Much has been made and said of the newly announced DC Timeline coming out of NYCC this month. DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan Didio had been teasing the Timeline project prior, but NYCC saw the Timeline being officially announced, even if not fully released. The Timeline structured the DC Universe and its history into four distinct “Generations” and ages, in this manner:
Generation 1: The Heroic Age
Wonder Woman is the first DC hero in this new timeline. The era where The Justice Society, The Freedom Fighters, The All-Star Squadron and other classic “Mystery Men” arrived. The dawn of the heroic tradition in the DC Universe. This age spans The Golden Age of comics and even The Atomic Age of comics, moving from the late ’30s through the late ’50s, right at the doorstep of The Silver Age of comics.
Generation 2: The Space Age
Beginning with the debut of Superman in this timeline, The Space Age spans The Silver Age of comics and even The Bronze Age, going all the way up to DC’s cataclysmic Crisis On Infinite Earths in the ’80s. This is when The Justice League was born, this is when The Teen Titans and Doom Patrol emerged. This is the time of The Multiverse, where Crisis On Earth-Two occurred. This is the era wherein the iconic friendships such as Barry Allen/Hal Jordan and Bruce Wayne/Clark Kent came to be. And it’s an age that ends with Barry Allen’s heroic sacrifice and demise, closing the door on an era.
Generation 3: The Age of Crisis
The era after Crisis, it spans everything emergent after from the ’80s to the late 2000s, right up until Flashpoint. This is the age of numerous Crises, from Zero Hour, Identity Crisis, Infinite Crisis and at last, Final Crisis. This is the era that saw the birth of Justice League International, the re-assembly of the JLA, DC One Million and 52. It’s the age of Multiversal rebirth. This is the era in which Wally West truly became The Flash for decades and it’s the one where Barry Allen returned in a final crisis to save all of existence once more.
Generation 4: The Flashpoint Age
A new era, which sees the arrival of many changes. Wally West disappears. So does Bart Allen. Cyborg is a key figure of Justice League. These all come to a head in a striking Rebirth and from it, the universe gets a Metal coat of paint, kicking off times of New Justice and Year of the Villain. The current age and generation.
This is the rough idea. A massive recontextualization of sort of everything to fit everything. An un-reboot, if you will, an Anti-New 52. Everything happened, in some way shape or form, even as that’s completely impossible and contradictory. There’s a sense of history and the changes made basically serve that larger history, to retroactively make it feel like one big story of a shared universe, across its publication history.
Now if these are the four generations. What is the 5G rumor? Essentially, it’s the idea of the next generation, the 5th Generation. The generation that comes next, succeeding these four. An all-new era of DC heroes. The Beat reported confirmation of this rumor (which was initially reported, along with the details, by BleedingCool) from their sources, saying it is very much happening. But what does this supposed 5th Generation entail exactly? If it proves true, it involves the relaunch of a lot of the key DC heroes and their titles, with the classic “old guard” heroes replaced with new, younger heroes made in the recent years, during the 2010s in a post-New 52/DCYou/Rebirth landscape. Characters made in a modern context for a modern audience in classic roles and mantles, with likely all new #1’s.
Generation 5: ???
For the moment, the two rumored mantle-bearers for the iconic World’s Finest are Jon Kent as Superman and Luke Fox (son of Lucius Fox, Batwing) as Batman. The goal here seems to be heroes around the age of 17-23 taking up the iconic roles, which tracks with The Beat’s report that part of the reasoning behind it involves accessibility. Appealing to a younger audience with accessible entry points via a relaunch, with brand new heroes, that seems to the idea. The 5G initiative is rumored to kick off late next year, arriving on the heels of a big Crisis event which will set up and help explain the above timeline and the longevity of some of the heroes supposedly through Hypertime in some form.
In any case, time will tell what comes next year, but change seems to be the key as DC Comics heads into 2020, its 85th Anniversary and Crisis On Infinite Earths‘ 35th Anniversary.