In the classic comic Sandman, the Lord of Dreams has a librarian named Lucien. In Lucien’s library are all of the books that only existed in the minds of writers. From the book of poetry you never wrote to the Complete Duluoz Legend by Jack Kerouac. All of the works that can only exist in dreams. What you might not know is that Lucien also has a comic collection.
Twilight of the Superheroes – DC’s event crossover by company man Alan Moore (1987)
There was a brief moment following Watchmen and Swamp Thing when Alan Moore was to DC Comics what Grant Morrison is today. Moore proposed a year-long crossover event to follow Legends that would be at its core a story that could tie in every comic DC was publishing without it seeming forced upon those creative teams. A dream creators still haven’t managed.
“The perfect mass crossover would be something like the following: it would have a sensible and logical reason for crossing over with other titles, so that the readers who were prompted to try a new title as a result of the crossover or vice versa didn’t feel cheated by some tenuous linkage of story lines that was at best spurious and at worst nonexistent. “
Anyone who thinks that the post-New 52 era is unprecedented in how it has discarded continuity and characters in an attempt to find a new way forward needs to track down a copy of the Twilight proposal (no, I’m not linking it from here, but it is easy to find). The early paragraphs read like one of my co-host Mo’s rants from September, 2011. Remember this is early days after Crisis on Infinite Earths and the DC Universe was in an enourmous amount of flux as the slow reboot spread throughout the company. Moore was concerned that by removing alternate worlds and compressing all of the DCU into one cohesive whole, they were limiting the world and its potential. Does a world with Sgt Rock, Swamp Thing and Blue Devil really work conceptually?
“The readers of long standing, somewhere along the line, are going to have some slight feeling that all the stories that they followed avidly during their years of involvement with the book have been in some way invalidated, that all those countless plotlines weren’t leading to anything more than what is in some respects an arbitrary cut-off point. By extension, the readers of today might well be left with the sensation that the stories they are currently reading are of less significance”
Set 20 years in the future of the DC Universe, Twilight would have been a 12-issue maxi-series that told the end of the DC heroes and the rise of the next generation. Certainly echoes of this concept can be seen in Kingdom Come and the cross-over event Armageddon 2001. The heroes had taken over the world and their utopia was rotten at its core. This future had to be prevented at all costs.
Moore, in an incredibly prophetic pitch, conceived of the year 2000 as a world in which mankind would be face with the horrifying concept that the apocalypse wasn’t coming. That we would have to actually plan for the future instead of expecting every day to be the end of everything. Superheroes had split into 8 great Houses, such as the House of Steel (Superman and his wife Wonder Woman), House of Thunder (Shazam Family), House of Mystery (supernatural characters) and so on.
Like the much later series 52, Twilight would focus on new and under-utilized characters. The Freedom Fighters, Blackhawk, The Question, Metal Men and so on. There would even be a grouping of characters similar to those later used in the First Wave line – Batman, the Shadow, Doc Savage and Tarzan.
With the story told through the most unusual partners John Constantine and Rip Hunter, Twilight would have been scoping, bold, and world changing. I have it on reserve with Lucien. Perhaps I’ll take a look at it again tonight.
Thanks to my We Talk Comics podcast co-hosts who helped put together some of the list for this series when we did the show segment “Lost Souls.”