What was so awful about all the multi-verse earths in the pre-Crisis DC Universe?

Why did they need to clean up the DC universe so bad? It got rid of a lot of fascinating characters. Did it really need to be done?

In his intro to the CoIE TPB, Marv Wolfman writes:

So the stated purpose of CoIE was to bring new readers to DC by simplifying continuity to make it more accessible to new readers while still preserving enough of what existing fans liked to keep them in the fold.

Did it need to be done? Nothing in comic books needs to be done.

There were plenty of universes, but most of them either stuck to their own books and creative universe (Power of Shazam!) or else were one-shot deals, and easily distinguished from the core universes (Earth 3, Earth-X). Only Earth 1 (Superheroes first appeared a few years before whenever the story was written) and Earth 2 (superheroes first appeared in the late 1930’s) apearred in different books with any real frequency.

A lot of info about it can be had here. It’s a long read, but deals with both exactly what happened and why it “needed” to be done, though Otto certainly mentioned the main reason… to make it easier to retain new readers.

There weren’t that many characters “lost”. Granted, superfluous variations of the same characters disappered, but other superheroes managed to have their origins retconned so that they could appear in the DCU. And given the number of heroes involved in CRISIS only a relative few died, and a surprising number of characters killed off have since reappeared.

Captain Marvel and Power Girl come immediately to mind, then I blank. Who else did this happen with?

Oh, and I’d like to be the first to bring up Hypertime, which more or less reintroduced the concept of a multiverse to the DCU - and referenced Earth-C, which is my favourite ‘lost’ Earth.

Here’s a partial list. Mind, most this didn’t happen immediately (I’m pretty sure The Losers only popped up this year) and this list is by no means exhaustive. (That’s Fenris’ job)

Those who were specifically killed off during CRISIS and have come back with retconned origins:
Shaggy Man
Mirror Master
The Crime Syndicate: Ultraman, Power Woman, Owlman, Power Ring and Johnny Quick.
The Losers: Johnny Cloud, Gunner, Sarge, Captain Storm.

Major Post-CRISIS retconned origins:
Wonder Woman
Wonder Girl
Green Lantern (Hal Jordan)
Justice Society
Justice League

Many characters/places/ concepts were killed off by John Byrne’s hubris during the initial post-CRISIS Superman revamp have been slowly reintroduced the last 18 years.

Retconned ideas:
Superboy robots
Superboy and The Legion of Superheroes
Superman robots
red kryptonite
Superman’s fortress
I miss Earth-C, too. Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew was the first series I began to actively collect.

These are all ‘duh’ moments. (I consider the current Superboy (and recent Supergirls) to be only tangentially related to their pre-crisis counterparts, so not counting.) Stuff like GL and WW’s origins being altered aren’t in the same position, since they were retconned, but not reconned into the world.

And we both forgot Bizarro!

When did this happen? I’ve always liked the concept.

That is to say ‘duh, I should have thought of them’, not anything against you.

And Captain Carrot, along with LSH (the 60s and 70s issues, mostly) were the first titles I ever collected, too.

You’ve gotta count Superman as a major retcon. Krypton was completely reconceptualized, his powers developed slowly over time (no Superbaby flying around the nursery) and most important, both his Earth parents survived into Clark’s adulthood.

How did I forget Bizarro?

Grant Morrison’s Earth-2 has the Crime Syndicate living across an antimatter membrane in alternate universe. Good reading, phenomenal Frank Quitely art. How many artists can perfectly capture the egomania of Lex Luthor just by showing us his desk?? Ultraman, Owlman and Power Woman return in some issues of SUPERMAN from a few years back. Flipping through the comic at the comics shop, the encore appearance didn’t appear nearly as interesting, with unappealing art, so I didn’t buy them.

You’re a Zoo Crewer, too? Kewl beans.

Superman was such an obvious major retcon that I did include a whole paragraph about the John Byrne revamp – but you were right to point out the elimination of Superbaby and Jonathan and Martha Kent’s continued senior citizen lifestyles as major points of the revamp. I will also mention the retooling of Lex Luthor as an international businessman and not a crazed small-town boy genius gone bad.

I will have to check that out. I’m planning to go downtown today, anyway, might see if the local geek supply store has a copy.

Yessir. Loved them. I’d love to see them brought back, even for a one-shot. Involving Eggo!

You know, the Zoo Crew has a one-page cameo in the Bat-Mite/Mxyzptlk one-shot World’s Funnest. Which, incidentally, was one of the best comics I’ve read in a while.