When I decided to do a quick chronology of the DC Comics
universe, I opted to take the opposite approach as my OMU project. Whereas with the Original Marvel Universe,
I disregard publishing dates to “defragment” the timeline, I here used the publishing dates as a starting point to catalog the events of the DC universe, creating an entirely new history in the process.
For example, I placed Batman’s debut in Spring 1939, as that was the date of the character’s first appearance. I then extrapolated from that a date for Bruce Wayne’s birth, then plotted out a reasonable lifespan and worked into it the major events of his life. Other men replaced him as the generations passed. Other characters were dealt with in the same manner, causing them all to intersect in very interesting ways.
The result was something akin to the “Earth-Two” alternate reality, or the tales of “Batman II and Robin II” that appeared occasionally in Silver-Age Batman titles, or John Byrne’s Generations
series. I was inspired primarily by the 1995 graphic novel The Golden Age
by James Robinson & Paul Smith.
In this version of the DC world, the characters age, reproduce, and die like real-life people. I find it opens up all manner of story possibilities, and it’s fun to ponder what it might have been like had the DC Universe evolved in this manner. The timeline is limited pretty much to the 20th century, and is by no means complete.
Here, then, is a (not “the”) Chronology of the DC Universe!
Cyrus Gold is murdered in Slaughter Swamp outside Gotham City. His corpse will later be reanimated as the failed elemental Solomon Grundy.
is born, and is soon after rescued from devil worshippers by the Mystic Order of the Seven, along with a baby girl who will be raised as his sister and called Rose Psychic.
James Gordon is born in Gotham City.
is born to Sven and Celestine Nelson.
is born in Krakow, Poland.
is born to Edward and Marina Dodds.
is born to Thomas and Martha Wayne in Gotham City.
is born to Sam and Ella Lane.
Kryptonian infant Kal-El
crash lands outside Smallville, Kansas and is found by Jonathan and Martha Kent, who rename him Clark Kent.
Archaeologist Sven Nelson is killed in Mesopotamia after accidentally awakening the ancient entity called Nabu the Wise. Nabu trains young Kent Nelson in the arts of magic.
Thomas and Martha Wayne are shot dead in front of their terrified son Bruce.
Richard Occult becomes the mystical detective known as Dr. Occult.
Selena Kyle first becomes a prostitute.
Clark Kent moves to Metropolis and adopts the identity of Superman.
He meets ace reporter Lois Lane at the newspaper where they both work, The Daily Star.
Wealthy socialite Tex Thompson
decides to become an amateur crimebuster.
Giovanni Zatara begins using his magical abilities to fight crime as Zatara, Master Magician.
Superman meets his first great nemesis, the wheelchair-bound mad scientist called the Ultra-Humanite.
He also first meets cub reporter Jimmy Olsen.
Publisher Lee Travis
takes on the underworld as the shadowy Crimson Avenger,
assisted by his Chinese manservant Wing.
Bruce Wayne begins his crusade against crime as the fearsome Batman.
He presents something of a problem to new Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon.
Wesley Dodds becomes the gas-mask-wearing hero called the Sandman.
He meets the lovely Dian Belmont.
Batman battles his first major villain, the evil Doctor Death.
Batman perfects the helicopter-like vehicle called the Batgyro.
As Bruce Wayne, he meets the lovely Julie Madison.
Selena Kyle changes professions, becoming a jewel thief.
becomes the size-changing hero Doll Man.
Jay Garrick leaves Midwestern University to become the super-fast crime-fighter known as the Flash.
Also, Carter Hall begins his career as Hawkman,
and meets Sheira Sanders, whom he believes to be the reincarnation of his wife from a previous life in ancient Egypt.
Policeman Jim Corrigan is murdered, but returns as the mysterious crime-fighter the Spectre.
After taking his newly-developed Miraclo pill, chemist Rex “Tick-Tock” Tyler becomes the super hero known as Hourman.
Johnny Thunder develops uncontrollable magical powers courtesy of his “pet lightning bolt.”
Billy Batson first says the magic word SHAZAM and becomes earth’s mightiest mortal, Captain Marvel.
Batman first encounters the sadistic genius Dr. Hugo Strange.
Also, after shooting many a criminal, Batman renounces the use of guns in his crimefighting crusade.
Orphaned Dick Grayson joins Batman’s crusade as Robin,
the Boy Wonder.
Superman first encounters villainous tycoon Lex Luthor.
Batman and Robin first battle the Clown Prince of Crime, the Joker.
Soon after, they clash with seductive jewel thief Selena Kyle, better known as the Cat. Batman also unveils the original Batplane.
