Continuity is not a four-letter word

Upfront, full disclosure: I love DC’s “New 52”.  When they announced the relaunch, I was excited.  While I loved the old universe, it just felt like it was time to reboot everything.  I was ready for new adventures and stories, without needing to keep up on 25+ years worth of previous stories and retcons.

Even though DC didn’t call it a “reboot”, we all knew it was.  And, sure enough, “Flashpoint” led us into a new, merged universe, which was set only five years after the emergence of Superman and the other heroes.  Awesome!

However, there was a problem.  It wasn’t a “full” relaunch.  No, the Green Lantern and Batman titles were simply carrying the stories from where they were when the previous universe ended.  Except….they didn’t exactly carry things.  Barbara Gordon could suddenly walk again, and didn’t seem to have ever been Oracle.  Or had she?  It was left murky.  Dick Grayson had been acting as Batman, while Bruce was “away”.  So did he die?  Or was he just “away”?

We’re to still assume “Blackest Night” and “Brightest Day” happened, right?  Except…did Hal Jordan die, get reborn, become Parallax, or any of those other things that happened before “Blackest Night”?  Did “Rebirth” still count?  It couldn’t have, right?  Hal is a young man in this universe; he was older when he died and was eventually resurrected.  These were rather integral backstory components to the “Blackest Night” arc.

Now, I am a forgiving person.  I can do my very best to ignore things like this.  So it’s a little murky.  So what?  I can live with it.  Not a big deal.  After all, we now have a new(ish) universe, so everything can just make sense from this point on.

Except…it doesn’t.  Let’s start with the Superman titles.  Is “Action” still a prequel series, set five years ago?  Or is it in tune with the “modern” stories?  In some titles, Lois Lane is now psychic and in a coma, and knows who Superman is, while in other titles, she appears to be perfectly normal and has no idea who he is.  In some, Lex Luthor is still in prison with a scarred face, while in others, he’s out of prison and back in charge of LexCorp, with his face surgically repaired.  These are all supposed to be in-canon stories, so how do they all tie together?  We have Wonder Woman dating Superman and starring together in their own title, but her sole title makes few references to anything else happening in the Justice League or Superman titles.  It’s almost as if her title is isolated from everybody else.  She’s on all these adventures, but she’s also out with the Justice League.

Oh, wait….I almost forgot about the Justice League.  We’ve been going through the “Forever Evil” arc.  So, the heroes are all trapped inside the psyche of Firestorm…okay, that’s pretty cool.  Oh, and Nightwing’s identity has been revealed to the world.  Okay, that’s also interesting.  Except…their various solo titles carry on, with no references to these things.  Nightwing is still living in an apartment, doing his own thing, with people not knowing who he is.  Is this arc taking place before or after “Forever Evil”?  Aquaman was unconscious in his own book for six months, yet he’s also trapped in “Forever Evil”.  So…which is it?  What’s the time frame?

In case it’s been unclear so far…this really is irritating me.  Continuity is not that hard to maintain.  All it takes is one of those little “Editor’s Note: the events of this issue take place before…” bubbles.  I’ve seen a few used so far in this universe, but not nearly enough.  At least the Batman titles have been in Zero Year, so we haven’t had to worry about the timeline.

Continuity in stories seems to be treated like some kind of vile, despicable thing.  I’m not asking for an exact timeline; I just want to know how these stories tie in together.  That’s the one big problem with a shared universe and multiple titles: if you have characters cross over, which I personally love, it’s going to mess with the timelines of numerous titles.  A little explanation would be nice.

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