According to DC Comics editor Dan Raspler, despite the company's reputation for continually tweaking how their fictional universe works, that's simply not the case. The DC Universe, he explained at a "Justice League of America" panel Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego, is like a complicated machine that needs a good whack every once in a while to keep running smoothly.
DC fans should listen for a firm whack this December, when Mark Waid unleashes the series of "The Kingdom" one shots, which form a sequel to the critically acclaimed 1996 "Kingdom Come" limited series.
Rumors have been flying for a while that something big would happen in "The Kingdom," which will be a series of seven one shots with two "book end" comics following up on the "Gog" one-shot from last year, which saw the future mentor of Magog (the anti-hero who set "Kingdom Come" into motion by driving Superman into retirement) killing Superman 20 years after the end of "Kingdom Come" and traveling back to the present.
"When 'The Kingdom' hits at the end of the year," Waid said at the panel, "All the rules go out the window. … Especially if you're wondering if KC is the future of the DCU, you'll want to pick this up. Whatever you think the answer is, I think you'll be surprised."
"Whatever the rumors you've heard, they're right," Raspler added, "They're right. Especially the contradictory ones."
Asked if DC thought that treating "Kingdom Come" - which was specifically designed as an out-of-continuity Elseworlds project - as "the" future, as it has seemed to in recent months was a good idea, the panel, including JLA writer Grant Morrison, who is credited with inspiring the universe-shaking event in Waid's story, recited the mantra: "It's all true!"
So has DC boxed itself in?
"Once you read 'The Kingdom,'" Waid replied, grinning, "You'll know there ARE NO BOXES!"
Pressed on some of the apparent contradictions of the DCU's future timeline, Waid tried to elaborate:
"Superman was killed in the end of 'Gog,' and he's alive in the sun in 'DC 1 Million,'" a crossover event in September, detailing the 853rd century DCU.
"That's enough, Mark," Raspler jumped-in.
"Stay tuned," Waid finished.
One of the previous tweaks to how the DCU worked happened in the early 1990s, the "Zero Hour" crossover, which trimmed the DC Universe down to one timeline. The previous parallel timelines, much like those that Marvel Comics has in its universe, would have allowed a timeline where Gog kills Superman to exist side-by-side with a timeline where the Man of Steel is an immortal living in the sun, but was seen to be too confusing ultimately. Waid's comments at CCI don't make it clear whether concurrent timelines will be back in the DCU come December, or whether it will simply be alternate futures.
But whatever the case, look for the ramifications to be explored quickly. "Superboy" writer Karl Kesel has told the Unofficial Superboy Website (http://go.to/superboy/) he has pushed back the story originally set to begin in January in favor of a four-part story that "will establish and explore the rules for this re-written rule, (a major rule of the DCU will be totally re-written) and that'll affect the entire DCU, but it's not like we're changing the intrinsic reality of the DCU. Not exactly, at least."