The Crisis on Infinite Earths series effectively re-booted the internal DC universe from the dawn of time onward. A new history was written – one that rendered many of the older DC stories apocryphal. Characters, timelines, and events from the varying alternate realities were condensed into one mode
Post-Crisis is a term used to describe characters, items, realities or events that take place during DC Comics' publishing history following the 1985-86 Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series. The term is used by industry professionals and consumers, and is widely considered to be an out-of-universe phrase; which is to say – characters within the DC universe continuity (with rare exception), do not use the term "Post-Crisis" when referring to events preceding the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
The Crisis on Infinite Earths series effectively re-booted the internal DC universe from the dawn of time onward. A new history was written – one that rendered many of the older DC stories apocryphal. Characters, timelines, and events from the varying alternate realities were condensed into one modernized mainstream reality, excising many characters that would otherwise be construed as redundant and rewriting the histories of those characters that continued to be validated in the new ontological template.
The Great Migration
By the end of the series, all but five parallel Earths had been utterly destroyed for all time. In theory, many of the characters from the surviving dimensions were folded over into one streamlined continuity.
- The Justice Society: All characters and history relating to the war-time heroes known as the Justice Society of America and the All-Star Squadron migrated into the modern continuity. The Golden Age Wonder Woman was replaced with Miss America (and later with Queen Hippolyta) in the post-crisis timeline. Many of the JSA/JLA annual crossover events are considered apocryphal and non-canon.
- The Freedom Fighters: The Freedom Fighters assisted the Justice Society of America as members of the All-Star Squadron in the new continuity. Although the team members' individual Golden Age histories were preserved, their common history as heroes on Earth-X is considered non-canon.
- The 7 Soldiers of Victory: In the revised history, the Golden Age Green Arrow and Speedy were replaced by Wing (sidekick to the Crimson Avenger), and Stuff the Chinatown Kid. In some versions, Thomas Ludlow, alias the Spider, filled out the team's roster.
- Infinity Inc.: While most Infinity Inc stories are considered canon, their adventures took place on the Post-Crisis Earth, and not on Earth-Two.
- Batman: Batman underwent several structural alterations, mostly relating to his upbringing and personality development from the previous incarnations. The core plot behind his decision to fight crime independent of the legal system which he considers ineffective remains, many of his Pre-Crisis adventures are abandoned in the modern canon, such as trusting his extended family and friends which was indicative of the Silver Age version who was best friends with Superman. The tone and flavor of these stories is indicative of a darker, grittier storytelling structure. The extent between which adventures are preserved in the modern era, and which ones are considered apocryphal remains a matter of speculation. Many of Batman's Silver Age adventures have been retold and changed in various formats over the past twenty years. Much of Batman's Bronze Age history, although more tonally palatable to the Post-Crisis era, was also rendered apocryphal, such as the story arcs concerning Hugo Strange's discovery of Batman's secret identity, Catwoman's rehabilitation as an ally of Batman, the circumstances surrounding the adoption of Jason Todd and his career as Robin, etc. Batman's status as a founder of the Justice League was also retroactively removed from his history, and his historical participation in the League was characterized as having been more informal until the Justice League International era. Infinite Crisis restored many of the elements of the Pre-Crisis version of the character though, seemingly harmonizing them with the Post-Crisis status quo, such as bringing the original Batwoman back into continuity, changing Jason Todd's natural hair color back to red, and referencing numerous previously apocryphal Silver Age stories and concepts in a new and darker context, in addition to fully restoring Batman's JLA founder status.
