If one thing has defined DC Comics throughout the years, it is their reliance on Crisis events. The DC shows on The CW have used the Crisis events to line up their yearly crossover episodes and have chosen a few from the comics to play out through their line of stories. However, when it comes to the books, a Crisis is usually just a way for them to reboot storylines, fix plot holes, and update certain characters.
It all started with the Crisis on Infinite Earths, where DC Comics rebooted their entire line. What followed over the next three decades was both bigger and smaller Crisis events that made changes whenever they felt the need. With so many modifications in the comic line's history, here is a look at 10 of DC's major Crises.
10 DARK NIGHTS: METAL
One of the most recent Crises events in DC Comics took place in 2017-18 with Dark Nights: Metal. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo created a story where Batman discovered a dark multiverse that existed tight under the DC multiverse. This dark multiverse connects to Batman's world through metals he encountered, and he accidentally unleashes seven evil versions of himself from that multiverse.
The plan of the villain Barbatos is to use the combined power of the Over-Monitor, the Anti-Monitor's brain energy and the dark energy of Batman Who Laughs' to destroy all creation. Luckily, Batman finds an ally in Joker, stops the villain, and it ends with a larger multiverse -- one more dangerous than before.
9 HEROES IN CRISIS
Heroes in Crisis just ended and it remains a very polarizing story - a murder mystery with the guilty party one of DC Comics' most beloved characters. Tom King and Clay Mann created a story that took place at the Sanctuary - which DC Comics introduced as a rehabilitation center for heroes and villains dealing with mental health issues.
A massacre took the lives of a lot of people in the Sanctuary, and Batman believes one of the patients was responsible. Unlike other Crisis events, this is not a cosmic changing crisis or one that reboots anything. It is a smaller crisis that affects the heroes personally and shows the trauma that occurs when surrounded by violence.
8 CRISIS ON NEW GENESIS
Yes, Crisis on Infinite Earths was technically the Crisis event that started all Crisis events, but it was not the first DC Comics title with "Crisis" in its name. Head back to 1980, and there was an event called Crisis on New Genesis.
At this time, there were yearly comics where the Justice League and Justice Society would visit each other, have adventures, and give fans a chance to see those classic golden age heroes again. In 1980, when it came the time, four members of each team ended up materializing on New Genesis, recruited to stop Darkseid.
7 IDENTITY CRISIS
Much like Heroes in Crisis, the story from Identity Crisis was also one that was a small scale crisis that completely changed the Justice League - and especially how Batman saw his teammates. Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales told the story of a death in the family, and it was up to the Justice League to figure out who killed Elongated Man's pregnant wife, Sue Dibny.
While the Justice League found the culprit of the murder, that was not what made this entire DC Crisis event so impactful. It was the secrets that ended up unburied during the investigation, which included the fact that the Justice League altered the mind of Doctor Light after he assaulted Sue in the past. Batman was against this and had his memory changed as well, which led to future distrust between the Caped Crusader and the Justice League.
6 ZERO HOUR: CRISIS IN TIME!
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! took place in 1994 and focused on the former hero Hal Jordan, who went from being one of the universe's most respected heroes in The Green Lantern and became the mad Parallax. His goal was to destroy and remake the entire DC Universe. Now one of the most powerful villains in the universe, it took all DC's heroes to try to stop him.
The idea with Zero Hour was similar to that of Crisis on Infinite Earths, where DC wanted to tie up some problems that Infinite Earths did not fix and tidy up some complicated plot strands. Parallax almost succeeded but was stopped, causing a new Big Bang, which created a new singular timeline for the entire DC Universe.
In 2011, it was time for DC Comics to reboot everything again. This time around, things started with Flashpoint and ended with the New 52. Barry Allen, who died in Crisis on Infinite Earths returned a decade earlier as he was caught in the Speed Force and wasn't dead as expected. Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert wrote this story of Barry trying to change the timeline to bring back his mother and succeeding.
However, by changing his past, he changed the world completely. Bruce Wayne was dead, and Thomas Wayne was a murderous Batman with Martha Wayne as Joker. Aquaman and Wonder Woman were in a war that threatened the world. It turned out Reverse Flash was responsible, and soon Barry and Thomas fixed things but created a new world in doing so - The New 52. This result has slightly changed in the currently running Doomsday Clock.
The New 52 had its ups and downs, and DC Comics decided they were going to change things up again four years later and started this in Convergence. In this series, Brainiac shows up and he has been collecting cities and inhabitants from timelines that ended. Being twisted, he lets these different people see each other to see what they do.
By the end, Convergence ended the New 52 as a branding title, but it still followed that world's stories but with the time jump to the future to start fresh with the characters following this new DC Crisis event.
3 FINAL CRISIS
Final Crisis by Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones brings back Darkseid as the main villain. He gains the Anti-Life Equation, which makes this the third major DC Crisis to deal with that, following Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis. This revelation also brought the New Gods into the story in their best appearance since Jack Kirby wrote their books.
Superman was a central character in this Crisis, but the real key to this story was the sacrifice of Batman. The one member of the Justice League with no powers beat Darkseid but at the cost of his own life (he was actually sent back in time and found his way back). It also brought back Barry Allen.
2 INFINITE CRISIS
Crisis on Infinite Earths ended the multiverse and tied everything together in one cohesive storyline. Infinite Crisis did the opposite and brought the multiverse back, stronger than ever. The end of Infinite Earths saw Superman from Earth-Two, Superboy Prime, Alexander Luthor, Jr., and Lois Lane Kent live in paradise to protect the new universe.
Luthor convinces Superboy Prime to use his power to bust them out after years of living there and then they set out to restore their Earths at the cost of everyone living on this Earth. Superboy Prime has intentions to use the Anti-Monitor power to destroy everything and rebuild it in his own but is finally stopped and defeated by Superman. This Crisis brought back the multiple Earths, before finally collapsing into New Earth with some changes in its history.
1 CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS
Crisis on Infinite Earths is the one that started it all. While it was not the first Crisis, it was the most significant and the one that changed things the most at the time. Before this Crisis, there were a ton of different histories for characters and much of it conflicted with one another. This Crisis allowed DC Comics to streamline its characters, story, and entire comic book line.
The Anti-Monitor shows up to destroy the entire DC Multiverse and almost succeeds. He destroys many of the universes and wipes out countless worlds from existence. The remaining worlds band together to fight back. By the end, there is one Earth and everything morphed into one continuous storyline history.