Owls fit into the picture? I know they have a rather convoluted history. Please forgive me if I’m not up on their latest doings. Just curious.”
There’s quite a lot to unpack here, wrightline. You’ve asked a number of questions, under a number of not necessarily rock solid presumptions. I’ll do my best to address them all.
To start, it should be said that whenever depicted, most of the extended families of Martha Kane and Thomas Wayne are of considerably ill repute. The “Zero Year” comics of the New 52 show us an Alfred doing all he can to resist the cannibalism of the Wayne fortune by predatory family members, which had been held in a trust until Bruce is old enough to claim it for himself. With young Bruce absent from Gotham for long periods of time, it was up to Alfred to convince the extended Waynes and the Kanes that Bruce was alive and well, even when Alfred himself had no evidence of such. His most important job was to keep the faith that Bruce would one day return.
But while Alfred has always kept as watchful an eye over young master Bruce as he could, it was never Alfred who was Bruce Wayne’s legal guardian after the deaths of his parents. That duty actually fell to Leslie Thompkins, a close friend to both Thomas and Martha in life, and the woman they trusted most to look after their boy. Though Bruce got out from under Leslie’s thumb to pursue his own path as quickly as possible, Bruce has never forgotten that it was Dr. Thompkins who looked after him in those early years.
As for the Waynes’ plans for their son’s orphaning, there’s been no indication that Thomas and Martha ever knew they were destined for an early death. But the Waynes did have a number of powerful enemies like crime boss Lew Moxon- who, according to some versions of continuity, hired Joe Chill to kill them- and your aforementioned Court of Owls- who were partially responsible for the Wayne murders in TV’s Gotham. But even in the comics, the Owls are not without interest in ending the Wayne legacy. In the “Night of Owls” storyline, we learn that one of the Court’s Talon agents was sent after Martha years before her demise, missing her but claiming the life of a child who would have been Bruce’s younger brother -- Thomas Wayne, Jr. In the present day, a political figure and Court of Owls member by the name of Lincoln March claims to be Thomas Wayne Jr. himself, captured and raised by the Court after that fateful day. But the veracity of that account may always remain an unanswered question.
I, on the other hand, will always do whatever I can to answer whatever questions you bring to my door. All that’s required of you is to show up with the temerity to present them. You’ll never be discouraged of whatever desire you may have to ASK… THE QUESTION.