The shared fictional world in which the superhero stories published by DC Comics take place.
Geography – Terrestial
The DC Universe has all the same countries and cities that we have, with a bunch of extras thrown in for good measure.
Countries in the DC Universe include:
American cities in the DC Universe include:
Geography – Interstellar
Of course, the DC Universe doesn't consisnt solely of our little planet. There are a great many planets in the DC Universe, including:
- Krypton – planet whose destruction was survived only by Kal-El, who was sent to Earth and gained mighty powers under our yellow sun;
- Daxam – another planet whose residents gain powers under a yellow sun, but have a deadly weakness against lead – home of Valor and Andromeda;
- Colu – home of the green-skinned, hyper-intelligent Coluans, such as Brainiac, Vril Dox and Brainiac 5;
- Oa – planet located at the centre of the universe, where the Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps were based;
- Thanagar – also known as the Hawkworld, home of the Silver Age Hawkman and Hawkgirl;
- Durla – home of the shape-changing Durlans, and Legionnaire Chameleon;
- Khundia – home of the Khunds, a warrior race, and centre of the Khundian Empire;
- Rann – planet that Adam Strange travelled to by zeta beam;
- Tamaran – home of Starfire, destroyed by the Psions;
At one stage, the DC Universe was actually comprised of an infinite number of alternative Earths (the multiverse), that could be travelled between without too much difficulty. Now, the DC Universe is made up of an infinite number of "hypertimelines" known collectively as Hypertime, that may flow into each other and split off to create alternative pasts and alternative futures, but that can only be travelled between only with great difficulty.
Without going into too much detail, the DC superhero comics we read are all set on one timeline with a single consistent history, but the history may be altered at any time by hypertimelines merging and diverging. This allows retcons to take place without needing to pull apart the entire DC Universe and rebuild it (as happened in Zero Hour).
There are a number of god-like beings in the DC Universe.
There are the Old Gods of the various Earth pantheons, such as the Greek gods known to the Amazons on Paradise Island and the Roman gods from whom Captain Marvel derives his powers.
There are the New Gods, who live on Apokolips (ruled by Darkseid) and New Genesis (ruled by the Highfather).
The Lords of Order and Chaos exist on opposite ends of the magical spectrum, and often do battle on the physical plane through agents such as Hawk and Dove, and Doctor Fate.
The endless (Destiny, Death, Dream, Destruction, Desire, Despair and Delirium) are personifications of fundamental universal concepts, and they take many forms.
Apart from Old Gods and New Gods, there appears to be a God that created all. The Spectre is God's agent of vengeance, and the angel Zauriel was briefly a member of the JLA.
Hell exists, and is inhabited by a multitude of devils and demons, including Lucifer, Etrigan and Neron.
Other planes of existence
The 5th dimension is home to beings that have immense power when visiting our dimension, but are regulated by strict (possibly self-imposed) codes of behaviour. Mr. Mxyzptlk is forced to return to the 5th dimension if he can be tricked into saying his name backwards, and Johnny Thunder's thunderbolt would do only what it was ordered to do by his owner.
The anti-matter universe has Qward at its centre (just as Oa is the centre of the matter universe), and the Earth in the anti-matter universe is ruled by the Crime Syndicate (Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick; villainous counterparts of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern).
The phantom zone (or stasis zone) is where Valor waited a thousand years to be cured of lead poisoning, where Brainiac built a version of Krypton and where people from Bgtzl can partially enter at will to become intangible.
Pocket universes have sometimes been created by immensely powerful beings. Supergirl came originally from a pocket universe that was destroyed by three Kryptonian villains, and some members of the Legion of Super-Heroes have spent time in a pocket universe created by the Time Trapper.
Our point of view
While some characters that now inhabit the DC Universe were first published in 1938, the DC Universe really began in 1940, with the debut of the Justice Society of America in All-Star Comics #3. From then on, DC characters often appeared in each other's titles and fought each other's villains, and throughout the Golden Age the DC Universe was a world much like ours, with a few extra cities.
