Spoilers ahoy for Generations Forged #1!
Tuesday marks the release of Generations Forged #1, a DC mini-event that helps recontextualize the “metaverse” from Before Watchmen, which gave way to the “omniverse” in Dark Nights: Death Metal. How? Well, it introduces the “linearverse,” and if you’re getting lost already, you can be forgiven.
Reminiscent of former DC publisher Dan DiDio’s oft-repeated philosophy that “everything counts,” Generations Forged #1 contends that the Batman from 1939 and the one currently walking around in modern comics are the same guy, just like every DC superhero (and villain) is the same as they’ve ever been.
In the Linearverse concept, there’s a really simple and intuitive way of looking at the passage of time in the DC Universe: “Here, people age far more slowly, living much longer than elsewhere,” the time-traveling Linear Man known as Waverider tells Batman, upon returning him to 1939 at the end of the crisis. “Your youth and vitality will endure for decades, enabling you to be effective far longer than the universal norm.”
The idea here, related through a splash page in the final moments of the issue, is that there is a DC Universe that evolves with the times, so that every version of the characters you’ve ever read is the same version, and everything that ever happened to them, happened. It’s an in-universe recognition of the “rolling timeline” that comics have used since Marvel pioneered the truly shared universe and timeline. In Doomsday Clock, Geoff Johns acknowledged it for Superman, but this widens and clarifies it somewhat.
Generations: Forged #1 is on sale now at comic shops and online.