1. CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS (1985-1986)
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: George Perez
What it’s about: The DC Universe in the '80s was a strange and complicated place to be. From counter Earths to weird continuity slip-ups, the company realized that the Universe had grown too complex for the average reader.
So in order to clean things up and reinvent its heroes to be more streamlined and relatable, DC launched Crisis on Infinite Earths, a story designed to get rid of the multiple Earths and inconsistent backstories that plagued the company.
The story focuses on the DC heroes and villains battling the Anti-Monitor, a being that threatens all life in the universe. And while the story was well written with an epic scope, Crisis on Infinite Earths will mostly be remembered for what happened afterwards.
Why it’s Earth shattering: Confusing and frustrating, Crisis on Infinite Earths is only easily understandable with a sizeable knowledge of the DC Universe. However, the aftermath made things much better. With the destruction of the multiple Earths and dimensions, DC relaunched everything from the beginning. Origins were easier to understand, characters were a bit more grounded and less outlandish, and stories became more mature and less campy.
Books like Batman: Year One, Superman: Man of Steel, and Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals were all released post-crisis to display these changes. But while some characters thrived, other characters died. The Flash, Supergirl, and countless ancillary characters all perished in order to clean the DC Universe up. Sorry Flash, ya gotta trim the fat sometimes.