In the Silver Age, however, things got a little bit more complicated. At first, DC's Golden Age characters either weren't mentioned, or were passed off as mere comic book characters (as with the Golden Age Flash). In 1960, however, "A Flash of Two Worlds" was published in Flash #123. Here, Barry Allen accidentally vibrated his way to an alternative reality, and found himself in Keystone City, the home of Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash. This set the stage for the Justice League of America to meet the Justice Society of America, and the concepts of Earth-1 (home of the Silver Age characters) and Earth-2 (home of the Golden Age characters) were introduced. More Earths were discovered, and the multiverse was born.
Eventually, the powers-that-be at DC decided that the multiverse was just too confusing for new readers, and should be wiped out. In 1986, the Crisis on Infinite Earths was published, and ultimately resulted in all the multiple Earths being crammed together into one single reality. DC also took this opportunity to reboot some of their characters and rewrite their history. Superman, it was established, gained his powers only in his late teens, had never adventured as Superboy, and had his powers toned down significantly. Supergirl never existed. Wonder Woman's story started again from the beginning, so all previous Wonder Woman stories were simply wiped out.
Of course, some parts of the DC Universe adapted better than others. Perhaps the worst affected part of the DC Universe was the far future of the Legion of Super-Heroes. The Legion started off in the pages of the Superboy comics, and had a rich history of adventures with Superboy and Supergirl. Now that both these characters simply didn't exist, the writers of the Legion were forced to come up with torturous convoluted explanations for the resulting gaps in Legion history.
These inconsistencies, and others (such as problems with Hawkman's history) prompted DC to try and fix it all again with Zero Hour in 1994. Here, the DC Universe was essentially destroyed and rebuilt, allowing any continuity problems to be fixed. The Legion of Superheroes was rebooted, and forty years of Legion history erased.
Once again, however, the continuity fixes weren't completely successful. For example, the post-Crisis Superman had met the pre-Zero Hour Legion, and commented on this fact to the post-Zero Hour Legion. It started to look as if yet another continuity fix would be needed in a few more years.
In a final attempt to deal with continual revisions of DC history, the concept of Hypertime was introduced in The Kingdom in 1998. Here it was officially established that the history of the DC Universe is malleable, and may change when required without having to be torn down and rebuilt. Hypertime also re-introduced the possibility of alternative timelines, making even the Elseworlds comics "true" in some sense.
Their point of view
Before talking about the history of the DC Universe we have to discuss briefly how time passes there. The Silver Age started for us in the mid 1950s, but in the current version of DC history Superman and Batman have been around since then, but are still in their mid 30s. Wally West was introduced as a teenaged Kid Flash in 1960, but is currently in his mid 20s. To deal with this discrepancy the time since the beginning of the Silver Age is compressed to fit whatever matches the ages of current heroes.
When DC published Zero Hour, they included an official timeline of the DC Universe that had the Silver Age heroes debuting "10 years ago", and the Crisis happening "4 years ago", so it looked like about 5 of our pre-Crisis years make 1 DC year, and about 2.5 of our post-Crisis years make 1 DC year. If we keep that sort of formula we have the Silver Age starting "13 years ago" and the Crisis "7 years ago".
Using the above as a guide, a very brief current history of the DC Universe is roughly outlined below, subject to whatever alterations may be made in the future, and subject to further compressions of "comic time".
