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DC’s Constant Reboots Demand the Return of Who’s Who Comics

CBR logo CBR 9/2/2022 Timothy Donohoo
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Perhaps more than any other shared universe, DC Comics has a fairly unwieldy continuity for its comic books and characters. Having had numerous alternate universes and reboots in the past several decades, DC's continuity is one that typically requires a thesaurus to wade through. At one point, the publisher seemed to realize this, resulting in a once all-encompassing tome on the home of Superman and Batman.

Who's Who in the DC Universe laid out everything that readers needed to know about the many heroes of the main DC Universe, perfectly segueing into their first landmark crossover event. Nowadays, DC continuity is more convoluted than ever, making a new Who's Who just the thing to help clear up any confusing history. If paired with the perfect artist, it could be a smash hit that will fly off shelves.

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Who's Who in the DC Universe Was a Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion

Conceived by Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, and Robert Greenberger, with the intention being to catalog all the characters and concepts within their comic books. Beginning publication in 1985, the series would coincide with the release of Crisis on Infinite Earths by the time of Who's Who's conclusion. This meant that, even though the series was initially based around the pre-Crisis DC continuity, it would later shift its scope to the newer versions of DC's heroes. These included the John Byrne version of Superman and the version of Wonder Woman rebooted by Who's Who and Crisis artist, George Pérez. It's safe to say that the very existence of Who's Who in the DC Universe necessitated Crisis.

Though a book chronicling DC's greatest heroes sounds like a no-brainer anyway, DC before Crisis was a much different animal from even fellow publisher Marvel Comics. DC had numerous continuities, namely Earth-1 and Earth-2, which featured wildly divergent versions of the same characters. Multiple Supermen, Batmen, Wonder Women, Flashes, and Green Lanterns were hard to parse for some, especially when some versions were almost entirely unrelated. Even for continuity hounds, keeping up with all these different heroes in an era before fan sites was definitely a difficult task. Nowadays, the difficulty hasn't changed, and the continuity of DC's books has only gotten less new-user friendly.

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A Modern Who's Who in the DC Universe Could Be a Smash Hit

DC wisely got rid of the meandering and ultimately detrimental concept of the multiverse back in Crisis, but multiple crossovers later, both it and its temporary replacement in "Hypertime" would make a comeback. Now, "everything" is in continuity, and it seems like an alternate version of a major hero appears in a book every month. Longtime DC fans have begun to become lost in what was once familiar territory, which means that's even more so the case for newcomers. The abandoned New 52 failed to make things easier to follow, largely due to the reboot and what was still in continuity being completely haphazard. DC Rebirth was meant to take things back to a simpler continuity, but the many retcons and contradictory elements introduced afterward made that null and void.

Thus, a modern Who's Who in the DC Universe would be optimal, but it has to be extensive. Layout exactly what's currently in continuity for the mainstream DC Universe and its major characters, adding in more minor ones along the way if their most recent versions line up with current continuity. From there, expand to talk about past versions of the characters, such as the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Age versions of Superman, plus any discrepancies that they might have with his modern incarnation. Entries for Jim Lee's Wildstorm characters and those of the separate Milestone Universe could also be included. The book would likely be an ongoing series due to its length, especially since it would be perhaps the most important comic published by DC.

The characters should all be drawn with incredible detail and quality, meaning that an artist such as Alex Ross or current DC president Jim Lee would be required for the epic project. Likewise, Phil Jimenez might be a good choice, giving the new series a sort of continuity with the original. After all, Jimenez's art was definitely influenced by Pérez's, with the former even drawing the Crisis sequel series Infinite Crisis. A superstar artist would also ensure that the book gets noticed, making it a hot commodity for all retailers to carry. This importance, just given the title's nature, could translate into it being a perennial seller, if for no other reason than that people need to know the basics of DC's continuity. Such a foundation is currently missing, but a new Who's Who in the DC Universe would be the perfect place to set things straight.


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