- Superman: Superman's history and background were completely retooled rendering a large number of Silver and Bronze Age appearances apocryphal. The entire mythology of the pre-Crisis depiction of Krypton was invalidated by the dramatic alterations to the Post-Crisis interpretation of Kryptonian society, and all other Kryptonian survivors were retroactively removed from the timeline due to the circumstance that retroactively made Superman truly the Last Son of Krypton. As such, Superman's entire supporting cast and gallery of villains were reimagined for a more palatable, modern setting including having his foster parents survive into his adult life, removing Superman's career as Superboy and history with the Legion of Super-Heroes, and changing Lex Luthor's characterization from a criminal scientist to a corrupt industrialist. Like with Batman, Superman's status as a founder of the Justice League was also retroactively removed from history (though his participation in the other JLA founders' fight against the Appellaxians was not), and Superman's historic participation in the League was downplayed, albeit not to quite the same degree as the Batman. Infinite Crisis restored aspects of the Pre-Crisis version of the character, such as re-establishing his career as Superboy with the Legion of Super-Heroes and his boyhood encounter with Mon-El, his status as a JLA founder, the "mild-mannered reporter" persona of his Clark Kent identity, the existence of the giant key to the original Fortress of Solitude, and references to previously apocryphal events such as For the Man Who Has Everything and Superman's Pre-Crisis races against the Barry Allen Flash. The idea of there being other Kryptonian survivors was reintroduced even prior to Infinite Crisis and the concept was further pursued after the event, giving rise to new reimaginings of Krypton, Kandor, and the Phantom Zone.
- Wonder Woman: The Post-Crisis Wonder Woman did not make her first appearance until nearly a year after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Like Superman, her history and supporting cast were retooled for the modern era. Unlike Superman, the Post-Crisis Wonder Woman's first appearance in the Legends event established her as a new heroine on the scene, meaning that no previous history of Wonder Woman could possibly retain validity in the new timeline. Wonder Woman's place as a founding member of the Justice League was taken over in the retelling of events by the Black Canary. Though from the events of Infinite Crisis, many of the Silver Age elements have been brought back into canon such as her timeline which includes restoring her JLA founder status and pushing her first appearance back to around the same time as Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, and The Flash.
- Legion of Super-Heroes: Since Clark Kent history as Superboy was removed until Infinite Crisis, the Legion of Super-Heroes formation was revealed to be the result of Time Trapper. To ensure the Legion's formation as a means of opposing Mordru, he created a Pocket Universe that the group arrived at when they attempted to time travel, with said Earth containing a teenage Clark Kent who became Superboy since he was 8 years old.
The Great Unraveling
Harbinger's claim that there was only one Earth, one history quickly unraveled as it was revealed that the Legion of Super-Heroes trips back to Superboy's time were in fact to an artificial alternate timeline created by the Time Trapper. Moreover, since post-Crisis Barry Allen had still faced Professor Zoom from the 25th century and Abra Kadabra from the 64th century, the "present" was set in the distant future making events like Armageddon 2001 and later Zero Hour impossible.
The solution was hypertime which by its very nature meant there was a reality "out there" where the multiverse collapse didn't happen. That alternative reality became the "main" reality with Convergence.
- The formal Multiverse ceased to exist with the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, but there were indications that a different multiverse might exist. By the time of Armageddon 2001 and Zero Hour it was demonstrated that things were not quite right. Eventually hypertime was introduced with many stories that existed outside the continuity of the modern DC Universe (both Imaginary Stories and Elseworlds) being shown to be outside the events of Crisis.
- There are several alternate realities that continue to be accessed by the primary DC reality and its inhabitants or are accessed by extradimensional beings. The first of these other dimensional beings was Walter West, a parallel version of Wally West who has since left the Primary DC universe for an undisclosed reality.
- Between Crisis on Infinite Earths #11 and All-Star Squadron #60, the Post-Crisis New Earth reality had not fully consolidated, leading to discrepancies in the merged timeline. This was later revealed to be due to the influence that the malevolent android Mekanique was exerting over the Post-Crisis timeline. While the reconstruction of reality at the dawn of time occurred instantaneously during the Crisis (resulting in there being only one Superman, one Batman, one Dick Grayson, etc. in the modern era), Mekanique was keeping the full effects of the Crisis from being felt throughout the timeline. As such, several characters continued with their Pre-Crisis status quo effectively still in place for several months following the conclusion of the Crisis until Mekanique withdrew her influence, allowing the timeline to readjust itself to resolve the discrepancies caused by combining the five remaining Pre-Crisis worlds together.
- Crisis on Infinite Earths
- Golden Age
- Infinite Crisis
- Silver Age