Krotan is a potent short term mutagen, which allows complete shape-shifting for the user. It was at one time quite popular amongst the upper classes of Thanagar – although it appears to have also worked for a variety of other alien races.

The primary Krotan dealer on Thanagar was Byth – who was also the head cop, so there was a slight conflict of interest. Eventually, Byth was overthrown and fled to Earth, now hopelessly addicted to Krotan – maddened both by the drug itself (seems his brain never uite made it back to its original shape) and by his subsequent withdrawal from it.

Vertigo Timelines

Technically speaking, Vertigo is not a universe, but an imprint. Many of its most famous titles, notably Preacher, Transmetropolitan and Fables, do not exist in its shared universe. But enough of them do to make possible the construction of the lead timeline in this section:

The Vertigo Universe, part 1: The Pre-Vertigo Years
The Vertigo Universe, part 2: Imprinted
Most of the original Vertigo characters originated as DC Universe characters, and only later became Vertigo characters. Some have shuttled back and forth, others have spent time in Vertigo then become part of the mainstream universe again. With rare exceptions, this timeline lists only their appearances in Vertigo collections. Occasional exceptions are made for appearances of Vertigo characters in mainstream DC comics (predominately cast members from Swamp Thing, Hellblazer and Sandman).
The Complete Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Reading Order
A more detailed reading order for the Vertigo Universe’s single best series.

Some of the other titles published by the Vertigo imprint are independent universes which are also sufficiently complicated as to deserve their own timelines:

The Fables Universe
Including Fables, Jack of Fables, and assorted spin-offs.

The Expanded Preacher Universe
Including Preacher and related works by Garth Ennis

Alternate Earths

Sub-Universe Timelines

The DC Universe has a long and proud history of subsuming other publisher’s universes into its own. The timelines in this section cover those universes as independent entities.

The Amalgam Universe

Alternate Timelines

The DC Universe is merely the most well-documented of an infinite multitude of earths. This section includes timelines for some of those Earths:

Earth 22 – The Kingdom Come Universe


One of the most addictive and dangerous of steroids, Venom first appeared on the streets of Gotham City early in the self-appointed mission of the Batman. In fact, Batman himself was one of its most prominent users for a time.

Unfortunately, in addition to enhancing strength to a superhuman degree, Venom had a number of side-effects, including muscular dystrophy (when not in use) and a capacity to addict users stronger than most drugs short of crack. Batman quickly realised this, and went cold turkey, a process that took about a month (and which was accompanied by incredible physical pain and vivid hallucinations). He never used the drug again, although villains such as Bane and Lex Luthor did.

Starman Annotations

Hi, and welcome to the Starman Annotations at The Centre Cannot Hold.

Each week, I’ll be annotating another issue of James Robinson’s brilliant Starman series from DC comics, as well as assorted related stories (and not just the ones printed in the current Omnibus editions, either).

So expect to see annotations for a variety of appearances by Jack, Ted and David Knight, as well as a few other major characters.

I’ll also be putting together a chronology of the series as a whole, as well as individual chronologies for the more important characters.

Finally, from time to time, I’ll be adding in little essays and other such stuff. It’s going to be an adventure, folks – and one I hope you’ll join me on from next week onwards.

A Note Regarding the Format of Annotations:
The annotations will be structured as a hybrid form drawing on elements of Lou Mougin and Mark Waid’s excellent Crisis on Infinite Earths Annotations (sadly long out of print – although rumour has it that it was reprinted with the Absolute Edition – can anyone verify this for me?), and also elements of the Lurker’s Guide to Babylon 5‘s episode guide.

So in addition to full credits for each issue, a guide to where it has been printed and reprinted and a panel by panel annotation of references and events, you can also expect to see a list of unanswered question, analysis of the story, its place in the larger arc and any other commentaries from creators, bloggers, etc.

Issues annotated to date:

  • Starman #0 (October 1994)
  • Starman #01 (November 1994)
  • Starman #02 (December 1994)
  • Starman #03 (January 1995)
  • Starman #04 (February 1995)
  • Starman #05 (March 1995)
  • Starman #06 (April 1995)
  • Starman #07 (May 1995)
  • Starman #08 (June 1995)
  • Starman #09 (July 1995)
  • Starman #10 (August 1995)
  • Showcase 95 #12 (December 1995)
  • Starman #11 (September 1995)
  • Starman #12 (October 1995)
  • The DC Universe and Terminator: Salvation

    Maybe this isn’t the most likely combination, but I sometimes wonder how a nuclear war would affect the DC Universe. It strikes me that it would be a little more fun – from a roleplaying perspective at least – than Kingdom Come ever was.

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    1938 – Action Comics #1 introduces Superman

    In 1938, two young men named Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created not just a character, but an entire genre.

    Their creation was Superman, a strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Although actually, he wasn’t that powerful to begin with – sure, he could leap tall buildings in a single bound, but a) buildings were generally less tall in the Thirties; and b) today he can fly between planets. He didn’t yet have his heat vision, his x-ray vision or his super-breath. He lacked many aspects of his background that we now all know: he worked for the Daily Star, not the Daily Planet; his arch-enemy was the Ultra-Humanite, not Lex Luthor; and the planet Krypton had yet to be invented (so he had no Supergirl, no Krypto, no General Zod and no kryptonite, among others).

    He would become one of the top-selling characters of all time, and one of the most iconic characters in popular fiction, spawning comics, radio serials, tv shows, movies and even a Broadway musical.

    Referenced in:
    Superman Lover – Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson

    I for one can’t believe either of the following facts:
    1) that DC Comics isn’t attempting to revive the musical
    2) that Freidrich Neitzsche has not been spinning in his graves for seven decades and counting now…

    Pirates of the Caribbean and the DC Universe

    Given that it’s never quite clear when in history the events of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy occur – well, actually, there’s no possible way for it to occur in history as we know it, even if you ignore all the supernatural elements – it’s probably just as well to mix it up with something else where fidelity to history is less of a concern. Like in DC Comics. Continue reading

    Dark Knights, Dark City III: The Last of the Batmen

    Welcome back to this, the third and final installment of Dark Knights, Dark City. I hope you’ve enjoyed it – I know I have.
    Hell, I may even do this, or something like it, again someday…

    Parts One and Two are here and here respectively.

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    The DC Universe and Flash Gordon

    Now, I know I’m not the only person to have noticed that a surprising number of Golden Age heroes – most of them now in the DC Universe – seem to have been based on Flash Gordon characters, not least Flash himself.

    Or were they? What if the relationship was a little closer than that?
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    The World of Darkness and the DC Universe

    It might look like an unlikely match-up at first, but it’s one of those things: there’s one little piece that fits together perfectly, and the rest extrapolated from there. So without further ado, let’s get on with it:
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    Dark Knights, Dark City I: The Early Years of Gotham City

    Something a little different: this is part one of a three part essay on the history of the Wayne family and Gotham City. It should by no means be considered canonical. Rather, it is an attempt to work together the various Batmen that have appeared in a number of Elseworlds books from DC, along with selected stories from DC Universe comics.

    This is nerdcore, folks – if you’re not a comics geek, there’s probably not much here for you.

    Continue reading