Kent Nelson begins his career battling supernatural villains as Doctor Fate
and meets the lovely Inza Cramer.
The Metropolis newspaper The Daily Star
changes its name to The Daily Planet.
Gotham City resident Alan Scott discovers a mysterious artifact and becomes the costumed adventurer Green Lantern.
Lanford “Happy” Terrill gains energy-manipulating abilities and becomes the superhero known as the Ray
Selena Kyle adopts the new nom de crime Catwoman.
Batman and Robin fight Basil Karlo, the first Clay Face.
Al Pratt becomes the diminutive hero called the Atom.
Carter Hall marries Sheira Sanders.
The Ultra-Humanite has his brain transplanted into the body of movie starlet Delores Winters, and perishes in a volcano soon afterwards.
Catwoman dons her first super-villainess costume.
Flash, Hawkman, Green Lantern, the Atom, Doctor Fate, the Spectre, Hourman, and the Sandman band together to form the loose-knit Justice Society of America,
and put up with irritating hanger-on Johnny Thunder.
Inspired by the recent appearances of costumed crimefighters, middle-aged housewife Abigail Mathilda Hunkle
dons a makeshift costume and calls herself the Red Tornado
as she battles neighborhood menaces.
While battling Batman, Dr. Hugo Strange is killed.
Alan Scott takes a job as a radio engineer at the Apex Broadcasting Company.
Perry White is made editor of the Metropolis paper The Daily Planet.
Scientist Ted Knight
becomes the caped hero Starman.
Tex Thompson fights the good fight as the mystery man called Mr. America.
becomes the masked crimebuster Manhunter.
After the final defeat of Clay Face, Batman unveils the first customized Batmobile.
swings into action as Doctor Mid-Nite.
Sheira Hall becomes Hawkgirl.
Small-time hood Eel O’Brien
becomes the super-elastic Plastic Man.
The military squad called the Blackhawks
is formed to combat the Nazis. They are led by Janos Prohaska.
becomes the costumed crimefighter called Miss America.
becomes the Phantom Lady.
Chemist Roy Lincoln
transforms himself into the Human Bomb.
Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor loses his hair in a freak accident.
Green Lantern first meets his streetwise sidekick Doiby Dickles.
Superman and Batman meet for the first time.
Newsreel photographer Johnny Chambers
becomes the lighting-fast hero Johnny Quick.
Sylvester Pemberton and Patrick Dugan
join the war effort as the Star-Spangled Kid
and his adult sidekick Stripesy.
Mystery writer John Law
becomes the mystery man called the Tarantula.
An Arthurian knight called Sir Justin
emerges from suspended animation to battle evil as the Shining Knight.
Batman and Robin must defeat Jonathan Crane, the eerie criminal called the Scarecrow.
Starman first battles the villain known as the Mist.
Oliver Queen debuts as crime-fighting archer Green Arrow,
along with his teenaged sidekick Roy Harper, a.k.a. Speedy.
first leaves Atlantis for the surface world.
The Sandman trades in his gas-mask for a superhero costume and picks up a young sidekick, Sanderson Hawkins,
also called Sandy,
the Golden Boy.
becomes the gun-slinging mystery man called the Vigilante.
assumes the identity of Fatman
and serves as Mr. America’s sidekick.
Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, thereby drawing the United States into the war.
When American Army aviator Steve Trevor crashes on Paradise Island, Amazon princess Diana
is selected to accompany him back to the world of men, where she comes to be called Wonder Woman.
In Gotham City, Oswald Cobblepot begins a life of crime as the umbrella-wielding Penguin.
begins his career as Mr. Terrific,
Man of a Thousand Talents.
Boxer Ted Grant
becomes the masked adventurer called Wildcat.
Dr. Mid-Nite and Starman join the JSA.
Hourman perfects his powerful Miracle Ray machine.
Doiby Dickles learns Green Lantern’s secret identity as Alan Scott.
Green Arrow, Speedy, the Star-Spangled Kid, Stripesy, the Shining Knight, the Vigilante, and the Crimson Avenger band together as the Seven Soldiers of Victory.
While on a mission as Manhunter, Paul Kirk vanishes without a trace.
The JSA offers an associate membership to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
Four slum orphans and Metropolis policeman Jim Harper join the war effort as the Newsboy Legion and the Guardian.
Chemistry teacher Thomas N. Thomas
and his student Dan Dunbar also fight the Axis powers as TNT and the Dyna-Mite.
Captain Rip Carter
leads the international quartet of teenagers called the Boy Commandos.
When district attorney Harvey Dent is disfigured by acid, he becomes the criminal mastermind Two-Face.