- More Golden Age heroes appear, including Fury, Dr. Mid-Nite, Wildcat, Hawkgirl, Johnny Quick, Mr. Terrific, Liberty Belle, the Tarantula, the Freedom Fighters (Doll Man, Phantom Lady, Black Condor, Ray and the Human Bomb) and the Seven Soldiers of Victory (Star-Spangled Kid, Stripesy, Shining Knight, Vigilante, Stuff the Chinatown Kid, the Crimson Avenger and Wing)
- Wonder Woman (Hippolyta) arrives from the future, and joins the JSA
- All active heroes join the All-Star Squadron for the duration of the War
- Wonder Woman returns to the future
36 years ago
- The capsule carrying Kal-El crashes to Earth near Smallville, and is discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent
29 years ago
13 years ago
12 years ago
- The JSA reforms, and teams up with the JLA (revised version of first JSA/JLA Earth-1/Earth-2 team-up)
- Robin and Kid Flash make their first appearances
11 years ago
10 years ago
- Batgirl debuts
- Teen Titans disbanded
9 years ago
8 years ago
7 years ago
- Aquaman disbands the JLA, then reforms it with J'onn J'onzz, Elongated Man, Zatanna, Vixen, Steel, Vibe and Gypsy
- Jason Todd becomes Robin
- The post-Crisis version of the Crisis happens (imagine the Crisis without any reference to the multiverse, I guess), and Barry Allen dies
- The JSA go into limbo
- Kid Flash becomes the Flash
- Wonder Woman (Diana) makes her public debut
- Glorious Godfrey incites anti-superhero feeling (Legends)
- The JLA is disbanded and reforms again (Batman, Black Canary, J'onn J'onzz, Blue Beetle, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, Doctor Fate)
6 years ago
- The Justice League gains official United Nations status, and Justice League International is formed under Maxwell Lord III
- The Suicide Squad begins operations under Amanda Waller
- People close to many heroes are revealed to be Manhunter spies, and the Manhunters are defeated (Millennium)
- Superman executes three Kryptonian criminals in a pocket universe, and the Supergirl of that universe stays in the "real" universe
- Jason Todd (Robin) killed by the Joker
- An alien invasion of Earth is repelled (Invasion)
5 years ago
- JLI splits into Justice League America and Justice League Europe
- Lex Luthor fakes his own death, and emerges in a younger, cloned body as Lex Luthor II, his own son
- Tim Drake debuts as Robin
- The sorceress Circe engineers a war between the Greek and Roman gods (War of the Gods)
4 years ago
3 years ago
- Impulse arrives from the future
- The Justice League loses UN support, and three different branches of the League are formed, led by J'onn J'onzz (Justice League Task Force) Wonder Woman (Justice League of America) and Captain Atom (Extreme Justice)
- Hal Jordan attempts to remake reality (Zero Hour)
- Jack Knight becomes Starman
2 years ago
- Green Arrow killed over Metropolis, and his son (Connor Hawke) becomes Green Arrow
- Diana loses contest and Artemis becomes Wonder Woman for a short time
- Metropolis largely destroyed and rebuilt
- A deadly virus breaks out in Gotham City
- Neron makes deals with many villains, enhancing their powers in exchange for their souls (Underworld Unleashed)
- The sun is consumed by a sun-eater, but is re-ignited by Hal Jordan in a final sacrifice (Final Night)
1 year ago
- Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, J'onn J'onzz, Flash, Green Lantern and Aquaman form a new JLA
- Gotham City largely destroyed in an earthquake, and declared a no-mans land
- Darkseid attempts to use the attempts to harness the energy of the Godwave, but is defeated and trapped in the wall of the Source (Genesis)
- Clark Kent and Lois Lane marry
- Superman becomes a being of pure energy for a short time
- Diana killed and resurrected as a goddess of truth, and Hippolyta becomes Wonder Woman for a time, and journeys back in time to join the JSA
- Titans reform (Nightwing, Troia, Arsenal, Tempest, Flash, Starfire, Argent, Damage, Cyborg, Jesse Quick)
- JSA reforms (Sentinel, Wildcat, Flash, Black Canary, Starman, Sand, Hourman, Atom-Smasher, Star-Spangled Kid, Hawkgirl)
- Young Justice forms (Superboy, Robin, Impulse, Wonder Girl, Arrowette, the Secret)
- The JLA meets Justice Legion A from the 853rd century, and Montevideo is destroyed in a nuclear explosion (DC 1,000,000)
- The angel Asmodel attempts to take over the Spectre, but is defeated; Hal Jordan becomes the Spectre (Day of Judgment)
In the last year
- Gotham City is rebuilt
- Metropolis is remodelled by Brainiac 13
- The arrival of Mageddon nearly sparks World War III, but Mageddon is defeated by the JLA
- Lex Luthor is elected president of the United States
- Earth is attacked by Imperiex, a large part of Kansas is devastated, and Aquaman, Steel and Hippolyta are killed (Our Worlds at War)
- Oliver Queen returns from the dead
- The Green Lantern gains almost unlimited power and adopts the name Ion for a short time – he sacrifices this power to recreate the Guardians, led by Ganthet, the only survivor of the old Guardians
- The JLA journey to Atlantis in the past to find Aquaman, and return him to life – Aquaman is exiled by his people for his part in the sinking of Atlantis
In 1,000 years
Timeline in Zero Hour #0