In May, 1984, with no explanation, Spider-Man started wearing a black costume. The romance between Colossus and Kitty Pryde ended suddenly. The Thing was missing in action, and She-Hulk had taken his place in the Fantastic Four. It took a year of wondering and twelve issues of Secret Wars before fans finally understood why the characters they were reading about went through such drastic changes so quickly. Now, more than twenty years later, DC is about to do the same to their characters, only on a much grander scale. Starting tomorrow, March 1, every ongoing superhero title in the DC Universe will leap forward One Year Later. And I couldn’t be more excited.
Of course, this isn’t the first time in recent memory a group of characters has jumped forward a significant amount of time with little explanation of how that time was spent. Several years ago, the X-Men books skipped six months in an “event” that marked the debut of a new Thunderbird, Rogue and Colossus kissing in space, and not much else worth remembering. A few years later, after Xorn was revealed to be Magneto in disguise (sort of), the X-titles jumped forward another six months. The Avengers skipped over the six months during which they had disbanded after Avengers: Disassembled. Excalibur jumped forward six months in the middle of an issue less than year ago. She-Hulk missed six months comic time while her book was on hiatus for six months real time.
So what makes One Year Later special? Well for starters, every current-continuity DC Universe title is making the jump (or getting cancelled). It’s not just the JSA, or just the Batman titles, or just the titles featuring characters heavily involved in Infinite Crisis; every single title skips ahead. It puts new readers on the same level as old ones. No one, no matter which titles they read or how long they’ve read them, will know anything more about the lost year than anyone else.
And then there are the great new creative teams. Paul Dini, co-creator of the single greatest modern representation of Batman in any medium, will take on Batman alongside uber-scribe Grant Morrison. Kurt Busiek, one of the greatest superhero comic writers of our time, tackles Superman with Geoff Johns. Alan Heinberg and Terry Dodson do Wonder Woman. Brad Meltzer writes the Justice League.
But most importantly, something actually happens during the year the DC Universe skips. When She-Hulk jumped forward, she spent the time in Wyoming. When the X-Men reloaded, all they did was rebuild the school. And when the Avengers disassembled, they all sat at home in there underwear eating nachos and learning how to be poorly written (or so I like to think). But during the year DC skips, big stuff happens. Stuff so big it warrants an unprecedented 52-issue weekly “real time” comic maxi-series, debuting later this year. We’re going to know the ramifications of the previous year this month (spoilers! two Nightwings, Ravager is a Teen Titan, the Outsiders disbanded, Supergirl and Power Girl are trapped in the bottle city of Kandor, Selina Kyle is pregnant and not Catwoman, Flash, Wonder Woman and Hawkman are MIA), but we won’t know all the whys and hows until May 2007. And who doesn’t love a good mystery?