Superman first battles Oswald Loomis, better known as the villainous Prankster.
Dr. Robert Crane’s
brain is installed in a mechanical body, and he soon comes to be called Robotman.
After a return to Paradise Island where she wins her magic lasso, Wonder Woman joins the JSA.
Tex Thompson joins the war effort, now calling himself the Americommando.
Kent Nelson enrolls in medical school, using his magical abilities to assist him with his studies.
Rex Tyler is forced to stop taking the Miraclo pill and retire as Hourman.
Bob Daley parts ways with the Americommando and retires as Fatman.
When her father is killed by the Nazis, Libby Lawrence becomes a costumed adventuress called Liberty Belle.
John Law gives up his costumed identity as the Tarantula.
When TNT is killed in action, his sidekick the Dyna-Mite returns to civilian life as Daniel Dunbar.
Superman first battles the villainous Toyman.
Wonder Woman first faces the wrath of Priscilla Rich, a.k.a. the Cheetah.
Green Lantern encounters the ageless conspirator known as Vandal Savage.
The second Speedy, later Arsenal, is born.
Tex Thompson’s heroic career comes to a sudden halt.
Superman first encounters the mysterious extradimensional imp known as Mr. Mxyztplk.
Starting a new trend, the Joker and the Penguin join forces against Batman and Robin.
Ma Hunkel dons her Red Tornado guise for the last time.
The undead strongman Solomon Grundy first menaces the world.
The Justice Society first battles the Psycho-Pirate
when he kidnaps Hawkgirl.
The Spectre leaves earth for an extended period.
Kent Nelson retires from adventuring as Doctor Fate to practice magic and medicine privately.
The war in Europe ends with the defeat of the Axis Powers.
The Seven Soldiers of Victory disband and Lee Travis retires his Crimson Avenger identity.
The war in the Pacific ends with the nuclear bombing of Japan.
Libby Lawrence calls off her quest for vengeance as Liberty Belle.
Wildcat is made a member of the JSA.
Wesley Dodds retires as the Sandman.
Ted Knight hangs up his cape as Starman.
is born to Oliver Queen and his girlfriend Sandra Hawke.
is born to Giovanni and Sindella Zatara.
Alan Scott becomes manager of radio station WXYZ in Gotham.
Kent Nelson marries Inza Cramer.
Terry Sloane abandons his identity as Mr. Terrific.
The menace of Solomon Grundy is finally ended by the Justice Society of America.
Green Lantern first battles small-time hood “Crusher” Crock.
is born in Atlantis.
Dinah Drake begins her stint as the crimebuster called the Black Canary.
The JSA first battles the time-traveling villain Per Degaton.
“Crusher” Crock adopts the identity of the Sportsmaster
to again battle Green Lantern.
The Injustice Society of the World
forms to counter the invincible JSA. Its founding members are the Wizard, Brain Wave, the Gambler, Per Degaton, the Thinker, and Vandal Savage.
Molly Mayne is hired as Alan Scott’s secretary at WXYZ. To attract the attention of the dashing Green Lantern, she decides to become the costumed criminal called the Harlequin.
Flash meets Rose Canton, the split-personality villainess called Thorn.
Black Canary joins the JSA, and first meets private detective Larry Lance.
is born to James and Sarah Gordon in Gotham City.
Batman first meets Vicki Vale.
Batman finally discovers the identity of the man who shot his parents, a minor thug by the name of Joe Chill.
Dick Grayson assumes the identity of Nightwing.
Jason Todd is recruited to be the new Robin.
The Atom begins to manifest super-strength.
A new Injustice Society replaces the first: the Wizard, the Fiddler, Huntress, the Icicle, Sportsmaster, and Harlequin, who betrays her criminal comrades to free the JSA from their clutches.
Batman and Robin first encounter Eddie Nashton alias Edward Nygma alias the Riddler.
Green Lantern learns the Harlequin is now an undercover agent for the FBI.
Sylvester Pemberton and Pat Dugan end their partnership as the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy.
Flash learns the Thorn’s true identity, and he, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman help her find treatment for her condition.
Al Pratt retires as the Atom to wed Mary James.
Ted Grant gives up his career as Wildcat.
Superman first encounters the deadly mineral called kryptonite, and discovers he is not from Earth at all, but is the last son of the planet Krypton.
When the original Batmobile is destroyed, Batman and Robin build a new, more advanced model.
When the original Batplane is stolen, Batman and Robin build a new, more advanced model.
Jay Garrick retires the Flash in order to settle down and marry long-time girlfriend Joan Williams.
Alan Scott relinquishes the role of Green Lantern when he is made vice-president and general manager of the Gotham Broadcasting Company.
Charles McNider gives up being Dr. Mid-Nite.
Zatara mysteriously disappears.
Carter and Shiera Hall are killed in action as Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
The Justice Society of America disbands after battling a villain known as the Key,
who makes good his escape.
goes into action.
Sir Justin ceases to battle as the Shining Knight.
Dinah Drake retires as the Black Canary and marries her boyfriend, detective Larry Lance.
is born to Larry and Dinah Drake Lance.
The mysterious Phantom Stranger
makes his first appearance.
Superman and Batman finally learn each other’s secret identities.
Jason Todd is killed by the Joker.
Billy Batson ceases to transform into Captain Marvel.
Superman and Batman begin occasionally working as a team.
Johnny Chambers finally gives up being Johnny Quick once and for all.
Greg Saunders retires as the Vigilante.
Captain Comet’s brief career also comes to a close.
arrives on Earth and assumes the identity of John Jones, but soon becomes known as the Martian Manhunter.
Bruce Wayne retires and Dick Grayson succeeds him as the new Batman. Tim Drake is recruited as the new Robin.
Alan Scott gets Rose Canton pregnant, but their relationship ends.
Plastic Man retires from crime-fighting.
Katherine Kane adopts the crimefighting identity of Batwoman.
Barry Allen develops super-speed and begins calling himself the Flash.
Rose Canton gives birth to twins and puts them up for adoption. The girl becomes Jennifer-Lynn Hayden
(adopted by Julian and Myrna Hayden) and the boy becomes Todd James Rice
(adopted by Jim and Shirley Rice).
Four non-super-powered men form the Challengers of the Unknown
in order to seek out adventure.
is born to Johnny Chambers and Libby Lawrence.
Oliver Queen is killed in action and Roy Harper becomes the new Green Arrow. The second Speedy joins him.
Selena Kyle retires as Catwoman and opens her own escort service.
Charles McNider begins working for the FBI keeping tabs on metahumans.
Superman first battles the villainous Brainiac.
is first transported to the planet Rann in the Alpha Centauri system.
Batman and Robin first tangle with the sinister Mister Freeze.
Scientist Rip Hunter
invents a time machine, which he uses to explore earth’s past and future.
Test pilot Hal Jordan receives his power ring and becomes the new Green Lantern.
Wally West becomes the Flash’s sidekick, Kid Flash.
Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Flash, and Green Lantern band together to form the Justice League of America,
and they acquire a teen-aged associate called “Snapper” Carr.
Garth first joins Aquaman on his patrols of the seas as Aqualad.
becomes the Elongated Man.
Two aliens from the planet Thanagar assume the identities of Carter and Shiera Hall, as well as Hawkman
to study earthly crime-fighting.
Green Arrow joins the Justice League.
Green Lantern first crosses swords with the evil Sinestro.
Kathy Kane’s niece Betty Kane
begins her occasional outings as the original Bat-Girl.
Ralph Dibny marries his sweetheart Sue Dearborn.
Ray Palmer becomes the size-changing hero called the Atom.
Batman and Robin must battle Matt Hagen, the second Clayface.
J’onn J’onzz makes his first return to Mars after being marooned on Earth six years earlier.
Dr. Will Magnus unveils his team of shape-shifting robot crimefighters, the Metal Men.
Atom joins the Justice League.
Rex Tyler marries actress Wendi Harris.
Dr. Niles Caulder recruits Cliff Steele (the new Robotman), Rita Farr (Elasti-Girl), and Larry Trainor (Negative Man) to become the Doom Patrol.
Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad join together as the Teen Titans.
Batman unveils a new state-of-the-art Batmobile.
Barry Allen gets engaged to Iris West.
Kathy Kane retires as Batwoman.
Hawkman joins the Justice League.
Rita Farr marries Steve Dayton, but remains in the Doom Patrol.
Zatanna first casts her spell over the world’s evildoers.
While in Egypt, Rex Mason
is transformed into Metamorpho,
the Element Man.
becomes a junior member of the Doom Patrol known as Beast Boy.
becomes Wonder Girl,
and she and Speedy join the Teen Titans.
Dinah Drake Lance has an extramarital affair with Ted Knight.
becomes the super-hero Animal Man.
Barry Allen and Iris West are married.
Batman and Robin first meet the deadly villainess Poison Ivy.
Teenager Robby Reed
discovers a mysterious dial that transforms him temporarily into a wide variety of super-heroes.
is born to Rex and Wendi Tyler.
Barbara Gordon becomes the motorcycle-riding heroine Batgirl.
The Flash’s wife, Iris Allen, dies.
becomes the super-hero Blue Beetle.
The Spectre returns to earth after more than 20 years.
After years of searching, Zatanna is reunited with her missing father, Zatara.
In Africa, Mike Maxwell becomes the super-hero B’wana Beast.
Barry Allen is killed in action, and Wally West becomes the new Flash.
After circus aerialist “Boston” Brand
is randomly murdered, he begins a posthumous crime-fighting crusade as Deadman.
TV reporter Jack Ryder
begins his nocturnal adventures as the Creeper.
The android crimefighter called the Red Tornado
makes his debut.
The Doom Patrol are killed while on a mission to a remote island, although Beast Boy is not among them.
After Wonder Woman temporarily loses her powers, Steve Trevor is killed.
Dinah Lance becomes the new Black Canary.
Dick Grayson retires and Tim Drake succeeds him as the new Batman, joined by Stephanie Brown as the fourth Robin.
Roy Harper retires and Connor Hawke becomes the new, goateed Green Arrow.
Larry Lance is killed.
The new Black Canary joins the JLA.
Ted Grant retires from boxing as the undefeated heavyweight champion of the world.
Green Lantern and Green Arrow take to the road in search of America.
Batman meets the terrifying creature called the Man-Bat.
The second Speedy becomes a heroin addict.
Batman first matches wits with the devilish Ra’s Al Ghul.
Murdered scientist Alec Holland
seemingly rises from the dead as the Swamp Thing.
Jenny-Lynn Hayden becomes the super-heroine Jade
and her twin brother Todd Rice becomes the super-hero Obsidian.
They are reunited via an empathic connection after their powers begin to manifest themselves.
Jessie Chambers becomes the superfast heroine Jessie Quick.
A mysterious crimefighter calling herself the Black Orchid
makes her debut.
Another refugee from Krypton, Kara Zor-L,
arrives on Earth and becomes the super-heroine Power Girl.
Barbara Gordon is crippled by the Joker, forcing her to give up being Batgirl.
Tim Drake’s back is broken by Bane
and he must retire as Batman.
High school principal Jefferson Pierce becomes the super-hero Black Lightning.
The second Speedy, now clean and sober, becomes Arsenal.
Alan Scott loses his job when the Gotham Broadcasting Company goes bankrupt.
Superman kills off his Clark Kent identity, rather than explain why he has not aged in 40 years.
Jay Garrick gives Alan Scott a job at his company, Keystone Labs. Soon after, Jay reveals to the world that he was the original Flash in an interview in We
High school student Ronnie Raymond
and physicist Martin Stein
are fused into a single being known as Firestorm,
the Nuclear Man.
Bruce Wayne briefly returns as Batman and kills the Joker.
first becomes a member of the Green Lantern Corps.
Katherine Kane is murdered.
Terry Sloane, the former Mr. Terrific, is murdered.
Recovered from his injuries, Tim Drake returns as Batman.
The new Teen Titans form. Members include Cyborg, Raven,
Teenagers Chris King
and Vicki Grant
discover Hero Dials that transform them temporarily into a wide variety of super-heroes and super-heroines.
Wonder Woman reveals her true identity to the world.
Lee Travis dies.
Connor Hawke retires and settles down with Dinah Lance to start a family.
takes over as the new Green Lantern.
The Spectre leaves Earth once again.
Michael Jon Carter arrives from the future and becomes the super-hero Booster Gold.
Lois Lane dies of lung cancer.
Selena Kyle dies of a sexually-transmitted disease.
Having slowly gone insane, Hal Jordan dies while trying to destroy the universe.
Kent and Inza Nelson both die.
Superman first battles Siobhan McDougal, a.k.a. the Silver Banshee
Sylvester Pemberton dies.
Bruce Wayne dies. Tim Drake retires as Batman.
Mary Elizabeth Kane becomes the superheroine Flamebird
Dinah Drake Lance dies of cancer.
Jessie Chambers retires from her career as Jessie Quick.
Ray Terrill becomes the second superhero known as the Ray
becomes the new Green Lantern.
becomes the super-hero Impulse.
Johnny Thunder contracts Alzheimer’s disease.
Rex Tyler dies.
Charles McNider dies.
Al Pratt dies.
becomes the new Wonder Girl.
Johnny Chambers dies.
becomes the super-heroine Arrowette.
The super-hero team Young Justice
becomes the new Star-Spangled Kid.
Wesley Dodds and Dian Belmont die within weeks of each other.
Hal Jordan rises from the dead as the Spectre.
Ted Knight dies.
While a new generation of super-heroes moves into the 21st century, it is interesting to note that Superman and Wonder Woman are functionally immortal and are still going strong at the end of this chronology.